Following the release of The Fourth Finger, I have not been able to pen down much on It’s Another Novocaine Saturday. All I had was disjointed bits and not enough time to put them together.
I will be back next saturday with episode 6 but until then, please read Episode 15 of Boys With Toys. This is one story I had planned to publish as an ebook but I felt something was missing in it and hence, I abandoned it. I still want to publish it but only when I am satisfied. Maybe I will not publish it at all.
Well, let’s see.
If you have forgotten the story, here’s a recap:
Khalid’s wife, Onsachi, murdered his mistress, Uju; weeks later, Sachi shot herself in her family home where she was once abused by her dad.
Guru had been given a girlfriend, Nmachi, to help dissipate the gay rumors after the photo of him in a compromising position with another guy went viral masterminded by Madu. So far Guru’s relationship with Nmachi has been barely manageable.
Madu is still at his antics.
Bankole, having now slept with Ruky who lives with him, is deciding to get serious with her. But Hope is not taking it lying down. She wants Aunty Beatrice back.
Please enjoy the episode and the next one which will come up shortly.
Happy weekend, fam! Click HERE to know how you can get your own copy of The Fourth Finger.
If you haven’t read Boys With Toys at all, catch up HERE
He never knew the world could turn so grey so fast. Colors literally disappeared from his sight, leaving everything ashen and dead. His gaze through inflamed eyes was fixed on Onsachi’s decaying childhood home as the nightmare that was his life replayed in his head.
He couldn’t believe she was gone. How could someone be so alive one minute and so dead the next? How could she just go like that? What kind of life would he live without her?
He brought his hands into view and watched them shake against his control. Parts of him were still stunned senseless by her gruesome death. But his thoughts had never been more put together, his conscience never louder. A voice told him to end his own life. It was the only way he could atone for the deaths of the two women whose lives he brought to destruction. They had both loved him but his reward to them was to push them to their graves. If there was any place worse than hell he belonged there.
He placed his hands on his thighs to still them but they shook still, his fingertips becoming cold, as if responding to the changing atmosphere outside the car. The clouds were coming together, creating a heavy, dark blanket over the sky. Khalid noticed there was blood underneath his fingernails, Onsachi’s blood. He hadn’t been able to stop her from dying even though he had entered the house at the exact instant she had shot herself.
He remembered screaming when he saw her slipping to the floor. He had run to her and held her in his arms only to realize he was too late. Her eyes had blinked one last time before life left her. He remembered how he sought tears but couldn’t find them and how he held her for hours after he called Mrs. Tunji. He had been forced to let her go only when he saw that rigor mortis was claiming her in his hold. Yet he couldn’t leave her side. The hours went by and he sat there beside her, dazed, unable to move his muscles. During that time he wanted to believe in God or in any supernatural being that could bring her back. He could have sold his body and soul to be used by the devil just to hear her speak again.
He cast his gaze away from the house and directed it to where Mrs. Tunji was standing, speaking with a police inspector outside the car. They were out of earshot. He stared at their moving lips but his mind was far from them.
“The suicide note has to be turned in as evidence, ma.”
Mrs. Tunji threw a glance Khalid’s way and drew the policeman she was with aside.
“Can you give me today, at least?” she solicited. “He has not read it yet. He deserves to be the first to read it.”
“Okay ma. Just today.”
“You’ll have it by tomorrow. I promise. You also said that you needed to question him?”
“Can it also wait until tomorrow?”
“Inspector Dede, he just lost his wife through suicide. Do you think he can give you lucid answers to your questions at this time? Allow the shock of today taper off then you can question him tomorrow.”
“You know I am following procedure, ma.”
“Procedure can wait until tomorrow. He’s out of sorts.”
The policeman seemed to give in. “Madam, I am doing this because of the longstanding relationship you and I have. If not…”
“I know and I appreciate it.”
“The case is already complicated as it is, with the murder of the mistress…”
“Manslaughter, sir,” Mrs. Tunji corrected. “Voluntary manslaughter. And it was a case that was good as closed, given there was evidence that the deceased caused bodily harm to the defendant. So I see nothing complicated here, Inspector.”
“Well, I do. And so will the prosecuting team, now that the defendant is dead. Pardon me, ma…” He took on a serious air. “This is not my final conclusion but I have reason to suspect that both cases are murders.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Circumstances are similar. Wife purportedly kills mistress, doesn’t call the police but rather calls her husband who flies in all the way from Lagos three hours later. Same thing with what we found here today. Wife purportedly commits suicide in presence of husband but he doesn’t call the police and stays with her corpse for fifteen hours until you show up from Lagos…”
“And where this conjecture leading?”
