Damon Salvatore

          “Where the hell have you been?” Solape demanded as soon as I walked in the door. I cursed under my breath. So much for hoping I could go in quietly and avoid this confrontation until morning. It was going on four o’clock already so technically, it was already morning. I cursed under my breath again, wondering how I’d gotten myself into this situation in the first place. I’d never stayed out this late before, not in the two years that we’d lived together before getting married or the 18 months since then. I wasn’t that man, I’m not that man. Sure, there was usually a little flirting here, an escapade or two there, but I always came back home to Solape. Last night, I had no idea what happened or how time had slipped away from me.
I’d left work early and had planned to spend just a couple of hours with Cynthia, the hot youth corper who’d joined the IT department six weeks ago. I should have been home before ten, counting traffic and all, but somehow, I’d started awake in the room at Four Points at past three in the morning. Cynthia was already gone by then and a part of me was almost doubting the whole night had happened at all. I couldn’t really remember much of it. Yeah, we left work separately and met up at The Four Points. We’d had a few drinks and then everything else after that was a blank.
          “I’m so sorry.” I said, my mind spinning. All through the 22 minutes it took to get home, I’d racked my brain for a plausible excuse to give her but maybe I’d had a little too much to drink because I’d felt woozy and hadn’t been able to think.
          “I got caught up with work and didn’t…” I started lamely. Even I knew just how ridiculous I sounded.
          “You’re such a liar!” Solape screamed. “I saw you, you bastard!”
          “Stop shouting, you’ll wake the neighbours!” I said reaching out to calm her.
          “Don’t touch me!” she slapped my hands away. “I saw you drive off with that dumb slut!”
          “Solape…”
          “You think I’m stupid? How long has it been going on? How many more are there?”
          “I didn’t…”
          “You didn’t what, sleep with her? So you were busy discussing how to help Buhari salvage the naira in that suite at Four Points, bah?”
Shit!
I bet my stunned silence gave me away, that’s if she’d believed anything I’d said anyways. Seeing the caught-with-your-hand-in-the-cookie-jar look on my face made her go from angry to livid in a heartbeat.
          “You’re just a man-whore!” she spat. “
          “I…I’m sorry…” I didn’t know what else to say. I truly was sorry. I’d had no intentions of sleeping with Cynthia, at least not so soon, not to talk of spending half the night with her. Sure, there had been a lot of flirting going on between us for the last few weeks, nothing harmful, just a bit of fun. I honestly have no idea what came over me, I really don’t.
          “Sorry?” she narrowed her eyes at me. “That’s all you have to say?”
Funny how the weirdest things come to you in the weirdest moments. Right then, all I could think was how really beautiful my wife was and I was reminded of all the things I loved about her; her feisty spirit, her leggy 5’ 9’’ frame, her intelligent mind and how deeply passionate she can get. I guess you can say that my life was sort of flashing before my eyes because my very passionate wife grabbed the wrought iron skillet from the top of the cooker and took a swing at my head. I had another stunned moment and I didn’t react quickly enough to dodge the blow. Vegetable oil that smelled like dodo flew onto my shirt a split second before the skillet connected with the side of my head. I didn’t feel a thing. My lights just winked out, like a switch had been flicked.

                                                                                *

Instantaneous death by severe trauma to the head might be painless, but I tell you, coming back to life after a wallop like that hurts like a bitch. My heart starting again felt like a lorry ramming into my chest. I felt the blood pushing through my atriums and ventricles and forcing its way through collapsed blood vessels. Next was the indescribable pain from all the pressure in my brain. Think of your worst migraine magnified a thousand times over and then some. When the skillet had connected with the left side of my head, it had sent a crack through it (damn, Solape does pack a good wallop!) and ruptured several blood vessels in my brain before sending it on a waltz towards the opposite side of my skull. My brain continued that dance back and forth a few more times, during which blood and cerebrospinal fluid started to leak through the crack in my skull. I felt every single bit of that process in reverse waking up, probably because I was gaining consciousness rather than losing it, and let’s just put it this way: there’s a good reason dying was designed as a one way street.
As my brain came to life and sent signals to my lungs, I took in a breath of moist earth and that caused me to choke, taking in more sand. My eyes flew open and it was dark around me. The panic that engulfed me escalated the excruciating pains already in my head and chest and in almost every reawakening cell in my body.
I tried to scream but my mouth became filled with the same moist earth that was burning through my airways. I grappled and grabbed at the earth all around me, desperate for escape. I kicked my feet beneath me and pushed myself into a half standing position and then finally, my face rose out of my shallow grave and I gulped in lungful after lungful of air.
I crawled out of the ground and discovered that I had been lying in my backyard. Someone had dug the patch of dirt in which the neighbours’ children usually played about four feet or so and dumped me in it. The grey pants and light blue shirt I’d worn to work on Wednesday were filthy with dark soil stains on them. I had no idea what day of the week it was. I’d come home in the early hours of Thursday when I’d had the confrontation with Solape but had no clue how much time had elapsed since then. It was dark and quiet in the backyard and there didn’t seem to be anyone about. I pulled myself out of the ground my mind reeling. I expected to wake up at any moment and discover I’d had a really bad dream, talk of a really wacky episode of The Vampire Diaries or any other one of those soaps Solape loves to watch so much.
I stumbled to the back door, my banging head in my hands. Weirdly, the one thing on my mind was the bottle of Jack Daniels in the cabinet above the sink. My throat was parched and I felt a thirst like I’d never felt before and it was like I would lose my mind if I didn’t have a drink immediately. I pulled the back door open in desperation and then rammed into an invisible wall. What the heck? The barrier stunned me and sent waves of pain through my entire body again. It was like there was a force field in the way stopping me from walking over the threshold to my house.
Damn, when am I gonna wake up from this weird dream?
          “Lara?” Solape called out from the living room.
Lara is Solape’s sister who by the way hates my guts. Always has, always will. Lara lives in Abuja and I didn’t know she was in town. Just great, like I wasn’t having a bitch of a day already.
          “The door is open, come in.” Solape said.
I heard her footsteps rapidly approach the kitchen.
In an instant, the invisible barrier seemed to melt away and I practically fell through the doorway into the kitchen.
“I’m so glad you’re finally here.” Solape was saying. “I’ve been so scared…”
She trailed off and froze when she saw me. Her eyes went wide with disbelief and her lips started to tremble. I started to understand for the first time what ‘looking like you’ve seen a ghost’ really must look like. The look on Solape’s face was one of such incredulity it was almost comical.
          “Kayode?” she gasped, one hand clutching at her chest like she was on the verge of a heart attack. “You’re…it can’t be…what…you are dead!
I pulled myself from the floor grasping at the chest freezer that sat by the door.
          “What do you mean dead?” I croaked and spat sand out of my mouth.
She seemed to recover from her shock at the sound of my voice and she stumbled away from me, her face now a mask of raw terror.
          “I…you were dead…I…”
I shook my head to clear it.
          “What are you talking about!”
          “You were in there for over 24 hours, you couldn’t have…”
In where!
          “You buried me in the backyard?” I said in confusion.
Solape turned and fled then and I went after her, more out of confusion than to do her any harm like she seemed to believe I would. I still didn’t understand why my wife would think I was dead and then burry me and then be terrified of me. I guess coming back from the dead does scramble a few of your wires.
          “Stay away from me!” she screamed and ran for the stairs.
          “What is going on?” I asked making a grab for her.
Damn, I really needed that drink. Could she just stop this drama long enough for me to have a little chat with Jack, pretty please?
She screamed again and tried to kick at me and lost her balance on the stairs. She fell and hit her head on the bannister.
          “Oh my God, are you alright?”
I ran to her and helped her up. She had a little gash on the side of her head and it started to bleed down the side of her face.
She started to scream hysterically and tried to fight me off. She kicked and scratched and kicked some more and all that just made me thirstier and it felt like if I didn’t have a drink soon, I would explode. I felt the blood rush to my head and my pulse quicken. My heart started to pound until the sound of its thudding filled my head, drowning out Solape’s pleas not to hurt her. Through the haze in my head, I looked at the blood dripping down her face and I could feel its salty, metallic taste on my tongue. I felt a sweet ache in my gums and an euphoric sense of exhilaration filled me as I sank my now protruding canines into her neck and took a deep, deep drink.

