“Would you like another cup of coffee to go with your cake?” Kike looked up from the Blackberry on the table and smiled. “No thank you. This is perfect.” The waiter flashed a smile and walked away, his crisp shirt creasing as he walked back to the rotisserie. Saanyol leaned over from his seat beside Kike and gently stroked her cheek with his left hand and kissed her. She sighed, he still had residue of the forest cake on his tongue. She’d stayed with him for the last nineteen months because of moments like this, perfect little pockets of spontaneity that reminded her why they were so perfect together. He’d called her at 7am sharp to tell her to come downstairs, he was outside her hostel. She’d thrown on a pair of jeans and a tee-shirt and hurried out to meet him bathroom slippers, worried that something had happened. He was outside the gate, all dressed up, sitting on the bonnet of a brand new RAV4 SUV. “What’s going on?” She asked. He smiled. “My birthday’s not for another week, but my mother gave me this, says its a long delayed gift, an early birthday present from my grandmother’s trust fund.” She squealed and threw herself into his arms. He got off the bonnet, opened the passenger door for her. They left the school grounds and he drove her down to Paris Deli. It was her first time there, so she was understandably self conscious, and kept trying to pat down her bed hair and straighten out her patchy jeans. She looked so out of place in their cream coloured booth, compared to the small party of Arab men in glossy blazers and mulch on their chins and the little American couple, all tanned and freckled from the Nigerian sun. But Saanyol didn’t mind and if he didn’t, neither did she. “I can’t give you breakfast in bed but I can take you to your breakfast.” He joked. The car was complicated, a part of the complex trust fund stipulations from his grandparents and he’d wanted to celebrate with her privately. He’d tried to explain the whole thing to her once but she stopped him cos it made her feel acutely how poor she was in comparison. “I wanted you to be the first person that rides in it. That way it’ll always be special to me.” He said, dangling the keys in front of her. Kike kissed him again and they intertwined hands as they waited for the little Gateau Chocolat Saanyol had ordered to go.
“I can’t decide if its a blessing or curse that the entrance to the Palms is just before the Lekki Toll Gate,” Saanyol said as he drove into the parking lot at the Palms, “This way it is close enough to the natives in Lekki that they’d much rather come here, but it also has all the Mainland ‘tourists’ coming to take pictures in Shoprite.” Something about the way Saanyol said ‘tourists’ turned it from a fairly harmless word, into a slur. Kike felt the urge to say something, but she suppressed it. They were having a great day, no need to fish for an argument. She tucked her feet under her and gave a fake belly laugh, aping the amusement he seemed to get from his rant. She saw no point in mentioning, that according to his own metrics, he lived in Ikeja and was just as much a tourist when compared to the natives as anyone else. They found a parking spot at the far end of the edifice and made their way to the second entrance. As they walked towards the e-Tel store where Saanyol wanted to get car accessories for his Blackberry, he smugly pointed out each boy (and the occasional girl) who stole covert glances at her when they thought he wasn’t looking. All through his transaction in the store he kept her by his side and his hands always in touch with her bare skin. He asked her to help him choose what colour of car charger and speakerphone set to buy and bought her a beautiful hand woven Aztec pouch for her phone. She smiled and refused. He paid for it anyway. They ended up in the middle of the mall where the food court sprawled out under the staircase that led to the Hub, the media megastore. They scaled the stairs together and turned left to the electronic media section where a gaggle of exotically dressed middle aged women were caught up in a heated discussion with the uniformed staff. Saanyol sat at the upright grand piano that occupied the far end of the space and banged out a few chords before he finally allowed Kike lead him to the shelves littered with electronic equipment and racks of original CDs. The two women stacking CD’s on their aisle went silent as they turned the corner, his hand on the small of her back, left bare thanks to the halter dress she wore. He pulled her close and kissed her deeply, reaching down to cup her buttocks through the jersey fabric of her dress. She tried to enjoy the kiss but she couldn’t help wondering if this PDA session was for the benefit of their admiring audience. “Wanna help me choose CDs?” He said, as they detached.
