OLIVIER TWIST (EPISODE FOURTEEN)

(This is for my #1 Fan, Sencen whose birthday was Yesterday’s Yesterday. Cheers from Hard Voices, Beads of Love from Nigeria)

Humphrey slapped Olivier’s photo on the counter.

‘Do you know this girl?’

The cashier shook her head. ‘Never seen her before.’

‘Think again, this girl was here on Wednesday with another guy and they bought a lot here… Do you remember?’

The cashier studied the picture of Olivier some more and looked up. ‘What is wrong with her? Are you from the police?’

He smirked. ‘Worse than the police,’ he said. He spread his arms and she caught her breathe at the sight of the pistol head in his jacket inner pocket. The introduction made he asked, ‘Where does she live?’

Her eyes doubled in size with terror as her bladder filled up. ‘I don’t know, I swear. I have never seen her before that day…’

‘Think!’

She was on the verge of tears. ‘I don’t know where she lives!’

‘Then find out.’ He looked at his wrist. Three o’clock. ‘I will be back eight a.m. on the dot tomorrow. You will get me her address, right?’ The cashier opened her mouth but he was still talking. ‘If I don’t get her address, I will take it that you are against our course. I will have one of my boys throw acid on your pretty face.’

He appeared to be bluffing but he was so cold and the red spots of light in his eyes were so real and they thoroughly unnerved her.

He wasn’t done. ‘If you wish you may call the police, then we will track you forever. Even if you hide in Army Headquarters, we will catch you and butcher you into pieces then set you on fire. If…’

‘I will find the address!’

‘We have a deal then,’ Humphrey attempted a smile—deadlier than his wrath. ‘Eight o’clock baby.’

He left, and for few moments the cashier continued to breathe in terror.

Meanwhile Olivier not having any clue about Humphrey’s hunt for her was preparing a meal for her and Iyke. He was seated on the bed watching her work. An ambitious, determined cook she was; she took so much space in the room, covering half of the room with bowls, plates, packages of ingredients, taking forever and asking so much questions—

‘Where is your grater?’

‘I don’t have.’

‘Where is your curry container?’

‘I don’t have curry.’

‘What of thyme?’

‘I don’t have.’

‘Nutmeg?’

‘What is nutmeg?’

She wasn’t a great cook, he decided; from the aroma of the food so far, it wouldn’t make a great meal; it wouldn’t be a disaster though. But food wasn’t his problem, he had so much on his mind: His fresh unemployment, Olivier’s refusal to go home, the approaching deadline of Lucy’s excursion payment and least of all, OBJ’s threat. He needed a quick solution to this sea of troubles—these could make or mar him, mar him, more likely. He emitted a sigh.

‘What is it?’ Olivier asked. She was cutting onions and crying.

‘Nothing.’

‘You thinking of your new enemy?’

‘To hell with him!’

She laughed a tear-soaked laugh. ‘You are afraid.’

‘Shouldn’t I be?’ he asked.

‘You can always beat him up like you beat up that shop-keeper.’

He smiled. ‘This guy is three times bigger than Okoro.’

‘Then you can shoot him with the gun.’

‘I will be arrested for murder.’

‘That is self-defence.’

He grunted.

She poured something into the sauce and turned rigorously. The way she held the spoon, with ease, like a real woman.

‘He will cut of your ears?’ Olivier inquired.

‘He will cut off just one ear, he is a kind fellow.’

She shrugged, seemingly unconcerned. ‘If he cut off one ear, you can still hear, won’t you? And it won’t be a big loss since you don’t wear earrings.’

He looked at her closely. ‘He also threatened to cut off one eye.’

‘You can always wear goggles.’

‘He will cut off one hand after that.’

‘It won’t make me stop being your friend.’

‘And when he cut my leg?’

‘You will have to sit on wheelchair and I will push you around, I don’t mind.’

He grimaced: she wasn’t the type to give sympathy, he concluded.

‘I will cook you a great meal so that no matter what your gorilla does to you, you won’t die empty-bellied,’ she said.

‘To hell with the food!’

Olivier laughed on his face.

#                         #

The only way to get Olivier’s companion’s address was to ask her madam who it appeared knew her companion fairly well, so the cashier entered her madam’s office.

‘What is it, Pricilla?’

‘Er… Ma, that guy you… we gave credit of fifteen thousand on Wednesday… Em where is he—does he live?’

