Breakfast, being a combination of sliced bread and burnt eggs, tasted bland. Ace wasn’t into it, having engaged himself in a phone call with a friend. It was one of those, quiet wet mornings when one could hear the sound of the rain over the roof.
He picked his cup of Masala tea and left the dining table to the living room. The television was on, but the cloudy weather made viewing most of the cable channels difficult. Ace switched off the television and sipped what was left of his tea. He listened to his friend for a while longer before putting his phone away.
He went to Dugo’s door. He had heard her moving about earlier, which was an unusual thing for her on a Sunday. She usually stayed in on Sundays, coming out only at noon after studying.
He knocked on the door.
He pushed the door open. Dugo was standing before her window, scratching hard at something with a wet wipe. She was nude. Ace turned his face away immediately. He was silent for a bit. The rain was the only thing heard for a while. He waited for her to make herself decent.
“You want something?” She stopped scratching the window.
“You told me to enter.”
“But you’re naked.”
“So?” Ace shielded his face with his hand as he turned towards her again. “Dugo, last I checked, I’m still a guy and you’re still… Gaddem! Your boobs are… Are those real? I wanted to ask after watching your videos.”
“Yes, they are.” She stared down at her breasts. “Are they so big?”
“No.” He wanted to say that he wasn’t taken by the size, but the firmness and roundness of her breasts. He kept his words in, however.
“I came here to em… talk about what happened yesterday.”
“I have no thoughts.” Dugo walked from one end of her femininely-stylish bedroom to the other. The place exuded an indulgent but muted backdrop, detailed floral patterns, rich shades and posh textures.
“But you had a lot to say yesterday. See… I know I look like a fool, but I know what I’m doing.” Ace’s eyes fought hard not to follow her. She had as much a nice bum as her breasts.
“Joana dumped me because I was broke. She wanted a man who could take care of her, and I wasn’t that man. Now, I’m doing a lot better than I used to, and I’m confident that if I keep working hard and smart, I’ll be well on my way to becoming the man she wants. This is why I don’t want to let go. We had four years together. I can’t throw it away like that.”
“So you feel you’re making sense now?”
“Have you asked yourself what you want?”
“Yes. It’s all about what she wants. How about you?”
“I’m…” He dawdled off. “You’re diverting my thoughts, Dugo.”
“Okay, have you asked her what she wants from you?”
“Now, I’m confused. What she wants? She’s missed me. She wants me.”
“No, that’s how she feels. And it’s different from what she wants.”
“Fine, I’ll ask what she wants. But I need a favor from you. Please, can you not do again what you did last night? It was creepy.”
“I’m sorry. But be careful. Don’t let lightning strike twice,” Dugo said, pulling out two dresses from her closet. She held them out to him. “Which one says ‘I’m casual, but sexy’?”
“You have a date on a Sunday morning?”
“No. I’m going to church.”
“Church? And you want to dress sexy?”
“Just tell me which dress is better.”
“Dugo, are you going to Luper’s church?”
“Yes.” Dugo joggled the dresses. “Choose one.”
“The white one.” Ace pointed. “So, about Joana… Shey you know that lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice, right?”
“When it happens, you’ll believe.” Dugo’s accent was heavy this morning. Some days she tried not to sound Nigerian at all. She dropped both dresses on her bed unexpectedly, revealing her nudity again as she spoke to herself in German.
“Can you warn me before you do that next time?”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” she apologized, but made no moves to cover herself.
“I know you’re used to this type of thing, but don’t be nude around me again. In short, let’s make a deal. No more nudity.”
“I’m not the one who gets drunk and strips nude in someone else’s room.”
“Okay, no more nudity. No more sex on the couch too.”
“But I’m nudist.” She picked a shirt from a chair and corrected her statement. “I’m a nudist.”
“Good. Keep that to yourself.”
He watched her put on the shirt, somewhat disappointed that the show was over.
“You want me to drive you to church?”
“Don’t worry. I’ll find my way. My boss is thinking that you are my boyfriend because of you dropping me and picking me. So no more of that.”
“You still haven’t told me what your thing with this Luper Torkuma guy is. Did you know him in the past?”
