… Previously on Roulette Of The Damned!!!
For the first time in her life, Abbey was finally happy. All her friends were in good places, her mother was finally out of her father’s house, and her father couldn’t hurt her or her mother anymore. The only people left in her life that she had to make amends with were Andrew and Jiro and she wanted her two best male friends back. After the surprise plans Abbey had just planned over the phone for the two men, she was sure that her efforts to win back their friendship was in the right direction. Nothing can go wrong from here on out, she thought to herself with a smile.
As she thought of logging into her emails from work, her phone rang. Abbey looked at the caller ID. It was Bukunmi. Looking at the laptop and the tons of emails from work she was yet to go through, Abbey reluctantly stood from the office space she had created in Mofe’s house and walked towards the balcony of the house to get better reception for the phone call.
“Hi BK. I was just thinking about you.” Abbey said with a grin on her face.
After listening to what Bukunmi was relaying to her over the phone, Abbey quickly got up from the comfort of the couch and started pacing. Her grin was quickly replaced with a frown on her face and fear in her eyes.
Oh my God! No no no no no. Abbey repeated in her head over and over again. This is not happening! Not now! Not when everything’s going so well.
Taking a deep breath, Abbey tried to calm her nerves and get all the facts. “Wait, say that again slowly. You are where?” Abbey asked, her heart skipping beats by the second.
“I’m at your parent’s house.” Bukunmi said in a rattled voice. “Please Bukunmi, help me. I don’t know what to do.”
“Bolt all the doors!” Abbey instructed. “Don’t leave the house or open the door for anyone except me. In fact, stay where you are. I have my house keys. I’ll let myself into the house that way. Don’t do anything until I get there. I’m on my way. Please Bukunmi stay EXACTLY where you are and tell no one else about this.” Abbey insisted.
“Okay,” Bukunmi said. She was sobbing violently.
Abbey quickly cut the call, grabbed her car keys and ran out of the house.
Knowing that time was of the essence, Abbey jumped into the driver’s seat and drove like a mad woman all the way to her parent’s house
==========AND NOW on Roulette Of The Damned!!!==========
—– GLADIATORS! —–
A person’s true identity can often be difficult to discern, even to themselves; causing one to question their character, their calling and their very existence.
For most people, time provides clarity. For others, these questions remain unanswered; for an identity cannot be fully defined when it is a guarded secret.
Abbey got out of the car and ran towards the front door of her parent’s house. Fidgeting to find the right key for the front door, Abbey took in shallow breaths and looked around to make sure she wasn’t being watched. Finally getting the right key, Abbey managed to insert the key into the keyhole without dropping her phone or the keys. Satisfied that no one in the neighbourhood had noticed her presence, she crept into the house and locked the door behind her.
As she burst inside, the scene before her was exactly as Bukunmi had described. Jafar and Nnamdi lay a few metres from each other swimming in a pool of their own blood with a gun between them. Abbey recognised the gun to be Jafar’s. With a tear-streaked face and a limp body, Bukunmi was at the far corner of the living room covered in blood as well.
The minute Bukunmi spotted Abbey enter the living room, she started crying all over again.
Running past the dead bodies of Jafar and Nnamdi, Abbey rushed over to Bukunmi and knelt close to her but made a mental note not to touch her. “Oh My God. Bukunmi are you okay? What the hell happened?”
Still in shock, Bukunmi directed her gaze from Abbey to the dead bodies and back to Abbey. She started shaking her head in confusion. When she found her voice, she spoke amidst her tears. “I don’t know.” Bukunmi said. “It all happened so… so fast.” Looking down at her hands and her clothes, Bukunmi continued. “There is so much blood everywhere. Oh my God what have I done?”
Needing to get the whole story, Abbey added a subtle hint of command into her voice. “Bukunmi, I need you to tell me exactly what you remember happened. Go as far back as you can remember and leave nothing out. Every little detail is extremely important right now. The only way I can help you is if you tell me exactly what happened to the letter. I need to know everything. To the very last detail. Can you do that for me?”
Bukunmi slowly nodded.
“Okay then.” Abbey said in a softer voice. “Try to gather your thoughts on everything that happened and tell me everything you remember.”
Stifling more of her sobs, Bukunmi began her story.
“My Monday morning was unlike any other morning I’ve had in a long time.” Bukunmi said. “I guess I owe that to the fact that I partied all night at Elegushi beach on Sunday night.”
“You mean yesterday night?” Abbey asked carefully.
“Yes,” Abbey gave a small nod as her lips trembled. “Yesterday night.”
