When Maya returned with her bag Ndifreke took it from her and carried it into the bedroom. He then made the bed with clean sheets.
“I don’t know if you had much sleep last night, what with all the drama in the compound. Please rest okay? Have you had your bath?”
“Yes, I have.”
He thought so. She was smelling of fresh perfume and was wearing different clothes from the one she wore when she first arrived. This time she had on a brown and white skirt and blouse, and he could see the bulge in her lower belly. She was still as beautiful as ever.
“Erm, lemme go and get you something to eat,” he stammered.
“Go and get me something to eat? Like, buy food?”
“I can cook!” She enthused, with a bright smile.
“No you don’t need to,” he said with a big shaking of the head.
“Nonsense. Just get some smoked fish, pepper, tomatoes, and carrots. I see the sack of rice in the corner there. I will make jollof rice you will never forget.”
“Do as I say Ndi. Don’t be stubborn.”
Ndifreke scratched his head and then went to the food cupboard and took a used polythene bag and left the room.
Forty-five minutes later he returned to the compound carrying a full polythene bag and was whistling. He did not only buy smoked fish, tomatoes, and carrots, he also bought corned beef, cabbage, cucumbers, sweet corn, and a jar of mayonnaise. He liked corned beef in his jollof rice and they could make coleslaw with the vegetables to go with it.
Irikefe accosted him as he jumped the gutter.
“Bros, this one wey you dey hurry like say you get emergency. Wetin dey happen?
“I went to get somethings for Maya to cook. She doesn’t want me to buy food.”
“Bros wetin you talk?”
“I said I went down the road to get stuff for Maya.”
“You saw her last night. Stop the drama.”
“Where is she now that you are buying something for her to cook?”
“She’s with me.”
“She’s with you?”
“And has already sent you to the market.”
“She did not send me to the market. I went to get things.”
“Bros after everything wey we talk!”
“Guy calm down. She is pregnant. She is hungry. She has to eat.”
“She has to eat ba?”
“Yes, she has to eat. Now if you will excuse me.”
“Yes. Excuse me.”
“Okay,” Irikefe said and stepped out of the way.
Irikefe had not taken his eyes off the Maya situation from the moment she stepped back into the compound. He knew what Maya was up to, and Ndifreke was easy meat. The way things stood, Funbi to the rescue was not the best prospect, and it would even be harder now that Maya had moved in with Ndifreke. This was the kind of nonsense Irikefe did not like to see. So he hatched another plan.
Ndifreke was in the kitchen cutting cabbage when his phone rang.
He looked at the caller ID and his heart missed a beat. Maya turned and looked at him. It was just the two of them there. He wanted to ignore the call but on second thought, he tapped the receive button and stepped out of the kitchen.
“I want to see you now.”
“Not now Lizzy, I’m kind of busy.”
“If you don’t get here in five minutes, I will come over there and drag you along. You know what I can do.”
Ndifreke ended the call.
“I’ll be right back,” he said to Maya and turned and left.
She left her hands soaking in the bowl of rice she was washing and thought. That did not bode well. “Come back to me” she prayed under her breath.
Elizabeth was waiting for him in her bedroom.
“So what is it all about?” Ndifreke said.
“I heard your whore is back.”
“I do not have a whore!”
“Oh yes, you do!”
“Maya is not a whore okay?”
“Oh, I see.”
“And who told you?”
“Haa! On Katakata street?”
“I know who did. And I’ll treat this latest fuck up of his.”
“Wake up my boy. You’re making a mistake.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Maya for goodness sake! Surely you aren’t that naïve!”
“She said she was lonely where she was.”
“And so she came to Disneyland.”
“She does not have any family to go to and she is pregnant with my child.”
“Stop making excused for her! It is not working out with Jonjo and now she wants to come back to you!”
“She is not coming back to me. She needs a place to stay for the lockdown. I can handle it.”
“Oh I bet you can.”
“Are you jealous?”
“Now listen. This is not a question of jealousy. I will say this even to a total stranger. That girl is manipulating you. She knows you are softhearted and will fall for the oldest trick in the book – a baby. Where is your dignity? She dumped you for another man and came back and you opened your doors wide for her? Even a dog does not go back to its vomit!”
“You are going too far, Lizzy.”
“You will not sleep in that room with her Ndifreke.”
“We have two rooms. My cousin and I will sleep in the sitting room. She will have the bedroom.”
“Then in the middle of the night, she will go into labour even if she is only a few weeks pregnant and you will be by her side to continue what you started.”
