Just a Story

Expressive writing. Courtesy: Gabriella Salmon


Hello guys,

I called this story “Just a Story” because I think it is a little, well, not thought-out at all. My High School English teacher refused to award me well deserved A’s because my Compositions we always a little too um, verbose. So for the first time ever, I will refrain from verbosity and keep this short and sweet.

The first time I heard the word verbose was when it was being used to award me C’s and B-‘s in English. Considering English was my favorite, it meant that the Ds and E’s scored in Chemistry and Mathematics ensured that I was a strictly C’s student. Still trying to find the right words to thank the good Lord with for somehow getting my ass into law school.

Sometimes a guy who gets home drunk from a meeting that wasn’t supposed to go past 8:00 P.M. just wants to write a story without a plot or identifiable characters or well, anything that makes literature, literature. Sometimes a guy just wants to write; and this is just a story from a guy who just wants to write even when he doesn’t know what he wants to write about.

A Little Conversation

December 24, 2017

23:49 h

I would have put a location but I don’t want y’all knowing where I live

So an uber drops me off at home from a long day and a short evening at the bar and I don’t even remember paying the man. All I know is that I am climbing the long flight of dimly lit stairs heading to my place whistling jingle bells like an idiot. It’ll be Christmas in eleven minutes.

I get to my floor and notice that my neighbor’s lights are on. I have one of those neighbors I have always wanted to talk to but never quite rose to the occasion because my inner hermit kept clobbering me on the head. But nothing keeps the inner hermit down like vodka and loads and loads of beer.

So idiot me knocks on the nice lady’s door. And someone I have never met before answers. First thing I tell her is;

Me: You are not my neighbor

And she laughs. Not a little chuckle but a big throaty laught that rocks her shoulders. It is weird, but not weirder than that time when me and my neighbor talked about two months ago.

The one and only conversation between me and my neighbor that happened about two months ago

22:24 h

I have just gotten home from I don’t know where, when someone knocks on my door. It is one of those evenings when I don’t feel like eating so I am just chilling with my feet up, listening to music and imagining myself being up on stage singing even though God totally kept that talent away from me. Not that I am complaining.

I hit pause on the music and wait for the person knocking to either knock again or just take a hint and bounce. They knock again. Funny how nobody ever walks away. They just stand there at the door and knock and knock and knock until someone opens. Argh! Humans!

There she stands. In a red top that clings desperately to that body of hers.

Her: Hi

Me: Aren’t you cold?

Her eyes hit her Timbaland boots. Yep. My neighbor is one of those chics who wear Timbaland boots. Again, not complaining. It is going on eleven o’clock in the evening, we live on like the sixth floor and it is a cold night. And the girl is just walking around the corridors in that tiny little red top of hers.

Her: Not at the moment.

I smile and look for something smart to say. I strike zilch and start to quickly think about how this moment is getting really awkward really fast. Us. Standing there at the door, smiling at each other like crazy people.

Her: So, (loud sigh) how are you doing?

Me: I am doing great. No complaints here.

Her: Oh, cool. Me neither. Hi, do you have water at your place?

Me: Um, water?

Her: Yeah. You know, that colorless liquid thing that shoots out when you open the tap?

Me: Oh. Water! Yeah, I think so. Just got home. Haven’t really turned on the taps yet

Her: (Smiles) That’s OK.

I step back into the house and turn on the nearest tap. No water. Damn it.

Me: (Over my shoulder to her) No water

She enters the house and sits on the arm of my one and only couch like she knows my house inside out. Like we are best buds or something.

Me: So, what’s your name?

I mean, if the girl is going to ease her weight off on the arm of my chair (only people you know really well are supposed to sit on the arm of your couch. The others should sit on the actual couch; or better still, stay outside until invited) I might as well catch her name.

Her: ….

I swear she tells me her name but I don’t catch it. So I ask again,

Me: Huh?

Her: ….

She says it again and again it flies right by me. I find it rude to ask a name for the third time so I smile as if I have it and tell her my name. I think she catches it the first time.

Me: So what can I do for you?

Her: Well, do you have an extra phone I could borrow?

Me: An extra phone?

Her: Yeah. You know, a phone. An electronic device that you put on your ear and talk to people who are… you know…

She does that thing with her hand where the little finger is at her mouth and the thumb is at her ear

Me: (Like an idiot) Oooh! A phone! (Nodding vigorously) I just have enough of those for me.

Her eyes stroll to the table where my phones sit staring at her; betraying me. In my defence, I need them both. And… you know what; I am not going to explain myself. Many people I know have two phones. The main one and the kabambe mpango wa kando one. So lay off.

Her: So um, my daddy died.

Me: What?

Her: You know; daddy? The male parent

I scratch my head because I don’t know what to do with that information. And I am looking for something appropriate to say but nothing comes to mind. Then just as I am about to say something astronomically dumb, I remember a little trick I read somewhere about the art of keeping awkward conversations going until you can find your ground. Just repeat the last word the other person said and add a question mark.

Me: He died?

Her: Yeah.

Me: Yeah?

Her: He was ill.

Me: Ill?

Her: Yeah.

Me: Yeah?

OK, this is not working.

Me: I’m sorry

Her: It’s OK. We all kick it some time, right?

