Swipe Right | Fiction (?)

“Hey, didn’t you call a cab? How are we supposed to get there?”

“You see, miss, I just felt like identifying with regular city people today.”

“You should have told me earlier. My flatmate is a make-up artist, now all this effort on my face will waste with the sun.”

“Trust me, it will be fun.”

The disappointment in her tone was so evident that I could almost taste it, but I couldn’t be bothered now. Femi, the guy I was squatting with at Ajah (I was yet to save enough to rent my own apartment) had headed to the mainland with the 2009 Toyota Camry I had planned to impress this girl with, and my Taxify account was devoid of any credit. In any case, I had no long-term plans with Lara; we were simply going to hang out, maybe see a movie, (hopefully) come back to “my” place, and that would be it. A one-off.

I had met Lara one day on a bus heading from CMS back to Ajah. I was “between jobs”, and I had done a bit of knocking at a number of large offices on Lagos Island, handing in physical copies of my resumé while hoping that the front desk officers would not dump my credentials beneath the rest of their office files, or worse still, gift them as wrapping paper to some nearby suya seller nearby. Six months without a job was nothing to giggle about, and, frustrated with the indifference of HR personnel to my mails, I had decided to be extra.

I had noticed her curves as she climbed into the bus and took position two rows in front of me. The black blouse revealed some cleavage, the navy blue skirt had her hips pop out, and the jet black braids amidst her light brown skin threw me into a state of “kuku kee me”. I waited for the directive for all passengers to alight before I approached her, and when she asked what I did for a living, I quickly blurted out the words “I work at an advertising agency in Broad Street”. We exchanged contacts, but she kept giving monosyllabic responses to my Whatsapp chats, until one day weeks later when I got a “hey you, how’ve you been?” from her. I think it must have been the day I updated my Whatsapp story with a photo of me posing in Femi’s car.
“About the Toyota, it’s been giving me issues, so I took it to the mechanic”, I saw in a low voice as the bus we boarded a few minutes earlier whizzed past Chevron Drive, in a bid to nip any questions concerning the car in the bud.

“Today is Sunday. Should we go to Silverbird?”

“No La-la, let’s try The Palms. We have a wider range of options there.”

We arrived at The Palms few minutes later, Lara’s makeup already showing signs of imminent melting. We walked past KFC and took a seat at the customers’ section of Coldstone Creamery. I had not deemed it fit to display any kind of chivalry, but if Sophia noticed this, she did not show it, staring thoughtfully instead at the different flavours of ice cream on the menu.

“I love the Oreo when it’s broken inside, really nice”.
I saw her eyes brighten up as she grabbed her order, only stopping short of immediately scooping a spoonful. I slowly picked my cup of plain Vanilla and placed it on my end of the small round table.

“How much would that be?”

“Five Thousand Naira for both cups, sir”.

I had estimated the cumulative cost to be three thousand six hundred naira, and I wanted to find out how the attendant arrived at that total, but I looked at Lara, took a deep breath and whipped out my ATM card. The attendant slotted it into the POS machine, had me type in my pin, and looked at me as the machine displayed a “Transaction Declined” message.

“Maybe it’s network, try again.”

The ice cream was chilled, but I began to feel a lot of heat. I handed the card over again, and it was returned with the same result. By now, Lara was almost done with what was in her cup. I quickly sent a text message to Femi, reminding him of the six thousand naira he had promised to lend me by way of a transfer, and he replied that he had forgot to send it.

I presently had just two thousand naira in my account…twenty nine million, nine hundred and ninety-eight thousand naira shy of thirty billion. Tope Alabi’s hit track “Aiye le o, Ibosi o” began to play in my head. 

In a low voice, I told Lara that my card was having network problems, to which she replied “and I left my four ATM cards at home!” I began to look around, trying to see where Coldstone staff kept their mops, brooms and aprons, before I saw Lara dig her nails into her handbag. She brought out a few rumpled five hundred naira notes and handed them over to the cashier amidst a largely visible frown. “Vex money” had saved the day.

