Wedding Ops (Fiction) : Entry 1
“Falilat!”Mayokun snapped above the rumble of a near-by generator into her cell phone,“Where are you?” She wiped the sweat trickling down the side of her face with the back of her hand. It was mid-February and she could feel herself drowning in the aso-ebi-gele-unfriendly-humid Lagos heat. More guests were arriving in the navy blue fabric colors of the day and from the tent venue, she could hear the band playing rambunctiously after a brief pause during which they announced the arrival of a surprise performer. Time was running out. Mayokun peeped through the tent flap as a hostess held it up for an elderly guest. Neck stretched, eyes strained, she glimpsed chandeliers speckled with gold lights, and in the distance a rush of white stood in front of the famous nine-tier cake made by Modesta cakes—the whole of Lagos hadn’t stopped talking about it for the past hour on social media.“Fali? The bride and groom are already cutting the cake. Where are you, jo?” She took a decisive step towards the tent, but a large body dressed in black filled the space between her and the tent. Her scowl eased into a charming smile as the security man blocked her view.
Fali muttered that she was on her way. She had just found a parking spot somewhere up the road. It after all was Otunba Kujore’s fifth daughter’s wedding and Lagos rippled with unrestrained excitement. The onilus gathered in droves, the beggars lined the street, the police trucks dotted the area. The security men stood at all entrances to the event—all of them decked in bulky strap-on bullet-proof vests, a radio piece hung from their ears to their cheeks, the butts of their huge guns tucked in the crook of their arms.
“Just hurry”, She hung up and slipped her phone into her oversized purse. Mayokun eyed the security man, he was tall with bulky muscles taut against the sleeve of his short sleeve shirt. She eyed the gun on his side and stared past him into the tent auditorium. The gust of conditioned air leaked through the tent flaps on occasion, licking the sweat from her skin. From the entrance, she could see chandeliers hanging, all glittering in gold against the white canopy walls. She spied a few waiters dressed in crisp white shirts, black slacks and wine waist coats balancing sparkling glasses of champagne on silver trays. Her tongue tingled from imaginary bubbles from a sip of the sparkling gold liquid.
Mayokun turned to the security man again, her eyes narrowed and a coy smile on her face.
His full lips remained unsmiling.
“Do you have your invitation now?” He raised a brow over the edge of his spider sunglasses.
“No. But I promise you I am on that list. Bimmy just forgot to scribble me in. I swear.” Her laugh rung hollow. A few women glided by them waving their invitations in the man’s face.
He stepped aside and let them by, then stepped back into position.
Her reflection in his sunglasses was flattering—her bosom looked triple their size in her glimmery navy blue off-shoulder dress which she had worn a few times to different weddings. It bore a striking resemblance to the aso ebi of the wedding and only if you owned the original would you know hers wasn’t. A large costume necklace sat precariously where her breasts met, an oversized purse under her arm and her lipstick-puckered lips pouted.
She turned her head to the side using the glasses as a mirror.
Now all she had to do was make it past this wall of muscle.
“Oga, please just this one time. We came all the way from Ikorodu for this. Please.”
“That’s a long way to travel without your I.V.”He said drily.
She ignored his condescension.
“Yes, well, an oversight. Please now. Think about your own wife, now, Oga,” She whined,“if she had to travel all the way for a wedding only to be turned away at the gate. Oga, please now.” She smiled.
“I don’t have a wife.” He shrugged.
“It’s no wonder,”She mumbled as she turned her face to the side and coughed.
“There you are, darling.”
Just then, she felt a hand rub the small of her back.
She smelt him first, it was an intense fragrance that made her think of a heavily aromaticized chewing stick—a woody, spicy scent. Affluence. It made her giddy. The fragrance filled the back of her throat and she swallowed.
“Let’s go in. I found the IV.” The man handed the invitation to the guard. He looked at it. She looked up at the stranger.
He was about a foot taller than she was. He had a short beard cut close to his chin which rose to his sideburns and faded into his hairline. He was dressed in the navy colored buba and sokoto of the day. A silver necklace glimmered and peeked from beneath the neckline of the buba.
“So you are Mr and Mrs. Flavian Obade?” The security man’s brows lifted above his glasses.
“Since 2013.” The man rubbed Mayokun’s arm, looking into her bewildered face momentarily and back at the guard.
The security guy stepped aside. Her knight held the tent flap as Mayokun wobbled in—her feet coming alive after standing in heels for almost half an hour.
