He awoke. His head pounded like a base drum, boom boom boom. And water! He needed water badly, his mouth was so dry, the top of his mouth felt caked together with the bottom. Like rubbing two sheets of sandpaper together mercilessly.
He could feel the sweltering heat as his stinging eyes opened, the blurry vision of rusty corrugated steel above and around was slowly brought into focus. He could make out a mishmash of a chair in the corner and a bench with a mattres on top. Whose floor was he on? Where?
Boom boom boom, head was pounding. Scanning the room for any sign of water. Was he in a shed!? A jail cell!? It smelt like sewerage…
He was entangled in a dirty, stained, thin bed sheet, dressed from the waist down. No t-shirt.
Then the top of the bench moved.
A shuffle, a feminine groan of an equally painful awakening, then a giggle, of sorts.
As he looked up and saw the African girl, his brain flashed backwards and forwards. He remembered being on the back of a very old motorbike. Then running. And drinking, a lot. He was surrounded by people. Then he was here, in the makeshift jail shed with a naked African girl looking down at him imperiously.
‘Hello!?’, Matt said weakly, confused.
She dismissively giggled again.
His focus was coming to now, as well as his senses.
He remembered that he was a soldier, in the British army. He was on a construction tour in Nunuki, Kenya and had been out with the squadron drinking in ‘the sportsmans bar’.
He remembered buying a bottle of vodka at the bar and walking around returning to the bar periodically for a top up of diet coke.
He remembered being surrounded by African men, seemingly unhappy about something.
He remembered being ejected by mates, in a hurry for something that was said amongst the locals and himself.
And then, his memory turned into a lighthouse, blinking on and off, but spending the majority in darkness.
more people, a shanty town,
Then this. Here. The floor, the headache, the dry sandy mouth, the bemused naked African girl pearing down atop the bench.
‘Please can I have some water’ Matt asked.
‘Hmm? nbolo k’koko’ She beamed.
Just then matt heard a familiar voice, ‘yes, water!’ It felt like it came from the girl. ‘Can’t beleive we’re alive, where the fuck are we? Holy shit my head hurts! Water, fucking hell!’ It came from behind the girl.
Matt felt a wave of gratitude and relief as Neal picked his head up from the back of the bench, rubbing his eyes and squinting down at him.
He was grateful that he wasn’t alone in this place, he was also grateful that he still had his jeans on and he was waking up on the floor. Unlike Neal.
‘Neal, I don’t know where we are, or what happened, or who she is, or how we met. But I do know that we need to get the fuck out of here sharpish. Like now’ Matt said.
‘Roger that’ Neal replied.
And as he did he jumped up, onto the bench, out of the sheets and started to scurry around, shamelessly naked, looking for his belongings.
Two minutes later, after a scramble for clothes and confused, miscommunicated apologies, they opened the door to the outside world.
The sun smashed down and punched the two of them in the face. The busy dusty road was at eye level almost and the dry air caught the breath. Never had they needed water so much.
The noise of the hustle and bustle of the outside compounded the heavy headpound.
A motorbike zoomed past with a goat on the back.
Where the fuck where they!? What time was it? Judging by the sun it was about 0900 . Should have been on parade at 0800. Really in the shit now. ‘Why do I bother drinking?’ Matt thought.
The street was a Kenyan shanty town, a dusty road with corrugated iron shacks at the side. People hopefully sat behind theirs wares, bananas, moccasins made out of rubber tires, old football tshirts, pots and pans.
He didn’t recognise it, but then they all looked the same.
They soon flagged down two Kenyan locals on Vespa motorbikes. Luckily they spoke decent English. Matt managed to negotiate a bottle of water and a lift back to base for a nominal fee. Which it turned out to be 12 miles away. 12 miles of a bumpy, dusty ride on the back of a clapped out motorbike with very poor suspension, with the hangover from hell. Not too mention the fact that they were riding back into a military camp over an hour late, still dressed in last nights clothes, with at least one of them needing urgent checking out for STD’s.
That was a motorbike ride that hurt.
Though not as much as the PT punishment that awaited them back at base. . . That took dry mouth to a whole new level.
After the dust had settled and they finally got a chance to piece together the prices of the night, the story goes like this.
– Matt and Neal drink heavily.
– Matt gets very drunk in the sportsmans bar and is quickly surrounded by the local women ‘looking for business’.
– Neal gets friendly with local women, local men do not like it.
– Local man approaches Matt and takes a sip of Matts beer and says ‘I’m the sheriff around here’.
– Matt picks up ‘sheriffs’ pint, downs it in one and proclaims ‘im the sheriff now dick head!’
– Matt gets dragged out by mates.
– Neal and matt go off to next bar, ‘ which happens to be 12 miles away.
– That’s the last they can both remember apart from that the two motorbikes that brought them back to base, were also the ones that took them to the next bar!
It was upon hearing this that Matt started to really think about his drinking. To think that he was challenging locals in Kenya. He could quite easily have been killed, bashed to death by Masai warriors with lugu’s and dumped at the side of the road..
Things seriously needed to change.