Presenting to you the new series by Seun Odukoya! So excited!
So it runs here every Wednesday. Keep a date with us and share the word. You can visit his site at http://www.seunodukoya.wordpress.com where it runs on Mondays; also follow him on twitter @seunodukoya
Almost drunk. And I still can’t sleep.
He wanted to blame his restlessness on the generating sets roaring in the neighborhood; he wanted to blame it on the fact that it had been a long weekend. He wanted to blame it on anything but what the problem really was.
He sat up – and then fell back as the walls of the room began to move. There was a muffled thump as something rolled off his thighs and onto the floor. “Bloody hell,” he said aloud as he turned this way and that, patting the bed. “Where’s that…”
The sudden ringing of his phone added a new sound to the din, and the illumination within the darkness pointed him its direction; slightly underneath the pillow. He pulled it out and looked at the screen; Yemisi.
“Sorry. I meant to call you back but mumsie started talking about my love for trousers and what-not.” She paused. “So how did it go with Mope?”
“The movie ended,” Dapo finished. “She told me she was getting married and walked away.”
“Oh Dapo…I’m so sorry.” Yemisi answered. “Want me to come over?”
“At what – after eleven in the pm?! Stay in your house jo.”
“Have you been eating? You know I don’t mind making you some…”
“I’m good o, Yemisi. Noodles haven’t killed me yet. And I still have some of my birthday cake left.” He paused. “Fantastic cake by the way. When are you starting your own catering service?”
“Don’t change the subject! This is about you and the fact that…I’m sure you’ve lost weight…”
He interrupted her again. “Stop mothering me – or is it ‘sistering’? Whatever it is, just stop.”
The smile in his voice allayed her fears. “Will you be fine?”
A subdued gleam caught the corner of Dapo’s eye compelling his glance downwards at the half-empty McDowell bottle lying beside his feet and the moonlight reflecting off it. “Oh, I definitely will be,” he responded, eying the bottle. “I have work tomorrow, so…”
“I get. Goodnight, dear. I’m praying for you – always.”
“I know. Night.”
He watched the Samsung Galaxy bounce on the bed as he flung it carelessly, hoping it didn’t fall of on the other side – and then turned away without waiting for it to land.
He didn’t care.
The McDowell bottle cap crackled as he wrenched it open – and then everything stopped to matter as the amber liquid hit his throat. His previously hunched shoulders relaxed as fire coursed through his body, and he unfolded his legs, enjoying the feeling.
He winced as a random wind of memory blew a face into his thoughts – eyes that looked like they were melting, a nose that sweated a bit too much and lips that were like chewing gum – made to be chewed.
He watched the water flow over the lashes and spill over in a drizzle that became a stream and became a flood. The image crumbled as the water became too much for it, and it looked like a watercolor painting water had spilled across.
He threw his head back and drank.
Dapo could have sworn the clock said four twenty-nine two minutes ago when he’d closed his eyes for two more minutes of sleep. Yet within two minutes of sleep, it had somehow jumped to six fifty.
“The clock must be crazy,” he croaked aloud.
He jumped out of bed, groaning as Occupy Nigeria began again in his head. Talk about starting with a bang, he mused. Hung over on a Monday morning. Great.
Doing his morning routine at half the usual time made no difference. It was almost ten o’clock before he stood over his desk doing the same thing he did every morning – rearrange it.
“Thank God for miracles! Mr. employee-of-the-year actually came to work late!”
Dapo did not slow down in his cleaning; at the same time running through his to do list. A steady knocking sound made itself known to him; a sound that became progressively louder. His hands curled into fists as he recognized the sound for what it was – approaching heels.
“Dapo! What happened…”
He looked like an avenging angel as he turned towards the speaker. “Yes I know, okay? I’m late! I know – I have a wristwatch, two freaking phones and a system – and they all work perfectly well! I know I’m late!”
For the space of about nine heartbeats, the only sound was Dapo’s agitated breathing as he towered over the object of his pent-up anger – Grace, the office accountant. Then she spoke calmly;
“I was…I was wondering at your appearance, not that you’re late. I’m sorry.”
Her heels sang a rhythm as she walked away.
Drinking’s no longer good for my disposition.
His reflection grinned back at him from the washroom mirror, agreeing with Grace about his appearance. His hair looked like it was run over with a shaving stick, he had three days’ worth of hair on his face, his shirt was askew and his tie – he looked like Frank Donga – up to the bags underneath his eyes.
That wasn’t good enough.
He pulled out his phone and called Grace. “Could you please come? I’m in the restroom.”