                                                                                *

I tried to stop. I honestly did but the thirst was too strong for me. I really didn’t mean to drain all five litres of blood from Solape’s body. I meant to have just a little drink to quench that awful thirst but once I started, I couldn’t seem to stop until she was all dry. Even then, I went ahead to lick off every last drop from her face and head wound.
I was aware that my heart had stopped beating and my lungs had ceased to function. I didn’t need them to anymore. I was finally undead. I guess that first drink of blood from a living human had been the final step in my transformation. I had become a creature of the night, an abomination of the natural order of life, a vampire. The thought made me want to whack myself on the head, hopefully un-cross my jumbled wires. A vampire. How ridiculous. That’s just some hocus pocus writers and TV producers made up to captivate impressionable viewers like Solape. Everyone knows such nonsense doesn’t exist. I’m a vampire. The notion is so ridiculous that I almost burst into laughter. But Solape’s lifeless body in my arms sure wasn’t finding the whole thing funny.

Everything came back to me then. The little rendezvous with Cynthia, how a little fooling around had turned into the night that would change my life forever. I remember telling her it was getting late and that it was time to leave and that we would meet up again soon. She had smiled and looked directly into my eyes. I remember her big brown eyes being so hypnotic and how I’d felt like I was drowning in them. I’d felt light headed looking into her eyes and I’d felt, rather than heard her voice in my head.
You won’t remember any of this she’d said as veins bulged around her bloodshot eyes and her lips pulled back to reveal fangs. You won’t be scared of me and you’ll do exactly as I say.
All my fear and confusion had melted away then and I’d felt safe and secure with her. At that moment, I would have slit my own throat for her had she asked. I felt a twinge of pain as she bit into my neck but that was alright. I wasn’t scared at all. She fed on my blood several times during the night and it seemed like the more of it she had, the more breath-taking and exquisitely beautiful she became.
Do you think I’m beautiful? I haven’t done so bad for a girl who’s going on 180 and has moved around a lot.
Even though I knew that this beautiful creature would most likely kill me, I was calm as a cucumber, just like she’d asked me to be. I didn’t seem to have any will of my own, I was a puppet on a string.
No I won’t kill you sweetie. I like you very much and I think we’re going to be really good pals.
I must have passed out at some point, maybe from exhaustion or the loss of blood. I woke up to find Cynthia kneeling over me, a syringe in her hand.
Don’t worry sweetie, just a little bit of my blood to help you get your strength back.
I’d smiled at her. I felt more alive than I’d felt in my entire life and the dull throb that had been in my busted knee for over four years was gone.
Yes Baby, I might be dead but my blood can heal you puny humans. Just make sure no one wrings your neck in the next 24 hours. We’d both laughed at her joke and I hadn’t understood then what she meant. I guess dying with vampire blood in my veins guaranteed that I wouldn’t stay dead.

I sat on the floor at the foot of the stairs with Solape’s limp body still in my arms. I realized belatedly that had I stopped myself before she died, my blood would have been able to revive Solape. Looking down at her horror death-mask, I ignored the urge to check to see if there was still possibly any dregs of blood left in her body. Just a little taste to rid me of the dryness at the back of my throat. The curtains in the dining room to my left were pulled back and I watched the sun start to rise through them. I made no attempts to run for cover as my skin started to sizzle and blister. Knowing I’d failed Solape in every way possible, I dropped a little kiss on her grey lips just before I finally burst into flames.

The Princess Diaries:Enraptured

Dear Mr. AJ,

First and foremost, I think congratulations are in order so from one Princess-Daddy to another, welcome to the club of the Elite!
I’m sure you know by now that this changes everything. From that first amazing moment you hold a Princess in your arms and look into that beautiful and seemingly helpless face, the power-shift happens and a new Boss takes over.
She will bring sunshine and colour and texture and flavour into your life and only then will you become aware of all the grey, flat plains that were in it before now (especially if you were a self-absorbed wuss like I was). You’ll be amazed at all you’ll learn from your tiny little tot, about life, about yourself, about mundane things you didn’t even know existed. Best of all, you’ll learn a new kind of loving, giving and receiving it.
You’ll learn anew the meaning of vulnerability and how utterly beautiful and fulfilling it can be. You’ll discover the hero in you, not just for your Princess but for yourself. You’ll get more than just a few grey hairs (oh yes you will!) and come to see each one as a badge of honour that you’re immensely proud of.
Each day will bring its own little treasure and I wish I could possibly put to words all the wonder and adventures that await you but I couldn’t possibly do it if I tried. And even if I could, nothing, absolutely nothing can compare to actually unwrapping each precious treasure for yourself. You are in for a great ride my friend, congratulations!
I know as the days roll into years, you’ll start to collect your own Princess-Diary memories. They will become some of your most prized possessions so treasure them, savour them, luxuriate in them. I hope that we can get to share our treasures with each other and I hope our precious Princesses get to know each other as well.
Till we meet again, probably in another dressing room with your little girl in tow, I remain yours’ Knightedly,

