Do you realize that every time you read a book without pictures you become a production designer, casting director, and costume designer? Hell, you can be a director if you want to. Whether you know it or not, when you read a book without pictures, your brain fills in the blank spots. You can see the people, how they are dressed, which way they are moving, and what it looks like around them. Neat, huh?... (read more: click \'Introduction\' on menu above)

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…Out on the Edge of Nowhere

Posted by admin On August - 14 - 2009

It’s night. A dark, hot, dusty, and lonely night. Out on the edge of Lagos, Nigeria, you might as well be on the edge of nowhere.

You’ve been drinking Cognac in a dive called the Bamboo Cabin, and it’s time to get out of there. The natives are getting as restless as you are. You’re waiting. It seems you’re always waiting. But the cognac has started to kick in, and it’s good to be alone. The shortcut back to the flat is dark, no moon, no ambient light. The trail through the bush is dusty, and the shapes of the trees are close and menacing. Ahead, a fire in a steel drum as blazing, and two figures moving around it cause shadows to dig into shadows.

The smoke brings with it the smell of meat being hopelessly burned. You stop at the fire even though the heat adds to the oppressiveness. The men by the fire seem friendly, chattering away in Yoruba and laughing. If they notice your whiteness, they don’t show it. A brief negotiation, and for one nira, dinner is served. Burnt meat, onion, tomato, and bread wrapped in a newspaper you can’t read, and you burrow back into the darkness.

Back at the flat you peel off the wet shirt and kick off the hiking boots, causing a small dust cloud. The flat: one room, linoleum floor, four bare and dirty mattresses in a row. One window with a screen over it. The screen is not there to keep out flies and mosquitoes, that’s impossible. Instead, it keeps out foot-long lizards. Fifteen or twenty are hanging there, eyeing the rolled up newspaper. Or is it you?

One candle on the floor standing on the remains of other candles and other nights makes the room bounce in its flicker. A warm bottle of Star Beer, Nigeria’s finest, sits among a half-dozen empties. In your camera bag is an opener, and you find it by feel.

You open the beer, spread out the newspaper you can’t read on the floor, check out the lizards one more time, sit on the edge of the mattress, and begin to chew the meat.

For a fleeting moment there is the lonely realization that no one in the world knows where you are. You push the thought away and you eat.