“Come on Lizzy!”
“Send her away! She has a place of her own. Let her go! You are just about to start something good. Your own agency. What you need now are assets, not liabilities. People that will further your cause. Maya and her baby will drag you down!”
“You are overreacting.”
“Do you think Jonjo will fold his hands and watch you two get back together? Not the Jonjo that I know. His ego will not let him. She is not back because she suddenly realized that she loves you more than him. What really does a woman want? Attention. He wasn’t giving her and she is running away to the one man who will even go to the market for her.
“I know Jonjo. He will turn on the charm now and then properly put you in your place. You don’t stand a chance with his ego trip! It is not the type of drama you need now!”
“I am not getting back with her. I am only helping her for the sake of the bab…”
“Yeah right! For the sake of the baby whose paternity you are not even sure about.”
“She said it is mine.”
“Oh heavens! Ndifreke! If you spend even one night there with her, I don’t ever want to see you again. No help from me when you start your business. Now if you think because your face is on a few billboards that you will make it on your own, good luck with that.”
“Come on. It hasn’t come to that.”
“Jonjo will come at you and you will have nowhere to run to. He is a psychopath.”
Ndifreke was quiet for a while thinking. Then he said, “Where will I sleep then?”
“Of course. You are my lover after all.”
“I can’t run away from my place.”
“You are not running away from your place. You will only not sleep there for a while.
“ For how long?”
“As long as it takes Jonjo to realize someone is about to hurt is pride. Could be as soon as tomorrow.”
“How will he realize?”
“Someone will tell him.”
Ndifreke thought about it for a while and then grinned and stood up. Lizzy stood too and he took her in his arms. He held her waist and she wrapped her arms around his neck.
“She made me feel like I was a bad person. She said I hated her.”
“It’s called manipulation.”
“You know she slept in a neighbors place last night. I didn’t let her in. I still had my thinking cap on then.”
“What you need is a thinking brain constantly working in your head. A cap you take on and off is dangerous. You can be caught off guard.”
“ Now let me reset that brain of yours once and for all.”
She kissed him. He kissed her back. She jumped and wrapped her legs around his body and they fell on the bed.
“You seem to have forgotten that you have all you need right here,” she said.
“I think I have. Please remind me.”
Elizabeth began by kissing his nipples and stroking his already hard penis. It was something she knew he enjoyed immensely.
“Please ride me, Lizzy,” he pleaded.
She threw the nightie she still wore off her back and straddled Ndifreke.
“Do you remember now?” she said as she bounced on top of him.
“Yes, I do Lizzy.”
“Do you need Maya now?”
“No. Never. Please don’t stop.”
“Your wish is my command my boy.”
The food was ready. He had been gone for three hours. When she was tired of waiting, she took some and ate. Mkpoikanna had some too. Then she lay on the bed and drifted off to sleep. When she woke up, she heard them playing WHOT in the sitting room.
“Pick two, pick two, last card, check!” And they roared with laughter.
She stood up and went to meet them.
“Ah, Our wife don wake” Mkpoikanna said.
It was the look that Ndifreke gave his cousin that told Maya all she needed to know.
“Have you eaten Ndi?”
“Did you like the jollof rice?”
“I did not eat the jollof rice. I had something else.”
“Oh I see.”
“Yes Maya,” he said. All the while he did not as much as glance at her.
“Oh boy make we play again!” he said to Mkpoikanna.
Maya turned and went back into the bedroom, where she lay and counted the ceiling and thought about her life.
At 10 pm she heard Mkpoikanna bolting the doors for the night. She knew Ndifreke had just gone out.
“Bro Mkpo, are you locking Ndi out?”
“Him say him no dey come back.”
It was then that she knew the size of the battle before her.
Papa Efe was ready. There was one more thing he needed to do. He summoned his son and sat him down.
“I want talk to you.”
“I dey hear you papa.”
“Wetin you want to do with your life?”
“Papa which kind question be this now?”
“Papa I want to go to school. I have said it many times.”
“You write exam?”
“I have to write again.”
Papa Efe heaved a sigh and said “If e get anything wey I do you for this life, I want make you forgive me. You hear?
“Papa why you dey talk like this?”
“I get one land for Effurun Otor for our Ughelli South there. My cousin Ovie know am. Na him hand the land paper dey. I trust am. Go meet am if anything do me. If you sell the land, you go get up to eight million. Use am go school.”
“Papa why you dey talk like this na?”
