Silence descended again in Sandy’s spacious sitting room. Outside, the sun had completed its journey to the top, and it hung there stranded in the wide expanse of cobalt blue sky, burning ferociously in frustration. It cast mighty ray balls onto the louvres, which in self defence, refracted the whole of it into the room. It cooked up the meagre air in circulation, and it told on the two men lying exhausted on the ground. Sweat was running down every part of their body in rivulets, washing away blood that would not clot. Their breath came out in reedy gasps like a flute stuffed with tiny stones, and their eyes were tightly shut.
It took Bobo painful efforts to open his eyes, and when they finally did open, the beams of sunlight that fell into them caused him to cry out. His eyes hurt like hell. He rolled over to Cas, whose breathing seemed more laboured, and a funny idea struck him. The idea was to lie atop him and count to three. He ignored the silly urge and jabbed him on the side with an elbow instead. Cas let out a low grunt.
“Hey, Idiot.” Bobo said through bloated lips. “So you are not yet dead.”
Cas grunted again, but lay still, eyes firmly shut.
“Maybe I’d go and get a coffin and pallbearers to take you to the grave this way, since you’re finding it difficult to die.” Bobo sat up, and his spine let out a series of cracks.
“Holy Moses!” He cried.
A smile twisted Cas’ lips, and then he spoke.
He said, “Ebs Mobsib dib mobst hobliebst mamb you knowb?”
Cas cranked up with laughter. His ribs and belly spat fire, but he only grabbed them and continued laughing. Tears began spilling down his eyes, that was also painful, but he kept on laughing. He fell back to the floor and began to cough and rasp. Then did he finally reduce the laughter to the sputter of faulty bike engine.
“Seriously, man. I think it’d be better for you to die.” He laughed again, but was interrupted by a cough. Curds of blood flew about. “I never thought it was possible to beat one back to his toddling days, where he was beginning to learn to talk.”
“Ebs nobt furbny.” Cas said, struggling hard with each word.
“Shut up, Bastard.” Bobo commanded. “Now listen to me. I’m going out for a break, and I’d spend something close to an hour outside, but I’d be back. I don’t want to find you in this house when I get back. It’s a good thing you’re still alive. So, crawl out like a snake if your legs too have gone back to those toddling days. I just don’t want you hanging around here as a reminder, I hate reminders. You understand?”
It was a rhetorical question. Bobo turned his back on Cas before he could do as much as nod his head. He picked up his phone and pack of cigarette from where they had landed during the fight and put them back in his pocket, not examining them at all. He trudged into the room and took a look at the mirror. The person that stared back at him from the mirror had puffs as eyes, a crooked pen cover as nose, and a badly cut upper lip. He feared parting those lips to look at his teeth, he rather felt them with his tongue, and forced himself to believe they were okay. His face in general had grown round, and he believed he looked something like an Asian now, only he was the world’s ugliest Asian.
When he passed Cas the second time, his breathing had grown fainter, but he wouldn’t stop to check him out, he kept moving till the door of the house was behind him. And standing right there at the door of the opposite apartment with arms folded beneath her breast, and a disapproving frown on her face was the hungry and friendly neighbour. Bobo looked at the ground shamefully.
“I heard it all.” She said. “You guys were just too loud. Poor girl.”
The shame was gone from Bobo as quickly as it had come, but he still had his eyes fixed to the ground. The thing was those breasts. They were taunting him again, turning him on. Those folded hands did more job than just paint her expression, they pushed the breasts up to perfect roundness. But this was no time to have riotous feelings, he was in pains for God sake, and he should be feeling ashamed for his ugly display earlier, in Sandy’s house. He had shown her what monster he was…
He turned and began walking away.
“Whatever happened in there was not your fault, right?” She asked.
Bobo did a slow turn, and finally raised his head, strongly fighting the desire to look her in the breast rather than on the face. He won the struggle. There was a comical expression of hope he found engraved on her face which amused him. He smiled.
“No. It was not my fault, none of it. But I could’ve acted more gentlemanly.”
