by Daniel Nkado and Gloria Ezeh
He has always been there for me.
He was around the day I got soaked in the rain, stranded on an empty road.
That was the first day we met anyway.
George had asked me to leave his car. I had wanted to protest, but he’d shaken his head violently and clapped his hands. ‘No! No way you are going with me to the house. Mum is around and I’m not ready to answer her questions this afternoon.’
‘But I’ve met your mother once and she seemed—’ I tried saying.
‘Mm-mm, Blessing, please get down!’ George cut me off with. ‘Pick a taxi from here and head home. I’ll meet you up later in the evening.’ He opened his wallet, took out some notes and flung out at me. ‘This can get you a hummer ride home if that’s what you want.’
I quietly collected the money from him and came down from the car.
I didn’t step back from the cloud of dust his car raised as he zoomed off. I was lost in my mind.
You see, that wouldn’t be the first time George would be asking me to come down from his car after he got a sudden call or signalling me to go inside the room and never step out till his visitors came and left.
‘Is it that you are ashamed of me or something else?’ I had once summoned up courage and asked him.
George turned his face from his computer to me. He was hunched over the device on the rug, legs crossed in Muslim praying style. ‘Are you alright?’ he asked me. ‘I am ashamed of you and yet I stick my dick inside your pussy every night and allow my wet tongue touch yours.’
George said those kind of things.
He shook his head in a way that suggested he couldn’t believe what creature I am and turned back to his laptop.
I quietly walked out of the room.
On the road where George had left me, I was still in my mind when the sky roared and like magic, the once bright day dimmed like dusk.
Soon the first drop of water landed on the skin of my upper arm.
I know I should start running away then and find where to take cover from the imminent rain, or at least look for something to cover my hair with, but I did none of those.
I stayed and waited patiently for the rain to come get me, while watching others scamper around for cover.
And it wasn’t long that it did. It was the fastest I’ve ever gotten soaked, like it wasn’t raining in drops but in bucketfuls instead.
I ran my fingers down my wet hair, finding peace with the calm waters. I know that anybody that had seen me then might think I was not very complete in the head, but I was unperturbed.
Across the road, I could see how people huddled under sheds and shops lining the road. The water had formed a consistent patch of grey in my front and I couldn’t see them well to be sure if they were staring at me or not.
I wouldn’t have bothered if they were. The rain felt good on me.
I hadn’t noticed his car when it passed because it was just like every other vehicle speeding past me up and down the road. The cars appeared to be running away from the rain too.
But when he slowed and then started to reverse back towards me, I watched the dark-brown Kia Cerrato with beetled brows.
Perhaps he wanted to ask for direction. I felt bad because even though I’ve been staying in the neighbourhood for quite some time now, I knew very few places.
Only the places George took me to.
The car came to a halt in my front. He rolled down his glass. ‘Are you lost?’ he asked.
His voice was muffled in the whooshing sound of the rain and for a moment I thought I had heard him wrong.
‘Did you lose your way?’ he came again. He appeared to be shouting.
‘No,’ I said, copying his tone. ‘Actually, I was just waiting for a taxi.’
Waiting for a taxi in the rain? I know how stupid I might have sounded.
‘Which way are you headed?’ he asked.
‘I stay on A.A Dickson!’
‘Really? That’s very close.’
‘Yea. Hop in, I will drop you at Garage Junction. You can pick a bike from there, right?’
‘What? You scared?’
‘No. I’m wet. Don’t wanna wet your seat.’
He gave me a look that meant he wouldn’t mind. ‘Get in!’
I walked to the other side of the car and entered. It was freezing cold inside—I looked round to see if it was a house AC he was using in the car.
When he looked at me second time and saw how I had folded my arms, he reached and turned the AC off.
‘Thank you,’ I said.
‘You welcome. I observed you were cold.’
‘I sure am.’
We didn’t say much to each other again till he stopped the car at Garage Junction. But I didn’t get down at the junction. It had rained and there were no bike men around. He was the one that noticed this first.
And that was how he drove me all the way down to the front of our gate.
