'The African women, yes, the African women are good. They are very good. Make no bones about it. In screwing they have no peer. Queens of all Creation!'
Eddie the septuagenarian Indian, native of Goa, a functionary of some sort in this commercial travellers rest hotel in East Africa, the gaunt, bespectacled man with the rapid, loping gait that made him resemble no-one more closely than Groucho Marx - Eddie allowed his rheumy brown eyes to wander from our chessboard to his bed, and move slowly over the body of the teenage African girl in the pale blue cotton shift who lay there.
A uniformed waiter appeared in the open doorway and asked something in Swahili. Eddie uttered a sharp response, and the young man was gone.
'The African women,' he continued, 'they know what a man wants. They know it. In their bloody bones they know it. They are trained to it. They learn it in the jungle. The lips, so big, the breasts, behinds, the powerful legs, and the way they can move their hips, the way they can screw, I tell you it is very heaven.'
He was often tempted to play an early queen, especially when he was behind the white pieces, and this night was no exception. My response was almost automatic. I brought out my queen's knight. He looked at it with dismay. 'Oh, oh, oh, oh,' he muttered, 'always, always, always.'
In the background, a taped voice droned on, its high churchy tone both hollowed and hallowed by the inner expanse of the cathedral in which it had been recorded. 'Oh, now this is the very best part,' Eddie smiled gleefully. 'When she gets the words wrong. It's... perfect.'
He breathed the last word out, in a soft, satisfied hush. The girl on the bed, whom I had not seen before, and whose name I did not know, shifted slightly but otherwise seemed happy to lie there while Eddie played chess and listened to the tape he played at this time every evening, of the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana in Saint Paul's Cathedral. A small female voice was heard on the tape again, and Eddie threw his head back and laughed as Diana stumbled through Charles's name. 'It's wonderful ! Wonderful!' he exclaimed, eyes glistening.
The waiter reappeared with tea on a tray, and we took a cup each. There was a chilled Sprite for the girl. Eddie withdrew his impulsive queen a square. I pushed a pawn, renewing the threat. 'You always do that! Why do I never learn! You just move out the knight, then the pawn, then the other pawn!' With a flick of his craggy hand he dropped the queen back into the white ranks. 'There, now do your worst.'
We were entering the mid-game. With the queen gambit almost inevitably gone awry, White was undeveloped. I had a good opportunity to take control of the centre with my bishops, but first I brought out the other knight.
'Ah yes, caution, caution, always caution, safety first,' he mocked. He sipped his tea. 'Will you be wanting to accompany me to the temple again tomorrow?'
I paused, recalling our first visit there together a few days previously. The Hindu temple was on the far side of town, and for some reason we went there in the heat of the afternoon, rushing down crowded streets, Eddie agitated, intense, impulsively sweeping stray strands of his yet thick and dark hair back from his damp brow as he strode and Mandy and I battled to keep up.
At the temple other devotees sweltered under a corrugated iron roof, but Eddie dashed around, putting what looked like fast-talking propositions to his favourite deities, and stuffing banknotes in the multi-coloured shrines. It was as if he had half a day in LA to close a movie deal. We stayed perhaps five minutes, then scurried through the afternoon sun back to the hotel. Over chess that night I had asked him what he had asked for at the temple, but his eyes merely sparkled, and a smile suggested itself on his lips.
'So, will you be coming tomorrow?' he repeated now, as my eyes stayed fixed on the board.
'Perhaps I'll see how I feel tomorrow, if you don't mind.'
'Of course. Now where was I? Oh yes, the African women. But let me tell you about the Indian women. The Indian women are the most beautiful women in the world. More beautiful than any women from France or Italy, or America.'
'More beautiful than English women?' I enquired.
'They as well,' he said emphatically, with a small Indian wobble of his head.
'Even more than Princess Diana?' I asked.
