Things you cannot do on an empty stomach: Think, sleep, relax, make love. Things you can do on an empty stomach: have sex.
I did not follow John Junior to his father’s house that night. I asked him to drop me at my place, and I think it was telling that he did not try to change my mind. We had both come close to crossing the line.
The girls had moved back into our room. They were surprised to see me back. Only Mama noticed that I’d been crying.
She took me outside to talk but all I could do was start crying all over again. I didn’t know I had so much tears in me.
“Amaka, they will find him. By the grace of God, they will find him,” my friend consoled me.
And wasn’t she right to assume my tears were for Johnny? But they weren’t. Truth is I didn’t know why I was crying. Between the ordeal I’d suffered, Jonny being kidnapped, Johnny’s son that I was attracted to, and the London boy, my heart was broken into several pieces and for several reasons. And oh, the embarrassment at Yellow Chilly.
After the scene the London boy caused we couldn’t stay to eat. Perhaps that’s what made me cry – the scene, not the food. And when John junior got into the back of this father’s car with me and continued holding me against his chest, there was a point when I was no longer crying and he should have let me go. At that point he was no longer holding me to comfort me, and I should have let him go.
But we both sat in silence in each other’s hands as the driver drove. His hands were around my shoulder and waist, and mine had found their way round his neck. I felt his breath upon my ear and heard his heart beating as fast as mine.
When my fingers touched his face, his fingers spread onto my back. When I drew my head up a bit, he offered his neck to me. My lips lay upon his skin but they did not part. I drew in his aftershave and his palm moved over my back. I buried my head deeper into him and he drew me closer into his body.
I wanted him. I wanted him so bad. And he wanted me too.
He placed his palm upon my head and drew it down over my hair. I raised my face but did not look into his eyes – just enough for him to come the rest of the distance. He placed his hand under my chin and gently lifted my face. Then, just as our lips were in position to meet, he glanced at the rear-view mirror to check on the driver.
That action, the single simple sensible thing he did ruined it. I don’t know why.
I pulled myself away long before he could be sure the driver wasn’t watching. I leaned to my side of the seat and tried not to look at him. He looked at me.
I looked out the window and felt the tears returning. That was when I told him I wanted to go home.
“Amaka, baby, talk to me nau. It is ok. Uncle China said we should come, to discuss what he can do. Make we go now?”
I’d been lost in my recollections.
“Uncle China say him fit help you. Make we go see am.”
“Baby, I’m not in the mood.”
“Ah han! It’s not like that now. He just wants to help. I’m the one that called him. Shebi I told you I will call him. It’s not like that at all.”
But it was exactly like that. He was a man. I would go to his house and he would listen to my plight. He would promise to do this and that. He would take me to his room and he would expect to have sex with me. I was a girl in need and he could help, or at least he says he can. I was in the perfect situation for him to exploit.
“He was very angry when I told him how they beat you o! In fact, I was there when he called the Commissioner of Police.”
“The Commissioner of Police?”
“Yes o. He called him right there, and the man was saying yes sir to him. He abuse the man, ehn? The man said he should bring you to his office.”
“How does he know the Commissioner of Police?”
“Who doesn’t he know?”
I thought about it for a moment.
I was hungry, you see, and I’d not forgotten the meal we had at Uncle China’s house, so I told Mama to call him that we were coming, and I went to clean up and change into my Boubou that shows the sides of my boobs through the arms and the shape of my bum when I gathered the cloth playfully at the sides.
Mama either did not call Uncle China, or she knew about the party and decided not to tell me.
When the red cab dropped us off in front of his house it was obvious from the row of cars that there was a party somewhere, but I didn’t think it was at his place.
When we knocked on the gateman’s window, a policeman opened the gate to see who we were. I looked inside his compound and there were more cars parked there, and people milling around.
Mama asked for one of the usual guards by name and this was enough to convince the officer that we belonged there. That, or he saw two girls and concluded that we were just part of the fodder.
“What is happening?” I asked Mama as we stepped into Uncle China’s compound and into festival of a party. There were babes everywhere; more babes than men, far more babes.
“’Is a party nao.”
“Party? You knew?”
“Amaka, abeg, le’s go inside jor.”
“Mama, I didn’t come here for a party.”
“You want to be going back now?”
“Mama, wait. Look at my face, I can’t do this.”
“Nothing is wrong with your face jor.”
