by Daniel Nkado
So I met this girl sometime last month. At GT Bank ATM.
She just walked in and met the long queue—like a giant millipede we curved out to the road.
I saw her wilt, that automatic tired face you make when you just want to breeze in and take some cash and then you are greeted with this ugly-looking train of straight-faced people.
Nothing quite more dispiriting.
She came closer and asked if I was the last person. I said yes. I have shifted for her to stand behind me when she said this stupid thing. Had she not been pretty I would have hissed openly at her. But you know that patience afforded by being beautiful, what it does to men. In the attraction, you will smile when you are supposed to frown, burst open in laughter when you only could have just smiled. Quite inexplicable.
She’d said, in pleading voice though, ‘Please can you help me beg the next person to allow me?’
I looked at her. Is she ok? In fact, even on her face I saw this was something she was experienced at doing–getting guys to do chores for her. Fine girls sef. But today her luck had run out because when fine girl jam fine boy, the bed suffers.
Ok, fine, I made that up. And please stop glaring at me, I am a fine boy. Fine-boyish.
‘Madam, see that guy in yellow,’ – I was pointing— ‘he is the next person, go and talk to him yourself,’ I said.
She obviously caught the sarcasm, the way she curled her lips in a small, crooked smile. ‘Okay, please, the issue is that my sister and I are already running late. Where is the next closest bank around here?’
‘You have to bike to Bank Street. All the banks are there.’
‘Oh, no need of biking. We came with a car.’
That was when I looked and saw the shiny black Jeep parked off the road slightly ahead. Had I seen that machine before, I would have been nicer.
‘So can you direct me on how to locate the street?’ she asked.
‘Well, since you are mobile I can go with you in your car.’
‘Oh, better. Thanks a lot.’
She thanked me about twice as we walked to the car. Little did she know that I should be the one thanking her. If not that I had just N60 in my pocket I would have since gone to Bank Street myself and made my withdrawals.
I was surprised when we got to the Jeep and I discovered she wasn’t even the one driving. A large, older lady was behind the steering, dark glasses over her eyes and a pair of wireless headphones above her head. She was nodding rhythmically, obviously to the music from the headphones.
She rolled down her glass when she saw us.
‘Did you succeed?’ she asked.
The girl with me shook her head and told her what had happened.
‘Oh that’s nice of you,’ the big lady said. ‘Hop in please.’
I entered the car. The sudden feel of cool air from the car AC gave me a brief glimpse of what heaven would be like.
‘So, young man, what is your name?’ the big lady asked me. Her eyes did not leave the wheel.
‘James, Ma,’ I said.
I knew if I had mentioned Olatunbosun and satan takes the day she happens not to be Yoruba, I will keep repeating the name till we get to the street. It has happened before.
‘Student?’ she asked.
‘Final year. Chemical Engineering,’ I said.
‘Oh, how very nice,’ she said with a slight smile, a smile that meant she’d heard better.
I guess at that moment I was overtaken by that jubilant feeling of being in finals when you feel like you are the most important person in the world.
‘The street is your next turn, Ma,’ I said, as if to mask the complacency in my former words.
‘Ok. Left or right?’
She stopped the car in front of GT Bank, the more modern-looking GTB on Bank Street.
I was getting down when I heard the big woman say, ‘Sweet heart, won’t you get your friend’s number at least?’
The other girl smiled at me and extended her phone—an iPhone, I couldn’t tell now which model. From the way it felt in my hand, it must have been nothing less than iPhone 8.
I pressed in my digits and without seeking her permission dialled it before handing the phone back.
‘Oh you dialled it already,’ she said as she looked at her phone.
‘Yes.’ My yes was not audible. My Tecno has started her signature jazz, drowning out my voice.
‘I will call you,’ I said, rushing out of the car without bothering to hear her response.
The big lady waved at me before her glass slid up, concealing her.
I watched their car go down a bit and then turn into Access Bank.
I turned and walked into the bank space. As common to anything GTB, there was still a small queue. By the time I walked out, their car was gone.
I called Phoenix (that was what she later told me her name was) two days after. It was one of those lazy days you keep scrolling down your contacts while checking MTN Zone rate.
When she answered, I was surprised she called my name, that she remembered me. That means she had actually saved my number. Quite surprising for a Naija girl seen in a Jeep.
We talked for some minutes. I made her laugh. I was quite skilled at making girls laugh. Though some days can be awful—or some girls—and the comedy technique won’t work. Sometimes you only get that patronizing smile that makes you feel more stupid than funny. Our girls are quite all sorts.
The next day my phone rang and it was Phoenix. I had just come out of the bathroom. I was wet and my phone was ringing, threatening to stop any minute if I wasn’t fast enough to take the call. And it wasn’t going to ring again, I know. A Naija girl will only call you more than once if you had gotten her pregnant, or failed to send her a promised recharge card.
