By Fungai Chingumbura, Zimbabwe:
The night air is cool and refreshing as I drive leisurely through the city, towards my peace. Not much passes through my mind as I weave seamlessly through the light, after-dark traffic. I know I am almost assuredly condemned. Even the most inept of police departments would be able to piece together what happened from the footage on that camera. It may take a while but, inevitably I will be identified and I will become this world's latest ephemeral display of a human gone wrong. All that is in the future, though; not my present. Tonight is my present, the only present I may have and I intend to make as much of a gift of it as I can.
This city's red light district exists as an unacknowledged blemish on its façade. It reminds me of that scar on your face you turn away from in the mirror every morning. Like all scars, ignoring it does not make it go away and like only the greatest marks, it tells the most interesting story. I have only been here thrice before, and only once have I indulged my needs. I have always felt that the risk of being recognised outweighed the potential that my own city has as a fertile hunting ground. I have no more fear of that. The sun has set on my adventures, and only this last hurrah shall offer solace.
Why am I not fleeing this very moment? Aside from the indignity of being a wanted man, I am aware of the futility of attempted escape. My crime will make me national news and the urgency of the police to catch me will no doubt be amplified by the wealth and power of my assistant's parents bearing down on law enforcement authorities. Until I am caught, I will be the nation's main talking point and I will not really be safe. No, fleeing is not an option. I shall have this final escapade and call it a day. I wonder what it will be like to be famous…
My choice of bar is nothing radically different from what I would go for on an ordinary day, although, given the circumstances, I do not know why I am still so unyielding in my discretion. Old habits do not die easily, I suppose. Mine are immortal, it would seem. I take up my all too familiar position in an unremarkable part of the bar and order the strongest drink they have. The bartender tries to make conversation, but I have no interest in idle chatter, and he wanders off. I brood at the bar, trying to keep my mind focused on tonight. Despite my best efforts, my mind cannot stop the self-flogging that is the fare of my thoughts. I keep wondering how I got myself in this position; how I allowed myself to lose so much control and watched idly as my world crumbled in on itself. Perhaps it was my need for control that brought me here. How sardonic: that which I most sought after was my downfall.
Befittingly, on this particular night my prey approaches me, with no effort on my part. It takes her shaking my shoulder slightly for me to fully realize that someone else is in the room. I look at her sweepingly, with no real care. Interestingly enough, she is almost the exact opposite of what I would usually desire: her eyes are small and narrow; her skin is a brilliant dark that shimmers and has depths that just barely betray themselves in the murky light of the bar. I look her up and down, taking in the curves on display in a tight, pink mini-dress. Despite everything about her doing its best to be exactly what I would not want in my women, there is still an attractiveness to her that even my pedantic preferences cannot ignore.
She seats herself next to me and orders a drink which she tells the bartender in no uncertain terms that I shall pay for. I look at her with more curiosity. I am almost certain that I have seen her somewhere before tonight and recently, in fact. I cannot quite place her, though my memory usually does not fail.
“So what's your night looking like, handsome?” she asks sultrily.
I consider my answer. There is honestly a part of me that wants to tell this woman that tonight I shall add her to my impressive collection of night-time memories. I resist the temptation and give her a standard answer.
“Just looking for a good time,” I respond.
“Then you're with the right person. A good time is often costly, though.”
She gives me a side-look that only makes me absolutely sure that this is not the first time she and I have met. I try to wrack my brain but it is fruitless. I simply cannot remember no matter how much effort I put in. I decide to go along with her, anyhow.
“If the value matches the cost, the cost loses value,” I say.
She smirks at this, a beautiful smirk, I must admit. She sips her drink and seems to look vacantly into space, apparently mulling over the details of tonight. I gaze at her side profile and as I do, an unfamiliar feeling snakes through me. It's a feeling that I had for only the first time a day or so ago. I still cannot name this feeling…it is certainly peculiar. My thoughts trace back to the woman who made me feel this for the first time just yesterday. The reflections go again to what might have been had she and I not been on opposite ends of the situation last night. What could she and I have been?
My companion slides off the bar stool and I am enchanted by the view. She motions me to follow her and I do so, my mind still held by how she is managing to rouse this unnamed feeling within me. We leave the bar and start walking down the road to a section of it that is slightly less lit. All this is familiar; what is not customary is the doubt I have inside of me. I need to know what this is and to truly understand it. I know what it wants and I think I want it to.
As we walk in the night, I make a decision in my mind to have a different sort of enchanted evening with a prostitute. A kind of tryst that I have never had with any walker of the night…or any woman, for that matter.
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