“Lara, erm, thanks, you see, the way my savings is set up, sometimes the network…”

“It’s fine, just have enough cash in hand next time”, she cut me short, smiling wryly.

The rest of the conversation was awkward from there. I could not even broach the subject of taking her home, let alone asking her out. The lame questions matched the forced replies, and the three-hour hangout I had mapped out in my head ended in seventy minutes.

“It was nice hanging out with you, L.”

“Ok.”

I was lucky to have enough money to board a bus back to Ajah, and save for the conductor’s expletives, it was a pretty quiet journey. 

“Guy, is that how you used to do?”

“What?”

“Not even money for Marwa?”

We walked to a nearby automated teller machine, where I withdrew a thousand naira and handed it to her. As she quickly snatched the two Azikiwe notes with her left hand and squeezed them into her purse, I figured that it would be futile trying to guilt-trip her with questions like “how will I survive this week?” The Lara that stood beside me at that moment couldn’t possibly be expected to give a damn.

I looked at her face once more; the make-up had significantly worn off, and the tribal marks were beginning to show. The goodbyes were mutually mirthless, and as she crossed the road, I knew I would not be seeing her ever again.

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The Day Madness Entered My Eyes | Ugochi Okafor | Fiction

Madness found its way into my eyes the day the prophet came. He was boisterous, attired in a white garment whose hands were longer than his. Unlike the rest Mma, my mother, had brought to the house to perform the “cleansing ritual” on me, this one had a bald head that suggested malnourishment, not wisdom. When he spoke—he did it with a loud voice accompanied by the ding of his bell—a surge of ballistic mouth odour hugged the air. He was barefooted, and his legs hopped as he chanted nonsensical words. Continue reading

Bachelors’ Anonymous | New E-Book

Sometime between late 2014 and late 2015, I had my reservations about marriage, a situation not helped by the increasing rates of divorce and marital infidelity. There were young men who shared my views, and together, flowing from our posts and our stance towards such a hallowed institution, we formed an imaginary group (in our heads) called Bachelors’ Anonymous. Continue reading

At Tola’s Party (by Jumoke Caxton-Martins)

Hello Charlie,

(I hope it is still ok for me to call you that),

Now, I do not even know how to start. I am not sure you would remember me. Yet, when I consider how we met and all that happened between us, I am convinced that you cannot forget me. You looked into my eyes with all of you when we were together. However, that could have been because of the drinks. A little birdie said all the drinks at that party were spiked. I don’t know how true that was but I stuck to water to be on the safe side. It was undoubtedly the greatest party I’ve been to this year. Now, that could be because I met you. Continue reading

Reunions, Memories And Mixed Drinks

“Hey, are you ok? ”
“Yes, I am. Why do you ask? ”
“Everybody is having fun, and you just choose to sit here? ”
“I’m getting into the groove, just watch, you will be begging me to slow down.”
“Ok o. Until then. ”
With that, he went his way, leaving you to sit on the sparsely decorated white plastic chair, a tall glass of red wine and a flurry of thoughts being your choice for company, at least for that moment. The curiosity of the man you just had a conversation with was not without good reason; it was not the kind of evening where being alone with your thoughts would be a particularly popular choice, afterall, high school reunions were not organised too frequently, what with the financial obligations, logistics and all. Continue reading

The Periwinkle List

​9.58am.

Victoria Garden City, Lagos.

