The mermaid, the whale,
My hat falls into the sea.
I caress the mermaid,
My hat falls into the sea.
I lie down with the mermaid,
My heart falls into the sea.
–Haitian Vodou Chant
She returned home alone. Kasi had chosen to remain at the club until the sun came up. She met the house in silence as expected. The power was out but the weather was breezy.
She stripped out of her clothes, had a warm shower and afterwards, spread a mat over her floor to commence on a ritual she had not done in a while. It went on for almost an hour and towards the end the power came back. Music from the television in the sitting room interrupted her quiet moment and she hurried out to turn it off but met Lexus spread out on one of the couches. An unflattering pair of sunglasses was over her eyes.
Pushing aside the beef between them, Genesis stood before her and looked closely into her face.
Lexus didn’t make a sound. Genesis pulled the center table and rested her bum on it.
“What do you care?”
“I don’t care, actually. I’m just a nosy person. Plus, I have the ability to sense people’s problems and to make them feel better.”
“Then go and be a pastor or a nurse or something and leave me the heck alone,” Lexus muttered in a dawdling tone.
“You don’t like talking about your dad, do you?”
“None of your business.”
“So it’s daddy issues then. Kasi told me you went to see him yesterday evening…”
Lexus took off her glasses. “You’re really nosy and irritating.”
Genesis smiled. “Come on, let’s talk about your dad.”
She took Lexus’ hand, ignoring her moans to be left alone, and sat her up. She occupied the space beside her, forcing Lexus to shift away.
“Met your dad up close only once,” Genesis said, “and oh my, is he hot!”
“Eww!” Lexus made a face. She took off her glasses and wiped clean her tears.
“If he walks up to me and asks me out, I will not think twice.”
“Well, dream on. One ugly-ass bitch is getting married to him. Okay, she’s not so ugly but she’s not all that. I can’t believe after dating all the fine women in Lagos, he settled for her. And she has this smug look on her face like she owns him already. Like, who the hell is she?”
“Is he sleeping with her?”
“I hope not, because if any child comes out from that woman I’m not accepting it as a sibling! Never! She’s just an opportunist. Gold-digging bitch!”
Genesis watched as Lexus scratched her hair and tried to stop a fresh bout of tears.
“Are you okay?” she whispered. Lexus nodded but broke out in tears. Her tomboy persona came to nothing and a little girl longing for attention emerged.
“You are such a baby but you like to put up this tough front.”
Genesis held her in a comforting embrace.
“This doesn’t happen,” Lexus whined. “I don’t cry.”
“I know. I know. Just let it out.”
And Lexus did. She sobbed and spoke about Dominic, revealing information to Genesis only family members were privy to. Genesis absorbed it all—the good, the bad and the downright nasty. After Lexus was done, she walked into the kitchen and fixed them both two Highballs.
At her first sip, Lexus closed her sore eyes and managed a smile.
“Ginger ale and whiskey.”
They chatted some more about other random things. The clock struck six a while later and Genesis took it as her cue to turn in. She entered her room and turned off the scented candles and went straight to bed. She was awoken an hour and a half later by her ringing phone. Through half-opened eyelids, she answered the caller.
“I just got a call from your last client. She is so pleased with you. It seems you’ve done it again.”
“It seems I have.”
“You never disappoint.”
Genesis yawned. Of course, she never did. Her success rate was a hundred percent.
“We have to move on to Ditorusin immediately. The price over his head has been doubled. We have a second client requesting we handle him. This one has business motives. He is willing to pay anything.”
Genesis rubbed her eyes.
“I will do as you request, mother.”
Her ‘mother’ gave supplementary instructions and hung up. Genesis shut down her phone afterwards, turned on the air conditioner and was about to drift off into slumber again but her door was flung open rudely.
She sat up in annoyance.
“Morning Genesis!” Eva poked in her head. “Brief meeting in the parlor now!”
Genesis cussed and followed her out. Kasi was home and he was seated with Wura. Ehi was at the dining area having an early breakfast. Lexus was absent.
Genesis settled beside Kasi and they all turned to Eva who remained standing, leaning over on a couch.
