WILFRED CROSSFIRED II

Apologies my friends, I had intended to post the conclusion sooner than now, but I was distracted by some pleasant and less pleasant activities. Here is the final part. I hope U enjoy it. Pls put reactions, criticisms and marriage proposals at the comments section or follow me on twitter.
@jonnizap

WILFRED CROSSFIRED II

Just when you thought that you had everything down to a science, a blow to the face comes from nowhere to shatter that illusion.

Angela was deep in thought as she waited impatiently for Jeffery Asuqwo to answer her call. When he finally did, her heartbeat increased and she looked around self consciously.
“HELLO ANGELA”
His voice seemed to envelope her head like a dryer at the salon. She could hear loud music in the background, and female laughter. Her heart sank.
“Hello Jeff”
“HAVE YOU CONSIDERED MY REQUEST?”
“Yes I have and the answer is yes”
“GOOD…WE’LL GO OVER THE DETAILS TOMORROW”
Tonight’s fun was definitely not for her, Angela thought. Jeffery obviously had adequate female company, her swollen face and black eye would surely be surplus to requirement. If only she could capture him…and handcuff him to the bed. Just for tonight. Angela smiled at the idea as she walked to the bathroom.
By the time she called her friend Kachi, Angela Okoli was physically out of her matrimonial home. At Sophia Hotel, with only Jack Daniels to hug, her beautiful mind started to drift.

It wasn’t that Clement was a bad person, she thought. He was just a jealous man who married a beautiful extrovert…like her. Maybe there was something about her that riled him up.
Angela wasn’t sure if Jack Daniels was in charge at that point, but thinking of Clement that way somehow made her feel better.

Having made sure the three children were all sound asleep, Kachi was about to leave the children’s bedroom when her phone rang. She quickly darted out and shut the door gently. It was her friend Angela.

“Hello”
“Hello Kachi, how is she?”
“She’s fine, we really had a great time, but she’s asleep now”
“Thank you”
“Do you want me to wake her up?”
“No no no no no, I’ll come and pick her up in the morning”
“Your voice sounds funny”

Kachi was one of the few people who knew a bit about Angela’s frustrations at the home-front. She always provided a listening ear. This time she got an earful.
Kachi put a smile across her lips and snuggled up to Bobby in the sitting room. She kept the rictus on her face and said
“That was Angela, says she’ll be here for Ify in the morning”.
Bobby merely mouthed the word OK while giving her the briefest of smiles, before turning back to the television. Kachi leaned back to look at the TV screen. She couldn’t immediately identify the teams playing, so she paid attention to Bobby’s body language.
Kachi had completely mastered the art of pretending to be a football fan. No cheer shall escape her lips until Bobby’s team scores a goal.

At 4 years old, Ify did not fully comprehend why her mother was leaving her at uncle Edwin’s house.
“Is uncle Edwin your brother?”
“No, he’s my step-brother”
“Mommy, what’s a step-brother?”
Angela’s explanation wasn’t clear to Ify’s young mind, but like most children of that age, she was soon talking about other things. Angela was relieved. Her step-brother Edwin and his wife Nkem were quite capable of taking good care of her daughter till she returned from Lagos.

Angela worked at Servicom, a company that provided IT solutions to businesses that ranged from Oil and Gas, Banking, to Fire and Security. As a Business Analyst, her duties also involved using her good looks and sociability to the advantage of the company. In reality, she was a key part of the IT start-up’s objective of maintaining excellence and profitability.
She had to be present at the start of projects, to interpret the business challenges of clients to the Technical team. Her communication skills were also required to sell the solutions to the clients. She did not intend to travel to Lagos with her boss, but things were crowding her mind and she felt she needed the fresh air. Angela had fully made up her mind to escape, before Clement turns her into a beautiful corpse.

As the hotshot MD of Servicom, Jeffery Asuqwo at 38 years of age would be considered a catch by most women. Tall, with broad shoulders and perfect teeth, he was so complete. His winning ways were contagious, like he was the main character in a toothpaste commercial. He had everything that was desirable to the ladies, except he also had a wife and son in Vancouver.