It was an unusual time on a Monday morning to still maintain the affinity between my back and the multi-coloured bedsheet that I had been too lazy to wash over the weekend; I should be in my slave plantation of a workplace, dazed by the grueling traffic from a few hours before, responding to threatening office mails in servile fashion and flashing plastic smiles to customers with an unnecessarily huge sense of entitlement…..but today was different. The ones who worshipped on Fridays rather than Sundays had their version of December 25th going on, so the federal government pleased all 9-5ers as it rarely did, by announcing a two-day public holiday. Left to me, I would have loved that a search be conducted for another missing moon thereby causing an extension of my days away from the plantation, but no horses were going to have beggars riding them. I scrolled down my phonebook (in vain) for the phone numbers of friends who would have me partake in a binge on those juicy ram parts, and finding none, I opted for another outlet to search for company: my social media timeline. Continue reading

What These Men Want

It had only been two weeks, but Mr. Isiukwu
Bigwillie, 27, who had only returned to the
country from the annual hustle in Malaysia to
celebrate the Christmas holidays, was getting
bored. He couldn’t believe that in fourteen days,
all he had unzipped his trousers for was to use
the restroom of his suite at Oriental Hotel.
Afterall, he had the wheels, gold neck chains and
multiple rings on his fingers (never mind that he
had auctioned one of his kidneys at Kuala
Lumpur), so why would he spend his vacation
with just his hands for company?

After a few calls
to friends who were familiar with the terrain, he
drove in the direction of The Palms. A lot of
traffic lay between him and Wadbash at Ajah, he
reasoned, and besides he was no cheapskates.

Tekena was all he desired; straight legs,
prominent hips, not-too-flat stomach, breasts
struggling for air in her knee-length dress, with
that ebony complexion to match. He didn’t
subscribe to light-skinned ladies, only hanging
out with them back in Malaysia because over
there, choice was a luxury he couldn’t afford.
After a brief negotiation, she agreed to
accompany him to his suite for thirty thousand
naira. It was quick and Mr. Bigwillie dozed off in
a matter of minutes, but he had got what he
wanted, and even if he did not notice Tekena slip
one of his gold chains into her handbag, he slept
with a smile on his face….

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Until he woke up the next day, solely clad in a
pair of brown underwear, four policemen
surrounding his bed. Tekena was long gone, and
he was only allowed to wear a pair of shorts and
a yellow singlet as he was whisked into the navy
blue police van , his one round pack on display.
Officers on duty quoted Bible verses as they
pushed him around the counter, and by 10am that
day, he had been arraigned….before the state’s
Ecclesiastical court.

“That you, Isiukwu Bigwillie, on or about the 7th
day of December 2016, at The Palms, Lagos,
within the ecclesiastical district of this court, did
commit the sin of Lust by approaching one
Tekena (now at large), and thereby committed an
offence contrary to the Holy Bible, and punishable
by this court.”

“ That you, Isiukwu Bigwillie, on or about the 7th
day of December 2016, at Oriental Hotel, Lagos,
within the ecclesiastical district of this court, did
commit fornication with one Tekena (now at
large), and thereby committed an offence contrary
to the Holy Bible, and punishable by this court.”

“That you, Isiukwu Bigwillie, on or about the 7th
day of December 2016, at Oriental Hotel, Lagos,
within the ecclesiastical district of this court, did
have intercourse with the use of contraceptive, as
recovered from your hotel room as an exhibit, and
thereby committed an offence contrary to the
principle of natural prescribed by the Bible and
Canon law, and punishable by this court.”

Perplexity would have been a mild word to
describe the look on Bigwillie’s face as he heard
the charge read out to him by the court clerk. He
had no idea that an ecclesiastical court existed in
the first place, and now he was aware of what
constituted offences therein, he wasn’t so sure
how to react. He couldn’t believe that pleasure
had become criminalized, and when he was asked
for his plea, he laughed loud and long before
screaming “guilty as charged!”

The penalty was two weeks of supervised Bible
study and spiritual counselling as well as two
weeks of cleaning cathedral pews, and was to
begin the following Sunday. Bigwillie shook his
head repeatedly as he left the courtroom, and
when he finally got hold of his phone and other
personal effects, his first reaction was to log on
to Facebook and update thus:

“This is why I hate coming to Nigeria. So now, to
dey straff don turn crime? What are our
legislators being paid for sef? Naija and stupid
laws! Tsk tsk…”

