Temi was having one of those moments when she wished she hadn’t woken up. All she wanted was to lie in bed and sleep her shame away and hope that when she finally opened her eyes, all that she was hiding from would have magically disappeared. So she shut her eyes really tight, ignoring the blinding daylight that embraced her vision. Shadows formed, leftover images from the strange room she just woke up to. And she wished some more, praying hard that she was in a bad dream. The edge of the thin bedspread in her hands rumpled with each fierce tug as it rose up slowly over her face, drowning her into the bed. But a familiar voice halted its movement and Temi froze beneath it, her heart rising immediately into an unsteady beat.
“You’re eventually going to emerge from that bed, Temi. You can’t hide forever.”
Temi didn’t want to hear the voice again, not after all the dirty talk it delivered into her ears the previous night. She clutched the bedspread even tighter but slowly lowered it to stare at the person in the room with her who was sitting on a plastic chair. He possessed long legs and toes and equally long fingers. He carried the frame of a basketball player but he was too lanky to fit the full description. A pair of pensive eyes and small, thin lips always gave him the appearance of someone who was constantly in deep thought.
“Someone thinks I’m sexy,” he muttered and yanked the bedspread away from Temi crudely. Her nude body was exposed and she shrieked and rolled to her side in a fetal position, covering her delicate parts.
“Can you please pass the bed sheet?” she asked but he smiled wickedly. “Peter, please,” she pleaded.
“Temi, you’re gorgeous in the nude. Sit up jor.”
Temi crawled away from her position, and stole the spread from him and wrapped herself firmly.
“How was your night?” Peter’s eyes teased.
Temi made no reply. “I so hate myself right now,” she murmured. “Can you look away while I dress up?”
Peter laughed. “For real? After all you did to me yesterday?”
“I’m sorry,” he said and covered his face with a sketchbook.
Temi slipped into a dress she picked off the floor and while she fished around for her underwear, Peter let the book down.
“So, we’re not talking about last night?” he asked.
“It’s not like that. It’s just that I can’t handle looking at you right now. Last night was a very bad, stupid, nonsense, senseless mistake!”
“Peter, we live in the same house!”
“Housemates don’t sleep with each other! They are just housemates. So let’s act like nothing happened…”
“Haba, Temi. You want me to forget everything?”
“Forget that you were upset over something yesterday and you came to me to comfort you and kissed me and asked me to make love to you? And even when I refused and went to bed, you followed me and literally begged me?”
“Yes! Forget that it happened. And please, don’t tell anybody, especially, Uyi. He can’t hear about this.”
“Temi, I’m not interested in what you and Uyi have; me, I want you.”
“No!” Temi almost cried. “I’m trying to change, Peter! I’m almost thirty years old. I can’t be sleeping around again! Don’t you see me going to church regularly? You think it’s all play?”
“And I’m the devil that wants to spoil you, abi?” Peter bent over his sketchbook and picked a pencil from behind his ear. Temi pushed her feet into her slippers and hurried it to the door but Peter stopped her with a hand, pulling her to him.
“I don’t just want to sleep with you, Temi. Come on, be my girl. You know I’m serious; I’ve been begging you.”
“Peter, what we did was wrong. I was a year older yesterday but sadly, I don’t think I’ve grown any wiser. But I want to make it right, starting from now.”
“You talk too much but no wahala. Whenever it’s worrying you, I’m here at your service.”
Temi rushed out of the room and bumped into Ovie outside. She crumpled her underwear in her fist and hid it behind her.
Ovie sidestepped to let her through. “Happy birthday, sexy!” he said as she dashed into her bedroom.
“My birthday was yesterday!” she replied and slammed the door.
Temi’s and Peter’s party was a blast. Someone had gone and invited the whole world and they filled every available space in Uyi’s house. Someone else had made the erroneous decision of telling half the girls in the party that the house belonged to Uyi and they were upon him like flies.
Hey handsome, can I have your number?