On their second day in Lagos, Angela and Jeffery went out to celebrate. They had successfully added Nigerian Breweries Plc to their list of clients. Angela allowed the drink to assume control as she flirted shamelessly with Jeffery during their night out. Despite her outward merriment, Jeffery could sense that something was troubling her. He nevertheless kept his composure and regaled her with jokes and compliments. Soon he realised she was drunk, so he cut the night short and took her back to the hotel. Angela barely made it to the bed before passing out. Jeffery was baffled at how quickly she had started to snore, he just shook his head and left.
The next morning, Angela woke up with a blinding headache. Still in yesterday’s clothes, she vaguely remembered the events of the previous night. She was afraid she’d said or done something embarrassing. Her phone rang as she reached for it and she reeled back in mild shock. Her nerves were jumpy. The caller ID showed ‘Edwin’.
“Sister, I tried calling you yesterday…but your phone was switched off”
“Ok, what is the problem”
“Ify is missing”
Angela was speechless. She must not have heard right, she thought. But further queries only led to increased panic. She immediately regretted embarking on the trip.
Jeffery was very understanding, he kept reassuring Angela that her daughter will soon be found. He must have been talking to the car door. For Angela was in a trance-like state and did not register any of his words of consolation.
Prophet Ebenezer of the Lord’s Kingdom Church, situated off Psychiatric Hospital road Rumuomoi was the neighbourhood oracle. The founder and sole spiritual head of Solution Ministries was short, muscular and loud. He could cast out demons, see the future, and heal the lame. He was also available for the barren and the unmarried. Prophet Ebenezer could provide jobs for the jobless and probably raise the dead if need be…for a fee.
He had prescribed an all-night prayer session for Edwin and Nkem. It was to petition the supernatural to reveal the whereabouts of a missing child. They were to come with 40 thousand naira, a bag of rice, 4 tubers of yam and a he-goat. They duly complied. By dawn, their faith was rewarded.
Having returned from Onitsha, Wilfred had set about the task of arranging ‘new arrivals’ in his ‘boutique’ at Rumuola road. An unusual weakness had come upon him suddenly and he had decided to take a break. He closed his shop and went home. He did not pay much attention to the White Volkwagen Golf that pulled away from the shop next to his as he headed home.
He ate a little meal at home and fell into a deep slumber. He did not wake up till the next day, he even thought he was still dreaming when the mob attacked him.

The police laughed at his ‘statement’ and told him that his days of making penises disappear and kidnapping people were numbered. His swollen lips and ‘black eyes’ were even more confused as the police officers dumped him in a cell.

Edwin in his statement to the police told them that he sold electrical equipments at Rumuola road. That his wife Nkem had earlier left the child with him since she was going to the hospital for ante-natal care. That he was attending to customers when the little girl must have gone outside. He mentioned that he suspected Wilfred because when he went outside to look for the girl, she was nowhere to be found, and Wilfred’s previously open shop was closed.
The police received 5,000 naira from Edwin to ‘assist’ them during investigations.

Edwin told Angela on arrival that the culprit had been arrested in connection with the crime.Although she screamed and shouted at her step-brother, deep down, Angela blamed herself. She had not wanted to overburden Kachi and Bobby. If only she had asked them, she agonized.
The first ray of hope strangely came when the abductors called to make their demands. She was shocked that they had her number. She became a bit calm after briefly hearing her daughter’s voice. The scary voice on the phone warned her to cease further contact with the police. They also demanded 10 million naira as ransom before ending the call.
Now she has to face Clement. The thought brought fresh tears to her eyes. When Clement said “HELLO”, Angela thought she was going to have a heart attack. When he started screaming, she just sat on floor and put the phone in her lap. She allowed the tears to flow freely.
Clement had stormed off in his Acura MDX and driven straight to Uniport. There he picked up Sandra one of girlfriends. He was amused to see that some of Angela’s things were missing from the house when he returned home the next day. Where would she go, he thought. Her mom was dead and she had no relatives in Port Harcourt. He was sure that by the time he returned from duty off-shore, she would be back.
It was not easy being a Petro-Physicist at Exxon-Mobil. The risk of working off-shore, plus all that seismic data he had to interpret on location meant that whenever he was on land, he had to explore new ‘methods of drilling’ and enjoy himself to the fullest.
At work, his mind was not on Angela and her wahala, so when she called, it was a big surprise.

