Love Bite: Finale
This fictional series contains Nigerian slangs and some inappropriate use of diction. This is for the proper portrayal of the character.
Love Bite: Finale
The bodies were no longer at the police station. After 56 minutes of chaos, I was directed to a morgue in Ogba. It was a cream-colored bungalow with a small, old brown gate with rusty brown bars. The rain had stopped and the cool air caressed my face, but even in its abundance, I dared not breath easy. He was in there. In a morgue. I drove him into a morgue.
A short, dark-skinned man dressed in a worn short-sleeve shirt, faded brown slacks and leather slippers led me along the side of the house. My slippers dragged along the uneven cement floor.
The policemen said the accident had occurred near Sagamu. A trailer lost control…there was a commercial bus and a car... There were 5 unclaimed bodies. Three of them were women. The other two, a man and a little boy. He led me to a body covered with an old, navy blanket.
“Oya, answer quick!” The short man snapped.
I had stopped walking and now stood about 9 feet away.
I took an uneasy step and then another until I got near enough.
He yanked off the blanket. My breath caught in my chest. A man of about 35 years appeared, fair in complexion, with dark lips.
He was not Leke.
The relief was crippling and in a daze, I sat quickly on my heels. The short man had no time for emotional shows. Once he found out I wouldn’t be paying him any money he hurried me out.
Deep breath, Lani. Deep breath.
Leke wasn’t at the morgue. Where was he?
The next three days went by slowly. By now, Leke had been gone for 7 days. I prayed, and even dared to abstain from food, broke the fast at 6:59 PM, just like Leke usually did. All I had in the kitchen was 3-day-old bread. It tasted like old foam. Day seven was a Sunday, so I went to church. Pastor Remi spoke on restitution—fixing things I had the power to repair.
That night, I sat on my bed, my laptop warm on my thighs and typed an email to Dami Pedro. I told him the allegations against Niran were false. We were having an affair. It was all consensual. It had always been. I was ready to accept whatever consequences came. Terse and honest- without rereading I hit send. When the email swooshed out of my outbox, I let out my breath.
I drew the curtains and laid on the bed, desperate for sleep but it wouldn’t come, I thought about coming clean to Ngozi. I found her on instagram and began to type the message.
💬 Hello |
The cursor blinked.
She deserved to know. She was a victim here. But in my heart, I knew the only reason I wanted to tell her was to hurt Jare—to see his wife leave him and watch him sink into misery like me. I closed the app and lay there in bed.
She probably got messages like that every day anyway.
What about Abigail?
What about her?
The question gnawed.
I did nothing. She deserved nothing.
Day 10 of Leke’s disappearance
I woke up with a start. The lights were on and it was dark outside. I had been dreaming that I was driving off a cliff. Leke was in the backseat. I rubbed my eyes with the base of my palms. My fingers found my phone. An email from Dami Pedro. The investigation would be reopened, it read. A written formal statement would be required of me. He had also received an email from Abigail who described the video leak in great detail. She was on suspension for two weeks, and Niran had been suspended indefinitely. He advised that I clean up my CV. He wouldn’t be available to provide me a reference in case needed one. He wished me luck.
I fell back into bed and drifted off to sleep to the creaking of the ceiling fan.
I woke up with a start yet again. It was a dull rat-a-tat. It came from the front door. Leke? Halfway through the living room, my blanket dragging through the apartment wrapped around my left foot, I realized Leke wouldn’t knock. He had keys.
I swung open the door. Abigail stood there, eyes hidden behind sunglasses.
“What do you want?” My arms crossed each other. I kicked the blanket off my leg.
“I came over to apologize…” She took off her glasses, weight on one leg, and eyes focused on something behind me, “I’d like you to forgive me. I had no right to interfere—”
“No, Abi”,I cut in, “You had no right—”I threw the door shut and walked into the kitchen, pacing every two steps.
My chest heaved. My face felt hot and soon a lone tear ran down my cheek.
After about a minute, the knock came again.
I walked back to the door and jerked open the door.
