There was something about Wura that nettled Kasi. She seemed to have the uncanny gift of speaking to his soul through her music. It was as if she saw into his subconscious when he slept and journeyed into his nightmares just to wake him up with the gift of a perfect song every morning to ease his pain. The irony was that they hardly spoke to each other save for the idle banter they had in the house in the company of their other housemates. None of that mattered to him. He was charmed by her voice; it was the type that could win awards if combined with the right songs and music producer. Kasiobi had tried to get her into his studio to drop her first single but his efforts always met a brick wall. She was fine being plain Wura with the beautiful voice that calmed his mind every morning.
And today was no different; she was at it again. The silent huskiness in her rich soprano gave out a melancholic resonance that had him relaxed and staring up at his immobile ceiling fan with wide eyes. But it was the words in the song that arrested him most.
Fools that we are
Covering each and every scar
Of broken dreams
Of bitter fights and screams
No one knows with doors discreetly closed
All except for one tenderly looking on
With those eyes of love…
It’s from the inside out
It’s from the outside in
He’s looking through your lies
Looking through your sin…
The door burst open and Lexus barged in, ending his serene moment.
She was wearing a pair of bikinis and a towel around her neck. She dove for his bed and sat astride him, her red hair dripping wet. He could tell she just went for a swim at their neighbors’ next door. Kasi suspected her secret boyfriend was in that house. She was in one of those relationships she didn’t feel like sharing with the world. Kasi was her best friend. He understood her and her eccentricities.
“Babes, you do realize that although you’re skinny you’re still a female and you’re sitting on a very healthy morning boner.”
“Behave yourself jor.” Lexus gave him a playful punch.
“You keep tempting me o, you this girl. The day I’ll handle you, you won’t even know what hit you.” A slow, sly smile stretched across his lips and she shrieked. She tried to get away from him but he held her back.
“You’re a pervert!” she gave him a harmless slap on the arm. “What’s wrong with you?”
“Idiot. You felt only the kick and you’re trying to run. Sit down, my friend.”
“Kasi, I need a loan.” She shook her hair and droplets of water splashed on him. “I need 50k.”
She played with a gold chain around her waist.
“I’m broke. Madam says she won’t pay me because of the money that disappeared the other time.”
“But you stole that money.”
“I borrowed it. I’m still going to pay.”
“I don’t have 50k to give you. Heard your dad just got into town.”
Lexus hissed and stuck her thumb between her lips. Kasi smacked her hand away.
“You had to mention him. He’s the reason why I’m broke and until I take that fake job his friend is offering, I have no allowance.”
“Your boyfriend nko?”
Lexus was quiet. Kasi raised his upper body, resting on his elbows. He kept a direct stare on her.
“Lex, please don’t tell me you’re giving him the money.”
She let out a guilty expression and Kasi pushed her off him. He sat up and allowed his annoyance play out on his face before his scolding came.
“This is why you’ve been keeping him away from me?! You went and got another asshole that would screw your life to nothingness?! Where do you even get them from, Lex?!
“Why are you shouting nau?”
“You don’t have sense! That is what is paining me about you! You’re beautiful and smart and yet you end up being used by the worst guys on earth!”
“I came to borrow 50k, not to get a lecture on what guy I shouldn’t date. Haba na. Cool down.”
“Shut up, abeg.”
“So are you giving me the money or not?”
He pulled at the waistband of his trackpants.“No! Go and ask your dad and while you’re at it, ask his forgiveness too! You have to grow up, Lexus!”
With that, Kasi stormed out of the room. Lexus was amused at his outburst. Smiling, she followed him out.
In the sitting room, one of their housemates, Ehi, was sprawled on a leather couch watching Style Network. She was a smallish, hour-glass, dark-skinned, bespectacled beauty that caused immense distraction for Kasi. The fact that she was a virgin, had no boyfriend and was sold to her fashion and designing, not giving into any form of diversion made him want her more. She had rebuffed all his advances so far and made it clear that she was never going to date him but Kasi was stubborn as a mule. He loved a challenge.
