Kemi is naked and dripping wet. The purple towel does little to absorb all the drops of water racing down her body. In a swift motion, she slides on her black cotton skirt, picks the pink chiffon shirt – which, she’ll regret later, is transparent – from the bed and darts out of the bedroom, towards the front door. By the time she opens the door, she’s fully dressed, albeit without panties or a bra, patting her wet hair gently. Perhaps she should have worn the blue jeans on the bed, she’ll think later; perhaps she should have remembered to wear her bra and panties! But for now, she smiles nicely as she opens the front door and ushers in her guest.
Charles grabs her shoulder. They are in the room now. He grabs her so fiercely he’s sure she hurts. Where does she think she’s running to? Does she think he’d just let her go like that, after he has come all the way? And after so long? Does she think she stands a chance against his masculine strength? He turns her around with one hand so that she’s facing him, her frightened and confused eyes looking into his, pleading. With his other hand, he rips her chiffon shirt off – easy. Her large breasts come bouncing out. Good lord! How much goodness the stupid cloth concealed! Her breasts are beautiful, just beautiful! The skin there is finer than anywhere else on her body. It is light, butter-coloured, like creamed coffee. Her areolas are a deep black, standing in sharp contrast against the rest of the opulent breasts. He’s momentarily stunned. His breath catches; his heart races madly. Such beauty!
His victim looks down at her bare breasts in bewilderment. She tries to shield them with her free hand but he yanks the stupid thing away. She tries again; he seizes her wrist in his hand. She screams, but he can’t be bothered – no one will hear her. He’s busy trying to make out all the contours of her bare thorax; appreciating the effect of light and dark on her skin. One breast, the left one, he notices, is slightly smaller than the other. Lopsided, he says to himself and smiles. Not bad!
She is fighting. She twists her body in an attempt to free herself of his firm grasp. The movement makes the breasts dance. Left, right; left, right. Oh, God! He wants to dance along. He wants to sing a nice song and watch the two pretty things dance for him all day. Left, right; left, right. Her wrist slides out of his fist, distracting him. Twice, in quick successions, she whacks him across the face. He’s startled. His face burns madly, his vision momentarily bleared by the impact. He releases her shoulder and holds his two hands to his face. She kicks him in the groin, then makes for the door.
‘Come in, come in,’ Kemi says. ‘How wonderful.’
Her guest hesitates a moment before he steps into the flat. Then he stretches his arms for a hug. ‘Kemzy!’ he says; ‘you look great!’
He is loud as usual. When she hugs him, he presses her tightly to himself and rocks her quite fiercely left and right. Then he kisses her forehead.
‘God, Charles! I thought you’d have changed!’ She says, pushing playfully at his chest.
‘I’m glad you changed!’ He strides in past her, looking around. ‘Look at this place! It’s so…you. And look at you: all grown up! Wow!’
Kemi locks the door behind them.
‘You’re still as energetic and rude as ever,’ she says with a smile. Her guest is still looking around, going from one picture on the wall to the next, grinning boyishly, making Kemi wonder if, despite his successes, he is not still the little boy that she’d known many years ago when they were neighbours; if the past many years haven’t really matured him. He is wearing plain blue trousers under a loose black shirt beneath which, she’s sure, he has worn a starched white undershirt. His hair is a huge, fluffy Afro; she’s sure he dyes it black.
‘I like your shoes,’ she says, perching herself tentatively on a chair’s arm. He looks away from the picture he’s been studying and glances at her with a smile.
‘Really?’ He looks down at his shoes. ‘It’s sickly expensive! I bought it at the airport in Atlanta last month.’
Kemi nods, paying more attention to the shoes than she wants too. They are made of black leather, finely polished, glistening in the bright overhead lights. She wishes he’d tear himself away from the picture and take a sit so they might have a proper conversation. There’s so much they need to catch up on. For many years, before he messaged her on Facebook last month, she wondered how he’d turned out. After his family moved out of their street at Ikeja, a period of over two decades ago, she heard nothing at all from him. Over the years, there were occasional news of his family – his parent’s relocation to America, his elder sister’s wedding which had been on Linda Ikeji’s blog, his mother’s death three years ago – but none really of him.
