We’d been eye-fucking each other for half an hour. I finally went over and stuck out my hand. “I’m Rob.”
He smiled. “You’re American.”
“Is that good or bad?”
“Depends on the American.” We shook. “Name’s Jeso.”
We took our drinks to a table in the corner. I’d visited a few Cape Town gay bars since my arrival a week ago, but this was my favorite so far. It was on the waterfront and offered a stunning assortment of whiskies and wine.
Jeso was gorgeous. He had smooth dark skin and liquid black eyes with lashes a mile long.
“What are you doing in South Africa, American Rob?”
“Traveling. Seeing some of the world before everyone closes their borders.”
“And you come to Africa? Aren’t you afraid of Ebola?” he teased.
“Why, do you have it?” I shot back with a grin.
That made him laugh, and things got easier after that. He asked me about my work.
“Student, majoring in business. You?”
I blinked. That was a new one. “Uh, I have no response to that. Ostriches?”
“Lots of money in it,” he said, tossing back his drink and signaling for another. “I’m part of a consortium. We own a couple of hectares out of town.” At my questioning look, he translated. “A hectar is one hundred acres.”
“What’s so great about ostriches?”
“Every part of the bird is used. There is nothing wasted, not even their feet, which are ground up and sent to the Far East to use in medicines.” His new drink came, and he sipped. “Lean red meat, skin that makes a thick, soft leather desired by the fashion industry, feathers used for a variety of decorative and industrial purposes, and they need less land than cows and sheep. Good investment. You should consider it, Mr. Business Major.”
I was less interested in ostriches than in taking him to bed. “Yeah, fascinating. Want to get out of here? My hotel is just down the street.”
“You Americans.” He laughed. “Always in a hurry.”
The next day, I came face-to-face with an ostrich. Jeso had offered to give me a tour of the farm. It was hot as fuck, and I was glad I’d worn my “authentic” leather bush hat, which made me feel like Indiana Jones, even if I didn’t look like him.
We were staring at the birds from a spot three feet away from the fence. “We can’t go closer?”
“They bite.” He was wearing a hat, too, and it shaded his eyes, doing a pretty good job of hiding what he was feeling. “They have no teeth,” he elaborated, “but they clamp down on your skin with about as much force as a clothespin on your nipple.”
I laughed uneasily, the thought making me squirm. “Speaking from personal experience?”
“Are you referring to the bite or the clothespin on the nipple?” he asked slyly.
Jeso was a firecracker. I liked him more and more.
He pointed to a diamond ring on one pinkie finger. “That stone came from the crop of one of our birds. True story.”
I snickered, not believing him. “The ostrich prefers diamonds to rocks as aids in digestion?”
“Hey, we have only the finest birds here,” he joked. “They get the best.”
An ostrich looked at us over the fence railing. It appeared to be smiling. After what Jeso had told me on the drive out–“They can zoom along at seventy kilometers an hour. You’ll never outrun it. If one ever attacks you, lay down and play dead, otherwise picture a velociraptor ripping your back wide open.”–I didn’t believe its friendly expression for a moment.
After the tour, he took me to the house for lunch. “Let me guess,” I said as we walked into a welcome wall of coolness, thanks to central air. “We’re having an ostrich egg omelet.”
“Hell no. They’re too expensive to eat. We get five hundred bucks an egg.” He grabbed my hand and dragged me across a large living room and into the kitchen. “Besides, they’re six inches across and weigh about three pounds. One would feed a dozen people, and right now, it’s just you and me.” He shoved me up against the counter and ground his crotch into mine. “I was thinking pizza, and while it’s baking, we could do other things.”
I liked the thought of “other things.”
That afternoon, I checked out of the hotel and into Jeso’s house, where I stayed for the remainder of my vacation.
Turns out Jeso was right: an ostrich bite feels similar to a clothespin on a nipple.