The clock struck twelve when I got home. I peered at my beeping watch as four zeros blinked at me. I breathed out in the dark. It had been an exhausting two days.
I unlocked the door and walked into my living room. I shut the door and leaned against it, taking the cool air in as I kicked out of my shoes. I unzipped my jacket too. It had water droplets on it from the light shower that had begun a few minutes ago. I had wanted to stay a little longer just to feel the rain. It was my thing to stand outside while it rained—one of the pleasures I missed from my childhood.
I slipped out of my clothes and tiptoed into my bedroom where a scrumptious male form was sprawled on my bed.
“Where are you coming from?” he asked.
“From walking to and fro the earth,” I answered, sauntering to the bed with the relish of a woman who had not been with a man in a long time. When I got on the bed, I got on top of him too.
“Three weeks, Lanre. Three long weeks.”
He lifted himself to have his lips meet mine. His kiss was fierce and greedy.
“I missed you,” I said.
He turned me over, and I spread open my thighs to have him rest between them, watching him put on a condom. I giggled as he pushed the entire length of his dick into me. Nineteen years of sex and I was yet to get used to the moment of first entry. It always came with pain and the face of the man who had forced himself into me at my tender age. Looking up at Lanre now, I saw the bastard that had defiled me—his dead eyes, shaggy brows, and sparkling white teeth. But Lanre lowered his face on mine and breathed me in. Pulling me to him while his fingers dug into the virgin curls of my hair.
“I’ve missed you too, Yanka,” he whispered, kissing me. “Don’t leave me again.”
He didn’t mean that, and I didn’t mind that he didn’t. We could never be together, not with what we were, not with the jobs we did. We would continue to share special moments like this until our gray years met us. Maybe then, we would settle down with each other. It was not love that brought us together. Mutual loneliness did.
Lanre and I fucked. It was savage and nasty but utterly satisfying. Normally, we would sit and talk afterward because that was where the bond lay. We understood each other more than we wanted to admit. This night, however, Lanre wasn’t talking. He was brooding as I mixed us something to drink.
“I’m moving back to base,” I told him. “Of course, you know that.”
He had his face to the ceiling, long legs stretched out to the edge of the bed. His toes were pressing into the headboard. He said nothing in reply to the words I had just uttered.
I served him a glass of coke and rum, with ice cubes and a slice of lemon. He downed his drink and tugged me toward him. “I’ll be happy to have you back at base, B. Maybe we could pretend we don’t do what we do and that we live normal lives. Then, we’d just get married and be like everyone else.”
“You know that’s not going to happen.”
“I have an apartment all to myself in Lagos,” he told me. “Come and bunk with me.”
“Isn’t that against the rules or something?”
“You’re working undercover, aren’t you? I could be your undercover brother.”
I laughed. Lanre pulled me into his arms to kiss me. It was a tender moment for both of us, one of those times when either of us could have believed that there was something tangible beyond what we had.
We fucked again for a long time. After that, we fell asleep, drained. Before daylight came, he helped me pack my things while I attended to some other important matters.
I didn’t have much to take, though, so Lanre and I went at each other’s bodies one last time. At 0700 hours, we stopped for air. I ordered a pizza while Lanre caught up on the latest happenings online.
“Two more policemen bite the dust,” he said as I entered the bathroom for a shower.
“The Black Witch. She strikes again. The infamous CSP John Okoroafor and another policeman.”
“Timely. I haven’t been online. I’m sure the EndBARS protesters are happy.”
“Everyone is happy, Yanka. The Black Witch released a video of John, naming all his accomplices. The police have not responded to his claims yet.”
I went under the shower, drowning Lanre’s voice. The water was cold and soothing, and I took my time. When I was through, I stepped out to the bedroom and found Lanre waiting for me with annoyance in his eyes.
“What now?” I asked.
“I thought you said you were done with this vigilante shit, Yanka.”
“I said I was taking a break.”
“A break? You just killed two policemen.”
He didn’t give me an answer.
“Well, that’s a small price to pay for all the people they’ve been killing,” I said with nonchalance. “Imagine if that John guy survived. He’d be the chief security officer of some politician tomorrow, having gotten away with all his crimes.”
Lanre sighed. He was tired of me. “I just got insider info that they are adding another ten million to the bounty on her head.”
“They’re jokers. If they wanted to get me, they would have. I have a good number of cops on my payroll.”
I watched him walk around in circles. He was appealing to gaze at, with all that muscular formation and brooding eyes marked by bushy eyebrows. He was my boss, friend, and occasional fuck buddy. He could be more, but reiterating, what we did was never going to let us have normal lives.
He stopped and looked at me.
“I admire the fact that you want to save the world from filth, but heroes are meant only for comic books. You’ve had your head in those comics for so long that you can’t tell reality from fiction.”
“The world needs people like me. Think of all the evil we can erase—”
“We can’t, Yanka. You can’t fix all the world’s ills. And you can’t solve crime by committing more crime.”
“The only way to beat darkness is with more darkness.”