“Okay, go on” Abbey encouraged.
“Okay.” Bukunmi said. “Where was I? Oh yeah, it had been one hell of a busy week last week and I hadn’t had any fun in a while so I decided to go to Elegushi beach with a couple of people from work yesterday night. Seeing as we were going to resume work today for 8 am, we all decided to pack our clothes for work before heading to the beach. I packed sets of clothes because I couldn’t decide on what to wear for today, my shower kit, a toothbrush and toothpaste, a small towel, my body cream, and my make-up set.” Bukunmi took a deep breath as if to calm herself before she continued with her story.
The beach was fun at first. There were lots of drinks, food, and good music. It was the perfect escape I needed from the madness of work from the last week and the madness of work that was going to commence today.
“While at the beach dancing and having a good time,” Bukunmi said. “someone walked up to me and started dancing behind me. I was going to walk away from the person when I heard my name. The voice sounded familiar so I turned to look at who it was and I realised it was Nnamdi.”
Abbey looked at Nnamdi’s dead body on the floor of her father’s living room and asked Bukunmi “Nnamdi? The one and the same?”
Nodding spastically, Bukunmi said “Yes. The same Nnamdi that was hitting on you at the club all those months ago and the same guy that I invited over to Mofe’s birthday party at Four Points. We got talking and for a while and I really enjoyed his company. He offered me a drink and then he asked if I wanted to dance. One thing led to another and before I knew it, we were making love at the back seat of his car.”
“Please tell me you used a condom Bukunmi,” Abbey pleaded.
Bukunmi nodded. “I always have a condom in my purse, my bag, my wallet, my phone pouch and one specially tucked in my bra at every given point in time. Trust me, I might have had sex with him but I protected myself.”
“Okay,” Abbey said, breathing a little easier. “So go on.”
“Right.” Bukunmi said as she wiped some of the tears off her face with the back of her hand. “After sex, he told me that he lived close to where I work and asked me if I’d like to follow him to his place so we could continue our little rendezvous in the comfort of his bed. He said he wanted to treat me the way he felt I deserved to be treated and not some girl he fucked in the back seat of his range rover. I agreed and decided to tell the people I went to the beach with that I was going home with my brother-in-law.”
“But Bukunmi,” Abbey said in a concerned tone. “Nnamdi is in no way related to you. Why did you lie?”
“Why wouldn’t I lie?” Bukunmi asked Abbey in a defensive tone, her tears threatening to envelope her. “After the name-calling I had gotten from Andrew and Jiro in the office, I was sceptical about saying Nnamdi was a one night stand that I just had sex with in the back of a car and I was going home with to continue ‘the deed’ with. Luckily, the guys from work were too drunk to question what I had told them. A close colleague of mine from work however had noticed that Nnamdi was looking at me with more affection than necessary for a brother-in-law. She put two and two together and caught me in the lie. I eventually confessed the truth to her but Toyin was uncomfortable with the whole arrangement.”
Bukunmi shuddered as she remembered the conversation she had with Toyin the night before.
“Are you insane?” Toyin asked Bukunmi.
Bukunmi looked at Toyin and shrugged. “Maybe a little.”
“Your dad is a police officer and Your two brothers are in the Navy,” Toyin reminded Bukunmi. “You know better than to go home with strange men, especially one you pickED up at the beach at this time of the night. Its past midnight for God’s sake Bukunmi. He could be a serial sadist or something!”
“It’s because I’ve grown up with a God-fearing strict police officer for a father and two navy men as brothers that I know what I’m doing with Nnamdi.” Bukunmi replied Toyin. “Being the only daughter, my brothers and dad treat me like I’m meant to be prim and proper…a true lady. No man will ever be good enough for me in their eyes. For one night, I’d like to just let loose and have fun, thank you very much.”
Toyin grimaced.”This sort of reckless behaviour isn’t you Bukunmi.” Toyin said. “Yes, I know you put up a slutty front in the office so that you can get away with most things but deep down, we both know that you aren’t a loose woman. You don’t want to admit it but all of your ill behaviours are simply acts of rebellion against the dominating authority your dad and brothers have placed on you.” Toyin sighed. “You’ve had a lot to drink and you are not in the right frame of mind. How about I take you home?”
“Are you quite done Toyin?” Bukunmi asked harshly. “I shouldn’t have told you too much about my family. It is because you know too much that you feel you can psycho-analyse me like this.” Trying to look for a diplomatic approach to dealing with the situation, Bukunmi said “Look, I know you are only saying your mind because you are worried about me but I promise you it’s alright. Nnamdi and I go way back. I’m totally safe with him. I promise.”