‘Why? Is it because of the money? Forget it, Ikechukwu can never run away because of mere fifteen kay.’

‘It is not because of the money ma—’ she choked with apprehension.

‘What is it?’

What should she say? ‘I just need—I must have his address!’

‘You must? Please leave my office.’

Pricilla didn’t hear.

‘Pricilla!’

‘Ma.’

‘Get out!’

She left the office, crying, sure she was in deep mess.

It was towards closing for the day that her madam came to a stop at the desk of her nervous wrecked cashier.

‘Pricilla,’ she was soothing, ‘tell me why you really need Ikechukwu’s address and I will sure give it to you.’

But Pricilla only responded with her eyes, pouring tears. Her madam studied her for a moment then sighed. ‘I can understand. You are a young lady and when you see a man you really like it can be crippling. And Ikechukwu is a very sweet boy.’ She smiled knowingly.

Pricilla nodded, her survival hinged on her madam’s mouth.

‘I will give you the address, but don’t pursue him too much. When you like a guy, give him clue and let him do the chasing.’ She grabbed Pricilla’s wrist and wrote Iyke’s address on her palm.

#                               #

This night Olivier had a mysterious dream; she dreamed she was on a boat in the centre of a still sea, with Chuks pedalling. She was talking excitedly and throwing rose buds into the water. Suddenly a big speed-boat come out of nowhere and rammed its nose on their boat, there boat overturned. She couldn’t swim and was drowning. She heard laughter and saw that the speed-boat that hit them was piloted by a grinning Tony. ‘You again? No!’ she shouted and woke up.

She touched the space beside her but Iyke wasn’t here. She wiped her sweating brow. He must be sleeping on the rug in the other room. Sleeping on the same bed with someone of the opposite sex, someone you weren’t related to, most especially someone you have a crush on could be overpoweringly tempting, Iyke understood this so well and wouldn’t take chances. The night before he had slept on the rug in the parlour. This night he had slept off while resting on the bed. Olivier not anxious to sleep on the rug quietly lay beside him. Now, he was gone; he must have woken up in the middle of the night, realised he was sleeping on the wrong place and left for the other room. Iyke was that type of man.

She descended from the bed and made for the switch. The room suddenly shone with blinding brightness. It was quarter to four. She entered the next room but Iyke was not lying down there. Her heart missed a beat and began to hammer violently, hurting her ribcage. She rushed to the door but it was locked from the outside. Oh my God, where had her friend and protector gone to, at this time of the night locking her inside, when she needed him the most; she had just dreamed about evil Tony and needed the love of tough Iyke to contradict it, now WHERE was he?

A black heavy blanket of fear threaded with sadness descended upon her, smouldering her. She suddenly remembered something and dashed to the chest of drawers in the bedroom where Iyke now kept the pistol. She threw all the drawers opened—the gun was gone. She stood still, rooted to the floor, her heart-throb deafening. The world was wrapped tight in silence. Even the insects that quartered behind the house were conspiratorially mute, eavesdropping. The whole world was eavesdropping on her, mocking her.

‘Oh no,’ she threw herself on the bed and began to cry, she was finished, she was in love with an armed robber.

To be Continued…

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MAMMY WATER

MAMMY WATER

(This is for any lady who has ever been sexually harassed in whatever sort by any man who has some sort of authority over her)

He scowled at the giant map of Nigeria on his wall and sighed. Here, on this map he marked his escapades with women. Whenever he slept with a woman he would inquire her state of origin then mark it on this map. And as a lecturer of a very Nigerian university for twenty years and with no wife to look over his carnal shoulder, he had succeeded in laying ladies across twenty-eight states. He didn’t discriminate—anything on skirt went. Students were the bulk of his prey but he also took cleaners, hawkers, prostitutes, and semi-invalids home. Girls as young as fourteen and women as old as fifty had passed through his penile strength. He was a strong man who lived on his manhood.

Today on a spark of melancholy, he went before the map, scowling and hissing and sighing at his score board. Twenty-eight states gone. Eight states to go. He looked at the remaining states alphabetically.