“I’m not talking about it.”
“Come on, Adaugo. You practically know everything about me. It’s only fair that I know you, especially after you made me get a private detective to dig up shit about him. We’re still friends, aren’t we?”
“Okay, when I come back from church…”
“Tell me now. It’s raining hard anyways. You can’t go out in this weather.”
She grumbled and pointed at her bed. Ace sat. She began her tale. It was brief, revealing only the important details. Ace was quiet all through.
“That is the story of my life,” she said in conclusion.
“That’s a sad story.”
“I know, but I’m going to have a happy ending. I need to see his mother. I need closure…”
Dugo picked a pair of matching underwear and walked into her bathroom. Ace followed her to the door.
“You’re lying your way through, being this person you’re not. I know it’s definitely to have your pound of flesh back.”
“Good for you, Idowu. You know things, yet you don’t know what you and your ex want.”
“I’m begging you not to do what you want to do, whatever it is.”
“I’m passionate with my plan, Ace. Don’t waste your time talking to me.”
She stepped out in her underwear.
“Okay, let’s say Madam America deserves whatever she did to you… How about Luper? He’s innocent of her crimes.”
“Innocent?” Dugo scoffed. “He got me pregnant and disappeared and I went to his mother and my life turned to shit! And next thing I’m almost dying on a slave ship to Italy! All because of him!”
“Calm down, Dugo. Calm down, please. All I’m saying is that he was young, like we all were at some point–”
“So I had to suffer for his youngness?! Ace, you don’t know what it feels like to fuck strange men who stink and sweat on you and cuss you and call you monkey, black shit and all sorts of names! You suck infected, uncircumcised cocks and have nightmares for days because of the stink! You have no idea what I went through! Lucky me, I didn’t get killed by one of them pigs! Lucky me, I didn’t catch the HIV or the herpes! Lucky me, my maman didn’t allow more than one guy a day fuck me because I was her prized harlot! Lucky me, I didn’t end up doing drugs like my friends and sleeping on the streets or getting caught by the polizia! That was what Luper did to me! He ruined me and then his mother put the nail on the coffin and buried me! So don’t tell me that that mutterficker is innocent! Iz all hiz fault!”
Ace allowed her a moment to breathe. “But you’re here now, Dugo,” he told her tenderly. “You’re fine. You’re alive. You’re not ruined or buried. You’re now this beautiful, amazing, sweet, kindhearted woman who rose from the ashes…”
“I’m not phoenix, Ace. I’m broken. You don’t know. I’m very broken.”
And then it was as if a dam broke. Good thing Ace had a self-awarded PhD in comforting the opposite sex. With the right words, he soothed Dugo until she was all cried out.
“Please, don’t tell me not to do what I want to do,” she sniffled. “I have to.”
“I’m so sorry for all you went through.”
“I’ll be fine.” She got off the bed.
“Still going to church? The rain has stopped.”
Dugo picked her dress. She slipped into it and Ace helped her zip it up.
“I want to ask… Do you still feel something for Luper?”
She turned around. “Why do you ask that?”
“Because, as much as you’re mad at him, you didn’t speak spitefully of him as you did about his mother. Well, apart from the mutterficker part.”
“Don’t confuse restraint for feelings. I feel nothing for that man.”
“Are you going to be fine, though?”
“Alright. I need to go out and do some street photography. The rain has stopped.”
“I’m late to church.”
Ace left Dugo’s bedroom, worried about her. He was uncomfortable with whatever plan she had for Luper and his mom. From the little he had garnered about Dugo, she was calculative and always followed through with her words. Ace knew she wasn’t joking.
Despite her objection, he drove her to church some minutes after, and stayed in the car until she was out of sight. The burden of her state of mind and safety had suddenly fallen on him.
Leaving the church, he proceeded to take a few pictures of a busy street. He emailed the raw files to his photography coach as he had been directed. After he was done with that, he delivered outfits to a client that lived down the street from Joana’s home.
Ace sat in the car for some time, contemplating if he should drive to her house or not. Luckily for him, he didn’t have to think for long. Joana called his phone.
“Is she home?” she asked about Dugo. “Can I come over?”