Clement arrived that night with 4 mobile policemen. Being an acquaintance of the Commandant of the MOPOL Squadron in Port Harcourt had its advantages. Edwin and his wife Nkem were arrested. Prophet Ebenezer was also arrested as he was about to have dinner with his family. He assured his family members and a guest that it was a misunderstanding, and that he will return to them soon.
The prophet’s attempt at conversation, his proclamation of innocence and threats of “touch not the lord’s anointed” were completely ignored by the men in bullet-proof vests. They slapped him around a bit before bundling him into their truck.
Even in police custody, Edwin insisted that Wilfred was the culprit. Wilfred maintained that he knew nothing of what Edwin was talking about. So to extract the truth, Wilfred was handcuffed to a chair and beaten to pulp.

Perhaps it was the excruciating pain, perhaps it was the shock of finally coming face to face with his accuser. Suddenly Wilfred could recall that Edwin was a passenger in the white Volkswagen Golf that drove away as he was going home. He also told the police that he had noticed a little girl on the backseat.

The police now turned their attention on Edwin. He explained that a friend of his named Lucky had paid him a visit that day. Wilfred must have seen them when they were on their way to pick Nkem from the hospital.

“But your wife says she came back to Rumuola road in a taxi…and you told her the child was missing”.
Edwin soon confessed after being beaten severely by the policemen. He promised to lead them to where they had hidden the child. They police promised Edwin that he would be set free once the child was rescued. Edwin claimed that it was the work of the devil, that his friend Lucky had talked him into it.
“I would never do such a thing” he cried.

Lucky Amadi lived alone in the house his late father had built at 13 Robinson Close, Rupokwu. The last house on the Close, it was secluded and formed a perfect hideout for various illicit activities. With police hidden in the shadows, guns trained on his back, Edwin knocked on Lucky’s gate.
He came outside wearing a faded green T-shirt over a pair of khaki shorts.
“Who is that?”
“It’s me, Edwin” in a harsh whisper.
Lucky was relieved, they had earlier agreed not to communicate using cellphones, he had even discarded the SIM card he used to call the woman. Perfect timing he thought, Edwin was wise. He smiled and opened the gate.
Ify was still asleep when she was rescued. She was delighted to wake up in her mother’s arms as both parents fawned over her with worried faces. They were relieved to find her hale and hearty.
Wilfred was set free the next day, but not before parting with a ‘bail’ of 10,000 naira. They threathened to rope him in if he did not co-operate.
Despite being caught up in the crossfire of Angela and Clement’s marital conflict, nobody offered him any apologies or showed appreciation for the part he played in solving the case.
Nkem was also released from custody due to her health condition. She also had to bail herself despite being an unwitting participant in her husband’s evil machinations.
“I knew she was going to give me a lot of trouble and I was prepared to handle her like a man”
Clement told the marriage counselor.
“Her own mother deserted her father while she was still very young, so that she can fulfill her sexual urges”
Angela was furious at Clement’s accusations and angrily turned her gaze on him.
“Now I can see that wife-beating runs in your family”
“Didn’t one of your uncles kill his wife in the seventies?”
“My mom had warned me about you from the beginning,
She even said I was crazy for marrying you and she was right!”
The City of David pastor had his hands full as he tried to instill marital responsibility back into the consciousness of the warring pair. Eventually they both agreed on a separation. Due to the demanding nature of his job, Clement grudgingly accepted that it would be better for Ify if she stayed with her mother. Angela had to promise not to make any travel plans in future without including her daughter. Clement was quite free to visit whenever he returned from off-shore duties.
Wilfred refused to testify during the criminal trial of Edwin Madu, Lucky Amadi and Boniface Okoro also known as Prophet Ebenezer. He however showed up in court occasionally to observe the proceedings.
The court decided that Boniface Okoro was eligible for bail. Edwin Madu and Lucky Amadi were remanded in custody.
Wilfred Ejezie made sure that he was always updated with adjournment dates as the trial progressed. It helped him sleep at night.
After a period of 11 months, the magistrate set aside a day for which judgment shall be pronounced. After going through the charges on that day, the magistrate read out the sentences for the accused persons. On the charges of conspiracy, false accusation, abduction, kidnapping and civil disturbance, Lucky Amadi and Edwin Madu were both found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. Before presenting the court’s decision on Boniface Okoro, the magistrate admonished the court about how the neglect of family structures , greed and intolerance has led to the decay of moral values in the society. Then she turned her gaze upon the wide eyed form of Boniface Okoro.
“Prophet Ebenezer” she said with a glint in her bespectacled eyes.
“Have you been close to the lord lately?”
Boniface Okoro nodded his head energetically an expectant smile forming on his face, hope rising in his sunken chest.
“Prophet Ebenezer, what do you foresee to be the ruling of this court?”
Someone’s open file rustled with papers as a hush fell in the court room. All eyes were now trained on the hapless prophet who seemed to be having speech impairment.
“I believe the court will set me free since I am innocent” he mustered.
“ORDER IN COURT”
Kept the murmur to a minimum, it soon died down completely.
“On the charges of false testimony, fraud and civil disturbance, the court hereby finds you Mr Boniface Okoro guilty on all charges, you are hereby sentenced to 6 years imprisonment”.
“Court adjourned”
The gavel fell once, but it was deafening to the ears of Boniface Okoro also known as Prophet Ebenezer.
Everyone was on their feet as the magistrate calmly made her exit. No one noticed a smiling Wilfred, staring cross-eyed at the magistrate with unabashed admiration.

