Please follow the links to read Chapter 1, 2, 3 & 4.
Screams of delight came from occupants of the Colossus rollercoaster. Circus songs played from a nearby invisible stand. Adults held children by the hand, some escaped their grasp and ran wildly towards something, sending their adults in hot pursuit; while some allowed themselves to be led, pointing at objects of fascination, and telling their guardians they wanted to have a go at it. The grasses beneath looked a pale green, flattened from being consistently trampled by hordes of boots, sandals, flip-flops, and other footwears.
An ice cream man was smiling at the kids around his truck, handing out different sizes and colors of ice cream to the thirsty young ones in exchange for money. Suddenly, a dog dashed into the scene, startling some children for a brief moment. They laughed and the white Collie wagged and barked with glee. A child who had just purchased an ice cream cone offered some to the canine but the Collie licked it all in one go, leaving the child with tears. At that moment the handler of the
dog rushed to the scene, panting. She wore a white pair of pants and a red blouse. She had a wide mouth, short nose, big eyes, and a brown round face that matched the yellow and black braids on her head.
‘Silly girl,’ she said to the dog, still panting, and then noticed the wailing child and her empty ice cream cone. ‘Oh my, she ate your ice cream, didn’t she?’ she asked the girl, dropping on one knee. The child stopped crying and nodded.
The lady smiled, ‘We’ll just have to do something about that now, won’t we?’ She asked. ‘Two ice creams for the one you lost. What’s your flavor?’
The child stopped crying and smiled. A tooth was missing in her dentition. The lady turned to the dog and said, ‘As for you, that’s all the ice cream you are going to get.’ The Collie whined and her head and tail drooped in dismay. The lady bought two ice creams and handed them to the happy child, who took them and scurried off, squealing in delight: ‘Daddy. Daddy see!’
The Collie took off again. The lady exhaled, ran her fingers through her braids, shook her head in apparent fatigue, put her hands into her pockets and went after the dog. This time, her steps were steady and in no hurry. She did not walk for long before finding the animal at the feet of a seated stranger, who was rubbing its belly.
Neither noticed the presence of the lady. With his white cap, polo shirt, and shorts and the white racket bag that lay beside him, the stranger looked like he was heading for a game of lawn tennis. His skin color was the same as the lady’s; his arms, legs and curved torso were slim and athletic. She seemed to decide not to break the man-dog romance. She stood there watching until the Collie sensed her presence, yelped, and rolled over to its paws.
The man looked up and smiled. The lady returned the gesture while the Collie danced around her legs, wagging and barking like one who was possessed.
‘Is she always this friendly to strangers?’ he asked. His eyes were sad but had a tinge of amusement in them.
‘You have no idea.’ the lady replied, running her right fingers over her hair again. ‘That was how
we met. She is a joyful nutter. ’
‘Hmm, I see,’ he smiled, his eyes leaving her to admire the wagging Collie that was now licking
his sneakers.
‘Sometimes I worry she’d be kidnapped because of this stranger tolerant policy of hers. No offense
to you,’ she said and looked lovingly at the dog for a brief moment. ‘She’s so adorable. If only she were mine.’
‘She isn’t?’ he asked. His eyes were back to her now.
‘No, she belongs to a good friend. I take her for walks and sightseeing sometimes.’
‘I see.’He fetched his mobile phone from a pocket of his shorts, checked it and said: ‘I really have to be on my way before I miss practice.’ He extended a hand. ‘It’s been a pleasure meeting you.’
The lady opened her mouth to say something but was interrupted by a large ringing noise. It rang
and rang –
Crap! It was my bedside alarm clock.The thought struck me immediately: I remember everything, every single detail! This was beyond exciting, it was incredulously surreal. I had a dream and I remembered it. For some reason, my mind wandered to the ring I purchased from the antique store. I stared at the finger that held it. Was it the ring? There was no other possible explanation even though the one I had defied logic.Also, I noticed a feeling that I couldn’t recall ever having: The possibility of love! It had a soothing effect like hot cocoa on a winter morning- The alarm clock went off again, jerking me from my reverie. Well, it was time to hit the shower, get set for the dynamics of a hopefully beautiful workday. As much as I enjoyed the non-work related activities with Mrs. Padraig, for which Wright was compliant, I wanted and needed to get on with other job-related duties. I was feeling quite unproductive already and didn’t appreciate the fact that other
marketing executives were doing a follow-up on prospective clients I had been developing.
So far, the day went on pretty much as I had anticipated: Mrs. Padraig did not call and there were
no signs of her trusted driver around. As it appeared, Akin was busy all day and could only send me a mail saying he had news for me, but we wouldn’t be able to discuss it during the thirty minutes break as he wouldn’t be having any.He suggested we had dinner together after closing hours, and I agreed. Something had to be up because dinner was unusual since he got married.
