Africa is a cruel country; it takes your heart and grinds it into powdered stone - and no one minds.
Bertram followed me around his gargantuan house most of my first day. I would catch him looking at me quizzically as I tidied the room allotted to me.
“Let’s do sit down, Bertram. I know you have many questions to ask me and I have some of my own,” I suggested.
His face lit up.
“Ah yes, Maurice, perhaps over a good brandy in my game room.”
We repaired to his ‘game room’, an elaborate name for his parlor though I am sure many games of a certain nature had transpired within those four walls.
“Bumpkins” called Bertram.
The insipid leopard of the night before entered the room.
“Maurice and I will have a bit of that excellent cognac that I bought in Cannes this year,” he told Bumpkins, who looked quite hung-over in the morning light.
Bertram packed a pipe and lit it. The scent of good Turkish tobacco surrounded us. Bumpkins brought our drinks on a tray, almost losing his footing as he approached me. His leopard eyes were shot with red and he seemed bedraggled.
“Maurice, I must ask if you are returning to work for our shady and corrupt president?”
“I may but I don’t understand your charge of corruption on the part of Shane Simba."
Oh, Maurice, you bloody well know that Shane Simba owns part of everything that makes Kenya tick.”
“He was rich before he became president and don’t forget that Ralph Lyon encouraged him to become president,” I scoffed and found, to my regret, that I was still defensive in regard to Shane Simba.
“Ralph Lyon was rather Kenya’s version of George W. Bush,”
“Not so,” I yelped. “Ralph became a very good leader.”
“Oh dear god, I could never fathom your adoration for these lions. Bloody awful creatures are they all,” snapped Bertram.
“I happen to be very fond of lions. They have been good friends to me for many years, Bertram.”bored sighs and changed the subject. This time it was aimed at me.
“I must say that you aren’t sporting your usual sartorial splendor since you’ve been back.”
“I am not the same monkey as the one that left the Mara. My attire suits the new me.”
“Not entirely, Maurice. You look a bit soiled in those jeans. I would never have figured you to be a jeans wearer. I rather liked the well put together you.”
I asked for another cognac just as he shot his final ammunition in my direction.
“And that wig, Maurice, is appalling.”
Ralph Lyon was in a tizzy. He was weary of hospitalization. Roy Lee Simba, his suite mate, had left happily to his lovely home shared with his wife, Janice Jaguar Simba. Ralph wanted to follow him but there was one thing that prevented his departure – a rather nasty bedsore had cropped up. Dr. Frank Tigeres had told him he would not leave the hospital until this was cleared up. Ralph growled and groaned and wanted to roar. As he was anticipating which of these vocalizations would have the most desired effect, a lovely young dik dik entered the room in full nursing attire. Her starched cap was set crisply between large ears.
“Good morning, Mr. President,” she tinkled in her small voice.
Ralph brightened. He had an affinity for dik diks.
“What’s your name?” he inquired.
“Priscilla,” she answered, turning him on his side to approach the festering sore.
“I was married to a dik dik once,” he told her.
“I know, Sir. Dodi. I am her great, great, great niece.”
“Dodi is not old enough to have great, great, great nieces,” roared Ralph. “She’s just a young bud herself.”
“Dodi has some age on her, Sir. I wasn’t even born when you two had your scandal,” said Priscilla.
“Yes, Sir, that was bestiality.”
And with that Ralph sat up in the bed, upsetting Priscilla’s basin and dressings.,
“Bestiality, nit-wit, is between man and animal. Dodi and I are both animals.”
“No, Mr. President! It is when a huge carnivore takes advantage of a very tiny elk.”
Ralph’s roar was so enraged and furious that it brought the main nurse who quickly sent Priscilla from the scene and cleaned up the mess. At this most apt time, First Lioness, Mildred entered her husband’s room. The nurse finished her bandaging and left.
“This small bitch of a dik dik who was cleaning this bastard of a sore, just referred to my marrying Dodi as bestiality,” he fumed.
“She was right, dear,” agreed Mildred, fussing with her husband’s mussed mane.
“Mildred, you know better than that!”
“No, dear I agree with the dik dik’s assessment.”
Ashley Lyon had won the evening’s battle for, if not the heart, at least the body of Caroline Cheetah. Many had won it over the years so Ashley realized it was no real achievement.
“Want to join me in the bath tub, Caroline?”
They were in his house where he had, through the years, assured himself of all the small pleasures that make a home a brothel. Ashley filled Caroline’s glass with the Scotch of her choice.
“Do I look dirty?” asked Caroline, lighting a cigarette.
“I wasn’t asking to bathe you, Caroline, but it is a good place to start the fucking,” snapped Ashley who was irritated at her cigarette and its fumes.
“I didn’t figure you for a walrus, Ash, so why the water?”
Caroline was peeling off her clothes one layer at a time.
“You are so damn caustic, Caroline. No wonder males shy away from you.”
“I could have had Dickey Simba tonight, Ash, so stop bitching and take off your clothes. I want to see your boner.”
“You’ve seen it before.”
“Not in recent years, Ash.”
“It’s still one of the best in the Mara,” he assured her.
“Put your ego on the line, prove it, buster,” she said as she helped him lower his britches.
“Where the fuck is Maurice?” asked Shane Simba of his wife, Betty.
“He’ll be here in own good time, darling, stop fretting.”
“Well, he’s not the Messiah or Aslan, Betty. I don’t understand the insult.”
“Shane, he came home because he wanted to be here. Not necessarily to work for you again. Am I not doing a proper job of running your affairs as your chief of staff?”
“You are but then I know it’s more to keep an eye on me than the fact that you enjoy it.”
“I do enjoy it. It’s what I do since I gave up teaching.”
“This is no place for you, Betts, dealing with my dirty work.”
“Shall we go home, darling; our children are coming for dinner?”
“I just don’t understand why Maurice didn’t visit me right away,” he muttered as he left his office with Betty.
The sun lowered itself over the Masai Mara in that glorious sunset I had missed in all this time of my absence from Kenya. I sat with my toddy and watched it descend. It had been a long day. Tomorrow I would visit Shane in his office. But now, I was tired and only wanted to watch this delightful vision of the hot African sun sinking below the acacia trees lining Bertram’s backyard.