THE END

CROSSFIRED WILFRED I

The yawn stuck in his throat and Wilfred Ejezie froze like he had just made eye contact with Medusa. Moments earlier, he had been sleeping peacefully only to be rudely awakened, the noise and footsteps that pulled him from slumber came from within the compound he shared with other tenants. It was not the regular bustle of people starting their daily hustle, it was not the hopeful remonstrations of women returning from overnight prayers. The urgency sounded like a fire alarm and Wilfred reacted like he was the warden in charge at a fire drill. Not a fire fighter by any means, Wilfred was only familiar with the matches and plastic lighters he smoked his cigarettes and weeds with. A t-shirt, a pair of shorts and morning wood were the only equipment he rushed out with.

Wilfred stared puffy and cross-eyed at the small crowd.

“THAT’S HIM”

“THAT’S THE KIDNAPPER”.

His strabismus was to his disadvantage, the angry mob stared at a scruffy looking young man with eyes that wandered and descended on him.

“what is going on!”
“what have I done!”

Was stifled by numerous hands grabbing and tearing at Wilfred Ejezie. His pleas were subdued as many feet kicked at him. Bewilderment and pain toyed with his senses. He wondered if he was dreaming. Relentlessly, blows fell on his head and body. The pain in his ribs felt more than a pinch. The futility of the utility he attempted to activate was completely lost to him, for Wilfred was still trying to pinch himself as he sunk into oblivion.

Angela Okoli stared at her reflection in the mirror, and added a little more blush to her cheeks. She fluttered her fake eye-lashes at her reflection as pleasure and excitement continued to build in her ample bossom. She intended to make today’s Valentine’s Day merriment memorable.
There will be no escape for Clement. Tonight she was ready to ride with him to hell wearing nothing but hydrocarbon lingerie, provided those flammable undies can hang on before they reach the depths of sheol.

Clement stared at his wife’s cleavage and his mouth went dry. She must have rubbed some of that make-up on it. Angela’s mammaries were not only bulging through the low-cut dress, they were also glowing like ‘TAXI’ on the roof of a cab at night. The more he stared, the more her breasts seem to grow out of her shimmering dress. Short and revealing, the dress clung helplessly at the mound of her massive behind, he swallowed painfully. The way she leaned forward was playing familiar tricks with his now hard schlong, he forced himself to look away.
Angela was on a mission, he could tell. From the top of her wavy hair to the heels of her Aldo peep-toes, she was definitely going to turn heads tonight. His head was already in a tumble like the final noisy spin of a washing machine, he was beside himself.

“Isn’t that dress too revealing?”

“You could change it for something more decent… Something a married woman would wear!”

Clement was trying hard to be concilliatory, but his rage made him feverish. His nose hot with a blaze of fury he could not understand.
The air was crackling with the lethal static of sexual tension, but looking at them, one would think they were being gently fanned with the pink breeze of love.

Angela tried hard to hide her annoyance by pressing her full red lips gently together one more time. She straightened up, palms on her hips and wiggled slowly from side to side. The movement made her breasts bounce as if she was experiencing a pot-hole on the back of a motorcycle.

“I’m talking to you woman!” Clement was shouting this time.

“I want everyone to see what they are missing…I also want to have your full attention tonight”
She said mischievously while still regarding herself in the full length mirror.

