The sun is going down, and the pastry shop is vacant when the young lady dressed in a red dress walks up to me, tapping me out of my reverie.
“Sir,” she says. “Sir, if you can hear me, we’re just about closing.”
I jolt to life. “Oh. You’re closing now?”
“Yes, we are, sir.”
I look out the window, realizing noon has well descended, and look back at her.
“Okay. Permit me to make a call before I leave.”
I phone Okorafor. His number rings but he doesn’t pick up, so I leave him a voice mail, saying,
“Mr Curious, I’m stuck at Cakes and Cream, hoping you can come get me, as I am low on cash. Please call me when you get this.”
In a short amount of time he calls back, and I pick without hesitation.
“Hey, what’s going on?”
“What’s going on is I’m stranded at Cakes and Cream, close to Falomo Bridge. I don’t have any money on me, and was wondering if you could be kind enough as to pick me up and take me home.”
“At the moment, I’m on the highway, headed opposite that direction”—a car honks in the background—“but since it’s you making this request, I’ll have to turn back to come get you.”
“Thank you so much, Okorafor. I really appreciate it.”
“No worries. You just sit tight, and I’ll be there in fifteen minutes. Or is that too much?”
“It’s not too much.” I smile. “I mean, a beggar has no choice, or does he?”
“C’mon, you’re not a beggar. I’m on my way.”
He hangs up.
By the time Okorafor arrives at Cakes and Cream it is dark, and I am standing on the promenade, as the shop is closed for the day. He parks directly in front of the shop, and winds the passenger window down. I spot him and get in the car.
Hands doubled over and freezing, I say, “Thank you so much.”
“You’re welcome,” he says, studying my face with grave concern. “Did something bad happen?”
He rests a hand on my lap, leans forward and says, “I came all the way here, just to pick you, so you might as well be honest with me.”
After a moment, I say, “I got into an argument with the person I’m staying with, and he left me stranded on the side of the road.”
“That’s cruel of him. What’s his name?”
“His name is Aliyu. You don’t have to stress yourself about the situation. I’ll sort it out by the time I get to the house.”
“Are you sure you want to go back to his house?”
“The argument wasn’t that serious.”
“It wasn’t that serious and he left you by the side of the road?”
I draw a breath. “He likes me.”
“Do you mean Aliyu?”
“Yes. He’s been loving and sweet, while I’ve been a cold ass bitch, so I can understand him leaving me by the side of the road.”
He sighs. “It therefore translates that you think you’re undeserving of the finer things of life—a man treating you with respect, as should be the case.”
“I didn’t say that, Okorafor.”
“Then what are you saying?”
“I’m sorry you misunderstand me.”
After a moment, he draws a breath and says, “I’m the one who should be sorry. I’m sorry. I over-reacted.”
He starts the car engine.
Driving down the wet and unfettered road, air-planes sporadically drifting by the evening sky, I stare out the window, at the open lands, and realize how wild, marvellous and serene Lagos can sometimes be. I press my hands on my belly. I am tired and hungry.
“Are you hungry?” he asks.
“Yes, I am. But don’t worry. There’d be food in Aliyu’s house.”
“I could buy you something. Look”—he points at an eatery—“There’s a restaurant nearby.”
I look in the direction he points—Broilers Restaurant—as he drives over there and parks the car in the parking space, leaving the engine running.
“You wait in the car. I’ll go get you something to eat.” He opens the door, steps out and shuts the door behind him.
Seated in the passenger seat, the night windy and glum, I turn on the radio and begin flipping through stations. I have a good time laughing at the jokes and accents of the on-air-personalities. Then, after a while, I hear a knock at the door. Through the driver seat window I see Okorafor, and I reach for the central lock and unlock the car. He gets in with a disposable pack of food and a bottle of coke in a polythene bag. He hands them over to me, and then releases the clutch and begins driving.
“Thank you so much, Okorafor.”