Later that night, the men in black visited him
again, this time at the room he booked at Protea
Hotel. Apparently, his Facebook update had been
perceived as malicious, his phone had been
tracked, and he was to be taken away for
questioning, in line with the provisions of the new
Social Media Act, which had been domesticated
by all the states.

image

After 24 hours of slaps and mosquito bites, he
was transferred to Alagbon, where he was to
remain “until investigations were concluded”. He
realized that he would be sharing the same cell
with the likes of Chris Nwandu (Head of the
Nigerian Bloggers’Union), Walter Ude, Nathaniel Jonas and Elsie
Godwin, who had been called in for “inciting
statements” on their respective blog posts. Linda
Ikeji had only just been released on bail few hours
earlier.

***********
Meanwhile, at a large mansion in one of the more
secluded parts of the capital territory, Senator
Needo Melanin was laughing with another beer-
bellied senator over glasses of champagne. The
other senator was faithful to his usual dress code
of blue jackets and over-sized black trousers.
Their giggles struggled to negotiate upwards from
the fat in their necks, and they knew what they
were celebrating. The case involving foreign accounts filed against Senator Melanin had died a natural death, the media house that did the investigative journalism had gone under, and the respective bills they
sponsored had grown into fully operative laws.

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Hymns From Badore

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Six months had passed since I last set foot into a church building (my last appearance being Easter Sunday), but I did not feel for a moment that I had missed anything. The reading of the bible passages reeked of dour formality, the officiating priest churned out recycled sermons, the chants were the same, the hymns had not changed much, and I pretty much knew which activity followed the other.
Continue reading

Too Much To Ask

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“Chidinma, it’s really cold. I need you here.”

“Awwwwww.”

“How’s it been over there? Do you even get to go out?”

No o. I get to be indoors alone. It’s so boring, from the house to the office and back. I just came in now. I’m so tired.”

“Ouch. Coming back this late. Your boss is just being mean. I’m so sorry Baby, I wish I was beside you.”

Hmmm….me too. When will you be back from Lagos? It’s been three weeks.”

“I’ll be home to you soon. Stay beautiful. I love you.”

“Me too.”

Yeah,  that was Chidinma’s new way of responding to my sweet-nothings. “Me too”, because the words “I love you too” were a little too stressful for her tongue, or probably consumed too many micro-seconds. I smiled as I hung up, not because of any giggly sensations generated by the phone call, but because of the unfolding of events. Continue reading

The Literal Rule

“I want your body sleeping in my bed….”

Those lyrics from one of Wizkid’s hit tracks resounded in my ears as I stared at the lady seated opposite me at this restaurant table. I could not have been blamed for playing the song in my head. It was Good Friday, it was dark, it was cold, I was bored, and I intended to mark the Passion of the Saviour in my own way. In the end, all that would matter was the word “passion”, never mind how it was applied.

Interestingly enough, it was our first official rendezvous. I had found her three weeks earlier on one of the social networking sites, Badoo to be precise. There is this thing about Badoo and linking up people in the same location, and on further scrutiny I discovered that we resided in this same city. Her profile picture had been quite the sight, and when I tried to chat her up, she responded nicely. We began to learn more about each other (at least what we chose to reveal), exchanging photos now and then, and after an exchange of numbers plus a few raunchy chats, we had finally agreed to meet.

It’s said that pictures don’t lie, but whoever said that probably did not have Photoshop, Filters or other enhancements in mind. I was disappointed as I dialled her number and saw her pick her phone at the entrance of the restaurant. Where were those assets that got me drooling whenever I zoomed her profile picture? Where was that defence? The attack? Heck, she looked a shade darker than the photos she usually sent to me. I felt “catfished”, but then a remedy existed. She looked nothing like her pictures, so I would drink until she did. After all, everyone looked beautiful by 2am.

She glanced at the menu and beckoned on the waiter, making her orders at random, without recourse to the bill. The size of my wallet was of no concern to her. I had heard stories of how ladies deliberately set out to embarrass men on dates, and for a moment I felt that was the case here, but I kept my cool. She held nothing back in her quest to bore a hole in my pocket, and I almost wanted to say, “We’re splitting the bill”, but that would have ruined plans for the night, so I kept my lips sealed.

