Catch 10 (Short Story)

So I finally come around to doing this. A short story. After a generation. Planned something for Christmas but it didn’t make it, so I did this to reflect the last days of the year. Meet you at the comment box. Enjoy.

*

On the 30th of December, 2016, Okwudili sat down on the bed in his Emene one-room apartment with a pen in hand and went through the year. He asked himself a simple question: how many girls did I lay this year? 
He wrote their names down. Lucy whom he met on Facebook and who came all the way from Kaduna to lay him. Uche the Twitter noisemaker who came to Enugu from Uyo. Beatrice, the girl whose number he stole from his cousin’s contacts and whom he travelled to Abeokuta to collect from, as he would brag to his friends. Nine girls in total. The best year for him with girls. He laid seven in 2015, six in 2014, and just two different girls in 2013. He was making progress.

Next year I will hit fifteen girls, he vowed. But first, this year, he had to reach double figures. One more girl tonight and he would end the year as an Oloye. There’s no sense asking any girl out today. From his experience it took an average of three weeks after a successful toasting to take a girl to his bed. The easiest was the girl he met at the ATM point and took to Shoprite then home the same day. The hardest was one UNEC student who accepted his romantic proposal but didn’t play ball for four months.

There is no need initiating a fresh runs today. He would go straight to Otigba Junction and carry a girl home. The girls who stand at the various hotspots in Enugu at night are not prostitudes, Okwudili had always told himself; they are part-timers. Real prostitudes live in brothels. There is no shame in using a part-time player to complete his squad this year.

Okwudili walked out of the room for the bathroom.

There was one aspect Okwudili didn’t make progress in in 2016 which should bother most people in their thirties. Money. In 2014, he paid his house rent and still had enough money to buy a generator. In 2015, he paid his house rent and starved for one month. In 2016, he borrowed to pay just six months of his rent. The rent would be due in February and he would have to borrow again to pay it.

Perhaps in January this would bother him. For now, he wanted to hit double figures in bed. This was the kind of man Okwudili was. The kind who put his manhood like the horse in the front then drags along his brain, plans, his future and all in a cart of procrastination, fun and vanity.

Okwudili arrived Otigba Junction in a chartered keke at 9pm. There are four grades of men who went to Otigba and other hotspots to pick girls. One, the men who came by foot who rated between F and E. These were the kind of men who fought the girls, take them violently and had the tendency to refuse to pay them. Two, those who came in keke. These ones rated between D and C. They were stingy and demanded absolute satisfaction for every kobo paid to the point of physical and mental exhaustion for the girls. 

Group three belonged to the ones who came by car. This group might have a rating between B and A. They are usually demanding but liberal with their wallets. The final group could be rated between A and A+. They came by big cars. They spent big on the girls and hardly break a sweat on bed; they did not see any pleasure on bed as a way of recouping their expenses, they just spent money. 

These last group of men were rare and the dream of every call girl. It was because of them that men like Okwudili who came on keke didn’t get the best girls this early. The most beautiful and sexiest girls usually waited for these men till after midnight; if they didn’t show up, they could settle for anyone they might rate a weak C.

So Okwudili counted himself lucky when he got a beautiful girl aged about nineteen with the right curves and sizes to follow him home. She must be a learner, he said to himself as the keke drove them home. The girl didn’t say anything about price and she was following him home this early without a stopover at a bar to measure the weigh of his wallet and the speed with which he brought it out.

“You’re a student?” Okwudili said. He was sure she wasn’t and expected her to lie. 

“I am not a student,” came the response. The answer surprised him and disrupted his continuation. “Erm… What do you… What is your name?” He said.

“Chidinma,” she said.

Okwudili suppressed a sigh. He had expected a fancy name like Shirley, Sasha, Sharon, Nikky, Natasha etc. An alias. Even this Chidinma might still be a pseudonym, but that it was in Igbo made it believable and robbed him of his prepared continuation of asking what it meant and giving his prepared speech on how we are still colonized.

He gave up his desire for small talks and decided to think of the pleasure ahead. He reached for his phone.

Okwudili’s room looked like the mess it was. The bed was in disarray with clothes on it. There was a shoe in the middle of the room, a used teacup and half eaten bread on top of his laptop on the reading desk/table. The top of the fridge was littered with odds including a toothbrush, a hairbrush, cloth pecks, a shaving stick, a tub of cream, a wristwatch, ATM cards, a cup containing half drunk pure water, all.

Okwudili cleared the bed off the clothes and begin to do the same to the clothes on his body. “Remove your dress,” he told his guest who stood by the door watching the mess with a small smile of distaste.

She nodded and placed her bag on the fridge. Okwudili now totally nude and harmed with an erection and a condom watched her. She reached for her earring. She unclasped it. She reached for the other one. Slowly, with a deliberate movement that set his belly boiling with anticipation and lust. She reached for her necklace. Cheap, Okwudili judged with his eyes. She removed the necklace and place all on the fridge.

“I hope I don’t forget these,” she said. 

“You won’t,” his voice was hoarse with desire and impatience.

“Okay.” She removed her shirt revealing sizeable  lustily designed with stretch marks and cupped in a pair of push up bra. 

“This is beautiful,” he said. She removed her bumshorts. She had nothing underneath it. Okwudili rose to his feet. “Let me help with the bra.”

