Sunday night was ticking close to the witching hour. I yawned and blearily began to sign off my chats. Facebook. Twitter. Whatsapp. BBM. Good night friends. We shall banter again tomorrow…or whenever. Another yawn trembled through my lips. I drew the bed covers over my body and shut my eyes in sleep.
And opened them again in a matter of what seemed like minutes.
Ah-ah! Daybreak already? And wait, what on earth…?
I looked around. I was in a kitchen. A large and compact kitchen with white Formica countertops and wooden cupboards. The room was redolent with the aroma of something cooking. I sniffed. It was jollof rice. A muted bubbling sound came from the pot atop the gas cooker as steam escaped through the edges of its lidded top. Spread out on top of the kitchen table was a cornucopia of kitcheny bric-a-brac and an assortment of culinary items. Diced carrots were soaking in an aluminum bowl of steamy water. A cabbage sat on a chopping board with a knife next to it. Peas and all other sorts of greens filled a smaller dish beside the board. Someone was halfway through making a very delicious lunch.
Lunch?! I blinked. How did I get from my bed in the middle of the night to this…this…kitchen in what was apparently the middle of an afternoon? My brows crocheted in bewilderment. This must be a dream. It had to be. I’d been having a lot of them lately, so much so that I could recognize the signs. A deep sense of discombobulation. A lack of knowledge of the ‘before’. A strange new place. An unknown period in the vastness of time. This was a dream –!
A resonant sound tintinnabulated in the kitchen. I jerked my head in the direction of the sound. It came from an oven standing scant inches from the gas cooker. Just when I started wondering where the heck the cook in charge of this domain was, the sound of bare feet tapping on the linoleum floor reached my ears. I turned around just in time to see a young girl skip in through the door. I drew myself up, bracing myself for her reaction to my presence. A startled stop in her tracks. A widening of her eyes betraying her alarm. Perhaps a rounding of her mouth, a prequel to the piercing sound of her shocked scream.
No need to panic, young lady. You see, my name is Walter and I slept and woke… The words I was going to say trickled to a stop when I saw her dart straight for the oven. No stop. No pause. No apprehension. Just the gay sashay of her legs beneath the twirling folds of her skirt as she moved fluidly to the oven. It was as though she hadn’t seen me.
She tugged down the oven cover, reached for a pair of mittens hanging nearby, put them on and deftly maneuvered a platter of cake out from inside the cupola. The cake was a downy, chocolatey-brown affair that instantly sent off tendrils of its distinctive aroma, one that begged for all who have smelled to come and munch. I swallowed hard. A smile tugged at the girl’s lips as she set the platter down on the table.
“Uh…hello, miss?” I said.
She started humming as she pulled off the mittens. It was as though she hadn’t heard me.
“Miss? Haaay-llloooo…” I made a waving gesture with my hands.
She lifted a thin container, shook it a bit, unstoppered it and began to squeeze icing on the cake. Her humming went up a melodious pitch.
“Hello…?” I took an uncertain step forward. Either this girl was both blind and deaf (the blind part hardly acceptable, seeing as she was doing what she was doing), or I was…invisible. “Hi, I’m Walter…can you see me?”
She shimmied to the tune of her humming. No startled response. No flinch to her movement. My insides turned to jelly. My breathing became a little shallow. I gulped hard.
Yep! I was invisible. That was a new one. And I didn’t know how to feel about it. To not be seen or heard in this foreign new arena…I wasn’t even sure I liked this phenomenon.
Just then, the girl looked up and in the direction of the gas cooker and the rice cooking on top of it. With a jolt, I recognized her. She was Olise. A fellow SARTian. There was the dark hair, cropped close to her head, the slightly-boyish features with the cleft chin, dimpled cheek and full lips. I was in Olise’s kitchen.
Just then, there was a short rap on the kitchen door, the one that opened to the verandah outside. The wattage of Olise’s smile went up a notch and she skipped to the door. She seemed to know who it was at the door. And whoever that person was was very welcome. She jerked the door open. I caught the glimpse of a young man on the threshold.
“Are they around?” I heard him say in a low tone.