Lanre knew his words would always meet heedless ears. We both came from a side of the world where the quality of life was next to nothing. The larger part of the population here struggled to survive. People needed leaders they could look up to; sadly, their leaders were their oppressors. So, if I could change things around here, especially for those struggling to have their basic human rights protected, why shouldn’t I try? I had chosen to stand up for the oppressed, for those, whom by virtue of their financial, social or biological station in life, could not fight for themselves. The poor, the mentally and physically ill, women, and children. Their oppressors included the government, unhinged law enforcement officers, rapists, pedophiles, wife beaters, and misogynistic worms.
I enjoyed when the pigs begged for mercy, after I brought their frothing bigoted egos to nothing. There was no deep thrill that came with what I did in the shadows. It was more of a special kind of appetite that never got satisfied. I only got hungrier and angrier, prowling the dark, looking for whom to devour. In a country such as ours, there was always one bastard in the scum brigade to deal with. And when I wasn’t dealing with them, I was in some fight club, expending all that mental disorder in me and anger on someone. I was addicted to causing people pain because I couldn’t get the pain out of my body.
These days, though, I was seeing a therapist. She had succeeded in getting me calm, but like a venomous snake who was bursting with venom, I needed to bite someone or I would start eating myself from my tail.
I was named Bianca at birth. Codenamed, Biyankavitch by Captain. But Nigerians called me the Black Witch or Black Winch.
They said I moved about at night only, that I hated men, that I had mystic powers. None of that was true. The Black Witch was neither witch nor misandrist. I was just doing the Lord’s job. Sometimes I felt God had too much on his hands, hence, he let evil reign. Ergo, I helped him with the workload, occasionally putting his fear into the hearts of men.
Why didn’t I go after women? It was simple logic. I couldn’t hate on my own kind, and women, by default, were the victims of the type of men I loved fucking up. It still didn’t mean I didn’t fuck women up now and then or that I hated men. I loved men. I had a father and four brothers. Male friends too. Also, the random guy who ended up in my bed. Of course, there was Lanre too.
But you see, nobody knew Bianca. At least, not everybody. By day, I was the thirty-two-year-old unwed daughter to one of the richest farmers in the country. I was also a gym instructor. The job was a front for my other job, which was a clandestine occupation at the Nigerian Bureau of Intelligence and Security where Lanre was my boss. I had diplomatic access to certain countries, and at home, I could be anything I desired. I took that privilege literally, exercising my right to be amoebic. I was right there in your face, but I was also like the wind. I blew wherever I desired. You didn’t see me coming, you didn’t know where I was going. Heck, I didn’t even know where I was going most of the time.
The thing with us undercover agents was that we were sexier versions of zombies. But ‘sexy’ was relative here. Our obligations were dangerous, and they hadn’t been drained of the psychological effects that came with having so much power over a life and ending it without mercy. Our destinies were lost in the hands of those who pressed the buttons and told us what to do. When you’re working undercover, you give up your real life while holding tightly to it at the same time because it’s all you’ve got.
This was why family meant everything to me. I treasured them like lost gems found after thousands of years. I could kill anyone for them; even for my sister, Muna, who was my rival. We were the Bahagos, an ethnically-assorted clan. Idris Bahago, some forty-two years ago, tied the knot with Victoria, and they had two sons, Yohanna and Tanko. Not long after Tanko was born, they got divorced. Victoria then married Doctor Fakorede Fabumni, a renowned surgeon in the United States. The union produced an only heir, Apollo, before it went south. While Victoria struggled with Fakorede’s lawyers, fighting for half of the doctor’s wealth, she got involved with Idris again and found that she was with child. Luckily for her, she got what she wanted from Fakorede and moved on before he discovered she was pregnant. At the same time, Idris briefly dated a West Indian American who passed away while birthing me. Thus, I came into this world a month before my sister, Muna. But Idris and Victoria did not reunite after our births. In fact, Victoria married her third husband in 2000 and continued to have an affair with Idris. The husband found out about the affair and divorced her in less than a year, not caring that she was carrying his son. Jethro was born the same year, just a couple of days after Idris and Victoria’s quiet remarriage. They had been together all these years, and all of us, their children, had been with them. Except for that time I disappeared on my eighth birthday and returned on my sixteenth.
My disappearance broke my father’s heart, I was told. Victoria kept him sane through those tough years. When I returned, he did everything to build a strong bond between us, but he was unaware of the person I had become. I was no longer his little girl. What I had seen and gone through, the ears of a father should never hear about it.
But I had only started to live that clandestine life at the age of sixteen. My family became my cover. The idea was to live as every normal teenager would while I dove deeper into the dark world from which I came. Captain was the vilest person I ever met. He groomed me to become like him, a reflection of what he was. His evil ran deep in my DNA, even after all this time, even after I joined the NBIS to do good for my country, even now as I prided in being a vigilante, enacting justice on the dregs of the society. I couldn’t erase that I had been programmed to be this person. I felt helpless to overwrite my code, which was why I searched for joy in every place I could. My source of greatest joy—my family. We were hardly together these days. All of us, busy in our personal worlds, always look forward to holidays and family reunions. This year, Muna’s wedding was bringing us together.
