Celebrating East African Writing!
Pete can hardly see, despite the light cast by the bare light bulb hanging from the low ceiling. He chokes on the cigarette smoke, and every so often he involuntarily makes discreet coughing noises, as if the darkness must be accompanied by silence.
He surveys the scene before him- an empty pool table, a trio huddled over some indistinct conversation (more people hidden in the darkness beyond, perhaps?), a motley collection of figures slumped over tables, chairs and their own chests, and the naked light bulb. The bulb dominates the scene, refusing to be subdued by the smoky miasma that has swallowed up nearly everything else.
He turns his gaze to the woman (it IS a woman, isn’t it?) sitting away from the trio but staring at them as if longing to be part of the conversation. He thinks, irrelevantly, that she looks like someone fresh out of a Njeri Karago movie scene (whatever that is).
“Why am I thinking in brackets?” he asks himself.
The scarf she is wearing on her head looks as out of place as a nun in a brothel. She looks innocent, but not virginal, and he idly wonders whether her name is Virginia. He makes up his mind to approach her and find out if indeed this is the case, but that is the exact moment The Beast chooses to make his appearance.
The Beast emerges gradually out of the gloom at the edge of Pete’s left field of vision. Initially he (it?) is difficult to make out, and one would be forgiven for thinking that the thing materialised directly from the congealed smoke (not thin air!). Pete goes right ahead and forgives himself for thinking it, while at the same time wondering why he is thinking in brackets, why he is thinking at all.
“People don’t come to these sorts of places to think, let alone in brackets!” he mutters under his breath.
The Beast finally materialises in his (its?) full glory, a creature of enormous size and hideous features, and it does not help one bit that at only five feet tall, Pete is as petit as his name suggests. The Beast sweeps past him, clearly oblivious of his presence, and ambles towards Virginia (it WAS Virginia, wasn’t it?). He reaches her and taps her right shoulder.
Pete braces himself, brings his hands to his ears to block out the inevitable shriek as Beauty turns to meet The Beast, and is utterly shocked when her face melts into a disarming smile. She rises to meet him, hugs him, kisses him (revolting!), and leads him by the hand out of the darkling pub.
Pete is stunned. Today, of all days, when he has decided to end his loveless, sexless existence by preying on lasses such as Virginia, she just happens to be the Devil’s ‘The One’!
“Another day (another dollar).” This time he hears the voice adding the bracketed thoughts, and finally understands why some thoughts are in brackets.
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