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The bars have reopened after a protracted period of closure, I’m elated. A brouhaha erupted on Twitter when word broke, i plunged in. Fellow Twitter revellers planning to imbibe all the stock available to them, in words accompanied by a litany of memes. See, i don’t hold much interest in bars, give or take the sporadic occasions i visit to catch a highly fancied football match. All bars from here to Timbuktu (always wanted to use that word, Timbuktu) could go tits up for all I care on condition that one bar stands. This bar, a small space a couple of blocks away from where i stay. You’d miss it if you blinked, it doesn’t stand out, it isn’t bedecked in much. If there is, it’s its archaic interior that piques no one’s interest anymore. Its voice is muffled by a line of other bars; colossal ones with gaudy shingles, fluorescent and psychedelic lights illuminating the adjacent street. There used to be just two bars there, it being one. Then gentrification happened and other proprietors came in with their snazzy joints. It’s now flailing to stay afloat. An archetypal David and Goliath situation, poor bar getting smothered by bigger guns.

I throw on a jacket and saunter to the bar, fingers crossed on both hands. Miscellaneous music permeate the air as I draw closer. Plush cars are parked at one of those bigger bars parking spots. I overhear a shit faced man try his shot on a svelte lass near an entrance, okay i was eaves dropping and he was terrible like I am. At some point i was sure he would throw up on the damsel’s figure hugging frock. He kept stifling his coughs. I proceed to my bar. It’s open, I hunch down my neck through the entrance, I’m a tad tall for the door. Beads rattle from the curtain behind me. My eyes survey the confines of these walls, it isn’t much but there is a face I’m looking for that I haven’t spotted in months. I squint and look harder this time in case I missed something, if at all she isn’t dark anymore.

I see her, seated at a table with a cluster of middle aged men. Most, bald or with receding hairlines. She is particularly flanked by two men, both with paunchs, pulling her back down every time she attempts to stand. I’m tempted to walk there and help her out, she’s clearly over being sandwiched between those filthy men with their dad bods. Only, I don’t think I can fight them if they took me on. I walk to the counter and seat on a vantage stool.

The bar is in its wonted disposition; the air clammy and stuffy, one bad breath away from a fetid smell. Loud from the high jinks and the TV playing mundane replays of past football matches. It is cramped up, not two people can pass through between tables at a given time, when you meet another on your way, one has to recede for the other to make their way. That space bottleneck is a tinder box for brawls. I mean yeah, you could squeeze and squirm through if rubbing perspiration with other guys tickles your fancy. That scope doesn’t exactly embody my idea of exchanging body fluids.

Someone cups my eyes from behind. Soft palms, who could that be. I delve into a recitals of names but zilch. Neither of them is interested in cupping my eyes, at least not now. She giggles and I mutter out her name, Njoki.

She made it out of that manhole holding her captive at the table. I grin, yet so bashful inside. My belly tingles, men get butterflies too when they like you, we just don’t admit it because our existence is stemmed on subdued emotion. Matter of fact, we get the whole zoo. Okay, only me but what’s not to like about her.

Her smile cuts across her face beautifully, like a crescent moon on a dark faceted sky. I stand to hug her, her bosom pressing against my beating chest. The embrace breaks. I hope she didn’t feel it, my ferocious thumps, unless she is into guys who wear their hearts on their sleeves and shit. Those guys who cry at the cinemas. Well, I’m that guy but I can wrought myself into what she wants. I can be a macho if she likes her men tough. The hallmark of fondness – compromise. And I am ready.

“Long time, how long has it been? Like seven months?” she quizzes. Resting her hands on bottles moored on a belt on opposite sides of her waist. That poise is darn sexy. I don’t know what it is about women in boots but it works charms on me. She is in tan suede boots, hogging her legs to themselves, cutting just under her knees. A denim shirt graces her torso. And a cowboy hat sits loosely on her head.

“Yeah, long indeed. You look nice,” I say in a feigned subtle baritone. It subconsciously happens when I talk to alluring women – the nonsensical cadence.

I fixate my gaze into her glistening eyes, trying to exude confidence, like I had discovered novel chutzpah. I don’t know if it’s working or not but she better look away or else I’ll relent and lose.

“Thanks, what should I get you?” she asks, an accent lingering in the nuances of her words.

“White Cap, cold”

A bottle of beer is swiftly slid to me, tissue on its stem to cusion hands from the cold. She opens it and it froths on its lips.

Suffice to say I like her. Which has been so stark throughout my sentiments. I don’t like beer, hell I don’t like this crammed up space, but I like Njoki. More than enough reason to sit through the throes of this bar. She isn’t a miniscule bit cognizant that she is the reason I patronise this bar. That she is the reason I’m anal retentive on her serving me. That she is the reason my tips come with scribblings, subliminals she is slow to grasp. She’d bring me a glass of water from out back and I’d drink it in a whim. My trust runs deep, my affection even deeper. Me being here is a product of a resolve I had made to talk to her but then words elude me and I’m down to ground zero. That happens a lot, it’s like a trite song chorus that has long lost its beauty.

I empty my bottle and stare at it, as if there in lay pickup lines in a chest that Midas had touched. I could ask her out right here and now. Folk do it so easy. I could ask for her number and pour my heart into her inbox later in the night, then sign off with a smiling emoticon and do like I did walking here, crossing my fingers.

I pay my bill using MPESA, pull out a 200 bob note and a pen from my breast pocket and scribble something on it. Maybe she would get it this time, after seven months she definitely must’ve grown smarter. I slide it her and walk out, the culmination of my banal cycle.

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