FOREWORD: When I first got this piece from the writer (a regular here on MMS), I was stunned, well, because this isn’t something I’d expect him to write. And when you read, you’ll get my point. Lol. Enjoy.
It was a beautiful afternoon, with just the perfect amount of sun, cloud and light breeze, the type that turned every cluster of dried leaves into groups of dancers, moving to the music of nature. Eric decided it was a perfect day to sit outside; he saw beauty in little things that people are wont to overlook, things that took a man with a sense of appreciation for things aesthetic to take pleasure in, and Eric thought of himself as exactly such a man.
He sat on a low ledge just in front of his house and took all these in. He spied his friend, Adindu passing by. He and Adindu had met at the NYSC orientation camp and they had become fast friends. He waved to catch Adindu’s attention, then got down to his feet and walked toward him.
‘What’s up, brother?’ Adindu asked as he got close to Eric and extended his hand for a shake.
‘Ah!’ exclaimed Eric as he comically stuffed his hands into his pockets. ‘You wan give me Ebola ni?’
Adindu gave a loud guffaw and punched him lightly in the arm. ‘Ode! Nonsense human being! Where have you been since sef? I haven’t seen you for days now.’
‘Nowhere. Work. House. Been indoors.’
‘Still the unrepentant recluse, I see. Or has Amanda been keeping you exceptionally busy?’ Adindu asked with a mischievous grin.
It was Eric’s turn to laugh heartily. ‘Better wipe that silly look off your face, buffoon! You’re not getting anything from this guy.’
‘Who needs any gist from you sef?’ Adindu said dismissively. ‘It would be a very short story anyways.’
‘Fool!’ shouted Eric in mock anger. Then he asked, ‘Where were you headed sef? Were you wandering again? Should I go get the rope?’
Adindu eyed him and hissed. ‘You no know your mate again, abi?’ He said with a rueful shake of his head. ‘Small small children of nowadays.’ Then he explained, ‘I was headed for the barbershop, anyways. I need a haircut. Want to come along?’
‘Huh? Wey the hair?’ There was a mock-incredulous look on Eric’s face. ‘Don’t you mean brain shave?’
There was more laughter between the friends.
‘Maybe you want me to look like you, you barberphobic gorilla,’ Adindu threw back at him as he started off on his stroll.
Eric walked along beside him, and their banter continued as they headed for the barbershop. It wasn’t very long before they got there. The salon was crowded, and there was not an empty seat in sight. The faces of most of the occupants were turned toward the one television broadcasting a football match, and the air conditioner fought to keep the temperature manageable.
They were going to be there for a while.
As Eric looked around, slightly anxious to find somewhere to squeeze in, his eyes fell on him.
Everything about him, from his slippers to the tablet whose screen he was swiping delicately at, screamed “ajebutter”. Eric looked him over, but was distracted by movement on the other side of the room. A small space had just been created as one of the customers left, obviously tired of the long wait. He hurried over there and sat. It was a tight squeeze but it would have to do.
His tiny space faced away from the television. That didn’t bother him much; he rarely had interest in watching sporting activities on television. He got out his phone and tried reading a novel.
He also tried to keep his eyes away from Ajebutter, but failed. He wasn’t alarmed by his apparent attraction for the tall, fair-skinned man, even though he wasn’t gay. His eyes kept straying towards the young man as he joined in barbershop conversation that jumped from football to Ebola, skirted around politics and the disappearance from the media of chatter concerning Boko Haram and the kidnapped Chibok girls, and then right back to Ebola.
He glanced at Ajebutter time and again, and let his eyes trace his long muscles and toned skin, his smooth, handsome face and his long fingers. He wondered if this was how the ladies felt when they checked out good looking guys. He smiled and shook his head.
This is silly, he thought. I’ve been spending way too much time with Anne Rice and her homoerotic vampires.
He let out a little laugh.
He was thoroughly enjoying himself. There was no law that forbade a man from admiring God’s work now, was there? he thought some more.
It was as if Fate was having a good time too, because Ajebutter’s phone fell from his hands, slid across the floor and came to rest right at Eric’s feet. Their fingers touched as he gave it back to him and his heart skipped a beat.
Okay, this is really silly, he thought, admonishing himself.
After that, he tried not to stare. But he couldn’t help it. His eyes kept straying toward Ajebutter, and he let them linger for a few seconds more than they should have. He didn’t really care if anyone noticed, a man staring at another man wasn’t as bad as it could get, was it? He stared unabashedly, and drank in every part of him that was available to his eyes, like an alcoholic would hungrily guzzle a bottle of his favourite brandy.
He wondered if fingers had ever stroked his face, ever wound themselves into his rich, dark hair, gently playing with them.
Of course silly, they must have, he thought. Look at him, he’s just the veritable Adonis!
He couldn’t help himself, so he stared and wondered. He wondered how Ajebutter’s lips would feel under his fingers, how it would feel if their lips touched. How it would feel to have his arms around him, their hearts beating against each other’s chests. He looked at the tall, folded frame and the long hands, and wondered how those arms would feel around him, how it would feel to be kissed by him.
Silly, just plain silly,he thought again. Look what you’ve done, Anne! You and Lestat!
He smiled and gave another shake of his head, before rejoining the conversation swelling around him.
Written by Miguel Uchenna Chude, tweets at @i_am_UCHE