Celebrating East African Writing!
‘I’m a philanderer.’ He said very matter-of-factly.
Katherine did not respond with either a look or sound. She simply stared at her rare steak and poked at it with her fork. She picked up the steak knife and cut into the piece of meat and watched the blood pool around it. She chewed slowly as she thought how the hell she had ended up here in the first place. The more she tried to remember, the further away the real reason seemed. The man across from her didn’t seem impatient for an answer. In fact, he was quite the opposite. He had sat back after making his declaration and now blew smoke from his cherry tasting cigarette towards the ceiling.
‘I don’t think you’re allowed to smoke in here.’ Katherine said simply as she sipped her ridiculously expensive wine. He made a shrugging motion and mumbled something like ‘…Doesn’t matter…’ under his breath. She returned to my meat. There were few things in the world that Katherine loved more than red meat. There was something carnal and primal about having bloody meat in this day and age. It seemed medieval yet it had such an exhilarating rush that never got old for Katherine.
‘Are you going to be like this all night?’ The man asked. Something had set him off. Katherine could see a tell tale vein begin to stretch out across his forehead. He picked up his phone and began to fidget with it when she offered no response. She quietly wondered to herself why he had even bothered to come. She told herself she would have been perfectly fine without this date. Would she?
Fork. Knife. Steak. Repeat. Katherine did this unhurriedly wanting to taste every morsel of meat. It was an extremely pleasurable moment that she did not want to come out of until the steak was done. She set her cutlery on the plate and sipped on her wine once more. At this moment, the attentive waiter came over and cleared her plate. She looked over at the man she was with but he had long zoned out into the other world. He seemed so distant that it was as if they were in two separate worlds. She sighed heavily and told the waiter that all she would like was some more wine.
The man in the tailored suit giving her the silent treatment was Jerry Macharia. The strongest feature he had was his jaw. It was chiselled by gods themselves and made him the most handsome but the most frightening man she had ever met. This was the only reason she had said yes in the first place. As the night progressed, he had shown no sign of any kind of civility. He insisted on calling her Kath when she had expressly told him that she hated when people shortened her name to Kath. He had insisted on ordering her meal for her choosing the veal well done instead of her usual rare T-bone steak. They fought about this for about a minute until he said she was free to eat whatever she wanted as long as she could work it out in the morning at the gym. Every cell in his body seemed determined to drive her mad which kept leading her back to the same thought; why was she here? Katherine was unable to find an answer. There were so many possibilities as to why she had agreed to come here. She was ageing and while it was graceful, she was hugged tightly by loneliness every night. It had been a couple of months since her husband died and she was yet to find companionship. After so many years of being married, how was she expected to ever date again? It seemed like so much had changed since the simple world of courtship and marriage. Everything was so casual these days and disease was rampant. The thought of having to deal with a condom during sex absolutely repulsed her. The thought of sex itself made her want to get a bottle of whisky and feel better at the bottom of it. Sex was never important to her. How could it be when it had been so bad for all those years? For Katherine, sex was about control, something she had never had.
She looked over at the man across and decided a little effort on her part wouldn’t hurt.
‘What do you mean you’re a philanderer?’ she asked Jerry whose attention now snapped back to the table.
‘It means I have no regard for women.’ He offered simply and went back into his sulking mood. ‘I only told you I was a philanderer because I figured you find out sooner or later. Maybe some of your friends would let it slip.’
She felt something stab at her heart.
‘That’s impossible,’ Katherine said trying to control her voice, ‘because I have no friends.’
He raised an inquisitive eyebrow at her and threw his head back in laughter. ‘That’s right, isn’t it? You’re one of those women who don’t believe in female companions. Why? Did one of them sleep with your husband Kath?’
Katherine was now visibly irritated but unable to form any words. Why did this man seem to be able to crawl under her skin and irritate her with the consistency of a grater? She was upset that she had ever agreed to come out in the first place. It felt so familiar to a life she had known before. How could men be so callous?
‘Everyone knows my husband slept around so don’t pretend not to know.’ She said to Jerry and raised her wine glass only to realize that it was empty. The waiter was nowhere in sight so she resigned to waiting patiently even if she had Jerry with her.
He sighed exaggeratedly and leaned closer to her. Katherine was unable to look him straight in the eye for fear that she would succumb to the feeling that was bubbling at the pit of her stomach.
‘You know I’ll never apologise, right? Its too late now to ever make any apologies for what i have said and done’
Before she could give some sort of sign that she understood what he said, the waiter came over. As soon as he did, Jerry got up and left the table.
‘Mrs. Macharia? Another glass of wine?’ he asked politely noting the newspaper clipping she had tucked under to her bag. The waiter had become used to this. Everyday she would come here and have dinner clutching onto that piece of paper that was the obituary of her dead husband. He never understood why she insisted on coming here every night appearing dazed but there was little he could ever understand about being a widow. She looked up at him but didn’t respond concerning the glass of wine. He left her at the table and went to speak to the maitre d’. Someone would have to get a taxi for her tonight like they always did. She was always alone.
© Linda Kimaru