I kissed her neck softly, she gave a soft moan and drew closer to me. I bit her ear lobes gently, she tilted back her head, offering me her neck. I dipped my head and tasted her soft creamy neck and she arched into me. Her fingers went to the buttons on my shirt, involuntarily my hands covered hers, halting her fingers. She looked at me, wondering what she had done wrong.
I lowered her to the bed and held her in my arms. I took a deep breath, closing my eyes. I pulled her hand back to my shirt and she undid the buttons. I pulled back like I was seared by fire when her soft palm touched my chest. It was the first time in years another person’s hand was touching my skin. I felt her gaze on my face although my eyes were shut.
” Sly,” She whispered. ” Are you afraid of my touch?”
” No my love. Not your touch but being touched.”
” What happened?”
I sighed heavily, feeling the burden of the past wedging in between us. How long will I keep chasing people away because of my past? why do I keep dragging the baggages of the past with me? why does my past have so much hold on me?
“I have done things I am not proud of.Dupe, touch me.” I said.
” Are you sure?” She asked quietly.
” Yes. I want to feel your hands on me, on my body.” I said, with my heart pounding in my ears.
I felt her light touch on my chest, her hand slowly crept to my shoulders. I opened my eyes, somewhat relieved. I didn’t see the disgusting faces of the old women anymore, all I saw was the face of my sweetheart. Hallelujah!
” Are you okay?”
” Yea.” I replied, selling your body to older women has a way of slowly robing you of your dignity and esteem. Slowly you lose yourself to them and in the end you might end up hating yourself.I felt my skin crawl each time they touched me, I tried to imagine myself elsewhere while I was riding anyone of them but I never stopped going back. I never stopped until I achieved my dreams. I wondered what Dupe would think of me when she learn about that aspect of my past.
She pulled off my shirt, oblivious to my thoughts. Her fingers caressed my shoulder and arms.
” What is this?” She said, her finger tracing the tattoo on my arm.
” A tattoo” I said, stating the obvious.
” I know. But it’s not just any kind of tattoo, is it?, it has a significance right?” She asked.
” Yes.” I agreed, ” but not anymore”
” I have seen it on someone before but I don’t remember who”
” That’s not possible” I replied.
Her finger traced the bull head tatttooed into my arm. She looked at it closely, trying to work out where she had seen it before. I shifted away and s——-d her. I leaned on my elbows, taking my weight off her. I unzipped her blouse and pulled it off her head. I unclasped her bra and threw it aside, my lips found her tiny n.ipples and I suckled it. Her finger nails raked into my back. She closed her eyes and moaned out. I tensed briefly, wondering if I misheard the name she moaned out.
” Uche, please… ” She moaned out again.
I felt like a hammer had been slammed on my skull. I got off her and reached for my shirt. She sat up, looking at me, eyes widened in shock.
” Where…..where are you going?”
” Driving you home” I stated.
” Why?” She asked, reaching for her bra.” Did I do something wrong?”
” You moaned out….”
” What’s wrong with that?”
” You moaned out Uche’s name! D–n it!” I shouted, I hated myself at that moment for losing my cool.” Come, I will take you home”
She nodded her head solemnly. ” I’m sorry Sly.”
Her phone rang out and she jumped out of the bed, searching for it. She took hold of it beside the bed and placed it against her ear.
” Hello,” She said, suddenly tensed. She reached for her blouse and held it against her chest. She stood up trembling as she listened intently to the person on the other line. Her legs buckled and the phone dropped from her hand.
” Dupe, ” I said, pulling her into my arms. I carried her into my arms and she hugged my neck, crying.” What happened?” I asked.
” There was an accident at one of the oil sites.” She said,” there…..there was an explosion. Uche was at that site”
I let out an expletive.
The news of the explosion of one of the oil sites of Dominique International Petroleum Company was on every news channel. I watched as charred bodies were being loaded into an ambulance before I turned off the TV, feeling disgusted with myself.
I hadn’t gone to see Dupe at the hospital. I tried to reach her line but it was switched off and I don’t know if she’d be happy seeing me. I kept giving myself reasons why I shouldn’t go see her but I knew in my heart that they were all excuses.
Fortunately for Uche, he wasn’t close to the site when the oil well exploded but some particles had gotten into his eyes making him go blind in both eyes.Dupe had been by his bedside since the day he was transffered to a hospital in Lagos.
Annie had called me, she wanted to know if Dupe had heard the news. She cried on the phone when she told me Thomas had died in the explosion. He was her colleague whom she was dating before she met me. She had cried for minutes on the phone, she had also rambled a lot in pain.
I took my car keys and walked out of the house. I drove down to the hospital and located the ward Uche was. Dupe and an older woman, I assumed was Uche’s mother was beside his bed. He had burns and scratches on his arm, his eyes were heavily bandaged and he had many medical devices connected to his body. The women looked up as soon as I walked in.
” Sly, ” Dupe said, standing up.
” Welcome Sir” the older woman said.
” How’s he?” I asked, looking at the still form on the bed.
” Still in coma,” Dupe said, looking back at him with pain filled eyes.
” Nne, who is he?” The older woman asked.
Dupe hit her palm against her head.” Mama this is Slyvester, a friend. Sly, this is Uche’s mother.
” Thank you for coming my son.” The older woman said.
I nodded my head.” I will be on my way now,”
Dupe followed me out of the room. We walked through the corridor towards the hospital gate.