I tried my best to strike up a conversation, but her lack of interest was remarkable. I threw in all kinds of topics, from Fashion to Music to Politics to the few Nollywood movies I could manage watching, but her disinterested eyes and absent-minded nods succeeded in deflating me. I shrugged inwardly. It was not like I arranged this rendezvous for the conversation anyway.

“So, what’s it going to be?”

I looked up. Apparently, she was done with the meal which she would never have bought with her own money, and she wanted to know the next money-sapping adventure. If she could see my mind, the huge frown there would have scared her.

“What would you like, Dearie?” I asked, putting up the fakest smile I could come up with.

“Erm, it’s Friday. Why don’t we hit up the club, you know, turn up?”

I wanted to tell her that it was “club” and not “crub”, but I did not want to put her down on account of her accent, so I just smiled and said, “Club it is then”.

We walked out of the restaurant after I had taken care of the N20,000 bill, and I took her by the hand to the direction of “my” car, a 2009 Model Toyota Camry. My friend Tola was away from the country, and he had handed me the keys.

“Ahn, where is the other one na? The Jeep?”

She was referring to the Honda Pilot which I had sat in, taken a photo and sent to her. I could feel the disappointment in her voice, and I was glad that she felt shortchanged too. I had anticipated the question, and I quickly lied that I had needed to effect some internal repairs. She responded with a resignatory “ok o”, and I could not tell whether or not she bought the lie (not like I cared), but she fixed herself unto the passenger seat of the Camry, and we got going.

My wallet had been rocked a bit, but I was still able to afford entry into a decent club not too far away. We got in, and I ordered a bottle of Magic Moment. The idea was to get intoxicated, burn out the alcohol with some dancing, and get intoxicated some more. I watched her as she drank, studying her level of composure. She was definitely not new to that level of alcohol. The DJ was in good form that night, and when that track from Wizkid came on air, I held her close as we danced and whispered in symmetry with the lyrics, “I want your body sleeping in my bed”, to which she giggled in response.

We left the club at 12:45am. We were by no means sober, but at least we were reasonably aware of our surroundings. We got into the car, and I soon switched on the ignition, but not before trying out the taste of her lips for a few minutes. She responded appropriately, letting my fingers glide along each end of her chest.

“Where are we going?” She asked, as she heard the sound of the car come to life.

“Where do you think? My house of course”, I replied.

“Are there no hotels around?”

“Baby, I don’t want to treat you like a hoe. I won’t just fix you up in some cheap motel, I’m not that kind of guy. I think I like you, and I want to make you feel comfortable. You could spend the entire weekend if you want, I’ve got makeshifts outfits you could change into. Let’s go to mine.”

She was taken in by those lines. My apartment was a forty-minute journey from the club. Her tongue loosened, and she began to regale me with tales of stingy rich men, and how girls easily got pregnant in her neighbourhood. Of course she didn’t disclose the abortions she had carried out, but I could infer from the tone of the conversation that she was no angel.

PHCN proved to be kind to us as we arrived at my place. We kissed again at the door of the apartment as I fumbled with the keys, and as I got in, I put everything in place. We had a bath together, and I turned up the volume of my home theatre. The CD was a mix of various songs which I had burned from a laptop, so there was the switch from blues to rock to metal to Afro-pop.

I pulled out a pair of handcuffs and chained her to the bed. She seemed so excited. We would play out Fifty Shades of Grey, it seemed. BDSM in Nigeria? She would relive the experience for a lifetime. I took out a belt and began to work on her with it, our bodies unclad.

“Punish me, punish me”, she yelled.

“It’s punish, not ‘polish’ “, I said in my mind, but I just smiled and went about the business of the night.

I stopped whipping her after a while. I went to the cupboard at a corner of the bedroom, observing the lust in her eyes. I pulled out a plier and slowly walked up to her. Her facial expression changed.