I reach into the bag, taking out the pack of food and unravelling it to find rice, stew and chicken. I eat. The entire time Okorafor drives silently, sometimes shaking his head this way and that, as if some pressing issue is on his mind. When I am done eating, I lean back in my chair and fall asleep. Time seems to pass, but I do not notice, as I am in a dark space, where all I can feel is the wind blowing through the passenger window onto my forehead.
“Wake up, we’re here.”
He taps me on the lap.
Yawning to life, I say, “Where are we?”
“We’re at Aliyu’s house.”
His voice has a touch of sadness to it.
“You don’t seem happy to have brought me home.”
“Should I be? Especially when I don’t know what’s going to happen once you get in there.”
He points towards the entrance door of the house.
“You’re saying it like I’m about entering a dragon’s den.”
“Well, it’s what it feels like to me.”
I study his face for a while, and then say, “Okorafor, you’re so sweet. If I lived in Lagos you and I would be an item.”
“Then stay in Lagos.”
“I have a job back home. I can’t abandon everything just like that. Plus, let’s be real, we just met, you know.”
“I know, but why does it feel like I’ve known you all my life?”
“It’s not every day you come by the kind of connection we have.”
After a moment, he says, “You know what?”
He starts the car engine.
“Where are we going?” I ask.
“We’re going somewhere dark.” He reverses the car. “I want you to fuck me.”
“You want me to fuck you in the car?”
We arrive at a dark alley, beside tall flowering shrubs and an uncompleted building. He quickly unzips my trouser and takes hold of my penis. Then he leans into me, head in my crutch, running his tongue up and down my shaft drunkenly until it hardens. While at it, he reaches for my hand with his free hand and directs it towards his asshole.
“Finger me,” he says.
I pull down his loose-fitting trouser, spit on my hand, and stick a finger in his asshole, gently gliding in and out.
“Put three fingers in there. I want to feel like there’s a dick in there.”
First, I put two fingers, followed by three fingers, and then four fingers. His asshole is wide and wet. He moans, slurping on my penis as though it is a candy that is sure to dissolve in due time. After a while, he raises his head, inclines his seat to lye completely flat on the back seat, takes off his trouser, faces the back window, his knees open wide, and says seductively, “Take the lubricant from the glove compartment—there’s also a condom there—and fuck me.”
I undo the glove compartment, take out the condom and lubricant, fix the condom on my penis and lubricate it and his asshole, and, with my butt cheeks backing the windscreen, slip into him, thrusting and kissing his spine. While at it, it occurs to me how wide his ass hole has stretched and, caught up in the euphoria of it all, I cum, trembling until I crumble towards my seat.
“That was fast,” he says, a little surprised as he takes a seat.
“I know. I haven’t had sex in a long time. Plus, I’ve had too much sugar of recent.”
Noticing dissatisfaction in his eyes, I ask, “Do you want to cum?”
“Yes, I do. I just don’t know if you can go a second round.”
“I could finger you and suck your nipple while you stroke your dick. Would you like that?”
“We could give it a try.”
I unbutton his shirt, begin sucking his nipples and fingering his ass-hole while he strokes his penis. While at it, I notice our minds are not as synchronized as they earlier were, but I keep at it anyway.
“Let’s stop.” He exhales finally, releasing his penis from his grip. “It’s not working. You’re doing it like you don’t want to. Do you want to?”
“To be honest, I’m not comfortable we’re doing this out in the open.” I rest a hand on his lap. “I’m sorry.”
“I sensed you didn’t want to. I’m sorry I brought you out here like this. I would have taken you home with me if I didn’t live with my sister.”
We stare at each other for a time, his eyes on me and my eyes looking through the driver window at what appears to be flash-lights looking in.
“Start the car,” I say.
He turns around, sees the flash-lights and, dazed, tucks his penis in his trouser and zooms away. Speeding down the street, I hear dogs barking. I look to my side-mirror and see the estate’s security guards coming after us, the dogs on their leash.
“Hurry up,” I scream. “Just drop me over there. I think we’ve lost them.”
