Even with three flutes of champagne balanced on a small silver tray this man had an appeal beyond his looks. At best they were sufficient, not extraordinary. It was the masculinity, it oozed from every pore. About six feet of muscular male; trim, slightly unshaven, mid length curly black hair and body language that screamed virility.
“A bookstore is one of the many pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking.”
― Jerry Seinfeld
In Under the Skin, a brutal African dictator is challenged by two young women from different worlds: Maggie Kincaid, born to wealth and privilege in New York, and Nabby Kibugu, born to poverty and obscurity in the African bush. Their unlikely friendship sparks a fiery political drama with the potential to upend the leadership of a country and change the lives of millions.
Maggie is working as an intern for an American company in Uganda when she meets longtime pen pal Nabby. She becomes ensnarled in a clandestine political campaign to elect Nabby as the first female president of Uganda. The women risk everything as they take on a corrupt, abusive government. In a startling move, they decide to enlist the improbable help of a notorious warlord, and it’s anyone’s guess as to whether their dangerous gamble will pay off.
Nick Hahn started his career as a writer while a student at the University of Notre Dame. He went on to become President and CEO of New York-based Cotton Incorporated (Cotton, The Fabric of Our Lives). Leaving Cotton in 1997, he formed Hahn International, LTD, an agribusiness-consulting group focused on the third world. For fourteen years, Nick has lived and worked among indigenous peoples from Africa to Latin America. His travel diaries reflect societal tensions often created by internal conflict and political unrest. Under the Skin is his first novel.
Nick is married with four children and four grandchildren. He makes his home in rural eastern Connecticut near Long Island Sound, where he writes and narrates audiobooks.
June 30, 1936: Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about the American South during and after the Civil War, was published 77 years ago today.
“The coffin was handmade from the wood of a single Eucalyptus tree. There were no handles, it rested on the shoulders of six elegant tribesmen. These were Maasai from Kenya, the warrior tribe, known for their courage and endurance. The walkers followed at a respectful distance, the pace was grueling.”
They wheeled him into an elevator, the cardiac operating unit was three floors up. I sat outside, numb from the intensity of the last 24 hours. I’m not religious, but when the chaplain approached me, I broke down. It all started to register. My husband of thirty-three years was dying in a room just steps away, and this man would hold my hands and do what he could to comfort me. How absurd. I didn’t need a priest, I needed a miracle.
The surgeon pushed through the swinging doors, still wearing his cotton scrubs. They were printed in pink and blue flowers. How silly, I thought, what ever happened to pure white? He had magnifying glasses perched on his head over one of those funny caps. He wore glasses of his own. I guessed him to be about forty five. He looked like he hadn’t shaved in a few days. He walked up to me, pulling off his cap with one hand and holding the magnifying glasses in the other. He was perspiring. Simon had been in the operating room with him for over three hours and those lights are hot.
He stared at me. He was so young and sincere. “Are you Mrs. Kincaid?” he asked. He knew exactly who I was, but he still had to ask. I didn’t answer him, just nodded as the priest moved his chair closer. The flat screen TV was on. Some kid was watching cartoons with her mother. Why was a girl so young on the heart surgery floor? Must be her father, I decided.
Before he said a word, I knew what was coming. “We did all we could for your husband,” Mrs. Kincaid. “He had a massive myocardial infarction. The damage was extensive. We couldn’t save him. I’m sorry.”
Christ, why the fuck couldn’t he just say he was dead? Why did they have to use such professional sounding medical terms? I know you’re a doctor, you don’t need to impress me. A simple, “He had a heart attack. We lost him on the operating table. You have our deepest sympathy,” would have sufficed. I was feeling more angry than sad. I had lost my husband. In spite of his faults, and there were many, I loved him. I would miss him terribly. He was only 62; we still had so much to live for. I sucked in a deep breath, looked at this pathetic young doctor, and broke down uncontrollably.
“You’re too funny, Simon. This is not a business deal. This is the birth of your first child. You added value that night in Cleveland three weeks before our wedding. You do remember, don’t you?”
Simon grinned. He took my hands and assured me he’d be there. He was certain the doctor couldn’t do it without him.
Margaret Katherine Kincaid entered this world at 11:00 am Friday, January 15, 1978, at Lenox Hill Hospital on East 77th Street. From the moment she was born, Maggie would have the proper address.
The Cesarean was flawless, with Simon the perfect spectator. He kept his mouth shut for once, and stared in awed silence. He had wanted a boy, of course, but his disappointment was mitigated by the magic of the moment. He coughed nervously, rubbed his eyes, and smiled. “Congratulations, Max,” he whispered, “she’s beautiful, just like her Mother.”
Ten days later at 2:46 am, another child entered the world. She was born on a straw mat in a mud hut near the Ugandan/Sudanese border in East Africa. Her father, Erastus Kibugu, was also disappointed. He, too, wanted a boy. After seeing her in the midwife’s arms, he smiled and named her Nabulungi. It means ‘beautiful’ in Swahili.