When we got to Chicken Grill, the place was filled with different activities. Some guys stood by the black and red snooker table; mouths widely opened to produce an argumentative noise too rowdy for my ear to process. By the bar were couple of male and female friends and lovers, seated around different tables with different bottles and dishes served as they wished. Then I looked at the eatery, the place where I sat with Amanda weeks back. The exact table was still there, in the centre of the room just as it was that day. I inhaled as my head started to span, sending shivers all over my body. I stood there, staring at the table, unable to pull myself out of my position or look away, although I knew whatever I was feeling was only in my head. The date has gone, and the occupants of that eatery that day obviously was not same with the present ones.
“This way,” Eric said behind me.
I jolted, sighed and paced behind him. He led me all across every busy section of the Grill into a quite zone, a part I never knew existed within the Grill; the swimming pool.
“Are you kidding me?” I said in amazement. “So there is a pool here?”
“Shhhhhh!” He shushed me. “Don’t disgrace me here please. Who doesn’t know there is a pool at the Grill?”
“I don’t,” I said raising my hand up. “Got any comment for me?”
He hissed. “Anyway, this is the party venue.”
“What? You paid for the pool all night?”
“Yes, for a maximum enlightenment of those who didn’t know there is a pool here.”
“Please don’t make this about me,” I said. “I thought you said there is no money, that this would be a small party?”
“What is the big deal? Is it about the pool? Please stop this timid act, it doesn’t fit you,” he said, arranging the chairs that was hurriedly scattered around the pool.
I stood, glaring at him, like a mad man who saw a man madder than him.
“Are you going to help me or not?” he asked.
“There is nothing to help here, if I had known this is what we are coming for, I wouldn’t have agreed to come.”
“Common!” he said, walking towards me.
With every step closer, my heart beat faster. I tried to distract myself by looking around, hoping that someone would walk in but nobody did and he was determined to be in front of me before he would say whatever it was he wanted to say.
“Don’t you like the idea of being with me,” he said, standing in front me. “Here all alone before the party starts?”
“No!” I yelled. “I don’t like it. It freaks me out.” I stepped back, busied myself with the chairs.
“Why?” he asked, a bit sad and disappointed. “I thought we are friends?”
“Of course we are friends,” I replied, not looking at him. “But friends don’t lie to each other. You should have told me you just needed a companion and not a helper.”
“And you would have come?” he asked, approaching me again.
“Of course,” I answered, as I picked a chair and moved away from his approaching steps. Honestly I would have come, for my likeness for him has exceeded mere likeness; I have come to love him, love everything about him and long being with him.
He scoffed, letting out a soft giggle. I turned and he was smiling behind me.
“I like you,” he said, indifferently and began arranging the chairs.
I froze, staring at him, unable to understand what his intent was. Our gaze met and I smiled, picked a chair and joined him, still confused on what it was he wanted from me. He sure was not gay and there was no way he could just became one. Someone who sleeps with almost everything on skirt couldn’t have been gay, I said to myself, trying to push off the dirty thoughts in my head wishing he was gay. Since he openly confessed of my handsomeness and also gave up on his chase for women, I have come to develop a slow but steady feeling towards him, and just when I thought it was about to die, Frank messed up, leading to him becoming my immediate room-mate and the constant exposure to his naked body and manly physique has transformed what would have been a ‘bromantic’ relationship between us into a romantic relationship in my head. Sometimes I would just stay awake, watching him as he turn and fondle his manhood while sleeping. Sometimes his hands would find their way to my chest and I would gladly position myself so it would be comfortable for him.
I shook my head; those were just an illusion, a mirage, and I need to flush them off least I mess up my prioritize quest of becoming a straight guy before I graduate and return home to my parents, the good responsible boy they thought I was.