“I like you this way.” She said, and the worry-hopeful look on her face was gone. One of deep longing replaced it. “It was in this same wild, non gentlemanly manner you rode me, and I liked it… My door still stands open.”
At last his eyes fell away from the face and landed on her breasts. His Adam’s apple bobbed once, and a disgraceful boner had pitched tent in his trousers. He sighed and walked clumsily towards her. If only she can take her eyes off my trousers, he thought, as his discomfort grew.
They had hardly made it through the door when she began pulling off his shirt. He pushed her aside gently and kicked the door shut.
“Get me a towel while I take off my jean.” Bobo said. “I need to have a cool bath first.”
“Of course.” She agreed, ravaging his broad hairy chest with her eyes. “I’d do just that, and take you to the bathroom.”
“Oh God!” Bobo gasped. “Are you always like this?”
“Yes, I’m always horny. I guess that’s the word you’re so ashamed to say.”
“Then you’ve got a very big problem.” Bobo concluded. “And, I only need you to show me the way to the bathroom, please.”
She disappeared through a door, laughing lightly. That was tempting too. Bobo sat on the rug and took out his phone and cigarette. The pack felt heavy in his hand, and he had just enough time to wonder how many sticks he had taken today before the lady returned. She had a white towel in hand, and that same short towel wrapped around her body. She stretched forth his towel to him.
“Thank you.” Bobo said. He quickly got out of his jean, and snatched up his phone and pack of cigarette. “So how do I get to the bathroom from here?”
“Do you smoke while bathing? That’s really weird.” She smiled.
“Yeah, it gets me in the mood.”
“Oh, and the phone?” She eyed it disapprovingly. “Never mind. Now, follow me.”
She led the way, and Bobo followed. He saw no need to protest further; the lady was a parasitic bug that once clung firmly to the host’s flesh, became a part of it, totally impossible to shake off. He didn’t even know her name, neither did she know his. This was the height of whoredom.
The bathroom was slightly larger than a cubicle, and all white. Bobo wondered how many people it would take to choke up the place, and realized with dismay that it would take fewer than five people. Say a wild sex party was to be hosted in this apartment and the attendees decided to do their thing in the bathroom? What a pity, he thought, and immediately reprimanded himself for letting his thought promenade to such impropriety. But why not, considering what would happen in a few minutes. He decided that he would not permit any more sexual activity. He had made that mistake once and once bitten, they say, is…
She was already helping him out of his boxers, and he was indulging. A sudden spray of cold water splashed him on the head and he jumped. She chuckled as she snuggled in behind him, roaming soap across the mat of hairs on his chest. The comfort of her warmth was heaven, his senses were yet to decipher the mystery. Like a body of water struck by a rod, his thoughts sprayed about purposelessly. He let her run the soap down the length of his body. When she was done, she turned him to face her and handed him the soap.
“Return the favour.” She ordered.
He held the soap foolishly for some time, not comprehending what it was, and just staring at her nudity. She frowned at him.
“Oh.” He shook himself out of his lust. “Oya turn your back.”
“No. Start from the front, start from here.” She pointed at her huge twin.
“But that’s not how-”
She grabbed his hand and rested them on her breasts. On contact with the soft flesh, Bobo’s eyes grew dark instantly. He splayed the fingers of the hand not holding the soap and was about to perform a popular trick of his when Terry G screamed of knacking him/her akpako from his phone. He looked towards the window at his phone, but what blessed his eyes first was Sandy’s kitchen window.
“Oh God,” she moaned. “Don’t pick the call.”
He was not hearing a thing she was saying. He was in Sandy’s kitchen once again. He could see himself selecting the best yam from the little heap of yams, see himself slicing the yams, see himself stirring the porridge until it became thick. That food was totally forgotten in that pot, he would never feel the pride of dishing out a generous plate of his dish for her. That joy of watching her criticize or praise the meal, it would never be. He wondered if there still would be a life for both of them… the phone rang off the hook and began to ring the second time.
