Mirage Mercy

He watched her wriggle into her gown, while questions flooded his mind. She smiled showing him her dainty gap tooth and even white teeth.

“I have to go,” she said. “It is getting late and I don’t want to miss my flight.”

“Of course.” Goddard said, as he rose to help her into her jacket. “When will I see you again?”

“Soon. You know how these things are. I never know when I’ll get a break from that crazy boss of mine. Let’s see maybe next month….”

Goddard knew she was lying. He wouldn’t see her for the next three months.

She would disappear.

Her phone would be switched off, his Whatsapp messages would pile up unanswered, texts would return undelivered, mini-calls would hover forever.

She would be nowhere in sight, as if she found the edge of the world and walked off it.

Just like she had last time. And the time before that.

When they met eleven months ago, he hadn’t really minded. He was travelling to Abuja from Okirika for an interview. His brother sent him money for a flight but the recent plane crashes were still too fresh in his mind. He decided to go by bus instead. Besides it was easier than travelling 100 kilometres to Port Harcourt International located at the fringes of the city. Road travel in Nigeria wasn’t hazard free but he preferred taking his chances with solid land beneath him.

He overslept on the day of the trip. His phone battery ran out and he lived alone. He barely got into the bus before it left the park.

“It looks like someone had a busy night.”

He turned to meet slate grey eyes looking into his and a full friendly smile that made him smile back instantly.

“I wasn’t that lucky. My battery died. I am Goddard.”

“Mercy”

And that was how it all began. The ride to Abuja was the shortest ever.

They exchanged phone numbers.

They talked about politics, music, the scar on his arm, her contact lens, the vice-president’s invisibility. When the journey was over and she was leaving, a part of him was leaving with her.

He didn’t get the job, there were five slots and 419 applicants. Some with recommendation letters from the Presidency.

He went back to Okirika, to the little apartment he shared with Max, his pet cat, a dozen wall geckos and his four year old TV.

He tried calling the number she gave him the next day but it was switched off. It stayed switched off for a week. He was about to delete it one evening when she called him.

“Hi Sailor,” Mercy said “Are you in Okirika?”

Yes he was. Of course he was. He gave her directions and soon she was alighting from a motorbike in front of him.

That weekend was perfect, it was like living in a dream.

She cooked, gorgeous dishes that melted in his mouth and had him wanting more.

She took, driving him to heights he never knew existed, places he had never explored.

She was a light in his drab world and he was a moth floating to her.

On her third visit she brought him a recommendation letter for a Federal job in Yenogoa. It was signed by senator Inimo Wodi.

“Where did you get this?” He asked.

“Oh Goddy, you are so serious. He is a family friend of ours. I just mentioned your case and he got interested. Make sure you go along with it though, the interview is next month.” Mercy said kneading his shoulder muscles.

He got the job. When he called to tell her the good news. Her number was “unavailable at the moment”.

He googled her. But none of the ,nine Mercy Odilis on screen were her’s.

He tried to talk her into getting on one of the Social Media Networks, Facebook at least.

“Oh Goddy! That’s so public. Eww, I could never do that. ” She replied.

So he let it go.

It wasn’t everyday one found a woman that was intelligent, sexy, caring and undemanding.

Undemanding. That was what really worried him. At the beginning he was ashamed when she would come to see him and he couldn’t pay her fare or take her out to any of the new eateries in town. Mercy never complained instead she came with foodstuff and made him gourmet meals, complete with dessert. In bed she was adventurous and fun. He was getting hooked.

But soon it was Sunday morning again and she was leaving. As he kissed her goodbye, he felt a rock settling inside him.

Soon it was a pattern. Great weekends followed by weeks sometimes months of silence. When ever he asked she laughed it off, but he wanted to know. Needed to know.

And this time he had a plan.

He had discovered a distant relative of his that worked at the Abuja airport. ‘Worked’ was an euphemism for acting as a human mule, he loitered around carried heavy luggage for small tips. His name was Dumebi.

It hadn’t taken much for him to convince Dumebi to wait for Mercy at the Airport and follow her home.

Soon he would know where she lived, from there, hopefully, who she was.

She was expected to arrive Abuja by 4pm, so he expected Dumebi’s call by 6pm latest.

Dumebi called by 8 to say he missed her. The taxi he’d hired for the chase ran out of fuel mid-way. He was sorry. Could brother please give him another chance.

Goddard threw the phone across the room. The Nokia obliged by splitting neatly into three pieces.

Fuming, he went to the kitchen and dished himself some of the Jollof rice Mercy had made that morning and a cold can of Star. He stood in front of the TV and began to flip channels when he saw her.

Mercy was on TV.

Only she wasn’t Mercy Odili. She was Mrs Mercy Wodi, the stunningly beautiful wife of Senator Inimo Wodi.