“I’ve got bad news,” she announced. “Novocaine is shutting down.”
“What?” Wura murmured.
“Unfortunately,” Eva continued, “due to some management issues, it won’t be functional anymore but don’t worry, guys. I’ll be expanding my bar on the mainland and I’d love for y’all to work there.”
“Ma, I’m a DJ,” Kasi objected. “Working in a bar is not really part of my job description.”
“Oh, don’t worry, Kasiobi. I’ll hook you up with gigs as I used to do. I’m also going into events planning fully. Wura, this is where I want you to join in. I’ll make you my personal assistant. You’ll do all the running around for the events. Beats sitting behind a computer monitor in a shopping mart, doesn’t it?”
Wura grinned. “Yes, ma.”
“Good. As long as you guys work for me, ya’ll still gonna get accommodation here for free. But you, Ehizogie…” Eva turned to Ehi. “I’m afraid, sweetheart, that I’ll have to ask you to leave. Go and settle your issues with your folks or just stay back here and let me hire you. I’ve been too generous with you but it has to end this year. No more freebies.”
Ehi nodded. Eva stared at her wristwatch and sighed. “I gotta run! Don’t bother showing up at Novocaine tonight. It will be closed.”
She left the house and left them in silence. It was Kasi who spoke first.
“Wow. What just happened? Novo is shutting down?”
“Management problems?” Wura looked confused. “Was there any fight between madam and the mall’s management?”
“None that I know of,” Kasi replied.
“Something doesn’t just feel right,” Genesis said and they went silent again.
Lexus stepped out of her bedroom, puffy-eyed and still sleepy.
“I heard madam’s voice. Where’s she?”
“She just left,” Kasi replied. “She came to tell us Novo is shutting down.”
Lexus stretched, scratched and yawned. “What?”
“That’s what she said.”
Lexus hissed. “Don’t mind her jor. She had a row with my dad and he fired her from Novo.”
“Are you serious?” Wura asked. “Madam doesn’t own Novo?”
“Wow.” Kasi laughed.
“I’m guessing she wants to steal you guys from there and make you work in her dead bar.”
“How did you know?”
Lexus rolled her eyes. “Hello! She’s my mom and I know what she can do. My advice to you guys is that you stick with Novo. New management is coming in.”
“But we’ll lose our accommodation.” Wura pointed out.
“She threatened you with that, huh?” Lexus shook her head. “Bitch.”
Kasi stood up. “As for me, it’s Novo or nothing else. No offense but I can’t work with madam anymore. This, for me, is good news. God knows I’ve been looking for a way out…”
His voice lowered as his eyes fell on Ehi whose head was buried in a paper towel. He walked to her and noticed she was crying.
“Wifey, what’s wrong? Why are you crying?”
His question seemed to push her deeper into tears.
“It’s because of what madam said na,” Wura replied. “It’s so unfair. Ehi has nowhere to go.”
“But don’t her parents live here in Lagos?” Genesis asked.
“Yes, but they were the ones that kicked her out.”
“Long story. Arranged marriage things. The guy is old. Almost her father’s age. Because she refused, they kicked her out.”
“Aww. You poor thing,” Genesis cooed as they all swarmed around Ehi.
“Madam promised me I could stay as long as I wanted…” Ehi sobbed.
“Don’t worry; we’ll figure something out,” Kasi assured as he wrapped his arms around her. The others cheered her up and in no time she was dry-eyed and laughing. With the mood lightened, they began to diss Eva’s acting skills. They spared her no ill-comments. Kasi’s one-liners were the most hilarious and had all of them in fits.
Genesis excused herself from the table at the peak of their gist, telling them she had somewhere to be. Spending almost two hours in her bedroom, she bathed, dressed and made herself up. When she emerged, she was hardly recognizable.
“Na wa o!” Wura exclaimed. “Where to?”
“Job interview,” Genesis smiled. “Wish me luck.”
“I’ll wish you God’s favor. You’ll get the job.”
“Amen.” Genesis laughed as she saw Lexus wave a hand before Kasi’s face to break his fixed stare on her. He smacked her hand away.