“Don’t you see a pattern? The only person who could have thrown light to this mystery is dead. Shot in the brain in cold blood.” Inspector Dede turned and gave Khalid a distrustful stare. “I think we are looking at a double murder carried out by the same person.”
Mrs. Tunji felt a strong urge to slap him. “Inspector, don’t try to play stubborn here. I don’t want to use my influence in this case. The person you’re calling a murderer is like a son to me. He is a good, hardworking man who made a mistake marrying and sleeping with the wrong women.”
“Well, good thing they’re out of his way now.” There was a bothersome smile on the inspector’s face. “I also heard his wife gave half of her wealth to him not long ago. One would think he’d be satisfied…”
“Enough!” Mrs. Tunji held out a hand against his grinning face.
“Mrs. Tunji, ma’am, I know you can use everything in your power as SAN to make sure this case is swept under the carpet but be rest assured that I and the prosecuting team will give it our best.”
“For heaven’s sake, to what end?”
“Just doing our jobs. Meanwhile, did you know that your boy’s wife and mistress knew each other from childhood?”
Mrs. Tunji’s rigid facial features pulled into a stonier expression. “What are you talking about?”
“They grew up in this house that stands before us.”
Mrs. Tunji gave the house a look.
“He didn’t tell you. Did he?”
“Where are you going with this?”
“I have a theory. What if for some reason we don’t know, he kills his mistress and also stabs his wife and then tells her to take blame for the murder because she could easily get away with voluntary manslaughter. But somehow her conscience won’t let her be and after a while, she threatens to let the cat out of the bag and he flies in from Lagos and shoots her in the head.”
“Wow. Is that what you people want to run with?”
Inspector Dede smiled.
“Do whatever you must. We’ll meet in court.”
“Yes, we will.”
“Have a good day.” She turned to the car.
“One minute, ma.” He walked to her. “You don’t mind my scanning the suicide note, do you?”
Mrs. Tunji pulled out a folded piece of paper from her handbag and passed it to him. He scanned it with his phone and returned it to her, carrying a smile that wasn’t reciprocated. She trudged briskly to the car, not waiting for the chauffer to open the door.
When she settled in beside Khalid, she took off her glasses and rested her hand on her laps in calm motion.
“Is there anything you’d want to take from your house, anything that could implicate you in your wife’s suicide in any way?” She looked at Khalid whose face held an image of tragedy.
“No. I just want a change of clothes.”
“We’re going to the mansion,” she mentioned as the car went into motion. “The police will require your presence at the station tomorrow. They’ll ask questions, standard procedure. But I’ll put you through on how to answer them. I’ll also be there with you.”
“That won’t be necessary, Aunty Jola. My lawyer friend, the one that was handling Sachi’s case, will go with me.”
“You won’t need his services any longer. I’ll take your case.”
Khalid looked at her.
“I didn’t become a SAN by settling family disputes and petty contract cases between companies. I got there handling the worst criminal cases and not losing a single one of them. My name alone in that courtroom is enough to have whatever nonsense they want to bring up about you thrown out the window.”
Khalid peered out. “Seriously Aunty Jola. Don’t bother yourself.”
Mrs. Tunji gave him a sharp glare but found his face without expression.
Outside, it was beginning to rain.
Urenna sat up. She focused on a martini glass in front of her through stoned eyes. Her hand was rested beneath her chin, and after sitting up, she went back into a slouched posture.
She shot up straight again.
“Taste the cocktail nau, and tell me if you like it or I should just settle for the previous one.”
Urenna began to toy with the idea of choking Nmachi. It was barely past noon and she was already tipsy, thanks to the different glasses of cocktails Nmachi subjected her to ‘tasting’ over the past two hours.
“I’m sure this one is okay,” she commented, “like the other ones.”
“Just taste. Ah!”
Urenna stretched her unwilling frame up and drew the cocktail nearer. She took a lazy sip.
“How’s it?” Nmachi leaned closer from the opposite end of the kitchen table. Her eyes draped by long lashes, looking at Urenna in anticipation.
Urenna liked the drink. She had another sip.
“It’s called Sea Breeze Cocktail. So tell me you like it.”
“Well, you can drink all of that while I hit up the last one.”
Urenna ran a long stare from one end of the table to the other. It was a mess. Nmachi had been mixing cocktails all day and although she was a pro at it, she was untidiness packaged in one petite body. Water, alcohol, fruit juice and concentrates left a liquid mess on the table that soaked tissues, napkins, and cocktail umbrellas. Squeezed fruits alongside the waste of blended ones were thrown into a large bowl while another bowl right beside it contained a rainbow-colored punch.