She hasn’t missed him. They used to be close as kids, but she’s since had closer friends. Before now, when she thought of him, it was usually with a deep curiosity. Where was he now? What was he doing with his life? Had he made good on his dream to be a Computer Scientist? Her heart didn’t beat rapidly or yearn for the past at the thought of him. She only wanted to know. They made a silly bet as kids: who would be more successful? Kemi remembers that day now, how she stuck out her little finger and entwined it with his. How he slashed the fingers apart like a sword with his free hand. How they both laughed and said, ‘we’ll see!’ His coming here today, she knows, is less an attempt at reunion as it is to make her ‘see’; to show her how much more successful than her he’s become. There’s no doubt about that.
When she saw a picture of him last year on an online newspaper, shaking hands with Mark Zuckerberg, both of them grinning like boys, her heart stopped for a moment. She skimmed through the story: he’d signed a deal with the Facebook CEO. Afterwards, she contemplated contacting him, but she didn’t. She couldn’t, even though she tried. There was no account belonging to him on Facebook; none on Twitter or on Instagram, either. She searched thoroughly late into the night until, finally, she gave up.
She promptly forgot all about him and the news in the following days. Immersed in her own life, there is hardly ever time to concern herself with other people’s lives. She has a job that pays badly; a boss that’s been trying to get her to ‘lie down for him’; a joke of a relationship with a local artiste, a mother whose last mission on earth is to get her married. Sometimes she wishes she could just escape from it all; pick up her bags – or not – and just run away, far away. A few times, she’s thought of applying for an American visa, but she knows it’s joke – no one is going to give a virtually jobless person a visa! Then, last month she received a Facebook message from a strange user. She remembers the words now:
Hey, Kemzy. It’s Charles Kayode. Remember me? We used to be neighbours many years ago. I’m sure this is gonna be a huge surprise. (I’m probably the last person you were expecting to hear from.) I was going through some of my mom’s old photos and you just popped up. Btw, my mom’s dead. She died of cancer three years ago. Anyhow, it’ll be nice to reunite, you know, get back together. *winks* I’m still single, you know! ROTFL!! Cheers!!!
She read the message again and again. She couldn’t believe it was him! She’d been so excited that she’d replied instantly: ‘My God, Charles! Where have you been! I’m so sorry about your mum. She was a wonderful person. Yes, I totally agree that we should reunite! I can imagine that there’s a lot to catch up on. Why don’t you come over to my place one of these days! It’ll be nice to host you!’ She came to regret the reply eventually, especially the invitation? What was she thinking? Surely, she didn’t expect him to just up and come to her house. He had to be busy. She had to be crazy! But she was shocked to read, a week later, that he’d be glad to visit her at her house. (His exact words were: ‘It’d be great, just great, to be your guest!’) At that moment, she’d hated herself. She looked around her tiny living room: the chairs with their worn upholstery, the bulky TV which sat on an old plastic shelf, the dirty tiled floor, the brightly-coloured curtains that hurt the eye on a sunny day, the overhead fan that worked indolently above. There was nothing here she was proud to show him. Nothing!
‘How long has it been, really?’ He asks now. He’s finally making his way to a seat. Kemi realizes how tall he is; how graceful. When he settles in a chair and crosses his legs, she observes that the soles of his shoes are neat, devoid of dust, as though he’s just put them on right here in the flat. He looks at her for a long minute, a smile playing on his lips. ‘How long has it been? I’ve missed you!’
Kemi almost laughs at his American accent; the way it makes him sound like a teenager. She fingers her wet hair, unconsciously, wetting her hand in the process.
‘I’ve missed you, too,’ she says.
‘Oh, really. You didn’t try to contact me.’
‘You weren’t exactly easy to find.’
‘That’s strange. I’ve been practically everywhere.’
Kemi sits right in the chair. Silence fills the room.
‘How’s life been for you? I heard you got pregnant in your freshman year in college and had to drop out.’
