In this chapter, the Norwegians ask Dublin to take them to the top of the world.
One of the Golden Days
They made it into town, and Dublin coasted curiously and comfortably along the coastal highway. He had the car pointed straight towards home and was breezing down a road without stoplights. No turns, no programmed stops. He felt good, confident, still loosened up from the gin, but more in control of hands and feet than he had been.
“Landlord,” David said sullenly.
“What is that big building over there?” he asked, pointing to the tallest building in Lomé.
“That’s the Hotel Deuxième Fevrier. It’s named for the second of February in Nineteen-Sixty-Something, when the president of Togo walked out of the burning wreckage of his airplane. Right before he took office, I think. There are three days of miracles or something that helped him get elected, you know, get people’s attention and good spirits and awe. They call them the three Golden Days.”
“All right, let’s go,” he said sitting up.
“To the hotel?”
“Yes! I can’t be on top of the world if I’m not on the roof of that building.”
“Well, you know, we’re at sea level. So, you really can’t be on top of the world anyway.”
“Horse shit! Take me to Deux Fevrier!” Dublin felt the gin bubble up in him, and he grinned and slammed the car into the wrong gear and took a fast corner.
“Woo hoo!” David screamed. Dublin figured he could get to the hotel by heading straight for it, like he had for home. It matched his conception of growing up, that it would happen by itself as long as time remained linear.
What a gorgeous lie that is. The roads had no intention of leading Dublin to the hotel, not the easy ones anyway. He found himself in a roundabout, cheating glances at Deux Fevrier standing over him like a dictator a quarter mile away. Round and round he went, unable to figure out where to turn off. Vegard twisted around in the back seat, his tongue pickled. David leaned out his window as the sun and clouds revolved far above him, the Peugeot in a steady curve around the circle.
“Where do I go?” Dublin asked him.
“I don’t know!” David shouted deep into Africa. The wind from the roundabout blew his hair back. He leaned out further. “I’ll ask for directions.”
“Hooo-telll Deux Feee-vrieeer! Ou çaaaa?” David screamed, his hand cupped to the side of his mouth like a crescent moon. Taxi drivers stared at the madman.
“Oh my God,” Dublin muttered.
“Hooo-telll Deux Feee-vrieeer! Ça Ouuu?” David screamed again, his voice cracking. They went around like this a couple more times, Dublin warming up to the show, laughing deliriously, Vegard grinning like an idiot in the back and gesturing like an orchestra director. Dublin jerked the car off the roundabout, and they wound around corners into a grand parking lot, pulling to a stop in front of the hotel. Africans in tight red jackets regarded them cautiously. David jumped out of the car and calmly approached them.
“Messieurs. Hotel Deux Fevrier. Ou ça?”
“C’est l’hotel, ici,” one of them said earnestly, pointing at the tall building behind him, unable to comprehend how this red-faced, curly-haired man could not possibly know that.
“Bon,” he said and turned back to the car. “Friends! To the bar!”