Maya had her bath, got dressed in a booboo gown and sat in the parlour and filed her nails. It felt like heaven waking up for the second day running without trepidation over a supposed companion. 225 Katakata Street may not compare to her former flat in Bode Thomas, but it was more accommodating. It was what she grew up to appreciate. It was home. Better than that, it was now home she paid for and ran, in an environment she felt safe in. She missed her mother, but that was something she had gotten over even while at Bode Thomas. She thought about her career. There were no jobs now because of the pandemic and the fact that she was pregnant. She had enough to sustain her until she had her baby and got back in shape so she did not have to worry about work for the time being. Good thing was that she did not renew her contracts with Jonjo and was now free to work other jobs. She would take each day as it came. For the time being, she wanted to enjoy her much needed independence.
The curtain parted and Joseph entered the room. He had gone out for a cigarette.
“Is that thing still affordable? Because the price of everything else has gone up.”
“Si, mi hermosa prima.” Joseph said.
“Yes my beautiful cousin,” he said. “There are things that will always be affordable no matter how much they cost. This is one of them.”
He sat in front of her and watched her as she worked on her toenails. Maya’s feet were on the centre table. Conscious of his gaze, she adjusted her gown to make sure that her thighs and legs were completely covered.
“So, now you have seen this area. What do you think you can do?”
“I have always wanted to own a bar. I have been a waiter all my years in Spain.”
“Well, we don’t do bars here. We have beer parlours.”
“I can open a beer parlour like they haven’t seen before. With a counter and long stools and find pretty girls to wait on customers.”
“Make sure you have peppersoup, point and kill, nkwobi. Forget about the long stools o. don’t say I didn’t tell you. Put seats that their legs can touch the ground so they can balance and destroy their fish head. That is all local men want.”
“Well, we will see. But erm…will you give me the additional cash I need?”
“How much did you say you have?”
“About nine hundred euros. Less than five hundred thousand naira.”
“Bros you will manage that. You will get a shop for about two hundred. The change will cover money for beer and fish and meat.”
“Well, let me do my feasibility studies first hermosa hermana.”
“Start Spanish classes to raise funds.”
“Will anyone here be interested?”
“Yes. Go outside to that new office and ask for Irikefe and Castro.”
Maya kept quiet and continued working on her toes. Then she felt his eyes burning a hole in her head. She looked up and saw the look.
“Yes hermosa prima”
“Your Spanish endearments and that look. I have been through a lot. The last thing I need now is a confused relative.”
“Clementina is very impressionable. She thinks you look at me in a funny way. Coming to our bed the other night also did not help. I am happy to have you around but please don’t get things twisted. I have had a hard life and you are my cousin.”
“Make friends. Talk to the boys and girls. If you will be running a bar, you need to be popular. Talk to Ndifreke. He is a good guy.”
“But you said you don’t want to have anything to do with him.”
“I don’t want a relationship with him anymore yes. But I know that if you want a friend out here, he’s your man.”
They heard footsteps and then the ringing voice of Josephine shouting a greeting at someone.
“And you can make friends with her too,” Maya said, just as Josephine put her hand through the curtain and found the door, knocked and entered before being asked in.
“Haa!” She said and put her arms across her chest Wakanda style.
“I forget there’s a man here o! Lemme go and wear bra.”
“Wait joor!” Maya teased. “Meet my cousin, Joseph. Joseph, meet my friend, neighbor, sister, confidant, Josephine. We call her Nurse Jo.”
“Encantado de concerte. Eres Hermosa.” he said and bowed and kissed the back of her hand.
Joseph heard Maya saying “Meaning?” He answered because he made the point of always interpreting his Spanish. “Happy to meet you. You are beautiful is what I said.” But after that, Maya ceased to be visible in the room for him. He had seen the nurse a few times but it was his cousin that he had had eyes for. Maya shooting that down at the same moment the nurse walked in with jutting breasts through a singlet was all he needed after weeks of forced celibacy.
Josephine did not know he was that tall and muscular. She had never known a man that spoke a foreign language. All she was thinking as she ogled his perfect body was him ejaculating on top of her while spewing the foreign tongue.
Maya watched them fooling around and heaved a sigh of relief. She knew Josephine would like him. She was not sure about her cousin.
Maya could not wait for Clementina to return so they could make a bet on when those two would end up together in bed. Maya was sure it would be that same night.
She looked up and saw that Josephine finally got a hold of herself. She suddenly stopped giggling and was now making him beg for her number. Even then, she saw how she squeezed her thighs together when he spoke Spanish. Poor little whore! Maya thought with a smile.
“I don’t give my number to just anyone I’m sorry monsieur.”