“That’s not what I mean.”
I had dabbed on enough powder to cover the bruises, and the swelling had gone down a lot.
“I did not plan for this.”
“Oh, Amaka, you have come again. Shebi we just came to see him? Abi? Ehn, let us see him first and after we can go nau, abi?”
It was only then that I noticed she had worn her Apple Bottom jeans and was carrying her fake Louis Vuitton bag.
“Babes, I can’t go inside looking like this.”
“Like how? So you want us to be going now?”
“Ok. Call a cab then.”
She stood there as if she really expected me to call a cab. She called my bluff instead.
She grabbed my hand and pulled me. “Come jor, le’s go inside.”
It wasn’t the first time someone would ‘hail’ Mama, but when we entered the house and the first thug who saw us went into a loud - obviously alcohol bolstered - “Mama niyen! Mama kan, Lagos kan!” I wanted to enter the ground.
We were in the midst of a party that was so huge it had spilled into the corridors and the hallway and the staircase. It felt like a club in there, only that the music playing was Juju, Sunny Ade, to be precise.
The smell of food was heavy in the air. Moin-moin and party jollof rice, and fried meat.
“Wey Uncle dey?” Mama asked the tout.
He pointed the way with an arm that had a bottle of Star in a neck strangle.
“He dey pool side.”
He looked at me and did a little bow.
“Sister, I dey hail o.”
I pretended I didn’t hear him.
We made our way through the house and through lots and lots of people, mostly young girls and old men, to get to the pool side. There, we found a less riotous gathering. Men, old rich-looking men, were sitting on white plastic chairs around white plastic tables arranged in a circle around the small heart-shaped swimming pool. A few girls kept them company, but quite a few tables only had men, eating pounded yam and egusi with their bare hands and talking and laughing the way rich men talk.
Uncle China saw us before we saw him. He got up from his table, upsetting a few bottles of star, and walked over to us.
I was shocked to see Mama going half way down into a kneel to greet him but it was too late for me to copy her by the time he reached us and threw his arms around us.
“Maka, maka,” he greeted me. “Ayam so happy to see you. Oya, come come, I want you to meet the Police Commissioner.”
It was time to run again. But I had to play it well. I placed my arm around his neck to speak into his ear. I pressed my body against him more than I should; pretending that the loud music made it necessary to do so.
I told him I had to use the toilet immediately. The man insisted he would take me.
He told Mama to go and sit at his table and he gripped my wrist and led me back into his house.
The party was confined to the ground floor, thugs standing at the top of the staircase made sure of it.
He led me past his boys then down a corridor and finally through a door that had his bedroom on the other side.
It was the bedroom of a rich tasteless man: oversized elaborately carved wooden bed finished with a shiny lacquer that made it look cheap, a mini fridge humming where a side stool should have been, Persian rug over a stripped colourful carpet, enough electronic equipment to run an event complete with fifty-two inch plasma screen taking pride of place on a massive TV stand meant for one of those old fat TVs.
The room was cold; thanks to one of those tall, freestanding AC units they have in banking halls.
He showed me the door to his bathroom and assured me he’d be waiting for me.
I locked the door behind me - a force of habit more than anything else - then I sat on the edge of his bathtub, after checking that it was dry and clean. What was I going to do? Why was I running, again?
The Police Commissioner was downstairs, what would I say to him? Tell him about Johnny and about the police officer who raped me? Tell him about his brother and the other type of rape he did to me? Fuck him? And then what?
Once again I felt my world spiralling out of control and I was acutely conscious of the fact that it all started with that foolish London boy. I hated him more now than before. I hated the way he embarrassed me at Yellow Chilly, but more than that I hated him for giving me that cock and bull story.
He thought I was someone who stole from him - what nonsense! What utter, absolute, soul-vexing, total bullshit lie! That night, when he saw me again, enough time had passed for the sheer memory of how he fucked me to not be enough. Enough time had passed for him to want me again, and seeing me with another man had made me even more desirable. He showed me the picture of a poor girl accused of stealing a mobile phone from some cult boys. I felt insulted.
I heard a knock on the door and remembered that Uncle China was still waiting for me.
Outside the door, waiting for me, was either my chance at revenge or more rope to hang myself. I was done crying, there was simply no point.
I flushed the toilet and turned the tap. I would go out there and do whatever or whoever it takes to deal with that bastard London boy once and for all.