“You too dey fear,” Olise chided playfully. “Come inside joor.”
The young man stepped in, causing her to fall back a bit. My jaw dropped open. This was another person I knew. Another SARTian. Emmanuel Obekpa.
My jaw was coming back up when he did something that made it drop open again. He pulled Olise into his arms and his head descended towards hers. She moaned as his lips sought hers. He wrapped his arms around her as she stepped deeper into his embrace. Their breathing was heavy and jerky as they writhed against each other. When they broke apart seconds later, he smiled down at her and cooed, “Happy birthday, babe.”
My mouth stayed open. My eyes were goggled, widely staring. Emmanuel and Olise.
“So how old are you today?” he asked as she slid out of his embrace and walked over to the table.
She shot him a coy smile. “A lady never tells her age, mister.”
“What if I were to guess?”
“A lady would never admit to her age when you get it right.”
Emmanuel chuckled. He swept a wide-eyed gaze over the table, taking in the items littered on it. “Nawa oh! You’re the one having the birthday and you’re the one cooking for it?”
“Well, my mum is unavoidably away in Lagos on something to do with work. And you don’t expect my dad and brothers to do the cooking now, do you?”
“Oh no, I don’t. Otherwise I won’t be here, having you all to myself.” A big, lewd smile broke across his features as he said this. He looked her over and winked.
She gave a pleased laugh in response.
“Where are they anyway – your dad and brothers?”
“Out. They went to shop for my presents.”
She shrugged. “I don’t know. Daddy said something about them going out into town. I’m guessing Grand Square.” She turned to the cooker to attend to the cooking rice.
Emmanuel moved to the cake and pinched at it.
“Hey!” Olise whirled around and slapped his hands away from her creation. “No touching.”
“I just want a small bite,” he wheedled.
“This, mister, is not for you,” she said sternly.
“Ah-ah now, I just want to nibble on something sweet.”
“Oh, I’m sorry” – she placed her arms akimbo – “am I not something sweet enough for you?” She batted her eyelids exaggeratedly.
“Yes, you are, babe.” He was smiling again. “And now you mention it, you’re the something sweet I should nibble.”
Oh boy! Is this going where I think it’s going?
She chuckled. And hedged. And looked at all the unfinished business spread out on the kitchen table.
“No-no-no,” Emmanuel burst out, “you can’t expect me to wait until you finish cooking.”
“Babe, you said your folks went out into town. You don’t know how long they’ll be. They may already be on their way back.”
Yep! It definitely is going where I think it’s going.
“The more reason why I should get all this settled.” She flailed an arm over the table.
“Oh come on, Olise,” he cajoled with a smile. “Please, please, please…”
He stared at her. She stared back. He gave her an intense look I was sure he’d cultivated for just such an occasion. It was completely insincere. I could see it. Olise couldn’t. Women almost never could see the insincerity in such looks from men, which was why THE LOOK always had such a devastating effect on them. Olise reacted to it as he’d hoped she would. She leaned forward and smiled at him.
“Okay, okay, but we have to be fast oh.”
She placed her hand in his eagerly-outstretched one, and led him out of the kitchen.
Werreminute! These two are about to do the nasty and I’m here as a witness?! Now, the reason for my invisibility was suddenly clear. I was destined to see this go down! And with a lascivious smile of my own, I followed.
The two lovebirds moved swiftly ahead of me. I was able to catch a glimpse of an impressive hallway with its mosaic floors and marble walls. The staircase we started up on led upstairs in a grand sweep.
Wow! This family must have mega bucks.
The room she led her boyfriend – and me – into was a typical rich girl’s room. It was all frilly pink, blue and gold. The drapes and bedspread were ivory lace, the carpet a rich rose colour and the furniture had a polished just-bought-it look. The two of them fell into the bed and began kissing again.
OK, so no time to appreciate the ambience, eh? Issorait. I positioned myself by the wall beside the vanity table where I could have an uninterrupted view of the bed. Yes, Perversion – thy name is Walter.