“I don’t want you looking at any other woman at all this night”

“No skinny bitches!”

Angela added with a chuckle as she quickly turned and moved seductively towards Clement with a small smile of triumph on her face. Something warned her not to get any closer. Perhaps it was the steam coming out of his ears, or the crink in his brow. She did not care, Clement was her husband after all, and she could handle him on water and on land.

“Come on honey!
Don’t you like my outfit”

The slap when it landed ended her advance and sent her in the opposite direction. Lightbulbs exploded in her head and she tasted salt, warm salt. Angela was shocked and speechless.

“What did you do that for?”

Angela had taken great care not to raise her voice, she didn’t want to provoke him. The last time she had tried fighting back, with sound and claws, she had ended up in the hospital with her head the size of a basketball and face out of bounds. So she spoke to herself, asked herself questions and received no answer.

Moments later she heard the front door slam.

“Please come back” she cried to the empty house before dropping on her knees. After weeping to her heart’s content, she removed her shoes. She already knew that Clement had driven out without her. She was scared of the mirror now. In trepidation she opened her handbag and extracted a small compact. The small mirror shook in her hands as it saw her swollen face. It hurriedly retreated into the handbag. With her mind fully made up, Angela picked up her Blackberry phone and called Jeffery.

(To be contd)

ADDITIONAL NOTES

I hope you enjoyed Kenny’s Conundrum. I had no intention of including an ‘explanatory’ note. However, due to some of the responses I have received since I posted the story, I have decided to include this note as a ‘chaperon’ for readers. Apparently my thinly veiled effort at addressing a social issue has not been as obvious as I had expected.

For most of my life, Nigeria has been a place of frequent upheavals. The inefficient security apparatus of the state has often been caught napping during attacks by known and unknown assailants. The security forces while being mostly inept in fighting crime, have sometimes abated criminal activities or victimised the innocent.

The present leadership in the country is no where close to securing lives and property (except for themselves) than their predecessors. They have been more or less insensitive, insincere, self-centered and clueless on ways of tackling a plethora of challenges facing the citizenry. Their prescriptions have often been trivial, ineffective and downright unnecessary.

Nigerians have thus overtime developed an obsession with trivia and poorly timed and ‘poorly designed’ merriment. Perhaps as a means of escape from the harsh realities on ground. Gullibility and short memory has also evolved, probably as a defence mechanism. Our collective escapism has resulted tragically in history repeating itself over and over again.
The absence of a real fear of God has left a lot of people blinded, even when overwhelming evidence, that should provide vision has repeatedly struck them in the face.
The lack of adequate information about motives, origin and modus operandi of violent groups have baffled citizens and left them quasi-religious over the years. The suspicion that political leaders and even acquaintances may have ties to violent groups has added greatly to the confusion.

Kenny’s Conundrum is inspired by that confusion. It is a metaphor for the dilemma that confronts the average Nigerian. The story is not about robbery or romance between Kenneth and Ndidi. It is Kenneth’s experience in events he has no knowledge of, and would rather live without. A condensation of life as a Nigerian, living in constant danger and uncertainty.
Kenny’s Conundrum (I hope) has painted a picture of that, because Kenneth stands for Nigerians.

Thank you.

CHIMA’S MEDICINE III

What the police and hotel security saw when they entered the hotel room was a naked girl covered in cuts and bruises and blood.
“He raped me, he raped me! Please tell him to leave me alone”. Vivian kept mumbling.
Chima was arrested and detained at Area F Police Command Ikeja, Vivian was taken to Duro Soleye Hospital for treatment. It was not how Chima planned to spend the weekend and public holidays, becoming a captive of the public was not in his itinerary. When the cell bars shut behind him and he breathed in his first lungful of urine scented air, his beards grew rapidly as if it had just received a fresh boost of fertilizer.

The 6 weeks Chima spent as a detainee at Area F Police Command were the most telling. He was often stripped and ‘interrogated’, with batons and boots, curses and starvation. He had nothing to confess, nevertheless the police went about extracting it religiously. By the time he released from detention, Chima knew he would always perceive the yellow-green smell of Area F forever. The pungency of it had clung to the ceiling of his nostrils like cobwebs in an abandoned building. Taken straight to the Magistrate Court, he was charged with assault and rape. Bail was set at a 100,000 Naira and he was transferred to KiriKiri Prisons. The journey to KiriKiri Prisons Apapa was in a rusty old truck, seatbelts were an abomination. Safety was completely ignored like the dental care of a Fulani cattle herdsman.