BROADCAST NEW MESSAGE?
Chibuzor Xhiz Anagor
Louise J Adegoke,
I know I’ll regret sending a broadcast message later but right now I’m too happy to care. It’ll take way too much time to start messaging you guys one by one, and I’m driving so I’m using a broadcast message *tears* Going to Swe bar now for a couple of afternoon cocktails and then Open Mic Theatre later. Booze and whatever else you guys want to have is on me. Just come. Don’t make me beg.
The evening commuters had begun to line up as Tari and Farhad climbed out of the cab in front of TBS and walked south to City Mall. He admired her figure, draped in a tiny sundress, through their reflections in the frosted glass that served as doors to the mall. He liked how all the times he’d seen her, she never seemed afraid to read as ultra-feminine. Swe Bar was surprisingly full for a Saturday afternoon, a lot of middle aged nouveau riche men watching the Manchester/Chelsea derby while they downed glasses of cognac on the rocks. Tariebi navigated her way around the mismatched chairs and stools that littered the lounge to the corner where Kike, Saanyol, and Chibuzor were sitting, the boys arguing loudly while Kike sulked. “Dudes! Una naija time na wa oh!” Tari laughed. “I had to carry this one down. Proper JJC, didn’t even know where Swe Bar was.” Everyone burst into laughter and new arrivals pulled plush cushioned stools to the low table and joined the party. Tariebi ordered a cosmopolitan and Farhad asked for a glass of coke in ice and small chops. The drinks came quickly and everyone got into their drinks as Saanyol launched into yet another monologue about how he hated that he never got to meet his maternal grandparents but loved how their money kept subsidizing his lifestyle. “We need to hang out more,” he said, dangling the keys in front of the group, “I don’t think anyone of can use the excuse of how it was too hard to chill with me any more.” Xhiz, who was the evening’s dedicated mixologist, cocked an eyebrow when he saw that Farhad’s glass had no liquor. “Dude, you no dey drink?” Farhad gave him a mixed stare before replying slowly. “I’m a Muslim, It’s against my religion to indulge in alcohol.” Saanyol rolled his eyes. “At least you’re not the one spoiling the fun like your sister abi na cousin here. She thinks sulking will stop me from having a good time. Imagine, she’s pissed that I asked you guys to come drink with me and I didn’t tell her. You’d think it was her money I was spending.” “That’s not why I’m angry.” Kike mumbled. “What?” Saanyol taunted. “I said, that’s not why I’m angry.” Kike repeated, louder this time. “But you obviously don’t give a fuck so let it go.” Saanyol’s smile disappeared into a scowl. He took what was left of his vodka and cranberry cocktail and downed it before calling for the waiter. “Dudes, drink up abeg make we fit move to Life House, Before I say something stupid wey I go regret for here.” ___________________________________
Applause rang out after Vector finished his recital and jogged off the stage. Xhiz excused himself and left the lounge. Saanyol stood up to leave not long after. “Where are you guys going?” Kike mouthed. Saanyol shrugged and pointed to the parking lot. Kike sighed and turned her attention back to the presenter who was introducing the next performer in a high, nasally accent. Farhad felt her sigh next to him as the yawning seats beside his cousin instantly conjured the memories from the night of the party at Tariebi’s house a week ago. He fought his urge to say something and instead put his arm around Kike and hugged her tightly. “Thank God you came.” Kike whispered to him, “Things have just gone from amazing to something else.” He kept his arm around her as they watched the next two performances. Kike’s phone buzzed. She took it out and frowned, her fingers flying around the keyboard as she banged out a response. Just then Farhad noticed that her Blackberry was a small curve 3 as opposed to the clunky Bold torch she normally used. “Panlam and Louise are almost here. Can you help me keep the seats next to you for them?” She said. Farhad nodded and put his almost empty school bag on the fold up seats beside them. The next performer was a clean shaven actor off the TV show Tinsel. He