Furthermore, it was rather unusual that he hadn’t stopped by for a hello before work hours. I had taken it upon myself to swing by his office when business hours begun but he wasn’t around. Akin had never been late to work. I had tried his phone number thrice but all I got were voices redirecting me to his voicemail.Something was definitely up.
The rest of my workday passed swiftly as there was a lot to do. By the time I was done, there were
only eighteen minutes left. I exhaled; shut my eyes and let my head drop onto the desk.
In another twenty minutes, I was on the passageway, heading towards the lift area. Akin, in a pair
of black shoes, black trousers, and a white shirt with rolled-up sleeves was waiting by the elevator. His jacket, held in place by his left hand, casually hung on his right shoulder, while the other hand was lodged in his pocket. He appeared to be lost in thought, and didn’t take notice of me until I was a few paces away. He smiled, pressed the elevator button, his sad pupils flickering with imperceptible anger.
We hugged for a silent, brief moment.
‘Are you alright?’ I asked, as we released each other.
‘After dinner,’ he replied. The elevator door opened and we stepped in.
‘Sure.’ I said and wrapped my left arm around his right. ‘Indian okay?’
‘That would be fine,’ he said as the elevator door closed.
We had said nothing during the starter course, main menu, and now we were almost done with dessert. Still, nothing had been uttered. He had eaten a meager portion of everything served. He looked so hopeless. His spine was curved into the slouch of a defeated man. He caught my eyes on him and smiled ruefully. He spooned some fruit salad, dropped the cutlery gently on the table, and dabbed his mouth with a piece of tissue. The contents of my ice cream cup were half gone.
From the corner of my eye, a waiter in a purple uniform with a white logo by his breast pocket approached us and said that the store would be closing in less than an hour. I wondered why a restaurant would be barring its doors to the public at such an early hour. But I didn’t say anything to that effect.
‘Fuck, Temilade and I are separated,’ Akin said without warning after the waiter had left.
Guiltily, I was relieved by this piece of information. Akin deserved better this wife could ever give but this wasn’t the time to be making a statement like that, so I maintained an empathetic look and asked: ‘How did that happen?’ His voice cracked up.
‘Ye-yesterday, I wasn’t feeling too good so I obtained permission from my departmental head to leave early. When I got home I found my wife in our matrimonial bed with another man, having s-’ He trailed off, a tear sliding down his eyes.
This time I was thunderstruck. I expected any and every other reason, but not this. The hypocritical bitch! The waiter arrived with the bills. I took care of them and Akin didn’t even make an attempt to stop me. It was his practice never to let a woman pay for his bills. The waiter thanked us for patronage and reminded us of the closing time again before leaving. I realized we were the only customers left in the restaurant. Well, we were not done, not by a long shot, I thought.
I suspected more news was on its way so I waited.
Suddenly Akin laughed harshly. ‘She never seizes to surprise me, you know. A normal woman with a
conscience would have started pleading, but no. Not my wife! She said I was responsible. That I never spent enough time with her and spent too much time with you. The audacity! I am sorry to say this but I landed a good slap on that uncultured mouth of hers.’ He hesitated, eyes blazing and nose snorting like an indignant horse. I had never seen him that infuriated. I must say I didn’t think pleasant, humorous Akin had it in him to slap a woman.
He continued: ‘Was she crazy? How much more time could I possibly have spent with her? She drove me insane with her constant nagging and baseless jealousy, not to mention her haughty mannerisms. And yet I tolerated it. It was her mission to put a strain on our friendship and yet I coped with it all. I tolerated this because I love her,’ he said. His voice was raised and he must have suspected as such because he stopped talking. When he spoke again, his voice was eerily calm. ‘May God punish her.’
‘I am really sorry about this, Akin,’ I said, moving my palm over his clenched fist on the table.
‘Where is she now?’
‘I don’t know. All I know is that I have packed a few essentials I will need for the rest of this week. I will be staying in a hotel until I figure out my next action.’
‘You can always stay with me, you know,’ I offered.
‘Not a good idea. I am broken right now and might act stupid,’ he said.
‘You know I’ll smack you silly, if you – The waiter cleared his throat and said it was time for us to leave. He didn’t look too pleased that we had stayed till the restaurant closed.
Unprofessional waiter was in a hurry to leave, I thought.
‘Yeah, we’ll be on our way now.’ I said and Akin and I stood up.
‘I don’t feel like going to the hotel just yet,’ he said and slung his jacket over his shoulder.
‘Let’s go to mine then,’ I said, picking up my handbag.
‘That’s a good idea. Something tells me I am going to be late for work tomorrow.’ He said.
‘Don’t even dare,’ I smiled. ‘You can’t begin to imagine how surreal it was this morning without you before work hours.’ He managed a smile.
I put my hand around his waist and we left the premises.
Kreate is a budding Nigerian writer with a flair for fiction. Writing for him began sometime in secondary school where he dabbled in poetry and plays. He has authored two self-published short novels. He is a banker and lives in Surulere. Read more interesting pieces at KREATEATALE