He was hobbled into KiriKiri, 20kg lighter than when he made love to Vivian. The scars he now bore both physically and mentally did not make him immune to the hazing that ‘Alejos’ or newcomers received when they arrived KiriKiri. Alejos ranged between the ages of 17 to 50, all at the mercy of the ‘Orientation Officers’, inmates who had arrived before them. FEAR THE RICH MAN AND THE POLICE was the most poignant inscription inside the prison cell.

Compared to his Area F incarceration, KiriKiri represented peace after the first night, a peace of the graveyard. It was an Eden of sorts, the prison grounds were full of ‘wildlife’ and fresh air. Lush vegetation combined with regular farming activities and serpents (in uniform and without) made for a more benign passage of time. And time stretched out like the limitless ocean in that inhabited but lifeless world. The inhabitants were like effigies, zombies with seemingly no purpose but hopelessness and a resignation to fate. The emptiness was infinite, the nothingness was unfathomable like the universe before the creation of light. So Chima was now a mere number, he felt like an astronaut of an undisclosed mission trapped in space. Gradually he was running out of oxygen.

The 2 weeks he spent at KiriKiri felt like a decade and he had aged accordingly albeit psychologically. Like a sailor who had survived a shipwreck, he was now fortunate to have been washed ashore. But his Island of refuge was populated with savages. Chima had a hard time re-integrating with the ‘outside’ world. Victor had disappeared initially but made his presence felt through surrogates. He hired a lawyer for Chima and contacted his neighbours, one of them was Humphrey who volunteered to help secure Chima’s freedom. Humphrey who was built like a basketball player but believed it was his duty to save everyone. The bail conditions were somehow ‘perfected’ and Chima was ‘free’ again. His trial continued like frequent asthma attacks, he had no idea if he would survive the continuous onslaught. Physical contact with Victor was impossible. He had skated back to the United States. Phone contact with Victor after KiriKiri eventually tapered from infrequent to non-existent.

The court case lasted for about 13 months. 13 months of jargon, procedure, adjournments and magistrate vacations. Finally, “Commissioner of Police vs Chima Okafor” was dismissed “as the court pleases”. However, the real circumstances that necessitated the termination of the case remained a mystery to Chima.

“Would you like something to eat?” Vivian asked after returning from the ladies room.
“Sure” Humphrey answered
“Who will foot the bill?” Chima asked suspiciously
“I will” Vivian said.
Vivian fawned over them like a mother hen and made sure their gastronomic needs were catered to that afternoon. Later she would joke about Chima’s fine cheekbones. Humphrey would laugh heartily at the joke, Chima would grit his teeth and keep his composure. She would mention that she regretted everything that happened, she will say it was due to an unforeseen attack of delirius tremens.
“That’s what the doctor said it was. He said it was possible through alcohol abuse.
“I haven’t swallowed a drop of alcohol since then, but I think that it is due to something else entirely.
“Do you remember this?”
She waved something in front of them. Humphrey was fascinated, Chima was stunned, for between her manicured fingernails were the remnants of the LSD strip she was holding the morning he was arrested.

“It looks harmless” Humphrey said
“It is harmless, at least to some extent” Vivian responded.
Chima who had lost his voice just stared as she went into a long narrative.
“I found it in my handbag after I was discharged from the hospital”.
She told them how she was upset and ashamed at what had taken place, but that one day while doing some research for her final year project, she had stumbled across an article on LSD. “I realised that I had blamed you wrongly for having it, but for what it’s worth, it may have cured my alcohol addiction”.
Chima and Humphrey who really had no idea what she was talking about just nodded and she continued.
“My parents had forgiven my reckless behaviour but my conscience was killing me. I had to do something”
She told them how she had confessed everything (except the LSD) to her father’s Personal Assistant, and how together they were able to convince her father to drop the charges.

“I’ve had your number since that night but I’ve been afraid to call.
“Please don’t hate me” she implored with tears in her eyes.
After a moment’s hesitation and an awkward moment of silence, Chima decided to unburden his mind. He quickly related the events of that fateful night and his struggle since then.

