Month: March 2016

Hotel Florence

pulse

…. continuation

His big round nose twitched. The gigantic dark lips pursed as if he wanted to speak or rather command. You avoided the red shot eyes and did not want to imagine the beefy round face with bushy beard.

“Talk to me sweetie.”

“I am not your swee-.”

You could not contain your anger. Your voice burst up amid the tranquil air of the room. Folks looked at your table briefly. The last words choked in the rage curbing your throat.

“Don’t you raise your voice on me boy. Here’s the deal, go think it over and meet me here tomorrow. You know what I expect eh? Now leave my table.”

The metamorphosis of his gentleness into harshness was concrete. You could feel its sharp edges from his cold voice.

You stood and walked. You felt his stare upon your back. A feeling compelled you to turn and say ‘yes’ but you receded. Each step you made was heavier than its precedent. Possibilities matched up and down your head. Your vision was clouded and you could not notice smile. You were now a slave to dilemma.

Turmoil took over you as you stepped out of Hotel Florence. The chill that greeted you reminded you of your woes, of the importance your job to your existence. The awry smell and the gloomy light spoke of an ugly future. You wanted no more tarmacing, no more unproductive interviews, no more lies of being made to work with only promise of pay in a month to come, no more issues with landlords who lock your door with their padlock when you fail to pay rent in time. You were done with suffering. Instantly, you made an about turn and walked back to meet your devil.

That night happened.

More tears well up in your eyes and soon it is going to rain. You are a lost man; lost in your own suffering. Are you even a man anymore? After Hotel Florence? Your future is as bleak as that of the white Rhino. Its control is no longer in your hands. You are bound to bondage.

Your heart is no longer beating to a rhythm you know. Your body long transformed into a pleasure instrument where the owner plays to a tune they please. Your feelings are a ruin where hope is simply a wish. You have been robbed of every little thing you could ever own.

Ndereba Khamali is your owner now. He decides when you breathe and when you hold your breath. He has strapped a collar around your neck and he now wants you to marry him. You want to laugh to this utterly ridiculous idea but you do not even own your mirth. His desire is to show the world where your fears have led you; that you are neither a man nor a woman or is it that you are another man’s woman? That you lie on a fellow man’s chest at night and stroke his beard.

He wants you to defy your customs, religion and orientation. He wants you to be the good example of bad influence of a foreign culture you do not even subscribe to. He wants you cast out of your society and community.

The hammer has fallen and your fate sealed. That morning after the night in Hotel Florence he had shown you something horrible, a thing that has since then haunted your nights and flawed your days.

Now you look at the bottle on the table with contempt. You do not even have a heart to pray. Tears are trickling down your cheeks uncontrollably. You have no eternity in your list anymore. All you have is darkness. Pitch darkness. And you are only counting.

By the time the hour clock moves, you will be no more. People will remember you as a coward who could not face life as it is. Not even one will dare see you as a victim. They will not mourn, they will not cry. But your mother will. The rest will unanimously bury you and their memories of you. Perhaps, Ndereba Khamali will have to bury the video too.

owl

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Hotel Florence

owl

You stare at the wall clock. And hot tears well up in your eyes. The hour hand is short and thick. Its movement is a mystery you can’t uncover. It is gentle, sly and elusive. The minute hand is long and sharp as if made to pierce your fears. You can comprehend its movement but can you relate with it?

Then the second hand drifts by. Its clicks echoing in your head like it is an empty hall making you dizzy. You can’t stand it but at the same time you want it to move faster than it has always done. It has become your nightmare. A brutal reminder of how fast time is running out. Unable to contain its taunting movement, you shift your gaze to the frame of the clock; dark and round.

Your primary teacher once taught you about eternity. You were in standard three back then and she’d used a ring to demonstrate the tricky concept. The point was to use anything round to explain how eternity works, how it starts anywhere and ends nowhere. The clock frame now with its dark edges is taking you back into that classroom. It is forcing you to consider what you would rather avoid. Something you had forgotten. Something clearly out of your reach.