Kemi shudders. At first, she thinks she’s heard wrong; he couldn’t have said that so casually. But she looks at him, the expectance on his face, and knows she heard right. How dare he ask her that? How dare he expect her to answer that? She pats her hair gently, trying to keep her ire at bay. She searches for something to say; how to neatly parry the question, but nothing comes.
‘I had a near-disaster too in college, you know. Rolled with the wrong crowd; got into drugs.’
‘I see.’ She didn’t know.
‘Got arrested a couple time. Almost got deported even. But dad’s got friends in high places.’
She nods her understanding.
‘Dropped out of college, too.’
‘Oh! Really!’ She’s shocked. He laughs.
‘People always get that reaction when I say I’m a dropout. Cracks me up every time!’
‘It’s hard to imagine.’
‘I know, right. With how successful I turned out!’
She smiles. She thinks she’s getting to admire his blatant immodesty.
‘I was having a conversation with a friend last month in Paris and he said he was worried because his teenage son didn’t have any plans to go to college. I told him, “Look, let the little guy be. If he doesn’t wanna go to college, then he shouldn’t go to college. I didn’t go to college,” and he almost had a heart attack.’ He laughs loudly after he said this.
Kemi laughs, too, quite loudly. More loudly than she actually planned to. With her hand clasped over her mouth, she throws her head backwards and vibrates in the chair. She’s still laughing after her guest has stopped. He considers her, she notices, with a nice smile, as one considers a precocious toddler. She doesn’t know exactly what she finds funny about the story – or if she finds anything funny, for that matter. She just laughs. She’s read somewhere that people that laugh too loudly or too often are probably sad.
‘Your laughter is infectious,’ he says when she finally stops. ‘It sounds really nice.’
She chuckles. ‘Thank you.’
He sighs, uncrosses his legs. ‘Is there going to be any eating and drinking?’ he asks, looking around.
‘Oh my God, I’m so sorry.’
Kemi rises from the chair and darts into the tiny cubicle that is her kitchen. She flicks on the lights beside the entrance. She’s made quite an expensive meal, for which she had to borrow some money from her mother. Now, as she scoops the unhealthy-looking jollof rice into a ceramic plate, tops it with two pieces of fried turkey and two spoons of home-made coleslaw, she wishes she borrowed more. She decides not to use any of her stainless-steel trays because they’re so old, and picks a newer white plastic tray. Also, she retrieves a chilled bottle of Pepsi from the refrigerator which hums steadily in a corner. When she turns to head out to the living room, she’s startled to find her guest in the doorway, smiling down at her. He’s so tall!
‘My God. You startled me.’
‘Sorry, didn’t intend to. That smells nice.’
‘Well, it’s yours.’
He doesn’t make to take the tray from her. Instead, he moves away as she approaches and walks behind her into the living room. He retakes his seat and watches as she, first, drops the tray on the wooden centre table, then drags a side table before him and places the tray on it. She has to bend over as she sets the tray down before him, and when she straightens, she realizes he’s been looking into her shirt. A wave of disgust washes over her. Were he not a guest, she’d have slapped him across the face instantly. Twice, perhaps, as she slapped a man in the BRT two weeks ago who’d been looking into her shirt. She becomes self-conscious; she wishes she’s worn a bra.
She sits, quiet, as he takes a taste and nods his head in sapidity.
‘Did you make this?’ He asks.
She nods, still seething.
‘It’s really good!’
She grumbles something. He grabs a piece of the fried turkey and tears at it. He shakes his head.
‘This is really good, too.’ He says; takes another bite. ‘But it could use less seasoning.’
When he’s halfway through the meal, she excuses herself to go to the room. She wants to get fully dressed. She’s become unnerved by the realization that beneath these flimsy pink chiffon shirt and loose black skirt, she’s completely naked. He watches her go.
Charles grabs her at the elbow before she makes it to the door. She’s screaming, screaming so loudly he wants to whack her until she shuts the fuck up. He’s pissed now, very pissed. He yanks her towards him with one hand, whacks her twice across the face with the other. Tit for tat, right? She’s crying now. Confused. Frightened. She shouldn’t have done that. She shouldn’t have done that. ‘You shouldn’t have done that. You shouldn’t have fucking done that. Now, I’m pissed. Fuck!’ He whacks her across the face twice more. Her breasts dance more rapidly.
