The Lady In The Yellow Dress
The reception is a blast and so is the after-party. Bobby and Kate have retired for the night and it’s just us party animals left. Actually, it’s just Shady, I and some other friends. The married men have gone home to their families. Shady is with me because he is having this major fight with his wife over dominance.
“She won’t let me just be the man in the house,” he whines for the fifth time. Like I am interested. My mind and eyes are elsewhere.
There’s a lady in a yellow dress who is seated detachedly from everything else. She has had my attention since the reception. She is light-skinned and slim. I don’t like my women with too much flesh on them. If a lady’s waist size measures more than twenty-seven inches, I’m not touching her with a ten meter pole. I don’t care who the hell she is; I just don’t do fat chicks, sorry. I want a woman I can flip all ways in bed but the thing is she has to be curvaceous as well. And that’s where the problem lies. There are very few of such girls around. They are either chubby or bony. So you see my issues? This is one of the reasons I haven’t settled down. I’m looking for a Halle Berry but all I see are Kim Kardashians and Beyoncés.
On the other hand, this lady in the yellow dress… she has caught my eyes bad. I can see the thigh gap and the curves and the waist so slim. Then she tops it up with a feisty look. I so want to eat her up. But not just because she looks good. You see, I have a thing for ladies in yellow dresses. It started five years ago when I got hit by a truck while parked by the side of a lonely road, making out with my ex-fiancée. The crash put me in the hospital for months and I wasn’t expected to survive. But one evening, stoned out of my senses by pain medication, I watched this beautiful yellow dress float into my room. The legs beneath it were smooth and creamy. I tried to look up to see who it was but my neck was broken, so instead I breathed in the scent of her and left it stamped in my memory. She came closer and held my hand and prayed for me. Her touch was gentle and soothing and I didn’t want to let go. Her voice, although unclear in my head, lulled me to sleep with ‘amen’ being the last thing on my lips. I dreamt about her that night. She was walking down an aisle arched with white blossoms, wearing a wedding dress and holding a bouquet of yellow flowers. She was coming towards me, my bride. And her smile, it was the best part of the dream. It was so familiar that I could have sworn I had seen it before.
I woke up the next morning, miraculously improved. A week later I was taken home. The lady in yellow, still a mystery till today. Nobody had seen her come in or leave. Nobody knew her. Some say she’s an angel but I know she was as real as day, and I have been searching for her since.
Could she be the one seated across the room right now?
“Look, Shady, you knew who Celia was before you married her. You met her campaigning against female genital mutilation, for Christ’s sakes. She’s a feminist.”
Shady’s eyes shoot out. “No, she’s not.”
I’m impatient with this idiot. After three years of marriage and a kid he doesn’t still see the testicles under his wife’s privates?
“See, it’s simple. She doesn’t have to wash your clothes.”
Shady is stunned by my words. His long facial features somehow have come together in a round knot. It’s not a pleasant sight.
“Buy a washing machine and during the weekend, both of you can do the laundry together. You don’t expect a working mother, with all the load she has at work and at home to still do your laundry, in addition to cooking and sex.”
“Whose side are you on?”
“Who was washing your clothes before you got married?”
It is this side of me my friends don’t like. I don’t give a shit.
I rise up and straighten my shirt.
“Where you dey go?”
I don’t reply. I head straight for the woman who has kept me distracted all evening. As I approach her, I realize she is more beautiful when you get closer. She is seated at a table, all alone, sipping on wine and watching the partying throng with no real interest. I pick the only other seat at the table and she gives me a good look. I catch her eyes and hold it in an audacious stare and for some reason she can’t seem to break away.
“The look in your eyes tells me you don’t want to sleep alone tonight.”
This is the worst pickup line in my list of pickup lines but it works all the time, except that one time when I got punched in the face.
“Wow. I can’t believe someone as put-together as you can open your mouth and such trash comes out.”
I smile. Lady in yellow doesn’t. I want her to.
“Forgive my manners. I think in trash and sometimes things get lost in translation when I try to convert to English. What I wanted to actually say was ‘of all the yellow dresses I’ve seen today, yours is by far the most complimenting’.”
I see a smile well-hidden. “Thank you.”