They were commissioning a new orphanage in Port Harcourt and she was smiling her open gapped, even toothed smile while her obese hubby mouthed some platitudes about giving.

The rice, remote and beer fell out of his hands.

He couldn’t breathe. The ceiling was spinning. Then all that was left was the sound of him moaning,”no,no,no o o o o.”

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In And Out Of Time

The time difference, that is what ruined things in the end. Shangai was five hours ahead of Ibesikpo and their lives were that far out of sync.

When she woke up and wanted to spend a few minutes gisting, he was running off to a high power board meeting.

When he wanted to unwind and tell her about his day, she was battling narrow corners with tricycle drivers.

When she wanted to have a quick skype chat before stepping out for a walk, he was fast asleep and his attempts to reply quickly became soft snores.

It made no sense.

Except on Saturdays by 5pm, Ibesikpo time.

When she was back from a long day in the market and he was tucked in bed with a cup of green tea.

And they would trade stories and tell each other jokes and dream of what could have and maybe would still be.

But even that was not enough, when she was posted to Iwoukem. Six long hard weeks without a word, and their long distance love succumbed.

Raw Deal

For Lily

She lets Prince kiss her. Moving to his rhythm, making the right sounds at the right places, she is the perfect partner tonight. Her thoughts pirouette through the window, soar above the twin duplex and outdoor pools, flit across the bridge, to the semi-slums, to the crammed self-contained room without air conditioning or TV where she and Taiye used to live.

She sees, no, feels Taiye smiling at her, lifting her in his muscular arms twirling her in the yard while the kids watch and giggle. She breathes the scent of his freshly washed clothes, and subtle musk as it caresses her skin.

He calls her by name but it sounds different when he does, like a treasure– something he never wants to lose. Then they are sharing a drink on the 6-spring mattress on the floor, or playing ludo, or cuddling while he tells her his dreams.

Prince is done, he rolls over like a boulder and begins to snore.

She is still awake and she can’t forget the TV-less room, or the man with muscular arms. She wonders why she still wants more. Wasn’t money what she gave it all up for?

And in that lonely room, tears falls, and she knows she is poorer now, than when she was in the arms of the man that made her feel on top of the world.

Edward Please Call Me

The first time he heard her voice, he was in awe. It was a fount of fresh water, refreshing and teasing him all at once. From then on, it became his daily companion, his addiction, on the long ride from Palmgrove to Ajah each day. Its soft, sure lilt made him smile, made him wince, made him laugh aloud.

Before long he knew her schedule, had the outlay of her programs tattooed on his mind. ‘Dream, Live, Achieve, Praise’ on Mondays, ‘Celebrity Spotlight’ on Tuesday, ‘Know Your Self’ on Wednesday, ‘Be The Change’ on Thursday, ‘Kisses and Knocks’ on Friday, ‘Rock it Hard’ on Saturday, ‘Vessels Of Clay’ on Sunday.

When she was away for three days of casual leave, his world veered off orbit.

When she resumed, it revolved again.

When she got a Youtube Channel. He was one of her first fifty viewers. She was as he had imagined her: brown, beautiful, full figured and feisty.

He took in every inch of her honey brown skin, her earthy smile and the slight squint of her right eye. He would give anything to be closer to her… there were no takers.

That is how he would have remained– a faceless, irrelevant online admirer–if she hadn’t opened a Twitter account.

When she did, the dice rolled in his favour, he had clout there and he made it count.

Using his twelve odd accounts he got her 1000 followers in two weeks, it was easy from there. Soon she was an OverLady, ruling over a virtual kingdom 10,000 followers strong.

She followed him, at his official account, but still, it was hard to make the leap. What was he to say, really? The truth would make him look like a common troll, a lie would toss him into the bin, along with all the celebrity mention seekers…

As he re-read the direct message before sending, he wondered why words were such inadequate things, when they were all you had. With two deep breaths and prayers to Cupid and Fortuna, he pressed ‘Send’.

She never acknowledged the message. After a while he sent her another one, again there was no reply.
Impatience gnawed at his gut, and Rejection nibbled his liver. His carefully planned transition from online admirer to real life lover was turing into a Hungarian horror film.

He disliked the thought of mentioning her, of being so obvious. In the end he had no choice, and even then, it made no difference.

The pin that burst his balloon with a bang was waking up to find that his main account had been suspended. Over 6,000 hours of wit, networking, quotes and favourites, wiped out like they had never existed.

Twitter admin cited user abuse and said he had been reported as spam.
Did he mention a certain account more than five times in two hours?

Liquid rage ran up his throat and erupted in a groan as he flung his phone on the bed. The hardy N900 nokia split into three wholes without a qualm. No! No oo oo ! He screamed as the fury rocked him like gunfire.