“I was such a fool,” Bukunmi said as she let her mind drift back to the here and now. “We got to Nnamdi’s house a little past 5am. I think it was 5:27 because I checked my phone. I went into his bathroom to shower but he joined me.” Bukunmi looked uncomfortable as she said her next sentence. “We had sex again for over another hour in the bathroom, on the bed, on the couch, in the kitchen… everywhere. After the long round of love-making, I lay down on the bed while he went back into the shower.
Bukunmi looked at Abbey and willed her to understand her own point of view. “I felt like I had finally found the one, you know.” Bukunmi sighed. “After he showered, I got into the shower to get ready for work while he made us cups of coffee. He was so sweet. He even insisted that he would drop me off at work this morning.”
Bukunmi didn’t speak for a while so Abbey touched her left shoulder gently and urged her to go on.
“On getting to work,” Bukunmi continued, “I kissed him goodbye and he said I should call him anytime… day or night. He even suggested that we see later today and I agreed because I really had begun to like him…and not just because he was amazing in bed.”
“I know honey,” Abbey coaxed Bukunmi, not really wanting to hear of Nnamdi’s prowess. “Go on.”
“When I got into my office this morning,” Bukunmi continued, “I realized that I hadn’t made photocopies of the document that was going to be needed for the Annual General Meeting coming up in the office tomorrow for all managers on all forty-five floors of the company. I tried using my photocopier but it wasn’t working well so I took the elevator from my floor up to Jiro and Andrew’s area on the 41st floor. I met with Benjamin, the guy that usually lets me use his photocopier on that floor and I started making all necessary copies. When I had only one more copy of the last page of the document to make, I noticed Jiro was walking to Andrew’s office with a funny look on his face. I hadn’t seen them since the debacle at Mofe’s birthday so I was eager to meet them both and apologise. I quickly finished my photocopies, thanked Benjamin and made my way towards Andrew’s office. As I got closer to Andrew’s office door and I wanted to knock before entering, I heard Jiro shout ‘I thought you liked being with me. I thought you cared about me. I thought you would fight for our relationship no matter what but I guess I was wrong. If you were tired of me, you could have just said so. I wouldn’t have bothered you anymore.'”
Bukunmi looked mega shocked but she didn’t say anything. She just kept quiet and let Bukunmi continue.
“My curiosity got the better of me so I hid somewhere close to Andrew’s office where I could hear what they were saying but they wouldn’t know that I could.” Bukunmi said as she sniffed back some of her tears. “Even though I couldn’t see them, I got the gist of what their fight was about and I saw Jiro storm out of Andrew’s office. I was going to pretend like I was just coming to say hi to Andrew after Jiro left. When I peeped into Andrew’s office to say hi, I saw Andrew picking up his laptop and tons of paperwork from the floor. He didn’t even notice me. His laptop was cracked and there were paper documents everywhere on the floor. It almost looked like a tornado had gone through Andrew’s office. I quickly disappeared before he could have seen me.”
“What did you do then? Abbey asked, transfixed by the information she was getting from Bukunmi.
“Well,” Bukunmi said as she was trying to remember what else happened. “I headed over to Jiro’s office to see if I could get more scoop on their fight but I was told by Jiro’s secretary that he was not in a good mood and would not like to be disturbed. I quickly used the elevator back to my office on the 16th floor, submitted the photocopies, and picked up my phone to call you and tell you all that I had just witnessed. Your phone was engaged so I tried calling your office number but I was told that you were not feeling well. I immediately became very worried about you because in all the time I have known you, you have never been absent from work on account of being sick. I decided to come over to your house and check up on you but I didn’t have my car because I hadn’t driven myself to Elegushi beach yesterday or to work this morning.”
“So how exactly did you get here?” Abbey asked, sensing that the mystery of the two dead bodies on the floor was about to be revealed.
“How else?” Bukunmi asked with a pitiful face. “I did the only next rational thing I could think of. I called Nnamdi to come and pick me up. I asked Toyin, my colleague, to cover for me till I returned. I figured since I had finished all that would be required of me for the next few hours, nobody would miss me in the office. When I got to Nnamdi’s car, I told him I needed to go home because I forgot something at home. I didn’t want to tell him I was coming to your place because I felt he would not want to see you after Mofe’s birthday. Nnamdi agreed to take me. My plan was to run in, see how you were doing, quickly tell you what I could and head back out without Nnamdi ever knowing that this was not my house. Unfortunately things didn’t go as I had planned.