“Na wa”,She hissed at the security man when she was well out of earshot. More people came in after her. The knight was still stuck holding the flap for more guests. A waiter came her way, “Some canapés, Ma?”
“What’s this?” She poked the heart shaped pastry.
“Fried sugared dough.”
“These rich people sha. Next time, leave the puff puff round biko.” She complained as she picked four picks of puffpuff and waved him away. She caught her breath as she looked around, everything glittered in hues of gold and navy, the guests sat in rows of brilliant, navy blue fabric. The men wore mustard caps with a strip of grey and the women wore mustard geles in the new mushroom wrap-around style.
The decor was a combination of blush pink flower center pieces, some hung from the ceiling, some sprouted from the floor, some crawled along the walls. Waiters fleeted around, trays with velveteen navy napkin and curvy goblets sparkling with gold liquid floated by. Mayokun grabbed one and headed off into the reception area.
“Um…you’re welcome.” The voice said.
She turned around at the sound of his voice. She had completely forgotten about him. Her knight.
Her married knight.
“Oh thank you, Mr…Ohb..” She held out her hand, which he took.
“Call me Flavian.”
She felt uneasy under his gaze, and the full intensity of it. His eyes were large, the darkness in them left her feeling bare— like he knew.
“Your wife must be seated already. Thank you again.”
She turned to go but he held on to her hand.
“Is that all?”He asked.
“Yes, it is. I’m not sure what you were expecting.” She chuckled uneasily. His eyes tapered slightly at the ends and they seemed hooded under his lashes and brows.
“At the very least your name?”
“Why?” Somehow her hand was still in his, and it seemed relaxed and willing to be there.
She looked around, and removed it quickly like his hands held coals. Any moment now, some woman would shove her head at an angle and call her husband-snatcher and ruin everything she and Fali has planned.
“Don’t you have a Mrs. Fabian to get to?”
“No, I don’t. And it’s Flavian.”
The nerve! His wife was at the party and he was here, trying to be cute. Insane, these Lagos men.
She pressed irritably, “The invitation card was addressed to you and a spouse.”
“Your name?”He asked her again.
“What do your friends call you?”
“Mayokun”, She tapped her foot impatiently, threw back her drink and looked around for Fali. Just then her phone began to vibrate. It was Fali. “It’s my cousin,” She excused herself.
Flavian. He sounded like a bottled water brand. She threw a glance at him. Tall drink of water. Married tall drink of Flavian water more like.
“Where are you?”Falilat asked.
“How did you get in?!”
“My E cup”, Mayokun chuckled.
“Better get that push-up I recommended. Walking around like TD board. This Lagos, shine your eye and buy a push-up.” She muttered into her phone.
“Shut up and get started. I parked near the primary school. Some guys are watching the car for me.”
“Thought you said if you turned off the engine it wouldn’t start again?”
“Yup. Paid one of them to keep it running. So let’s make it a quick one. I’ll work outside.”
“Make enough to buy us a new car.”
“Amen. Later.” She slipped her phone into her oversized purse.
Flavian was momentarily occupied with a chat with an elderly couple.
Mayokun turned to the reception swarming with old dignitaries and their trophy wives. The younger crowd were distracted by their screens looking for the right pose, the right pout for a selfie and refreshed their pages for more like updates. Mayokun slid into the crowd, holding her empty glass in one hand, her oversized purse under her arm, she squeezed by two older gentlemen, who made all the space they could for her while momentarily confused and enthralled by her bosom. Her fingers slid effortlessly into the pocket of the taller man, as he had a better view of her neckline. In a moment, she was gone. The tall man whispered something to his shorter friend, a smirk on his lips as they watched her walk away. He wouldn’t realize his wallet was missing until later when he ordered his driver to stop and buy him some garden eggs and groundnut on their way home, by then Mayokun and Fali had discarded the seasoned leather wallet on some bush path in Ikorodu, along with numerous others.
“How much from today?” Fali asked, as she turned off the road into their neighborhood.
“Seventy thousand naira. Five hundred dollars.”
“Kai! This cashless Lagos nonsense. Remember when we could rake like 250 grand from one party.”
“I know”, Mayokun hissed.
But neither girl was aware of the lone car that followed them back to their home.
The driver watched as they sang along with their radio. Mayokun threw her hands up in a celebratory dance to Olamide’s textured voice oozing from the speakers.
The tailing car eased in behind them with little sound once they were parked. The driver leaned over the passenger’s seat, drew a pistol from the glove compartment and opened the door.
to be continued…