He curves into a bend, drops me on the side of the road, and speeds off as I race towards Aliyu’s house. I get into the house and run up the stairs, towards the bedroom, where I find Aliyu asleep. I undress and get in the shower. Standing beneath the running shower cap, “I hope they didn’t catch Okorafor,” I say to myself repeatedly. Then I get out of the shower, dress in my night wear, and walk down the stairs towards the living-room where, pacing, I sporadically open the curtains, checking to see if the estate’s security guards would, at any time, come knocking. Anxiety-stricken, I phone Wisdom Isong. He picks on the second ring.
“Young man,” he says sluggishly, “what would make you call me by this time of the night, and after so long a time?”
“I’m sorry to wake you, Wisdom. It’s just that I’m in Lagos, and am in a lot of trouble.”
“What kind of trouble?” He shifts in bed, perhaps sitting up. “And when did you get into Lagos?”
“When I came into Lagos is beside the point right now, Wisdom. Please, just in case I get arrested tonight, I need you to know I am in Lekki Phase Two.”
“Slow down. You’re speaking too fast. Tell me what happened?”
With teary-eyes, I tell him everything.
“For now it seems I’m safe. Okorafor dropped me at home, and sped away. But I am afraid he may have been apprehended at the estate’s gate by security.”
“This is really bad, Martin.” He draws a breath. “Let’s just hope Okorafor left the estate without being apprehended by the security guards.”
Just then, Okorafor’s phone-call comes in.
“Wisdom, Okorafor is calling. Let me call you back.”
“Okay. Call me back.” He hangs up.
Answering Okorafor’s call, I ask, “Are you at home?”
“No, I’m not. I’m at your estate’s gate. Can you come out, please?”
“Why? What’s wrong?”
“The security guards won’t let me go until they see the person I was with.”
I draw a breath.
“Okay. I’m on my way there.”
Walking down the street towards the estate’s gate, I phone Wisdom.
“Wisdom, Okorafor didn’t escape.”
He sighs. “So where are you now?”
“I’m headed towards the gate, where the security men have him detained.”
“Just take a deep breath, and behave civil when you meet them. Be confident.”
I hang up.
From a short distance I spot Okorafor’s car parked on the side of the road, three armed men surrounding him. I stop to collect myself, and then approach them.
“Good evening, officers.”
“Good evening,” Officer One says. “Are you the one we’ve been waiting for?”
“Yes, he is the one, sir,” Okorafor says.
“So you’re the one who ran away,” Officer Two says.
“I didn’t run away, sir.”
The third officer charges at me, holding a baton over my head. “Shut up, you bloody civilian. You ran away, don’t deny it.”
Visibly shaken, I say, “Sir, I was in shock seeing the flash-lights outside the car window, that’s why I asked my friend to speed away. I was afraid you and the other officers were robbers.”
The third officer drops the baton from over my head, and then says to Officer One and Two, “Stay with these criminals, let me go and call our boss.” Then he walks towards the security post by the gate.
Leaning against the car, I notice the bruise on Okorafor’s lips. We exchange furtive glances, the look in his eyes asking me to pipe low. Then the two security officers cross over to the other side of the street, eyes on us, while they share a pack of cigarette.
“Okorafor, what happened to your lips?”
“When I dropped you off, I was trying to drive out of the gate when the security officers, who were running after us, yelled for the chief security officer positioned at the gate to lock the gate. He locked the gate, asked me to get down, and, as I did, without a word, he punched me in the face.”
“I’m so sorry about everything.”
“I’m the one who should say sorry. Had I not asked that you come with me to the dark corner of that street, this wouldn’t have happened.”
“No, I’m the one who should say sorry, because had I not asked that you come pick me up from Cakes and Cream, this wouldn’t have happened.”
We share a brief moment of silence.
“So what do they want?”
“Before you came, the chief security officer asked for twenty thousand naira. I told him I could only afford ten thousand naira. He then said if I couldn’t afford the full payment, I should call you to pay the balance. I told him you are a married man, and your wife would be very disappointed if she found out what we were doing.”
“Does he know what we were doing?”
“Sincerely, I don’t know.”
The chief security officer, dressed in a black T-shirt and khaki trouser, begins approaching, with Officer One behind him. The two officers across the street cross over and stand beside us.