SB

Scars: Metallic Yellow Ferraris

          “Stop picking at it!” my sister Esther says. “You’ll get a really ugly scar.”
I ignore her and continue to worry the wound that sits just under my jaw. I look at the purplish skin surrounding it in the mirror above the dresser. The almost two inch long gash that is beginning to itch as it heals fascinates me, and contrary to my sister’s fears, I think the scar it will leave behind will be beautiful, the most beautiful one I wear.
          “I’m just so happy you finally made it here.” Esther says, giving my shoulder a squeeze. “I’m proud of you.” She says and starts to tear up.
I smile at her through the mirror and lay a hand on hers.
Thank you I mouth to her and she smiles.
          “Get some sleep.” She says. “You’ve had a tough couple of days.”
That is true. I am thousands of miles away from home, farther than I’ve ever been before, and I am drained, both emotionally and physically. I caress my wound one more time as I get up from the dresser. It will add to my eclectic repertoire of scars. I got it a week ago, but I’ve been collecting scars the last thirteen years. This scar I know I will wear like a badge. This one I know will make my head stand high.
My very first scar was a trilogy of 9.25 carat diamond stones. They sit in all their queenly glory atop a band of white gold on whose inside is inscribed mine and Káyòdé’s initials, always and forever. That scar I got the day we got engaged – the very first time he hit me. That time was a mistake, he reassured me of that. He had been going through a really tough time at work and had been very stressed out. I didn’t have to go and ruin the engagement moment by running off to call my sister whom he dislikes very much with the news. That day he broke something in me even though I didn’t realize it then and that beautiful rock-scar sits smack on the very centre of my ego.
Àrínolá Fernandez is the scar disfiguring my self-esteem. We’d been married two years when I found out he’d been cheating with her. When I confronted him, he’d sneered and thrown it in my face that I was so lucky he’d married plain, ordinary me when he could have had any girl he wanted. He’d pointed out that it wasn’t anyone’s fault but mine that Àrínolá was more sophisticated than I was and looked at least a decade younger even though we were best friends and had grown up together in Ìkòyí.
My mother is the scar that used to be hope. Truly, there is no real despair without hope. When he broke my wrist following the confrontation about Àrínolá, I moved back home to mother in righteous indignation, hoping to get a sympathetic ear in my corner. Why would he cheat and then still knock me around? Mother had cut me short in my rant and had told me to wipe my tears and stop my whining.
          “Life is no bed of roses.” she’d said. “And marriage is no exception. You have to be strong because men will be men. Questioning his authority is not the way to go. The true strength of a woman is in her ability to still keep her marriage despite all these things. What will people say if they hear that the daughter of Chief Osemwemke left her husband’s house? Do you know how much I’ve had to put up with and all I took from your father, all just so you and your sisters could have a good life?”
One of the biggest scars I wear is thirty-five hundred pounds of metallic Yellow perfection. A majestic beast at just 47 inches high, with a twin-turbo engine packing over 600 horse-power, reaching 100mph in 6 seconds, one of Ferrari’s most exquisite creations. This was for the Baby we lost because he’d lost a great deal of money when the value of the Naira plummeted against the Dollar. That had been a very difficult time for him and he had been a little frustrated. He really hadn’t meant to hurt me or our child, he would never even think of it! I was his entire universe and our unborn child had been the very best thing that had happened to him. He had tried to prove that to me when he presented me with the keys to the car while I was still in the hospital. That car has its coveted position snug under my breast, where my heart used to be; it died along with our child that night.
A few weeks after I lost the Baby, I left Káyòdé for the first time. Or tried to. He’d found me after all of 13 hours and he’d reiterated what my mother told me, a woman’s place is with her husband. He told me the beating that came afterwards was totally my fault and that one was all on me; why did I go and provoke him that way right after he’d bought me such an expensive gift? How ungrateful could I be?
As I snuggle under the covers in the guest room of my sister’s Town house, I tuck my hands under my chin, not minding that my wound is still very sore. I know my face still looks stunning despite the discoloured skin and the bruising. In all our time together, Káyòdé never left a mark on me, not to talk of scars. Yes I’ve broken a few ribs, my wrist, my collar bone and my ankle, but nothing that left a permanent mark on the surface. He was always very careful about that, no matter how angry he was. He was a man who loved beautiful things and his wife could be no different. Heaven forbid that I didn’t look perfect along with his cars and designer suits and houses and his 140 ft. yacht.
A little smile relaxes my lips from their characteristic hard line and I heave a contended sigh. Two weeks ago, I left him again, right after I’d seen the lines on the stick. I’d known it was no longer just about me and that had given me the courage to get up and leave. Of course he found me, just like he’d warned me. But this time round, I fought back. I let him know I was done being afraid of him. I told him he might as well kill me right then because I would keep leaving until I was well rid of him. He’d lost it then. I’m not sure if it was rage at my audacity to talk back at him, or if it was surprise that I could actually stand up to him, but something snapped in him and he attacked me right there in the lobby of the hotel I’d been holed up in. That was the first time he would hit me in public, the first time he would do it without a care. The terrifying thought of losing my Baby again turned me into a crazed woman and I fought him. I scratched and bit and kicked and screamed and scratched some more. Until two policemen were pulling him off me. I didn’t care that the crowd around us was gawping. I didn’t care that he was still spitting threats and curses at me as the policemen took him away. I didn’t care that my face was puffy and bleeding and that my eyes were swelling shut. All I cared about was the little life growing inside of me.
When I was discharged from the hospital, I declined the policeman’s offer of a ride home. I declined his offer to call my mother on his mobile. I took what little belongings I had with me and got on a cab to the airport. I bought a ticket, got a plane and didn’t look back.
Of all my scars, this is the only one I will wear visibly and I will wear it proudly because it is the one I got fighting back. It is the one I got getting my life back. It is the one that will make all the others fade away.