“It’s good to see you again” she said when he had finished his story. She marvelled at his resilience not knowing he had contemplated suicide several times without the will to carry it out.
“I am really sorry for all the pain I have caused you and hope you forgive me” she added.

Chima knew the pains of the past will never be undone, he also knew he had to allow himself a chance to heal. He tried to ignore the rise of her breast, her female scent and the seductive sound of her voice. Instead he chose to ignore the alarm bells ringing crazily in his skull. The desire that was growing inside him every time she spoke, everytime he caught a whiff of her perfume was driving him insane. A complete recovery from his affliction was only possible if he took the medicine that was before him.

His voice was hoarse when he asked “Are you saying that you still have feelings for me like you did then?” She shook her head.
“I had no feelings for you then, we had just met and it was purely sexual”.
Chima sighed in disappointment. The boner he had been carrying since Vivian returned from the ladies room was suddenly very painful.
“But I have never stopped thinking about… what might have been…”. She let her voice trail off.
“Me too” Chima said a bit too quickly, making both Vivian and Humphrey to stare at him sharply.

She produced a piece of paper with a phone number written on it.
“That’s my fathers Personal Assistant, he will help you to recover some of the things you have lost, it’s the least I can do.
“I have to go now, it was nice seeing you again”.

Suddenly it became clear to him why he’d not been able to move on. Why he had not been able to maintain any relationship since his ordeal begun. His illness had been cardiac all along and Vivian was the remedy. But Chima just sat there as she stood up and walked out of Mama Cass.

His arousal eased finally and after a speechless glance at Humphrey, he ran outside after her.
He approached her tentatively. “Vivian wait!” He said
“I no longer blame you for what happened.
“I’ve always thought about you and also what might have been if you hadn’t gone crazy that night”.
“Thank you” she said without even looking at him.
“Don’t you want to know where I live?” Chima asked carefully sensing an opportunity for complete freedom.
She looked him straight in the eyes and said matter of factly.
“I thought you’d never ask”

THE END

CHIMA’S MEDICINE II

The night of the toad turned out to be a night of sweet dreams. In the dream, Chima Okafor was the owner of a conglomerate with various interests, in short he was very rich. If he had known what was in store for him the next day, he probably would have kept vigil and prayed like a mantis. However he slept, and massive thunderstorms and lightning, soaked in heavy rainfall intensified his unconsciousness. When he woke up the next day, he was suitably vivified for the monotony of his uneventful life.

Work that day was like any other work day. However, the fried potatoes he usually shared at close of work with Angela his colleague, tasted especially delicious. Perhaps it was due to his anticipation of a night out with Victor, an old friend from his UNN days. Perhaps it was the fact that he knew Angela had a crush on him. Maybe it was because it was a Friday that preceded a Monday and Tuesday public holiday, the promise of a long and blissful weekend. He was thus ready to spread his wings, not knowing that the breeze that was blowing that day was the type that plucked feathers.

Chima took an Okada ride from Adeniyi Jones Avenue to Pekas opposite Opebi Sweet Sensation. Victor looked suitably rotund, like someone who had accepted everything life in the United States presented, especially if they were edible. Victor has been a resident in God’s own country for over 6 years and looked like a perfect stereotype in 3 quarter shorts and an Ecko t-shirt. How time had flown, how thick Victor had grown, Chima thought. After the ‘long time no sees’ and ‘look at yous’, Victor introduced him to his friends, Stevo, Femi, Funke, Ugochi and Vivian.

Hennessy, Heineken, Smirnoff Ice and Redbull surrounded a large pile of suya on the table. By the time the fish arrived, they were all inebriated. Victor was fixated with Funke’s ample bossom, Stevo and Ugochi were acting like lovebirds feeding each other, sharing drinks and rubbing shoulders like it was itching them. Femi on the other hand was trying unsuccessfully to maintain a conversation with Vivian who’s head was buried in her blackberry.
“You must find your virtual friends more fascinating than your physical ones abi?” Chima tried to intervene with a mischievious grin on his face.
“No oh!” she responded with a laugh before taking a sip from her glass. She ditched the phone but kept smiling at him whenever their eyes met. Vivian had the right curves and her eyes were gleaming with intelligence and sexiness. Chima sat up more straight in his seat.

The conversation was dominated by football and bad roads. Chima found out that Vivian preferred that to a private chat with Femi. Her knowledge of football and politics both surprised and thrilled him. He had intended to have a few drinks with them before going home but Vivian’s vivacity made him change his mind.

