An angry knock on my door cut my efforts short. I opened the door with a matching facial expression and came face to face with Angela – with whom I have a strange sort of acquaintance midway between indifference and the occasional unwelcome remark. Glowering, she asked what I intended to do by “making a racket at this time of the night.” I started the whole tale about how I walked into the wall using GPS coordinates from before the room’s furniture was moved, but she wasn’t quite so interested that I had to finish explaining. She pushed her way in.
“Where’s your wife?”asked Angela, looking around and under the bed (!?!),”I helped her to civilize this jungle-clearing of yours yesterday… Her name, I think, was [The Ex]. We talked for hours.”
“She went home,” I said very opaquely in a tone I hoped was upbeat and hiding nothing while simultaneously seeking to deadpan that line of conversation.
Angela laughed. “You fought. Tell me, was that before or after make-up sex?” A certain sinking feeling coincided with the realization that Angela and The Ex had talked for hours rather too well in my self-imposed soccer-playing absence.
“Can we talk about this tomorrow?”
“It’s already tomorrow, dimwit,” Angela spelled out, turning to face me squarely. I immediately saw that she had a black eye – worrying enough by itself, but also a chance to change the topic.
“Who did that to you?”I asked, “You have a black eye.”
She looked away.”What? Nothing.” Then she climbed into my bed quite innocuously (?!?) and fell fast asleep amazingly fast, because my many questions about the black eye were not answered. Eventually when I said goodnight in exasperation she corrected me (“You mean good morning”) and slept on. One would think I hadn’t even asked about black eyes or anything.
My new dilemma was where to sleep, seeing as my bed was occupied without prior notice. I considered joining her in there, and taking things to their natural conclusion, but I only went as far as considering it and smiling weakly at the idea. (My self-censorship is almost instinctual.) Eventually I found myself at a corner of my room I like to call The Office, watching muted TV when I wasn’t wondering what Black-Eyed Angela was up to – apparently, “sleep” was the limit of her intentions. Time seemed to pass languorously, the early morning silence was oppressive, Angela looked beautiful in her sleep, and I wrote things in my journal that don’t bear repeating here. Eventually the TV began to display 6am news and I started making breakfast.
Meanwhile, the rumor mill began to churn out results. My phone came alive with hot gossip texts about my activities of the previous day. In no particular order, some are listed here…
Carol: For covering all that distance I think she deserved better.
Jen: Hw cld u? I olwez knw u wr a gd 4 nuthn wannabe. Gud riddance fckr. She’ll gt ovr u.
Big Mac: Damnit big boy, you threw her things out and told her you laid her sister?! That’s just loooow! Did you hit her?
Myk: Please call me. Thank you.
Sam: You owe me a drink or ten. Nisambazie alafu tutayasahau hayo mengi.
Sister of The Ex: I’m in trouble with siz n she won’t talk. Wanna explain?
I sent a uniform response to all these friends of mine: “She read my journal without authorization and chose to leave. Don’t ask.” Each would interpret it differently but I wasn’t too bothered about that - not least what Jennifer would think, that “best friend” of The Ex who hated me um, mutually. Big Mac’s text was flawed in suggesting that I’d laid Sister of the Ex. All lies. I returned to making breakfast as “guilt waves” coursed through my conscience without good cause.
Angela didn’t wake up until 8am or thereabouts. At that time, she rolled onto her back, sat up and palmed her forehead in that trademark gesture perfected by hangover-sufferers. Her black eye looked most frightening because that particular eye was redder than the other. Her first words to me were, “I sort of liked her. Why did you fight?”
I served Angela breakfast in bed in the hope that she would shut up with her mouth full. Much as I wanted her to blab on and on and accidentally let slip the source of her black eye, I couldn’t deal with her talking about The Ex. Well, I was wrong. Angela talks no matter what is or isn’t in her mouth. “She suits you well. Her crazy out-there spontaneous style balances your reserved quiet mysterious style - not that you asked or anything, heck, I know you just don’t give a damn - but you need that sort of influence in your life or else God be my witness. Actually I like her. I think she likes me back… Can I have her? I mean, you obviously don’t know what to do with a good woman... [Etc, etc]” Believe it or not I was listening in awe. (How could anyone talk so much at breakfast? Didn’t her mother ever slap her for it?)
Sister of the Ex texted back: “Breakfast at 10. Burger Dome. You two have to TALK.”
I replied: “I’ve already had breakfast. Isn’t [The Ex] in Kisumu already?”
Sister of The Ex: “Ha. Breakfast is beside the point. Get there on time.”
It seemed The Ex hadn’t gone home yet. Her sister was arranging a meeting for us. It would be useful to talk. I turned to Angela: “I have to leave right now. It seems I have a date at ten.”
Angela went silent suddenly and focused on eating. I immediately became suspicious of whatever machinations were being devised in her head. My excessive paranoia was vindicated in short order: as soon as she finished wolfing down whatever remained of her breakfast, she said, “I’m coming along.”