Heard you work in DPS. That’s so sexy.
Can we go to lunch sometime next week? My treat.
Is this your birthday? I know how to give a good birthday present.
Can you help me get a job in DPS? Plizzzzzzz!
Initially, Uyi wasn’t complaining but he had to draw the line somewhere, especially after when one of them, high on alcohol, accosted him in the kitchen, grabbed his hands and forced them on her breasts. He hurried away from her, and made his way to his bedroom, the only place that was secure in the house. He had previously moved all his electronics there for safety reasons, so he sat on his bed, turned on his TV and game console and while they fired up, he tried calling Damaris. It was something he did everyday and every time, he got a dead tone from her line. Luckily this time, he got her. But her phone rang off the hook. He dialed eight more times and the result was the same.
The door burst open and Peter walked in.
“You wan play match? Make I flog you small.” He sat beside Uyi and was handed a keypad. They commenced the game in silence, each of them setting the configurations for their respective football teams. Murphy came in next and muttered something about not getting a single girl to dance with him. As he walked out, Ovie came in with three bottles of beer and took the keypad from Peter, beginning a new game with Uyi. When they had gone halfway, Temi walked in, her top soaked in beer.
“Some stupid fool just poured beer on me,” she complained and walked to Uyi’s closet.
“Too many high people in the party, I swear,” Uyi said.
“OV, I no tell you say make you no invite those ones wey too dey drink?” Peter asked.
“No be you talk say you want fine babes?”
But Peter wasn’t listening. His eyes were fixed on Temi who was changing into a new top. She did a half-turn and caught him watching.
“What’s your problem, Peter? You’re such a pervert.”
“What?” he asked innocently and she flung her discarded top on him. On her way out, she stopped before the TV to ask them how she looked.
“Hot,” Uyi said hastily. “Now get out the way.”
She walked out of the room and Uyi locked the door.
“Er…Uyi, we get yarns oh,” Peter said.
“I dey hear you.”
“I like am. Come help me set p.”
“Not going to happen, Piro. Chook your eyes somewhere else, abeg. Temi no be your type.”
Peter who had been lying on Uyi’s bed sat up. “See, I don tire for player life. I wan settle down now. Abi, Ovie?”
“Ask am when last hin see me with woman.”
“Kai, e don tay,” Ovie replied.
“Ehn, you must support am na,” Uyi said to Ovie. “But seriously, Piro no go near Temi, I dey take God beg you. She dey one kain vulnerable place right now.”
“But I wan wife am.”
“I don tell you. She dey very vulnerable and she just comot from bad relationship now, so abeg, no take advantage. If you do am, me and you go fight. I don tell you my own.”
“Shuoo! You dey vex oh. But wait, anytin dey between two of una?”
“No. Na just friends…”
“Ehen? So wetin come be your wahala? Na because I ask you?”
Uyi paused his game and turned to Peter with angry eyes. “E be like say dem wan swear put for you dis night! Na every babe wey come your way you wan tidy?!”
“Uyi, calm down,” Ovie laid a hand on him but Uyi shrugged it off.
“I swear to God, Peter, if you touch Temi, me and you go get fault!”
Peter laughed silently, picked his drink and walked out without a word.
“Uyi, you for no take am reach dat level na. The guy really like the babe.”
“Which kain rubbish like be dat? Na for anywhere una see una go dey chook prick? Okay, so after hin sleep wit her, then what? Hin go just plunk am and move on to the next pekus, abi? And Temi go dey watch am for the same house! You sef no dey reason the whole matter?”
“I dey reason am but wetin I wan try tell you be say na Temi’s choice. Two of them are adults and if the babe don dey fall for am as I dey notice, then nothing you fit do.”
“Temi no fit gel for Peter.”
Ovie smiled a knowing smile. “Okay oh. Abeg, un-pause this shit make we continue our game.”