Yup, Abbey thought to herself. Things hardly ever go according to plan in this house “Go on,”.she urged Bukunmi
“I got here and your father opened the door.” Bukunmi said. “He looked angry and I was surprised because I hadn’t expected him to be home. In truth, I totally forgot all about your dad. I asked for you and he had a hateful look in his eyes for a brief moment before he smiled at me and invited me in. He told me you were upstairs so I thanked him as I walked past him and ran up the stairs eager to see you. Your room was empty so I became confused. I came back down here to ask your father if he was sure you were upstairs but he was sitting down on the couch over there with a gun pointed to me.” Bukunmi said as she pointed to the chair Jafar had sat on when intimidating her with a gun.
“He told me to sit down that we needed to talk.” Bukunmi said in continuation. “I was so scared, I sat down and kept quiet without any complaint. I had never been held at gun point in my life before and after everything you told me about what he did to your mum and Edirin, I was really worried he would shoot me if I didn’t cooperate. He told me what happened between you, himself and Mofe; and said I should call you and tell you to come home with your mum or else he would kill me. I tried calling you but your phone was still engaged. I told him your calls were not going through but he didn’t believe me. He snatched my phone and tried calling you with it but he too saw that it was engaged. He said we would wait till you were off your other call and try again. He said he would find something for us to do in the meantime.”
Bukunmi shivered and Abbey braced herself for the worst part. “Your father got on top of me and tried to rape me. He smelt of alcohol and bad morning breath and I instantly felt like vomiting. I immediately started shouting and screaming. He slapped me several times to shut up but I just kept screaming till my lungs hurt. One minute all I could hear was the sound of my own voice screaming and shouting for help and the next minute, I heard someone burst through the door and lift your father off me. I scrambled over to the back of the couch and noticed that the person that had saved me was Nnamdi. But something weird happened.”
“What?” Abbey asked, her back aching because of the position she had kneeling down . Her heartbeat was racing. “Tell me, what seemed weird?”
“The minute Nnamdi got Jafar off me and they looked at each other, they both looked surprised, like they knew each other.” Bukunmi said as she contorted her face in recollection of the events that had occurred. “Everything became very confusing after that.”
“How so?” Abbey asked intently.
“I don’t know.” Bukunmi replied. “One minute they were fine and the next minute, they both started talking nonsense. I couldn’t understand them at first. Jafar was asking Nnamdi what he was doing in his house and Nnamdi was asking Jafar what he was doing in my house.”
I can see why that would be confusing, Abbey thought to herself. “Go on B.K. You are doing good. Keep going.”
Taking in several deep breaths, Bukunmi continued. “Your father started rambling about how wrong everything was going and how he never let any one of his employees to know his house. He said that the job he gave Nnamdi did not comprise him coming to his house at any point in time. Nnamdi told him that he had followed me to my house and was still on the job but was looking for the right way to get to you through me. They both looked at me like I was the reason for the confusion before they looked at each other and started arguing again.”
“Who was holding the gun at this time?” Abbey asked.
“Your father.” Bukunmi answered.
“Okay.” Abbey said. “Go on.”
“Right.” Bukunmi said, her swollen red teary eyes began to water again. “From what I understood from their discussion, your father had sent Nnamdi to you that night we had gone out to party at the club. Nnamdi was meant to hit on you, get you to fall in love with him, and keep you under controlled surveillance at the request of your father. Unfortunately for him, he failed to make an impression on you that night; especially since Mofe came to your rescue. After your father heard about Nnamdi’s failure, he gave him a second chance to redeem himself and find another way to get close to you. That was when Nnamdi started tailing me until he found the perfect avenue to make it look like he bumped into me by accident. He wormed his way to making me invite him for Mofe’s birthday party. He just seemed so genuine. I didn’t know that your father had ordered a hit on Mofe’s life. Nnamdi’s plan was for him to come with me to Mofe’s birthday, charm the socks off you, send guys to kill Mofe that night, and go home with me. In Nnamdi’s mind, he believed that if anything was going to happen to Mofe, because you were not speaking to Edirin and you wouldn’t willingly run into your father’s arms, you would come running to my door and he would be there as a shoulder to lean on. He would have broken up with me a couple of days afterwards and started chasing you in order to comfort you. He believed that you and I would have a falling out because I would accuse you of stealing the guy that I liked and we would stop talking. His plan was to alienate you and I from each other and have you all to himself so your father could control you through him. The only problem with his plan was that he hadn’t expected to see Jiro there. He hadn’t even known that you and Jiro were once lovers before he had taken the job from Jafar. The shock of seeing Jiro there, his brother in law, took him aback and spoilt his plans, especially since he could not stay the rest of the night or go home with me because I didn’t want him to…not after the way he had insulted you that night even if you deserved it.”
