Jonathan Afful lies on his expensive matrimonial bed and stares at the expensive ceiling.
A beautiful European woman is lying naked besides him. Her name is AMANDA BROOKS, a twenty-year-old Companion from the LUSTFUL LIPS PRIVATE CLUB.
It is not the first time Afful has been with her on the bed. There had been times he had brought her home and slept with her whilst Eyram was in one of the guest rooms crying.
It is, however, the first time he has failed to get an erection despite Amanda’s best efforts.
Eyram and Junior have been gone for two days now, after that b—–d Chris had beaten him, and Jonathan is amazed how vulnerable he is feeling.
He had called his father-in-law to apologize because he had been shocked that Chris chap knew Albert Ntim’s sister-in-law.
Afful had hurriedly ordered the loan amount to be transferred into the accounts of KEDEM IMPORTS AND EXPORTS. Albert Ntim had been really mad, but Afful had apologized.
Amanda drapes a naked thigh across him and reaches for him once again. She fondles him expertly, glides down his body and starts doing a lot of things to him down there, but still he remains flaccid.
Finally, Amanda gets up and without a word goes to the bathroom. She returns a few minutes later and begins to dress up.
Afful stands up and pulls on his boxers. He picks up a beautiful metal business suitcase, turns the combination, opens it, and counts out some money.
Amanda turns to him and takes the money. She picks up her handbag and walks to the door. She pauses and looks at him as she pops a gum into her mouth.
She makes a huge bubble with the balloon, pops it and speaks.
You treated her like thrash, even more than thrash, and now you’re pining for her, aren’t you?
Afful looks at her, shocked at the bitterness in her voice. But her words make him angry, and he points a finger of warning at her.
Shut up and get the hell outta my house!
Whatever. You better get her back, before you become impotent for life.
She leaves the room. A moment later he hears her car start up and then she drives away.
Afful gets up.
It is true. He has not been able to get an erection two days in a row. He walks to the kitchen. Eyram has stocked the fridge, and although Afful had microwaved some okro stew and warmed some banku, he still could not eat.
He wanders through the house in confusion.
He tries to reconcile some accounts in the study, but gives up after a few minutes.
He pours himself some wine, dumps ice cubes in it and sits down to watch a movie.
After a moment he curses loudly and gets up.
Slowly he realizes that he has indeed been cruel to Eyram. Very cruel indeed.
Apart from the affairs, he had also demeaned her by bringing other women home, beating her and making her dress and behave like a w—e any time they made love.
Afful picks up his phone, hesitates, and then he calls. It rings and rings without an answer.
He sighs heavily and picks up another phone. It contains a new sim card Eyram doesn’t have.
He pours himself more wine, drinks half, and then calls Eyram with the new number.
After two rings Eyram picks up.
Her voice is gentle, sweet, just like he remembers it.
Darling, Honey, please don’t cut the call. Please hear me out, please. I-
(cutting in coldly)
Jon, go to hell!
She cuts the call. Afful calls back, and her phone is off.
Afful stares at the phone in his hand, and then he begins to shake as sobs rack his body.
His tears flow hotly down his cheeks.
He cries bitterly, remorsefully in a mortified way.
My dear, my dearest, forgive me, I love you, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry! I’M SO SOOOOOOOORYYYYYY!!
And in the loneliness of his room Jonathan Afful screams and cries like a baby.
Steve Hollison parks his car in the garage and sits for a long time. He sighs and gets out of the car.
He locks the garage door and moves to the door that leads from the garage to the living-room. He reaches out to open the door and suddenly a box on top of an old refrigerator they had put in the garage slips and falls to the floor, startling Steve.
He looks at the box. Elaine had packed all the framed pictures of him and Effe into that box and brought it to the garage.
The framed picture lying on top shows one of his favourites. He had taken it himself.
It depicts Effe standing in the kitchen, in a simple white shorts and black blouse. It is a picture he had kept on the wall in the bedroom. She is smiling, and her whole face is lit up in bright beauty.
Her skin, so fair and clear, her figure so incredible, so lush, so alive.
Steve looks at the picture, and slowly he kneels and picks it up. He sits down on the floor and leans his back against the wall.
He cleans dust from the picture and stares at it, and when it begins to get hazy he realizes that he is indeed crying.
Tears drop unto the picture.
Steve sniffs and cleans his face. His hand dips into his pocket and he brings out his and Effe’s wedding rings.
He looks at the elaborate diamond ring on his hand now, and the simple designed gold ring he had worn for Effe.
His tears flow faster, choking him.
Good Lord, Effe. I miss you bad!
He picks up his phone, cleans his face, navigates to contacts, selects Effe’s number, begins to dial, and then the door opens suddenly and Elaine looks in at him.
Her stomach is bulging dangerously. She stares at Steve with sudden latent fury.
When you’ve finished mourning your ex-wife maybe you can bring me my d–n prescription, dear husband! I’m in a lot of pain here!!
She leaves angrily.
Steve does not mind her. He leans back and shuts his eyes.
BAWA RENTED PREMISES
The place is a very large complex built in the form of a C.
It consists of three stories each. Each room is a Chamber and a Hall, with a kitchen and washroom.
His room is on the third floor of the middle block, and it is the last room at the end of the cramped corridor, ROOM 444.
The rooms are comfortable but not big. The kitchen is tiny. The living-room has comfortable furniture, a TV and woollen carpet.
The bedroom door is closed.
Chris switches on the ceiling fan and drops his key on the glass-topped center table.
Not much. I just want to pay off the taxi, then get a better place.
Effe drops her handbag and stands facing him.
I bought an Estate House a year back. With my own money, in my own name. Steve bought one too. We used to joke that if we had two kids we would give one to each. If you don’t mind, you can live in mine, since I’m not using it now.
He looks at her. His face is still a little swollen, but his smile is still beautiful.
Thanks, Effe. I’ll think about it.
It’s furnished, Chris. In a very respectable location, security guaranteed. It is a better choice, better than here.
I know. And I admire your kindness, Effe. I’ll think about it, okay? Welcome to my home, anyway.
She smiles up at him.
Thank you for bringing me.
The pleasure is mine.
She looks down for a while, and then she looks at him.
I had a dream yesterday dawn, CB.
He raises his eyebrows and smiles.
CB. Chris Bawa. Hm. I love it.
She shakes her head, exasperated.
I saw you lying in a pool of blood. And when I came to that place I saw you, just like that! Please, Chris, promise. No more fights, no more arm-wrestling, please. I can help you pay off the rest of the taxi. If you need money, let me know. But please, promise me, no more fighting or gambling!
Her face is earnest, her fear great. The smile leaves his face, and he looks at her tenderly.
I promise, Precious.
He looks at her.
She looks at him.
Without warning they move, closing the distance between them, and then they hold each other, and their kiss is volcanic, fierce, demanding, hungry!
Effe has never experienced such physical and unrestrained hunger.
She pushes into him, needing and wanting, everything else forgotten.
His hand covers her left b—-t, and a shiver rips through her. She puts her hands on his chest and pushes him back gently but firmly. She steps back from him, panting.
Chris nods and, trembling, sits down on a sofa.
She smiles weakly.
Not yet. The time isn’t right.
I’ll prepare something for us to eat. Sit there, watch TV, and don’t come to the kitchen… and please, please, don’t touch me.
He laughs shakily, and picks up the television remote control.