Uyi turned back to the game but it wasn’t long before Temi burst in. She blocked his view as before and when he complained she sat on his laps.
“How can I be having a party and you’re here playing game. Iz not fair.”
“Loud music. Headache.”
“That’s the point of a party. You have to endure the loud music and the booze and the totally stupid people.”
“Okay, just one more game and I’ll come meet you.”
Ovie excused himself and walked out and Temi dragged Uyi to his feet. “Let’s go and dance.”
“That reminds me…close your eyes.”
“Close your eyes.”
“Okay.” Temi did as she was told and waited patiently. Uyi took her hands and placed in them an Apple product. Temi ran her fingers over the surface and shrieked in excitement. She opened her eyes and beheld the present in her hand.
“IPad4! Oh my God, Uyi! You didn’t!”
Uyi smiled smugly.
“Uyi! I so love you!” She hugged and held him. “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”
“Anytime.” He stepped away from her to avoid the kiss he suspected was coming next but strangely, she merely added another word of thanks.
“Temi, can I ask you something?”
“Sure,” she replied, putting her present in her handbag.
“Is there anything between you and Peter?”
Temi looked at Uyi with an uneasy smile. “He told you there was something between us?”
“No. I’m just asking.”
“Okay, can you do me a favor, please?”
Uyi was about to warn her about Peter but Ovie’s words crossed his mind and he let it be. “Ehm…don’t bother. Just be careful, though.”
“You’re beginning to sound like my aunt.”
“Yeah…have you heard from her?”
Temi’s face changed. “She still won’t pick my calls and she told my whole family what I did and everyone’s mad at me, so…right now, I’m family-less.”
“But you have me.” Uyi hugged her and noticed that she pulled away from him quickly.
“Come on, let’s go and dance. They’re playing my favorite song.”
She dragged him out of the room but the moment they got out, someone else needed her attention and she disappeared into the party. Uyi stood by his door and watched the whole scene. The ratio of girls to guys was 60 to 40 and that counted for a good party. The booze and barbecued chicken was in excess and the DJ was tearing the house down. A girl spotted Uyi and ran to him. She asked for a dance but he declined and passed her on to Murphy. He got out his phone and texted Dami. When he lifted his eyes, he saw Temi and Peter dancing. He tried to tear his eyes away but he couldn’t. He was disturbed by the way she was grinding into him.
He heard his phone beep and he looked it up. It was a text message from Ovie and he opened it. He saw a link which he clicked on and it prompted him to download a video. It wasn’t a lengthy one; Uyi saved the file and waited for the download, keeping his eyes occupied with Temi who was still dancing with Peter. Another girl walked up to him and sparked up a conversation that bored him and he barely replied her. Soon enough she got the cue and wandered off. The music was getting too loud for him, so he withdrew into his room and checked up on the video download. It was completed and he proceeded to play it. It was a crude recording from an obviously terrible phone camera but what he saw was clear as day.
Dami was in a party, similar to the one he was in but there were only females and they seemed to be in a hotel suite. Uyi could tell it was a bachelorette party when he picked out a girl with a veil pinned to her hair. The camera zoomed in on Dami and she was caught downing a bottle of vodka generously until someone snatched it from her and requested a dance. The music was cut abruptly and someone was skipping through songs . Eventually, they settled for Blurred Lines and Dami dragged the bride-to-be to the middle of the room, pushed her into a chair and began to dance for her. Uyi smiled to himself; the scene he was viewing was familiar. Dami had given him a private show a few times and he thought it harmless that she would be dancing for a girl. In his opinion, the video meant nothing. But his smile died away the moment Dami’s bra went off. Subconsciously, he put the phone away from his face for a second, then brought it back. Now, he was cringing with each move she made and hoped to God that her thong stayed put. Sadly, his hope was dashed as her hands held the strings of the thong and was in the process of sliding it down when the video ended.
Uyi immediately dialed Ovie but he couldn’t get through. He rushed out of his room and started a frantic search for him in the party and didn’t find him. Finally he walked to Peter.
