I looked him in the eye and he said no. Good. I needed that. I asked him why and he just smiled and winked his eye. That wasn’t an answer. I wanted an answer, not a smile and a wink. I turned around and saw a hole in reality. A huge gap. A gap where there was nothing. Just. Nothing.
There was a reason, but it was pink. And as anyone knows, a reason that is a colour helps nobody. It means nothing. The reason was pink and my life was purple, so if the floor stayed green and the door blue I was sure that everything was insane. Drink. Eat. Die.
I turned back to the man. “Why?” I asked. He winked again and nodded his head towards the hole. Then he said, “Minty fresh” and left me. What did that mean? Life is like a Polo mint? Insane.
I stepped into the hole and now everything was nothing and nothing was everything. Everything had become the gap and the gap had become everything. It was yellow and my mind was mellow. Inside, the rain. Outside, the pain.
I drank the coffee. The coffee was me. It screwed the world, but who cares? It would be my brother who’d say, “Wake up and smell the coffee.” But what he’d mean is something quite different: Get a life. Pull yourself together.
That’s what he’d mean.
If he ever came home.
Now smell the coffee. Smooth aroma. Taste it. Drink it. Live it. In debt. Cash crop. Poverty. Death.
In this other reality; through the gap, there was a man. A tall African, farming man. But he wasn’t farming when I saw him. His face was buried deep in his hands and he was sobbing empty tears. “Your actions are illegal.” I heard. I heard a voice behind me, shouting. Yelling. Shouting at the man.
Coffee. Debt. Death.
I couldn’t stand it there, so I stepped back into the other reality. Reality. Hole. Gap. Whatever. I stepped back into the place where I was comfortable. The man was there again, as though he had never left. It seemed too familiar. Like I’d done this before. It seemed too familiar. Like I’d done this. I looked him in the eye and he said no. I was kind of expecting that. Somehow. I asked him why and he just smiled at me and winked.
I shouted at him.
“Don’t wink. Don’t smile. What’s going on?”
“I thought you’d never ask.” he replied, as though he hadn’t heard me the last three hundred times, when the hole became everything and everything, nothing.
“Kenya, right?” he said, almost like a robot, “Debts, yeah? Coffee plantations. Grow coffee. Sell coffee. Man, right? Hungry, lives, sleeps. Food to live. Land to grow food. Need land. No land. Only coffee land. Eat. Drink. Man chops down coffee bush to grow food, while debts cut down man to grow profit. Illegal to chop down bushes to use the land for food production. Income from coffee pays back debts.”
“Does it?” I asked.
“I doubt it.” he said. “Come with me,” he said, “I’ll buy you a coffee.”