His reply came without a beat. 'Oh, well, now, she is the exception. She is the exception because she is the most beautiful woman on earth. She is all softness, all loveliness, perfection, utter perfection. But she is only one woman. There are so many ugly women in England that they pull down the average. If all women were like her, all the men in the world would flock to be in England. So it is just as well that they are not. That would be a disaster, I tell you. Because the only thing the British ever did was invent the one way road system. And ruin India. They are parasites.'
'Then how can you lavish so much adoration on a member of their royal family, the biggest parasites of all?'
'Ssshh,' he hissed. 'She is not a parasite. She is not even a Briton. She is a queen!' He touched the white queen, then looked up into my eyes with a child's mischief in his eyes, seized the piece and triumphantly planted it back in the centre of the board. 'There!'
'Eddie, I'll just have to chase you back with pawns again, or pin you with a bishop, or fork you with a knight.'
He shrugged. 'I know, I know. But I cannot resist it. It is my... what do you call it... fatal flaw.'
The tape ended and the machine clicked itself off as the girl on the bed noisily sucked up the last of the Sprite through her straw.
'Eddie...' she said yawned.
'Go to sleep a little while,' he said. 'I won't be too long now.' He looked up at me and grinned. 'After all, I'm about to lose my queen.' The girl obediently closed her eyes.
'Where did you meet her ?' I asked.
'Up country. Her father asked me to bring her to the city and find her a job, as a favour.'
'Does he know she's living with you in your room?'
'Of course, where else would she be living ? But let me tell you about Indian women.'
I pushed another pawn. He stared down at it, but his mind was elsewhere now. He sat back in his seat, stared up at the ceiling and opened his arms wide, as if surrendering to the Muses.
'Indian women are beautiful. So beautiful. Delicate, like flowers. Their eyes are gentle, the loveliest things in the all the world. Their voices are like music, and they know how to speak to a man, to say all the soft things a man wants to hear. And their kisses! Oh, their kisses! Sweet! Their bodies are elegant, and they dress like queens of all creation. I tell you, each and every one is a princess. If you ever get the chance to marry an Indian girl, an Indian girl from a good family, do it! And cook ! What concoctions they can make out in the kitchen! But there is one thing you must remember one thing about Indian women. They are not cock-suckers. An Indian woman will not suck a man's cock.'
'But, what about the Karma Sutra?' I asked.
'There is no cock-sucking in the Karma Sutra,' he declared.
'But I'm sure there is. And what about Indian erotic art, doesn't that depict fellatio?'
'That is all Chinese! And Japanese! No, an Indian woman will never suck a man's cock! Believe me, I know.'
'So you've been with all the women in India,' I said.
Then Eddie grinned again. 'Only the beautiful ones.'
He retreated his queen. She was down to two squares now, with no chance of being screened by pawns or a bishop. Surveying the board, we both realised the truth. Then his voice was sombre, no longer mocking or provoking, drained of its exuberance. 'Go on now, trap me again. Trap an old man,' he said. 'Do it.'
I advanced a pawn. Again he retreated the white queen, to the last safe square.
'You're just so impulsive Eddie,' I said softly.
'And you're so old,' he said. 'I'm forty years older than you, and you're old. Older than me.' He turned and took in the black girl on the bed, sleeping now. 'Look at her,' he said. 'Their hips, the way they move their bodies, I cannot tell you of the ecstasies I have felt, the visions I have seen, in the embrace of such women.'
'I take it that means she's willing to suck your cock Eddie.'
'Perfectly! Oh, she does it so perfectly! You know, the way some women know what you are feeling and just what to do! She brings me such pleasure, I cannot tell you! And it is a two way thing. That is why she loves me. I bring her ecstasy too. '
'And because you feed her.'
'Goan cuisine. The best in the world. I cook for her, yes. The very best. She is lucky.'
He watched as I placed my fingers on my black squares bishop.
The African girl stirred. Eddie?' she murmured.
My bishop slid up to the white queen, and I picked it up from the board. The wooden piece seemed heavy in my hand. Eddie gazed mournfully upon it.
'Coming my queen', he said.
From my book, The King Neptune Day & Night Club