The Executive

          “Daddy?”
I looked up from my computer at my daughter, Téní who was perched in the leather seat across from me. The seat was large enough to hold at least three of her but she still managed to sit majestically in it.
          “Yes Princess.” I answered, smiling at her.
          “Can it be pink?” she asked, scrunching up her brows.
          “Can what be pink?” I asked.
Téní was waiting for me to finish up with work before we headed home. It was just a few days into her school holiday and she had spent the day shopping with my Best friend and her second favorite person in the world (I hold the coveted first place of course), Ese. Ese, who’s a writer, had dropped her off at my office about an hour earlier in order to go cover an event for her latest article.
          “The Mac Book I’m getting for my Birthday.” Téní replied. “Let’s see, I think Barbie pink will be perfect.”
I stopped what I was doing and stared at her perplexed for a few moments. Sometimes, I really wonder at the things that go on in that pretty little head of hers.
          “You’re just eight years old, what do you need a Mac for?” I asked.
She stopped contemplating the color spectrum for a moment and looked at me.
          “But you said to ask what I wanted.” She said.
          “Yes I did but that doesn’t answer my question.”
Her eyes went mournful on cue.
          “But daddy, you promised!”
          “Yes but what on earth do you need a laptop for…”
          “Mac Book.” She corrected. “I don’t want any of all those other ones.” She said making a face and waving a dismissive hand.
          “You’re not getting a laptop for your Birthday.” I said exasperated. Whatever happened to bicycles or pretty dresses or even trips to Disney Land?
          “Daddy please!” she implored.
          “I’m sure they don’t even make Pink Macs!”
          “Daddy you’re SB, you can get whatever you want.” She said equally exasperated. I stared at her, marveling at how much she looked like her mother at that moment.
          “Stop trying to be difficult Daddy, you managed to get me a signed limited edition copy of the first Harry Porter book last Christmas, so a pink Mac should be a piece of cake!”
          “What…”
Oh really!
          “Well if you want a Mac, you’ll have to work for it!”
          “Okay.” She said without batting an eyelid.
          “Yes. And it will take you a whole lot more than the three weeks before your Birthday to earn that much money.”
          “So I’ll just keep working after my Birthday.” She said. “So when do I start?” she asked looking down at the papers on my table with all the seriousness of a business executive and I couldn’t help the chuckle that escaped my lips.
Sometimes, I’m unable to put to words just how much I love the slip of a girl sitting across from me. I know there is the bond every parent feels with their child but for me, Téní is the nucleus of my entire world. Having said that
          “You can start by doing the dishes from now on.”
Yeah, I love her to pieces but still, she has to know she can’t get away with murder.
          “Mum already tried that one. Didn’t work.” She said pushing papers around the desk. “Besides, that’s just silly. What’s the dish washer for?”
          “Young lady, you do realize you will have to do actual work one day and not have everything handed to you on a platter?”
          “I know.” She said with a shrug. “That’s why I’m gonna be smart and rich like you when I grow up and I’ll do lots of important work.” She said smiling at me.           “There won’t be time for dishes.”
I threw up his hands in exasperation. Did I mention that she drives me up the wall sometimes?
          “Daddy used to wash a whole lot more than dishes when he was young, you know.” I said.
          “Well now, daddy knows better.” She replied.           “How much am I going to earn daddy?”
          “Sweetie, you’re just eight, you have lots of time to get all grown up and worry about grown up things. Just enjoy being daddy’s little Princess for now.”
Yeah, I know, so much for you’re going to have to work for it. But in my defense, see how she just turned the whole conversation around on me!
          “But how am I going to get the Mac Book if you don’t let me work?”
I sighed in resignation.
          “Okay, I’ll check if they can possibly make a pink one.”
          “Barbie Pink.” She corrected.
          “Yes ma’am!”

Meetings and Dressing Rooms

          “Mr. AJ, what do you think?”
He looked up from his phone at the yellow dress with multi-coloured stones on the neck line.
          “This shade matches my complexion better and I just love how it flows easily without too much drama, simple and elegant!” Mrs. AJ was saying.
She made a half turn and smoothed her hands over her hips, arching her neck to see the back. He opened his mouth and then shut it again, wondering if he was actually expected to give an answer. Truth be told, he couldn’t see how this shade of yellow was different from the last one she’d tried on.
          “What do you think?” she asked again, still inspecting herself.
He didn’t mind going shopping with the Mrs (well not too much) as long as he wasn’t expected to know the entire colour spectrum or which style fit which body shape or any of the other weird things women worried about.
          “Err…well, I think it’s okay.” He replied.
She paused her inspection to stare at him.
          “Just okay?” she asked, arms now akimbo.
          “Well…it’s okay…I mean it’s good!” he floundered. What was he supposed to say, that it wasn’t an okay dress?!
She shook her head at him, giving him her signature look and went back into the changing room.
What did I do now!
          “Never ever describe a woman as okay.”
          “Sorry?”
          “You’ll never live that mistake down.”
He vaguely recognized the guy who’d spoken to him. He’d seen him around earlier that day at Ikeja City Mall, first at Mango and probably at MRP as well. The guy seemed to be in the same shoes as he was, tagging along with a woman on a shopping spree. Unlike him though, the guy looked unruffled and had the sort of confident poise that could only come from several years of experience.
          “But I said it looked good!” Mr. AJ replied defensively and his new friend tsked.
          “That’s even worse.” He said, juggling several carrier bags from one hand to the other. “Common rookie mistake.”
          “But it was a nice dress!” Mr. AJ spluttered.
          “Another forbidden word.” He said with a shake of his head. “I have a twelve year old so I’ve been in this business long enough!”
Mr AJ raised an eyebrow. How can he possibly compare shopping with a twelve year old to shopping with a grown woman!
          “As a rule, everything is beautiful or stunning or dashing or amazing.” He said. “Sometimes, they’ll take pretty but that one is a bit dicey. You should read the situation before dishing that one out.”
Say what!
          “If you’re ever caught off guards and can’t think of an appropriate word quick enough, just go for ‘Wow’”
          “O…kay…
          “Trust me on this one.”
          “But what if the dress looks hideous on her!”
          “Diplomacy, my friend. You think the politicians are the ones with the tough jobs?”
          “Omo mehn!”
          “Rule number two: it’s always the fault of the dress. The colour doesn’t flatter her eyes. Who made that dress, a carpenter? That dress isn’t doing her amazing figure enough justice. Catch my drift?”
          “How do you even wrap your head around all that colour shade and style nonsense?!” Mr. AJ asked in exasperation.
          “Take it from the man who had to hunt down a Barbie Pink Mac Book Air, you learn!”
Just then, the door to one of the dressing rooms banged open and a girl who could have easily passed for sixteen flounced out, clad in a pair of pencil jeans, a silk shirt and Louboutin’s.
          “Daddy, how about this?” she asked, arms on her hips.
          “Look at my little Princess! I think it’s perfect!”
          “Really?” the girl asked uncertainly. “I’m not so sure of the shirt. I think peach will go better with my new purse.” She said pulling at the shirt at the edges as if that would miraculously change its colour.
          “Peach? But this one…”
          “I just knew beige would be too far off. I’ll go ask them if they have this style in Peach. If they don’t, we’ll have to go somewhere else.” She said going back into the dressing room.
          “Rule number three: sometimes, even saying the right things doesn’t work.” Simon said on a resigned sigh.
          “You could say that again!” Mr. AJ replied. “By the way, I’m Mayowa.” He said closing the distance between them and proffering his hand.
          “I’m Simon, but everyone calls me SB.” Simon said juggling the shopping bags again to shake his hand.
          “SB?” Moyowa asked.
          “Oh yeah, my initials. I can’t really remember how it started but at some point, even my little girl called me that.”
          “Oh well, SB it is then!” Mayowa said smiling.
          “Nice meeting you.” Simon said returning his smile.
          “Pleasure’s all mine!”
          “Mr. AJ, what of this one?” the Mrs said, coming out of the dressing room again.
This time, she was wearing an A-cut midnight blue dress with a high neck which stopped just above the knees.
          “Oh wow!” Mayowa gasped. “It’s….wow!”
The Mrs beamed from ear to ear and Simon turned away to hide his smile.
 