Bayelsa

Benue

Ekiti

Enugu

Oyo

Sokoto

Yobe

Zamfara

He didn’t know they were up to eight states he hadn’t conquered. Eight! So many of them. Zamfara. Why hadn’t he laid a girl from there? It wasn’t his fault. He had never been to the state even; it was a rural state, they have no real university there so no public lecture or symposium to host. And, wasn’t this the state where they cut off your hand for looking at girls? And weren’t all the girls on hijab? Again, Zamfara girls didn’t go to school, and the few who attempt school never left the north. Last year, of a million candidates who sat for Jamb in Nigeria only a mere five thousand of them were Zamfarans. Too poor. Well, he shrugged, he was still much active, and would never say never to Zamfara.

Yobe. Wasn’t that Boko Haram haven? He would never go there! And he never met their girls even, not in the campus, not in the streets. They could as well be seceded into Niger Republic, he waved angrily.

Sokoto. He had been to Sokoto before, but the religiosity of the terribly hot state unnerved him. So many women on hijab-mask, on socks and gloves, covering everything except a pair of suspicious eyes. In the assembly hall, on a paper presentation, he had watched with dismay as men and women sat in separate roles and looked with disgust as men stayed back to allow women file out first at dispersal. He was in Sokoto for two days and not a single maiden came 1000 metres radius of his hotel. And there were only male cleaners and attendants in the hotel. He was glad when he finally waved the fly-infested state goodbye, but looking at the absence of his lethal marker on Sokoto state today worried him a lot. But he would never say never. He was still so much active.

Oyo. To start with, he was a graduate of the University of Ibadan. Accepted, he wasn’t such a serial fucker during his university days but he had visited Ibadan for more than twenty times since graduation. And had taken sixty women to bed there. But he was so unlucky. None of these women were indigenes of Oyo state! How could that be! But Oyo is a simple case; he would get an Ogbomosho or Ibadan girl on her back one of these days. Never mind.

Enugu. What a miss! Going to Enugu wasn’t his problem, but it was a large city with a large arm for visitors, so even though he always had his libido fed in Enugu, no Enugu indigene had fallen prey. But he had come so close to having one Enugu girl some years back. She was his student. Dorcas or something. He had called her to his office and tried his hand on her back but she had shouted blood of Jesus! She was the typical ‘holy ghost filled, fire carrying born again’. But he didn’t give up. He threatened to fail her. She didn’t give in. He failed her. She didn’t give in. He failed her again, her mates graduated. She didn’t give in. Her pastor, her mother, some lecturers approached him, but he didn’t give up. In fact he once told her, ‘You will never graduate if I don’t sleep with you. If you like write to the HOD, copy it to the Dean, copy it to the VC; look, copy it to the Minister of Education, and to the President; in fact copy it to Jesus Christ, you will NOT graduate!’

He delayed her graduation for five years. Last year, while on sabbatical the Department waved the course for her, behind his back! The fact that she was a Second-Class Upper student when he began failing her and now graduated with Third Class didn’t console him. He would forever rue this missed opportunity. But never mind, more Enugu girls were sure to pass under his orgy.

Ekiti. He hissed, a tiny state he had never been to. But how come he hadn’t slept with any of them in his Ibadan marathon spree? Well, he would see to this in his next visit to the South West. In fact, he would stop over in Ekiti just to have an Ekiti girl if the need be!

Benue. BENUE! What! He hadn’t slept with any of them despite their acclaim hot-paints! Why so much ‘dull’? he scolded himself; his colleagues had said wonderful things about the hard work and tactics of Benue girls. And somehow he hadn’t come around to having his share of the food basket of the nation. No, this was unfair to him. He was a spasmodic visitor of the Federal University in Makurdi. But he had conspicuously missed Benue girls. This was an error he would like to correct.

Then a thought dropped into his cunning mind.

He picked up his phone to call his caretaker. He lived off-campus, far from the preying eyes of righteous family lecturers, in a flat in an estate. Now the flat opposite his had just been taken over by a young beauty, the subject of his call.

‘Hello Paul,’ he began in his phone, ‘that succulent chick that just moved opposite my flat, what is her state of origin?’

‘Benue, why?’

‘Never mind. What is her name?’

‘Linda.’

Mammy water

#                               #

Linda was twenty-six or seven. She was of slightly tall height, lean and fair—her colour, that of orange dipped in chocolate. A small pair of red lips, moist but delightful eyes and a well-sculptured nose made up her pear-shaped face. Her hair, ink-blank and very long lay on her shoulders like beads of warm blanket. Her half-cut pineapple breasts, firm hips and long legs gave her a shape that seized heart-beats and troubled eyes.

