Point and Kill

Yes! You heard right.

‘Point and kill’ in a Nigerian restaurant means a steamy hot catfish pepper soup, to be flanked by a bottle of malt, Fayrouz or Radler. Lockdown had denied lots of people that luxury. That’s not why I’m here though.

Point and Kill was a phrase I dreaded in school. Among students, it’s a game that had to do with girls. Once he points, you murder yourself or the lady literally. I do make fun of those who were murdered and praised those who survived.

I’d always tell anyone who cared to listen that school for me was to read, learn and ace my exams. And I stuck to that excuse especially when I was being lured to play the game.

I left school with a clean sheet. Then moved to Lagos, to work with my boss. Our services were automobile consultancy and spare parts. Beside our office was a vet clinic, a vet clinic that treated dogs only. They never lacked patients.

One thing led to another, and one of their workers became my friend. A friend that sometimes makes you wonder whether he’s a fool or not. He was three years younger than me. The ladies man. A foul-mouthed human who was well exposed. I call him Kay, a nickname for Kingsley.

One Wednesday afternoon, we went to the canteen to feed our worms. The sales lady there had a thing for him, it was obvious from the way she peered and leered at him. He flirted with her and got two extra meats for his troubles.

As we walked out of the canteen, he bragged of his achievements and how I couldn’t pull it off. I laughed really hard and bragged about how the wristwatch I had on was bought by a girl, a friend with no strings. He recoiled, unable to accept my submission. He challenged me to a ‘point and kill’. I grew cold that instant. He could see through me. So he wore his mischievous grin.

“What say you? Do we add stipulations?” he quipped.

I hesitated, then accepted. He initiated the price. One thousand naira for the winner. I nodded even when my instincts were against it. The stipulation was to get a girl’s number.

That evening as we were busy gazing at the sky, a girl lady walked past, someone I knew. She was donning a blazer jacket, her skirt was just below the knee, she carried her bag like one who was fed up with life and walked sluggishly. She was a church girl that wouldn’t give in to a playboy’s antics.

Jackpot!

“Kay,” I called. He answered. My pointed hand revealed the message. “Kill bro, kill,” I said and whistled.

He shook his head, dashed into the clinic. Out he came without the lab coat and raced towards the girl. A few minutes later, he was back grinning from ear to ear.

“How did it go?” I asked with an air of indifference.

“Gba fu oga e. Her name na Temilade, see her number,” he boasted and called out her number from his phone.

“Relax bro. We’re checking Truecaller on my phone,” I quipped, pull out my phone and checked the number. Viola! It was hers. He started dancing, singing and punching the air. My mouth tasted bile. Though feeling defeated, smiles hung on my face like a label. Courage appeared as I asked for mine.

He moved backwards. “Not so fast. I go tell you when I see her.”

Three days later, just when I felt he had forgotten, a Toyota Tundra pulled up on us. The door opened and a young version of Beyonce kissed the ground with her shoes. She was in her teens, though her endowments said otherwise. She wore a spaghetti outlandish gown, so skimpy that it barely covered her thighs. Her braids rested on her shoulders, some strayed to her cleavage as she walked with her dog. A Rottweiler breed, with furs all over its body.

“Stephen!” Kay called. I answered. He nodded towards the young lady that approached us. “Kill bro, kill!”

My heart skipped a beat.

“You can’t be serious bro,” I countered.

“I am. Or have you accepted defeat?” A glance at his face showed that he was having a time of his life with my discomfort. The lady walked into the clinic. He followed suit. I sat there. Praying to the gods of pick up lines, the gods of confidence and action but they seemed to have played a fast one on me, they bolted.

I thought of what a thousand naira could do for me. Letting it go was letting two days’ food go. I heaved a sigh, beat my chest and talked like Esther. “If I perish, I perish!”

As conflicting thoughts ran through my mind, she walked out and proceeded to her dad’s car. I followed suit. First I massaged the dog, it stopped, drawing back its owner in the process.

“What’s his name?” I asked, not looking up to her.

“Dan,” she replied as I lifted up the dog. Her scent assaulted my nose. She smelled like lavender and strawberry combined.

“What’s yours?”

“What?”

“I mean your name?”

“Sandra.”

“Oh, wow! I’m Stephen. We share same initials.” I said and hastened my steps to meet hers. Stares suffocated me. I had an impeccable identity to safeguard but a thousand naira was bigger than as at that moment.

“Whatever,” she waved me off. My eyes narrowed. It was obvious she acted a script. Damn! The hypocrite of a friend had set me up. Her body language gave her away. She opened her door as I searched my dictionary for the next word.

I placed the dog on the passenger’s seat still stuttering when I saw it. A book by James Hadely Chase with the title ‘A Tiger by the Tail‘. I grabbed it like my life depended on it.

“You read crime fiction?” the question came out clear with no stammers.

“Yeah, sure, I do.”

In minutes, amidst giggles, smiles and smirks, we analyzed what the writer omitted and what he should have added. When she bade me goodbye and tried to turn the ignition. I held her hand and asked to be her friend. She extended a handshake and said, “Friends we are!”

Basking in the euphoria of the moment. I flipped out my phone, stretched it and spat the lines.

“Miss, my phone is faulty and only your digit can fix it. Would you do me the honour?” she laughed, her laughter was long and hard.

“You’re good with words but the answer is no.” My heart thumped, I could hear the sound like the wind in the storm. My armpits dripped of sweats. I felt hotness engulf my body.

“But … you said we’re friends nah.”

“Yes! I can always give you my number next Saturday.”

“No. I want it now.”

“I’m sorry but—”

“But what?”

“Tell me the truth. What do you need my number for?”

“Nothing. Just to give you a call.”

“That’s a lie, there’s something you need my number for. Say it or forget the number.” She started the engine.

I swallowed hard and narrated my ordeal—with emotions infused and lies sprinkled. I touched delicate parts of her soul. I broke the barricade. She talked, told me of Kay’s plans, of how he pleaded that she never bugde towards me. Damn! The hypocrite of a friend had set me up. A smile crept unto my face.

“Why are you now telling me this?”

” ‘Cause I like you.”

“You’ll be giving me the number, right?”

“Yes, I will,” she replied, grabbed my phone and punched her digits in.

“Call me,” she said and drove away. I went to meet my hypocrite of a friend and showed him the number. He smiled, acted like nothing happened and typed the number. It appeared on his phone as Sandy.

Who come be oga now?” I asked. He gave me a squeeze on my shoulder, walking away, he said, “Oga mi awa meji eji.”

Did I call? No, I never did.

Fast forward to three years later. I was crossing a two lane road. A car was speeding and applied brakes abruptly before me. The screeching of its wheel drew my attention. I was used to those kinds of treatment; a couple of my friends and customers often behaved that way. So I wore a smile and waited for the door to open. When it opened, a lady walked out. The facemask covering a better part of her face.

It took her pulling off the mask and calling out my name to recognize who she was. An elbow, leg and butt shake ensued. Covid-19 denied me a hug.

Who was she? Your guess is as good as mine.

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