“Who wants to eat akara?” Wura asked and got no response. She was standing by the front door, trying to stop a little boy with soiled diapers from getting into the house. Outside, his mother, the akara seller was about her business with some customers who had gathered around.
“Wuraola, go outside na,” Ehi said in slight annoyance, taking her eyes off Kasi’s approaching six-foot frame. He was the reason for her mood change but she wasn’t going to give him the pleasure of knowing. “People are just peeping into the house anyhow.”
Unperturbed by the frown on Ehi’s face, Kasi walked to her couch. She sprang up and hugged a throw pillow, her back to him; but he sat behind her and put his arms around her.
“Kasi, leave me jor.”
“You’ve not said good morning to me, wifey. Is this how we’ll be doing?”
She wiggled but couldn’t free herself off his hands.
“Kasiobi, leave me!”
With ease, he lifted her off the couch. She kicked about and screamed to be let down. None of it moved him as he turned her around and settled her across his shoulder. Lexus walked past them to her bedroom and in seconds Sound Sultan was renting the air with Natural Something. By now Kasi had his back blessed with harmless punches from Ehi. He fell in step with the music, refusing to let her down. Lexus went past them again, picked her phone from the center table and headed towards the kitchen. She returned with a can of beer, popped it open and watched them without interest. Ehi’s anger was full-blown now. Yet Kasi had her bound. It took the appearance of their new housemate, Genesis, to stop them.
She emerged from the room beside Lexus’s, hair in spikes, a nightdress that stopped at her knees and a look on her face that had Wura, who was just stepping in, in ripples.
“You’ll get used to the noise,” Wura told her, voice raised. “No matter how much you beg them they won’t stop.”
Kasi finally let Ehi down and she jabbed him hard in the chest before storming off to the bedroom she shared with Wura.
“Kasiobi, meet Genesis!” Lexus shouted above the music. “Jene, meet Kasi.”
Kasi stretched out his hand for a handshake, his eyes taking in Genesis eye-catching plus-size figure that pushed through her transparent nightdress. Underneath the spiky hair was a face that he sensed was not allowed to be naturally beautiful. Signs of erased makeup lingered in crevices that in a few years would turn to wrinkles. Kasi didn’t have to be told she was a material girl and was way older than all of them.
“Hi.” She smiled and a dimple appeared on a cheek, erasing years off her age. Kasi was struck. Images of him doing things to her flooded his mind but he banished them away. He let go of her hand.
“Love your dimple.”
She smiled again, this time, blushing, her hand making a futile attempt to fix her hair. Kasi turned away.
“Baby, come abeg.” He pulled Lexus off her chair and dragged her to the kitchen. “Can you do me a favor?”
“Please dump your boyfriend.”
Lexus rolled her eyes and put her now empty beer can away. She leaned on the door while Kasi rummaged through kitchen drawers for a certain pot he loved to cook his meals in.
“I’m crazy about him.”
“You’re crazy about all of them until they treat you like shit.”
“He won’t treat me like shit. Trust me. He’s your type of person. In fact, you’ll like him.”
“Who is he sef?”
Lexus shook her head. “Not telling.”
Kasi found a replacement pot and put it over the gas cooker. He turned around and looked at his best friend and felt sorry for her. Lexus was a product of two teenagers who got drunk at a party somewhere in the States twenty-six years ago, had sex, and discovered they were having a baby only after four months. It was too late for an abortion, so her mother carried her full term and the moment she birthed her, dumped her at her grandmother’s and continued with her life. Lexus grew up being tossed around by close relatives. She had everything she wanted but was without home training and virtually no love. She bore in her a poor image of self but covered it up with an active party life, a nonchalant persona and an unending string of useless boyfriends. It hurt Kasi that she didn’t know there was a beautiful, intelligent and talented girl beneath her façade.
“Things is, I have the 50k to give you but I won’t help you. You have to figure this one out yourself. I can’t keep helping you like this, baby.”
“Thanks for nothing.” She opened the fridge and picked three cans of beer.