Nmachi set about making one more cocktail, moving around the kitchen to pick items and ingredients for the new mix. Urenna shifted her stool a little and hit a beer mug that was on the floor; its contents spilled and made a journey to some corner of the kitchen near the stove. Lying there was Nmachi’s poodle; the moment it sniffed the liquid, it began lapping it. Nmachi looked at the animal and became distracted. She abandoned what she was doing and went to it.
“Hey Papa.” She rubbed behind its ears. “You’re so cute. Don’t get too drunk, please. I have to show you off at my party tonight.”
She blew it a kiss and resumed her cocktail-making.
Urenna jumped up from a snooze that was claiming her.
“What’s the deal with you and Guru?” Nmachi asked as she threw strawberries into a blender.
“The deal with me and Guru?” Urenna repeated with a yawn. “I don’t understand.”
“I’m asking because I noticed you guys are close.”
“You call him ‘Roy’, barge into his room without knocking, and then two of you are always laughing at some secret joke…stuff like that.”
“There’s nothing between us o. We’re just…”
The blender went on and drowned Urenna’s last word. She avoided eye contact with Nmachi who appeared to be staring at her but was only gazing outside the window in typical distraction. When Urenna saw that her attention was diverted, she concluded the matter forgotten.
“Yeah, you were saying?” Nmachi stopped the blender abruptly and faced her.
“I was saying we’re just friends. We knew each other from school days.”
“He wasn’t your boyfriend or fuck buddy?”
Urenna remembered Madu’s warning to her a couple of months ago about exposing details of her past with Guru.
“No just friends.”
“Good. So keep the distance. He’s your boss and my boyfriend. And I’m your boss lady. People will start talking when they notice that you guys are close and that could really piss me off.” She dusted her hands. “Get me some sugar and another punch bowl from the pantry.”
Urenna hopped off her chair. She was happy to be away from Nmachi, even if for a second. Thoughts of quitting the job and running far away from G&M were buzzing in her head. But she also thought of the double pay, the access to celebrities and the free wardrobe and fashion accessories that often came her way.
She returned with the requested items and found Nmachi on the phone with one of her friends. She went back to her seat and distracted herself with the poodle and the manner in which it was fascinated with its alcohol.
Nmachi was soon done with her call and in five minutes fixed up a fresh cocktail which was offered to Urenna.
“This is called a Strawberry Daiquiri.”
Urenna fell in love with the red goodness in front of her, beautifully presented in a Hurricane Glass. It had none of those annoying umbrellas, but brandished a strawberry stuck to the rim of the glass and a big, blue straw sticking out. Urenna put the straw between her lips and had a little taste. Her eyes brightened.
Urenna could only nod as she continued sipping. Nmachi grinned, whipped out her phone, went beside her and took a selfie of both of them.
“I’m uploading this on Instagram,” she said, tapping away at her phone. “Hashtag will be me and my geeky assistant.”
Urenna frowned. She didn’t like to be termed geeky but she couldn’t complain. Somewhere nearby a car honked. Nmachi’s eyes widened with panic.
“Shit! Guru is back! Quick! Clear the table and everything alcohol! Put them in that fridge!” She pointed to one of two refrigerators in the kitchen. “He can’t know about this party at all.”
Again Urenna felt that urge to choke Nmachi as she went about obeying her instructions. She was miffed over the whole party affair. Who on earth threw a pre-birthday party for a birthday that was a month away? Only a psycho could come up with such nonsense just for unnecessary attention. And secondly, did she think Guru would not know that she was throwing a party in his house? How dumb was she?
Urenna loathed her with each passing day. For an upcoming actress, Urenna felt the publicity Nmachi was getting was too much. There was an online buzz about how much more beautiful she was than Mercy Johnson although they both could pass as sisters. Urenna considered such comparison blasphemy. Mercy Johnson was flawless in beauty. Nmachi, in her opinion, tried too hard to appear sexy. Without the perfect clothes, makeup and hype, she could pass for any other girl out there.
In record time, Urenna cleared the mess made, throwing in one last item into the bin, just a second before Guru walked in.
“Hi!” Nmachi lifted her hand in a wave. Guru shut the kitchen door and gave her a blank look. “You’re here. I wasn’t expecting you. Aren’t you supposed to be in church?” she asked, walking to him.
“Since when did you care?”
“No, I thought… never mind.” Without permission, she put her arms around his neck and tried to give him a kiss. He moved away. “I missed you sha.”
He extracted himself from her hold and saw a grin on her face that he found suspicious. But he was going to let it pass. He was in no mood for her silly games.
“Hi Ure,” he greeted as he headed out the kitchen.
