New Home, New Trouble
Soluyi was calm and peaceful, a good relief from the long hours of immobility the girls experienced on the Third Mainland.
Even though Max’s car was fully air conditioned, the traffic still remained a horrible experience for them.
Finally they were at the Close and Max halted in front of a tall black gate.
He honked a few times before a slender-built man came and drew the gates apart.
The Camry eased into the compound.
The girls came down and Max opened his boot so they could carry their bags.
Upstairs, in the flat, Georgina was first to marvel at the decor.
The neat, well-placed condition of the room was in big contrast to the not-so-special building it was housed in.
The painting was flawless, the colour combination top notch, the fittings Ikoyi-style. The room arrangement was even more appealing; there’s just enough space between one item and the next.
Everything looked neat and new.
A thick sweet smell of lemon enveloped the air.
Max led the girls down a short hall and opened an adjacent door. ‘Alright, girls, this will be your room,’ he said.
‘It’s beautiful,’ April said, looking all around.
‘Thank you so much, Max,’ Loveth said.
‘Max nna m dalu so,’ Georgina said, heading to the bed. She got to it and slumped on the bouncy mattress.
‘Your friend will have to stay in my room,’ Max said, referring to Abuchi.
Georgina got up at once. ‘Abuchi can stay here with us, I think the room is big enough.’
‘Georgina?’ April furtively pinched Georgina’s arm.
When the door closed behind Abuchi and Max, Georgina turned to April and said, ‘I hope that boy doesn’t start touching Abuchi in the night o.’
‘And what if he touched him?’ April gave her back, removing her hair grip and letting down a gentle mass of Indian hair.
Loveth lowered herself to the bed and kicked off her heels.
Georgina kept her widened eyes at April. She came to stand in April’s front now. ‘Wait, is that the plan you made with him?’
‘Your gay friend.’
April rolled her eyes. ‘Georgina, Max is gay, alright, but that doesn’t make him a rapist.’
‘Don’t tell me that. Didn’t you see the way his eyes had been all over Abuchi ever since?’
‘Since when does admiring a person become a crime?’
Georgina’s trigger finger went up. ‘Point of correction, a man admiring his fellow man!’
‘Georgina please!’ April said. ‘It’s the 21st century already. Men are already marrying other men and women other women.’
‘And you think that is an okay thing?’
‘Well, there was a time having black skin was deemed not an okay thing too by some set of people.’
‘Oh come on! That is entirely different.’
‘How so? As far as I am concerned bigotry is bigotry, no matter who and what is involved.’ April turned to Loveth. ‘Or Loveth, is that not so?’
Georgina waved—dismissively—and said. ‘Oh please leave Loveth out of an intelligent discussion such as this!’
‘And what is that supposed to mean?’ Loveth said to Georgina. She stood. ‘You think yourself are all wise and intelligent, yet here you are spewing ridiculous homophobia through your thin, uninformed lips!’
‘What?’ Georgina looked clearly shocked. ‘Nekwanu Loveth o! So you now speak pho-ney? Even advocating for homosexuality too?’
‘Well, my dear, I am just informed enough to know that whatever two consenting adults agree to do in their bedroom is none of my goddamn business. Look where we are now, in the house of a gay man who was kind enough to allow us into his home! If you hate him so much, you might as well take your bags and call up any of your numerous straight friends to come and pick you up.’
‘I don’t hate him,’ Georgina said, voice going mellow. ‘I really don’t—it’s just the act that I don’t understand. Where the motivation comes from, you know…’
‘And who said you are meant to understand everything in life?’ April said. ‘Let me tell you, up till this moment I still don’t get why people mix jollof and fried rice together in one plate to eat. But does that mean that I should start hating on whoever does that? A capital NO! As humans it is our duty to let benign things go and channel our energy to the serious issues.’
‘Well, it won’t be all so benign now to hear that I, Georgina Ochiabuto, lost her fiancé to the arms of another man!’
April threw out a laugh. ‘I think you should be more grateful than worried if that happens.’
‘What? How do you mean?’
