“Ahh! What the hell??” An agitated Fred cussed out as he reclined on the couch with his X-Box game pad in hand. He scowled at the television screen before him as the opposing team celebrated their winning goal on the virtual football pitch. Giving a curt hiss, a fraction of Fred resisted the urge to toss the pad against the flat screen before him when the beep jerked Fred from his thoughts and glanced at his phone right beside him. A message.
Picking the phone and opening the message, Fred’s brows arched in surprise and then his brows furrowed into a concerned stare as he began rubbing his partly grown goatie.
“That’s it! I have had it with these people!”
Turning from his phone, Fred saw her storm out from his room with her own phone in hand and a menacing frown. Ada was in nothing but one of her boyfriend’s blue shirts. She let herself drop on the couch right beside him and then flung her large brown bare thighs across his laps.
“And who has pissed you off this time?” Fred asked throwing her a stare.
“I just don’t get some people, Fred,” Ada vented and shaking her head. “Some annoying ass followed me on Instagram two days ago, only for me to discover he’s unfollowed me just this morning – right after I followed him back. Can you buy that?”
“Oh, that’s nothing new,” Fred simply rebuffed. “It happens a lot. Just unfollow him back and get over it,”
“Already done! Trust me now!” Ada stated. “That’s the first thing, I did,”
“Good,” Fred replied with a shrug. “Now, move on with your life and don’t make such a big deal out of it,”
“I beg to differ, but it is a big deal, Fred!” Ada countered. “Such a person must be devious in real life, believe me on that. I mean, why…why follow someone only to unfollow after they’ve followed you back? It’s..it’s wicked! I don’t know about you, Fred, but it’s a pretty sneaky thing to do. Imagine what this kind of person can do to you in real life.”
At that, Fred burst out laughing while his girlfriend watched him with a scowl.
“Ada?” He called now picking the game pad beside him. “You need to let this go. Gosh! Some people take social media way too seriously,”
“Whatever,” Ada muttered cocking her head as she began fiddling with her phone. “I know what to do,”
“And what is she up to this time?” Fred asked without looking away from the screen.
“Nothing much,” Ada casaully said. “I’m simply sending a DM to this pathetic excuse of a woman’s child, to let him know what I think of him….or is it even a she self? You just can’t trust human beings these days,”
“What?” Fred called turning to her at once. “No way! Give me that phone!” Then he snatched the phone from her grasp.
“Hey!” Ada called, scrambling on him to retrieve her phone but Fred effortlessly kept her at bay with his arm. “Fred, give me my phone now,”
“No way!” Fred called. “You must be crazy to want to initiate a fight on social media. Not my girlfriend! Not in my apartment!”
“Is it your fight?” Ada countered as she managed to throw herself upon him by sitting astride his legs, and that got Fred groaning out loud. “Give me back my phone,”
“My God!” Fred called out making a face at her. “Ada, you keep forgetting you have weight! I didn’t invite you over for the weekend to suffocate me here,”
“Correction! I have big bones,” Ada corrected poking at his head playfully. “Now, give me my phone or so help me, God, I won’t budge from here,”
“Fine! Suit yourself then. The blood has stopped circulating in my legs already,” Fred said handing her back her phone, and at that, they both giggled as Ada climbed off him and took her seat right back beside him. “But honestly, babe, you’re way above all this, you know? You don’t even know this person,”
“He’s a sneak, that’s one thing I know,” Ada blurted out. Fred shook his head. No doubt, he was tired.
“You just love creating drama out of everything, don’t you?” He said as he began fiddling with the pad while she rolled her eyes.
A door was heard opening and they both looked up to see Mayowa emerge from his bedroom. “Good morning,” he called in a low tone.
“Morning,” they both responded as they watched him approach a water dispenser at a corner for a drink. His fully-dressed appearance couldn’t be missed.
“Hmm, someone’s looking good this Saturday morning,” Ada said and Fred took a glance.
“Thank you,” Mayowa muttered. Ada kept staring.
“That’s the shirt Fred got you for your birthday last week, isn’t it?”
At that, Fred threw her a blank stare.
“Do you have to state the obvious, Ada?” He probed and she scolded back.
“Well, you look nice,” she commended. “So, who’s the lucky girl? ”
“What?” Mayowa asked turning to her.
“Mayowa, my loner friend? That’s a rich one,” Fred said with humour. “Or maybe, one of those companies you forwarded your CV finally replied. It’s about time you got back to contributing to the bills again,”
“Don’t be rude, Fred,” Ada said nudging him. “And who goes for job interviews on Saturdays, genius?”
“Are you sure you live in this same Lagos?” Fred asked back with an arched brow.
Mayowa finished drinking his water and began pressing on his phone.
“Whatever!” Ada replied, beaming with smiles now as she knelt up on the couch. “So, what’s happening today, Mayowa? It’s a date, isn’t it? Who the lucky chick? You know you can tell me, right?”
“Fred, did you get a bank alert ?” Mayowa asked and Fred turned at once.