“Wow.” Abbey said. “I certainly deserved that. Go on.”
“Nnamdi was sure he had failed in his mission to get you. He was going to return the money to Jafar today before he saw me at the beach yesterday. He had sent a message to Jafar saying that Jafar should give him another chance at succeeding.” Bukunmi said. “Your father was so upset that things had gone so awry with Nnamdi, he pointed the gun on him and was going to shoot him and dispose of his body. Nnamdi promised to deliver and Jafar agreed to give him one last chance. Your father then pointed the gun on me and said I had heard too much and he was going to have to kill me. Nnamdi started arguing that he was going to be able to handle me and I wasn’t a problem but your father would have none of it. Nnamdi complained that if I turned up dead here, people would know he had something to do with it because a lot of people had seen him leave the beach with me yesterday and they had him on CCTV at my office coming to pick me up. Your father didn’t care and he wanted to shoot me anyway. Nnamdi felt your father was trying to implicate him so as to cover up his own tracks so Nnamdi started fighting for the gun.
Abbey was sure that Nnamdi fighting for the gun was not out of the goodness of his heart. She could bet her Jimmy Choo shoes that he only did it so her father would not be able to implicate him for Bukunmi’s death if she had she been shot.
Bukunmi looked at her hands and continued talking. “In the tussle between your father and Nnamdi for control of the weapon, the gun went off and when they separated, your father was bleeding and Nnamdi was holding the gun. He threw the gun down because he knew he had shot your father by mistake . Forgetting about me for a brief minute, Nnamdi cleaned his prints off the gun and went into the kitchen to wash the blood off his hands. He was so fidgety. By the time he came back into the living room, I had picked up the gun and pointed it at him even though my hands were shaking. I felt was used and confused. Nnamdi was the very first guy in a long time I had liked. I liked him even more because he was Jiro’s brother-in-law but Nnamdi had used me to get to you. Just because he had fought for me with your father didn’t mean that he would ever let me get away with watching him shoot your father…not after all I had heard. I knew too much and I worked in the same office with his brother-in-law, Jiro. He was bound to kill me sooner or later so I shot him three times.”
“You what?” Abbey asked, needing to be sure.
“I shot him three times,” Bukunmi replied. “I walked over to his side to check if he was really dead but your father grabbed a hold of my leg and dragged me in a bid to get the gun. I didn’t even know that your father was still alive. I was so scared. I fell into their pool of blood and kicked my way to get the gun back. Your father was strong but I managed to get a hold of the gun first. I didn’t think twice Abbey. All I could remember at that time was him trying to rape me and all the things he had done to you, your mum, and to Edirin. My adrenaline kicked in and I shot him twice…one in the heart and one in the head to make sure he was dead. I dropped the gun and got up, saw both of them dead n the floor and myself in the reflection of your mirror covered in blood. I was so scared about what I had done,” Looking back up at Abbey, Bukunmi said, “That was when I called you again and you finally picked up. I couldn’t hold back the tears over the phone.” Even as she said it, Bukunmi resumed crying again.” I’m so sorry Abbey.” Bukunmi said. “I’m now a murderer. My life is ruined. I’m in big trouble Abbey. This will shame my entire family. If my father and brothers ever knew about this, they would kill me or arrest me and leave me in jail to rot for life. They believe in upholding the law no matter who needs to suffer. What will I do now?”
“Look at me Bukunmi,” Abbey said as she held her friend’s face in her hands. “You’ll be fine,” Abbey said. “First things first, you said you packed two change of clothes before heading out to the beach yesterday right?”
“Where is it?” Abbey asked urgently.
“It’s back in the office” Bukunmi said in a small voice.
“Okay.” Abbey said, her brain working faster than her body. “I need you to stand up and remove everything you are wearing.” Bukunmi did as she was told. When she was naked, Abbey said “Now I need you to go to my room and shower. When you finish, choose something from my wardrobe to wear and lets get out of here.”
Bukunmi nodded and started making her way up the stairs. Before she reached the landing upstairs, she turned back at Abbey and said “Thank you for believing me Abbey. I’m sorry I dragged you into all of this.”
“No Bukunmi. I’m the one who’s sorry. You are in this mess because of me. I brought you into this. I promise that you won’t have to worry. I’ll handle this. I promise.” Abbey said with a tight smile. Considering the predicament they were faced with, there was very little to smile about. “Now go and shower. We need to get out of here as fast as possible.”
