The night was all it could be – sickening. The dazzling disco lights blinding my failing eyes, the loud music and laughter bouncing off my sore eardrums, tobacco-ridden air with thick cloudy smoke suffocating my healthy lungs, countless humans milling about, rubbing off saturated sweat on me and near naked women who looked uncomfortable in clothes littered the big house. I was relentless in my search for Eva who had disappeared the moment we got down from the limousine that brought us from TheDome after the shabby show. It was not until some stoned-face gorilla roughly groped my buttocks before I realized I was in Sodom and that Gomorrah was a throw stone away. I had to get out before Lot came strolling by.
I found Eva on Timo’s laps, practically sucking off his face. I coughed at first like some cultured artist before losing my patience and giving her a loud smack on the shoulders that stopped her sodomic activity.
“Want to go home” I said, looking around the splayed bodies of drunk and intoxicated upcoming artistes who I knew for sure would go and give ‘nonsensical’ a new meaning in their studios before flushing it out to their tone-deaf Doro-ed fans. I was unusually overcritical tonight and it bordered on Vince. With his thoughts filling my waking moments and his unspoken refusal to be more than a good neighbor, it was difficult to appreciate the next available male.
Abdul, the cute polar bear of a human who I had been introduced to few hours earlier had long found some ‘blossomed-chested’ African bimbo and had left me sitting at the bar downstairs.
“Take her home” Timo, Eva’s dreadlocked rich kid ordered some guy who stood nearby with dark specs and suspicious moustache that grew as if he were some character from Harry Potter. He looked ahead as if words reverberated off him.
“See you tomorrow” it was Eva, smiling, clearly eager to go back to the peeled red lips.
“It’s already tomorrow” I said rolling my eyes and following the dreadful chauffeur out.
“Hey baby juicy” it was some skinny dude landing a slap on my butt again and this time I swiftly responded with a loud slap – a test of my 4G reflex action speed. A surprised looked plastered on his veined face and staggered away when he saw the Cyclop beside me. Timo’s Cyclop dropped me off at 4am and as I approached the quiet house with heels dangling in my hands, I was tempted to go knock on Vince’s door but decided against it. I’d see him soon enough and maybe; just maybe I’d tell him what I think should happen between us. His father would approve.
The parked car and the light in Debbie’s room told me she was home as I let myself in reveling in the silence. We were going to gossip all morning for sure, Vince temporarily forgotten. Climbing up the stairs, Davido’s All of You played in my head and I sang out in whispers. There was no doubt; I was also a Doro-ed fan. I stopped abruptly as I noticed Vince sitting at the top of the stairs with head bowed and naked muscles rippling beneath the bright light. ‘He must have been waiting for me’ I thought happily but the look in his eyes as he raised his head told me otherwise.
“Hey love” I called gently as I studied his sad face, sitting beside him. He tried a small smile and my heart fluttered. He looked so cute with his bushy eyebrows rough from excessive rubbing. The smell of sweet faint perfume mixed with his sweat reached my nose and I wanted to curl in his arms and….the thoughts in my head were not heaven-approved.
“So what are you doing sitting here without a shirt on? Where is Debbie” I asked coyly, resting my head on his shoulders and putting my hand in his.
“Waiting” he replied with a thick voice, swallowing painfully as he removed my hand that I had sneaked into his.
“For me? That is so sweet” I said playfully, resting more of my body on him.
“For Debbie. She is in your room and may have hurt herself” he said quietly as he stood up and climbed the floor to my room. I jumped up and climbed to my room, alarmed.
“Debbie, Debbie!” I knocked on my door as I reached my room and discovered the door was locked.
“What happened? What happened??” I asked Vince who stood beside me, a quiet disconcerted look on his face.
“She freaked out” he stated simply.
“Why? What do you mean freaked out? What did you do to her? Debbie!” I called in frightened rush. There was no sound and my overactive imagination had Debbie’s body sprawled on my bed with the empty bottle of my sleeping pills. I banged the door with more force.
“Debbie, I know you can hear me. I am going now but we have to talk about it. We must.…” Vince said heavily as he leaned his head on the door for few seconds.