“You don see OV?”
Peter disengaged from Temi. “Check his car.”
Uyi hurried out of the house and looked around for Ovie’s car. It was parked down the street and Ovie was in it with a girl, both of them smoking a joint. Uyi called him out.
“Where you get dat video?”
“Person send me the link.”
“Not long before I send am to you. Immediately I see Dami face, I just forward am to you. But e resemble old video.”
“No be dat one dey worry me. Na wetin dey for the video.”
“Yeah.” Ovie’s eyes twinkled in amusement.
“And the tin don spread now. Ovie, I dey come. Abeg, lock my room door for me. Make I go come.”
Uyi began towards the house but he stopped by his car in the driveway, got in and drove off. On his way, he got a phone call from a number he didn’t recognize.
“Good morning, Mr. Omoruyi,” a tired voice husked into his ear and he checked the clock on his dashboard. The time showed that it was two in the morning.
“My name is Doctor Lami. I’m calling from Morning Sun Recovery Centre and would like to let you know that your friend, Damaris Alechenu absconded from the facility four hours ago.”
Uyi shook his head in disappointment.
“I do not wish to discuss the issue over the phone. I would love you to come over, if it’s possible, so we can talk about it. But if you can’t, you can come as soon as it gets bright.”
“Okay, ma’am. Thank you for informing me.”
“I’m assuming she’s not with you?”
“Please give me an hour or so and I’ll be right there.”
The line beeped off and a call came in from Dami. He pressed the ‘answer’ button but remained silent on his end.
“Uyi?” she had on her cutest voice.
“Can you come and get me, please? I’m at Protea. Negroe Crescent.”
“On my way.”
Uyi cut her off and drove to the hotel which was just on the next street. He parked outside and dialed her. Not long after, he saw her coming out with a bunch of girls, all of them tipsy and talking in excited tones. He wondered which one recorded and spread the video. He had a good mind not to let any of them into his car.
The girls walked up to him and Dami introduced them. He endured their small talk and watched as they got in behind, all five of them squeezing in while Dami sat in the front. The destination was her house and after he deposited them there, he dragged her back into his car and they started for the rehab facility.
Uyi uttered not a single word to her, even as much as she tried to get his attention. She gave up eventually and sat still.
“I don’t want to go back there,” she said. “They have all these strict rules like secondary school. It’s the worst rehab I’ve been to.”
Uyi maintained his hush.
“They won’t even let us speak to the opposite sex and there’s this attendant that always comes to my room to make sure me and my roommate do morning devotion with her.”
Uyi was silent as a mouse.
“Then there are all these rich, spoilt kids that always sit during free time and brag about their designer clothes and shoes and jewelry…”
Uyi couldn’t help but let out a laugh. Dami looked at him and continued.
“Yeah, I know what that laugh means. You think I’m being hypocritical but I’m not. You need to hear these kids. They’re in their early twenties and because they travel out every chance they get, they think it’s enough to bore my ass with pointless talk. Then the lectures are so booooring! Yesterday, one of the doctors was talking about the dangers of premarital sex and I’m like ‘what has that got to do with my case?’ And that was when I had enough. I told myself I was done.”
“Yeah, so am I.”
Without much ado, Dami was kicked out of rehab and Uyi bore the brunt of the shame. It was he who sat and listened to the doctor-in-charge for thirty long minutes and endured her rant about how children of nowadays were a disgrace to their parents. Subsequently, Dami’s crimes were laid out before him.
Rudeness to member of staff
Bad influence on other patients
Flirting with male patients and staff
Possession of alcohol
And finally, breaking out of the facility.
Uyi made no apologies for her. He thanked the doctor, took Dami’s suitcase and walked out to the parking lot where she was waiting by the car.