I inhaled and I diverted my thought to the only person who would help me achieve that; Hope. I thought again about how sweet and pleasantly surprising it would be to see her at the party. But then again, I knew it would not happen. She was a cleaner, a girlfriend to one domineering hunk who would not let her out of his sight for the fear of being taken away from him. I sighed, determined not to give up on her. I didn’t fight for Amanda, because I didn’t believe any girl was worth denting my spotless body for, but I knew the main reason was due to who was involved. Ahmed was just there, hoping to use that as a medium for us to be seeing and maybe talked and then he would consent on leaving her for me and expect a pleasing thank you, but I didn’t give him that chance and I know how much he regretted his failed moves. But with Hope, I was ready to fight; beat or get beaten. I was ready to dent my skin, go any length just to let her know how much I want to be with her. It might not make sense to that girl standing across the street who probably has a crush on me, or to the guy behind our lodge who always wished to see me bathing, but I knew within me, emotionally, how that would be the only reasonable decision I have ever made. I wouldn’t want to give my brain a chance to bring its contribution because I knew exactly what it would be. So I shut it off, and thinking with my body and manhood alone, I longed for a tight and closed hug from her.
“Let’s go check the drinks,” he paused, smiled at me and threw in, “friend,” patting my shoulder.
I scoffed and followed him inside the bar.
When we got back to the pool, it was dark, though the illuminating light of the Grill made the pool and its environs look like noon. Students troop in duos and trios. At intervals, an always single guy or girl would stride in, glancing at the loved up couples with a look that could only mean one thing- I wish I was them.
Soon the pool was crowded, countering Eric’s earlier words that it was a small party. I glanced at him, my eye browns rolled up. He smirked, knowing the meaning of my look.
“Calm down,” he patted me. “It’s just a small party.”
I was going to ask him to define small when my phone started ringing. So I swallowed my speech, pulled out the phone from my pocket. It was Ahmed. I hissed, flashed the screen to Eric who was about to disappear into the ever growing crowd. He managed to see the name of the caller and quickly meandered his way out towards me.
“Do you think he came?” I asked once he approached me.
“I haven’t seen him.”
“Maybe he is outside. You know the pool is kinda hidden. He might be calling to be sure of the venue.”
“In that case, don’t answer. He will get tired and go back,” Eric said.
It was the only option I could think of, so instead of ignoring his call, I took the advice to the extreme; I switched off my phone, slid it into his back pocket.
“Really?” he slurred.
“I don’t want to see him, not tonight.”
He nodded, patted my shoulder and walked out. I spent the rest of the party in littered thoughts of other calls I might be missing, thoughts of how Hope might be trying to reach me, but as many times as I wanted to power the phone on, Eric was nowhere to be found, and when he was close, I would either be busy or absent minded. So I stayed throughout the party without my phone and when the party ended and guest strolled out like chickens heading to the backyard for a night rest, I quickly approached Eric and without any words pulled the phone out of his pocket and powered it on. Instantly two messages arrived, one was from Ahmed and the other was from an unknown number. I anxiously opened the one from the unknown number, caring less about whatever Ahmed has to say. My eyes boggled, face twitched, hands trembled, and my mouth shivered as I read the message from the girl I have been trying to reach. My lips shuddered and my legs complained for the first time the weight of my body on them. My temperature fluctuated between high, normal and low. Balls of sweats assembled on my forehead and trailed down my face. I was furious and unstable, unable to fathom in actuality what has happened. I could not believe that I missed my one chance of meeting the only girl that keeps me awake at night because of the one guy who would not let me rest, yet I was glad that finally she has contacted me; that to me was a good start. I stood still, eyes focused on the gleaming waters of the pool which has some humans who due to inability to pay for a swimming session has decided to corner Eric’s birthday as an avenue to swim to dizziness, yet I saw nothing in particular.
I dialled the number which the SMS came with and slowly placed the phone on my ear. As it started ringing, my heart rang along with it, pounding and pumping blood at its apex. My stomach churned, and my mouth got bitter-sweet. If anyone should feel my heartbeat that moment, he would mistake me for a sprinter who just finished a race, or a kid caught stealing meat from the pot. I really did not know what to tell her, yet I wanted to tell her something, if nothing at all, apologise for my inability to see her when she came at the Grill.
…the story continues….