Image: Kim Wolhuter/National Geographic Stock
They were talking about the funeral when the lights went out. They had been sitting on the porch for almost two hours, and Neal, still on his first gin-and-tonic, was telling Roland about the priest he had found in Longido to do the services. He was telling Roland about how the priest, Father Abasi, had once been watering the garden in shorts and clogs when a man came by from the village and asked to see his boss, and how Father Abasi said “I’ll go get him,” and turned off the hose and went inside and changed into his cassock and came back out and then went to bury the man’s daughter.
Neal was talking, and Roland had his hat on his knees and was pouring himself another gin. They had brought Femi’s coffin back from Longido around noon, and Roland had been drinking steadily since then, except for the 20 minutes before dinner when he had gone upstairs to bottle-feed Nyah and put her to bed.
“I think Femi would have liked this priest,” Neal was saying. “I think she would have tolerated him.” Then the porch went dark.
Neal needed a moment to realize what had happened. He was already turning in his seat to call for Mrs. Halima, the housekeeper, to tell her she’d turned the porch lights off by mistake, when he realized that he couldn’t see the house behind him, couldn’t see the tourist bungalows or the gate lamps. The generator, he realized. The generator had blown in the heat. A bright half-moon clung to the side of the main house like something unfinished, and Neal could see the fever trees that lined the drive, thick with roosting vultures, bald-headed and silent, and the rolling tilt of the hills that clustered on the horizon and then dropped off into Ngorongoro.