He got to the door leading to the rest of the house and stopped. Something was off. He spun round.
“Why is the kitchen smelling of booze?”
Nmachi gave an inattentive Urenna a side eye and motioned to Guru that she was drunk. He was going to say something but Nmachi hushed him with a forefinger to her lips. Guru turned back to the door with a shrug. Something still rang out of place. Urenna did not drink on Sundays for religious reasons. Nmachi was definitely making her do things she didn’t want to. He found this worrisome.
“Thank God he didn’t suspect anything.” Nmachi breathed out loudly the moment Guru left. “Why does he hate parties and alcohol?”
Urenna didn’t respond to the question; she was dozing off, head nodding over her chest.
“Rena!” Nmachi hit the table with both hands and Urenna jolted up. “You can’t be sleeping nau. We have a party to plan. Get up! Call the caterer chick to be sure the small chops will be ready on time. Also call the suya guy. Sheesh! You’re sleeping like a pregnant bitch.”
Urenna swore a little too loudly.
“What did you say?” Nmachi asked.
“Nothing,” She got out her phone and set about making the necessary phone calls while Nmachi chased her poodle around the kitchen to retrieve a gold anklet it had yanked off her foot.
Guru returned at the exact moment the dog was crossing the door.
“Guru, catch him. He has my Chris Aire anklet in his mouth!”
Guru bent, grabbed the dog and pulled out the anklet from its mouth.
“Ha! Thanks.” She sighed. “14 carat gold would have just gone like that. Papa you’re getting very naughty.”
“He pooped on my bed.” Guru tossed the animal aside.
“He did? I’m sorry. Papa shame on you.”
“Can you train him to poop outside like a normal dog? Or just chain him at the back?”
Nmachi was stung by the second suggestion but Guru gave her no opening to make a complaint as he announced that he was heading to the office.
“Ure, let’s go,”
Urenna pulled her phone away from her ear.
“We have work, remember?”
“You want to take her with you?” Nmachi stepped in. “But she’s hanging out with me.”
“Since when did you two start hanging out?”
“Since… erm, I’m going shopping for some shoes. I need her help.”
“Nma, she’s my PA, not yours.”
“I know. I just need her help.”
Guru looked Urenna’s way. She wasn’t objecting. He let the episode slide.
“See ya!” Nmachi wove as he took the backdoor out.
Khalid appeared calm and separated from his present situation. Cleaned up and dressed in a sparkling white shirt and a pair of jeans, he sat on a chair in a bedroom at the G&M mansion. His eyes had a faraway look. A lunch tray was set for him on a side-stool but he ignored it and instead, nursed a bottle of beer which he intermittently took a drink from and replaced in an ice bucket resting at his feet. It was all he could do to keep a sane mind. He was already disconnected from the world.
Mrs. Tunji walked in, her wrapper making a swooshing sound as she made her way across the large room.
“You still haven’t eaten.”
There was no response from Khalid. She drew a chair and positioned it to face him.
“Are you ready to read the note?”
“No.” He didn’t look up.
“Read it to me.” He lifted his eyes. “Please.”
Mrs. Tunji, who already had Sachi’s suicide note with her, reached out and touched his knee,
“I want you to know that what happened was not your fault, irrespective of what we find in this note. Your wife had her issues; don’t blame yourself for her death.”
“Can you just read it?”
She withdrew her hand and unfolded the paper.
“It’s not your fault,” she reiterated as she adjusted her glasses to rest firmly over her nose. “Here it goes…”
Khalid switched off from the internet but couldn’t take his eyes from his phone screen. He wasn’t sure he could trust his emotions to keep him together.
Mrs. Tunji began,
“Khal, I can’t imagine what you’re going through right now. You must hate me as you read this. And it’s okay. You’re allowed to hate me. But know that I never wanted it to be this way and I’m sure on the day my mother gave birth to me, she never imagined this would be my end either. But Khal, I can’t take it anymore. For years, I have lived in torture. I have struggled with the evil that was in me and haven’t been able to fight it off. What I became, this murderous, hateful, abusive person you know did not begin with you. It started a long time ago. It’s a story I can’t bring myself to tell; I’m sorry. But I have left fragments of my life in my closet at home. Hopefully there you would find the answers you’re looking for.
I want you to know that it’s not your fault that I’m taking my life. Nor is it your fault that our marriage didn’t work. Even the times when you hit me, I never blamed you. It was something in me that made you do the things you did. That thing had altered the events of my life from the day I was born. People come with blessings into this world; I came with a curse. It has consumed and destroyed everything that I hold dear. Now, it wants you too, the only thing I have left. I can’t let it take you, Khal. You have been my light in this dark world. I’ll offer myself instead. Let it take me. Don’t cry for me. I’m going to a place of nothingness. To me, that is freedom.
