Continued from here:
I parked the car next to three matatus outside a block of flats where George said he lived; I had to believe him when he said to me it was safe. Two men in black coats whom I took to be watchmen waved ‘habari’ as we left the car and we climbed a flight of stairs past a metal grill door and entered a sparsely furnished room. It didn’t surprise me as policemen here are not well rewarded. But I remembered that I was not there for creature comforts.
There was a sofa upholstered in polyester tartan-print to the side of the gleaming but bare floor and I could feel the wood slats through the worn cushions. I sat with my back to a wall facing a corner-shelf which carried a small Aucma television that George switched on to NTV and then turned the volume down. A brightly-coloured leso partly partitioned the room and I could see the wooden legs of a bed behind it. George, still standing, stretched his arms to me smiling and said ‘karibu’ and I generously replied, ‘Asante, it’s a lovely place you have here.’ Then he walked to a sideboard which acted like a kitchenette as I stared at the walls where March 2009 was advertising Bidco cooking oil and a clock was ticking just after 8pm. I felt like a fish out of water.
Two minutes later he turned round to present two bottles of Tusker which he opened. He passed me one as he came to sit next to me on the sofa. I took a large gulp of my drink and we chinked our bottles together to an unspoken toast. I toasted privately in my mind, long live the tribe of the Mashoga.
George started to tell me about how he lived on his own and he had been a policeman for six years. He liked what he did and I nodded, thinking we need more handsome men like you working in the force. I told him the truth about what I did for a living which did not surprise him; we both laughed when he revealed how he had noticed my distinct motor in the morning traffic over the previous months. He said I must be wealthy and I told him no, perhaps just lucky. Then he told me he didn’t want me to think he wanted my money, I lied and replied the thought hadn’t crossed my mind.
His arm was on the back of the sofa almost touching my shoulder. We were looking intensely at each other drinking warm Tusker lager straight from the bottle, talking about gay life and how difficult it is to meet gay men because they are hiding like us in pain afraid. I was thinking this man is hot, my body was screaming do bad things that I like to me now. Blah blah blah. My lips were moving but I was not speaking. Without warning we kissed, awkwardly holding together for a few precious seconds before we both broke away.
I gazed deep into his eyes. ‘Can I stay the night?’ I needed to know. And he said quietly, ‘Yes please stay. And you don’t have to leave early – I’ m on holiday for the next one week.’
So I excused myself to go to the communal outside bathroom down the unlit corridor. I took my phone and texted my assistant to tell her I would not be in the office on Friday and to cancel my meetings. I went back to George and we carried on drinking, talking and laughing like old friends. We watched silently the news on TV of the horrific execution of two activists from Oscar foundation earlier in the evening. We didn’t talk about it any more; perhaps we didn’t want to be sad. Not tonight. I sensed something had changed in the few hours I’d spent with this man. Could he be the one?
Suddenly there was a loud knock on the door and George went to see who it was. A man stood there, and George stepped aside to let him in. It was his younger brother and he wearily explained how he had been unable to get to where he lived due to the transport chaos caused by Mungiki activity and had hitched a lift here to spend the night.
‘Sawa Brian,’ George said to his brother. ‘You can sleep on the sofa. My friend came to visit and I think it’s also not safe for him to go home at this hour.’ Then he added seamlessly, ‘Tamaku you can share my bed.’ And do nothing but sleep – damn this Mungiki.
After that we had a few more drinks, before going to bed behind the drawn leso curtain. With the lights off we lay silently on the narrow bed holding each other tightly in an equal embrace; so happy together and yet afraid to speak. As we drifted off, I was grateful for the presence of Brian sleeping five feet away for unknowingly giving George and me the chance to enjoy this simple peaceful pleasure.