The Jinny flask was in one pocket of the old Spanish double cartridge pouches. In it was a pint of Gordon's we had bought at Sultan Hamud. It was named after another old famous silver flask that had finally opened its seams at too many thousand feet during the war and had caused me to believe for a moment that I had been hit in the buttocks. The old Jinny flask had never repaired properly but we had named this squat pint bottle for the old tall hip-fitting flask that bore the name of a girl on its silver screw top and bore no names of the fights where it had been present nor any names of those who had drunk from it and now were dead. The battles and the names would have covered both sides of the old Jinny flask if they had been engraved in modest size. But this new and unspectacular Jinny flask had close to tribal status.
Mary drank from it and I drank from it and Mary said, "You know Africa is the only place where straight gin doesn't taste any stronger than water."
"A little bit."
"Oh I meant it figuratively. I'll take another one if I may."
The gin did taste very good and clean and pleasantly warming and happy making and to me not like water at all. I handed the water bag to Mary and she took a long drink and said, "Water's lovely too. It isn't fair to compare them."
I left her holding the Jinny flask and went to the back of the car where the tailgate was down to make it easier to hoist the wildebeest in. We hoisted him in entire to save time and so that those that liked tripe could take their pieces when he would be dressed out at camp. Hoisted and pushed in he had no dignity and lay there glassy-eyed and big-bellied, his head at an absurd angle, his gray tongue protruding, like a hanged man. Ngui who with Muthoka had done the heaviest lifting put his finger in the bullet hole which was above the shoulder. I nodded and we pushed the tailgate up and made it fast and I borrowed the water bag from Mary to wash my hands.
"Please take a drink, Papa," she said. "What are you looking gloomy about?"
"I'm not gloomy. But let me have a drink. Do you want to shoot again? We have to get a Tommy or an impala for Keiti, Charo, Mwendi, you and me."
"I'd like to get an impala. But I don't want to shoot anymore today. Please I'd rather not. I don't want to spoil it. I'm shooting just where I want to now."
"Where did you hold on him, Kitten," I said, hating to ask the question. I was taking a drink while I asked it to make it very casual.