Kasi didn’t see the day ending well for her but he said nothing and concentrated on making breakfast for himself and Ehi.
He hated being pissed. Anger was his Achilles Heel, a dominant gene in his DNA. Years of therapy and spiritual rehabilitation had done nothing to help. All he needed was a catalyst and his blood would rise from zero and burst through the scale. It had robbed him of good health and close friends but not as much as it hurt him to lose his daughter.
Lexus was a bright-eyed, giggly child when he fell in love with her on her eighth birthday. It was uncanny that their birthdays were just a day apart and he had spent the most of his on a thirteen hour flight to Nigeria from the US. He arrived at his mother’s home at about 6am and found Lexus waiting outside the front door with a handmade birthday card for him. It was their first meeting and she was more than his mind had imagined.
But he was just twenty-four years old and had a full life waiting for him. As much as he loved her to death, he was not yet ready to be a dad. He left his mother’s barely a week later, leaving her behind. They saw each other only during the holidays. When at last he moved back to Nigeria, she was seventeen, spoilt and sexually active. They spent three difficult years together but they bonded to some extent until the loss of his second daughter tore them apart. He lost all that was dear to him in just one day, thanks to a moment of weakness fueled by his rage; and from that moment, he watched as Lexus became every parent’s nightmare. All attempts made to domesticate her proved futile. She changed schools like she changed underwear. In the end, her mother bribed officials in a federal university to give her a degree.
That was the last straw for Dominic. To save her and himself from further chaos, he disowned her after discovering to her list of delinquencies, she had added shoplifting. He couldn’t bear it any further. He cut her off and sent her to be with her mom. Still she always sought his attention everywhere he went. Presently she was working as a bar waitress at Novocaine Nightclub which was located in a gigantic shopping mall he built with two friends. Initially, he had thought Lexus was getting right in her ways, being occupied with her new job, but he discovered only too late that it was just a guise to get back into his life.
So far, he had evaded her but her newest misdeed was not something he could overlook. It had stirred an entire gadget store at the mall and arrested quite a crowd. As the story went, she shoplifted an iPhone, did away with the pack and handed it to her clueless roommate before disappearing from the store. At the exit doors, the security scanner detected the stolen item and the girl was arrested. Due to the roommate’s insistence that she hadn’t shoplifted and back and forth argument with the security guards, a crowd gathered at the scene. Thankfully, the manager of the store swooped in at the right moment and saved her from further embarrassment. After a few minutes of questioning, the matter was handed over to Dominic who was in his office upstairs – a classy glass structure strategically constructed and positioned to give him a decent view of a good part of the mall.
He listened to the teary-eyed voluptuous lady who called herself Genesis, as she retold the events leading to her trouble. There was nothing on his face that depicted how much he was boiling with rage within but his fingers had maintained a rhythm on the table from the moment Lexus’ name was mentioned.
“I am so sorry, Genesis,” he managed to say under his husky tone. “You’ll be compensated for the embarrassment Lexus caused you.”
Genesis bopped her head and wiped her eyes with a hanky.
“Ah…good. Your boss is here.”
A woman walked in. Dressed in a tight pair of jeans and a fitted top that hung low at the neckline to reveal ample breasts, she had a figure that did not resonate with her age. She had just turned forty-two and there were no obvious signs of ageing. Her skin, carefully managed by expensive cosmetics, boasted of a creamy, even-toned complexion. She reeked of classiness from her choice of clothes to the jewelry she had on.
“Genesis, give us a moment,” she said dismissively. Genesis left the office and shut the door.
“I want Lexus out of this mall,” Dominic finally let his annoyance out.
“She’s you daughter…”
“You are the reason she’s here! Either send her away…”
“Or what?” the woman crossed her arms in defiance.
“Eva, I expressly told you not to offer her that job.”
“The kid came to me crying. She wanted to do something and so far she has behaved herself.”
“Behaved herself? Eva, she shoplifted and it isn’t the first time! She won’t get a decent job, she won’t stop tattooing her body and she won’t keep her legs closed! What do you want me to do?!”