“Can someone tell me what is going on here?” I asked no one in particular, somewhat perplexed. He turned and started down the stairs.
“Where are you going? And why is your shirt off?!” I shouted after his departing frame. He gave no answer.
“Debbie! Debbie!! Open this door!!!” I pounded on the door frantically, thinking of what I’d used to break open when I heard a click and I pushed myself in.
“Hey! You are back” she greeted with nose redder than fresh pepper.
“Don’t give me that Oliver Pope smile. What happened?” I asked, barely able to contain myself. Did they have sex? Did he hurt her? Why the red face? Why was she crying?
“How is Eva? She is here?” she didn’t answer me as she stepped out of my room, heading to hers. I followed her down the stairs.
“Debbie, stop with the bounce-off. Tell me, did he rape you?” I blurted out as we reached her room.
“No!” she turned and then as if remembering to smile, flashed me one.
“So what did he do to you? Please tell me”
“You mean what did I do to him? I had a busy night and need some sleep” she said with a formed smile as she entered her room.
“You had sex with Vince and he disappointed you?” I pressed.
“No! And why the unhealthy preoccupation with sex tonight? Been that long much?” she said jokingly as she made to remove her trousers before throwing it into the basket.
“So long!” I whined, playfully clapping my thighs. She laughed then.
“Yeye” she said with a small sniff going to the bathroom.
“So you are good? I don’t have to call the police?” I half joked.
“I am good” she said as I heard running water.
“Trip good? Where kolanut?” I asked from the room.
“Inside bag” and I giggled going to fish out a new bottle of perfume from her bag.
“How is Eva?” she asked as she came out barely two minutes with water on her body wrapped in white towel.
I went into the narrative and soon we were laughing as I described Sodom.
“She will be coming around tomorrow” I informed but Debbie was already asleep. If only I knew what she was hiding…
“Please don’t be involved with Vince” I whispered as I got up to go take an Epsom bath in my room. I wanted Vince and I was going to make sure I got him….regardless.
I simply could not get her out of my mind…the responsive body, tender pink lips and little moans that escaped that her full chest… This was no longer the shameless urge to take her to bed, the sturdy movement I got in my groin every single time I remembered the kiss but the look of fear in her guarded eyes as I came down on her five days ago. Why would a fine woman as her have demons? She was perpetually out of the house and slippery in the office; barely saying hello before disappearing into her office.
“So where is Debbie these days?” I asked Sandra who had just returned to the swimming pool immediately I dived in. She was practically leaving in the pool and her easy persistence and seductive moves was beginning to eat at the edges of my gentlemanliness. It was a Friday.
“She didn’t tell you?” she asked, flying into the pool to show her impressive swimming skills.
“I will not be asking you” I replied hotly before raising a brow in jest as she swam close, pressing her body on mine.
“She is with your Dad in Hilton; some investors from China and negotiations bla bla bla. Private business talk” she said resting her arms on my shoulders. I removed them.
I knew Dad was meeting with Mr Qing Pu, but I was not aware Debbie was going to be part of it simply because he had mentioned it just in passing. The thought of Dad and Debbie in Hilton had bile up my throat and I was out of the pool in no time. They shouldn’t be together!
“Where are you going?” she asked me, following me to my apartment.
“Where do you think I am going?” I asked, now irritated at her persistence.
“To the Hilton” she rightly guessed.
“You are damn right”. I said picking up my ringing phone as I got to my room. It was Jaminu.
The drive to the Hilton was on top speed and knowing Dad, he would be at his reserved VIP booth chanting his archaic world dominance speech. Debbie was going to be his sidekick and I refused the thoughts that were circling in my head for what they’d do after the meeting. Would Dad invite her to his room? Would she agree? Would she be willing in his hands? I honked loudly at snail sitting behind the wheel of a black Audi as I accelerated past him, his cold eyes fixed on the road.
Jaminu smiled as I approached at the desk. He was my informant at the Hilton and I tipped him heavily to keep his eyes opened and ears to the ground. If a big fish was in town, I’d be the first to know. If my father crossed the threshold, I’d know.