“Friend of the bride or groom?”
“Bride. An old friend.”
I let out my hand for a shake. “I’m Jide.”
“So Tola,” my eyes sweep across the room and back to her, “you want to dance?”
She shakes her head. “Not to this…whatever is playing. I’m too old to shake my booty. Besides, the groom did enough of that already.”
I laugh. “So you like old school. Well, I have all the old school songs you can ever think of in my phone.”
“Then let’s pass it on to the DJ and change the mood.”
I grin and get to my feet, walking all the way to the DJ’s booth. He agrees to change the music for a small fee. I pay smaller and head back to my table. Before I get there, the music dies. The crowd is not so pleased but the moment Whitney Houston blasts through the air with I Wanna Dance With Somebody, the mood is restored and my partner for the night gets to her feet.
Yet she doesn’t smile. I’m desperate to see her thirty-two but she won’t even flash a rabbit grin. We dance, nonetheless, the dancefloor getting smaller by the minute. And oh boy, can she burst some moves. She’s all over me, I’m all over her. I catch Shady’s eyes from across the room and he gives me the “go get a room” look. I reply in our non-verbal language to book one at the hotel’s reception for me. He disappears shortly and returns. He brushes past me on the dancefloor and slips the room key into my back pocket and calls it a night. While he does this, I don’t break my contact with Tola. She’s pressed into me now and I hold her from behind. We’re dancing to Next’s Too Close. Things are heating up really fast. I hear a warning voice telling me to stop but I damn well ignore it.
You’re breaking your vow already, the voice reminds me. I pretend not to hear. I had actually made a vow to be celibate until I find the lady in yellow or my ex-fiancée who has mysteriously disappeared. One of them is my wife and I’m supposed to keep my body for her. But here I am, already out of control with this total stranger.
“Let’s go somewhere else,” Tola tells me. I gladly oblige and take her straight to the room booked for us. The moment we get in, we tear at each other like raging lions. I find out dancing is not her only skill as she takes me and makes me feel like an apprentice in the game of lust. Afterwards, we both lie in bed facing each other, and I kiss her fingers one by one and tell her she has the hands of a surgeon.
She smiles. Finally!
But I am let down. She’s just another stranger in a yellow dress, not my lady in yellow.
I see her drift off and turn on my back and face the ceiling above. I’m weighed with guilt, having been here countless times before. I would then turn to God for forgiveness and live a chaste life for a week or so but before long I’m here again. Isn’t this the reason why I came back home to start afresh? Why did I let the Bridemaker curse come with me?
My mom believes my case is spiritual. She always does well to remind me about my accident and how I was wheeled into the emergency room almost lifeless but with my pants down. If that can’t change me, she can’t see what else can. My dad thinks there’s just something off about me, that I shouldn’t even have been born into this world entirely. Me, I don’t know what to think anymore. I’m sure God is tired of me. What explanation would I give him this time for having carnal knowledge of a woman I barely know?
I shut my eyes and try to sleep. I can’t. As much as I feel this heavy guilt weighing upon me, I can’t help but want more of Tola who has now cuddled up to me.
I cover my face with a pillow and groan my dilemma into it before I face her and take her lips. She responds with a sleepy moan but doesn’t stop me when I settle between her legs.
My prayer to God can wait. I reach for a condom. This urge is strong; it can’t wait.
∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞
I wake up late, so says the clock on my Samsung S3 Mini. Not good.
Tola is gone. She has left no trace of her presence. Even her side of the bed is erased of all evidence of her being there. Talk about the 21st century woman. They no longer want to cuddle after sex or have you whisper sweet nothings to them. They sleep off immediately after the act and are out of door faster than you can blink, and if they stay back, it’s to take after-sex selfies to show the world how much they can enjoy hollow sex like the men do.
Shady pings me. He tells me I got him laid last night. I ask how. He relates how he threw in the idea of a washing machine to Celia and them doing the laundry together. Her response was to strip him naked to do things to him she hadn’t done in a while. He goes on to describe it all in detail. I read none of it.
I hurriedly take a shower. I need to go to church and wash off this guilt I’m feeling. I also need to sow a seed of faith, believing God to deliver me from this flesh of sin.
