“If the truth is bare naked, truth will look good on you.”
Dwele declared through the speakers.
I took the Oba-Akran roundabout in an almost perfect 180degree turn, travelling at just under 30km/hr and climbing. I had just dropped off a very special person at home and I was flying high off how good she made me feel.
I slowed down to take the turn right onto the Asade market road and my headlights picked out a lone figure standing by the gate there.
Without thinking, I slowed down further till I came to a stop a few yards from her.
“Dude, what have you just done?” I asked myself as I pulled off the road to my right.
I looked in my side mirror and saw her walking towards me.
Before I slowed down, all I had seen was a dark face, long hair, the outline of breasts and butt; just enough to decide the person was female.
I wound down the window on her side enough for her to peer in.
“Good evening,” I said with a smile that was part grimace.
“Good evening.” She smiled brightly at me.
Up close I could make out a nose piercing out of which glittered a ring. Her face was an almost perfect oval. She was dark-skinned, a glowing kind of dark skin.
“Where are you going?” She asked me.
“I’m headed towards Akowonjo. You?”
“I am going to Dopemu myself.”
“This works then,” I said unlocking the door.
She got in and I drove off.
We drove for a minute or two in silence before she shifted in her seat and said, “thank you.”
She had an accent I could not quite place.
“It’s nothing.” I said, concentrating on the road ahead.
“So I am Gloria, what’s your name?”
“Franque.” I cast a quick glance in her direction. I passed my eyes over the recess where my phone were; they were both still there.
“Franque.” She said in the same way one would swirl wine round the mouth, tasting it. “Nice name. So what do you do?”
I gave her my standard reply. “I’m a professional passenger.” I felt her eyes on my face, her curiosity almost tangible.
“Professional passenger? What does that mean?”
“I work for a transport company, and a lot of times I am needed to make their vehicles go from one place to the next.”
“Are you a driver?”
“A conductor? An agbero, a tout?”
I smiled at that one.
“I have been called a conductor by some, but never an agbero.”
“So what then do you do?”
“Let’s just say I am in transportation.”
It was a Sunday evening and the roads were free so we made good time. Soon, we were approaching Dopemu.
“So Gloria, where is a good place to drop you?” I asked.
“Anywhere there.” She pointed a spot close to the traffic police men in the area.
I pulled over without thinking twice and unlocked the door.
“Find me something nah.” She smiled demurely at me.
I smiled a sad smile, “I’m sorry but I haven’t got any cash on me.”
The transformation was instant. She went from being a sweet grateful girl to a feral beast.
Her eyes flashed fire, her teeth bared and she had a wild look about her as she reached out and held a good amount of my shirt in one fist.
“You go pay me my money today!”
I blinked twice, stupefied.
“You dey ask me?” She opened the car door with one hand without letting go of my shirt, her voice rising. “The money wey you promise me nah! You go pay me today! You never see anything.”
I looked around in search of the cameras with eyes round as saucers; there were none. Just Lagosians whose evening had quickly gone from mundane to interesting.
“Take it easy, don’t make a scene.” My voice seemed to be coming from a far place.
“Take am easy? Take am easy?! You take am easy when u dey fuck me? You don finish now, to pay na wahala and you say make I take am easy. You never see anything!”
Before I knew it, the car was surrounded.
“Pay am di money jor.”
“Na so dem go dey do, dem wan chop clean mouth. Abeg pay!”
A sound behind me made me jump. It was one of the policemen tapping my window with his baton. He signed for me to open the door and I reached behind me to do so.
“Oga, wetin be di matter?”
“Officer, good evening. I have absolutely no idea…”
“Come out fest. Sister, let di bros come out fest.”
“Ehn! Make e run?” She shouted at him.
“E go run leave hin moto?”
That seemed to reassure her and she let go of my shirt. I quickly scrambled out one door, and she jumped out the other. She sprinted round the back of the car and was soon with me where I was trying to explain to the policeman how this is a Good Samaritan deed gone awry.
“Liar!” She clapped her hands over my head.
The people gathered were already getting restive.
“Officer, make e pay her. Dat na di only explanation wey we wan hear.”
“Useless man. I sure say e get wife for house.”
If the earth opened and swallowed me in that instant, it would not have been too soon.
This was happening in ‘my hood’ where, though I was not very well-known, mine was a slightly familiar face. Besides, I read in church. All I needed was for one parishioner to walk by in that instant and recognise me.
“Wait madam, calm down. I will get to the bottom of this.” I turned and took a closer look at the policeman.
His faded uniform did nothing for his dark skin. His face was fleshy with a bulbous nose and bloodshot eyes. His pupils were merry though and his lips were curved in a slight smile, like he found all this funny. That made me relax. My eyes travelled down and his more than ample girth made me smile.
And just like that, like the bubbling of gas when one adds Andrew’s liver salt to water, laughter started in the pit of my stomach till it overflowed the banks that were my lips and tumbled out of my mouth.
I laughed and laughed till I was wheezing and I laughed some more.
I stood there, dressed in t-shirt and jeans, concerned that someone might recognise me; the crazy lady shaking me down, throwing caution to the wind; the crowd, consisting a pot-pourri of humanity, waited for the opportunity to tear me to shreds in their defence of her honour; and between me and them stood this policeman.
“Young woman, you say this man fuck u no gree pay, abi?”
“Yes Officer. He even…”
“And you,” he turned to me. “You say you only gave her a lift?
“Na lie!” Chorused the crowd.
“Make una wait.” The policeman raised both arms up to quieten the crowd.
“Young woman, when una finish, dis man dress up for your presence?”
“Ehen nah, Officer!”
“Are you sure you saw him dress up?” A bit of steel had crept into his voice.
“What colour underwear is he wearing now?”
A hush fell over the crowd as everyone strained to hear her answer.
She floundered for a bit before answering.
“He is wearing boxers and it is multi-coloured.”
“We will check soon to confirm, but I want a more precise description of these boxers. Any patterns? Any specific colours you can remember?”
“Ermm… Flowers… No, lines. It has lines.”
“Lines? You are sure?”
“Okay. Oga, I hope you won’t mind ehn?”
“Mind?” I managed to hold my laugh in, “I don’t mind.”
With that I undid the buckle of my belt, opened the button of my jeans…
“Good evening, which way are you going?”
I looked up to see a dark face looking in. She smiled, showing pearly white teeth.
“Evening. Where are you going?” I asked her.
“Just going for a stroll.”
“Okay then.” I released the hand brake and signalled to get onto the road.
“Just ‘okay then’?” She asked, surprised.
“Yea, okay then. I’m heading home and you’re out on a stroll. It is okay then.”
With that I accelerated and drove all the way home with Dwele for company.