“How dare you ask me for forgiveness?!—” I stopped short. Leke stood there. Abi stood a few feet behind him, back leaned languidly against the wall.
Leke. He had lost so much weight. His eyes were sunken, in them was no twinkle, no sparkle, none of the life that I had seen every day for the past four years. We stood there and stared at each other for what seemed like a full minute.
I took a step forward, unsure. My eyes never left his.
What did his skin feel like? I couldn’t remember. His lips? It was a distant memory.
I took another step. Then another.
I flung my arms around him, his arms hung limply by his side.
A small smile tugged at Abigail’s lips. She pushed herself off the wall, shielded her eyes with her sunglasses and made her way towards the gate.
My eyes followed her.
If you seek forgiveness, you must first forgive.
It was the voice again.
All along, all she wanted was this—me here, with Leke, doing the right thing. In that moment, she looked back.
My lips mouthed: I forgive you.
Fresh tears made her swim in my vision, but not before I saw that huge smile spread across her face.
I didn’t want forgiveness. I whispered this in Leke’s ear. I needed it. Desperately. For a minute, I thought he didn’t hear me.
As my tears dampened his shoulders, I felt it—first it was light as a feather—a touch. His fingers grazed the small of my back, seemingly unsure, uncertain, hesitant. Then he drew me in—both arms—they wrapped around me like vines in an embrace that could only be called grace.
At long last, we were home.
Ajibade closed the gate and stepped into the quiet residential street. He walked about half a kilometer to the end of Garrison, and took a sharp left unto Kareem street, and strolled to where the road met with Bonva street. On the corner, sitting outside the old green kiosk sat Ernest. His shaven head glimmered in the dull glow of dusk.
Ajibade hollered at the woman who sold recharge cards a few feet away. She brought him a stool and reminded him that he owed her 500 naira.
He waved her away. She too like money. He told Ernest.
Ernest chewed on the white of a garden egg. Ajibade’s mouth watered. They talked about Jare and Ngozi. Ngozi had returned. With her, the hugest area boys he had ever seen! They found Jare in the BQ with some girl. Ajibade had taken Jare to the hospital; Ngozi locked the house and left with the children.
But they wouldn’t need a gateman now? Ernest was worried for his friend. Of course, they did, someone had to let the gardener and cleaners to maintain the house. Ngozi would never leave the house unattended. Ernest was riveted. Where was Jare then? Jare was still at the hospital. The last time Ajibade had gone over to see him, there was a cheerful, young nurse present. He seemed comfortable.
Ajibade asked about Lani. Lani had started a business selling “pancake” to women. Ajibade looked at him strangely then nodded—haa! the things women put on their faces to look pretty. Leke had left the ministry- just for a while. Ernest had never seen them so happy together.
Ajibade wrinkled his nose. She’d never change—cheating women were all the same.
He talked about the woman in house number 30, who was cheating with two brothers from Unilag. And Mrs. Salami too, Ernest piped in, mouth full of garden egg bits. They were both cheating, husband and wife—the Salamis, Ajibade corrected. The man in number 28 was dating the child of the Inspector General of police. Ajibade stared out into the street, at the houses, all seemingly perfect with Roman columns and French windows.
The first time Jare had handed him a wad of cash, he had wondered about it. He had brought in a girl to the BQ* successfully and since then, the wad came in bits. Every time Lani came by, his boss tipped him just a little more. And the day, he threatened to tell Ngozi, Jare placed N10,000 under his old mattress. It was when Lani shoved some money at him that he knew this could be his way out of poverty. Never had he had a more financially buoyant month.
As both men sat watching the evening activity on the street, the thought came to them both—gently and unrushed— they would buy and sell what they saw. They would sell their silence. They would start with the man who was cheating on his wife with the I.G’s daughter. Ernest offered his friend a garden egg, eyes focused on nothing as I’m a trance. They both chewed slowly— calmly. Ernest dreamt about a motorbike and Ajibade thought about his wife—the cheating one. Money would keep her at home, maybe? He took another bite, saliva flooding his mouth as he began to chew.
Yes, money would keep her at home.
Copyright ©2018 by IkeOluwapo Adegboye