As for you, start life afresh. Dream, love, believe in something. You are a good man inside Abdul Khalid and that is why I have left you all I own. Use it to build the dreams we shared on those days we were so in love, the world around us ceased to exist. As for me, the world must cease to exist now.
I love you, Khal. Goodbye. P.S: Bury me beside Uju.”
Mrs. Tunji put the note down to her laps as Khalid moved his head slowly to meet her eyes.
He was baffled. For a few seconds he couldn’t speak.
“What was the last part about?” he let out finally. “I should bury her beside Uju?”
“What sort of arrangement did three of you have?”
“Arrangement? What are you talking about? I was seeing Uju on the side. I thought Sachi knew nothing about it until the day Uju died.”
“So you’re saying you didn’t know both women knew each other before you met Uju?”
“Excuse me?” Khalid looked genuinely confused. “I don’t understand.”
“I got it on good authority that both of them grew up in that same house Onsachi killed herself.”
The breaking news was too much for Khalid to take in. He stood to his feet. “Please let me see the note.”
Mrs. Tunji handed it to him. He went through the contents once more. The more he read the more unanswered questions he found. He didn’t know where to begin searching.
“Khalid, I have a feeling that Uju’s death had nothing to do with you. Whatever both of them were up to was what led to all of this.”
Khalid didn’t say any more words. He felt the greyness returning. He had been zapped out of it temporarily, now it was wrapping itself around him again.
“I’m going home, Aunty Jola.”
Mrs. Tunji nodded. She rose up and put warm hands over his. “Don’t do anything stupid.”
She gave him a hug and followed him out the door.
“I hate when it rains.”
Hope stared out a window in Bankole’s sitting room and watched the rain through jaded eyes.
“Did I get it right, sweetie?”
She drew away from the window and sat straight to reply Bankole’s question. She stared at her legs stretched out in front of her, adorned by pink braces Bankole had just strapped on that extended to her knees.
“Yep! You got it right.”
“And you’ll say?”
“Thank you. Now we have to wait for the rain to stop.”
“No, we don’t. We’ll just hop in the car and go get your ice-cream.”
“No, we have to wait. Grandma doesn’t let me out in the rain.”
“Hope, baby, you’re not going to be under the rain. You’ll be in the car.”
“But let’s wait for the rain to stop.”
Bankole scratched his head in exasperation. Hope was a sweetheart but she had her diva side, no thanks to Monet. The girl could get testy at a whim. Unfortunately his patience was running thin. He was going to scold her soon.
“I’m going inside to speak to Aunty Ruky. When I get back, we’ll go for your ice-cream,” he said in a final tone.
“Yes, Uncle Banky.”
Bankole left the sitting room to Ruky’s bedroom. Having just had a shower, she was wrapped in a G&M bathrobe that stopped below her bum. Bankole was drawn to the sight as she stepped out of the bathroom. He grabbed her hand when she walked past him on her way to the dresser. He took her to his chest, kissed her, and sought her smoothness beneath the robe. The spark was instant between them and in seconds they were pressing into each other hungrily. Pooled lust drove their bodies to the dresser and she hoisted herself up to sit on the table.
“You’re not playing, madam.”
She parted her legs, tugging at his waistband at the same time.
“Do you have a condom?” he asked.
“We used up all I had yesterday.”
“Well,” she drew him closer, “it’s not like you plan to get me pregnant or anything like that.”
He smiled uncomfortably and she kissed him. Her hands had already undone his jeans and were going for his briefs when he stopped her.
“We probably shouldn’t.”
Disappointment clouded her eyes. He ran a finger over her cheek and down to her lips. “I’ll make it up to you tonight. I promise. Yesterday I was just playing. This night, you’ll beg me to stop.”
He kissed her but she wanted more. She dragged his hand down her body and rested it between her legs. Bankole let out a deep-throated laugh.
“You’re shameless,” he said but stayed his hand. Ruky responded to his touch with a moan that was cut short with the buzzing of his phone. He pulled out the phone from his pocket.
“It’s Hope.” He replaced the phone and wrapped his arms around Ruky’s waist.
“I think I heard someone knocking on the front door.”
“Must be the nanny. I called her over. We’re briefly going out for ice-cream. When I get back you and I will go for our buka date while the nanny watches her.”
Bankole drew up his jeans and left the room to the sitting room.
“Someone’s knocking,” Hope informed him. Bankole walked to the front door, unlocked and opened it.
Standing before him was Beatrice.