“They are in the lobby and your room is vacant” he said as I stopped by the reception for a handshake.
“Thanks. See you in a bit” I said picking my room card. Jaminu had called earlier to inform me of the meeting and I had told him to reserve a room for me for the weekend.
Dad smiled graciously as he sighted me. Debbie, who was backing me, was evidently in a heated argument with the most impressive Pu. I felt a gut cut as I saw her laugh and talk so freely. Who was I kidding? It looked like Dad was the sidekick or he simply was enjoying the banter.
“Mr. Pu, Vince, my son?” Dad introduced as I reached the little gathering as if he didn’t know Mr. Pu and I had met before.
“But of course. I remember” he smiled, sickly pink gums and yellowish teeth flashing as he squinted his slanted eyes. Debbie had an empty look the moment she realized I was at the table, and as I fixed her a stare, she simply gave a most annoying impersonal nod. I chose to steam internally.
“I hope you are enjoying the best of Nigerian hospitality?” I asked with a note of familiarity as we shook hands and made to sit opposite Debbie. I met Mr. Pu at the 3rd Global Economic Leaders’ Summit in China to discuss worldwide development experience of urbanization and global cooperation opportunities seeing that the Group was making plans to create Africa’s first industrial hub and China was way ahead in that regard. A partnership platform had been founded and was being built on mostly because of Nigeria’s geometric increase in population without corresponding efforts to mitigate the negative effects of urbanization. We argued extensively on the economic advantage for global corporations, African cultures and its implication on African economies. ‘African businesses do not survive the long haul simply because of unstable government policies, perpetually new faces in government and admittedly, the absence of business customs in purest form’ I had conceded and we both had laughed over some white solid substance I was sure was 100% tofu over lunch break.
“I must have a Nigerian ancestor because I feel right at home. Come. Seat. Seat!” he said tapping his laps, the Chinese-sounding chortle from his bulky throat had few people turning.
“Yes, but I need to speak with Miss Black urgently, if you don’t mind?” I said, excusing her. She fixed me a plain stare as he laughed unceremoniously again.
“Yes, please, please, Miss Black” he said, already standing up. She maintained a distant demeanor as she stood up angrily, fixing me another hot glare as I headed out of the lobby after a respectful bow to both men. I walked straight to the elevator in the reception, hardly giving her time to catch up.
“Vince!” she called angrily as I entered the elevator as if I didn’t know she was following me.
“Yes Miss Black?” I answered trying hard not to laugh as I held the elevator opened for her. She stood briefly, face void of expression but entering after a hot puff.
“What did you want to talk about?” she asked as a woman with mountainous backside joined us. The elevator groaned in shock.
“I think you have an idea” I answered looking down at her with sudden longing, her pink lips in an angry pout and bright eyes trying to hide the annoyance that was gradually escaping her.
“I would rather you come out with it” she snapped. I smiled patiently.
The suite was few meters from the elevator on the 4th floor and as I opened the door and stepped aside for her to pass, I perceived her fragrance and complimented her on it.
“You did not take me from a business meeting to tell me I smell really nice” she said obviously trying hard to keep her calm.
“No. I want to know why you are avoiding me like some new religion!” I said coming to stand infront of her; my hands itching to drag her into my arms but restraining myself.
“I am not avoiding you” she answered lightly and I felt like hitting the wall. Here I was absolutely affected by this woman and she was giving me attitude. What was it about her that got under my skin? The fact that Dad was grooming her or the fact that she was all I wanted in a woman. Which, I couldn’t tell but I was sure it rested towards the latter.
“Yes you are. You must tell me what went wrong. Why did you freeze up on me?” I demanded a little forcefully. She looked at me with a pained look that she briefly replaced with another blank look.
“I am sorry that I allowed myself a moment of weakness. It will not happen again” she said and stood up heading to the door.
“Kissing me isn’t weakness! And it will happen again” I snapped too.
“Are you afraid I will hurt you?” I continued calmly.
“I am not wired to have relationships. It is unprofessional to sleep with the boss’s son” she turned to face the window but I heard the strain in her voice.
“How professional is it to sleep with the boss?” I taunted knowing she was going to defend herself. She didn’t.
