I sat at the round table with my colleagues. An air of boredom clung to me. I wondered how it would be like if Mercy was here. Everyone from work had brought someone along. Mercy had refused to come. Our marital problems were getting worse by the day. My concentration on creating wealth rather than creating romance had proved detrimental to our love life. All I ever wanted was to get into the Forbes list of Africa’s wealthiest individuals. It was an obsession I was prepared to sacrifice anything for, but not my dear wife. I didn’t have many close female friends who I would have brought along. Christine, Doctor Amai’s wife was busy with research projects. She was the closest I had to a female friend.
I couldn’t remember the last time I was in Malindi, the heat was overwhelming. The HR Manager had insisted that Malindi would be the perfect town for a team building experience. So he made dinner reservations at what he called the best hotel in town. Apparently, a surprise African superstar was scheduled to perform. I had made up my mind not to show up but after considering the consequences, I opted otherwise. I would have been considered a snob if I hadn’t shown up.
There were endless complaints that I never interacted with my workmates since my promotion to IT Manager of Cordial Systems International. I intended to fix that. I had been in Mombasa for a personal business deal when the rest of my workmates travelled by bus. After their arrival, I drove from Mombasa to Malindi to join them.
The mood at the gala ball was awesome. Elegantly dressed people were drinking, socializing and dancing. Most of the men wore tuxedos while the women were dressed in short silk dresses. Thoughts of my wife couldn’t fade. All my calls to her went unanswered.
After a few minutes, the MC alerted people that the surprise artiste was about to come on stage. Then he appeared, Burna Boy, shirtless as he always likes to be in his music videos. The ladies went wild with cheers. It was no surprise that most of the guests were European and American. A friend had informed me that many superstars performed for white folks and wealthy individuals in Malindi every month. The rest of the country wasn’t allowed to know because it wasn’t supposed to be news. Dirty things went down. The tourists always demanded to see African superstars and they would pay top dollar for the concerts. So deals were always made and a Wizkid or D’Banj was brought in every month.
A smile finally curled on my lips. I loved Burna Boy’s music, my favorite single being ‘Tonight’. I stood up in excitement, ready to dance. I happened not to see the waiter approaching behind me so I accidentally knocked his tray over, spilling drinks on my Harvey Nichols shirt in the process. The elderly waiter was quick to apologize. Being the type with a knack for making precautions, I always carried an extra shirt in my car. Braving the embarrassment, I reassured the waiter then rushed to my Jaguar S-361.
I loved my car like my own child. The parking lot was now filled with expensive cars in a myriad of colors. Range Rovers, BMWs, Cadillacs, Rolls-Royces. The only thing that kept the lot from looking like a valet parking at the Emmy Awards was three beaters: a rusting VW Beatle, a panel van that appeared to date from 1972, and an ancient Model T in serious need of a paint job. I got in and changed into my extra shirt. After changing, I quickly got out and locked my car. I didn’t want to miss the performance. As I was heading back, someone tapped me from behind.
“Nice car you have here,” she said.
The accent sounded familiar. It brought back memories of my college years at The University of Texas. I stopped to look back. A pretty blonde who looked vaguely like Gaga stared at me, a pretty smile tugging at her lips. She wore a heart-shaped locket around her neck engraved with a Mona Lisa image. Her intriguing blue gaze hardened in resolution. I snapped my teeth together before a tight grimace contorted my face, making me wince.
“Well, thank you,” I said.
“You mind if I accompany you in?” she asked
“Not at all!”
She then locked her right arm into my left and glided with me like we were a couple.
We got back in just as Burna Boy was performing his second song. I led her across the gleaming white and black checkerboard expanse of the marble floor to the other side of the ball. I didn’t want my workmates to see me with this mystery lady. The waiter who I had knocked over spotted me and rushed back with drinks and appetizers.