“Señor. Yo hablo espanol no frances”
“I understand that! I do! You just said you are not speaking French!”
“Si. Okay if I don’t get your number, I will just hop across and see you.”
“No señor. I don’t entertain visitors now. There’s COVID 19.”
“I saw in the news that the Russians have found a vaccine and it is already in Abuja. Taking the next flight there to get a shot so I can visit you this evening.”
“No sir. Even if you do. I will have you wait three months, get exposed to the virus and survive it before you will come anywhere near me. Bye-bye. Bye Maya!” She said and twisted out of the room.
Joseph stood there with his mouth agape. He patted himself and found his pack of cigarette and lighter and also excused himself.
Maya found it curious that he smoked when he was happy, sad, nervous, hungry, every time! Right then he was as excited as a kid unboxing his birthday presents and the first thing he wanted to do was to have a cigarette. Maya shook her head.
She sighed and paid attention to her nails again. Clementina walked in.
“Ah you missed!” Maya said.
“Tell me, sister” Clementina said.
“Joseph and Josephine. I may have just brought together a match made in heaven.”
“Thank God. So he will leave you alone.”
“How did you know what I was thinking?”
“Seriously sister, is he okay? You are his sister!”
“Stranger things happen. Maybe they do it in Europe where he lived. And he never really knew me until now. If I had noticed such behaviour towards you I would have been worried.”
“I am still worried.”
“He was confused. He just wanted a woman. He has found one now I hope. We are safe now.”
“If you say so sis.”
“Thanks for speaking to Ndi for me. No one else could have done that as convincingly as you. Now I can face my life and he can face his.”
“I don’t feel so good I must say sis. I think he hates us now. He said we need help.”
Maya chuckled and said “Typical Ndi. Oh my!”
“But sis you think it is a good idea to put him off like that?”
“Everything you said was true apart from blaming him for not coming to my rescue. It is important for him to know how damaged I am. Look at what he had to do. He gave up this place! Been sitting out there and staring into space since the day we got back. I betrayed him. He deserves better.”
“I wish I didn’t have to tell him about Jonjo and me.”
“You weren’t supposed to!”
“He wasn’t listening to me. He kept calling me a child. I had to let him know I have seen a penis before!”
“I went ahead and told him I had had three boyfriends, kissed a girl and done anal.”
“My God!” The nail file dropped from Maya’s hand and she covered her mouth with her hands. “You have killed him!”
“He was shaking like a leaf.”
“Oh little momma! Where did you hear such nonsense!”
“A girl in my dorm says it when she wants to remind us how much bigger than us she is. It was what I thought of so that he could sit down and listen to me. I flirted with him too.”
“Thank God he resisted. I don’t know what I would have done if he had fallen for it.”
“You went and did more than I sent you little momma!”
“I like Bro Ndi truly. I didn’t know I had it in me to behave that way. I wish you didn’t have to push him away. He is perfect.”
“Yes he is and I’m not.”
“Are you not being too hard on yourself sis?”
“It doesn’t matter. Best gift I can give him is to let him go.”
“So what will happen to you?”
“I will have my baby then go back to work. I want to start building a house for us in two years time. I don’t have a place in my heart for a man anymore.”
“But you came back here for him during the lockdown!”
“A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then. My perspective has changed.”
Clementina stayed quiet and thought for a while. Then she said: “I trust you sis. Thanks for being there. Thanks or not making me miss mum.”
“You’re welcome, dear.”
Clementina stood up and went across the table and hugged her sister.
Maya did not want her to see her tears. So she said: “Okay so I wanted us to have a bet. When do you think Joseph and Josephine will end up in bed together the first time? I think it will be tonight!”
“Is it not nurse? Tonight is too far! I bet her door is already locked!”
They both laughed hard and Maya used the opportunity to wipe the tears from her eyes.
Clementina hugged Maya again.
Ndifreke called Irikefe and Castro over for a meeting.
“Okay gentlemen, before we see any clients today, we need to sort out a few things. Going forward, I will be the only one doing the auditions. You will both watch and see how it is done.”
“But bros we are doing it well na. It is not our fault that they are ugly,” Castro said.
“That is precisely the point. You are looking for the finished product when you should be looking for potential.”
“Bros if you wowo you wowo! What is potential again there? Some of them their teeth are broken. Some have squint eyes. One was visibly limping and she had the mouth to say that her boyfriend told her that her limp was sexy. What is the potential there? And they have the mind to leave their homes and come here and waste our time!”
“I maintain what I say. You are looking for the finished product and it does not exist. Do your research. Look at raw pictures of the top models. Tyra Banks, trying to reset a few brains a while ago revealed that it took three hours for a makeup artist to make her look like what we see. Some of the girls you are turning down now will look as good with a professional touch. What you need is the eyes to see.”