When he stopped me, I was the one that requested for his card. I needed to thank him well. I had felt just saying it there on the street wasn’t enough. I would call him later when my head was calmer and thank him well.
And now I know just how lucky I am for having collected his card that afternoon.
For having met him.
That night when George’s madness started, I had quietly left the room for him and came out to the sitting room with one of the pillows.
But before I could settle down on the couch to sleep in peace he had walked out of the room to meet me.
‘So all you could do is leave the room for me abi?’ His voice rose even higher. ‘Like I’m just a barking dog, right?’
I got up from the couch. ‘George, please stop shouting,’ I said, my tone advisory. ‘It’s quite late and people are already sleeping.’
‘You must be stupid for saying that! Did you give me what I was looking for and I still shout?!’
‘I have already told you I didn’t see your memory whatever that you are looking for. What else do you want me to do?’
‘Is there any other person living in this house with us? Are you not the one that is always arranging and disarranging as if you are a steward. Where did you pack away the rubbish to? I’m sure you might have packed it away when you don’t always look.’
I looked at George and picked my pillow.
Trying to head back inside the room again, he grabbed my arm and jerked me painfully back. ‘Stay right there and don’t you dare walk out on me whenever I’m talking to you!’
My arm burned from his rough touch.
I threw the pillow at him and walked out of the house.
Worst mistake ever.
It was 10 p.m. I didn’t know what I was thinking.
Some seconds after I left the house, I heard the door bang shut behind me and the terrifying sound of bolting.
I walked back to the door and started knocking.
But it was late. Not the George I know and have been dating for a little over eight months now would come back to the door to open it for me. Not when I had walked out on him for the third time, this time walking out into the silent darkness of the night by myself.
It was like a child choosing the punishment for his mischief himself.
I stopped knocking, afraid that I might wake the neighbours.
It was that time of the night when everybody had gone inside and the only sound you could hear, except the cackling of night insects, was the muted sound of the TV, which seemed to get lower and lower till it eventually dies out.
And there is this one neighbour I was particularly afraid to wake. Mrs. Anyaoha. She was the woman that had once called me to come that she wanted to discuss something important with me.
I had approached her slowly, staring at the serious look on her face. I had made a quick guess that she wanted to borrow money for something very important.
But when I finally got close to Mrs. Anya, all she said, in a clear confronting tone, was, ‘What are you doing in the house of a man who is not your husband, eh?’
I had walked away from her without a word.
I stared at the locked door for something close to a full minute, wishing I could somehow magically break it apart. Like a Super Woman, I would grab George and flung him out of the house.
Back to reality, I went and sat on the first step of the stairs, supporting my head on my palm as I thought of what next to do.
I reached into the side pocket of my yellow shorts and brought out my phone. Thank God I had carried it.
I unlocked it and scrolled down to George’s number. I had saved it as Bestest Boo and now I felt mad at myself for having been that stupid.
Boo ko. Boa ni.
I quickly scrolled past his number as if it was something disgusting. Instead of calling him to plead with him to come and open the door for me, I would rather sleep outside, under the stairs if need be.
I was still thinking and scrolling down my phonebook when a number came up on the screen, causing a total pause to all the activities I was involved in. A number I had saved with My Rainy Day Friend.
I struggled through a moment’s hesitation and then sent the number off.
I put the phone to my ears. It began ringing so fast that I felt an extra thud in my chest when he picked.
‘Blessing, hello.’ His voice was calm.
A pang of excitement hit me on realizing he recalled me.
‘Good evening, Mr. Kehinde,’ I said.
‘Evening, precious. How do you do?’
‘I am fine, sir.’
‘Good. And your boyfriend?’
‘Actually, I am not fine, sir!’
‘He locked me out.’
‘He locked me out of the house.’
‘He locked you out of the house in the middle of the night?’
I wasn’t there but I could feel his shock.
Then he said, ‘Where are you now and do you want me to come and talk to him?’
‘No. No. If I can just get somewhere to sleep for the night, I will be okay.’
‘In that case, come out to your gate, let me come and pick you.’
The readiness with which he’d said this gave me a slice of sugariness in my tongue.
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