The couch is fast giving up its comfort. It is becoming hard and uncomfortably hot. You do not know how to shift your position. Your memory can neither remind you the same. It is busy taking you places you never wish to be.

The clock gradually drifts away until you lose its clear focus. It becomes a part of some fog. Or rather the fog swallows it. Your surrounding suddenly melts into nothingness. As if you only exist in a dream.

The high end hotel is where it all started. You had been invited for dinner. Lowly as you were, you could not refuse such a rare offer. You knew well how easy for a youth to become president than a man to be invited for free dinner. Excitement took the better of you. As you entered, you were thankful for not having turned down the invitation.

You were awed by the strange elegance of the interior of the hotel. You were only familiar with reflections of the city on the huge windows outside. It had never occurred to you that such a place ever existed. The red carpet running along the lounge and spreading in the restaurant, the white walls decorated with black and white photographs of people you did not recognize, the chandeliers flooding the room with neon light, the attendants dressed better than you and the potted plants.

You walked cautiously behind the pretty attendant who had introduced herself as Helen. Her gleaming hair was superstitiously dark and long. Her high stilettos elevated her a few inches high. She had thoroughly confused you in the way she spoke tenderly as if she knew you and wanted to be your girlfriend.

People sunk deep into their leather chairs. They conversed in low tones and jointly produced a fine hum. None of them shouted at the waiters. You saw a man with a potbelly snap his fingers and the waiter materialized to his service. Tall bottles stood on low round glass tables.

At the balcony, some other people dressed in suits and ties stood around tall tables covered with pure white cloth while they held their glasses. Most men inserted one hand in their trouser pocket. They did not laugh, they chuckled.

Then time came for you to join in the feast of classical music, wine, hushed talks and chuckles. You were intimidated by the environment. You felt out of place like a sheep amidst the wolves. You quickly sunk into your chair and fumbled around. It was hope that you were not going to embarrass yourself but most importantly, your guest.

A gentleman brought you a booklet written on the maroon cover ‘Hotel Florence’. You were confused. Nervously, you opened it and realized that it was a menu. You could not recognize a single thing in it. For the first time, you realized that there were so many types of tea. Even coffee. Your heart pounded. A time for embarrassment had come and you almost froze with fear.

Your partner read the trouble written on your face and offered to help. You were thankful for his kindness. You almost embraced him but then you had exposed you shortcomings to the person you always struggled to impress. Words departed from your lips. You conversed in ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.

“Stefan, do you know why you are here?”

“NO”.

“God! You damn hot.”

You went dumb. There was no response to that remark. To you, it did not even qualify to be a complement. You did not fancy the way he was looking at you.

“You are hot Stefan. I like you.”

You had to notice the emphasis placed on ‘I’ and ‘you’. You stared blankly, unable to comprehend the words. You did not want to believe what you thought the boss meant. You just could not.

“Stefan, do you like me?”

“No.”

The answer was firm. When you had left your house, you had not expected such a wayward twist in events. You felt conned. Your gaze swept across the room, the intricate tables, the whispering people and your gaze fell on a man leaning onto a fellow man for a kiss. You withdrew immediately in disbelief.

“Answer me Stefan. I know you do but I would love to hear it from your sweet lips.”

“Why are you doing this?”

Your voice was crispy. It was hollow and empty. It portrayed your fears and aired your dilemma.

You mumbled a prayer in your heart. The possibility of you losing your job was becoming as clear as the windows of Hotel Florence; so clear that it practically vanished. The blackmail as well was as real. You were clearly on the losing end. Each and every card you had did not matter. You threw it and you lost, you kept it and you would still lose.

The boss looked at you and you looked down like a girl. His gaze was heavy on you. You felt that he could see through you. Cold beads of perspiration collected on your brow and you prayed that he did not notice them.

pulse

… to be continued.

How to tell a story about a story

story

I sat alone long after I’d finished reading the short story feeling lost in the real world. Cheated. The outline had put my hopes higher than any flag in the land. It made me walk away into a sanctuary hoping never to come back. Away from the touch of human kind,away from bother and deep into a silent land where characters spoke in their muted conversations only accessible through written words.