Once Abbey heard the shower running, She got to work of wrapping Bukunmi’s clothes in a black trash bag. Once done, Abbey began to trash the entire place, knocking things down and making the scene look like a robbery had taken place. When she was done with that, she waited for Bukunmi to come downstairs. As Bukunmi made her way downstairs in a new set of clothes, Abbey gave her the keys to the car and told her to wait there until she joined her. Not having any strength to argue Bukunmi walked out of the house like a zombie and made her way to Abbey’s car.
Abbey quickly made her way to the kitchen. Carefully covering her hands with her shirt, Abbey turned all the gas knobs on and let the smell of gas permeate the kitchen. In a couple of hours, the entire house will smell of gas. If any naked flame came near the house, it would burn it to the ground. If not, the bodies would be found days later and it would look like a robbery-gone-wrong. Abbey hoped that the house would catch fire though. She knew that the Nigerian police didn’t have the necessary equipment to check for fingerprints but she wasn’t willing to take any chances. She or Bukunmi might have left something behind that could implicate them.
Abbey carefully picked up the trash bag with Bukunmi’s bloody clothes and made her way out of the house..
Rushing over to the car, Abbey threw the trash bag into the back seat and started the engine. As she drove away, Abbey looked at Bukunmi and said. “This will remain between you and me. It will be our little secret. No one else can ever know about this. Ever! Okay?”
Bukunmi nodded. She was crying again.
“Don’t cry anymore.” Abbey said. “I told you I will handle it and I have. If anyone asks anything, I know what to say. My mother and I travelled and came back to see two dead men in our house. Nnamdi was an armed robber and my dad had a gun. Nnamdi was not working alone. My father killed Nnamdi and the other armed robber killed my father and ran away. Thats the official story.
Bukunmi nodded bleakly.
“Now tell me everything you heard about Jiro and Andrew” Abbey urged.
Glad to have a different topic distract her, Bukunmi sat up and relayed everything she had heard in the fight between Jiro and Andrew.
Three Weeks Later
As Andrew sat picking the last bits of the label off his beer bottle — stupid immature habit — he cursed himself for the umpteenth time. Mofe’s label on Mofe’s drink however, still remained intact.
It had been over three weeks since his fallout with Jiro and so far, he had not seen, heard, or spoken with Jiro since that day at his office. He had tried getting through to Jiro but Jiro had completely shut him out. He had changed the locks of his house, taken a sick leave off work for a while and hadn’t picked up any of Andrew’s calls. It was official…Jiro was shutting Andrew out of his life completely.
And Andrew was going mental…
Considering all the years of education behind him, Andrew hated that he’d been so remarkably stupid. He knew that when he had said what he had said to Jiro, he was trying to think of Jiro’s future. Now, it only felt like he had destroyed one of the best things in his life. It wasn’t just his relationship with Jiro that had taken a nosedive. His friendship with Jiro was also dying fast and it was the fading friendship that was killing Andrew slowly from the inside.
How could I let him go without a fight? Andrew asked himself for the hundredth time that day.
Because I had to, he decided within himself, answering his own question.
Sometimes doing the right thing sucked. The first couple of days without Jiro had been a study in misery. Everything felt dull and annoying. Work was the last place Andrew wanted to be, his bed reminded him of Jiro so he slept in the living room but he had made memories with Jiro there as well. His car smelled of Jiro, his phone was filled with Jiro’s pictures, and his plans for the next couple of weeks had been planned specifically to suit Jiro’s schedule. He felt like he wasn’t in control of himself or his decisions anymore and the craziest part of it was that he didn’t want to be in control…not anymore. All he wanted at this point was Jiro. If Jiro were with him, he’d feel a lot better. As it was, all Jiro’s absence had offered Andrew was a guilty conscience, an empty bed, a river of painful memories, and a broken heart. Everything about Andrew felt absolutely empty and he had never felt so alone. After the first couple of days of misery, the ache of loss had grown, not abated. After three weeks, the loneliness had become absolutely unbearable.
I have to find him! Andrew decided. I have to find him and beg — no grovel. I’ll stalk him till he takes me back. starting tonight, I need to stalk him and pay him the apology that is long overdue. I’m so stupid. I never should have waited this long!
“Andrew?” Mofe said, shocking his mind back to the here and now.
