She had been staring at me; I knew this because each time I looked, she would duck behind the HINTS magazine. It was like a game of peekaboo, only that this time we both knew it won’t be long before one of us rocked the boat. I was there on an errand which, by the way I had procrastinated on for weeks, but then if you have been to a law chambers, then you know it is never really a friendly zone.
My landlord had been threatening brimstone and holy fire so I had gone to meet the agent in charge, she was probably here to see one of the lawyers that breezed about like well-fed sharks. The waiting room, was large but not without style; art works, paintings and local pottery took up spaces in diagonal fashion, the Split Unit AC was on full blast humming from a hidden box, marbled floor, thick leather sofas , magazine racks and soundproof doors plus windows. All these and the chilly air was enough to sing a lullaby which would lure anyone to sleep.
I rummaged through my backpack and brought out the Wole Soyinka hard cover I had got over a year now, the pages had gotten dog ears, cracks running all over the front cover. If I was going to spend the whole day here, I might as well use the time to read the book. Suddenly I felt transported to that small city in Ogun, under the spell of Soyinka; I was living the life of an antagonist in the book of another man, it felt weirdly nice.
“It must be a really good book,” the voice was resonant, soft and assured. My mind snapped open like a trap, I had forgotten where I was.
“Excuse me?” I mumbled out something else, barely tangible and accurate, put the book aside and looked at her.
“I said it must be a good book for you not have heard your name being called at least three times.” I wasn’t even aware that she had left her seat, went to the fridge and got herself a soft drink. It felt like one of those awkward moments when you’re the one not paying attention in class. Her laugh was high and throaty. “You better get in there and see what the lawyer wants o.” She was close enough for me to check her out, the stylishly cut material was transformed in to a suit, the top was snow white, she didn’t need heels, I was very impressed by the height and her sensual lips, a midriff that was so tight it must have been carved by a master sculptor.
She picked up the book and looked at it. “Fan of traditionalists?” I nodded, my eyes struggling not to look at her jutting rack, they were an eyeful.
“What about you?” I asked, loving the flashes of color, which showed just above her eyes.
“Best sellers, biographies and documentaries,” she reeled off some vaguely familiar titles. Her name was Ella, a 200 level student of Accountancy of a school that whizzed past my ears the moment it entered. I had made a promise not to have anything rash, but with this one my defenses were nowhere.
We must have struck a chord, the time we spent talking, body language and eye contact—everything just played out like a movie, broken only by my name being called over the PA system. When I came back the chair was empty; my brain must have done a 360°, then re-focused it self.
There she was at the book stand, her back towards me, emphasizing a point to someone on the phone. She flashed a smile as I approached, shot a few sharp words which ended the drama. “That was the agent who was supposed to show me the place I’m moving in to, he said he’s not in town and did not leave the key for me.” Her face was creased, almost in tears.
“I am so sorry about that, what are you going to do now?” It was getting late, I wondered where she was headed.
“Don’t worry, I will be fine.” She gathered her hair in a band and moved off, with me trailing behind. There was no way the whole day could go so wrong, I had to salvage something from the ruins. “See, I’m staying at my sister’s place in G.R.A., why don’t you come with me? I think she will let you spend the night.”
She declined, saying that she did not want to be a problem; after much pleading she finally agreed, and soon we were headed towards town. She sat next to me in the taxi, cheerful as she had been some hours before; she didn’t seem to mind when I touched her lap. When we finally got to the gate, the skies broke open and sent cold tears down on us, we ran the remaining the distance to the house. She giggled as we huddled close together, her scent filling my head; soaked to my new suede shoes, any other day I would have freaked out, but I just didn’t care.
Gloria was not around when we got there, she must have stayed out late for her counseling classes. A note on the table told me she would not be back till the next day… was it the gods playing in my favor? I showed Ella the bathroom and went into the kitchen,. I am not really a fan of food, so I toasted bread and fried some eggs, got the kettle boiling, and soon enough something worth eating was on the table. I turned on the TV, TRACE was playing a hit song by an upcoming artist.
“My clothes are wet, hope your sister won’t be angry that I wore her shirt o.” I turned and saw her, a vision in Gloria’s oversized polo and nothing else; long legs and smooth knees, hair still wet but well-arranged. My heart went static, then kicked back to life.
“No, it’s okay, she will understand.” Yeah, right, I would never hear the end of it.
Note to self: wash when she’s gone!
“Nice house,” she cooed, brown eyes roaming the entire place like a hawk looking for a prey, alarm bells went off in my head. I told her my sister worked as a private contractor, to which she smiled.
“You should take something hot, so you won’t catch a cold.” I pointed to the dining table; a while later we were done and she wanted to sleep. Out came the mattress in my room.
She didn’t wait for further words, it felt right; we kissed, it got feisty and frisky under the crashing thunder and howling wind… let me leave the rest to imagination.
The next morning, my eyes flicked open; I must have over slept, and my head felt like it had been wrapped in a baby’s nappy. Her space was empty, I wondered if she had gone without a goodbye. Then something delicious wafted from the kitchen, noodles and sauce. Nothing was mentioned about the events of the night past, while on the table—except the exchange of cute glances, we spent the morning indoors, playing scrabbles and video games. She was a joy to be around with.
It was midday and she said she had to go, her clothes were now dry, I walked her to the bus stop where she flagged down a cab, kissed me on the cheek and promised to call. I went to a bar across the road and ordered something thick and black, feeling sorry for myself, wishing it had lasted.
Gloria came back that evening, life was going to be as dreary as usual. I had just entered the house and felt her presence, she was standing right in the middle of the room, eyes flashing fire, the stance of a wild cat about to pounce.
“Bobby,” she began. I knew there was always trouble when she called me that. “What happened to my gown? why is it in your room and why’s everywhere smelling funny?”
Five minutes later she was yelling from her room, “Bobby! What happened to my make up? Where’s my jewelry box? I can’t find the gold chain I bought from Dubai.”
My mind raced back to the bulky shape of Ella’s handbag and the glint in her eyes as the taxi sped away.
Chei! What am I going to do?