“Bros Tyra Banks get shape. I don’t even need her made-up face. If I have seen any girl with ass like that I would have taken them.”
Ndifreke knew he had his work cut out with those two. But he would not give up on them.
“Alright. You watch me for the next week. I will develop a checklist we will be using when you are ready. You will not need to say a word. Just tick tick tick and we will compare notes afterwards. I don’t want you bad-mouthing the clients no matter what you think of them.”
“Call Bunmi in. We promised her a photo shoot and we haven’t done anything.”
“Is it not you? You keep falling in and out of love your head no come dey here again.”
“Okay I’m ready now. Let her come in tomorrow. I will use her to demonstrate exactly what I have been saying. You called her ugly with knocked knees right? Wait till I finish with her.”
“Bros the girl looked fine small that day you spoke to her because she was happy. Remember I took her number and wanted to meet up with her. When she showed up she still wowo abeg. I didn’t want to tell you.”
“No problem. Let’s watch and see. Let her come in tomorrow. I will get a makeup artist and take her to the studio. I know people at my former place of work that can get her clothes to wear.”
“Okay na. We dey watch. But wait o bros. All of a sudden your mood don change. You must have fallen in love again,” Irikefe said.
“Bros make I tell am?” Castro said.
“Tell him what?”
“I see bros dey come from yonder this morning. I bet he slept in aunty’s house.”
Ndifreke made to speak but only smiled.
Irikefe jumped up in celebration.
“Thank goodness. I was scared you would go back to Maya.”
“No. Maya is not for me. That chapter is closed.”
“I hope so” Irikefe said.
After work, Ndifreke joined up with the men at the frontage. Josiah was saying “Pastor Adeboye met with Buhari o. They refused to reveal what was said at the meeting.”
“I suspect Daddy GO has reminded him of the number of votes his church alone brings to the table. Have you heard anything about the CAMA law since then?”
“Someone should go and talk about the water resources bill too. Did you see the Vanguard editorial on the matter? They want to bring back RUGA policy through the back door! Now the Federal Government owns all the water on the surface or underground in Nigeria and can send anybody to possess any water anywhere. That means cow owners who are always looking for water with their destructive herds can show up in anybody’s farm that is near water and do as they like because the water is now a common resource and does not belong to anybody!”
“Kai. After we thought that we have been free from cows. Cows remain more valuable than human beings in this country!”
“So even your borehole water belongs to the Federal Government. You may be taxed for borehole water in future!”
“God forbid. And there is the anti-social media and hate speech bills as well. Did you hear that the DSS questioned Don Jazzy and Tiwa Savage over their social media posts criticizing Buhari? Since then Don Jazzy has only been posting about Forex and BB Naija on Twitter.”
“Omo! And they have increased electricity tariff, DSTV and fuel all in one blow. Na die remain aswear!”
“And they are the ones that invaded Ojota when Jonathan tried to remove fuel subsidy in 2012. Aswear this life no balance.”
“If they had allowed the man then, by now we would have adjusted. Maybe we would have even had functioning refineries.”
“And he was patient enough to allow a peaceful protest and reversed his decision for the sake of peace. Now you can’t even protest on social media not to talk of out there on the streets. Dem no born you well.”
“Jona…wherever you are, forgive us for we knew not what we did.”
Not all the men were present at the meeting. Jide was a notable absentee. He was about to step out for the meeting when Funbi held him back and started to kiss him. Jide hurriedly closed the door but Iniquity who was passing had seen them. He grabbed a stool and sat in front of their door and listened while they made love.
They finished and Jide stepped out and found him seated there. Jide got startled, made to go back inside but changed his mind and put on his slippers and faced the backyard.
Iniquity stood and said “Hello, I’m Usman, pleased to meet you.”
“Hello. I’m Jide. Sorry I’m not shaking hands with you.”
Iniquity’s eyes were piercing. His rough looks were causing Jide’s heart to palpitate. No. He shouldn’t be feeling that way. He glanced at the door and felt reassured knowing Funbi was there.
Iniquity could see through him now. The lawyer liked men. Iniquity just wanted him to start moving so he could see that titillating gait again.
“Going to the backyard? I could join you. I hear you are a lawyer.”
Who said this was going to be easy? Jide thought. This was God playing a trick on him to see if he had really changed. Jide was up for the challenge. It helped that he had just been with Funbi.
“I hear you are an ex-convict,” he said.
“Don’t be rude sweetie,” Iniquity said.
“It is important for me to let you know early that I don’t want to be friends with you.”