The woman walked to his table and perched her bum on it, facing him.
“You have to learn to calm down, Nick. After all these years, you’re still like this? Do you think about your blood pressure and heart issues at all?” She ran a gentle finger over his full, well-trimmed bread and he hit her hand.
“I don’t want her working in this mall again!”
“I can’t do that.”
“Don’t push me, Eva.”
“What is your problem? Do you want to see her on the streets before you’ll let her back into your life again? She’s your daughter, Nick, and she is sorry.”
Eva sighed. Her eyes turned sad.
“Nimi is gone, Nick. She was a sweet, little girl but she’s gone. Stop looking for her in Lexus.”
“Who brought up Nimi’s matter here now?”
“I’m tired of you being hung up on a dead child while your first daughter is still alive–”
“Don’t you dare! You weren’t the one who was there when Lexus was screwing the life out of my best friend while her younger sister was drowning in a swimming pool downstairs!”
Eva gave up. She sighed the second time and got off the table. “I’m not having this conversation again. I’ve removed my hand from your matter. Na you sabi.”
She left the office.
She was upset. And too angry to care about the stares people gave her as she walked by. Being a popular actress who enjoyed the attention of adoring fans, she was known to be gracious to people who stopped for autographs and photos but on days like this, she didn’t care to be noticed. Damn anyone who came near her at the moment.
Lexus was on her mind. The twenty-five year old had really done it this time. This latest act of hers was the final straw. Eva was done. As much as she often defended the girl in the presence of her father, she knew Lexus was always to blame for their fights. She couldn’t even start imagining the stress Dominic had on his head daily; he didn’t need any more hassle in his life. But if there was anyone who could handle any type of stress, it was he. A lawyer, a successful businessman, and a human rights activist, he had faced a good number of troubling times. She just hoped he could keep his head over water long enough. She was beginning to worry too much for him. Gone were the days when he fell into her arms to seek comfort over Nimi’s death. The last time she kissed him was two years ago. She still wanted him but she could tell he was over her.
She didn’t know what he was up to these days but on her side, when she was not on a movie set, she busied herself with younger boys like the six feet tall, dark, hunky specimen in all his male magnificence that was at the moment, waiting outside her office door as she entered Novocaine Nightclub. Her worries banished at the sight of him. He followed her in. The door closed behind them and he grabbed her from behind, planting kisses on her neck.
“Jordan, where have you been?” she asked. “You were supposed to be here two hours ago.”
His response was a feel of her breasts. She fought a moan and turned around. He lowered himself for a kiss but just as their lips touched, she pulled away. Her face clouded with a mystifying expression. She moved closer again as if trying for another kiss but she sniffed him, instead.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
She lifted his hand and sniffed as well. When she let go, she flung her fingers across his face with a rude slap.
Jordan clutched his cheek in shock.
“You wouldn’t go down on me but you have the guts to do it behind my back and bring that filthy mouth to come and kiss me?!”
“What are you talking about, Eva?”
She threw a second slap and pushed him backwards.
“I’ll ruin you in this Lagos, Jordan! You don’t know me!”
“You’re accusing me of cheating?”
“Don’t even think of denying! I know the smell of a woman from a thousand miles away! Just get out!”
Jordan fell into laughter.
“Get the hell out, JD!”
“What did you think this was?! A love relationship?! Eva, I’m a gigolo. That’s my job, baby. Kasi didn’t introduce you to me by coincidence. It was all set up. And I played my part well, serving you only what you were paying for. And yes, I went down on a girl before coming to you. My girlfriend…”
Eva hurled a pen holder at him. Next, she sent her computer monitor flying towards him but he dodged and released a smile as it crashed to the floor.
“You’re pissed. I understand,” he said with calm, straightening himself.
“When you are less angry, call me. And if you’re good, I might get my knees dirty and give you some brain too.”
He blew a kiss and left the office. Seething, Eva picked her phone from the table and dialed Kasi.