It troubled Linda’s opposite neighbour’s eyes, and his mind.

Benue. Benue. Linda. Benue. Linda. He was sure he would get her, break his Benue jinx. He suffered hallucinations, his hands sweeping on long succulent legs, his teeth chewing at hard nipples, his being sweating between warm thighs…

He stepped out of his flat, ready for the classroom but lurking around like a bad smell, going about his car, sniffing for an inexistent fault, praying she came out. He was wasting time, he thought, hissed and brought out his car-key; she just came, and there was time, time to get to know each other better, body and soul, most especially body—in fact, body alone (what soul?). He slipped behind the wheel and turned the key on the ignition.

Then he saw her. Though he was ready to steer the car away, he still had his eyes shot at her door, like a lonesome child expecting his parents from the door, so he didn’t miss anything as Linda came out still clad in her night gown with tooth brush and a glass of water in her hand. His heart stopped beating as she stopped in her last veranda step and began brushing snow-white teeth.

He didn’t know when he stepped out of the car and took dawdled steps to her. He stopped few feet from her, opened his mouth but words failed him. He shut his trap and swallowed. She loked at him but said nothing, like you would look at a lizard perched by the roadside nodding its head away and say nothing. She continued brushing, humming a tone. His eyes feasted on her breasts as they did tiny jingles at her music.

‘What is this?’ he suddenly came to his senses. She had rinsed her mouth with the last water on the cup and spat the water on his paid-ironed shirt.

‘What is what?’ she asked, calmly, like an angel.

‘You—You s-spat water on me,’ he spluttered.

‘Hey, did I?’ She looked sorry.

He looked at his wet shirt. What kind of trouble is this? What—could it be that he was on her way? But she said she was sorry—no, she didn’t say, but she looked sorry, was sorry.

He looked up. She was gone.

#                            #

On his way from the campus, as he negotiated his way in the heavy traffic, he fought to stay conscious of his world, his driving, and not lost on Linda’s laps again, as he was in the lecture room where he saw everything through Linda’s transparent laps. Where he made a fool of himself, misquoting, misspelling, misinterpreting and miscalculating. Misbehaving, mis-living. He was relieved to be on his way now.

On taking to the junction that sprouted the street where their estate is located, he parked his car by the road side and got out. As he began to make for a big gift shop, the song of Victor Uwaifo from two faulty speakers in the adjacent shop, hit his ear-drums with angry decibels of sound. ‘People ought to reduce their damned volume in public,’ he cursed under his breath. But the lyrics followed him inside the gift shop.

If you see mammy water

Never never you run away

The lyric continued to torment him as he engaged in his transaction inside the shop. But he didn’t see the irony buried in the lively dirge, nor heed its covert warning. But the song so troubled him that by the time he left the shop his belly was full of forebodings.

#                                  #

He had knocked for close to a quarter of an hour before Linda opened the door. Although he was frustrated and boiling with impatient rage while waiting for her, the sight of the hollow of her cleavages sent licentious shivers down his spine.

‘What is it?’ she asked, coldly. She didn’t even say good afternoon.

‘I—I brought you this,’ he showed her the wrapped gift. ‘I brought this to apologise for what happened this morning.’

Her face was unimpressed. She collected it and half-leered as she turned it in her hands. ‘What is this?’

‘Gift.’

‘What is the gift?’

‘Bag—bag… hand bag. Nice… gold chain.’

‘I see.’ She began to close the door.

‘Wait!’ He was desperate, sweating. ‘Won’t you offer me cold water?’

‘The fridge is faulty.’ She slammed the door shut before his face.

Crippled with humiliation, he leaned his torpid body on the pillar for support. He cursed her, cursed the women folk, steaming with hatred for them. Who did she think she was? How dare she treat him with so much disdain? He would never come near the slut again. Harlot!… but he knew he was only steaming off, he knew he would return for her; he knew the grip of the authority of lust on him was unbreakable.

#                                  #

‘What do you really want from me?’ Linda asked him. She was out to brush and for the sixth day, he was waiting for her.

‘I love you,’ he blotted out.

She looked at his low stature, his pot belly, smoke-black face, unkempt hair and weedy moustache, walked pass him, kneelt on the ground between their flats and began to vomit. Not a mouthful or so, no, she vomited a basin, probably all she had had this week.

He was going out of his mind watching her vomit. Just because he said he loved her? Just…

She stood up. ‘You have to clear this mess.’