 
 
Here’s raising my glass to my new, amazing friends, Mr. and Mrs. AJ. The pleasure was all mine!
– SB.

Serenity

I looked into the eyes
of a mad woman,
and it took me into her mind,
and it was oh so beautiful,
and serene,
with tender and soft places,
offering comfort
from the crazy world with-out,
and it begged to linger,
take a rest,
put my feet up,
cushion my head,
forget my worries,
and for just one tiny, bitty moment
pretend that the world was normal again….

 
 
This short piece was written by my good friend Ese who always tries to help me be a better person. Thanks Ese, keep being you.

– SB.

Sisí Èkó: Na Me Carry Last!

I have come to master the fine art of jumping bus in Lagos. Believe me, it is an acquired skill, which requires lots of strategies.
This morning, I went into stealth mode. When I got to the bus stop in Ajah, even I was shocked to silence by the size of the crowd. Kai, which kain Monday morning wahala be this one like this? And it being Monday meant that I had the dreaded weekly meetings at eight o’clock, so I had to hustle my way onto a bus sharply.
Which brings me back to stealth mode: When you’ve scoped your fellow hustlers and you realize you’re no match for them, both size and scowl-wise (some people’s faces ehn!), you wait for the crowd to surge towards the next available bus and when they’re locked in the human body wall, look for any crack in the press of bodies and Jejely pull them apart, preferably around the knees or mid-thighs, and what you get is a red-sea-moment. QED!
Some chick who was already on the bus gave me a funny look but I ignored her while I patted my hair back in place. She can like to mind her business oh and not be judging somebody biko.

 

38299_463239431200_737196200_6460693_6667355_n

 

FYI, I’m not the lady in blue with her legs all over the place. Just saying. Besides, remember stealth mode?
As if the struggle to get on the bus was not enough, the conductor announced that the fare was two hundred and fifty bucks instead of two hundred. When we protested he didn’t even hesitate to ask his driver to park so we could get off. The guy no just send us at all. That’s how all of us just used style to swallow our protests without losing too much face.
There was peace or some semblance of peace (a few people still continued to grumble under their breaths about the fare hike and the conductor continued to ignore them) until we got to Lekki and our driver decided he wanted to turn around and head for Ajah instead.
          “Abeg make una come join another bus.” The conductor said
See how people just vexed and practically bit the conductor’s head off. We that our bodies were still chooking from the extra 50 bucks. On top all our noise, the driver simply parked the bus and the conductor started calling passengers for Ajah.
          “Shey una no go come down, abi you wan make I carry you go Ajah?” he said insolently and that started off a fresh round of abuse which of course got us nowhere. When we were done ranting, we sha kuku got down from the bus. Rather than give us back the balance of our fare, he of course decided to put us on other buses. I doubt I’ve ever seen any Lagos conductor part with money. The money exchange process is like a pipe with a one-way valve, it flows in and never comes out.
Finding buses for all of us was another drama entirely, coupled with the fact that Uncle Scrooge the conductor argued with all the other conductors over how much he would pay them to take us on. With all of this, time was ticking and I was going to be late. Finally sha, I was sat on a bus and on my way to work.
Right after we went through the Toll gates, my dearest new conductor’s phone started to ring and get this, his ringtone was the Christmas song, in August. Like who even still uses that?! The guy ignored our laughter and snide comments and whipped out his Nokia 3310 (where did he even dig that out from?) with a lot of demo and picked the call.
          “Pilot.” He said to the driver after he got off the call. “Yellow niyen oh! E be like say traffic dey Bonny Camp.”
I sniggered. I couldn’t help it. Afi Yellow naa!
          “Ah, na wetin him talk?” the driver asked.
          “E don block finish oh.”
          “Wo, we go pass Falomo be that.”
My ears perked up at that.
          “Falomo bawo? I’m going to Kofo oh!” I said.
          “Which kain thing be that, na Onikan I dey go!” someone else protested.
          “Shey you no hear say traffic dey Bonny Camp?” the conductor retorted.
          “So because of that, I should carry my head and go to Falomo abi?” I fired back.
          “You wan make I carry everybody go siddon for inside traffic because of you abi?”
See as the other passengers just carried face at that point. They weren’t going to show any solidarity. This was Lagos after all and it’s each man for himself.
          “If you no wan go Falomo, make you come down for Law School niyen.” the Conductor said.
That’s how I was ejected for the second time this Monday morning. There’s only so much rejection a girl can handle oh. Like that was not bad enough, when it was time to get off, the conductor gave the other passengers who got off fifty bucks each. Me he eyed from top to bottom and informed me that my first conductor had given him just fifty naira at Lekki and that my fifty naira had already expired. Before I could say jack, he and his driver zoomed off onto Falomo bridge and left me at the side of the road with my mouth hanging open and my hand still held out for my money.
Welcome to Lagos Baby!

