The Best Laid Schemes of Mice and Men
Tony didn’t have much say in his life. That’s why, one day, a tall man with kind eyes, an “Amercan” accent and a matted beard was deposited at his house. Mike, his 26-year-old cousin was back from the land of the KFC and the KKK. And Tony’s mother was determined that her late sister’s son would quietly re-enter Nairobi life from her son’s home. It was expected that Mike would move out as soon as one of the job interviews set up by a few uncles and an older cousin panned out.
But it had now been eight months since Mike had set foot in Tony’s house.
“Mike hako poa,” shared a short, mousy man in a blue shirt as he drank a cold Tusker with his best friends Johnny and Gido at a half-filled city bar on a Friday night. The DJ’s upbeat Dancehall mix was wasted on a crowd that was just beginning to wiggle into its weekend skins.
“Aje tena?” laughingly asked Johnny, a skinny light-skinned man who had just turned away from the group to call the attention of a busty waitress lazily parked at the bar counter.
“Didn’t you say last time that Mike had stopped acting up around the diggz?” ventured Gido, the dark, muscle-bound man nearly bursting out of his black suit jacket every time he raised a cold bottle of Heineken to his lips.
“Guys, you have no idea. Yesterday I came home early to find Mike out of the house having left my home laptop on. The landlord installed free WI-FI like two weeks ago and since then, Mike amekuwa online sending applications and stuff,” explained Tony.
He added, “Anyway, I started closing a few of the tabs, Google, NBA stats nini nini. When I got to the last two tabs, I found that one was a Facebook profile page and the other was open on a string of Facebook messages.”
“You guy! Usiseme ulianza kusoma that stuff?” exclaimed Gido. The three university friends had grown thick as thieves when they met during their first year on campus studying Computer Science. They’d drifted apart over the years but still managed to have a regular pint once in a while.
Johnny chimed in, “Haha! Tony ukona tabia mob za ki-damme. Anyway, sasa juu ulisoma, what did you find?”
A grim-faced Tony took a huge gulp of his Tusker. He halted his tale till Gido completed his order of a fresh round for the table. Gido shook his head in exasperation as Johnny let out a low whistle at the waitress’ ample retreating bottom.
“I think Mike is gay.”
“Haiya? Shit!” exclaimed Johnny.
Gido cautiously took a swig of his drink as Tony explained further.
“There was a long series of messages between him and some guy called ‘Samson’. I quickly skimmed them and it was weird because kuna vile unaona that hawa watu wanakatiana aki. Anyway, the important thing is, the last message between them was that they were linking up today,”
“Ki-blind date, nini? They hadn’t met before?” asked Johnny.
Tony responded, “No. But guess wanameet wapi? Here at Club Cocamanga at 8:30.”
Johnny let out a snort of laughter as Gido contemplatively leaned back into his seat before asking, “So, what’s your plan?”
“Si to catch him! That’s why we are here bros. It’s the only way to get Mike out of my house bana. My mum doesn’t want to hear anything but, there is no way the Chairlady of the local Christian Women’s Union will let her son live with a gay guy.”
There was a long pause before anybody spoke. The DJ mix had shifted to Techno with the volume gradually creeping higher and higher. “Wow. That’s cold man,” said Johnny as he topped up his drink. “You’d really do that to your own blood?” Gido calmly asked. Before Tony could respond, a tall man in a brown shirt and blue jeans entered the bar, did a quick sweep of the room before sitting at the end of the counter.
Tony nudged his pals and triumphantly looked in the tall man’s direction. He was happy that they had sat at the farthest corner of the room. Noisy, cigarette-smoking patrons had since created a curtain of sweaty bodies and clouds of grey plume in the space between the trio and the bar.
Minutes ticked by as Mike sat at the counter. His eyes were fixed on the entrance just a few metres away. Eventually, Mike took out his phone (Tony whispered, “Mimi ndio nilimgee hiyo simu ya ex-wangu, Sharon). He punched in a series of numbers and seemed to wait for it to ring. Just then, Gido stood up as if heading to the loos but instead slowly picked his way around the tables towards the counter.
Tony dropped his bottle of Tusker on the floor when Gido tapped Mike on the shoulder, mouthed a few words close to his ear before warmly giving him a hug. As the busty waitress rushed over to clean up the mess, the two lovers slipped out of the bar.
“Sasa utado?”asked Johnny amidst great bouts of laughter.