They kissed and kissed. And kissed some more. His hands were everywhere on her. Her legs were everywhere on him. They writhed and wriggled atop the bed, which was starting to creak in protest. She moaned her desire as his hands kneaded her covered breasts. He gasped when her hand went down to grasp at his turgid member.
Oh my! I got comfortable against the wall and paid closer attention.
Something ripped. A cloth, perhaps. Another thing popped. A button, I suppose. More skin was exposed as one or two items of clothing sailed through the air and fluttered to the ground. Olise twisted about on the bed, and Emmanuel heaved his bulk atop her.
O setiela oh! I crossed my arms.
Her legs shot into the air and came down in a vise around his hip. He grunted. She panted. The air tightened with thick sexual tension. Their lips were still locked against each other as her hands clamped down over his neck. He shimmied as he tried to tug down his jeans without breaking the passionate embrace. She arched her body upward, pulling in closer to his and moaning loudly when he thrust his hip against her groin. Her fingers spread themselves apart and dug into the skin of his back. He growled. Whether in pain of pleasure, there was no way I could know. Her eyes fluttered open, bleary with passion.
And then they widened. “Daddy…” she gasped.
“Yes, baby, who’s your daddy…?” Emmanuel murmured against her neck.
“Daddy – my daddy…!” she croaked. Her hands slapped frantically against his back.
“Yes, baby – I’m your daddy…” Emmanuel panted.
“No, I’M her daddy!” A loud voice cracked like a whip through the room.
I nearly fell to the ground, so startled was I, as I swung my face around to the door. Emmanuel himself jerked upright, muttering the words ‘Oh shit!’ as he swerved around and saw who I’d just seen. Olise’s daddy. Only he was someone else I knew. Chrome! A much older Chrome than the one I knew. This one was middle-aged, above average height and thickset. His round, fleshy face appeared hewn from black rock, and his dark eyes smouldered as they lay on the two youngsters on the bed. There were two other males standing beside him – again, two other people I recognized. Both of them much younger than the elderly Chrome. One was a slightly muscly Melody and the other was a lankily-built Mizo.
Olise had said something earlier on about her dad and brothers going to town to shop. Well, seems the cavalry was back home, and caught them with their pants down. Literally.
“So I go out with your brothers,” Chrome addressed his daughter in that menacingly gravelly voice, “and leave you home alone for one second, and this is what happens?”
“No – daddy…it’s not what you think –” Olise said shakily. Her eyes had turned glassy with the beginnings of her tears.
“What am I supposed to think, you foolish girl?” he barked. She flinched. Emmanuel flinched. I flinched. “Eh?! I come into your room and see you and that lousy idiot” – he jabbed an angry finger at Emmanuel – “on your bed, doing what you’re not supposed to do, and you are saying it’s not what I think?!”
“Daddy, please…” She was sobbing now. Her hands flapped limp-wristed in the air. “Daddy, please…it’s not like that… Mizo, please, Melody…it’s not like that… help me beg daddy…” The tears rolled faster.
My! Chrome must be one mean daddy for him to get her to react like this when he hasn’t even laid a finger on her yet.
Her brothers stared stone-faced at her and her boyfriend.
“And you!” Chrome swung his rage on the other culprit. “How dare you come into my house and attempt to violate my underage daughter! ARE YOU MAD?!”
Underage what?! Oh boy, Emma, you’re in real trouble.
And he seemed to know this, because a fresh onslaught of shock and apprehension had struck his face. He gaped at Chrome and stammered, “Sir – please, I didn’t know – please, sir, I’m sorry – I didn’t know…”
“Daddy, please…forgive me…”
“Sir, please, sir, I’m sorry…”
“Daddy, it’s not my fault…he forced me…”
“He WHAT?!” Chrome snarled.
“I WHAT?!” Emmanuel swung on Olise.
He WHAT! I couldn’t believe what I’d just heard.