‘It would mean that your so-called fiancé has not always been honest with you about his sexuality.’
‘Oh please, which honesty do you refer to? When he has seen big house and fine car.’
April turned surprised. ‘Oh wow, are you by any means implying that Abuchi can do anything for money?’
‘Who wouldn’t?’ Georgina answered.
‘Even you?’ April asked.
Georgina shook her head. ‘Nne hapu okwu, inu? If I start counting all the bad things I have done just because money was involved, rapture will happen today!’
April and Loveth broke into laughter.
The next day was a Friday.
Max, before leaving for work, dropped three notes of N1000 on the table for the girls.
‘Oh no, Max please, you cannot house us and still feed us too,’ April said.
Georgina picked the money. ‘Max dear, you really shouldn’t have bothered, but all the same thanks.’
April and Loveth looked at Georgina, who was already putting the money into the pocket of her shorts.
Afterwards, she raised her face to Max, touched the thin collar of his hand-tailored shirt and smiled: ‘This your native outfit nawao!’
Max looked down on himself. ‘You don’t like it?’
Georgina looked surprised. ‘Did I hear you say like? Honey, I LOVE it!’
Max smiled. ‘Thank you, darling.’
As soon as Max disappeared, Georgina made a face. ‘Sisters, a man is slaying more than us women—who says money is not good!’
‘It’s not just the money,’ April said. ‘Max has always had an eye for fashion.’
Georgina made another face. ‘Taa, which eye? How come he didn’t stand out all the while we were in school? Come on, that boy was wearing one shirt for weeks while in school.’
‘Georgina!’ Loveth said.
Georgina picked a cotton bud from a case in the wall cabinet to clean her ears. ‘By the way, where is Abuchi?’ she said, amid joyous ear intercourse.
‘Maybe he is still sleeping,’ April said.
‘That’s strange,’ Georgina said. ‘Abuchi has always been an early riser.’
‘Perhaps last night’s activity was so intense he had no choice than to sleep for longer,’ Loveth said, turning unconcernedly away.
‘Which activity are you talking about?’ Georgina asked.
Loveth said nothing else.
Consciousness hit Georgina and she ran off immediately to Max’s room.
But just as she drew the door open, a sleepy-eyed Abuchi appeared, trudging out of the room.
Georgina halted him, just before the door. ‘Are you alright?’ she asked.
‘Yup!’ Abuchi said, yawning.
Georgina looked Abuchi over. She put her hands into his boxers and felt each mound of his ass. ‘Do you feel any pain here?’
‘Where?’ Abuchi asked.
Georgina squeezed another mound of ass. ‘Here.’
Abuchi hissed. ‘I said I’m fine!’
Georgina’s eyes toured round Abuchi again. Truly everything seemed normal with him.
She left him and walked fully into the room. A sweet, flowery fragrance filled her nose. ‘Hmm,’ Georgina murmured.
And then she saw the money on the table. She picked the two N1000 notes. ‘Ego onye? Whose money?’
‘Bro Maxwell dropped it,’ Abuchi said. ‘He said it’s for feeding.’
Georgina’s eyes grew wider. ‘He gave you 2K and gave us 1K each?’
‘Chai! Abuu!’ Georgina cried. She shook her head. ‘Abuu!’
‘Like play, like play you done find husband o.’
‘What do you mean by that?’
Georgina depressed her cheeks. ‘Nothing o.’ She folded the money to put into her pocket.
‘What are you doing?’ Abuchi asked her.
‘Shut up! For your mind now, you done find better market!’ The money safe in her pocket, she added: ‘We’ll use the money and make stew and then prepare small soup for the evening.’
She cast her eyes round Abuchi again. ‘You are sure you are fine abi?’
‘Yes na. Bro Maxwell is a really nice man.’
‘Stop calling him Brother biko! Are you not older than him?’
‘And so what if I am older than him?’
Georgina was looking at Abuchi again. Except the money, nothing else looked wrong.
But the next day which was Saturday, something terribly abnormal happened in the house!