“I don’t care what part of Lagos you’re in; I want you in my office now!
He squeezed his lips in a silent hiss, staring at his phone. He wondered what Eva wanted from him this time. He hoped to God she wasn’t about to make one of her incessant sexual advances at him. He had done his part by sending Jordan her way to satisfy that thing she had for younger guys, and from all indication he seemed to be doing well.
Holding a job as DJ in her club was no easy feat for Kasi. Eva was demanding as a boss as he had heard, as an actress. Her emasculating and manipulative reputation was sometimes even more legendary than the awards she had won. But he wasn’t scared of her. She knew it and he used that knowledge against her always.
“Madam wants to see me,” Kasi mentioned to Lexus who was seated beside him in a movie theater, knees hoisted up with her chin resting on them. She blinked once and nodded.
“Tell her you didn’t see me.”
Kasi stood and left the theater, wondering if Lexus would be fine. She hardly cried, no matter how upset she was. After receiving a public berating and nasty tongue-lashing from her dad just outside the theater, Kasi had expected her to cave in but she sat beside him and chatted away as if nothing had happened, explaining the reason for her actions.
Naturally, her seedy boyfriend was to blame. The story went that he was in a bit of a mix, having destroyed his boss’ iPhone5. To replace it, he needed just fifty grand to add to that which he already had. Lexus offered to help but since she couldn’t come up with the cash, she decided to shoplift the phone. She had no intention of putting Genesis through any stress but a phone call from the same seedy fellow had her dashing out to meet him at the parking lot. And while they busied themselves with a steamy sex session behind his tinted glass windows, Genesis was taking the heat for her crime. Of course, Lexus didn’t explain all this to Dominic but there was no explanation she could have offered that would have sufficed.
Kasi’s phone buzzed in his pocket as he entered the club. The unmistakable ringtone he assigned for Eva (Burna Boy’s Yawa Dey) followed next but he ignored the call, braced himself and walked into her office. The minutes that followed had her screaming and threatening him with a job termination over Jordan’s infidelity. As he had often done in cases like this, Kasi remained quiet, taking it all in until she was spent. He looked up at her.
“I’m sorry, ma.”
She waved him away. He was only too happy to go, even though the emasculating words she threw at him were going to stay with him for a while. Lifting his Sony MDRV55 headphones off his neck and over his ears, he drowned out her voice in his head and the noise of the mall around him with jazz music as he headed out to meet Jordan at the parking lot to have a word with him.
He found him parked at his favorite spot, seated behind the wheels with a leg thrown out, eating a burger. They shook hands and made small talk before Kasi brought Eva into the gist.
“Mtsheeew. Abeg bone that yawa milf. She’ll come running to me tonight,” Jordan answered. He got out of his seat and opened the backdoor of the jeep where he retrieved a cold bottle of soda. As he made to close the door, Kasi’s eyes spotted a glistening gold chain that looked all too familiar to him. He held the door and poked his head in; and sure enough it was Lexus’ gold waist chain with a tiny Playboy bunny pendant attached to it. He would recognize it anywhere because it had been a present from him, having bought it for her from a friend who was desperate to part with it for a reasonable sum.
Kasi bent and picked the chain and held it up. And from nowhere Lexus appeared. She slowed in her movement as a sly smile came to her lips.
“Oh well, now you know your friend is my secret boyfriend,” she said to Kasi and came forward, misreading the burning stare he was giving Jordan.
“You found my chain. Thanks.” She freed the chain off his hand. “I’ll just leave you guys to tear at each other’s throats while I finish my movie.”
She gave Jordan a peck and went back into the mall.
“Please, abeg JD,” Kasi began, “don’t tell me this is happening. I take God beg you. Give me a better explanation.”
Jordan laughed. “Nothing to explain jare. Whether she be forty-two or twenty-five, the box still wants the D.” He gave Kasi a playful jab. “Relax. I fit handle both mother and daughter well. No be today.”
His laughter rang out like a villain’s in Kasi’s ears as he stared at him dumbstruck.
Box – vagina
D – penis