I reach for my wallet in one of the pockets of my suit but find it empty. I tap the other pockets and they’re empty as well. That’s odd.
I check my pants. Nothing. I lift the pillows and sheets; check the dressing table, the nightstand, the floor, wardrobe and bathroom but it’s nowhere to be found. A growing dread begins to fill me as I realize that my iPhone 6 is also missing.
“Please, God, no…”
I go on all fours to peer under the bed. I find nothing there as well. I’m so dead. Even my Hublot white gold wristwatch is gone! “Arghhh!” I am mad at myself. I call reception and inquire about Tola. They say she left around 6am. Did she drop anything for me? No, they reply.
I end the call and scratch my head in frustration when I recall how stupidly I fell prey to her thieving fingers. I knew there was something peculiar about them. Chai! What have I done? I should have just said that prayer yesterday.
I fall back on the bed and start to think of how I’ll get myself out of this mess but my phone rings, interrupting me. I stare at a stranger number on my screen and hope to God it is Tola. I take the call.
It is her. I sit up.
“Tola!” I can’t control my anger.
“Tola, get back here right now with my phone, wristwatch and wallet. Like, I’m not even joking with you! How do you have sex with a guy and then steal from him?! What are you? One of those cheap prostitutes off the streets?”
“That’s not nice.” She sounds calm. I’m miffed beyond words.
“Return my stuff right now!”
“Calm down, Jideofor. I took those things for a reason.”
“What possible reason could there be except that you’re a thief?!”
“If I was a thief would I be calling you? Relax and listen to me.”
“Aren’t you called the Bridemaker?”
Something awful dings somewhere in my head. How the hell did this madness follow me all the way here?
“What are you talking about?”
“You know what I’m talking about Jideofor. You sleep with a girl and then bam! like magic, she gets married. I’m too smart to believe rubbish like this but my grandmother always warns me about Nigerian voodoo and its power, so I thought I’d give it a try.”
I’m beginning to realize Tola’s strange accent. She doesn’t sound like she’s from these parts. Who the hell is she and what does she want from me?
“Not that I’m totally relying on it. And that’s why I took your phone, wallet and wristwatch, plus the six hundred dollars I found in your pocket. I’ll give them to you when my fiancé of two years finally fixes a date for our wedding.”
I feel like slapping a bitch when I hear those words.
“What is my business with you and your man and when he decides to fix a wedding date?! What has that got to do with me?!”
Tola laughs. “Everything, Jideofor. Everything. Blood runs thicker than water, they say. My fiancé is Emeka, your baby brother.”
I almost drop the phone to the floor. “What?” I ask in a whisper because my voice bails out on me. This is a nightmare. I didn’t just hear the words I just heard.
“Mex is my fiancé. You ought to know this, Jideofor, if you read all those emails we sent to you when you went AWOL.”
I close my eyes and bend my head. I had read none of Emeka’s emails. I had dumped them in a junk folder with all the other emails sent to me by family and friends.
“We sent pictures of our lives because Emeka thought the world of you and was worried about you. When we moved to Arizona and he had a heatstroke because of the weather, I emailed you pictures of him in the hospital.”
My closest brother was hospitalized? Why didn’t anyone tell me?
“When we moved back to Queens, he emailed you more pictures. Even when he proposed to me but you never replied. After a while, all the emails returned to us. We were told that the address no longer existed. Oh well, that’s all water under bridge. Mex just has to get married to me. Tell him that.”
“What type of woman are you, Tola? How can you sleep with your fiancé’s brother?”
“You didn’t seem to have any issues with that last night.”
“I didn’t know who you were!”
“Well, now you do and there’s only one thing we can do about it. Make your magic happen.”
“I can’t. I will never allow a girl like you get married to my brother…”
“Oh, you will.”
“You will, Jide, because I’m five weeks pregnant for Mex. He’ll either take responsibility or you do. All the same, I’m keeping your stuff as proof that you slept with me if you ever deny it.”
A shiver runs through my spine. The line disconnects and I’m left staring at the phone with my mouth wide open.
Lord, why me? Who have I wronged in this life to deserve this?