Angelica (Jinx) Jones

Ireti sat cross-legged on the floor at the side of the gymnasium, shaking with a mixture of excitement and mind-numbing fear. With each moment that passed, she expected to wake up and realize everything around her was just a dream.
Not only was it unbelievable that Nigeria would be represented in Artistic Gymnasiums at the 2016 Rio Olympics, but it was way out of this world that little her, Iretiola Ogunsakin, a nobody all the way from Oluyole in Ibadan would be on the Women’s Team!
She was the youngest member of the team and was the only one who had been kept on at Tony International Gymnastics Club despite being unable to pay for classes. As Coach Tony, the head coach at the Club kept telling her uncle, there was just something about her that was extraordinary. He said she reminded him of himself at that age and that her talent was sure to take her places like his had taken him.
Ireti had been visiting her mother’s brother in Abuja for a school holiday when she was eight when she had gone to watch her cousin, Tundun who was two years older, at the club. That was when Coach Tony had spotted her and had insisted she signed on. In less than two years, she had become one of the best students at the Club and had excelled on every apparatus.
Now, here she was, a long way from that wide-eyed girl from Oluyole, about to take part in the Qualifying Round of the Olympics. At that point, the girls on the Nigerian WAG team had forgotten all about the long fight to get there despite everyone saying going to the Olympics was just a waste of time and money. It didn’t matter that they hadn’t received any funding from the Federal Government or that a good percentage of the Nigerians they were representing had no inkling about what on earth they were doing. They didn’t care that no one believed they would even make it past the Qualifying Round not to talk of actually winning any medals, or that they had arrived in Rio on the very day of the Opening Ceremony because of the fiasco with their plane tickets. Nothing could dampen their spirits, not even the hideous tracksuits they’d had to wear for the Opening Ceremony. Being at the Olympics alone was a victory for them and all that mattered was that very moment in time.
Their Team had been scheduled to start with the Vaults, then they would go on to the Floor Exercises, followed by the Uneven Bars, before finishing up with the Balance Beam. There were five girls on their team; Nancy who was 19, Tundun and Jessica who were both 18, Chioma who was 17 and Ireti who was 16. For the Qualifier Round, four of the five girls would compete in each of the events and three of the four scores for each event would be added up to determine if they made it through to the Team Finals. According to Coach Tony’s plan, they would start each event with a good performance to set the pace, followed by the weakest links and then close with the strongest member of the Team to wow the judges. Being the best gymnast on the Team, Ireti was taking part in all four events and was closing out three of them.
When it was finally their turn, the Team was announced and a weak cheer went up from one corner of the Gymnasium, probably some Black Americans showing a little solidarity. The girls were pretty sure there were no Nigerians in the audience!
          “Oh my God, I’m so nervous!” Chioma whispered from the front of the line. She was starting out the Floor Exercises and was awaiting her cue to proceed.
          “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine.” Ireti said, reaching from the back of the line to squeeze her arm.
          “Will you stay in place!” Tundun snapped. “The judges are watching, don’t come and disgrace someone here jare!”
          “I’m just…” Ireti started.
          “Please don’t bring your razzness here!” Tundun cut her off.
Just then, Chioma’s name was announced and she stepped forward to the spring floor. The music started up and she commenced her routine. Ireti’s annoyance with Tundun was totally forgotten as her anxiety escalated. They were actually competing in the Olympics! Until the very moment she stepped onto the Spring Floor, she had somehow believed it would never actually happen.
          “Great job girls!” Coach Tony said, high-fiving each girl in turn after the conclusion of the Floor Exercises. “That was amazing! I need that kind of energy on the Vaults. Nancy, remember what I told you, energy on the spring board. Chioma, remember, focus on getting your pre-flight right and on maintaining a tight body position. Ireti, you’re starting this event. You’re building up the momentum, give it everything you’ve got!”
          “Sha don’t jinx us!” Tundun murmured under her breath and Nancy snickered.
          “What was that?” Coach asked.
          “Nothing.” Tundun said and Ireti started to get really angry.
Usually, she let Tundun’s slights pass but she was beginning to get tired of it.
          “You’re closing this one out Tundun, it is your forte so bring down the roof, alright?”
          “Yes Coach.”
          “Alright, let’s do this!”
          “At least, some of us don’t need to be teacher’s pet to get attention.” Tundun said as the girls walked to the start of the runway.
          “What’s your problem!” Ireti hissed, getting really pissed.
          “Guys, can we just focus and get this over and done with?” Chioma said.
          “Well, you’re my freaking problem!” Tundun ground out.
          “Shhhhhh!” Nancy snapped. “We’re on international TV, keep your family issues to yourselves!”
          “What did I ever do to you!” Ireti snapped in a harsh whisper.
          “Oh God, can we not do this now?” Chioma said, going to chalk up.
          “Get your heads in the game guys!” Nancy snapped at them angrily.
          “You waltz your way into my home and my life and think you can just take over!” Tundun said through clenched teeth, facing Ireti.
          “What is that supposed to mean!” Ireti said, trying to keep a straight face as a mechanical arm bearing a camera swooped past them.
          “Oh God!” Nancy groaned and went to join Chioma at the chalk bowl.
          “It means you’re a pathetic little parasite and nobody wants you here!” Tundun spat and Ireti recoiled from her in shock. “Do everyone a favour and crawl back into the crappy hole you crawled out from!”
Tears sprang to Ireti’s eyes and she was lost for what to say. She clenched her fists, trying to control her hurt and anger. Her face started to burn with humiliation and she felt the heat spread through her until it seemed it would consume her. She unclenched her fists, feeling a tingling sensation in her finger tips and took deep calming breaths.
Just then, Chioma yelped and leapt back from the plastic chalk bowl.
          “It melted and burned me!” she exclaimed, cradling her right hand in her left one.
In shock, they all watched the chalk bowl melt, plastic goo mixing with chalk powder, slipping down the stainless steel pedestal and plopping onto the floor. A few officials ran up to see what was happening and a first aider guided Chioma to the side of the runway to examine her hand.
          “What happened?” Ireti asked, as the girls crowded around Chioma, forgetting the fight momentarily.
          “Are you alright?” Nancy asked in shock. The bowl had melted right after she’d scooped a handful of chalk.
          “I just felt this wave of heat and the thing practically became liquid!” Chioma said.
Coach Tony and Jessica ran up to them from the other side of the gymnasium where they’d been watching.
          “What happened? Are you alright?” Coach Tony asked.
“She got scalded. Luckily, it’s nothing serious. Her hand brace caught most of the hot fluid.” The first aider said, rubbing some ointment on Chioma’s fingers.
          “Thank God!” Ireti said, heaving a relieved sigh.
          “How does it feel?” Coach Tony asked. “We could ask the judges for a postponement, or you could sit this one out.”
          “No, it’s fine.” Chioma said.”
          “Are you sure?” Nancy asked crouching in front of her.
          “Yeah.” Chioma replied.
          “I’ll be right back.” Coach Tony said, going to speak with the officials.
          “Thank God you’re fine.” Nancy said. “Imagine coming all the way to the Olympics just to go and get a freak injury!”
          “Abi oh! Before we had even started anything sef!” Ireti said.
          “It’s not too hard to imagine when we have Madam Jinx in our midst!” Tundun retorted.
          “Abeg, don’t start this thing again biko!” Chioma said.
          “Can you two stop this nonsense?” Nancy said.
          “I’m sure it’s her bad head that just wants to ruin all our chances here.” Tundun said.
          “You’re the one who has a bad head!” Ireti fired back.
          “Can you guys just hear yourselves? You’re both ridiculous!” Jessica said, disgusted. “I’m embarrassed by you both!”
          “Well you can tell her all that juju her mother has been doing won’t work here!” Tundun said.
          “And you and your mother can stop spreading lies about other people up and down!” Ireti replied.
          “You and your mother can stop manipulating my father!”
          “Okay girls, the officials have called a ten minute break.” Coach Tony said, returning and interrupting the bickering. Ireti and Tundun stared at each other in sullen silence while Chioma, Jessica and Nancy heaved relieved sighs.
After the break, the Vaults event went on without any other incidence, not even the silly fight between Ireti and Tundun.
The Uneven Bars started with Jessica, followed by Nancy. While Tundun was up, Ireti waited at the side, her heart thumping and her hands shaking. She went over her routine in her head, both looking forward to and dreading the moment it would be her turn. Just calm down she chided herself. She wondered if her mother and six siblings would be watching on the old black and white TV with the crooked antenna. She wondered if they would even have power supply in the first place. The last time she’d spoken with her mother, she had told her their little I-better-pass-my-neighbour generator had packed up again. For the millionth time, she asked herself if she should have stayed behind at the Hair Dresser’s shop in Ibadan instead of chasing this dream. At least by now, she would have been helping her mother out with their finances. She watched Tundun on the Bars absently, lost in thought.
Tundun was almost at the end of her routine and was performing a flip from the high bar to the low bar when her hand slipped. She made a wild grab for the low bar but didn’t have enough momentum and she missed. Coach Tony who was spotting her stretched out his arms to catch her fall. The spectators gave a collective gasp of horror as it became apparent that she was going to smack her head against the bar on her fall, and at the angle at which she was falling, the impact would very likely snap her neck.
Ireti felt the heat rush through her body again, with an intensity that threatened to set her ablaze. The next thing she knew was that she was whizzing through the air and grabbing at Tundun a split second before she hit the bar. The top of Tundun’s head grazed the Bar instead, dislodging the doughnut bun she had packed her hair in. Tundun’s hair went all over Ireti’s face and filled her mouth as they both fell heavily into Coach Tony’s out stretched arms and the three of them collapsed onto a heap on the floor as 29.6 million viewers around the world had their collective jaws hit the ground.