Damn it, Andrew thought. This was very unlike him. Since Jiro left, he could barely keep a thought in his muddled head. Every other thought in his mind in the last three weeks had been invaded by thoughts of Jiro. Andrew had known he was not up to socializing with anyone in his emotional condition but he couldn’t stand being alone with his thoughts and in his house another minute. When Mofe had called him to have drinks with him so they could catch up on stuff, he had willingly jumped at the offer. Desperate, infinitely miserable, and running out of things to do to keep his mind busy, he had agreed to have drinks with Mofe. Initially, Andrew had felt he’d be able to have Mofe commiserate with him on his failed relationship with Jiro. Now that he was here, he really wasn’t in the mood to talk. He might have accepted Mofe’s invitation in a bid to reconnect with the outside world but now that he was doing just that, he realized that there was only one true way to really reconnect with people again…he had to first reconnect with Jiro. Despite his obsession with Jiro, Andrew had agreed to have drinks with Mofe and chat. The least he could do was pay attention to the man.
“Sorry Mofe,” Andrew said. “I got carried away for a brief minute. What did you say?”
Mofe gave him a weary smile. From the way Mofe was looking at him, Andrew could only guess that his mind had drifted elsewhere more than once. “I asked how you are holding up.” Mofe said. “You don’t look too good and you are not your usual cheerful self. This version of you beats a dozen women mourning their husbands hands down. You look like the weight of the world is literally sitting like a curse on your shoulders.” Patting his cousin on the back, Mofe asked Andrew “You know you can tell me anything. Are you sure you are okay?”
Mofe’s phone rang as Andrew was about to answer the question. His caller ID identified the caller as Abbey. Mofe picked it up and said “Hi honey. Let me call you back. I’m still with Andrew.”
Abbey said something on the other end of the line. Mofe smiled like a fool in love. “I love you too baby.” Mofe replied Abbey. “I’ll let you know when I’m on my way home. Make sure you eat something. I’ll talk to you soon.”
When the call ended, Andrew turned to Mofe, his face contorted with a confused look. “Why Abbey?” Jabbing his thumb in the phone’s direction of Mofe’s direction, Andrew continued his inquiry. “You’re one of the hottest guys I know, and trust me, I know A LOT of how guys. You could get practically any girl in the world if you really wanted her but you chose Abbey. Obviously she means something to you. Why?”
Mofe laughed. “What do you mean ‘why’?”
Pursing his lips, Andrew look in a breath and tried to explain the rationale of his question. “I understand that it might seem like a stupid question but I really need to know. I know that we can’t always choose who we love because the heart wants what the heart wants. We do however, choose who we date. I’d never have pegged Abbey as your type but you are head over heels in love with her. I just wanted to know why you feel the way you do about her.”
Mofe thought over Andrew’s question for longer than anyone should have to. Andrew was sure he wouldn’t answer at all when Mofe finally said “I’m with Abbey because she is easy-going, drop-dead gorgeous, and in her own clumsy way, romantic as hell. I know she can be selfish one minute and selfless the very next minute but everyone had flaws and I love her despite all of her flaws. She is exactly what I need. I might be able to get any other woman if I wanted to but none of those women could ever compare to Abbey. It’s not just about looks or personality. Abbey and I simply connect in a way that I cannot describe. Without Abbey, I would just be sitting around wasting my life with other women. When I’m with her, I feel complete, like I’m exactly where I need to be.” Taking in a deep breath as if to calm the rising of his emotions as he spoke about Abbey, Mofe smiled and said “When I’m with Abbey, every minute feels too important to waste so I try to be the best person I can be for her while trying to make her feel as special as she makes me feel. I consider myself to be her gladiator. I’d kill for her if I had to. It’s not just the sweet parts that make her special. It’s how willing I am to make the difficult decisions that need to be made for her sake and mine.”
Andrew thought for a moment and said. “Damn that’s a good answer. But I don’t know how to get through to Jiro. I messed up big-time Mofe, and I think it may be too late to win him back. How do I ask my hot-headed boyfriend to forgive me when all he seems to want to do is tear my head off. It’s like he effortlessly drives me insane.”
Mofe smiled. “I know the feeling but if Jiro is truly what you need, things will work out. It’ll click as long as you are open and ready for it when it happens.”
“You sound so sure.” Andrew said miserably as he put his head in his hands. “I wish I could believe those words. You don’t know Jiro like I do.”
Still smiling, Mofe said “I guess I don’t. Okay, so what exactly is your next move in your quest to win him back?.”
As Andrew opened his mouth to answer, the waitress with the name tag Funke, came over and asked “Can I get you anything else?
“No thanks” Mofe said.
“And how about for your other friend staring at you from the door.” Funke asked. “It looks like he’s coming this way. Should I get a drink for him too?
“Who?” Andrew said, looking confused. “Its only two of us here tonight. There’s no one else here with us.”