“Jene, can I get a hug, at least?” he almost pleaded but she laughed some more and headed out, hearing Lexus say something about being sorry for the man who would interview her.
Dominic was finding it difficult accepting Mofe’s explanations as to why she had to travel all the way to Abuja to fix a client’s fleet of cars.
“He won’t let anyone else touch them,” she reiterated to Dominic for the third time. “He picks one and uses it until it breaks down and he does so with the rest until he is down to his last car and then he calls me to fix them all for him.”
“When you get there where will you be staying?”
“He always puts me up in a hotel until I’m done with the work. Stop being jealous Nick.” Mofe stood from her chair, crossed Dominic’s table and stood before him.
His eyes traveled down her body and up and down again. “You know you could have worn something less tight, right?”
Eyimofe muffled laughter. She could tell he was serious with the way his eyes disapproved of the fitted pair of jeans that brought out the curve of her full bum and hips. But she wasn’t bothered. They were her best assets and she loved to show them off. Coming up close and personal with Eva for the first time, she realized cameras had never done justice to her beauty. Eva was one of those women blessed with everything a man wanted and Mofe, considering herself a wise woman, decided it was time she turned up her sexiness. If Dominic was once attracted to someone like Eva, it meant it could still happen again and she was going to do her best to distract him.
“I like you the way you are, Mofe.” He took her hand and caressed it. “No more tight stuff, okay?”
“You want me dressing plain and yet you’re surrounded by sexy women.”
“I have eyes for only you.”
He stood up. She had a feeling he was going to place a peck on her cheeks, so she moved away. It had become his habit of late.
“I’ll miss my flight.”
“Can I escort you to the airport?”
“The chauffer will take you.” He walked her to the door and opened it. “Be safe.”
She winked at him and left. Out in the secretary’s office, she found a woman waiting to see him. She could detect the sheer sexual force she exuded. Mofe felt her skin rise as she walked by. Something didn’t feel right about her.
Hidden behind his reading glasses, Dominic bent his head over the CV in his hand. It was all he could do to stop from staring at the woman sitting in front of him like an idiot.
“Weren’t you the one Woyintonbra… sorry, I mean, the one Lexus put in trouble with the iPhone?”
“So how come you have this type of work experience and you chose instead to be a bartender?”
“It was all I could find to do at the moment, sir.”
Dominic put the CV away but left his reading glasses on. “Tell me more about yourself.”
Genesis sat up, straightening out her blouse, and the result was a jiggling of her generously exposed cleavage. Dominic’s eyes didn’t miss the display.
“I have managed two nightclubs successfully and even a hotel. Hospitality business is my forte. I started as concierge, then marketer and front desk manager… I did all that.”
“And now, you want to become Novocaine’s new manager. What makes you think you’re the one for the job?”
Genesis smiled, her dimple catching his eyes. “Because I am. Apart from my vast experience, I have what I believe is called good luck charm.”
Dominic leaned back and scratched his chin with a pinky. “I’m listening.”
“Everything I touch turns to gold. If you let me handle your business, you’ll never know what hit you.”
Dominic was impressed by her confidence and the way her eyes looked straight into his as she spoke. However, something else was pulling him to her. And it wasn’t just her looks. No doubt, she was a gorgeous woman with round, mesmerizing eyes, a pointed nose, puckered lips, and the most toned plus-size body he had ever seen… She oozed of pure sensuality. But there was a mysterious aura she possessed that made him ill at ease.
“The new manager will be coming in next week,” he told her. “Before he does, we’ll give you a try and see what you can do. Let’s see if you have that Midas touch you’re bragging about.”
“You won’t be disappointed, Mr. Dominic. Thank you, sir.”
“You can leave. I have a meeting now.” His manner was flippant as he picked his phone and gave it his concentration. He heard her mumble something and he nodded. The moment she shut the door, he put his phone away and rested his eyes on the embarrassing bulge pushing through his pants.
“Down, boy. We are not hitting that.”