Bestie of Life

No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no! This can’t possibly be happening!
I was having a heart attack, cross my heart and hope to die. Really. I refreshed the Internet Explorer window again and tried to open the word document. I got the same error message that the file I was trying to open was corrupt and could not be opened. I ejected the flash drive and tried it on another laptop. Same results.
Kai! T’emi bami!
That wretched stick of a thing had somehow gobbled up my project and I was due to show it to my Supervisor. Unfortunately for me, my supervisor is stationed at Idi-Araba, not Akoka, so I always have to make the dreaded weekly visits there to meet with him. And if you had a sadistic supervisor like mine, you would realize that you didn’t even need a world-people flash drive for him to do you strong thing. In fact, my predicament would have him doing cartwheels in glee.
There was only one person that came to mind in that instant and I called her up immediately, knowing she would have a solution sha.
          “Bimpe.”
          “Hey what’s up!”
          “I need your help.”
          “What’s the matter?”
          “Please tell me you’re still at home.”
          “Why, what’s wrong?”
          “My stupid flash is corrupted! And I have to show Ajayi my Chapter six today!”
          “Wow!”
          “Everything is on my desktop at home. I just need someone to send it to me.”
          “Okay, let me see…”
          “You’ve left already abi?”
          “Yeah but don’t worry about it.”
          “Ah, how will you do it now?”
          “Shebi you can access your emails from Idi-Araba now?”
          “Yes but I don’t want to put you out like that oh, I’ll just rush back and pray that there’s no traffic.”
And Dr. Ajayi will gladly kick me out of his office for being late.
          “Don’t worry, I’ll email it to you.”
          “Are you sure?”
          “Of course! Don’t worry about it.”
          “You’re simply the best!” I gushed, relief washing over me.
          “Haha, and I know it!”
          “Thanks a million, I owe you big time!”
          “Yup you do! Give me like twenty minutes.”
          “Okay, oshey ore mi!”
          “Laters.”
What ever would I do without that girl? Bimpe is simply the best friend and sister anyone could ask for. She is the Martha to my Mary in the practical sense of it. She is as organized as I’m scatter-brained and the thing with my project is just one of many instances where she’s come in and saved the day. Who went to face off my Landlord when he suddenly decided to disconnect me from power supply? Who plans our shopping and cooks for the week on weekends? Who helped me pick out the dress to wear to my class Dinner? Who helped me sort things out when my junk-heap of a car was burgled and my laptop and handbag stolen? Me, I just had a total meltdown. Who was there to kick my butt through second semester exams last year when I lost my mum? Now you’re starting to get the gist.
We had been roommates in Moremi in year three and we got along so well even though we were in different faculties. We decided to step up to the Big Girls level in our final year, so we got BQs in Ozolua and stayed just around the corner from each other. We were more than Besties, she was more like the sister I always wished I had. I had even introduced her to my crazy clan of cousins and nieces and nephews and all what not. We’d all been close growing up and usually got in and out of trouble together. She’d been a hit with them and had been literally adopted into the mad-house. That was why I was doubly excited when Capt’n Zii, my usual partner in crime within the clan gave me gist of this road trip to Ghana. When I got back home that day, I was bursting to tell her the news.
          “The guys are organizing a road trip to – wait for it!!” I started dramatically and she laughed. I started to make dramatic drumming sounds.
          “Hope everything went well with your supervisor?” she asked and I ignored her. That one was past tense joor. I was talking legendary stuffz here and she’s bringing up Mr. Ogre.
          “Ghana!”
          “Wow nice!”
          “Yup, yup.”
          “Gee, can I come?”
          “Of course! Why do you think I’m telling you? Zii has warned me not to show my face if you’re not there too!”
          “Yay!”
          “I’ve thought the whole thing through.” I said and she gave me a dubious look. Everyone knows I’m soooooo not the planner. “We have to go by air because we only have the long Independence weekend, but we can save money if we share a room. We can also save on feeding by taking some edibles along. Then we can…”
          “Really? We’ll share a room?” she interrupted. “The both of us?”
          “Yeah. We could save more money if we got a bigger room and shared with two other people but I guess it’ll be better if it’s just two of us, I know my family, they can be cu-ray-zay! The cost shouldn’t be too bad and I’m sure we’ll be fine. Worst case, I’ll pull the Baby-Sis-card with my Brother and get some money off him.”
          “You’re willing to let me come on a family trip!” She asked getting all mushy. Bless her, she was such a sentimental wuss.
          “Of course! It’s going to be such an amazing trip, we’re going to have such fun!” I said literally bouncing off the walls in excitement. “Its just gonna be us, no adults or babies! Tunrayo and Denrele are coming, and the twins as well. Dare is bringing a friend as well and uncle Leke said Ireti can come, which should be very interesting, what with all that drama between her and Dara! Oh God, I can’t wait!” I gave a silly little laugh and she laughed too, getting infected with my excitement. Then she threw her arms around me and kissed me smack on the lips.
          “I love you Boo, I’m so glad I found you.” She said earnestly.
Say what?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I pulled back from her, totally lost for what to do or say!