“Oh I am so sorry sir.” Funke said, looking like she had just made a silly mistake. “I was so sure that the hot man in black was staring at you.”
Andrew was not in the mood to meet any guy. Just because he and Jiro were not in a good place at the moment didn’t mean he wanted to spend his days getting to know another man, no matter how hot he might be. Irritated, Andrew asked Funke, “Didn’t you just hear what I said? It’s only the two of us that came here. We aren’t expecting anyone else.”
Mofe tapped Andrew’s hand and said “You might want to take a look at the guy before you say that.”
Feeling betrayed, Andrew looked at Mofe in surprise and said “You too? You know that I’m not interested in anyone else Mofe. Why would you tell me to look at another guy. I’ll never be over Jiro and I’m not interested in any other guy, not matter how hot he is.”
Noticing the waitress looking uncomfortable with the conversation, Mofe said to her, “Can you please get us our bill. Thank you.” As she hurried away quickly, Mofe said under his breath “You idiot, calm down and look at the guy already. Stop being such a difficult bitch.”
Funke, the waitress, came back with the bill and handed it to Mofe. Andrew whispered under his breath so only Mofe could hear him. “Don’t call me a bitch, bitch. And I’m calm.” Sighing heavily, Andrew asked “Okay, so where’s this Adonis you want me to see so badly.”
Smiling, Mofe pointed towards to front door of the bar. “Over there. Sexy guy in the black shirt.”
Andrew looked at where Mofe was pointing to. The minute he saw who the sexy guy in black was, Andrew dropped his beer and his hand sprang free like he’d been electrocuted. The bottle bounced off the table and hit the grungy carpet with a thump. Foam splattered everywhere, soaking his arm and spraying up the side of his face. Sudden heat suffused his entire body. A burning hot point of flame centred itself in his chest and banked slightly to the left to flare brightly inside his shattering heart. I’m having a heart attack, Andrew’s head told him. As the wave of heat rushed from his chest region to his boxers, his shaft sprung to life like it was on salute. Okay, so maybe it’s not a heart attack.
Andrew registered the sound of Funke angry and squealing about the mess he had made of the beer and knew he should respond somehow, do something. He just couldn’t think. Or breathe. Jiro is Here. You’re not imagining it– He’s really here. Andrew absolutely couldn’t tear his eyes away from Jiro either In case he vanished again in an instant and it was all a dream. Jiro stared back at him and pulled at Andrew’s iron will like a magnet.
Mofe cleared his throat.
The deep rumbling sound of Mofe’s chuckling finally intruded into Andrew’s focus on Jiro and his sudden appearance. “For someone who asks me why I chose Abbey, you seem to find it easy to forget that any other person exists whenever Jiro is around.” Mofe said smiling. “It’s actually kinda poetic.” Even though Jiro was still standing like a statue by the front door the bar and Andrew was towards the back of the bar, Mofe still spoke like Jiro and Andrew were standing beside each other. “Maybe I should leave you two alone so you can catch up on things. We can have drinks another time Drew.”
Even though he had heard everything Mofe had said, he was not interested in looking away from Jiro. Despite his lack of interest in looking at anyone or anything else, Andrew eventually looked at Mofe to thank him for dragging him out of the house. As Andrew looked at Mofe, he realized that tearing his eyes off Jiro actually hurt in a weird way. As it was, the sight of Jiro had made Andrew hard in a public place. Embarrassed he said “Jesus Jiro, I’m so sorry. I’m being such a dick. Its just that Jiro…oh my God, he’s actually here. Trying to understand how Jiro could have walked into the same bar he and Mofe were having in a drink out of the hundreds of bars in Lagos, Andrew cautiously asked “Wait, Mofe did you– was this your idea?”
With the biggest grin on his face, Mofe said “Yes. actually no. It was Abbey’s. Now make it worth it already. He’s a hot-headed man but he’s still your man. So, go get your man.” Mofe winked.
Happy for the first time in three weeks, Andrew smiled an appreciative smile to his cousin and said “Thank you Mofe. You and Abbey rock!.”
Still smiling, Andrew turned his head towards the door of the bar to look to at Jiro.
Jiro wasn’t there anymore. Panicking, Andrew looked all over the bar but couldn’t see Jiro anywhere.
He was gone…
No…no…no. Andrew’s heart felt like it was going to jump out of his chest with the pain and sense of loss he felt.
To be continued…
I look forward to your comments!
SOUNDTRACK FOR GLADIATORS (EPISODE 10): MY HANDS by LEONA LEWIS