Friday, September 28, 2012

imperialism - 3. bongo

by sabine sablon

illustrated by roy dismas

although the hotel had an elevator, it was only used by the totally incapacitated.  which did not mean that it was never used.  it was operated by hand, usually by one of the native porters or bartenders getting a guest up to his room after the bar closed.   it tended to get stuck between floors, a circumstance which was never  attributed to anything but the incompetence of the native operating it.

despite his hangover and unsteadiness on his feet, nudworth did not even consider using it.  he made his way unsteadily down the stairs to the bar.  the stairwell had a  comforting shadowed dinginess, and he winced as he entered the bar and was hit by a few blinding rays of noonday sunlight coming through the slats of the heavy blinds on the window.

 he was a little surprised to find only two other white men there.  pashwick, the banana company agent, and gurdy, the water man.  they were seated together at a table in front of the bar, hunched over stiff ones.

 nudworth took a seat at a table a little apart from theirs.  he had absolutely no desire to  talk to either of them,  but it would have been rude to sit so far away from them that they would have had to raise their voices to speak to him.

  pashwick only nodded, but gurdy, in that irritating way he had, stared at nudworth as if he had never seen him before and as if he were the strangest creature he had ever seen or ever would see.

  the boy behind the bar, who knew bloody well what nudworth wanted, was carefully arranging some glasses on a shelf.  nudworth stared straight ahead.  he breathed as evenly as he could.  it would not do to give in to an attack of bongo so early in the day.  in the afternoon, actually.

no, it would not do at all to give in to bongo, especially with his head in the condition it was.  "bongo" was the term the white men used for the insupportable rage that occasionally overwhelmed them when faced with the everlasting all-consuming, slow, drawling wide-eyed oh-so-innocent insolence of the natives.

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