As previously acknowledged, many people struggled to converse with the Rastafarian, so phone conversations, without any visual clues could be almost impossible. Attempting to locate him one night – not an uncommon situation – having agreed to meet in the pub with the cabaret-style Open Mic, I rang him. One of his friends who ran an Open Mic night in another pub, who happened to be there, listened to my half of the stilted conversation with fascination.
‘Wow. You can actually understand him on the phone? I can barely understand him when he’s standing in front of me!’ he marvelled as I ended the call.
‘It wasn’t easy,’ I laughed in reply, ‘if you look outside you can see him. That’s what I had to speak to . . . ‘
‘How does he get like that with no money?’ enquired Open Mic Guy. ‘And yet you still managed to understand him on the phone?’ he continued.
The Rastafarian wasn’t that far from The Cabaret Pub but the climb up the slight incline was, evidently, a huge effort for someone who had had an afternoon of heady fun somewhere. Open Mic Guy and I chatted some more . . . I commented that the Rastafarian liked to have the radio up loud in the car just to raise the stakes of conversational comprehension to impossible levels.
‘Tell me it is you who drives?’ he mock-pleaded. I assured him that it was and to my surprise he stood and kissed me, on the top of my head.
‘Good luck with that Princess,’ he winked as he headed into the Open Mic room and with that the Rastafarian was in the pub.
I was concerned that he might have seen the kiss; it was an innocent kiss, but my chatting with Open Mic Guy made him kind of grumpy. Open Mic Guy was one of just a few people I had met through the Rastafarian who made an effort to chat to me. One night in The Tiny, Tiny Pub, he had given me the drumsticks while the Rastafarian was playing, so I could accompany him on the drum machine. My wrist was still recovering so I’d removed my removeable splint for the task, which was a big deal. Nothing was said at the end of his set. So eventually, I said something. He was just being nice, he said, without even looking at me and no more was said about Open Mic Guy . . . until the next time he chatted to me and apparently it was unacceptable. And so it was with most men who chatted to me after that; sometimes I was flirting with them and sometimes they with me, apparently.
But anyway, the point is that he was difficult to understand, especially on the phone, especially when worse for wear and especially when angry, and it was the last of these complications that was added into the mix when he rang me one day from work. After some time, I managed to group the initially incomprehensible sounds into words and figured out that I was being asked, ‘has my ex contacted you?’
‘No,’ I said and the cacophony of sounds died down and I was left with just the one clean sound of the call ending.
‘Why did you ask me that?’ I puzzled, later on that day when I collected him from work, but he was strangely defensive, questioning my questioning and I was treated to schoolboy responses such as, ‘why shouldn’t I?’ His secrecy forced him to skirt around the truth and I had become accustomed to ensuring, in these situations, that my language was clear, simplistic and unambiguous.
‘There is no reason why you shouldn’t, but you have to expect this type of reaction to such random questions.’ I stated.
‘Something made you concerned that your ex may have contacted me, so please will you tell me what that was?’
But when he was cornered, he found diversion tactics which usually involved criticising me and in this instance, I was ‘checking him out’. I couldn’t resist correcting him: ‘checking up on you, you mean,’ I suggested, as an alternative. But then, I was trying to make him look stupid . . .
Getting back to the offending little message on my phone, telling me that someone else was the Rastafarian’s girlfriend, I recalled his concern over The Ex contacting me.
This was his initial reaction.
‘If you add me on Facebook again,’ I bargained.
His frustration filled the room. It had filled him but it had spilled out through his furious eyes and the deep-throated growl which indicated that he had temporarily lost the power of speech. We had become ‘uncoupled’ on Facebook (apologies to Starlight Express – I think they own the rights to that word in this context!) by him and whereas I didn’t much mind per se, I did mind that he felt the need to either hide me from someone or hide someone from me. So, we became ‘coupled’ on Facebook once more and he explained that she had not coped with the break-up and denied her claims. To be fair, we were together so much, particularly at his place, that I struggled to see how he could fit in another love interest. And would he want to be in a relationship with a woman who was responsible for his wrongful arrest? So I blocked her on Facebook and I thought that that was the end of the matter.