He continued his silence but she didn’t mind. She was ecstatic about leaving the program and promised to stay off the drugs and booze for a while, planting Uyi with wet kisses as he drove her home. It was almost 4:30 when he got to her place. The alcohol in her system had done her in by then and he half-carried her in. He put her to bed and left the house to his place, glad to find that the party had ended. With the exception of Ovie and a handful of people sleeping, the house was empty. Uyi got to his room, turned off his phone, turned on his AC, lowered the temperature, got lost under his blanket and went straight to sleep.
He woke up at exactly eight o’clock, jarred by his daily alarm. Still sleepy, he stumbled out of his room and met absolute silence in the house. It was a Sunday and he had every intention to make it to church. A quick, steaming shower kick-started his day. He picked an appropriate church wear and got into it. Afterwards, he packed Temi’s things which she left behind, including the iPad he got for her, shoved them into her handbag and headed out. He tried not to think of Dami and the embarrassing encounter he had with the rehab people. Putting all that behind him, he fired up his morning with gospel music as he drove to the slaughterhouse to drop off Temi’s things.
“Guy, thanks for yesterday,” he said to Ovie when he got into the compound. Ovie was in his car, smoking his breakfast. He let down the glass and Uyi dodged the thick marijuana smoke that escaped.
“Temi dey?” he asked.
“I just dey enter. I go Gwags go drop some babes like dat. But she dey.”
Uyi walked into the house and went straight to his former room. He knocked and the door pushed in slightly.
“Hello?” he cautiously peeped in but found the room empty. He dropped Temi’s things on the bed and the instant he stepped out of the room, he saw Temi emerging from Peter’s room, completely nude beneath a white, transparent bedspread. She gasped and retreated immediately.
“Temi!” Uyi called but the door shut behind her. “Temi!”
The door opened again and this time, Peter walked out in his boxers.
“Uyi, how far?”
“I dey. Just tell Temi I dropped her things in her room.”
Uyi turned around and left the house.
Uyi could hardly concentrate in church. After a futile effort to sing one line of his popular worship song, he abandoned the service and drove to Dami’s house. He sat in the car and prepared a breakup speech but he couldn’t put together a perfect one. He feared it was going to be messy and he wasn’t prepared.
So he waited in the car some more and this time there were no gospel songs to uplift him. He sat in stillness, listening only to the sounds of twittering birds and cars that came and went. At last, he drew up the courage and walked into the house. Dami was in her sitting room, her long, spotless legs and arms wrapped around a lifesize teddy bear. She was in tears.
Uyi strolled to her and perched on the armrest of a couch, facing her.
The tone of his voice sent her deeper into tears. He waited for the spell to pass and asked her again.
“Have you seen the video of me dancing? The one I took off my bra?”
“All those nonsense gossip blogs are just carrying rubbish news that I’m a lesbian. And daddy just called me now. He said he doesn’t want to talk to me. Then my agent called and told me he was dropping me, that nobody would want to waste their money on me.”
She was going into fresh tears but Uyi stopped her.
“Why did you do it? The dance, the bad behavior at rehab, the running away… why, Dami?”
“I don’t know,” she sobbed. “I’m just screwed up like that and now you too, you hate me.”
“No, I don’t.” he held her hand and let it go. “I don’t.”
“Then why did you leave my hand? You don’t love me again.”
The words were stuck in his throat but only intentionally. He was going to tell her he never loved her but he couldn’t.
“Are you going to break up with me?”
“I… was going to give you the perfect breakup speech but somehow, I can’t. So I’ll just say it straight. You’re a wonderful girl, Damaris…”
She burst out crying.
“…and I want to see you succeed because you’re full of potential. But you’re killing yourself and unfortunately, I’m helping you go down the drain faster. The sex works, the fun times work but our lives are falling apart very fast, luv. And it’s not what I want for you. I’m sorry, I can’t carry on like this again. I’m very sorry, Damaris.”
He stood up and waited for more tears, for pleading, for fighting, for insults, for drama but there was none; only a weighty sadness as he left her alone.