In the coming days, nothing soothed the pain: not music, not whiskey, not insanity workouts, not the news that his study leave application had been approved.

He logged out of his other accounts and deleted his Youtube App. With the renewed verve, he focused on reading for his professional exams. He did well in them, his scores soaring above those of his course mates,fuelled by the his rage.

A year later, he got an offer to work as Public Relations and Social Media Consultant in a multinational telecommunications firm. It was another welcome opportunity to bury himself in work. He gave it his all.

One saturday evening, at a dinner, he saw her. She was just the way he remembered from his Nokia N900 screen–a burst of colour, animation and bright smiles. A fresh jolt of pain hit him, but he braved it and smiled back.

“Very nice to meet you,Yemi. ” He managed.

“It is ‘my’ pleasure Mr Edward.” She gushed with a wide smile and a flutter of her borrowed eyelashes.

When she left, an usher slipped him her card.

Edward, please call me. It said.

Committing the number to memory, he squeezed the card into a ball and threw it into the nearest basket. At last the pain began to ebb, in its place there sprung a delicious dash of freshly ground revenge.

As he left the dinner that night, he tuned in to her program again for the first time in years. Things were going to be quite different this time, that, he was sure of.

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This Is How You Lose Him.

You are handicapped from the beginning. With your face shrouded in veils, all you have to keep his attention is the inadequacy of words. It is a pittance and you know it, but still you try. You try, to make your affection seen, heard, read, felt. You try to let your love shine through. You try, even though you fail, you fail in the act, never the heart.

He is the real thing. You are sure of this. You have seen every guy in the horrid guy book: the braggart, the brawler, the beggar, the sloppy, the crook. He is different, refreshingly so. You can read it in every line he writes, tweets, and in the ones he doesn’t. You have found genius. Real genius. The kind that isn’t aware of itself or its abilities, the kind that makes a smart publisher rich, yet….

The Igbo in you is livid, how in heaven’s name can we watch this raw gold get snapped up? Just thinking of the possibilities makes you grin, yeah, this is real raw talent right here. You want to sign him on yourself, but you aren’t a publisher, have never been one, and insecurity flaps its lead wings against your breast. You sigh, long and deep. There’s no winning these things is there?

Day and night the thought is awake stabbing your mind with pitchforks, prodding your head with skewers, you cave in. After all, publishers are made, not born. You begin to google then, little things first. Stuff like ‘ABCs of publishing’ How To Start A Publishing Firm’ ‘How To Spot Great Literary Talent’ ‘Basic Finance For Publishers’.

Of course you also come across the elegy to ‘The Last Publishing House In Nigeria’. You ignore that, failure is contagious.

All that changes when she appears.

From the minute you set eyes on her elegant well-tones curves, flawless make-up and cheek-brushing eyelashes, you know the game has changed. This is no longer about keeping his attention, winning his trust, becoming an over-night African Literature publisher or anything like that.

This will be a game of seduction, a dance of desire, a duel of passion and you, are unarmed. Your man will be taken, yes he will, just because she can.

You want to scream, to mark your territory, to put up a fight. You want to paste ‘Keep Off’ signs all over his handsome six foot frame. You want to make T-shirts for him, that Say I belong to____ and type in your name. Instead you watch in disbelieving silence as the dance of desire begins.

She calls, he answers. She teases, he responds. They lol, they lmao, they sigh, they do poetry duets. They waltz up and down your timeline, like a elitist ballet, you watch, like a zombie pawn. You ache like an arthritic joint. You see the handwriting scrawled on the wall– your time is up–but it doesn’t help break your fall.

You fall hard. Your heart bounces once, skids on the slippery floors of hope, then it shatters into a a shower of pink strips. That’s not all, soon, she comes along with her industrial roller and grinds your bleeding heart to dust. You want to shout. You want to beg, to ask for a little mercy. Your dry tongue cleaves to the roof of your mouth. You are ground to dust and a part of you ceases to exist.

Time stands still. Your agony isn’t something the world wants to forget. So, instead of feeling better or allowing your organic remnants rest, you are tossed instead, into the eye of the tsunami. A wall of solid seawater is crashing into your chaos… This time, you know–you are finished.

In the transient, fragile, final moments, between the surge and when you are swept away, one thought lingers,persists, stays: you gave your best, and you did it in good faith, and if this is what you get, let the waves, come, and let them be quick.

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My Fair Lady 2

As the Day of Hearts drew near, Ugo grew thin with fear. He couldn’t eat or drink. He couldn’t sing or think. His modest mansion was awash in a dim grey glow.