could have been great, but his acquired accent kept getting in the way of his performance. Tariebi kept leaning over every other second to whisper a comment or make an observation and each time Farhad’s left cheek would tingle from the anticipation of her hair touching him. He had a slight weakness for women with nerves of steel. How she had handled him the week before had made his interest in her sky rocket. He was beginning to like her very much but he couldn’t act, not until he was sure. “Scoot jor!” Louise whispered from his right. She was slightly over dressed, with gold hoop earrings and a knee length Clan dress under a boyfriend blazer. They all sidled over to let her in and Farhad ended up getting pressed into Tariebi, not that he minded. “Where’s Panlam?” Kike asked. Her annoyance was beginning to show. “She’s outside with the boys,” Louise replied with some degree of discomfort. “They’re having cocktails at the bar next door.” “The fuck?” Kike swore under her breath. “He promised me he wouldn’t drink anymore, since he’s driving me back to the hostel.” She shot off her chair and noisily made her way out of the room, barrelling into the outstretched feet of other patrons and interrupting the new performer’s moving rendition of a chapter of Mariama Ba’s So Long A Letter. Farhad and Tariebi quickly followed, apologising after Kike, their minds immediately working up the same scenario. When they got outside Kike was stalking out of the bar towards the gate. She stomped to Saan’s RAV4, swiped the bottle of vodka Panlam, Xhiz and he were sharing away from Panlam and threw it into the gutter nearby. “Saanyol! Can you stop with the drinking? Why do you always turn a good day into torture for me?” Saanyol growled. “What the fuck is your problem?” Kike screamed back. “This is my fucking problem! Panlam comes home and you go all happy drunk on me! I have shit to do at school but I left everything and skipped class because you asked, and now you’re escaping me to go drink?You know what? I’m fucking leaving!” Other patrons gathered in small clumps around their car, e attracted by the scene Saanyol and his girlfriend were creating. Xhiz and Panlam quietly backed away, they hadn’t bargained for any of that. Kike fished in her bag, pulled out her phone and began to dial. Saanyol’s eyes widened and he grabbed her arm. “You’re using that Curve again? I thought I told you get rid of it?” Kike tugged her arm free. “Its my fucking phone! I bought it with my money.” “Where’s the fucking Bold I got for you?” “Saanyol, is that what we’re fucking doing now? Throwing your gifts in my face?” The female patrons who’d been watching the argument escalate gasped as the slap rang out in the quiet street. Farhad froze in disbelief, eyes transfixed on Saanyol. He towered over Kikelomo, who was hunched over, arms barred over her face in case he tried again. With an Amazonian shout, Kikelomo sprang from her crouch and lunged at Saanyol. Farhad barrelled into Saanyol and elbowed him out of range as he raised his hand to protect his face and Xhiz sprung to action, each tackling one half of couple and dragging her away from the other half. Kike struggled, howling. “Xhiz, let me go! Oh God! He slapped me. The asshole put his hand on me! Xhiz! Let me go! Oh God! Oh God! God!” Chibuzor saw Saanyol get pushed into his car by Farhad from the corner of his eye as he dragged Kike to one of the assortment of taxis that were parked opposite the street waiting for passengers, Panlam close behind if he needed help. Screaming ensued from their corner, mostly female. “My phone? Where’s my fucking bag?!!!” “Your bag is with me just calm down, just calm down!” “Calm down?! Xhiz, My cheek is bleeding, my face is swollen and I should calm down?!!!” Xhiz half dragged half carried the now inconsolable Kike to the nearest red cab and bundled her into the back seat, seating himself beside her. Panlam pushed a few thousand Naira notes through the half opened window and motioned that Xhiz call her if anything happened before stalking back into the Life House, probably to find Louise. Xhiz leaned forward to the driver. “Mainland. Yaba, anywhere. Just carry us comot here.” Kike curled into a ball and rested her head on Xhiz’s laps and began to sob.