Tom Mboya Street. Christmas Day of 2014 at 1600h. It is raining like it is the end of the world and the clouds are darker than a cave. It’s Christmas which basically means that there isn’t a whole lot of people walking the streets. It’s a ghost town out there. But I am walking. And for some reason, I’m barefoot and shirtless. My head swirls like I have a concussion and one of my eyes is swollen shut.
I am holding lots of stuff in my hands like a jacket, a pair of shoes and a pair of worn out sleepers. Inexplicably, I don’t stop to wonder why I am not wearing any of this stuff. I hurry past a couple of girls one of whom says to her friend, “Aki woiye look at that mad guy. Si he’ll die of cold if he goes on like that? And why is he walking barefoot in town? Aki woiye.”
I must be the mad guy she is talking about. I don’t think I’m mad but I turn around, face them and laugh maniacally. I must seem madder than a bloody hatter to them. Screeching, they run off and cross the street in a hurry almost getting themselves ran over. “You can stop laughing now Charles.” I say to myself but fail to heed my advice. My laughter continues floating along with the thunder and the rain torrents. “Seriously Charles; Stop laughing.” But it’s like I’m a different entity from my body. Finally, I say “fuck it” and go home laughing.
I get to the small place where I call home and it’s already dark. When I switch on the light, the bulb bizarrely drops right off the holder and breaks into a million little pieces on the floor. My head spins in the dark and I crash heavily on the bed. But I am cold and I am wet. I can’t feel my swollen feet. I must have stepped on a nail or a broken bottle in town. Still sleep tugs at me, beckoning me and I start slipping off.
“Charles! Charles!” That’s my brother yelling at me from outside my room. “Don’t open the door!” I want to yell back asking why the fuck he’s calling me if he doesn’t want me to open the door but my vocal cords are not in the mood. Must be because of all the maniacal laughing I was doing earlier. In my sleep and confusion however, I stagger to the door and do the opposite of what he asks. Right out there is his hugely maned (still doubting if ‘maned’ is an English word but you get the point) lion staring right at me. It roars loud as I smash the door in its face.
“Why did you open up?” Brother yells from outside. Why had I forgotten that he keeps a lion as a pet in his room?
“Why don’t you fucking marry a real woman already?!” I yell back as I switch on the lights. Darkness. I remember what happened to the bulb. Shit.
Through the keyhole, I see my brother trying to calm his pet down, but the brute isn’t in the mood to retire tonight without having me for dinner first. It takes a few steps back, comes running for the door and hits it hard with its massive chest. My door creaks. A few other hits like that and my room will be door less. But I guess I won’t be around to face the cold nights after that.
I run around the dark room, groping around for a weapon. Another hit on the door. Another yell from my brother. No weapons here! Shit. Shit. Another hit and my door loosens completely. My foot chooses that moment to step on a piece of the broken bulb. Oh fuck! And why don’t I keep weapons in the room? Oh, I remember! I am not a god damn criminal! Why am I not a criminal! Shit! Shit! Shit! Another hit on the door and it flies off the hinges. The lion stands out there with its head held high like the king it is and I can swear it’s smiling at me as if to say, “It’s just you and me now boy.”
No second thoughts. I dash out fast past it and it dashes after me as my brother yells, “What are you doing?”
“Staying alive brother.” I yell back as I run round and round. “What the hell are you doing? Masturbating? Stop it!”
“It’s a ‘he’ not ‘it’ dude.”
“Fuck you!” The lion is real close to my ass right now and I am growing tired real fast. I decide to run into the closest room whose door is open. Just so happens that that’s my brother’s room. I lock the door behind me and crash on the floor panting hard.
Outside, the lion roars but it isn’t knocking down the door. That’s curious. My brother is shouting something about the lion cubs being in the house. It hits me. The lion is afraid that I might hurt it’s – er, sorry – his cubs. I take advantage of that. There are three little cubs in a cage at the corner of the room. I grab one by the throat and open the door.
A loud roar from the lion and I squeeze the cub’s throat. Another loud roar – another squeeze. The lion takes a step back and I look right into its eyes. I am having trouble calling the lion ‘him’ seeing as how it’s a fucking brutish animal and not a human being so fuck you bro.
I make a serious wish to talk to the lion and when my mouth opens, a big, vibratory roar comes out of it and the lion backs off. Another roar from me and dust scatters off the cemented ground. The lion takes a knee and I put the cub at its feet. The lion leans over, I pat its head and it licks my hand. We go our different ways as friends. I am still trying to figure out what my roars meant to the lion but I am too glad they tamed the shit out of it to care.