“I can’t believe this” she said, dismissing the conversation and heading to the door.
“You may have to stay right here for a while” I said sliding the card in my pocket. She gave me an evil look.
“You are going to eventually let me out. That much I am certain” she said walking back to the center of the room, taking her seat.
We sat quietly, watching each other.
“Need a drink?” I asked finally going over to the telephone. This was ridiculous; I had no idea why I was holding her hostage but having her alone to myself was exciting.
“Yes please” she said taking off her shoes and increasing the volume of the TV I had switched on minutes ago.
I ordered a bottle of champagne and ice cubes. After a pour and a gulp, she watched the TV intently.
“Ready to talk to me yet?” I asked after 30 minutes.
“For the umpteenth time, I don’t think we have anything to talk about. I suggest you let me out” she said plainly.
“I am no shrink but I know you have issues” I said coming to stand infront of her. She looked up at me.
“Yea? What gave you that idea? My stripes?” she retorted hotly, staring at me.
“Maybe. We are not leaving here until you tell me who hurt you and why every other man should pay for it” I tried as we stared at ourselves.
“This is not working. Let me out” she mouthed before taking a sip from her untouched glass.
“So, what do you want to watch?” I asked, making conversation.
“Not sure” she answered calmly.
“I am hungry”
“No. I’d rather starve. Makes the whole hostage situation a little fun” she said smiling at me and I found myself smiling back.
“Well, I happen to be the kidnapper and need my strength. Don’t know how the business works but I am pretty sure the hostage needs to be alive for the trade” I answered, picking up the receiver to make an order. She laughed then.
“You are unbelievable”
The hot plate of pounded yam and Egusi soup was rolled into the suite few minutes later and I was fast ushering the white uniformed man out. I was famished.
“Interested?” I asked taking a scoop in a plate.
“No. I await my rescue” she teased and we laughed. The air was lighter and I found myself settling into it.
“So, what did Mr. Qing want?” I asked, starting another banter to which she warmed up to in no time. We talked for a while as she sipped her drink and decided to help herself to the soup.
“I really like you Debbie. You must know that by now” I said after we had exhausted business topics.
“You have a funny way of showing it” she said and I laughed.
“You are an unusual being. One must devise new ways to getting your attention” I added.
“You sound really desperate. Taking a hostage, really?” she rolled her eyes playfully and for a moment, I was tempted to seduce her but I knew what would happen if I were to kiss her again.
“Confinement was what I was going for but this works too” I said dropping our ceramic plates and settling in her front.
“I suppose that’s the position for listening to my man tales” she said sarcastically.
“I am glad we are getting somewhere” I studied her for a long time.
“My husband tried to kill me” she blurted out and her eyes watered instantly. While I was ready to listen to what she had to say, I was caught off guard by the revelation.
“I am so sorry” I volunteered weakly for a lack of a better reply.
“We married so young and disagreed a lot. Sexual abuses and he tried burning me alive at some point – the reason I have burnt stripes. I could go into details which I would rather not but I need you to understand that I freaked out because that was the position he held me while the mattress burnt my back. It has been a long time and I apologize for freaking out. I wasn’t ready for it. Never will be” She explained quickly, her eyes darting across the room.
“Seems we will have to try another position” I said trying humor. Her eyes smiled but it did not reach her lips.
“I am sorry” I said taking her hand in mine as tears rolled down her eyes in desperate attempt to hide the truth.
“Sorry” she said, cleaning her eyes with the handkerchief I gave her, her nose already getting red.
“You shouldn’t be” I said as I stood up, taking her in my hands as she came willing, sniffing and hugging me. It was clear as day. Debbie was lying. She was never one to avoid eye contact and if there was ever a cock and bull story, Debbie was telling one of the biggest. I was determined more than ever to find out what exactly she was hiding and why my father had hired her.
And I was going to pay the hunchback a visit.
Who really was Debbie Black?
Love on the 25th is written by Uneñ Ameji. Author of “Memoirs of a Justified Gold Digger” available on African Stories. Get a copy. She is @UnenAmeji on twitter.