“Get my lubricant in my bag,” she said.

The handbag was a medium sized blue foldover. Okwudili opened it and a rattle snake raised its black ugly head and revealed its venomous tongue. Okwudili’s head swelled. He shouted, charged backward, stumbled on his chair and fell heavily on the floor.

“Are you afraid of my little pet?” she said. He watched her walk to her bag, patted the snake lovingly on its head and began to help it out of the bag. “We can have a threesome,” she said. She blew him a kiss and lifted the snake to her neck. She began to wrap the beast around her neck. 

Okwudili had seen enough. His heart snapped and slowly his eyes closed.

Dust Bin

Ekene stood at Dust Bin Bus Stop waiting for a keke. He wasn’t used to taking keke to anywhere, it was usually a bus for him, but this one was different, nay, special. He was going on a date in UNEC. UNEC, the campus where they mint beautiful girls, as his friend Emma put it. After weeks of stalking her on Facebook and bugging her on Whatsapp, Precious agreed to see him. She didn’t actually agree; she just didn’t refuse. She said she was hungry and he offered to come and take her to an eatery. She said nothing. “Hello, should I come? Please say yes.”

“If you wish,” she said. He dashed into the bathroom. A warm bath and splashes of his precious perfume later, he was ready for the date of the year.

The kekes that sped past him were occupied with passengers. He didn’t want buses and he had counted more than three buses going to Independence Layout. They would waste his time. UNEC would take less than ten minutes on a keke; he would be lucky to make it in thirty minutes on a drop and pick bus. So he waited.

He brought out his handkerchief to wipe the beads of sweat beginning to form on his forehead. The time was quarter past four pm and the sun was still at its irritating best. It’s time I got my own car, he thought for the one hundred and sixty-seven time this month.

A car stopped just before. A grey sienna that had seen glorious days, still a car. He wouldn’t be proud to drive this to UNEC, still a car. A car is a car; a car is always better than waiting for keke in this dispassionate Enugu sun. A man came out of the car. First, Ekene noticed a heap of hair. Uncombed hair, massive beards and wayward moustache. The man came towards him. He smelt like an unwashed jersey.

“You will die tomorrow,” the man said, turned, got into his car and drove away.

Ekene closed his mouth that the man’s words had opened; the man’s car was now at All Saints Round About. He heaved a sigh of despair. What does he mean? A keke came to a stop before him. A fat man came down and walked past him. The man smelled like rotten onions. Fewer and fewer people now take their bath in this town, he thought. “Chere,” he said to the keke driver.

‘Ebe?”

“UNEC.”

“300 naira.”

He hopped in. No energy to bargain. The keke smelt like a distant rubbish dumb but he paid no mind to that. He would die tomorrow, someone had said to him. How? What does that mean? He tried to push the thought out of his mind but like a bad smell, he couldn’t force the thought away by merely wishing it away and ignoring it. It was there, towering over his thoughts like the giant shadow of a midget. He no longer felt like seeing anyone today. He ached for his toilet seat.

The keke stopped at the gate of University of Nigeria Enugu Campus and he waited for three-quarters of an hour for his date. On a normal day, he would have been impatient and harass her with calls and messages. Today, he just stood by the playing field just inside the school, occasionally pacing like a husband whose wife was in a labour in an old Nollywood movie. I shouldn’t be agitated by the empty words of a stranger, he kept telling himself and failing to listen.

“Hello.”

He turned and beheld Precious. She was pretty in knee-length jean knickers under a sleeveless shirt that revealed a chunk of flesh and accentuated figures.

“Beautiful,” he said.

“You look sick,” she said.

He tried to smile but succeeded in grimacing. He began to give her a reassuring nod but she had resumed walking. He stepped in by her side.

They went to Ntachi-Osa in New Haven. He ate eba and ora soup while she abused eba and bitter leaf soup with a spoon. Halfway into his meal, he began to relax a little and relegate the words of the foolish stranger to the back of his mind. Her present was precious; it overshadowed evil thoughts. Suddenly, she said: “I had a bad dream this morning. I lost a friend and I was crying. It was so painful.”

Ekene’s hand froze mid-air, near his mouth. “A friend.”

“Yes. I don’t know the person. It was your call that woke me up and it made me thought of you.”

“Thought of me? How?”

“Maybe you were the one who died in my dream.”

Ekene returned his hand and eba to the plate and pushed the plate away. A cold chill crept down his spine. He rose to his feet and walked to the tap. As he began washing his hands, he saw a coffin in his subconscious mind. Perhaps they are right? Perhaps, I will die.

On a bus home, Ekene sent a Whatsapp message to Emma. “Nna, everybody just the talk say I go die.”

“Guy, that thing the fear me,” Emma replied immediately. “I just the perceive say person go die soon.”

First, a stranger, then, a crush, now, his nigger!

He alighted at Dust Bin with foamy legs and a heavy heart. How can this be, his death, at the mid-morning of his life? The suddenness of the news, the cruelty of its confirmations and the surreal atmosphere it had wangled around him made him ill. Without thinking, he stepped on the road. He didn’t see the speeding petrol tanker until it was just a few seconds to knocking him down.

“Not yet,” he shouted.