What could he do to win Hildebrand? What could he give? He wasn’t as wealthy as Henry who had ordered an entire Island designed for Hildebrand. Once she said yes, it would be named the Isle of Hilda.

He didn’t have Blondie’s quick wits. Sometimes it took him days to find the perfect rejionder for Blondie’s jabs; by then, they were stale and bland.

He wasn’t an ugly man, but by Macle, his modest good looks might as well be Shrek’s. The more Ugo thought about his chances, the more he wanted to give up.

But Love doesn’t fail, and it never gives up. So Ugo sent for Panku and LaPap, his closest friends and allies. If he was to have any chance at all, he had to do something amazing, magnificent and wondrous. And that with modest means, looks and wit.

Panku and LaPap came by evening. The trio sat in Ugo’s parlour drinking grape juice and hibiscus nectar as they pondered Ugo’s plight.

“Give up my friend.” LaPap said, downing the contents of his glass before refilling. “You have no chance against these men. Were it one or the other, you would probably have a hair’s breath, as it is, you are finished.”

LaPap’s words rang in Ugo’s soul like a Death Knell.

“Nonsense!” Panku exclaimed. “Does Love move with the wind? Is it scared of charlatans and contenders? Or is it steadfast and sure? Have no fear, Ugo. You will win Hildebrand. All we need is a plan.” And with a swish of her long green skirt, she fetched a drawing board and a pen.

Hours later, a plan had been formed. It wasn’t the best of plans but it was better than any Ugo had thought of (if he had been able to think at all). And for this, Ugo was grateful.

He would have been less pleased if he knew that LaPap had sold his plans to Henry for a 40 percent share in his oil and gas company. His ignorance was bliss that would soon turn to an intense and shocking agony.

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The lots were drawn and Ugo would be the last to see Hildebrand. A terrible turn of events, akin to being asked to sing after Whitney Huston or to speak after Barack Obama or Nelson Mandela.

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So, let’s go! 15 Comments and Part3 is up!
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My Fair Lady

Ugo wasn’t as rich as the other men that wanted Hildebrand nor was he as outstanding. He wasn’t as tall as Henry or as handsome as Macle. He wasn’t even as smart as Blondie. One thing was sure, though : no man in the length and breath of Suladia loved Hildebrand as much as he did.

In Suladia, women were wooed once a year, on the 1st day of the tenth month. This gave all men fair opportunity, preventing a true lover from being bested by an eager hare. On the Day of Hearts, as the day was called, single women, eighteen years old and above would be wooed by suitors from far and near. If a suitable match was found, they would court for twelve months and then, if no impediment was found, they would marry for life. Divorce was not permitted on Suladia.

So, the ladies did everything they could do to get the eye of that special man they would spend the rest of their lives with.

Some families, like the Asekanos–Hildebrand’s– were fortunate. Their’s was not a frantic flurry of final touches, nor the panicky prayers of fear. They were sure that Hildebrand would be spoken for. They were sure, in fact, that she would be spoken for by many a man. The question on their minds was, who would she accept? They wondered about this, with cheery content smiles, for in all of Suladia, there was no damsel as fair as Hildebrand.

Their concerns were genuine. For as the 1st day of the tenth month drew nigh, four men had plans to woo Hildebrand, each of them a noble in his own right.

The first was Macle. Macle was a handsome, wealthy lord. He had made his fortune as a basketball star, garnering endorsements and trophies like magnets draw pins. He lived in a large mansion on the sprawling hills of Redia with hundreds of servants and a fleet of fast cars. All across Suladia, prayers were made that Macle might choose one girl or the other, but Macle’s eyes were just for Hildebrand.

The next was Henry. At 6 foot 6 inches, Lord Henry was the tallest in all of Suladia. A good thing, as polls had shown that the beauties of Suladia favoured tall men over average. Henry wasn’t only tall. He was also rich. A second generation millionaire, he had inherited his money from his father. Most of his estate had been reinvested and now he had a considerable fortune in gas, oil, sugar, real estate and gold. He intended to use every penny at his disposal to win Hildebrand or die trying.

Then there was Blondie. Blondie was brilliant. He invented planes that were fuelled with air, inflatable houses that were bullet proof and pills that helped women shed pregnancy weight in days while they ate whatever they would. For his inventions many corporations paid him huge endowments and gave him generous grants. He was respected in Suladia and around the world. It was thought that the girl he choose would be crazy to say anything but yes.

Ugo knew his competition, and the knowledge was a dead weight hung on his soul. He was a man of average height with average means and average intelligence. He might be considered good looking by some, but certainly not when Macle was present. The more he thought of his prospects of winning Lady Hildebrand, the more he wanted to crawl into a cave.




To be continued after 10 Comments. Kinda kidding, but what do you think? Is this a worthy tale? Do I go on? Yea or nay?