The lady whose name was Prisca, but yet unknown to Bobo, pressed herself tighter to him. She tried to turn his face gently to hers, which was crooned and well positioned for a kiss. She knew the efforts were futile, the fun was over. He reached for the phone as it was about ringing its last, and picked up the call.
“Who?” He spat into the phone.
She could not hear the conversation, but she could sense him growing angry. He shifted away from her and advanced to the window. She went along with him, not caring a bit about what was going on in phonosphere, but adept on completing what she had started. She was so in the mood…
“You dey mad wella, Benji.” Bobo stuck out his five splayed fingers to no one at all. “Thunder fire that your mouth wey you still use dey speak English for me. If I try find my things for outside, you go regret say I be your paddy.”
She massaged the bunched muscles of his shoulder, heard him groan, and smiled. He would soon forget about whatever it was that was getting him incensed on the phone, and come back to her. They would both explore each other’s body, and… she wrapped a hand on his member. He quickly batted it away, and fixed her a murderous gaze. She shrunk away from him.
“See Benji.” He thundered. “I no go even take any of your shit again. That chick don tie black cloth for your eyes, she don cook give you, and you don dey mad. I dey come meet you for that house now, and believe me, I go beat the jazz commot your eyes.”
With that, he ended the call. He went under the shower to wash away lather from his body. From the sides of his eyes, he could see the lady taking careful strides towards him.
“No even allow me add you on top this matter.” He warned.
And she understood it. She went into her towel, and out of the bathroom angrily. He sighed, and tried to calm his trembling body. Something was really wrong with his friend. He had kept saying that out of his love for Linda, he had decided to do this, …and do that. Why should he even roll with a lady with that name? How much does he need to told that names have deep effects on people? Now a hex has been placed on him. Bobo sighed again.
The lady maintained a reasonable distance from him while he got back into his stinking, bloody clothes. He felt her eye him occasionally, but wouldn’t say a word, though he hated that stuff like he hated his faeces.
“Say you would come back when you’re done with this urgent business.” She said. “I’ve got some medications in a box under the bed. I used to be a nurse, but not anymore. I can clean and dress your wounds, and maybe stitch the deep cuts. Make you look better.”
He left the door opened midway, and turned to look at her. She was resting on the doorpost of the bedroom, the lemon green curtain covered half of her. She cast her glance into the room, avoiding his.
“Would you?” She asked in a trembling voice.
Bobo could feel his will grow weak. He experienced a spontaneity of something that was like pity, and… love. He walked over to her and took her in a tight embrace, a drop of tears landed on his shirt. He tenderly stroked her back and waist.
“I would come back.” He said as he broke the embrace.
“Okay.” She said, and disappeared into the room.
* * *
A pang of regret gripped him as he stood at his gate. He had admonished someone about the splinter in his eyes, whereas there was a fat log of wood in his. Admonishing was a far milder word for what he had done, he had almost knocked out the splinter from that someone. Here was his house, a place he lived with that same precious daughter of his, and it was unsecured. Not a single armed man manning the gate, not even an aboki. He had felt no need for that, but was that not the same way the doctor had felt no need for security expenses?
“What’s wrong?” Sandy asked.
“Nothing.” He said. “Just got lost in my thoughts there.”
“It must be a bad one.” She decided.
Ochuko pushed aside the metal cover of the small slot in the gate, and inserted his hand. He unbolted the gate, and they both walked in. His mind returned to the incident that had occurred in Amazing grace, and for the first time it dawned on him that he was not safe. Someone might be right there in the house, ready to take his life the same way that of his daughter had almost been taken. He felt it was pure childish fright to think such things, just like Lucy had believed it was her class teacher that had attempted to take her life. He could draw no relation between these two thoughts, but…
“You drifted off again.” Sandy shook his arm.
“Did I?” He asked in surprise.
“Of course, you drifted. If you hadn’t then why haven’t you replied any of my questions?”
“Have you been saying anything to me?”
“Ah!” She marched on. “Questions upon questions.”
“I’m sorry.” He pleaded, taking her hand. “Now, if you don’t mind asking all over again.”