I picked the phone with a wet hand. As I remembered, it would be my first time of mistreating my Tecno Phantom. Seeing the way I handle it, one would think it was five iPhones bundled into one.
Phoenix said she just wanted to say hi. But I thought better.
We gisted for more than an hour. She admitted to having liked my company. I remember sometimes taking my phone out of my ear to check to be really sure she was the one that had called. I made that silly mistake once with a Deeper Life girl.
Phoenix invited me to her house three days after. I had been excited. Very excited.
I thought it was one of those cases of a really lonely girl that needed company, and then a comforting kiss, and from there needing more, and more, till we were both naked on the bed.
When the okada man stopped me in front of Number 12, I had had to ask him again if he was sure this was the street. He nodded and said my money is N200.
‘N200, shoo!’ For a distance that wouldn’t have taken me more than five minutes to walk—considering my inborn talent in trekking.
Obviously he was judging from my outfit—if I was travelling to London on that day, I still would have dressed like that.
It could also be the new house I was visiting, obviously the best in the street, if not in the whole area.
I didn’t argue with the bike man. He was big and every inch mean-looking.
And, too, Phoenix’s room might be close and she might hear our voices and come out to meet me suspended in the air by this big, ugly man.
‘Take jor!’ I threw the two-hundred note at him.
Bike man jejeli picked his money and gave me that slow, concerned look that meant he understood perfectly.
Poverty is a terrible curse.
Inside the compound, I walked through the third-floor corridor, looking for Flat 3C— as I was told.
I saw the door and stopped.
I knocked the first time, and then again. The door opened at the third knock. But the lady I saw looked different— sexier, I must admit, but wilder.
She was in a black bra and blue bum shorts. A lit cigarette was in her hand. She even had tattoos— the two I was able to see—one, something like a butterfly on the upper part of her arm and the other, a Chinese character at the side of her belly. Her belly was flat—relatively, obviously the reason she was bold enough to expose it.
For a moment I thought maybe I was in the wrong house. But I looked at her face again. It was really her, the innocent-looking girl I saw at the bank that afternoon. Perhaps she was playing innocent that day because of her big sister.
In my mind I checked my wallet to be sure I still got a condom in there. I confirmed I did.
Phoenix asked me to sit. She asked what I’d like to take and then went on to list all that were in her fridge.
‘Give me the can Star,’ I said.
I was drinking the beer and she was smoking, a light discussion linking us together.
‘So do you have a boyfriend?’ I asked her after waiting for a long time and she didn’t bring up essential topic.
She was busy asking about school and what being an engineering student was like. We used to have that kind of discussions on the phone, but today I was in her house and she was nearly naked. Business ought to change.
Once in a while, my kid brother would rise in protest, but I would bark at him to calm down, that it wasn’t time yet. He would grumble, but would eventually obey.
‘I don’t have a boyfriend,’ Phoenix answered. She sucked on her cigarette and poured out a mass of white smoke.
‘Yes. I don’t date boys.’
Oh, she is a runs girls too. I nodded. Maybe this was a bad idea. Them runs girls don’t do cheap sex, I know, have heard.
But it might also be a blessing—a new thought arose within me. Maybe she really liked me and would want to keep me. Every runs girl has a young boy she gives her soul, while the old, pot-bellied men could have her body all they want.
‘How is your sister?’ I asked after a small silence. I couldn’t think of anything better to say at the time, but I needed to maintain the communication.
The burning cigarette halted halfway to her mouth. ‘Sorry, who?’
‘Your sister that you were with at the bank that day.’
‘Oh.’ She snorted with a smile. Then she pulled out of the chair and flicked the burning cigarette on the edge of the small glass bowl on the centre table to remove embers. ‘That’s not my sister,’ she said. ‘She is just a friend. We used to be very close but not anymore.’
‘Ok. You guys are quarrelling?’
She chuckled. I felt stupid for having asked that question.
‘No,’ she said, ‘we are very cool. She cheated on me so I ended the relationship. That’s been years now though.’
I was still trying to digest this when someone walked out of the adjacent room. Another girl. I never knew Phoenix wasn’t alone.
The new girl was in a mess, her hair at least. Her eyes were all glazed from alcohol and sleep. She was very tall, fair and pretty, but there was something boyish about her— the long blue singlet she wore over boy boxers and her thin square shoulders. Booblistically, she was not so blessed, if at all.
‘James, meet Raja, my boo,’ Phoenix said. ‘Raja, this is the academic I was telling you about.’ ‘Welcome bro,’ Raja said. He voice was deep, even deeper than mine. She extended her hand to me like a fellow boy. I took it like a girl.
She flopped down beside Phoenix and both of them kissed—hot, French kiss. She took a cigarette from the pack and lit it from the one between her girl’s lips.
‘Can I find somewhere to pee?’ I asked.
Phoenix pointed. ‘The door on the left.’
I stood and rushed to the bathroom.
Read the concluding part HERE.
An exclusive DNB Story.