“He forced me, daddy!” she sobbed. “I said I didn’t want to do, but he forced me let’s do…”
“SIR, THAT IS A LIE –” But the rest of Emmanuel’s indignant protest was cut off when Melody moved swiftly to his side, in a blur, and swung his fist, cuffing him at the chin. The force of the blow caused him to wheel around, and he toppled off the bed to the floor. Olise screamed. Melody pounced, lashing out with his fists like pistons. Emmanuel tried to parry the blows, but with his trousers down around his legs, he was disadvantaged. Melody’s blows slammed into him everywhere – shoulder, chest, head, tummy. He grunted and shrieked as he fought back, but Melody was like a maniacal Jason Statham on a revenge mission. Chrome and the other son, Mizo, looked on dispassionately. Olise sobbed on.
Moments later, when Melody had finally reduced his sister’s boyfriend (well, ex-boyfriend now, that’s for sure) to a slightly-bloodied mess on the ground, he heaved his bulk aside. I glanced at Emmanuel and grimaced. The roguish good looks from before had suffered considerable damage. There was a gash above his right eye and his nose was broken. Blood streamed from the nose and the mouth that was open to reveal a tooth hanging loose.
“Daddy, please…” Olise whimpered.
Chrome turned to Mizo and muttered inaudibly to him. Mizo nodded with a grim look before turning and walking out of the room. Except for Olise’s soft mewling and Emmanuel’s pained groans, nobody said anything or moved while Mizo was gone. A new tension tightened the silence in the room. Through the window, we heard a car door slam and a car engine start up. A man shouted, “So we’ll see tomorrow now? OK, thanks.”
The car drove away; its noisy roar dwindled into the distance and the silence returned.
Mizo also returned. With a kitchen knife in his hand. The same one that had been lying beside the cabbage in the kitchen. I saw it. Olise saw it. Even the badly-bruised Emmanuel saw it. Mizo handed it over to his father. Chrome hefted the blade in his hand, before turning an icy, distant expression to Emmanuel.
Then he began to speak, his voice a measured low snarl, “My daughter will be sixteen years old today. Just sixteen. A sweet young age with lots of years and innocence ahead of her. And you” – he pointed the knife at Emmanuel and began to walk toward him – “decided to come into my house and purloin all that innocence. You think, well, as a sharp guy that you are, you can get her to give you a few minutes of pleasure. And then, you’ll say bye-bye and be on your way. But what you don’t think about is what happens after. You don’t stop to think, is she ready for this? Will she get any STD after this? Is there any chance of her catching HIV? What if I get her pregnant?” Chrome stopped before the quivering boy and then he hunkered down. “You don’t stop to think about any of these. You know why? Because of that.” He pointed the blade, this time at Emmanuel’s groin. The boy cringed. “Yes, that thing is what calls the shots for you. And it’s fine for you. It’s your business. But when it pushes you to come here and try to destroy my daughter’s life, then it becomes my business. So I’m now thinking to myself, what can I do to stop you?” He paused and looked contemplatively at Emmanuel.
Mizo and Melody started to close in.
Olise’s sobbing started gaining volume again.
I felt a frisson of dread horripilate across my skin. This really REALLY wasn’t going to end well.
“And do you know what I decided?” Chrome said.
Emmanuel shook his head. Tears were starting to leak through his eyes and down his bloodied face. “S-s-sir, please…”
“I decided to take away that one thing that is calling the shots!” Chrome suddenly snarled. And all three men pounced on the boy. Both Emmanuel and Olise started screaming as he struggled with his assailants, and their discordant cries rent the atmosphere. Melody and Mizo tried to hold Emmanuel still as their father yanked at his boxers, exposing the shrunken lump that was his penis.
“DADDY…PLEASE, DON’T!” Olise screeched over and over.
Oh no, please don’t… Chrome, don’t… I muttered again and again.
Chrome lifted his hand.
Emmanuel thrashed futilely in the viselike grip of Melody and Mizo.
Oh God, please…wake me up! I can’t see this… Wake me up…! Yet I stared at the unfolding scene, feeling at once fascinated and repulsed.
The knife scythed through the air and began to descend.
WAKE ME UP, PLEASE! WAKE ME UP!
And the Fates heard and pulled me up from my sleep. I was panting and sweating as I looked through the window in my bedroom at the leaden sky of the dawn of Monday morning.
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