“Oh I see. But your eyes say something else,” Iniquity said in a whisper.
Jide swallowed and looked around. The corridor was deserted. Thankfully the people he could see were not paying any attention to them. Jide straightened himself and said: “You don’t know what my eyes say. Since you have been back, neighbours have been jittery wondering what you might do to them. I understand the terms of your release so don’t get too comfortable. If you make anyone here uncomfortable, and that includes sitting in front of my door and watching for no reason I will make you go back to where you came from faster than you can imagine. So please go about your business and you don’t have to say any greetings to me. I won’t appreciate it.”
“Don’t struggle man. No one has ever succeeded that way,” Iniquity cooed.
“You have been warned,” Jide said and continued to the backyard.
Iniquity looked at him and chuckled. This was one challenge he was going to enjoy. When he turned back to take his seat again he saw Funbi by the door. She had been listening.
“I like him,” he said to her and chuckled again.
“I know you won’t mind sharing. You can even join in. I like you both.”
“Fuck you,” Funbi said and slammed the door in his face.
Chisco sat up on the bed. He had thought about all his options and reached the inevitable conclusion that the only workable one was to go and beg Eyonyam. He had known men with that kind of problem. They went from one medicine man to another looking for solution and each time the best solution was always to go to the person that made them that way if they were lucky enough to know that it was caused by someone. There were temporary solutions, but what was lasting was going after the actual cause. Chisco thought about all those people that stole penises at the bus stops for ritual purposes. They were always hunted down and made to return the damn penises! Nothing more.
He knew now that he should not have touched the woman the moment he discovered she was a witch. But Chisco took consolation in the knowledge that he was only one of hundreds of men who would have done the same with Eyonyam there for the taking. Unfortunately for him, now he was at her mercy. Coitus with her exposed him. He would go and beg her. When she restored him, he would still deal with her.
Wasiu stirred awake and sat up beside Chisco.
“Wetin dey happen my guy? You just dey do like say person die,” Wasiu said.
“Nna, mind ya business,” Chisco said.
“Abeg make dat woman comot today o. I don arrange with my guys. Dem go bring okada. One go dey waka for leg the other go wait on top the okada for yonder. Then when she waka reach where my guy stand, him go nack am for the back of hin head and she go pass out, then the other one go drive the okada reach where dem dey carry am take off. Aswear na ten rounds I go nack the woman the first day,” Wasiu said.
“Cancel ya plan. You no go touch de woman.”
“Ehn, Cisco! Wetin you talk?”
“Go carry ashawo. Leave the woman alone. If anything do am I go go report to police by myself.”
As soon as it was day break Chisco got dressed in jeans and an Ankara top and went to his brother’s place. As expected, it was Eyonyam that opened the door when he knocked. Chisco forced himself into the palour and fell on his knees.
“Stand up o! Make ya broda and him wife no come see you.”
“Biko nwanyi Togo. Sorry.”
“Sorry for yasef!”
“Biko. Ndo. No vex. Give my back my thing.”
“Amu m. My nkonkromus. E nor dey work again. Abeg, nne.”
“I no know wetin you dey talk o!”
“You know. I take God name beg you. My engine don knock. I don turn to onye ngworo from my waist. Biko nne. Give me back my prick.”
Eyonyam had Chisco where she wanted him. She had not expected him to come grovelling so soon. She thought in his braggadocio he would try to pull off something smart, but he did the correct thing and quickly enough.
“Come back for night.”
“Okay. What time?”
“By one for midnight. I no go lock door.”
So that night, Chisco, completely resigned to fate showed up to find Eyonyam seated naked on the parlour floor after putting Achike’s family to sleep.
She gave him a calabash of vegetable soup with plenty of palm oil and fufu to eat. No sooner had he finished the meal did he feel life return to his groin. He gained a big throbbing erection.
“You wan test am?” Eyonyam said.
When he thought about it later, Chisco wondered if the outcome would have been different if he had run out of the room the moment he saw that he was whole again. He was never to know because Eyonyam did reach for his penis with baby oil in her hands and stroked it till Chisco begged to penetrate her. Then she turned, bent and placed her hand on the table and allowed him power into her from the rear.
When they finished Chisco fell asleep instantly and left Eyonyam to clean them both up.
A short while later, Chisco dreamt that he was growing feathers and a beak. Then he saw himself flying over their area. The night breeze on his body felt too real. It was no ordinary dream. Then he landed on the rooftop of their building. When he got there there was already another bird waiting. It was a canary. When he looked closer he saw that he could recognize the bird for who it really was.
“Welcome to my world,” the canary said to him.
TO BE CONTINUED.