It promised to be a long night for Olivier. As soon as she entered the pungent smelling ill-furnished room, her HIV-infested friend pushed her to the mattress and began to fumble for something in the corner, using his cigarette lighter. Oh my God, he is going to rape me, Olivier thought; he is going to infect me with aids!

But her new friend brought out a mat and spread it on the cracked floor. ‘Good night,’ he said.

Olivier heaved a sigh of relieve. He didn’t rape me at last! ‘Thank you,’ she said aloud.

‘Thank you for what?’ he inquired in a tired voice.

For not raping me, Olivier said in her mind. Aloud, she said nothing. She didn’t have answers to this. An awkward silent ensued, a silent that haunted Olivier like an unseen ghost. She sighed and suddenly felt a desperate need to break the silence. For a moment she didn’t know what to say, then she realised that her friend hadn’t told her his name. ‘Oga, what is your name?’ But her new friend was already snoring.

#                           #

Taju didn’t retire to bed. Olivier occupied his mind and kept sleep a thousand miles away. How would he go to sleep when there was a ‘dish’ around? He couldn’t see why he would give up such succulent beauty. That girl couldn’t be HIV positive! He wasn’t convinced. Ahmed too wasn’t convinced; he was just clever, cunning. Now, Ahmed had taken the ‘dish’ just for himself! He wouldn’t let that happen. He, Tajudeen Abdulmalik Taiwo, son of Alhaja Iyabeji Taiwo and retired Major Alao Taiwo, must get his own share. Since Sunny wasn’t interested, he would go to Suleimon. Suleimon was the biggest thug around and could force Ahmed to release Olivier for boys to have fun jare!

#                           #

Olivier refused to yield to the natural call to slumber. On the floor, Ahmed was snoring, like a giant pig in dense standing water. But Olivier wasn’t convinced. She couldn’t trust him, no; he would make conjugal passes at her, at his own expediency. Some men were like that, like hyena, they would befriend you, wait for you to relax your guard, to sleep, then they would attack you in your unconsciousness. No, she wouldn’t sleep; she would stay guard and defend herself if need arose.

Ahmed continued to snore.

Oliver continued to battle sleep. An uneven battle it was. She wasn’t experienced and having trekked the whole of Lagos in the day, sleep now rushed at her like imprisoned whirl-wind suddenly let off, forcing her to the road of oblivion. It was only the fear of being raped (and by an HIV patient) that kept her awake. And for a couple of moments Olivier’s Fear and Sleep fought. But even Fear was no match to the deceitful determinations of Sleep. Olivier felt that in consolation to being awake, she could at least rest her back on the foam, her head on the pillow and close her eyes a little. She was been lured home by Sleep and not even Fear could warn her.

#                           #

Suleimon swore to beat the hell out of the person who had disturbed his sleep if the cause of waking him at one-thirty am was deficient.

‘Who de knock for my door?’ he shouted with passionate displeasure.

‘Na me,’ came Taju’s timid voice.

‘Call your name, idiot. ‘‘Na me’’ be your name?’

But Suleimon ceased been rude when he learnt that a ‘shoddy’ was in this compound and that Ahmed had monopolised her. His manhood solidified and his temper quickened.

‘You mean say shoddy dey dis compound and Ahmed carry her for hisself?’

‘Yes.’ But Taju refused to mention that the girl in question claimed to be HIV positive and that Sunny and Ahmed seemed to believe her. No, he didn’t tell Suleimon that; that would spoil his impeccable case. He only summed that they found a girl in their door-mouth and ‘Ahmed wan use her alone’.

‘Let’s go to Ahmed’s room,’ Suleimon declared with the righteousness of a liberal criminal. ‘If Ahmed try rubbish with me, I go beat am well well!’

#                           #

‘Please don’t. No, no, no, no.’ Olivier waved awake, saying.

‘What is it?’ Ahmed asked her.

So it was just a dream, Olivier thought. Oh God, she had dreamed that twenty HIV carriers had overpowered her, tired her on the bed and took turns on her. Oh, so it was just a dream…

‘What is it?’ Ahmed asked again.


‘You shout for dream and you say ‘‘nothing’’?’

Olivier kept quiet.

‘Are you possessed?’


‘Then allow me some sleep, ahh!’ And Ahmed resumed his noisy slumber.

Olivier vowed never to slip into sleep again.

#                           #

Suleimon and Taju came to a stop at Ahmed’s door. Suleimon banged twice at the door.

‘Wait,’ Taju tapped him on the shoulder.

‘What?’ Suleimon demended. He hated being interrupted in the line of duty.

‘Make we first arrange for condom,’ Taju said.

‘For what, you no fit use girl skin to skin?’

‘E good make we arrange condom.’ Although Taju was sure Olivier’s claim to HIV was ‘scam’, he didn’t want to take chances. There was that one per cent possibility that Olivier had the virus, and he wouldn’t take that risk, not even if Olivier was Genevieve.

‘I go go sharply organise condom,’ Taju pushed.

‘Where you go get am? all stores don close,’ Suleimon rasped.

‘I go wake Sylvester up, or even Okoro; dey de always get condom for room.’

‘Oya now, rush, I de wait for ma room.’

#                           #

Olivier had heard the bang on the door and so she had rushed to the door where she placed her ears to the frame and snooped. Her heart did a violent jump when she heard there whispering. She couldn’t understand what they were saying but she heard the word ‘condom’ and she thought she would have a cardiac arrest. God, no!

Olivier woke Ahmed up. ‘Na wetin now,’ he was thoroughly annoyed.

‘Some men outside, t-they w-want to rape mee!’

Ahmed nearly hit her.

‘Girl, you get malaria?’

‘I am sure of what I heard!’

‘So? Abegi, leave me jor. If you no wan sleep, you fit carry yourself to the veranda.’

Olivier didn’t know what to do. Then she heard Ahmed snoring. Again, she woke him up.

‘Girl, they send you make you harass me?’

‘Did they curse you with sleep?’ Olivier shouted. ‘Every minute you are snoring, why now!’

‘What do you want?’

Olivier had made up her mind to defend herself. ‘Knife.’

‘What do you need knife for?’

‘I want to defend myself,’ Olivier said with the cold-bloodness she didn’t know she was capable of.

‘And I need light.’

When a witch wanted something, she wouldn’t rest till she had it. So Ahmed switched on his rechargeable lamp and handed Olivier a pen-knife. ‘Girl, if you disturb my sleep again, walahi I will chop your head off!’

Olivier put the knife by her side and sat, thinking. The knife, she knew had only made her feel better but didn’t give her any real courage to face the uncertain night. If only she had a gun! She waited a little then decided she wouldn’t stay, she would run away. She couldn’t sit here all night, akimbo, while men planned to attack her. She knew they were gone. They must have gone to bring something, condom perhaps, and she felt this respite was the best opportunity for her to bolt.

She rose to her feet carried the light and knife to the door; silently, she unbolted the door and opened it. Her light fell on the heavily-bearded face of a tall, enormous man whose size almost filled the doorway; behind this gorilla was an eager Taju, a packet of Gold Circle in his hand.

To be continued…
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