“I don old. Anything fit happen to me anytime. I need to tell you this thing now. Tomorrow fit dey too late.”
“Papa nothing go do you.”
When Papa Efe exterminated the three witches and spared himself, it was on the condition that he would never practice witchcraft again whether for good or for bad. He knew that if he ever stepped out of his body after that, that he was not going to be able to return.
Agbonyibo had taken his daughter’s womb to the deadly coven of the Cameroons where they only bargained with life. The only way Evae could have her womb back was in an exchange for another soul. Agbonyibo had padlocked the womb and delivered it to the chief warlock who guarded it with three pythons. The aim was for the victim to die with the pregnancy. But if they managed to locate the coven and took another soul for exchange then they could deal. All the hawk needed to do was to retrieve the womb and break the padlock and Evae would be delivered of her baby within twenty-four hours.
Because he was not going there with another soul in exchange, he was going to give himself to the cause.
He knew his sojourn in the beyond would be even more difficult now because of where he was starting, but he was grateful for the knowledge he got from Cosmas that he could still exercise his volition for good while there, which would put him in good stead to ascend to a more tolerable plane in time.
He knew that paradise was a long shot for him. The best he would get would be to become a spirit guide to an earthman, but all that was perhaps a century away, or decades if he was lucky.
One thing he knew for sure was that he would not be earthbound like Mama Akunna and Agbonyibo. He had detached himself from everything that would have held him down already.
So he glided in the night skies for a while, thoroughly enjoyed his last voyage on the earth plane, before he made the big plunge into the forests of the Cameroons.
Chisco knew that what he needed to do was to stay away from Josephine that day. He had promised her that he would not touch Eyonyam. But who was that man that ever made that promise and kept it? Men all over the world made it every day on alters before priests and pastors and would not keep the promise even for twenty-four hours. He would not be breaking any laws. He would simply be behaving to type. He had gone too far with Eyonyam already not to go all the way. He had never known a woman more sensual. Every sinew in her body, every word from her mouth told of sex appeal like he did not know before. And when she touched him! Chinekee! he thought.
He had come to discover that there were two types of women. The one that liked to be touched and the ones that liked to touch. While Josephine was the former, Eyonyam belonged in the latter category. Chisco was sure that Eyonyam could raise a dead man with her hands and mouth on the right parts of the body. He wanted a woman who would do things to him for a change. He thought about the fingers he put inside her and the glorious feel of her sex. It was the texture of coconut oil and mango pulp together, the type of feel that provided both easy passage and comfortable friction. And oh! the warmth of it!
No one, not in the least Josephine would deprive him of the opportunity of putting his penis into such a luxurious vagina. As for his foolish brother Achike, it was even possible that what was happening was a ploy of his to get Eyonyam to touch him all the time free of charge. Achike did look well enough to him. Therefore he was not going to risk his chance with Eyonyam because of an unnecessary concern over Achike.
So Chisco left the compound that morning and went to the bus stop to wait till night when he would sneak back in and make love to Eyonyam. His only problem that day was that every minute seemed like an hour and every hour seemed like a whole day. He feared that he would grow old and wrinkled and impotent before night came at the pace it was going.
Finally, night fell and Katakata Street went to sleep. From the floor of the sitting room, Chisco listened for when Achike would begin to snore, and as soon as he heard it he quietly pushed the centre table aside and moved closer to Eyonyam who was backing him. There was no time to waste. He found the tip of her wrapper and pulled it up to her waist. He placed a hand on her hip and was about to go to work on it when Evae screamed from the adjoining room. It was long and piercing and woke the entire compound.
One look at her and Eyonyam knew.
“The pikin dey come. The water don break.”
Achike took Chisco’s hand and they ran out of the compound to get help.
Achike always knew a day like that would come, so he had made an arrangement with a man that owned a keke down their street – that if it ever happened in the middle of the night the man would come and help him take his wife to the hospital.
The Keke rider was cooperative and they arrived back at number 225 in time to take Evae and Eyonyam in the back seat while Achike and Chisco ran after the tricycle as it hopped to God Dey Hospital.
Two hours after they got to the hospital Evae was delivered of a baby boy.
However, at daybreak, when neighbors gathered to congratulate Achike, someone noticed that Papa Efe was not there. So Irikefe went back inside to check on his father.
Compound members heard his cry and rushed to the scene only to discover the lifeless body of Papa Efe in the arms of his disconsolate son.
TO BE CONTINUED.