Later that night, the party of seven changed location. The lovebirds ferried Chima in the backseat of a C-Class Mercedes while Femi drove Vivian, Victor and Funke in his Honda Accord. They soon arrived at Q-Club, a Nite Club partially obscured by the shadow of the lumbering Oshoppey Plaza on Allen Avenue. Merriment had kicked into a higher gear with more drinks, cigarettes and dancing. The club was packed, the music was loud and the smoke haze was thick. Everyone looked great under the kaleidoscope of colours and alcohol influenced judgement.

In the Men’s Room:
“Chimex, I want to show you something”
At first Chima assumed it was a bookmark, but when Chima took a closer look he saw that the colorful strip of paper not only resembled but also had the feel of a litmus paper.
“what is it?”
“acid” Victor said.

Chima was even more confused when Victor explained that it was a drug called lysergic acid diethylamide, LSD for short. A drug that induced an incredible high once a piece of it is chewed. A trip of ‘acid’ Victor promised, had no notable negative side effects. Infact it was an amazing psychedelic. Steve Jobs is alleged to have enthused greatly about the wonderful feeling it engineers. He further said that Chima could make a whole lot of dough if he would agree to sell it ‘codedly’ in Lagos to affluent customers. That Chima was interested was an understatement especially after Victor told him he had booked a room for him at the Blue Ribbon Hotel. He swiftly pocketed the sample and they rejoined the party.

By the time they left Q-Club, Chima had devised several merchandising plans for this ‘psychedelic’. Femi had decided to leave after Vivian had repeatedly rebuffed his amorous gestures. That was what broke up the party of seven for the night. Victor, Funke, Vivian and Chima all crowded into the backseat of Stevo’s Mercedes. Vivian was practically sitting on Chima”s lap, he didn’t mind at all but assumed it was the alcohol. She leaned into him, asked for and got his phone which she fingered all the way to the Blue Ribbon. Meanwhile he was trying unsuccessfully to conceal the pressure in his jeans. The pressure was both from his aroused member and the strip of paper that was burning a hole in his pocket. Later he will tell Vivian “I don’t want to pressure you” but his expression will betray his desire and he will be consumed by the fire they had both kindled.

At the Blue Ribbon, Chima suggested that Vivian join him at the bar. He said this not only to provide a moment of privacy for his benefactor, but also to find out if Vivian would spend the night with him. She declined his offer. To cover up his embarassment he said,
“Let’s have a drink in my room then”.
Her acceptance surprised him for he had never slept with a girl on the first date before. He had initially thought she was using him to throw off Femi’s advances, but during the ride to the hotel he felt he could score. And now her hands were on his waist as he opened the door to his hotel room.

He made love to her like he had a point to prove, she responded in kind. Her beauty made his heart quiver like leaves in the harmattan breeze. The room was cold from the air conditioner, his throat was dry. His lips were parched from kissing Vivian’s tits, lips, hips and clitoris. Chima was primed to welcome this type of harmattan season again and again. Later Vivian kissed him on the chest before reaching for her handbag, then she padded naked into the bathroom. She urinated quite noisily, he sighed and reached for a cigarette.

She came out dangling something between her fingers. “What is that?” He laughed.
“Hindu Kush”
“Hindu what? You are not serious! Better hide it ’cause the drinks I ordered for will soon be here”.
“Yes Sir” She mocked, but obeyed and got under the duvet as “Room service!” Sounded from the door.

Chima thought about telling Vivian about the LSD but decided against it, the Heineken they were sipping seemed to be hitting her really hard. Nevertheless they smoked the herb and swallowed the draft. He was caressing her when she reached for a cigarette, she took several drags and jumped off the bed.
“What’s wrong?” He asked with his hand on her shoulder.
“You bastard!” she screamed pushing him violently aside. She seemed to be grabbing at everything trying to steady herself, all the while screaming unintelligible invectives in any direction. In her delirium, she seemed to have become unusually strong and aggressive. Heineken bottles became broken Heineken bottles as she knocked down every manner of furniture in the room, her imaginary foes. He received a cut on his left arm while trying to restrain her. Chima Okafor was suddenly scared as he realised too late that Vivian had the LSD strip in her hand.

(To be continued)