“So you’re the one who absconded?” the chief security officer, standing before me, says.
“Sir, I didn’t abscond.”
“Well, that’s beside the point now. My major concern is where you kept it?”
“Where I kept what, sir?”
“Don’t play games with me, young man. Tell me where you kept it.”
“Sir, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
He jacks up my shirt, his other fist in my face. “Go and bring it, or else you both will sleep in a cell tonight.”
“Sir,” Okorafor interjects, “he isn’t hiding anything, I swear to God.”
The chief security officer studies Okorafor’s harmless face, and then releases my shirt.
“Well, I’m sure your friend has told you the only way out of this.”
“Yes, he has, sir.”
He turns to face the junior officers and says, “Collect the twenty thousand naira and bring it to my room. I’m off to bed.” Then he walks away.
“Well, you’ve heard our boss,” says Officer Two. “Bring the complete twenty thousand naira, and we’ll let you go.”
“Would you like to discuss it between yourselves, first?” asks Officer Three.
We nod, and they take a few steps away from us.
“I have just ten thousand naira with me,” Okorafor says.
“I don’t have money on me, but I could do a mobile transfer of the remaining ten thousand naira.”
Okorafor calls the officers, and we pay the money.
“You can go,” says Officer One. “Abide by the law and you won’t fall into trouble.”
The officers leave us.
“Okorafor, I suspect they think we were smoking weed.”
“I think so, too.”
“Thank goodness. This could have turned out to be ten times worse.”
“I agree. We could have been arrested and, tomorrow, find our faces on the pages of newspapers—Two Homosexuals Busted Pants Down in Lekki.”
“Good night, Okorafor. Drive home safely.”
“Good night, Martin. And, once again, I’m sorry I put our lives in danger.”
Aliyu is standing in front of the gate by the time I arrive.
“Where are you coming from?” he asks.
“You shouldn’t be asking me that. Didn’t you leave me stranded on the roadside?”
I walk past him into the house.
Coming after me as I go up the stairs, he says, “Martin, I’m sorry.”
“Save your apology for later. I’m so tired right now, I want to sleep.”
He rushes towards me and grabs me by the wrist. I turn around, infuriated. “Leave my hand.”
I untangle myself. “What you did to me earlier today is unforgivable. At least now I know who you truly are.”
“Martin, you won’t understand. There’s a reason I asked Zakari to explain everything to you.”
“Well, it’s too late for any explanation now. First thing tomorrow morning, I’m leaving back to my town.”
I start towards the bedroom.
In the bedroom, taking my clothes from the wardrobe and folding them into my box on the bed, Aliyu sits on the bed, staring remorsefully at me.
“A couple of years ago, my ex and I were at an art exhibition,” he says. “Walking round the hall, when no one seemed to be watching, I dared him to kiss me and he did. We were being playful and mischievous. Before leaving, I dropped a note in the suggestion box, with my phone number, advising that more contemporary art be on display at the next exhibition. The very next day, I got a call from the gallery asking me to come over, urgently. I got there thinking whatever it was had to do with the suggestion I’d left the previous day, only to discover when I got there they had a footage of I and my ex kissing. They demanded I pay two million naira, or else they would put it on the internet. I paid.” He sighs. “That’s why I reacted the way I did after you kissed me. It brought back memories from that traumatic experience.”
“Why then didn’t you tell me?”
“I didn’t handle the matter appropriately, and I am sorry.”
I leave the clothes and take a seat beside him.
“You left me on the side of the road, Aliyu. How am I supposed to reconcile that?”
He sighs. “I have had enough time to reflect on what I did, and I realize I was being immature.”
“Yes, you were.”
After a moment of silence, he stands to his feet.
“Follow you where?”
“Just come, will you?”
“Fine, I will, but tell me where we’re going, first.”
“Let’s just say this is me trying to make up for my mistake.”
About The Author :
Michael Ogah is a lawyer, storyteller and singer. He is a Peak Talent Hunt finalist, a Glo X Factor finalist and a graduate of the Lagos Royal Arts Film Academy. He is on the verge of publishing his first short story collection.