“What’s the plier for?” She inquired in an apprehensive tone.

She found out soon enough. I didn’t have to respond verbally. I crawled to the fingers of her left hand, fixed one in between the edges of the plier, and despite her struggles, successfully yanked one off. The pain was excruciating, and her screams turned me on. She kicked and kicked, but i balanced my full body mass on her legs, slapping her into submission as i took off a finger from her right hand, my ears digesting the corresponding screams.

“You monster! I hate you!” She cried.

“Not for long, sweetheart. We won’t be long”, I replied.

I was sure that to her, I sounded like the Devil himself, but I could not be bothered. Two fingers gone, a lot more flesh to go. I pummelled her with my fists, and when she was weak enough, I went to the cupboard, brought out a dagger and went to her again. I threw up the dagger, caught it in mid-air, and with the descending velocity, sank it into her left breast.

She screamed again, and this time I got a hard-on. The beautiful thing was that the music from my home theatre drowned her voice, so nobody could guess what was going on. Moreover, I had caused the bulb to be dim, in line with the night’s task. I dragged the dagger sideways, and with it came a huge mound of flesh. I let the blood gush out steadily, scooping a bit of it with my tongue. I then proceeded to where I perceived her heart would be, sending the dagger through. The screams stopped. I had set her free.

I grinned widely as i transferred the two chopped fingers and the breast to my refrigerator. I was almost feeling guilty, but then I was merely teaching her a lesson, one she had not learnt from Facebook and the Cynthia Osokogu experience. Social networks were made up of all kinds of people, some not particularly fitting into the description of normal, and one had to exercise discretion when dealing with strangers. It was pretty unwise for her to have just decided to hop into bed with a man she had only just come in contact with via Badoo, but then, there were many out there just like her.

It was equally sad that she did not take out time to read, or at least be observant. If she was the type that frequently hunted for knowledge, she would have noticed that the pictures on my wall were that of Albert Fish, Charles Manson, Vlad the Impaler and Jack the Ripper, all cold-blooded murderers in their day. She would have also noticed “The Gospel according to Phillip” and Frederick Nietszche’s “Antichrist” on my bedside table. Philip’s gospel included a passage that suggested romantic ties between Jesus and Mary Magdalene, definitely not part of the 66  (or 73) books of the Bible as we knew it. Nietszche was a well-known 19th century German philosopher, who did not exactly subscribe to Christianity. I would ordinarily fit the perfect description of a weirdo, but here she was, in bed with me, not caring to know more about me first.

Yes, her body was on my bed. I had told her that I wanted my body sleeping on my bed, and that was judt what had played out. I would never know Wizkid’s true intent, but I loved to think that whenever the word “body” was used in describing a human, it referred to a corpse. I had merely applied the Literal Rule, which states that words should be given their ordinary and literal meaning.

I slept off soon afterwards, and woke up next to the dead lady by 7am the next day. She looked more attractive in her state of permanent sleep. I kissed her cold lips, and nibbled at her right breast which was still intact. Yes, i was somewhat sexually attracted to corpses, but which human had the right to judge? I walked to her handbag and took out her University I.D card. I saw her full name: NKECHI GOLDEN OCHENDU, student of Anatomy at the Lagos State University. We had just been through a lecture in her line of discipline, only this time she turned out being the cadaver. Then again, she referred to herself as Nikki in our chats. “Oh well, people had a way of Anglicizing their names nowadays”, I said to myself.

I put her body, her shoes, my blood-stained sheets and her handbag into a body bag. I then lifted the body bag out of the house and hurled it into the boot of my car. I loved my neighbourhood; nobody asked too many questions, everyone minded their business. I started the car and drove towards the direction of the Lagos lagoon. I planned to dump the body bag there. It was fitting. She was Igbo afterall.

(P.S: Happy birthday to Oluchi Ofili and Patricia Oma Edet. They are  good friends of mine, and ardent followers of this blog. They love stories, and this one is for them, as they mark their birthday.)