He’d gone to college in Portugal, but had more vivid memories of the war. His cocky was a front. He and his brother once hid in a field from soldiers for 12 hours, drinking their own urine to survive dehydration in the African summer.
He survived that day, and those years, with a shell-shocked stutter.
There was no processing of that first night with him, beyond dinner. No concept of violation…because who would do such a thing…to ME?!
But I did know that was in a foreign city for fourteen more days, alone. And he was an engineer in a town where most people were illiterate. And he had 2 trucks – one gas, one diesel – when most people didn’t own shoes. And he lived on the same street as the richest man in Pemba. And he had a house servant to perform at his whim. And he had a microwave (HUGE SHIT in Mozambique back in 2008). The casino manager of the hotel I frequented was his good friend.
He had that American “hot shit on paper” thing going on. Maybe he knew this. And while girls are taught the rules of How to Not Get Raped, young women are also taught that a man’s money equals safety.
By many terms, I’d hit the the jackpot. While Albany, GA was just discovering who’s line brothers I’d fucked-and-left before graduation, and began throwing insults across the ocean like arrows over a puddle, I turned my back and folded into a trilingual man of means.
Perhaps he assumed me, because I was rare and exclusive. In a small town with only South Africans for tourists, a Black American girl was a gem. I was harvested, and gave in to the collection.
We headed out for drinks one evening. Riding through the night in one of those trucks with a foreign man, generous with money and affections…fantasy travel-type shit.
As we rode along, we headed towards a bend in the road that was met by two buildings, standing as aged and sleepy sentinels, with shadows for wrinkles. And heading toward these shadows was a woman, bucking between two men as they held her by either arm, dragging her into the belly of those shadows.
“Vidigal! They’re going to rape that woman! We have to do something…we have to help her!!”
He just looked at over at me with resigned c’est la vie eyes and shrugged shoulders. We drove on.
I was hungover the next day, so Vidi didn’t Sartgee Bartmann me when the guests arrived late one afternoon to see if I was real. Word was spreading that there was a Black American in town, and that he was hosting (read: smashing). I could hear their inquiries about me through the wall from the living room, before the Portuguese and alcohol blurred into one another.
I rolled over in bed, nauseated, and looked at his collection of shoes at the base of the closet door. Including the several strappy numbers with open toes and kitten heels.
They belonged to another woman. But if I was in his bed, where was she?