She didn’t have female friends for the clear reason that she was more male than female in nature. Although, behind closed doors with her boyfriend, she was mostly feminine and would always let her guard down. Outside, she was your average tomboy and couldn’t stand the fact that a good number of girls only talked about boys and shopping and how to get boys to give them money to go shopping. On the off chance that she kept a female friend, it was for the sole purpose of having some form of balance in her life.
Toyin was that balance. She was girly, a party animal and a gossip blogger. In fact, the gist about Jordan, Eva and Lexus had come from her blog but she had sworn to Lexus that it was her colleague that ran the story; not her. Lexus didn’t believe her but the episode didn’t ruin their friendship. Toyin still called her every other day to fill her ears with one latest gist or the other and would always use the opportunity to convince Lexus for a girls’ hangout with her.
Mondays were basically free days for Novocaine staff and following Eva’s instructions, none of them had bothered to leave the house. Wura, of course, had gone to work. Kasi and Ehi were in the sitting room in a heated karaoke competition. Genesis was in her bedroom. Lexus was also in hers, the door locked behind her, the AC turned up and the room covered in smoke as she went for her second wrap of marijuana for the evening. An occasional smoker, she only sought the help of weed whenever she got uncontrollably angry. Prior to getting herself high, she had received a call from Toyin who claimed she saw Jordan with a girl at a popular lounge bar not far from his house. Lexus went mad. Somehow her patience with him had run thin. It was time to ditch him for good.
“Aren’t you going to come and confront him?” Toyin had asked her.
“Yes I am.” Lexus voice was barely audible. The anger burning in her made it hard for her to speak. She hardly ever was that mad. She had taken the weed to calm down but after going through a whole wrap, she still hadn’t quieted down. Now halfway into the second one, she knew it was no use fighting her emotions. She dressed into a pair of jeans and a t-shirt and walked out of her bedroom with the weed still burning between her lips.
Kasi and Ehi stopped what they were doing and both stared at her as she left the house without a word to them. Kasi went after her, following her to their neighbor’s where she went to borrow one of their cars.
“Where are you going?” he asked.
“You want to join me?” She opened the door to the driver’s side of a sleek jeep and went behind the wheels.
“Lexus, I hope you’re not going to beat some helpless girl because of JD o.”
“Come, let’s go.”
Kasi didn’t hesitate to get into the passenger side beside her. When the car revved up, he took the weed from her and flung it outside.
He was disgusted at Jordan. It was apparent his friend’s recklessness with females had gotten beyond control. Out in the open, in a popular lounge bar where he could be easily spotted, he was neck deep into PDA with a girl, not caring that they had audience around them. Kasi had a strong urge to walk to him and give him a piece of his mind but he felt it was not his business yet. He was more worried about Lexus who was taking in the whole scene, chewing her fingernails in clear aggravation.
“I’m going to kill him,” she said with calm.
“He’s not worth it. Let’s just go home.”
She turned to him. “Does this face look like it wants to turn away and go home?”
“Lex, whatever you’re planning, don’t do it. Let’s go home. I know you’ve been upset since you got back from your dad’s yesterday and coming to see this only heightens things but please, don’t go there and cause a scene…”
He could have as well been speaking to a brick wall, for she unclipped her seatbelt while he was yet speaking, got out of the jeep and slammed the door hard. The bar was across the street and she walked to it in quick steps. Kasi also got out but he kept his distance, leaning on the vehicle to have good view of what would develop.
Lexus approached Jordan in full rage, and before he could gather his wits, she picked a beer bottle off a table and shattered on him. Luckily, his hand got in the way and she missed his head. But she didn’t miss her second assault as she sent a kick into his mid-section, throwing him off his chair.
Kasi felt it was time he intervened. He crossed the street and arrived at the scene to find her, raining Jordan incessant punches, her legs locked around him as he lay bleeding on the ground. A small group of people had gathered but no one seemed to want to stop her. Kasi grabbed and locked her in his arms tightly, pulling her away and refusing to let go as she kicked and struggled to be free of him.