                            *************

In the hiding, the only thing that brought humanity close to me was the sound of lorries grunting at the highway, murmuring at the burden of the red gravel weighing down upon it and the far away whimper of a child and the parachutes wobbling in the air like a group of rainbow color hunting eagles.

Cricket chirps were rampant, stealing away the short-lived stillness from the conversations between the birds. I could also hear a dove woo a mate in its deep husky grunt of lust.

I sat on a boulder, ready to lose myself to the read. I was easily a saint kneeling in the church waiting on God’s voice. My legs hanged out my balls to the pleasant lick of the evening sun. In a posture that my biology teacher would have readily discouraged and even pull your ear just to emphasize his stand. The wind blew gently and bananas danced amply as if imploring me to share the sweetness.

The intro was witty. It carried promises of worthwhile rewards if only you hold your calm. However, it warned whoever could not get past the common 148 characters on Twitter and even fewer on Whatsapp that are mostly abbreviations. The enticement in it roused my pleasure cells and they opened up like flowers’ bloom in anticipation of morning sun.

The writer gave me a maiden entrance into the world of his lead character and I was impressed. I smiled. I blessed the Lord for giving us good writers who never let us perish in the wake of plunging economy but give to us the opportunity to get lost in gripping stories. the thud in my chest softened and became steady, only fluctuating on hitting a bizarre line that deserves a reread.

I read on, gobbling even the mundane parts of the story. Letting myself sink into the appalling tentacles of the snappy sentences. With the thirst of a drunkard, I gulped down the suspenseful paragraphs. And the story, told from the heart and passion of a storyteller, drifted silently past my eyes.

The rhythm in the story edged away the one in my aura. I lost track of time and everything else. I geared to claiming my well deserved award. And when the time came,after all the patience,after all the thirst, after all the wait, my zeal was not for nothing.

For the twist in the story left me laughing at myself.

The story lingered on in my head for a very long time. I wished I’d been the one to tell it and still paint the picture without losing a single color. Or detail. Or crucial dot.

Cobwebs

cobwebs

I run my Palm across my face to sweep off cobwebs on my face as I emerge from between the tall trees. And sit on a cypress tree stump. As I compose myself, I manage to bring down my breath. The gulps of fresh air dampen my head the more. I sit still.

Before me lays a vast carpet of green vegetation. The land is still and awkwardly silent. Maybe the wind is holding its breath. Meditatively, I listen more keenly. Hunting for any sound that could spark the conversation in my head.

My head fails to capture the purr of a milling machine far away and the sounds of birds cutting through the air in their swift flight and insects clicking unanimously and silence.

It however hears the throb of my heart and the questions screaming to be answered.

I sigh deeply and my eyes fall on a cloud covered sky. Grey smooth clouds. While I search in them for answers for the questions in my head, I behold a hole in the well uniform clouds. It is oval. And reveals a deep blue sky. The clouds around it are darker and thicker. A wish to poke such a hole into my clouded head befalls me. It grips me tighter than the spending of a broke economist.

Darkness is creeping in. I can see it hide among trees and valleys. Cows can see it too and I can hear their moos as they troop in for the night. The children are rejoicing in shadow. They are playing and shouting and crying. Birds are beseeching their lovers to retire in for the day.

And my search isn’t moved.

Mosquitoes are beginning to zero in on me a rare source of dinner. They bite my legs. The pinch sinks like that of a person confirming whether he is dead. I scratch the itches inflicted by these tiny creatures with their little annoying buzzes. The pleasure is unimaginable. They hover around my head, probably expecting to knock me out with their miniature revolutions.

I sit into the darkness, staring at my own blankness, until it grips me tight in its unavoidable tentacles. Wondering how lucky must have sir Isaac Newton been when he sat under a tree only to discover gravity and paste his name on the hall of fame.

Finally I rise to go, with no answers nor findings. However,my browsing was not in vain, for eventually I have a story to begin with. but unfortunately nothing much to warrant me a place among the greatest men of all time.