‘Why should I? A Ph.D holder like me!’

‘Didn’t you say you love me?’

He nodded.

‘Then prove it.’

He ran off to go fetch broom and parker.

Having cleared the mess, he knocked a thousand times on the door but Linda didn’t answer. He opened the door and saw her shivering under her blanket on the cushion. She was sick! He rushed to her.

‘What is the matter?’

She didn’t talk. ‘You are sick, how may I help you?’

‘Can you do the dishes for me?’

‘Of course,’ he rushed into the kitchen. That done, he returned to the sitting room but saw a mountain of clothes on the centre of the rug. ‘What is this?’

‘Don’t worry; I will wash them when I survive this.’

That was enough to make him pack the dresses, shirts, blouses, skirts, trousers, brassieres, pants, underskirts, all.

He washed for her, although he stopped washing for himself a decade ago.

#                                  #

He was seated on the bed, pure naked, the way God created him. After one month of striving and fighting, he seemed to be getting his prize. She stood above him, fully dressed, looking at him, her disgust clearly showing on every line on her brow, as clear as noon.

‘What do you want?’ she asked him.

‘I want to make love with you, of course.’

‘Where is the bank teller?’

He rushed to his trousers which he thought he had thrown out of the continent, snatched the pair up and ransacked the pockets till he found the bank teller. ‘See it; I credited you 700 thousand naira. It is virtually all I have.’

She had seen the alert. ‘Tear it up.’

‘Tear this?’ The way he looked at her you would think he was asked to tear the money and not mere teller.

‘Yes, tear it into pieces.’

‘Whatever you say.’ He tore the paper into a thousand shreds.

‘Put them in your mouth, chew and swallow.’ He hesitated. ‘If you want me you will do what I say.’ And he threw the shreds into his mouth and began to chew, with so much glee as though it was cake. At this stage, he would eat his head just to please her.

‘We can’t make love here,’ Linda told him.

He nearly wept aloud. ‘But why?’

‘This place is too open. We need to go somewhere private. Like in your department. I will be in one of the classrooms; just ask of me when you come. Don’t call my name, ask of Queen.

Slowly he began to make for his clothes.

‘No, you don’t need your clothes, just take your car-key and meet me at the department. Now, go.’

‘Why don’t we go together?’

‘I will come by flight, you forget am a queen?’

‘Of course, of course not.’ He took his car-key and Linda escorted him to the door. He didn’t hear the door slammed shut behind him nor did he hear her shrill devilish laughter.

#                                  #

The classroom was full of students awaiting their lecturer, pinging, talking, walking about, waiting for their lecturer. And he came, except that he was stark naked and hadn’t come for lectures, he came for Queen. ‘Is Queen in here?’ he shouted, unconcerned by his Adamic appearance. The students were shocked, then amused. Someone giggled, another whistle. ‘She is not around,’ one shouted. The whole class roared.

He hissed and left the class, his manhood leading the way, knocking against his thigh, like a master bell. His pitch-black buttocks rising and falling like battered wheels. The next class was full and had a lecturer.

‘Excuse, Doctor Pius,’ he said but Doctor Pius was staring at him wild-eyed, mouth agape. He turned to the students, ‘Where is Queen?’

Total silence greeted him. He became angry, ‘Who saw Queen?’

Then they began to laugh at him. ‘Which of the queens?’ someone asked.

‘The Queen!’ he shouted.

They roared. He hissed and stamped out of the classroom. By now half of the students joined him to the next class, taking pictures of him with their phones. He was an instant celebrity, if the President came here, he would still command more attention. At the third class a mischievous student told him his queen was at the square which was the centre of the campus. He began running to the square, a sea of students ran after him, snapping at him and cheering.

As he reached the road that led to the square, strong hands grabbed him. He fought them, they held him tight. The Paparazzi of photographers clicked on. When they began to drag him to their van he let out a wild screen. ‘They are kidnapping me! Help!!’

‘We are security, you need help.’

‘How can mad people help me?’

As they led him away, the students began exchanging their snapshots, posting on instagram, twitter, Facebook, for their blogs. Some pitied him, but generally they thought he was news, big news. The cause of his madness was not their problem; for the gossip bloggers it was a catchy topic for this post that bothered them. ‘Chronic Womanising Lecturer Runs Mad over Woman’ seemed a perfect headline, for now.

Tweets to @oke4chukwu