” Have you heard from Dominique?” I asked.
” Yes. Representatives of the company have been to see him. Annie was here too and some other colleagues as well. Mr. Thomas, Uche’ s suprittendent didn’t make it. Uche was so fond of him.” She said.
“I saw it on the news. I’m sorry Dupe.”
“Thank you.” She replied.
We stooped beside my car.
“I forgot to ask you this, who called you to inform you?”
“His mother. She said she didn’t know who else to call.”
My brows went up, remembering that, she was one of the women who vandalized her shop.
” I see. When are you going back home?”
“I can’t leave him.”
” What about us?” I asked.
She shook her head, crying.” Sly I’m sorry. I love Uche, I can’t leave him.”
I nodded my head to disguise how much her words wounded me.
” You are leaving me for him?” I pressed, feeling like an idiot. I should have walked away but I needed to hear some sort of assurance from her.
“I walked away from him before, I can’t do that to him again.” She replied.
” Even if he survives, He’s blind now.” I said.
” I know. I will be his eyes” She said.
” If I was the one on that bed with my lens damage, would you lend me your eyes?” I asked.
A sob caught in her throat.” Sly please. ”
I pulled her into my arms while she continued sobbing. I set her away gently, she pulled back.
” Let me know if you are ever in need of anything.” I said.
” Thank you Sly.Bye” She said, turned around and walked back into the building.
I felt a hand on my back as I made to open the door to my car. I stilled, breath drawn, thinking it was Dupe. I whirled around, it was Annie. She had probably witnessed the whole scene or she just walked into the hospital compound.
” Annie,” I said.” Where’s your car?”, trying to guess if she had seen us or if she just walked in.
” I couldn’t drive myself. I took a taxi ” She replied.
I nodded my head, uncertain on what else to say. I knew she was hurting just like I was.
” I can’t stand seeing him like that. Helpless and blind.I’m glad she’s with him even if you are also hurting. Thank you for letting her go Sly.”
” I didn’t . I am too selfish. She let me go” I replied.
She touched my arm. I took hold of her hand, I squeezed it twice just like Dupe taught me. Sometimes words are not enough. She flung herself into my arm crying. She got into the car with me and I drove out of the gate.
Annie and I downed bottles after bottles of cognac, I don’t know if we were trying to kill ourselves or kill our sorrows. At a point she crawled to me and placed her head on my thighs. I caressed her face quietly, wishing it was Dupe’s face.
” Why do we always take those who love us for granted? ” Annie asked.
I knew she was thinking of Thomas again. He had loved her, he loved her with every cell in his body but her heart was already hooked by me. He had tried to make her fall in love with him, he had even taken Uche under his wings just to make Annie’s heart soften towards him. Thomas, being a suprietendent in Dominique Petroleum had even influenced Uche’s going to the site in his first month all because Annie was fond of him.
Annie had told me all these over dinner one evening, she had laughed at Thomas. She had even mocked him to his face now he was gone and she was either having regrets or feeling guilt. I raised up her head and kissed her, probably under the influence of the alcohol or maybe because I wanted something, anything, that will take my mind off the present.
She kissed me back hotly. I knew she was kissing me back for the same reasons I kissed her. We were helping each other to forget. She pulled her blouse over her head, and grounded her chest into mine. I groaned, pulled her on the sofa and pulled off her skirt. Her hands flew to my shirt and she paused. Suddenly remembering my aversion to being touched.
I pulled off my pant, leaving on my boxers. Her lips caught mine and our tongues danced wildly. I took her hand and placed it against my chest. My heart was pounding fiercely, Dupe had touched me. But this was Annie, would I be able to stand her touch? will the images of the old flabby and disgusting women I was forced to sleep with hunt me when she touch me? will I feel that familiar rush of shame, disgust and sickening feeling like I always had when the women lay their hands on me.?
” Pull off my shirt” I commanded. ” Be fast,”
Annie looked shocked but she deftly loosened the buttons of my shirt and the shirt landed on the floor. She ran her hand along my arm, her gaze locked on my tattoo and she froze. She shoved me aside and scrampered away from me.
” Did I miss something?” I asked, wondering what caused the change in her.
” You…..you! ” She said, tears streaming down her eyes. She stood up and made to run out of the room but I caught her arm.
” Talk to me Annie. Why are you freaking out?”
She yanked her arm away from me. ” You b—–d! B—–d! Bsstard!” She fell on her knees, her left hand went around her tummy. She continued sobbing. ” You killed my mother!”
” What?” I asked, in shock.” What the hell are you saying?”
” You killed my mother! You shot her three times! You kept shooting her even after she was long dead! You splattered her blood all over our living room. You spat on my mother’s corpse afterwards. ” She staggered towards the door and collapsed to the ground crying
” How?” I heard myself say. How could she have known about that? there was no one in the house with the old witch on that fateful day? how was this possible? ” It can’t be. You are Alhaja Risikat’s daughter? she had only one child and her name is not Annie. Her daughter’s name is Anifat.”
” That’s me!” She howled, ” You killed my poor mother. What did she do to you? She cried, cried, she begged you with Allah to spare her life! Why did you kill my mother?”
I dropped to the couch. ” She killed my father. She had him executed for a crime he didn’t commit.” I said, the words of the officer on duty ringing in my ear all over again.
To be continued..