I know it’s time to say no because now my tongue feels blue. And heavy. Words drag out, tumbling and knocking against each other. My eyes are at half-mast. When I breathe I feel the fumes of whisky bristle the hairs in my nose. And did my mate’s new girlfriend just hold my gaze for a naughty beat or did I imagine that? I raise my hand in protest, like a Viet Cong cornered in a corner of the plantations by the Americans but the next glass of whisky still lands before me, sitting pretty under a glowing white serviette. The foreign correspondent, the one with Donald Trump’s hair, is talking about South Sudan. About the Janjaweed and some deep well. About a boy with a skin that is darker than ink. And camel. Many camels. I snatch pockets of these dismembered conversations. There are gales of laughter at the table behind where a blonde girl is trying to balance a tequila shot on her forehead. 1AM is the hour that the devil comes to play and up here at Level 8 bar at the Best Western Hotel is the devil’s den. Level 8 is like a spaceship project that astronauts decided to change into a bar midway. (That’s a compliment).
Downstairs is blue-lit cave, all glass, where patrons look like hibernating extraterrestrials. (Another compliment). There, in the humming blue, your whiskey suddenly looks like jet fuel. Nairobi’s skyline, now flaming with colourful light, stretches beyond. It would be enthralling only if I could see it clearly. “Those guys would have shot us. I swear they would have put lead in us,” Trump’s hair is saying. I didn’t know folk still use the word “lead” in reference to bullets. Sounds very pre-Schwarzenegger. I suck on an ice cube for a moment, then quickly get bored and crush it loudly. Nobody turns to look at me. I reach for my wallet and slip some bills under my glass. Then I sip my drink one last time and get up to my feet. “Bathroom,” I mumble shuffling away from the table, a cold wicked wind slapping me in the face in the process. Then I’m out in the parking lot, looking for a cab. Then I’m zooming up Argwings Kodhek, the cab guy playing an old Kenny Rogers song. How miserable are you to listen to country music at 2am?
The next day I will wake up to numerous missed calls and a few WhatsApp messages all ranging from the concerned to the abusive
The next day I will wake up to numerous missed calls and a few WhatsApp messages all ranging from the concerned to the abusive. That’s the thing. You can’t say goodbye in a bar. You shouldn’t say goodbye in a bar. It goes against the grains of drinking etiquette. As soon as you announce departure someone will send you a drink or hang onto your coattails insisting on telling you a story you have heard many times before. So you do the Irish Exit, discreetly, soundlessly and with dignity—at least what’s left of it after 2 AM.