‘Isn’t this what you want?’ he asks; ‘Is that not why you’re not wearing anything? No bra,’ he lifts one breast with his free hand, then, ‘no fucking panties!’ in one swift motion, pulls down her skirt, and she’s completely naked. ‘I knew it!’ he laughs. ‘I fucking knew you were wearing no panties! Good lord!’
His victim is crying; he hates her for crying, for making so much noise. Can’t she see that he’s trying to concentrate? Now that she’s completely nude, he’s takes a moment to bore his eyes into her body; every contour, every curve, every rise and fall, every light and dark reveals itself like the sun after a blanket of cloud. He’s always known that she’s beautiful, but not in this way. Now that she has nothing to hide, he’s able to appreciate her beauty fully. She has a perfect figure, gracefully curved, highlighted by her flat tummy. And the way her perfectly rounded tush shoots out behind her…he’s going to go crazy. He can already feel his body responding to hers: the rapidity of his heartbeat, the rush of blood through his veins, down into his phallus, which is aching terribly inside his boxers. I’m so gonna fuck, fuck, fuck, he thinks.
He undoes the button of his pants and pulls them down, steps out of them, his boxers too, one hand still firmly holding her in place. His phallus is standing right at attention, pointing out of his groin like a deadly arrow, monster big. His victim shrieks at the sight. He’s used to women gasping at the sheer size of his penis. She cries more loudly and begs him to let her go.
‘Please. Please. Please, Charles, don’t do this. Don’t do this, please, Charles.’
That’s not a fair plea, he thinks; how can I not do this when I’ve already come so far? He whacks her again, on the tush now. Just be fucking quiet! He yells, and she shudders. He loves the way she shudders; it makes her breasts bounce. Those beautiful titties! Perhaps he should yell some more so she may shudder again. But no, better to get done with it and get the hell out of here. He flings her into the bed behind her. The bed is a mess; pieces of clothes scattered over it, but it should do. He’s immediately on top of her. She fights: slaps, bites and tears at him; but he manages to keep her tamed. His one hand holds her wrists together above her head, while the other works at prying apart her laps for him. It is no easy job, but he can manage.
‘Charles, please! Don’t do this, please!’ Her pleas have become louder, more urgent. He wants to laugh to himself: how in the world does she think she can plead him out of this! She wriggles and wriggles; she’s a fighter.
When he forces himself into her, she screams. She screams so loud that his ears ring afterwards. She’s tight; he has the feeling of tearing her vagina apart. He takes her nipple in his mouth and chews on it. He bites hard, making her scream some more. She tastes like honey. He looks up at her face, her nipple still in his mouth, his hips rocking up and down, and sees the tears roll freely out of her tightly-pinched eyes. She’s shaking her head, screaming, screaming. He smiles. Yes, yes! He releases her nipple, then washes his tongue up the narrow space between her breasts; he’d really like to place his phallus there. He tries to remember what his friends called it college…tit fuck…yes. He’d really like to tit fuck her. Fuck! But no chance. This has to suffice.
But it has to get better, too. An idea pops into his mind. He slides out of her, turns her over so that she’s lying on her stomach, his hand still holding her wrists together in that position, then barges back into her. This is better, he thinks. This is definitely better. He loves the way her tush is curved, the way it makes a slap slap sound against his tummy when he thrusts completely. He loves, particularly, how she screams. That’s what turns him on; that’s the point of everything!
When he comes, it is an explosion. This, too, has always frightened his women; he drowns them in a pool of his semen. Usually, when he’s using a condom, his semen bursts through the thin latex of the thing. Now, he shrieks as he explodes into his victim; he doesn’t bother to slide out of her. She shrieks too, louder than ever. A minute passes. He unsheathes himself from her and slumps on the bed, weak as a lad. His victim curls up in a corner on the bed and weeps ceaselessly into her palms. He hears the cadence of her cries. He should get up, get dressed, and leave. He should leave right now, go out the front door, into his car, and drive off. He should leave, he knows, before it’s too late. But he lets his eyes pull together slowly. His victim is still weeping beside him.