 

*An abridged version of this story was originally published here on Breakpoint.
Breakpoint is the official Blog of Connected, a Christian Entertainment and Social Networking Platform. Read up on events and activities on Breakpoint and follow @connectedlagos

Erik Lehnsherr

          “Woo hoo!!!” Dare exclaimed, throwing his hands in the air. “Welcome to Vegas Bay-bei!!”
          “I’ll raise my glass to that Bro!” Akin replied stopping on the crowded sidewalk to do a moon walk. Dare cheered him on until he ended his little display in a spin on his heels. The flow of pedestrians just continued around them without anyone giving them a second glance. This was Vegas after all and people had seen worse on a Friday night.
Dare and Akin were visiting The United States for the very first time. Both were literally fresh off the boat, having gotten their first jobs with Chevron right after completing their Youth Service program. As soon as they were due for their first leave, they decided to go all out and have the time of their lives. Neither one had ever been out of Nigeria before so they had every intention of painting the town red and every other color they could lay their hands on. They had made their way from Long Beach to Hollywood and had finally ended up in Las Vegas. And of course they had been putting up every inane picture taken on social media and updating their profile status every five seconds.
          “Okay Bro, what’s next?” Akin asked trying to put on an accent and failing woefully.
          “Let’s hit the clubs and pick up some chicks mehnnnnnnn!” Dare replied, his Ogbomosho accent ruining his exaggerated drawl.
          “Yo ma men, that sounds like a great idea.” Akin replied, thumping Dare on the back.
They hailed a cab and headed for The Strip.
          “Where to?” the cab driver asked.
          “We’re hitting the clubs men!” Dare said, putting on his Ray Bans sun glasses with an exaggerated flair even though it was almost 11 pm.
          “Yeah man, we’re gonna party hard!” Akin answered, putting his arm around Dare’s shoulder.
The cab man took one uninterested look at them in the rear view mirror and pulled out into the traffic on The Boulevard. When he finally pulled up in front of a club, they piled out excitedly and Akin settled the cab fare.
Inside the club, it was already crowded. The entrance opened up into a sort of mezzanine gallery which looked down into the dance floor. On the mezzanine level, away from the railing were semi-closed off VIP booths and directly opposite the entry was the bar. Both levels of the club were packed and the guys started to inch their way along the gallery towards the bar. Akin tried to say something to Dare but Dare couldn’t hear him above the pulsing music. Akin put his lips to Dare’s ear and yelled into it.
          “Is that a man?” he asked motioning with his head at a lady who was leaning on the railing a few feet from them. She was wearing a short figure fitting leather dress and high heeled shoes. She had long black hair that reached almost all the way to her waist and her face was heavily made up.
          “What?” Dare asked, also trying to be heard above the music.
          “That woman or guy or whatever!” Akin replied.
          “Why would you think that is a man?!” Dare exclaimed.
          “Well…”
The lady caught them staring then and turned to smile suggestively at them and blew them a kiss from between blood-red lips.
          “Oh wow, it’s a man sha!” Dare said, seeing her face properly. “He sure had me fooled!”
          “Dare, I think…” Akin started, taking a look around them.
          “Look at that cute Babe sitting alone at the bar.” Dare said cutting him off. “I’m pretty sure she’s a girl!” he said laughing.
Dare looked distractedly at the bar. “Dare listen, I think this is…”
          “How do I look?” Dare asked patting down his hair. “Think I’ve got my game on?”
          “Wait, what are you trying to do?” Akin asked grabbing a hold of his arm.
          “I’m going to chat up the Babe at the bar. Who knows, someone might get lucky tonight!” he wriggled his brows at Akin and adjusted the lapels of his sports jacket.
          “Oh no you don’t!” Akin said, pulling him back. “Trust me, you don’t want to do that.”
          “Na wetin do you now? Abi you don lose your ginger ni?”
          “Shut up and listen to me!” Akin snapped. “We’re in a Gay bar you idiot. The last thing you want to do is hit on a woman!”
          “What?!” It was Dare’s turn to take a good look around. “Oh crap! We’re in a Gay bar!”
          “Yes Einstein!” Akin said, turning round and heading for the door.
          “But why would the cab man bring us to a…” Dare started.
His words were drowned out by the sharp burst of gunfire just a few feet from them. If they hadn’t been standing so close to the source, they would have thought it was fire crackers, like most of the other patrons in the club did.
Akin watched a few people fall to the ground before total chaos erupted in the gallery. He grabbed Dare’s arm and tried to pull him towards one of the VIP Booths. Unfortunately, it seemed the gunman was reading his mind and had directed his fire power that way. Instinctively, Akin changed directions and pulled him towards a door to their right which he’d spied earlier. Dare stumbled and fell and was almost trampled by the panicked crowd. Akin wrestled his way through the crush of bodies and finally succeeded in pulling him off the ground. He grabbed a hold of Dare’s pants by the belt and resolutely headed towards the restrooms against the flow of bodies, half hauling Dare with him. They heard more gun fire as they crashed through the door into the female bathrooms.
          “Oh my God, what the hell was that?” Dare gasped.
Akin didn’t answer but continued to drag him into a toilet stall. He shut the door and lowered the lid on the toilet bowl.
          “Jesu, mogbe! What’s happening?” Dare asked, starting to shake.
          “Shhhhh!”” Akin snapped. “We have to get up on the lid and crouch there.” He continued in a whisper. “Just stay quiet, okay?” he said and Dare nodded, looking like he was about to start bawling hie eyes out.
They heard other people pour into the bathroom, screaming and hysterical. Intermittently, they would hear shouts and gun fire intermixed with disco music as the door opened to let more people into the bathroom.
          “Just stay calm.” Akin whispered as they huddled together on the closed lid and Dare nodded rapidly, starting to shake. They stayed that way for what seemed like an eternity and listened to the hysteria that was unfolding in the bathroom.
          “He’s crazy!” one woman whimpered. “He’s just shooting everything in sight!”
They heard the door open again and thankfully, the only sounds that trailed in were from the loud speakers; the shooting had stopped.
Next thing they knew, the screams and shots were coming from right outside the cubicle door. Dare peed himself and started to cry and Akin started to mutter Psalm 23 without even realizing he was speaking at all. The shots stopped as suddenly as they had started and just when they thought the gun man had left, he kicked open the door to their cubicle. He took one disgusted look at them huddling together on the toilet seat and aimed his automatic rifle at them.
Reflexively, Dare put up his arms a milli second after the gunman pulled the trigger and he watched mesmerized as the bullets followed the arc of his arms and shattered the wooden walls on both sides of the cubicle and the ceiling. The gunman’s finger relaxed on the trigger as his eyes snapped to the light fixture overhead which had been smashed by a flying bullet. He looked back at Dare in confusion, his mind not comprehending what he’d just seen. Dare stared at him as well, his face mirroring the gunman’s bewilderment. The gunman took two fearful steps away from them and then raised the rifle again and squeezed the trigger. Dare didn’t think, he raised his hands again in the primal instinct of self-preservation. The barrel of the rifle bent upwards in response to the motion of his arms. The bullet from the first round ran into the mangled barrel at more than 1,200 m/s, packing almost 3000 joules of energy behind it. Right on its heels was the next round, doubling the pressure in the barrel. The barrel exploded while rounds were still clattering from the magazine and the gunman’s upper torso went up in a fire work display of blood and bone and soft tissue.