Walking past the Chadry house, he caught the scent of naan being baked. Maybe if he wasn't so busy salivating, he might have found it odd that Anouska was up so early making bread. Instead, his thoughts flashed to the dinner night gatherings that were held every few weeks between himself and Snobi, the Chadry's, Tiben, Louis, and Kim. They would get together in the late afternoon to make dinner and have drinks, sometimes going late into the evening at whoever's respective house. Other times, a few of them, most often Tiben, Mofuko, and Kim, would retire to the cantina for a few rounds and socialization with any of the other residents of Crossroads Station that might be out and about.
Their last dinner night had been at Louis'. Tiben had given Kim an album of Sufi music and both of them, after a few bottles each of red wine, had mercilessly taunted Louis for being too French. The next dinner night, a few weeks away, was scheduled to be at the Chadry's. With the scent of Anouska's naan in his nose, Mofuko could also imagine Dilip's famous vindahloo and tandoori chicken. Despite himself, his stomach began to grumble ever so slightly.
The taunting scent of freshly baking naan started to fade as Mofuko reached the edge of the compound. Here was a structure he had helped build. It was made to be in concert, not conflict, with the living earth around it. Part of the structure was dug into a small hill, while the rest was built in such a way around a massive, twisted, tree upon the hill's crown, as to look like it'd always been there. It was from the tree the residence took its name; Tangled Tree Manor. This was Kim's house.
From the open door, Mofuko could hear Sufi music being played upon a turntable. There was a warm glow about the place. It seemed more to be alive. When it was designed, Kim often stated he wanted it to be more grown than built. Given the fluid curves and scents of raw earth, fresh water, and the tree itself, mingling with the scents of spices from the kitchen, old books, and incense, most everyone said with a certain amount of awe that Kim succeeded.
Another smell greeted Mofuko upon entry into Tangled Tree Manor; the scent of coffee. Coffee was something of an indulgence around Crossroads Station. For some reason, it was always easier to get tea from the commissary. Supposedly, Tiben had made inquiries into this, but was never given a satisfactory answer. Most everyone else dealt with the circumstance as best they could. After all, Crossroads Station was rather far out, and because of that, some things, like coffee, were luxury items.
"I am here, my brother," Mofuko called as he walked into the kitchen.
Kim was standing over the stove. Both Ansouska and Snobi would sometimes call him the bird man because his surname was Sparrow. Mofuko, and sometimes Tiben, would chide that the bird he most resembled was a vulture, because of the fact he kept his scalp clean shaven. Out of all of them, only Mofuko and Snobi had ever known Kim to have a full head of hair, but they had also known him the longest. It had been lovely, thick, and dark. The kind Snobi used to say would help attract him a wife. But in the Kalahari he decided he was tired of it, and upon returning asked her to shave it all off, never in the fifteen years since to grow it back. Sometimes Snobi would suggest he grow back his hair, even just a little, as to get a wife, and he would remind her of the woman he was married to who became an opium addict that tried to stab him when he discovered her habit and threw her drugs out.
He was a tall man with a wiry build. From years of being out in the sun, his skin was the color of polished copper, which stood in sharp contrast to his jade green eyes. He didn't move so much as he would just appear somewhere. Mofuko often thought of the vampire film they once watched at the cantina in which the creatures moved so quickly they seemed to teleport. Although he did not believe in vampires, the film made him think of Kim.
"Glad you made it, my brother," he said over his shoulder. "I'm sure you can smell the coffee. I'm also making bacon, sausage, and eggs."
"It's a good thing I brought an empty belly," Mofuko said with a wide smile, his perfect white teeth standing out in sharp contrast against his ebony skin.
"Well, do me a favor" Kim said. "the record's almost over, so go flip it over, and I'll finish getting breakfast ready."
"I am curious to know if you have listened to anything else since Tiben gave you this."
"I'll have you know I listened to both my Ramones and Black Flag records last night. Twice."
"And you didn't invite me?" Mofuko looked shocked. "Kim, I am hurt."
"I was going to," he said. "But after I ran into Snobi yesterday, I changed my mind."
"What did she say?"
"Nothing. She gave me a look when I told her I was going to be listening to old punk rock records."
"'A look'?" Mofuko repeated.
"Yes, a look." Kim said, shooting his friend an impish smile. "The look that told me she was going to go to bed the same time as you, so you might help her voice reach new octaves of operatic loveliness."
"My brother," Mofuko started as he walked into the parlor to flip over the record, his laughter barely contained. "you have no shame."
They had known one another for just a little over twenty years. Mofuko had won the chance to leave his native village for a year of being an exchange student. He traveled to Arizona. The American southwest, the land of John Wayne, Lee Marvin, and Clint Eastwood, was a place of myth and magic to him. A wholly different type of mystical than the one spoken of in the stories of the village elders. When he first arrived, he was acquainted with things that took away some of the glamor of tall tales of America he had heard growing up, but the stark landscapes near the reservations and the endless sky still fascinated him.
It was amongst the rock and sand and scrub, he met Kim. For all the mythology Mofuko held of America, Kim held toward Africa. They became mutual teachers in the realities of their respective homelands, and something in the demysticifications made both places magical once more, just in a different way. After graduating high school, Kim traveled to Kenya to visit Mofuko and was introduced to his grandfather, one of the village elders. The old man smiled at this tall, dark-haired boy with sun-painted copper skin and jade green eyes.
"It is amazing you had to travel around the world to find your brother," he told Mofuko. The bond the two felt toward one another was suddenly placed into words.
Over the years, they would travel the world together. Through marriages, Kim's divorce, and the death of Mofuko's grandfather, the two of them only grew closer. Sometimes, Snobi would tease that her adopted brother in law would one day steal away her husband. Although it was only a joke, Kim would reassure her with a warm hug and a kiss upon the brow, saying he loved her too much. After all, he would often call her sister. On the day of their wedding, he told both them not to hurt the other, lest he would feel inclined to hurt them.
Breakfast was on the kitchen table when Mofuko returned from the counter. Coffee, with cream and brown sugar at the ready, sat next to his plate. The eggs were scrambled and there was two links of fat sausage and four strips of bacon. Mofuko smiled broadly as Kim sat down opposite of him.
"My favorite kind of breakfast before a trip into the field," he said. "My brother, how did you know?"
"Call it a lucky guess," Kim said with a wink.