Sandy had quit crying long before they got here, but she had not entirely gotten over the series of events that had happened in her life in the past twenty-eight hours. Those eyes of hers looked like they’d lost all the light in them, and those lips seemed to have forgotten that simple art of smiling. She was talking anyway, but he guessed it was in a bid to keep from crying.
“I was asking if you shared this house with another tenant.”
He looked at her face and started to laugh.
“What are you laughing at?” She asked, and he sensed she was slowly creeping towards the boundaries of anger.
“I’m sorry.” He said. “I couldn’t help it. You need to see how you looked when you asked that question.”
“How did I look?” She turned a concerned face to him.
“You looked breathtaking.”
“Don’t be silly.” She poked him in the stomach. “Nobody laughs at beauty. Let’s forget that for now, but answer my question.”
“I live here alone with Lucy.”
They were standing on the porch now, watching as grasshoppers hopped from one strand of grass to another, and as tiny, twittering birds plucked threads of grass for their new nest.
“This place is beautiful.” Sandy said. “It would be perfect to lay in this lawn at night and watch the stars. Maybe I might see those of my parents cruise along slowly.”
“That’s a sad thing to say.” He dragged her into the house. “It’s more beauty inside. See”
And they saw Sharon walking in from the opposite door with a mop and bucket in hand, and one of his wife’s wrapper tied around her waist. Ochuko was dumbstruck for a moment, it was like his wife had come back from the dead. She looked exactly like his Blessing, his NG. Why this sudden resemblance? All the times he’d seen this lady, who is his daughter’s closest companion, and even the once he’d spent almost thirty minutes joshing her in the car as he drove her to her bus stop, he had never seen the slightest hint of resemblance. Maybe it was the wrapper, he thought. She looked at them and smiled extravagantly.
“Welcome Sir.” She said, and walked farther away from the door.
“Miss Sharon.” Ochuko beamed. “And how much must I keep reminding you not to call me Ochuko? Here is Sandy.”
Sandy waved, and tried her best to smile. She succeeded in giving off a honest one which lasted only briefly.
“And Sandy, this is Miss Sharon, Lucy’s class teacher, and best friend.”
“Hi, Miss Sharon.” Sandy hailed.
“Hi. You are very beautiful Sandy.” She looked at Ochuko, who was grinning wildly, and wished she could kick him in the crotch. “You guys can take one of the other rooms, I want to tidy this one up.”
They began to move away, with Ochuko wrapping a possessive arm around Sandy’s waist.
“You never told me you’d be coming around.” He said as they strolled away.
“Yeah, my mom had really gone wild this morning, sorry to say that. And by the time I was done calming her, hours had gone by. So I decided to give the doctor a call before coming, and he informed me you both were gone. How’s Lucy now, and where is she?” Miss Sharon asked, not looking up from her chore.
“Oh she’s doing fine. The burns weren’t so serious as it had appeared at first.” He said, then at an afterthought, added, “You did not happen to visit the hospital at all, did you?”
“Not at all.” She replied quickly.
She burned with rage as she did the task nobody sent her to do. All the while, her mind kept picturing the two walking away from her. That lady was really beautiful, her compliment wasn’t a joke. Envy was now mixed with anger, and they feasted on her. She worked silently, straining her ears to hear their conversation from the other room. She heard nothing but footfalls marching out of the room.
She knew she had to secure her man before this day was over, she had promised herself that, but there was this new lady to think about now. And Lucy, she was not dead after all. Ochuko had done well to avoid her question.
“Wow! I can’t remember leaving berries in the fridge.” Footfalls stomped back to the room behind her. “But this berry sure looks interesting. It’s going down right away.”
Sharon froze bent over the bucket. This was bad, she thought. Panic was beginning to creep into her, and it was spreading like wild fire, all her well collected thoughts were now running amok in her head.
“Sandy, I bet you’ve never seen a berry this sexy.” Ochuko said cheerfully. He sounded very close. He must be at the entrance of the other room, Sharon thought.
“We would both have a taste of these.” He informed, sounding more than cheerful this time. Exhilaration was the right word.
He was about to die in happiness.