A story by Dannie Wambui
His rooms were full of beercans and cigarette butts in weird places. At least now, I had convinced him to stop with the cigarettes since I had a problem with the smell, a childhood thing. Cleaning up after him was the problem. He’d get organised for a few days and then forget what we’d talked about and get back to his old self again.
I moved to Horace’s house a few days to get a piece of mind. Once you love someone, and get pregnant for them, it doesn’t matter what their behaviour is like, you put up with it, cos it’s such shit that make up what attracted you to him. If he’s not a total dick, he’s redeemable. Oh, also, when you’re pregnant, doesn’t matter if it’s one week old or 200 weeks old, you get to get in and out of his house at will – if you ain’t living together. For those that ain’t assholes.
Back at my pad, the walls are too thin. You can basically hear what’s going on in the next room. If they aren’t about to hide it.
The punches, the kicking and the silent muffles were always there, and at first, I didn’t know what was going on until my neighbour turned up with a swollen black eye. She didn’t wanna talk about it but instead told me, “living with a drunk is tough.” I sorta filled in the blanks.
They have a little kid, two or three years, I’m not good with kids so I can’t tell the age or even the sex sometimes. At first, I used to think they were shouting at the kid got doing something wrong. With a wall in between, and I am busy watching a movie or reading some book, I can’t really tell what words are being said or not said. So, I filled in the blanks.
Last night, things got worse. The husband is a sick drunk. Not the type of drunk that drinks out of habit rather the one that drinks out of misery. Both of them aren’t happy with the relationship. The man because he got stuck with a dame he didn’t really like but got pregnant after a hot night, and the girl for putting aside her dreams to raise their kid. They decided to stick together for the sakes of the kid anyways. So, a couple of days back, the dude came home drunk and was questioned about a girl. He was reluctant, tired and all so, wasn’t quite cooperative, plus the drunkness and all. She did what was done to her once a while, she beat him up for it. He was caught off guard and drunk, he took quite the beating so much he couldn’t report to work the next day. And only got off the house the day after. She literally beat him up and nursed him. Maybe that’s what love’s about.
So, after a couple of days, hellbent on exacting his revenge, he came home, just a bit tipsy, and like a patient cheetah masked in tall Savannah, lay in wait to be provoked. And to provoke she did. She hadn’t expected what hit her. A flurry of kicks, slaps and punches was what silenced her loud screeching voice which had moments before been directed at her. It was one of those moments where you’re watching a film whose directions you’re not aware because you’re busy on your phone. I thought the screaming and the body thumping over furniture were from ate movie so I paid no heed. Till I heard neighbours opening doors and knocking at his house. He didn’t stop. The thumping went on and when the door opened she was thrown out and the door locked. Damn.
My door was still locked. I was afraid of going out. To be seen and to see.
He refused to open the door despite the plea of the neighbours and shouted;
“she thinks she wears the pants in this house, let her know what it’s like to have the pants on. That bitch is not sleeping in this house!”
But even the cave door caves in. Or gives in. Whatever.
One old lady came at the door and asked him to open the door. He did. Which he said was out of respect. They talked shit out and he agreed to let her get back in long as everything ends that night. He was tired of getting into his house to fight or get talked up at every night. She agreed. Like she had any other choice. I mean, if you’ve nowhere to go and you’re thrown out of your house in the middle of the night, with(out) your kid, you’ll agree to anything put before you long as it gets you in. I mean I would. I hate kids, little devils, but I like to think, if I’d have to suck a hundred dicks for the health of my kid, I definitely would. Or maybe it’s some perverse fantasy of mine. A hundred dicks.
Anyways, soon after the drama, and the hood was quiet again, I called Horace and asked him to pick me up. He wasn’t even at home he said, told him it was okay. I just needed to crash over a few days. He agreed.
Here we are. Me cleaning up his beer cans and other stuff of his sad life. Good thing was, he didn’t use sex to get through shit he was going through. He’d have humped through a million women by now.
I think, the broken are attracted to the broken. There’s this notion among broken people that our pain can only be healed by another person and through love. We come across a person as broken as ourselves and we are inclined to be with them for the sole purpose of healing them. Our hope isn’t in ourselves, it’s in other people.
Horace was the first man to love me different. Mostly because I didn’t really know what love is like. I still do not know it. My dad and mum, who were the first instrument and model of love I had as a kid, we’re much like my neighbour. Dad always beating up on mum until she died from a fall. A product of his kicks. He was arrested soon after. He had been a sick drunk all the life that I knew him, beating up on mum and my big brother when he asked him to stop one time. He never recovered, oh sweet John. Mum took dad’s side over John’s and asked him to not involve himself with affairs of people better than him. She always took dad’s side. Even until her death. She was described as a loving woman. The family spoke off her death in low tones and didn’t say the real reason daddy was sent to jail was for it.
When I visited dad in jail, out of necessity rather than choice, he cried when he saw me. Saying I shouldn’t have come.
“You look so much like your mum, so innocent and pure.” He answered when I asked why.
“Yet you didn’t hesitate to hurt her in front of our eyes!”
I didn’t ever know the right words to say to things, I just said them.
“oh baby, no. I loved her more than my own life.” Always on the defensive.
“Then why did you take hers?”
He never answered it.
This introduction to violent love is what made me put up with boys who made me think I was bad at sex and had a too small a pussy which at times bled when they ripped into it when it turned out I was in fact being raped by these sick fucks. Horace was an asshole human and good artist, but he was a good lover. He liked me despite all the crazies I came with. And that matters. To me. Mostly.
I found a book under his bed. “The Sorrows of Young Werther” by Goethe. I opened a page to look at it, one was ripped out but the book was intact alright. Save one page.
“…And what difference does it make that Albert is your husband? Husband – that’s a word for this world, and for this world it’s a sin that I love you and would wrench you out if his arms into mine…” Woooah. This deserved a seat. And I took one and sat down to it.