Jordan sprang up from the ground and charged towards them both but Kasi pushed Lexus away and received a fist in his face that temporarily dazed him. It took him only a couple of seconds to recover but before he did, Jordan had already thrown a second fist at Lexus. He caught her on her temple and the force had her staggering. When she hit the ground, she went out cold instantly.
Kasi didn’t notice this. Blinded by anger, he advanced towards Jordan but someone came in-between them and directed his attention to Lexus. He gave her a glance and turned back to Jordan.
“If anything do her, I swear, I go kill you! In short, just go find where you wan hide cos your own don be!”
He crouched over Lexus and with a couple of people, tried to revive her. But she remained unresponsive.
“Take her to the hospital,” someone ordered. Kasi lifted her in his arms and hurried back across the street to the jeep. He placed her in the backseat and drove to the nearest hospital.
He was the last to get the news. He arrived at the hospital an hour after the incident. Eva was already there, alongside Lexus’ housemates, all of them waiting for the doctors.
“Kasiobi, what happened?” Dominic demanded. Kasi asked for privacy and they withdrew to a corner, out of earshot. He explained all that transpired between Lexus, himself and Jordan.
“Give me this boy’s home address.”
Kasi mumbled out details of Jordan’s residence and went back to his waiting chair. Dominic made a phone call to a man who often handled clandestine business for him. He left instructions on what should be done to Jordan and went back to wait for the doctors.
Eva was shaken but he felt no need to comfort her. Genesis was doing that already, seated beside her with soothing arms around her. Once in a while she sent him comforting stares as well but he would look away and fix his concentration elsewhere. Even with the circumstances surrounding them, he felt a pull towards her that was overwhelming.
A doctor approached them and Dominic and Eva stood.
“You’re the parents?” They both nodded. “She’s fine.”
Eva released a sigh and almost held Dominic but she caught herself in time.
“At first, we were worried that it was something serious but a scan revealed she was fine. It was just a mild injury in the brain but she’s okay now. She’ll remain here for a day at least, for further observation.”
“Thank you, doctor.” Eva smiled. “Can we go and see her now?”
“Uhm… she specifically said she only wants to see the guy that brought her in.”
“Oh.” Eva’s smile turned sad. She turned to Kasi. “Lexus asks for you.”
“Thank you, Doctor.” Dominic turned away. He didn’t want to allow the disappointment jerking at him to take over completely. He told himself it was understandable that Lexus didn’t want to see him. He took it like a man and walked out of the hospital.
He turned and saw Genesis hurrying towards him.
“Sorry for bugging you, sir but please, I need a ride…”
“I’m actually going back to the mall. I have some paperwork waiting at the office.”
“Oh, that’s better, because I’m headed there too.”
“By this time?” he asked, edging towards his car.
“I left some important stuff at Novo and I want to go get them.”
“Oh.” He unlocked his car key and got in. She came in after him and began to fumble with the seatbelt.
“Let me…” he stretched across and strapped her in quite easily, making sure to avoid any form of contact with her body. She rewarded him with a dimpled smile.
“Don’t you know anything about seatbelts?” he asked.
“I do. I’m just… it’s… I’m sorry…”
“Are you okay?”
“Yes, yes I’m fine. It’s just that the whole Lexus incident is bringing back memories of my late sister. The last time I was in a hospital I was waiting just like we were waiting a few minutes ago, only for the doctor to come out and tell me my sister was dead.”
“Oh. Sorry to hear that. My condolences.”
Genesis nodded, dabbing her eyes. Dominic felt awkward. He didn’t know if he was to say anything further. He thought about it but changed his mind and fired up the engine. He drove out of the hospital grounds and hit the streets.
Calm yellow street lights shone above them and spread a soft glow over Genesis’ flushed skin. Dominic fought hard not to look but he couldn’t help but cast a glance or two. Her eyes were closed, puckered lips enduring the caress of her teeth as she bit into them gently.
The aura he had felt from her in his office earlier consumed him again but this time it was stronger. She opened her eyes. He looked away and straightened his posture.
Behave boy, he cautioned his growing boner, I told you it’s never going to happen.
But somewhere in his head, something told him he was lying to himself.
 PDA – Public Display of Affection