She sounded needy and sensuous on the phone. Ace consented to her visit. He drove home and made the place clean before she arrived.
She swept in like the goddess she was. She pinned him to the door and kissed him. This went on for a while without words from them before they finished what Dugo had interrupted the night before, on the same couch. Following that, Joana made a meal of jollof rice with a lot of crayfish and unbearable pepper, in the manner Ace loved.
“So, I need to talk to you about something,” he said as she went about cleaning his bedroom, which was already shipshape. She had an obsession for keeping things organized.
“It’s more of a question, actually. Why have you come back?”
“Come back? As in…?”
“Why are you back in my life?”
She straightened out his blanket, face away from him.
“I already told you. I missed you, and I sort of regret what I did.”
“You’re lying, Jo.”
“Lying?” She picked a pillow. “How?”
Ace put his food aside. “Hey, look at me.”
“What do you want?”
“Baby, you know I want you…”
“No. What do you want from me? Because you’ll leave me and put on your engagement ring and go back to a man you promised to marry and I’ll be left here, wondering if I’ll ever be able to knock him off and take back my place in your life. So, I need to know the truth. You want us back together or is it just knacks?”
“Why are you complicating things with these questions? Can’t we just have fun?”
“Fun?! Joana, you dumped me! Called me broke and lazy, and then came back from nowhere and I shouldn’t question your motives?! Look at your face! See how your eyes keep looking up and down like a thief because you’re hiding something! WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?!”
“Why are you shouting like this nau?”
“Answer me, my friend!”
“I want you! But-but-but not to get back together or anything like that. I…”
She stopped and sighed.
“Let me just be honest.” She sat, facing him. “Sebastian is…”
She stopped again.
“Gay?” Ace helped out. “Impotent? A yahoo boy? Ritualist? An assassin?”
“He…” She brought her thumb and forefinger together.
“He’s broke?” Ace asked in cluelessness.
“He has a micro-penis,” she blurted, showing some disgust on her face
“His dick is small. It’s not micro like that but…” She looked around and then went for a whiteboard marker on the dressing table. “It’s this thin. Like a small snake.”
Ace spent the first couple of seconds in shock, and then he fell on the bed in laughter. He laughed so hard he began to choke. Joana went to him.
“Don’t kill yourself because of laugh.”
“So you’re saying that with all his forming, he has nothing downstairs?”
“Worst part, he can’t even use it. The thing can’t last.”
And Ace went into another spell of laughter. Again, he choked.
“Stop laughing. It’s not funny.”
“But his bank account is not micro abi? That’s the man you want to marry nau,” Ace mocked. “You left me for a marker. Clap for yourself, Jojo.”
She looked helpless.
“Don’t even think you can play victim right now.”
“We’ve already done our introduction.”
“I’m happy for you.” Ace got off the bed. His amusement, fast turning into anger. “You know what? This whole coming to collect dick thing you’re doing is totally over.”
“Don’t Ace me, abeg! You left me for a richer man! Enjoy your man! There are many male escorts in town! Use all the money you have to pay for good, big dick! Mine is no longer available! You want it, you have to pay for it!”
She took on a serious face, crossing her arms. “Okay, what will it take?”
“You’re asking me?! For real, Joana?!”
“Idowu, name any amount and I’ll pay it. Let’s stop the drama. You know I want you. You know the sex between us will always be bomb. But from now on, you’ll get paid. And since we’re talking money, I’ll pay you to be the father of my kids. I don’t want to get pregnant for him. Ever. I’ll give you anything. Just name a price.”
Ace felt as if he had just been bathed with freezing water. “Joana?”
“Stop looking at me in shock. You said I should pay for your services!”
“It was sarcastic!”
“Ace, you always knew money and ambition were important to me. I was with you to stay grounded. You kept my head in a leveled place, if not, the things I would have done…”
Ace’s jaw fell.
“But you weren’t moving, baby. You became stagnant because you got comfortable. And so, I got tired of dumbing down how much I wanted to accomplish as a woman…”
“Therefore, you dumped me and here we are. I understand you perfectly, Jo.” Ace gathered his wits, subdued by her brazenness. “I even understand how you don’t want to have kids for a micro-penis guy in case he passes on the gene to your children. I get also that I’m the best sex you ever had. But what I don’t get is why you think that you can buy me.”