He couldn’t have counted up to five before her heels began their singing as they came towards him. One thing was sure; she wasn’t sneaking up on anyone.
Not in those heels.
It always intrigued him how she moved so quickly and nimbly in them despite her build.
“This is a strange place to apologize in,” she said blandly as she entered the room.
“It works, does it not? I’m sorry. I had a very rough weekend.”
Grace walked closer and put a warm hand that had a curiously cold spot against his cheek. “I can help you forget,” she said huskily.
Dapo almost tripped as he stepped back. “I don’t doubt that,” he responded quickly, “but it’s not the time or the place. Right now I need your help to straighten up.”
“No wahala – so stop running!”
Dapo stopped retreating at her advance, and sighed quietly as she nuzzled his cheek before rearranging his tie. “I like your cologne sha. What say I make you dinner at home one evening?”
“Em…madam, you’re married.”
“Yes, to a man who prefers younger and slimmer girls. I’m bored out of my weave-on!” She patted down Dapo’s shoulders. “Hmmm, such muscles!”
He stepped away. “Thank you – I think I look good now,” and looked in the mirror as he spoke.
“No, silly. How about your hair?”
Yeah. My hair.
At least his tie and shirt were presentable; which were an improvement from ten minutes before.
“I –“ he started to say before realizing he was alone in the room. He smiled and opened the tap to wash his hands – and was somewhat startled when Grace reappeared over his shoulder brandishing a hairbrush.
“Just stay that way,” she said as she came round to stand beside the sink in front of him. Dapo closed his eyes as she started brushing his hair, consciously trying not to bump into the huge chest she was shoving in his face.
“Hmmm. Dapo’s afraid of breasts!” Grace exclaimed, chuckling as she pulled his head forward firmly. He gasped and stood erect, pulling himself away from her.
“Yes I am afraid of breasts, breasts that have another man’s fingerprints all over them constantly and consistently.” He glanced in the mirror, appreciating that he did look better. “I’m grateful, Grace dear – but if you keep up this behavior I’m going to have to report you for sexual harassment.”
Grace’s eyes ran over his face, trying to see if he meant what he said. “Chicken,” she retorted, “Just say you can’t handle a real woman!”
Dapo allowed himself a small smile as the clicking of her heels faded away quickly and moved closer to the mirror. His appearance had vastly improved, and that did a number on his mood. The thumping behind his left eyebrow had become nothing but an annoying buzz, and he felt somewhat better. Have to watch the McDowell dose from now on, he mused.
Let’s get to work.
His Facebook account did not have much activity and he was contemplating closing it when the ‘message’ icon suddenly popped up. He clicked on it and it was a message from Muyiwa, his roommate back in the university.
It was short and to the point.
“Are you coming to Mope’s wedding?”
It seemed to be a week of complications for him. And Man U was not helping matters.
Dapo cracked a smile as he wondered about what locker room conversations in Old Trafford would be like. Rooney will probably be cursing the hell out of Moyes – and in the same breath wondering why Fergie left.
The sudden breaking of the taxi brought him back to awareness. They were three minutes away from his street.
“Stop here,” he said to the cabman and climbed out. He paid his fare and walked into the superstore across the road.
For a moment, he thought he had somehow made his way to Shoprite or one of those megastores. He stopped at the door and looked at the human swarm that lined every aisle and corner and considered going home.
His phone rang.
“Dapo, how are you?”
He looked at his watch; 7:18.
“I’m okay sir. How is everyone?”
“They’re fine. Why were you absent at Peju’s baby naming?”
“I told mummy. I wasn’t in town – I had to travel on behalf of my company.”
Thunder rumbled down the line, and it took him a moment to realize his father was clearing his throat.
“And did you travel when my sister died too?!” The older man paused. “Even if you were around, would you have shown up?”
“No.” Dapo knew that was not the smartest thing to say, but he was frustrated. “Look dad, I have a couple of things to do and it’s getting late. I wonder why you’re wasting both our time.”
“Is it me you’re talking to like that?! Is Peju not your sister?After your mother and I die…”
“…is this how I’m going to carry on with my siblings?” Dapo cut in. “Your daughter made it – makes it clear she would rather have nothing to do with me. And to be honest, I prefer it that way.” He sighed. “I have to go…”
Chief Engineer Kayode Ojo interrupted his son. “I wonder if I birthed you at all! You must be a bastard – who knows where your mother…”
“I love you dad,” Dapo said quietly and hung up.
He stood unmoving in the corner, nostrils flaring, shoulders rising and falling with the tempo of his impassioned breathing. Then he made a beeline for Aisle 6.
The alcohol aisle.