Rose

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I’m having an impromptu beer at a club in the city. I haven’t indulged in the pleasures of the bottle in a while. I am not big on the noise, the expense, nor the hangover after. The plan is to have a drink and head home. One for the road so to speak. All the tables are taken by two or more people except for this one that has a lovely lonely girl thumbing her phone. Her face is sullen and her body sagged as if she has just lost her husband to an Instagram model.

She’s in a cream coat. On her neck, an oval face with big brown eyes, a face that is easy to like. Her forehead starts from the middle of her head and then her hair begins. Which means she’s from House of Mumbi. Which also means she was born holding a jug full of water ready to flood your broth.

She could be twenty-five or thirty-five. You can never be sure with women. I always add or deduct ten years from their ages.

“Is this seat taken?” I ask. Dignity should always be dressed with decorum.

“No. ” She lifts her head momentarily and sinks her face back to her phone.

On the table is a bottle of Tusker Cider and a wine glass filled to the brim with its contents. She holds the glass by the body instead of the stem, which suggests that she’s trying to warm her drink or the only class she knows is in Primary School.

I sit and order a Tusker Lager. I have no plans of entertaining anyone but it happens that the world is full of people and when you find yourself next to one you best move your jaws. I decide to regale her with talk. The music is loud. I lean in, almost smooching her cheek.

“I didn’t catch your name?”

“That’s because I didn’t tell you.”

I ignore the shade, “I’m Kevin.”

“I’m Rose.”

Images of the Titanic flash in my head.

“Is that a stage name?”

“What?”

“Is that your stripper name?”

“What did you say?”

“Nothing,” I say as my drink arrives.

I lean back and take a swig. Four other girls join our table. Three are short and wide. The map of Australia should come to mind. The fourth is shapely, she could be on the cover of a plus size model magazine. They order bottles of Savannah and take selfies and do a jig with their shoulders and hands oblivious to our mating dance.

Rose steals a glance at me, the expression on her face apologetic. I lean in again unable to resist her brown eyes.

“You know I decided to keep off. I don’t want to meet my maker.”

She brings her lips to my ear. (Imagine her bringing her lips to my ear and me bringing mine to hers throughout our dialogue). It’s ridiculously loud. Our friend from across the table has stood up and is inventing a new dancing style; no, not the shapely one.

“I’m sorry, its stress.”

“Work?”

“Yeah,” she puts her wine glass down. “Do you come here often?”

“No, actually this is a first for me. Is this your zone?” I don’t know why I said zone. Hope the people with Snapchat accounts find me cool now.

“Something like that.”

“What do you do?”

“I’m in marketing.”

She leans back and removes her coat and I get a chance to look at her profile. She’s in a white blouse with long-sleeves which she’s rolling up her arm, dark grey pants and short pointy boots. She has a watch on her right hand which faces downwards. She’s slender, with a figure that Europeans like. I could see her arm in arm with Thomas from Tennessee. I lean in again.

“The ring on your finger, are you married?”

“Does it matter?”

“It matters to me.”

“Why?”

“I don’t want to be removed out of bed with a machete.”

“Who is taking you to bed?”

“It’s a hypothetical.” You and I both know it’s not. I change gears.

“What exactly do you do in marketing?”

“I’m a telemarketer.”

“What is that?” Clubs really do bring out the dumb in you.

“Google it.”

The girls that had joined us leave. I lean to have another swig and she leans into me out of habit that I will say something, or out of the intimacy of a private space. I want to ask her about the ring again but women wear rings for all sorts of reasons. A promise to themselves, a commitment to the church or to push off thirsty males.

“What are your plans for tonight?” I ask instead.

“Nothing much, I’m just waiting for a friend and then I leave.”

“I’m also not here for long, should I call an Uber?”

“For what?”

“I don’t know, transport?”

“I’m not ready for that.”

“What about a coffee?”

“What do you mean?” She raises her left eyebrow mischievously as if a coffee is code for something lewd. The dating scene evolves while we blink.

“A serious coffee, like in a restaurant?”

She laughs and gets up. I think to go to the bathroom. She leaves me with her coat and drink. ‘How to build Trust. A TED talk coming soon.’ I decide I will buy her a drink because she’s good company. We won’t exchange contacts. I won’t take her home but at the same time I won’t say no if she warms up to the idea. I’m having these thoughts when she gets back with her friend in tow. A tall dark guy.

He shakes my hand and sits down so that Rose is sandwiched between me and him. I look at the gent. He is in a black jacket, black pants and has a thick ring on his small finger. I suppose that’s his cool badge. He has a face that says he could be a watchman in another life or I might just be getting worked up by the sight of a little competition.

I think of leaving, but I have already started drilling the well, I might as well stick around and see if there is water down there.

I lean into Rose.

“Who is your friend?”

“You want to know him?”

“Is he your guy?”

“No.”

“Are you lovers?”

“He’s a friend.”

“What do you mean ‘a friend’?”

“Platonic.”

I fish out my phone and punch, ‘Platonic’ into Google before she can say, Larry Page.

Platonic  

/Plo: tonic/

Adjective

A relationship that is purely spiritual and not physical. Platonic love and platonic friendships are marked by the lack of physical or sexual desire.

I giggle and lift my head. There are more bottles of alcohol on the table now. The gent is seated with one of his hand stretched out towards Rose so that it seats on the rim of the chair and not on her shoulders. I can tell he’s marking his territory, urinating on his tree like a baboon in the wild.

Rose looked interested at first but now she’s sulkier than she was before. She’s fingering her phone. I had eyeballed it. She was just checking out quotes. Girls get extremely philosophical especially when a relationship goes south. That’s when they start saying things like, ‘I feel so light, like a boulder has been lifted off my shoulders. I feel free.’ Break her heart enough times and you will be staring at Aristotle or St. Thomas Aquinas, not your girlfriend.

I lean into my second beer which is almost done and she leans into my ear.

“You’re leaving?”

“Almost, do you want to give me your number?”

“I didn’t say that.”

Her phone is on the table. The screen is cracked on the bottom corner. I wonder silently if it fell on her forehead while she was scrolling it in bed. I power it on—it doesn’t have a password or a pattern, which says, ‘She has nobody to hide things from.’ or, ‘It’s not her main phone.’ I tap the green receiver and key in my number then tap the receiver again.

“I don’t have credit,” she cries but I can feel my phone vibrating in my pocket. Guess that Bamba Five is good for something, eh?

I add contact. Her attention is magnetic on the screen. I type in, ‘Kev Hot Chap’ and before I’m halfway through she’s already breaking into a laugh. A man can dream, can’t he?

“Do you want to give me a push to the door?”

“You’re so ambitious.”

“Is that a yes?”

“No.”

I get up and stretch my hand. She takes it. I try pulling her to her feet, she doesn’t budge. I smile. Sometime you are the cock of the walk other times you are the feather duster. On both days you take it all in stride. I take my bag from the chair where her jacket is and leave her to her platonic friend. 

 

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