It took me a little while to appreciate the change in that room.
There was suddenly so much space between the bed and the TV that you could probably play indoor soccer. Clothes hanging neatly in the closet, shoes stacked properly in racks, dishes in the right places, and that faint hint of pizza going bad was gone too. Wonderful what we can achieve when we’re motivated, isn’t it? It reminded me of a photo I’d seen on bbm once- you never know what you have until you clean your room.
Even Sotonye looked pleased with the outcome. She slid across the room like a little child every two minutes or so, all the while flashing her teeth. I realized that her hair still needed some work. We’d done the facials, yes, but the hair. Something that always decided whether I’d take a girl’s number or not. It didn’t matter if it was long or short- what mattered to me was that the girl loved her hair enough to keep it looking rich.
“alright that’s enough. Time to text him back”
“oh that…I’m not sure if I want to anymore”
“why? What’s the problem”
“I don’t know…”
She looked away, suddenly fixated on a pair of suspenders hanging down the closet door. She started to lift her fingers to her mouth. If she started to chew on them, that would prove all I’d suspected- she was shy. Luckily she’d chewed everything off already so there was nothing left.
“are you okay? You just cleaned your room for a chance to text him back”
“what will I say? I’m just gonna sound stupid anyway”
“why do you think so?”
“well…I don’t know how to sound hot. I’m not used to texting guys you know”
“dude you text me every day” I replied, taken aback by the sudden turn of conversation. This was supposed to be about Chuks, right?
Sotonye’s face took on a naughty contortion even Angelina Jolie would be proud of and she looked me right in the eye. With those lovely white eyes I hated to stare into for too long. Her lips parted slowly as she walked towards me, swaying her hips suggestively. She stretched up to my face, puckered up- and when I closed my eyes, I felt moist lips on my earlobe.
“you’re a girl, Ekene. My girlfriend” She whispered.
I could tell you all about how I was jerked awake from that daytime slumber upon hearing those words. I could tell you about how I opened my eyes to see her laughing heartily. I could tell you how I tackled her to the bed. I could tell you how she threw me off easily. But all those things would waste time and space wouldn’t it?
I walked straight for the door. I knew Soso was going to stop me with either a flying shoe or sharpmouthed insult. So when neither came, I hovered over the doorknob and turned back.
“aren’t you going to ask me where I’m going?”
“ah please get out already”
“you heard me. Shey you want me to beg you before you tell me what to text him back”
“of course you have to beg me”
“why is that?”
“because you want my help. It’s something with us guys- even if you can do it yourself, just ask us to do it. Like you’re powerless. Even if we know you’re perfectly capable of doing it, we’d swim across a crocodile-infested swamp to get you what you want. All you need do…is ask. Don’t you read your bible?”
“what does the bible have to do with this?”
“Matthew 7:7 ‘ask and it shall be given unto you. Seek and you shall find. Knock and the door shall be opened unto you”
“Ekene when did you start reading the Bible?”
“well there was this church babe I followed one year like that. I had to sound convincing, you know? You should have seen me wearing trouser on my stomach and carrying fat Bible and saying ‘Praise God’ at the slightest provocation”
“well, ‘The Lord’ told her I wasn’t the one for her and she couldn’t disobey. But the Bible is really wonderful for learning how to be wise”
Sotonye looked at me and slowly shook her head side to side.
“okay sir, can you please tell me what to text him?” Soso said with a mock curtsey.
Aha, she was ready. Truth is, I could have told her what to say. But that would just make her my robot. She needed to add some of her own flavour.
“Actually YOU’RE going to text him” I said
“what? Are you high?”
“no. I won’t be helping you if I dictate what you should say. You want to tell him that you’re busy and you’ll see him some other time. Maybe this Friday. But you have to do it your own way. You need to make him look forward to that day and think about his life. Let him get a haircut, buy a new shirt, change his perfume, buy a breath mint. But you need to take him out of his comfort zone to somewhere YOU are comfortable.”
“Okay what do I wear?”
“well I can’t tell you that. But you need to show him what he can’t have yet”
“show him some flesh to lust after”
“he’s already seen your contours when we went jogging anyway”
“wouldn’t that make me a slut? I remember how Dagogo and his friends used to gather and yab girls that dressed naked”
“no THAT’s different. He needs to see enough skin to keep him coming back. But not enough for him to ‘see finish’”
“I don’t get it”
“face, neck, knees, arms. He needs to see all that. But no boobs- that just says ‘I’m a whore’
“so let me guess, you’re not going to tell me what to wear, you’ll just let me go by my instincts”
“I didn’t know you were this smart, girl. Come and kiss me joray”
“with that dirty mouth you used to kiss Tinu. Abeg gerraway”
I laughed and let myself out of her house. When I got home, I worked on a collaborative project with Jerry Chi. Oh I didn’t mention that I got to meet some Ace writers over the weekend. It all started from an instagram debate over Samsung/Tecno cameras. I was rooting for the Tecno Phantom F7 (8mp, autofocus, flash and a wide-aperture lens). Jerry Chi was for some Samsung galaxy mega and he left a link- http://pensofchi.wordpres.com for me to check out some of the photos he’d taken. They were inferior to mine but the writings on his blog over-made-sense. So we began talking about working together on a project.
