Love Bite: Entry #6
This fictional series contains foreign language, Nigerian slangs and some inappropriate use of diction. This is for the proper portrayal of the character.
Love Bite #Entry 6
A feeling gnawed at me—the strange feeling that the day would end in chaos or at least end in a state akin. I had deleted the video from Leke’s phone. The pastors were on their way.
Why were they coming?
I brushed the thought away and buried myself in a burst of activity in the kitchen. I sailed from the cooker to the fridge, to my spice cabinet, and back to the cooker. They would arrive any minute now. The red stew spluttered over fried beef, the plantain sizzled in an old dark pan and the white rice steamed quietly. I tilted the cover off a large pot of vegetable that cooled on the kitchen counter and hurried back to chopping the onions, my knife knocking swiftly against the chopping board. The frenzy took my mind off the reason for the visit but still my heart beat to the sound of the chopping knife. Had the pastors seen the video? It was grounds for dismissal surely.
Was Ngozi the person at the window that night? Where was Jare?
What did this mean for my Leke and I?
I poured the onions into the stew and turned the flame off. I had to end it all.
Ernest, the gateman bowed as I slipped out of our gate to house number 25. The towering dark gate was so familiar, yet so alien.
The gate man opened the gate, after glancing at me through the peephole in the gate. He had no snide remarks or nasty looks today. His melancholy was comforting. He held the the gate open and he grunted when I asked if Ngozi was home.
When I knocked on the door, the help, Marie, opened it and ushered me to the living room. In less than 5 minutes, Ngozi walked in. She had changed from her outfit from earlier into a shirt dress that showed off endless legs. Her soft smile was gone. Her strut a little angry, yet lagged a bit as if she was tired.
“Hello, Lani. How are you? I've had the most terrible day.”She made her way to me.
I was on my feet and planked stiffly into her embrace.
“How was yours?”She asked.
“It was ok.”I answered.
"That promotion come through yet.”
The image of Tayo, Niran and Dami flashed through my mind, "No. Not yet.”
"I can put in a word with Niran if you’d like…” Her voice faded into the background and her lips moved quickly, her eyes concerned, fixed on me.
Lani, just tell her.
Her voice came back to the surface.
“It's like all hell broke loose today, you know. The PTA meeting was dead-boring. My spa attendant…I own a spa…Aquatia…you know it?”
I shook my head.
“My attendant was run over by a cab on her way to work. We had a flat on the way to the hospital. The poor darling broke her femur. Of course, Jare showed up early from his trip. That was a blessing.” Her cheeks rose in a toothy smile.
My ears perked up. Jare was back.
She continued,“The gateman won't stop sending Marie to me about some important information he has about an incident that happened the other night…”
The gateman…his dark, scowling face flashed through my mind.
I had to tell her. Myself. I heard my throat swallow.
“Ngozi…we have only just met, but there's something…”
“Babe…”Jare walked into the room and stopped short. My heart skipped a beat and I hated myself for it. He wore a black linen shirt folded at his elbows and above that, his sculpted arms bulged against the fabric. Tall. Eyes I had gotten lost in too many times. Yes, I hated myself for it.
“There he is,”She said. Jare hadn't taken his eyes off me, frozen on the spot. His perfume rushed at me, with the gust from the AC.
“Oh, darling. This is Lani. She lives up the street. I don’t think you’ve met—.”
”We have”, I cut in. Jare’s eyes widened.
”You have?” Ngozi looked from me to him, a slackened smile on her face.
”Yes, at the gym.”I said,”Ngozi, about why I’m here—“
“Ngozi” Jare recovered,”A quick word?” He looked at me like I was a plague that had come into his home. His arm circled around her waist, guiding her out of the room.
It cut deep, the way he held her and seemed to protect her from the bad news which would be me.
“One minute.” She excused herself, as Jare hastily led her out of the room .
Marie popped her head into the room, "Madam, your gateman, Ernest, say your guests don arrive in your house.”
The pastors were here. I looked into the corridor for Ngozi and Jare but they had vanished. I stood an extra thirty seconds and slipped out their front door. The gateman was outside, sitting on the far end of his bench, peeling an orange with a broken razor blade.
I shoved a wad of money into the hand that held the blade. He looked up.
“Please. Who was it?” I begged. Who was here that night?” He continued peeling.
He started singing a song in Yoruba which I didn’t understand as he peeled his orange. Both eyebrows raised, and forehead furrowed, he continued singing, and seemed to relish every word and note of his song, not failing to stress some words mockingly.
Agbèrè. What did that mean? Ìyàwó Agbèrè.
"I came here to tell Ngozi myself." My tone was steel. He looked up. "I will make sure you lose your job. You knew your oga was bringing me into the compound at night, abi? With her and the children in the house?”
“You will lose your job. We are all going down together.” I touched my finger to my tongue and pointed to the sky. He had stopped peeling and singing. Now he just stared at me like he had seen a ghost.
My phone vibrated. Leke was calling.
“I’m coming back tomorrow. You better know who it was by then.” I snatched the money off his bench.
"Ahn! Madam wait now—"
He jumped off his bench.
I swung the gate open and hurried to my house. At the gate Earnest was letting in the pastors, Pastor Linny, Pastor Kore and Pastor Remi. I stepped in quickly after them. They turned around, their faces serious. Pastor Linny’s face lit up with a smile. The others weren’t as delightful.
I was sure now why they were here.
“Sis Lani.”The senior pastor, Pastor Remi smiled. I saw more in the smile. It was a gentle and pious—a smile of grace. Was that disappointment I saw hidden in that smile? Was it regret?
“Leke is a real hardworker”, I blurted, “He’s hardly home… always at church sites. He’s diligent…” My heart was beating wildly. I couldn’t catch my breath. “I'm not the most supportive wife...and I get lonely.” The tears began to stream down my face,”I get lonely… Please don’t fire him.’ Pastor Linny stepped forward, her arm around my heaving shoulders. I completely melted under her touch. All the tension and lies, the aches and fear, the guilt, the shame, they came undone as I sank to the floor. “The videos are enough shame for him…Please don't fire him.”
The pastors stared at me.
“What videos?” Pastor Remi asked, “We came to talk to Leke about heading the new church branch opening up in Victoria Island. He has served under me for five years now. It’s about time.”
Pastor Kore, the pastor with the tufty afro spoke “Although, if you do have any pressing information that may adversely affect this new role…this will be your best time to speak.” He looked like a slender toadstool with a generous black top.
“Also, if you know you have family pickles to get through, we don’t need to know them,”Pastor Remi spoke, cutting into Pastor Kore’s haughty tone.
Pastor Remi stepped forward and held my shoulder, his voice dropped to a whisper,”Clearly, something is going on.”His eyes looked into mine. A quiet calm resonated in them. "Deal with the problem. We will come back another day.”
“Once you sort this out, we will reconvene and reconsider.”
“I…”My voice trailed off. Leke appeared at the front door, jogging to where we stood, his eyes wide and his nervous grin across his face. Saliva pushed against the knot in my throat.
I knew the day would end badly. The feeling had tugged at me all day. I had just destroyed all my husband had worked for five years. I had threatened a gateman's livelihood and almost ruined someone's marriage. But the feeling persisted still.
The day was about to get worse.
Entry #7 out next week!
Copyright ©2017 by IkeOluwapo Adegboye