“Oh, yeah!” He instantly replied. “I was going to mention that. I was surprised though. How come……”
“That’s all for the past rents and bills. Thank you so much for having my back all this time,”
“Oh…sure,” a slightly puzzled Fred muttered rubbing his goatie again. He peered at his friend and flatmate for a moment and then returned to his game. “Okay, thanks,”
“Too much money!” Ada called out also surprised with her brows raised now. “Did someone hit a jackpot recently?”
“Goodbye, guys,” Mayowa called flashing a grin, and then he turned and headed for the door.
“Yo, Mayowa!” Fred called after him, a bit of question in his eyes. “Where are you going?” Mayowa paused but did not turn.
“Out,” he replied before steping out of the flat and shutting the door behind him.
“Is it me, or is your flat mate in a good mood today?” Ada asked and her boyfriend simply shrugged in reply.
“Typical Mayowa,” Fred said facing his game now. “He will share when he gets back,”
The nearest ATM took about fifteen to twenty minutes’ walk from the house. It was 8:16 A.M when Mayowa finally got there, and of all the five machines set up in the compound, only two functioned that Saturday morning, but who could be surprised at that?
Eight people were ahead of Mayowa on the queue he joined, and ready to bid his time, plugging his earphones and smiled to himself as his playlist commenced.
A young lady on the next line suddenly caught his eyes Mayowa turned to his right and he tried his best not to seem so obvious with his stare. She was the last on the line, and politely greeted the man before her. This lady seemed older than he by a few years, probably in her late twenties. Her hair was low and her appearance was quite simple in her blue top and black skirt. She was what Fred and Ada back at the flat would describe as “homely,” in one of their witty moods.
The phone in her hand suddenly rang out and Mayowa saw her stare at the caller ID, and her eyes seemed to light up in the process. Then she humbly tapped on the shoulder of the fair-skinned young man who stood right before her. It was obvious she had to excuse herself from the line to get this call.
“Pardon me, sir. I am behind you.” Mayowa easily read her lips and saw the man nod in reply.
She thanked him as she courtesied and hurried off.
Four people stood between Mayowa and the ATM now and he was relieved this queue moved quicker than he had worried. Turning, he was surprised at how much both lines had suddenly increased by the numbers and Mayowa was glad he had arrived here when he did. But the next line appeared to move faster and Mayowa could see the fair-skinned man make his transaction now. With his earphones still on his ears, he watched people’s lips move. He could not hear what they said, but Mayowa was most certain of one fact – these people were complaining. If it wasn’t about the state of the country, it was the wicked hike in the fuel price – and of course, there were the other dormant ATM’s which just sat in the wall and occupied space.
But Mayowa would not let his mind be permeated by all this negativity around him.
The fair-complexioned man was through and retrieved his ATM card, and then he turned to leave. Mayowa took off his earphones.
“Oh, thank God I came back just in time!”
He turned to see the Miss “Homely” suddenly rush in ahead of the line and towards the machine, raising her hand politely. “Pardon me, please. I’m sorry, but I was here earlier,”
“MAY GOD PUNISH YOU THERE!!!”
Everyone watched in shock to see a lady in her full greys suddenly emerge from the line and drag the younger lady from the machine by the sleeve of her blouse. “Get back, you this small girl! You think you’re smart, eh? I will show you I entered this Lagos before they gave birth to you,”
“Take your hands off me, you old sack!”
Mayowa’s brows went up at once as he watched this gentle-looking lady suddenly shove at her attacker so hard, she staggered backwards. At that, the elder woman cried out in both shock and anger as she was supported to regain her balance. The crowns seemed shocked as well.
“You dare to touch an old woman!” She let out. “You’re lucky I did not touch this ground. You would have killed a cow here this morning.”
The fair-skinned man whom had just made use of the ATM tried explaining the younger lady was actually next but he was rudely cut short by the older woman : “Shut up and mind your business!”
“Don’t talk to him like that!” The younger lady snapped at her. Mayowa saw the fire in her eyes. “He was here when I left. Did you have to drag my cloth like that? I still remember this your wrinkled face! The last time I saw you here, you were fighting somebody else. Ahan! What is it with you elderly people? You think because you have some grey hair on your heads, that suddenly gives you a free bitch-ticket.” Exclamations could be heard from the crowd now. The elderly woman held her chest in stupor now. Who would have imgined the audacity of this virginal-looking girl.
“I will deal with this small girl in this place today!” The elderky woman raged pointing. “Can you talk to your mother this way? Just look at you! Your mates are in their husbands’ houses and…..”
“And you?” The younger girl fired. “Some of your own mates are in the mortuary, minding their business, and you’re here constituting a public nuisance. Just continue like this, madam! The day you’ll meet your killer is coming! But that person is not me. I am not the one you will land in trouble.”
With a straight face, Mayowa withdrew his cash and walked out of the hall, leaving all the conundrum behind him.
“Bros! We hail o!”
Mayowa noticed the two eager security personnel as they greeted. Smiling warmly, he pulled out a wad of One Thousand Naira notes and handed it to them to their astonishment.
