Long Pants Under a Hot Sun

A novel about Africa, drinking and the meaning of life

Archive for the month “November, 2012”

A Knock at the Door

Something to read for a short break from family time…unless you need a nap from all the turkey. And wine.

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In this chapter, Dublin looks for his friend as dusk falls.

 

A Knock at the Door

Dublin looked east and west upon the road they’d come down. He looked north, and the buildings in that direction seemed to be full of classrooms. They had that look about them. He spun slowly to the south. There was a giant building in front of him, with a wide, open foyer. Within he saw an information desk placed between walls of dorm room mailboxes. What luck, he thought, getting dropped off right where he needed to be. It was like fiction.

Supposedly a place to get information

He approached the information desk and waited behind two girls comparing identification cards. Dusk fell around him, and he began to worry about searching for Curran’s room in the dark. The campus looked beautiful in the daylight, but what about after sundown? Who knew what kind of criminal elements could lurk about, preying on white, clueless student tourists? He should have read up a little on Ghana before coming over. Now he was at the whim of the information desk lady, a woman of great power and knowledge. He could go nowhere without her. His destiny seemed to be fully in the grasp of a woman with an inordinate patience for the idiot standing in front of her. He couldn’t find his classroom, and she explained to him that arts classes were in the arts building. He was finding it hard to understand. Artists.

He looked to his right and saw a glass display case with a map of the campus displayed inside. A large blue “X” marked the information desk, and just behind it was a building labeled “International Housing.” He glanced back at the information lady once more before slipping away quietly.

A verdant quadrangle opened up on the other side of the foyer. Dusk was working the campus into a gray lather, but Dublin made out the dormitory to the left. It had faded blue shutters and painted iron railings bolted into concrete walls. A wide balcony ran the length of the building on the second floor. Leaning over the edge stood a man holding a coil of fire hose.

“Hey there! Night is coming!” Dublin looked up at the man and nodded, not knowing what else to do. He kept walking with his head down.

“Hey, man! I say it’s getting dark!”

Dublin looked up. “Yes, it’s getting darker.” He stopped. They stared at each other. “Now what?”

“Find your place!”

“Why, is it dangerous here after dark?”

“No, but it is difficult to find something if you can’t see it!”

“Oh. Well, yes, I suppose so. Tell me, do you know where the Americans stay?”

“They stay here. Go to the staircase. Walk up the stairs. There will be Americans all over the place. You can smell them.” He wrapped the fire hose around his left arm. Dublin started towards the staircase some fifty feet away. “Those are the stairs. Smell them before it gets too dark!” He walked away, the metal spout of the hose clanging against the concrete.

“Crazies,” Dublin muttered. “Crazies everywhere on this crazy continent. Yes, I suppose it is hard to see in the dark. What the hell is that all about?” He started up the stairs and tripped on the second step. Gravel stuck to the palms of his hands.

Conversation in east coast accents greeted Dublin at the top of the stairs. Several students in gray T-shirts sat on the floor playing cards. Each of them held a burning joint, and the smoke got in his eyes. The smell of dope was thick in the air. I smell them, Dublin laughed to himself. They looked up and ignored him.

“Any of you know Curran?”

“Yep. Last door straight ahead.”

Dublin waited a moment before picking his way through jacks and aces and spires of beer bottles.

“By the way, where you coming from?”

Dublin turned around. “Togo.”

“Oh.” The game went on. Again he waited a moment. Nothing. Strange, high Americans.

“Where are you from?” Dublin asked.

“Pittsburgh.”

“Oh, it sounded like you were from the east coast.”

“That is the east coast.”

“Not really, is it?”

“Yeah, really.” The guy looked squarely at Dublin, squinting through marijuana smoke.

“I thought it was by Ohio.” The six of them stared at Dublin without a word. “Well, thanks.” He turned around and got his feet moving.

The last door on the second floor led to a room jutting out over the quad. Dublin looked for a name on the door, any kind of indication that he was in the right place. A blink of orange glanced off the rooftops on campus. Dublin knocked. Across the quad, “Time Out” in neon letters caught his eye. He saw another sign that looked familiar, but it was too dim to see.

There were rustling noises in the room, a wooden box closing and bare feet on the floor. The head of a white man with a light brown afro and weeks of beard growth pressed up against the screen door, smashing the tip of a joint.

“No way!” the face said, peering at Dublin. “No way!”

“Hey, Curran.”

“I can’t believe you got here!”

“I’m here.”

“Welcome to Ghana! Come in!” He held the door open. Just then, the last bit of light left the sky, and Dublin walked into a room lit warmly by candle light. “You did well, Dublin.”

Dublin nodded. Mostly to himself.

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