I arrived Lagos at 1200 hours. My best friend was at the airport to welcome me. He stood outside, cutting a striking image of pure sex appeal in a pair of jeans and a blue shirt folded at the sleeves. There was a group of ladies taking in his appearance, but in typical Archibong manner, he was unaware of his effect on women.
I frowned when he spotted me. My tummy did some flips too. Archie wasn’t just my friend. I had nursed some unnecessary type of sentiment for him for a long time, right from our teenage years when I first met him after I returned from The Institute. My feelings had been steady, never wavering. These days, however, they threatened to drown me.
Okay, in plain words… I was crazy as fuck over him.
“Hey, best girl!” Archie came forward, his arms spread out in a hug, and when I wanted to respond to it, he scooped down and lifted me off the ground. I burst into a laugh, remembering his promise to do this. According to him, I didn’t get enough loving from the men in my life. Hence, he would treat me as a supposed lover would.
“My friend, drop me joor!”
He let me down and left a peck on my forehead. “I missed you so much, B. Good to have you back.” He took my luggage. I followed him as he dragged it toward the exit.
“So, I had Muna occupy herself with the job of picking out your tux because I knew you wouldn’t mind,” he explained as we walked. “I can’t believe I’m getting married, B. This is crazy.”
“I know, right?”
My eyes were ahead of us, and all around me at the same time. I could pick out every single soul in the area, what they wore, their body type, and the not-so-obvious aspects of their personalities that the ordinary eye didn’t notice at first glance. I did all these while listening to Archie. He appeared excited about getting married to my sister. He had no idea who she was, even after dating her for a little under two years. She seemed perfect for a wife. Beautiful, sexy, intelligent, and trained to cater to a man’s needs. She was spoiled too, but Archie considered it normal, bearing in mind her background. He also took a lot of shit from her, which he was ashamed to talk about. And this pissed me off because Archie was the prize. He had always been a hit with the women. There was a time, he indulged in being a low-key whore. These days, he claimed that he was done with that life, but I wasn’t so sure.
I doubted Muna knew much about him too. The whole thing was arranged by Victoria and Ukeme. Ukeme was Archie’s estranged father. The man had abandoned Archie’s mother when she was pregnant for him. He abandoned Archie too for most of his life, but he showed up a couple of years ago to heal the rift between them as he claimed. The other thing he did, which Archie wasn’t aware of, was to push to see this disturbing union between him and Muna.
It annoyed me that everyone was excited about it. How couldn’t they see that the marriage wasn’t going to work? Muna was only doing it because she was a basic as fuck bitch, and that was what her type did. Plus, she was in this clique of rich, spoilt brats who did nothing but spend inheritance money. All of them were married, except her. They taunted her over her singleness, so much that it caused her deep depression. Having a high society wedding was her way of getting back at them, and who better to get hitched to than a Kentoro-Abassi? Archie’s family name alone, just like the Bahago name, was worth billions. To many, this was a union of gods.
“So, what do you say to drinks?” he asked as we got into the car. “There’s mad traffic heading up to the island because of the protest, but it will ease up in a bit.”
We drove to our favorite bar on the mainland, and Archie ordered beers for both of us. We talked about a lot of things, but neither of us brought up the topic of his union to Muna. I wish I could make him see that he still had the option to walk away.
He was being abused by her. I saw it in his eyes, forget the scratch on his neck he tried to hide every three minutes or so. Things had changed so much since we last saw each other a year ago. That laughter I always told him, which came from his soul, now left a cracked smile that hid his scars.
I opened my mouth to talk about the abuse, but ended up talking about how the seats in the lounge looked different. I noted that they used to be leather. Now, they were something more comfortable. The lighting had improved too. The management seemed to have turned the place into a club. There was a stripper pole in the middle of the lounge. It was the first thing I saw when I walked in. Archie murmured something about the lounge having a new, spunky manager.
“A chick. You’ll like her.” There was a twinkle in his eyes.
I laughed. He had not stopped teasing me over being a lesbian. Why did everyone think I was interested in vaginas?
“But things are cooler around here, generally,” he said, looking away distantly. He was suddenly not here with me. I touched his hand to bring him back. My touch lingered. He looked at me, took my hand, and kissed it.
“So, tell me about your new gym,” I said.
“Oh!” His face lit up again. “Remember I told you that you would manage it?”
“B, you don’t have a job here yet, and it would be ridiculous that you were running that fitness center in Abuja, only to come here and work for someone else. It doesn’t make sense na. You sef check am.”
“If you want us to be co-owners, I’m down. Just let me know your terms.”
“After we sort that out, we start looking for a husband for you.”
“Olajiga is still very much single.”
I laughed. Olajiga or Jiga, was our friend, but he was the last man I wanted to hook up with.
“And he still wants you.”
I didn’t want any more men, especially not for marriage. Archie and the other important people in my life could rest.
“Want another beer?” Archie asked.
I shook my head. “I’ll be driving us home. You can order for yourself.”
He didn’t object. I understood his need to drown himself in whatever bothered him. There were rings around his eyes, indicating stress. The man needed to catch a break. He was about to embark on a long ass journey to hell.
©Sally Kenneth Dadzie @moskedapages
Image Credit: @Emmel_Concepts on Instagram