Long Pants Under a Hot Sun

A novel about Africa, drinking and the meaning of life

On Top of the World

In this chapter, the Norwegians and Dublin drink some more.

On Top of the World

Dublin found himself in an elevator with two quiet Norwegians, jolted again by his surroundings. He didn’t remember parking the car or walking through the lobby. He looked at David and Vegard, who stood tightlipped with their hands clasped behind their backs like bellhops, gazing at the numbers on the rise above the doors. It smelled clean in there, like new burgundy carpets. All the walls were mirrors framed in brass.

The doors opened at the sound of a bell, falling on Dublin’s ears as the hand of a conductor leading the day’s strange symphony. David stepped boldly forward and did not stop until he reached the tall glass walls of the bar that looked out over the city. He turned to the other two standing just outside of the elevator, beaming.

“On top of the world!” he shouted.

Dublin glanced aside at the bartender, who stared at David without surprise. He was immaculately dressed in a dark green vest and white shirt, a black bow tie and ironed wine-colored pants. He wore a tightly curled mustache.

“David, I thought you didn’t have any money,” Dublin whispered to him.

“Credit card! Mon ami, everything is fine! I have Daddy’s credit card, and I’m on top of the world!” He smiled the look of the insane at Dublin. “Bartender! Give us a list of your most expensive drinks!” The bartender passed a packet of paper tied with gold string across the counter to David. Vegard and Dublin joined their friend, pulling up tiny black vinyl stools on either side of him. The three of them hunched over the drink list for four or five minutes, pointing things out and talking loudly. They ordered at last, a blackberry flavored drink for Vegard, a coffee flavored drink for Dublin, and a screwdriver for David.

“Screw your head on straight,” Vegard mumbled. They toasted.

“To being on top of the world!” cried David (of course).

“On top…” Dublin managed before hiccupping. David stood up and walked over to the windows that stretched from floor to ceiling.

“Look at this,” he said, motioning over the other two. “Look at this big fucking city. It’s beautiful. Look. I can see the bar where that girl rubbed her crotch against me while dancing. Just beautiful. I can see for twenty kilometers. You can’t even see people from up here. My friends,” he turned them, a single tear welling up in his left eye. “I love you both. Vegard, my brother, Landlord, my landlord, I love you. Let’s sit down before puking on this window.” He sat down.

Dublin and Vegard sat down, too, choosing wide, soft chairs situated around a rectangular, veneered coffee table. Everybody sighed, holding their empty glasses wrapped in the dew of liquor and ice. They sat quietly, heads slightly tilted, eyelids flirting with blindness. Dublin’s ears were very warm. He felt like he wanted to drool all over his shirt while he sank away into a very black sleep. What’s the word for, like, baby talk? Goo goo? But no, what’s the word, like bauble, or mumble, or something. That’s what I want to do.

Vegard’s voice gently pried apart his eyes. “Valet.”

“Huh?” Dublin whispered in a croak.

David was looking out the window with his chin in his hand. “Landlord,” he said, turning and pulling on his belt. “Landlord.”

“What? What do you guys want?”

“Landlord, I don’t ever want to fall off.”

“Fall off what?”

“You know.” He looked back out the window. “Fuck it.”

“Valet!” Vegard shouted. They both looked at him. “Valeeeeet!” The bartender looked up at the men with, interestingly enough, a disappointed look on his face. David looked at the bartender, then back at Vegard.

“OK. We go.”

They left.



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