“You know what your problem is Lawrence!? You are too proud!!”
“Really!? Because the last time I checked you were a stubborn disrespectful bitch!!”
“What!!!? You have two seconds to get out of here or else I swear to Bazuzu!! One…Two..”
This was probably the tenth fight that Daisy and I were having in a span of just two months.
We were so close to clearing one year since we started going out (a first time feat for me). For some obscure reason, we were going through a very passionate phase of our relationship. The fights would start with something as petite as dirty dishes in the sink, escalate to how I treated her like a house maid, then to how I thought she needed to respect my house, and finally to my pride and her bitchiness. Then came the countdown, One…Two… and for fear of whoever Bazuzu was, I always walked out. I would spend some time with Masai the watchman, and two hours later take the stairs back to MY HOUSE, engage in a brief apology session, and some amazing make up action would ensue. I loved the make up, but I was worried that one day she would be the one walking out and I would have lost my Daisy forever. Tim (my ex roommate and close ill advisor) kept on about how we were about to cross over to the next Phase of our romance, and that we just needed to get past this.
“It’s like baptism by fire. The first real test on how true you are to each other” He said.
Tim has been in a relationship with the same girl since I first met him which is longer than I care to remember. As you can imagine, I was inclined to acquiesce to his teachings.
On this particular night, Masai was not in his den (very unusual). In the loneliness of the dark feeble wooden structure, I sat staring out into oblivion, surprisingly not thinking about the fight I had just had.
As if in a state of hypnosis, I took out my phone and started scrolling through the phone book for no particular reason. Trying to put a face and a story to each name was turning out into a very enjoyable distraction. Of course there was the deleting of names whose faces I couldn’t place.
Before long I was deeply engrossed in this little game, until I came across a very odd name.
“Who is Crystal?” I wondered. I only knew of one place I could have picked such a name from, but it had been really long since I was there, and I had always been damn sure not to leave any traces of my presence there. I was just about to delete the entry when it hit me, slowly at first, then really drastically as the events of that eerie Monday around five months earlier came streaming back from the recesses of my memory.
“Crystal, Crystal….Wow!” I whispered rather loudly. A smile shot across my tired face.
“If you ever have the chance, call me. Maybe we can laugh about this then” She had said, a bewitching smile sweeping across her painfully pretty face.
This story had never gotten to Daisy thanks to a pact between me and Njeri, my house girl at the time. Njeri had since been replaced by a clueless new house girl (apparently Masai had done wonders to Njeri and she was now his fifth wife back in Samburu land, or so he claimed during one of our nightly exchanges).
Well, Crystal said call her when I had the chance, and here was her phone number, staring right back at me, reminding me of her mysterious demeanor and how radiant she looked after taking a shower right upstairs in my bathroom. Heck, she even wore my girlfriend’s clothes!
Ignoring the foreboding by every nerve in my body, I pressed the call button and held the phone to my ear. It was ringing.
“Hello?” That wasn’t her voice. That was a man on the other end. My hands were now trembling.
“H-h-hello, could I please speak to Crystal?”
“Who are you!? Why you call Crystal at crazy hours!!!? Are you other boyfriend!!? Eeeh!!?” That’s when it hit me, it was past midnight. The gentleman on the other side of the phone was obviously not a Kenyan brother and his attempt at English left a lot to be desired. With vintage Italian rage, he launched into a series of warnings, threats and really strong abusive rants. Whoever that was, he really didn’t appreciate men calling Crystal at crazy hours, probably even at normal hours.
It didn’t seem so rude to hang up on Edoardo or whatever his name was, so I hang up. It was time to go back upstairs.
Daisy was in bed, her apology speech already prepared, but I was so frazzled I had totally forgotten mine. I tried to salvage the situation by borrowing lines from previous fights to no avail. She didn’t take that very kindly, and for the first time ever, she slept as far away from me as possible, fully clothed.
The next day, right in the middle of a sales pitch to some potential clients, my phone rang. I always forgot to put my phone in silent mode when times demanded it, often to my boss’s vexation. I made a quick apology as I hurriedly took the phone out my pocket and turned it off. The caller id was the last one I expected to see at that time, and frankly it totally threw me off balance. The rest of that presentation was a total disaster. It’s a wonder we still got the account.
Calling Crystal had been a baaaad idea! In fact, still having her phone number in my phone was a bad idea. Flashes of my encounter with her five months ago and Edoardo’s rants on the phone the previous day kept coming back to me, causing me huge discomfort. I couldn’t wait for that day to end.
At the heart of the afternoon, as I tried to balance between the effects of the heavy lunch we had had with the clients and finishing my report, my phone rang again. It was Crystal.
“At least put it on silent if you won’t pick it Lawrence!” I don’t even remember who that was.
“Hello?” My voice was hoarse.
“Hello. Whoz this?”
It dawned on me that Crystal hadn’t taken down my phone number, and neither had I told her my name. All I had to do was come up with some wrong number story and put this behind me! This was my chance.
“Is this Crystal?” I knew it was Crystal. And what was wrong with my voice?
“Yes it is. I’m so sorry about yesterday…”
“No no, it’s ok, I should have checked the time before calling” My voice was coming back.
“Imagine I still can’t place your voice. Pleeeease remind me who you are!” Damn she sounded good! I wanted to see her again.
“Uhm, we met some months back, you used my bathroom to clean up after a certain episode?” This was followed by a soft mocking laughter on the other side of the line.
“You’ll have to be more specific” She said.
‘Really!!?’ I wondered.
“It was in a Mathree, you were, uhm, not smelling so good…”
“Oooooh my God!! I remember now!! I always wondered when you were going to call me! I didn’t even get the name of my Knight in shining armor!” A hearty laughter followed. She was killing me. I tried to laugh as well but a weird croak came out my throat so I gave up.
“I didn’t really tell you my name…”
“No you didn’t. Wow, you were so sweet!! You even gave me your girlfriend’s clothes! I have never forgotten you! You know what me and my friends call you?” Oh, she also had a title for me? This was getting very interesting.
“We call you Mr X! The X is because we couldn’t find a sweet enough name for you. Can you imagine? God, I’m so happy you called me finally! We have to meet.”
Now I was sweating. Meet!? Are you frickin kidding me?
“I’m flattered. The name is Lawrence by the way. You can finally replace the X!” I announced like an absolute proud ass!
“Lawrence! I knew you had a magical name! So? When do I get to see you again?” If only she knew what damage she was causing to my systems.
“Uhm, I’m travelling out today, maybe next week after I come back?” I wasn’t travelling anywhere.
“Sure!! Please please call me. I can’t wait! My friends will be so happy to see you as well!” Boy wasn’t she excited.
“Ok! Enjoy the rest of your day then Crystal”
“You too Lawrence! And thanks for calling! Beeyyyyeee!!” Click, she was gone.
Smelly affairs in my house, angry Italians on my phone, happy reunions coming up, my relationship on the rocks, yeah, it was time to tell Daisy about this.
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Lawrence is the guy next door; A young, aspirational Kenyan gentleman; But most of all, a romantic soul in search of true love.