Me: Right

I guess now I have to give her a phone

I have a very old phone given to me by my dad back in 2010. It hasn’t worked well these last couple of years. I think it just grew too old but the reason why I kept it is because it was given to me by my old man; you know? And the older you get, the less you see your parents and next thing you know, you only meet them over the holidays. Which is a bad thing, but life happens, you know?

And so I guess I developed a little sentimental attachment to this old and half dead phone. I guess I can give it to the girl who just lost her dad. But I am not about to share that little secret of mine with her. I dig around the boxes where I keep my defunct stuff and lying somewhere at the bottom among dead cockroaches stuck to sheets of my university exam papers is the phone with a few keys missing from the keypad. With age, phones with a keypad start dropping keys same way as old humans start losing teeth. Life happens. Do old people start losing teeth?

Her: Thank you

Me: You’re welcome. (Defensively) Now it is an old phone so, in case you find it a little problematic just…

Her: That’s OK. Beggars can’t be choosers, right?

As she turns to leave;

Her: Hey um, do you play music?

Me: Yeah. All the time. Why? Do I play it a little too loud?

Her: Oh no. Not at all. And even if you did, I have nothing against loud music.

Me: Then you have a good soul

Her: How so?

Me: Well, I believe that the more you love music, the brighter your soul becomes.

Her: Then you must have the brightest soul around. What I meant though is, do you play music? Like, do you sing?

Me: Who, me? (Self deprecating chuckle) Psh! No! Why?

Her: It’s just, the other night I heard music from your house. Someone was playing the guitar and singing and I came to chill outside your door so I could listen

Me: That’s um, (this girl is nothing if not absolutely forthcoming. Like TMI kind of forthcoming) that’s very sad.

Her: Nah, it was cool

Me: You could’ve knocked you know.

Her: Yeah but it sounded like you had a party going and I didn’t want to, you know, crash.

I know what she means. I wouldn’t have knocked either if I were her.

Me: Well, next time knock, yeah?

I don’t mean that.

Her: Cool

She smiles. She leaves. The girl who wears Timbaland boots at night and whose name I couldn’t quite catch. And I have wanted to say something to her since but like I said; inner hermit is a bitch.

Back to:

A Little Conversation

December 24, 2017

23:49 h

I would have put a location but I don’t want y’all knowing where I live

With vodka and beer induced courage, I knock on her door and someone else answers.

Me: You are not my neighbor

Her: (After she is done laughing) I guess not

Me: Who are you?

Her: Her cousin

She is answering these questions so obediently. If some drunk knocked on my door at midnight and started questioning me, I would smash the door against their noses with devilish laughter. Bwahahahahahahahaha! Idiots!

Me: Where’s my neighbor?

Her: At home.

Me: For Christmas?

I swear, the next time I drink, I will keep my mouth shut. Who asks someone if someone went home on December 25th, for Christmas?! Argh!

Her: Yes

And she answers! Again!

Me: That’s a bummer. How about the other one?

Her: Which other one?

Me: The one from the Coast? The rude one.

Her: She is at Coast. Yeah, she’s horrible

Me: I don’t like her. I think because she speaks flowery Swahili she thinks the rest of us are morons.

Says the drunk moron harassing the neighbor’s cousin at midnight

She laughs.

Me: So what’s your name?

Her: Kanini

Me: Can I have my neighbor’s number?

Her: Yeah sure. Which one?

Me: Not the rude one’s. Definitely not the rude one’s.

She gets back inside and comes out what feels like a second later with her phone in hand.

Her: You ready?

My phone is in hand and she starts;

Her: 0718….

Blah blah blah blah… and she is done. Now comes the weird part

Me: Um, what’s my neighbor’s name?

Her: What?

Me: Her name. You know, that noun that parents and governments attach to humans and dogs for identity?

Another hearty laughter

Her: Cuntwell.

Me: I knew there was a reason why I couldn’t catch it last time.

Her: Yeah. Tell me about it.

Just then a male voice calls out from the house and I become even bigger of an idiot

Me: Is that your boyfriend?

I’m really ashamed of this part

Her: Yeah.

Me: Oh. Hey, think you can see me to my door? I am afraid I might trip and fall to my death

Like I said, really ashamed.

But again, she says yes. But fortunately, I open my door before I can cause myself further embarrassment and we bid each other adieu. Hopefully forever.

But since someone somewhere works in mysterious ways, I bump into her on Christmas morning at the butchery and she smiles at me. The kind of smile that says, I have seen you embarrassingly drunk. And I smile back like; let’s never talk about that, OK?


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  1. Who names their kid Cuntwell. Does it have to do with where they came from? Like the Kenyans from Kenya. Or the Amerucans.

    Was it not that the guy who writes just wanted to write without an idea of what to write about, I would have bitched about the length. Of the story

    For now, I will just sit duck and hope I will get a chance to grab the opportunity with your not rude neighbour. I can’t handle coast swahili but I can handle Cuntwell

  2. Still smarting from these fits of laughter. Oh my ribs. This needs continuation Charlo (oh no I’ve also welcomed myself straight in into “Charlo” bwahahahaha)

  3. I love it. Snapshots of life and living.
    And I totally get, “Sometimes a guy just wants to write; and this is just a story from a guy who just wants to write even when he doesn’t know what he wants to write about.”


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