Blah Blah Blah. I worked till about 4am, deleting clichés, removing unnecessary lines and correcting errors. I didn’t know when I fell asleep, but I woke up to the roar of my phone ringing. Yup, roar. Sotonye’s ringtone is “Children of Fire” by Oh, Sleeper (one awesome metal band like that). I reached for it and glanced at the time. 6:57pm. How could I have slept THAT long? Must be fatigue from the jogging.
I answered the phone.
“what?!” I croaked.
“Dude I need you to come and pick me up. I won’t have bothered you but it’s kind of an emergency”
“what? Where?” I bolted upright. What could be the matter at this time of the day?
“what’s going on?”
“just hurry. I’ll tell you everything”.
Tell you the truth, I saw Red. I pulled on my jeans and t-shirt. My sneakers weren’t cooperating (fingers tangling the laces up) so I went for my slippers. I ran to the car, fired it up and sped all the way past City gate and Berger junction. There wasn’t any traffic around Wuse Market, so I went straight down to Sheraton junction, turned right and took the bend left. I had to slow down a little bit to let the police officers flash their lights at my face and make a show of checking the car for bombs.
I found a parking space on the third level. I called Soso. She answered on the first ring, her voice shaking by now
“soso where are you?”
“I’m at the fountain”
I ran up the stairs, past the tables and umbrellas outside, past the stretch hummer people loved to rent for weddings.
When I sighted Soso I almost died. She sat just by the fountain, with her head bowed and her hands covering her face.
“are you okay? What happened” I asked
She lifted her hands from her head, stood up and stretched out to me like a little child. I hugged her immediately. When her hand reached the back of my neck, I felt something warm and moist. But I ignored it. I pulled the other chair to her side with my free hand, never letting her go. I was definitely shocked to see what she was wearing. Shorts! In public! I mean- she could do that at home, at the gym but definitely not to a cinema. When did she have time to get her hair done? Questions, Questions, but in the middle of a hug I would rather not leave, I didn’t bother to ask.
“Soso what’s the problem?”
She tried to talk with her chin buried in my shoulder but all she succeeded in doing was tickle me. I pulled back and cradled her face in my hands. Then I spotted a bit of blood on her face, where her palms had been.
“oh my God, you’re bleeding! What happened to you? How did you get injured?” I exclaimed. I felt raw panic like I’d never before. I started searching for the source of the bleeding. I reached for her hands and she presented them meekly like a primary school student getting her nails examined. I saw that her nails were freshly manicured but I couldn’t see any cuts. I was about to ask where the blood came from when she opened her mouth and mumbled
“Him”. She pointed with her hand.
I looked in the direction she was pointing and I saw someone that looked vaguely familiar. His head was bent backwards with an icepack pressed to his face. There were some of the blue-uniformed silverbird staff hanging about as if to make sure he was okay.
“what about him?”
“That’s Chuks. I punched his nose and he started bleeding”
There were so many questions running through my mind. Why was Chuks here? Why was she here? Oh my God, did they come together? To do what? They were supposed to have lunch. TOMORROW. Why were they here today?
She must have seen the questions in my eyes. But she chose the most pressing question to answer before I could speak.
“5 minutes into the movie he started touching my boobs”
I didn’t see just red this time around- I started seeing green, blue, purple…the entire colour palette on CORELDraw. I dropped her hand and got up. There was only one thought on my mind as I started marching towards where Chuks was nursing his injured nose.
“Ekene please wait”. She grabbed my T-shirt but I shrugged free.
When Chuks saw me coming, his eyes hardened in anger. There was bright red blood on his otherwise pristine shirt. I had to admit the guy had some awesome dress sense. Apart from the blood, the pencil jeans, bracelets and BVlgari wristwatch all enhanced his masculine features.
I approached him with a controlled smile.
“your friend punched me in the nose. Now I have blood all over my nice shirt. You know how much it cost to get this fitted from Hawes & Curtis directly?”
Honestly, I didn’t know what I was going to do when I got up, but I knew now. I balled my hands into fists and gave him two punches on that his broken nose. I would have given him more, but amidst the painful howls coming from his throat and the screams from the ladies around, (not to mention the security guards restraining me) I just couldn’t take out more of my anger on that wretch.
if you ever touch her or any other girl like that, I will personally kill you, do you understand me?” I shouted over the noise of do-gooders who helped to put more distance between me and Chuks. I shrugged the security guys off me, pulled Soso up by her hands and walked her to the car. She got in, I drove out of the car park. I returned the Blue tally wordlessly, without giving the gatemen my customary tip.
“thanks for coming, Ekene” She said as we turned onto Ahmadu Bello Way. I didn’t answer her at all. My head was filled with how much pain I could have inflicted on that scum bag before the security guards held me back. I was too mad to notice when Soso started sobbing. We had already gone past city gate when I heard the quiet sobs. I increased my speed till the speedometer hit 170 km/hr. Her sobs grew louder until she burst into hysterics.
I stopped the car.
“soso…I’d catch a grenade for you any day”
She unbuckled her seatbelt, crawled out of her seat, over the gear box and sat awkwardly in my lap. She stared into my eyes for the briefest moment…And she kissed me like her life depended on it.