The Uber ride took about thirty minutes before stopping before the gates of the massive hotel. Mayowa paid his fair, along with a generous tip before stepping out. It was not long before he was warmly greeted and ushered to a table in the luxurious restaurant. He preferred a corner. Looking at the menu, Mayowa made his order. These were extremely expensive but Mayowa was determined to treat himself today.
“That’s a freaking lie! Are you for real right now?”
The voices caught his eyes as he ate, and Mayowa glanced to his right to see two men seated at a nearby table in the corner, which hosted some delicacies and a bottle of champagne. They looked quite dapper in appearance and appeared to be in their mid-twenties, just like he. “I can’t believe you actually came out to Kelvin,” The man continued. “I know you said you would, but I never thought you’d ever grow the balls to,”
“Well, the sky hasn’t come crashing down now, has it, Bobby?” The other replied. “What’s the essence of Kelvin and I being best buddies if I can’t disclose that important subject about myself?”
“So, how did he take it?” The one called Bobby asked leaning forward in curiosity. “Did he freak out?”
“He said he always kinda had an idea,” Chike said. “And that he was cool with it,”
“Whoa!” Bobby exclaimed and then sipped from his glass. “Well, that’s a cool thing, isn’t it, Chike?”
Mayowa tried not making his eavesdropping obvious as he ate.
“I’m not so sure, Bobby,” Chike replied with mixed tones. “I wont deny something hasn’t changed since I told him this two weeks ago,”
“You sure?” Bobby asked. “But you guys talk and hang out almost every day, don’t you?”
“Well, we used to,” Chike corrected. “Since that day, it’s obvious things have been awkward and…and he’s been distant. He takes forever to reply messages and he hardly takes my calls anymore. There’s always some excuse when I ask to hang out now,”
“Are you for real, Chike?” Bobby asked. “But you two always had a cool friendship. You were literally like brothers; and to think your number is always on his speed dial whenever he needs financial help, huh? I can’t believe this though – after all the support you’ve rendered that dude. You literally housed this guy for a year when he had nobody.” Bobby’s tone sounded agitated now, while Chike could only shrug in reply.
“He might claim to be cool with it, but I am most sure of one thing, Bobby,”
“An what’s that?”
“Vibes don’t lie,” Chike stated and Mayowa saw the one called Bobby nod.
“Hmm! My guy,” Bobby called in a reassuring tone. “But wait a sec! I hope he is not freaking out about this because he thinks….you into him,”
“He should be an idiot to think that. Of course, I have never seen him that way,” Chike replied with such vehemence as he ate. “Kelvin is a smart guy – or at least, he’s supposed to be. We’ve been friends for years now. He should know I never bargained to be born this way; and I’m so sick of this misconception that having same-sex attractions automatically makes you this voracious perv who just wants to pounce on anyone that comes your way. It’s damn annoying!”
“I understand, bro. But I’ve got to give it to you, coming out to that one was really brave of you,” Bobby said nodding at his friend. “But do you regret telling him?”
“Nope,” Chike shook his head. “I’ve said my truth, he’s acted his truth; and now that he’s shown his true self, well, there’s no need faking now,”
“Nice one, bro. Cut his ass off!” Bobby called throwing a thumbs-up. “This is what you get when you hang out with some of these myopic low-class citizens. That Kelvin? His intelligence is just as low as his bank account. You know what? Screw that leech and his paranoia!” At that, Chike raised his champagne glass.
“Amen to that! Cheers!” Then they chuckled as they touched glasses. Mayowa quietly shook his head and grinned in amusement as he drank now. If only these two realized they had an audience, or they just did not have a care in the world. But he indeed found these two quite interesting. And a part of him empathized with the one called Chike. It must really be lonely living with that baggage,
“So…I was thinking we take a trip. Five days at most,” Bobby suggested. “I don’t know about you but this weekend is a bore,”
“Hmm! Not a bad idea, Bobby. Do you have anywhere in mind?”
“Malta, perhaps?” Bobby suggested. “Or what island do you think of?”
“Awesome!” Chike called. “Are you bringing Portia along? She’s good with these places,”
“Most def! The more, the merrier,” Bobby said grinning now. “Hopefully, her uncle’s jet should be available. If we plan quick enough, we all could be set by evening, ”
“Cool!” Chike called. “I’m glad you annoying lovebirds finally made up, because I was getting way sick of playing middle-man for you two,”
“Idiot!” Bobby called as they both laughed out.
Mayowa quietly shook his head and had more juice.
Emerging from the restroom, Mayowa adjusted his shirt and then approached the elevator. He was stuffed from his meal now. Smiling warmly at the thirty-something year-old operator, he stepped into the waiting elevator.
“Fifth floor, please.”
The door slid open and Mayowa stepped out from the elevator and strode down the grand hotel corridor. With the signs on the wall, it was easy to find his way to the balcony where the strong breeze greeted him upon pushing the glass door open. The humans below appeared so minuscle as he gazed down.
It was almost midday now as he glanced at his watch, then he took a long gaze far across the horizon and was marvelled at the view before his eyes. It wasn’t something he saw every day. He took a deep breath and smiled. What a day!
Mayowa then spread out his arms and threw himself over the balcony.