“Everyone has a price. I always used to tell you that.”
“I remember. And I was such a bad student. If I had listened, paid more attention, I wouldn’t have missed how much of a heartless bitch you were.”
“Don’t get dramatic.”
“But come to think of it, I suspect that I was bought a long time ago. I just didn’t know it. The contract ended, and now, you’re here to renew.”
“It’s not like that, baby.” She sat with him again, resting her hand on his. “I know you won’t believe me, but I love you, Idowu.”
“So we can make this thing work nau.” Her arms went around his neck “I don’t even care for whatever you have with Dugu or Doggie or whatever her name is.”
“Dugo. Her name is Dugo.”
“Or is she paying you?”
Ace looked into Joana’s eyes. He didn’t know who she was anymore. What hurt him more was how much he still loved her.
“She’s not paying me. She’s… I already told you. We’re just friends… Wait, does your man know you want to do this with me?”
“Am I stupid? Dude doesn’t even know that I know about his dick. He’s forming celibacy until marriage. In his mind, I don’t have sense. He will just unveil his trashy dick on our wedding night and tell me stories that touch.”
“So how did you find out?”
“Oh, a concerned friend connected me to his ex-wife…”
“The babe is now married to another man sha. She showed me pictures and videos of him on their wedding night. The marriage didn’t live to see the next morning.” Joana laughed.
“Wow. You’re a dick-shamer.”
“For the man with the right tool, I’m a dick-worshipper. Ace, let’s just make this thing work. I’ll get you a car, set up your studio, get you your own apartment, and of course, drop something into your account any time you want it. Remember all those times we role-played during sex and I was your sugar mommy? You always loved that one, didn’t you?”
“Let’s do it for real then. You won’t have to worry about Sebastian. The guy is as dumb as…”
“I don’t see you that way. You’re actually very smart, Ace. Extremely smart. I just don’t know why you’ve not made it to the top. But don’t worry, baby, we’re making mad money this year. You and me. You always used to tell me that. Now, it’s happening.”
“Let me think about it, Jo.”
“Will you take too long?” she asked, with her hand rubbing his penis.
“I love you, baby.” She kissed him. “You didn’t say you love me too.”
“I love you too.”
“I have to hang with some friends for a bit, okay. Can I come back tonight?”
She kissed him again, dragging him up.
“Hold me.” She turned around. “I love it when you hold me from behind because I can feel your D rub against my bum like a real man.”
Ace did as he was told. She sighed.
“Oh, I missed this. Can we do one more?”
“Okay, I’ll see you during the week. I think you should let me have a spare key to this house before I get you your own place. Don’t worry, I’ll sneak in at night and be real quiet. Doggie doesn’t have to know.”
Joana dragged Ace to the front door, kept his mouth captive with her kisses and then left.
Ace sat dumbfounded after she was gone, the truth about who Joana really was, hitting him sorely. He came to accept that had long had him in that manner Nigerians described as ‘putting one in a bottle’. The signs had been there. Everyone had seen it, except Ace himself. At that initial stage in their relationship, he had gone out of his way to borrow from friends to please her. She had been as broke as he was then. But shortly after, she landed a dream job in an oil company. Ace’s defense then was that she had upgraded him as well. He called it real love.
But real love had made him a slave to her whims. Anything she wanted, he did. He cooked her meals, ran her errands, drove her about town like her chauffeur and of course, satisfied her capricious sexual whims. In return, he was rewarded with material gifts, but with them came the subtle insults, the shades she threw at him because of his financial situations, the times when he was certain she was cheating but he chose to flounder in denial.
In hindsight, the picture was clearer. And with the clarity came anger and revulsion, even though he still loved Joana. He was aware of the ball bouncing about in his court and the power he had to either play it the way he wanted or kick it out or walk away from the court.
It took him hours, contemplating, going through different emotions. But in the end, when he got some sort of peace, he fell into a moment of sinister brilliance that gave him cause to smile.
He opened a can of beer and sat to watch a football match on television. He had the perfect solution to Joana’s madness.