The Kigali Airport was bathed in an aura of desperation. The decrepit facility was dimly lit and raucous with the squawks of foreign tongues. I pushed my way out the door through the sweaty hordes into the refreshingly humid and cool African night, where I was immediately accosted by an emaciated, disheveled version of Arsenio Hall.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
“Moto, my friend! You must take moto!” he shouted at me and motioned toward a dirt bike that resembled something from my youth on a Montana farm.
“How much?” I looked through the gratuitous pile of funny money that had just been acquired in the customs hall.
“Where do you need to go?”
“5,000,” he said.
That totaled up to about a U.S. dollar.
You only die once. I threw on my sheepherder’s jacket and hopped aboard.
I was supposed to be back in the heart of the American Riviera at this very moment, doing whatever it is one does in the American Riviera, most definitely not riding on the back of a dirt bike through the slums and high-rises to a place with a bizarre name. This was living.
Arsenio kick-started the aged machine, and we rocketed off. My head jerked back with a violent jolt; I held on for dear life, white knuckled, as we sped down the highway at a hideously irresponsible clip. I reminisced about a time flying in a rusty Soviet jet just above the tree line in Guatemala. If that hadn’t killed me, this certainly wouldn’t.
My life has always been a bit bizarre, but this was bordering on batshit crazy, even by my own depraved standards. Forty-eight hours ago I was on a couch in a wood-paneled living room listening to The Doors’ L.A. Woman album, and over a bowl of Leb blonde and a glass of Japanese scotch, bemoaning the boring state of my life. A bizarre, rambling phone call changed all of that. It was adamant that I come to Kigali, immediately. So I finagled a ticket from a shady back-alley travel agent in a North Beach Thai restaurant and flew Neglected Class to Rwanda.
After a harrowing moto trip that saw me nearly killed at least six times, I was dropped off at a rundown bar to meet my contact. The place looked like Esther’s Orbit Room: noisy, smoky, and crowded with throngs of people. I pushed my way to the bar and ordered a beer, my ass grabbed and my balls pawed by no less than five wild-eyed Nubian maidens along the way.
The bartender, who resembled Alfonso Ribeiro, brought me a beer and gave me a strange look.
“White man,” the Carlton doppelganger said in a thick accent, “this is also for you.”
He forked over an envelope.
How did this guy know who I was? And why was he calling me “white man”? I snatched the envelope, looked around, and realized I was the only Caucasian in this entire place. That answered that.
I ripped the letter open. Inside was a key and a note that gave me the address of a house I’d be staying at during my time here.
Something was rubbing my back. I turned to find a beautiful but crazy looking woman in her late twenties behind me who looked like Angela Davis, complete with a giant Afro. Her eyes said she was friendly but at the same time could kill me and think nothing of it.
“Do you want to take me home?” she asked matter-of-factly.
Strange. What could possibly go wrong with that?
“Sure,” I said, slurping down the remnants of my beer.
I grabbed her by the hand, got a taxi (no more of that moto shit), and gave the driver the address from the letter. My new lady friend started making out with me in the back seat.
We were soon dropped off in front of a walled compound. I pushed the gate open and started us toward the Mediterranean-style villa illuminated by the moonlight. She was all over me at this point, sucking and biting as I tried to open the door. Her affection made any action difficult. Once inside, I turned on the lights and told her to have a seat on the couch as I went to throw my stuff in a back room.
Upon returning, something was different. Angela glared at me from the sofa, her carefree spunk replaced by a face pained with paranoia. She leapt to her feet, let out an unholy howl straight from The Exorcist, and bit me hard as she sprinted out of the house, stealing my keys along the way. I ran after her. The possessed vixen burst across the yard; the screams got louder.
She leapt in a catlike fashion up onto the outer wall and dangled my keys high in the air while continuing her conniption. Two guards from a neighboring compound trotted over.
“She stole my goddamn keys!” I shouted, pointing at the insane minx perched above us.
They pulled out wooden sticks and slapped at her roost. After tap dancing to avoid the blows, she chucked the keys at my head and took off running and screaming down the street. The two guards gave chase after her.
As I watched the marauding shitshow disappear into the night, I wished I was still sitting in my wood-paneled living room listening to Doors albums.