ALL THE KING’S MEN

ALL THE KING’S MEN

I was seventeen when Akin moved in with us. He was two years older, stocky and handsome with glistening dark skin that made him stand out even amongst other dark people. On his first day in our house, he stood quietly, his gaze fixed on the floor while Mother introduced him, the contrast in their complexions very apparent as they stood side by side. Mother informed us that he was a friend’s son who would live with us henceforth. His parents had decided that he needed to learn more of his African heritage, so they sent him to Nigeria.

The attraction was instant. I found myself drawn to him like a shark to the smell of blood. I desperately waited for the moments I would be alone with him. I laughed loudly at his jokes and listened with rapt attention whenever he narrated events of his life in the US. I would watch, entranced, at the  way his lips moved when he spoke, at his bulging muscles, at the perpetual swell of his dick which showed on whatever shorts he wore.

I came to like everything about him. I liked how he was shy one moment and a beast the next, how he said “You’re so fucking sexy” when he pushed me to the wall and kissed me. I liked how he  moaned softly, how his lips parted slightly while I pleasured him with mine, how he would repeat “Fuck!” while my head bobbed up and down the length of his member. I liked the way he kissed me all over my body as he thrust into me.

One day, Mother walked in on us.

Akin hurriedly dressed up while Mother yelled repeatedly at him to get out of my room. When I finally summoned the courage to look up at her, she had on her face a look of scorn and disappointment.

Later, after she had screamed herself hoarse and asked me why I had done that to her, after she had paced angrily about the room, snapping her fingers too many times and clapping her hands to emphasize her outrage, she gave me a speech on how homosexuality was a sin and how it would lead me to hell. She was certain I wasn’t truly gay, that I had somehow been influenced by Akin, who no doubt had learned such an atrocious act from his friends in America. She reported the incident to Father when he returned from work later that night.

“When did you start learning homosexuality?” Father asked.

I had no answer and had to go through yet another counseling session.

“The wages of sin is death,” Father said before he sent me to bed.

The next morning, my parents prayed for me and Akin and made us promise never to do what we did again. They both drove off with him after. I didn’t know where they went off to or what later became of Akin, but his back, turned to me as he walked out of the house alongside my parents, would be the last sight of Akin I would see. He did not say a word to me. After they left the house, I went into my room and cried.

I did not change like my parents thought I would. Instead, I became more cautious; my every move was under the constant scrutiny of my parents. I craved for the moment I would escape their grasp and be free of their suspicious glare.

My freedom finally came in the form of an admission into the university when I was 20. By then, I had a lot of pent-up sexual energy that I badly wanted to be rid of. It wasn’t long before I met Kelechi.

Kelechi was a course-mate who shared a room with me. He was tall, skinny, bespectacled and square-faced, with a nose that seemed not to fit his face. He smiled and coughed a lot, said the most asinine things that had me doubling over with laughter, and flirted with me occasionally. We hit it off as friends the moment we met. We began to spend a lot of time together, playing video games, listening to music, watching and discussing football, and vocalizing our unabashed, extreme contempt for Donald Trump.

Although we had become inseparable, our friendship remained platonic until the day I stumbled on gay porn on his phone. When I asked him about it, he told me he was bisexual and confessed to having a crush on me and, soon after, we were undressing each other and kissing.

He pushed me to bed so that I was lying on my back, and then brought his naked torso close to mine. I loved the feel of his erection pressing against mine. He planted slow kisses on my forehead, and progressed lower until his lips and tongue had engulfed my dick. I moaned.

When he was done, I pulled him towards me and kissed him some more, reaching simultaneously for his dick and setting it free from the confinement that was his boxers. It was hard, veiny, and a mouthful when I took it in my mouth. He flipped me over thereafter and pounded me furiously until the room was filled with my yelps of pleasure.

Through Kelechi, I was introduced to a gay scene in Nigeria I never knew existed. I was drawn into a world of partying which continued for me long after I moved out of our shared room. Saturdays were for orgies, Sundays for threesomes. It was in these gatherings that I met Charles, who spat and gagged on my penis when he sucked me; Roland who hated condoms and was the first guy to rim me before we took turns screwing each other; and Temitayo whose penis I nicknamed “Banana” because of the curve it had.

“Fope, you wan chop Banana?” Temitayo would text or ask over the phone whenever he wanted sex, and in no time, I’d be in his room or in whatever hotel he’d have booked for us, sitting on his face, his tongue slithering in and out of me with a wetness that had me shivering in delight. I loved wrapping my tongue around his penis and pretending I had a real banana in my mouth.

One day, Kelechi vanished without a trace. Every attempt to contact him proved futile; his number was perpetually unavailable and his social media accounts stayed unused for days. I tried enquiring, to no avail, of his whereabouts from our numerous mutual friends. Nobody seemed to know his whereabouts. It wouldn’t be until three months later that I would learn from one of his ex-girlfriends that Kelechi had returned to his family home because his coughing had spiraled out of control. I received a call from Temitayo one month later, on a chilly Harmattan morning, informing me that Kelechi had died.

The news hit me like a bullet, stunning me into temporary silence. A lot of questions raged through my mind.

“Hello? Are you there?” Temitayo asked.

“I don’t understand,” I finally came around. “What happened?”

“He had AIDS. A cousin of his told me today. He died two weeks ago.”

The wages of sin is death.

My father’s stern warning began to bang around in my head, clouding every other thoughts.

I hung up from the call abruptly.

The following morning, I went to the hospital for a checkup. It was there, while awaiting my test results, that I met Chuka, a fresh law graduate eagerly awaiting NYSC.

Chuka was light-skinned and soft spoken, with a voice that sounded like the slow, lazy dropping of water. We struck up a conversation and exchanged contacts, promising to keep in touch.

I was soon called into the doctor’s office. He politely offered me a seat upon my entry, and I promptly settled down. My heartbeat had begun a steady acceleration.

“I’ve got good news and bad news,” he said, pushing a brown envelope towards me. He stopped to stare at me as if waiting for a response, then continued: “Your tests results show that you’re HIV positive which is the bad news.”

The wages of sin is death.

Dread filled my heart at the words.

“The good news is,” the doctor continued, “the infection is still at the early stages which means it can still be controlled with the right medication and a healthy lifestyle, of course.” He flashed me a smile then extended a hand towards me. “This is not the end, young man. A lot of people with HIV are able to live perfectly normal lives. You are not…”

I didn’t hear much after that. His voice faded slowly as I withdrew into the horror that was my mind. I thought about Kelechi, about my father’s warning, about my death. My end had finally come.

***

The gridlock on my way to Charles’s apartment is unending. It gives me enough time to ponder on my conversation with Chuka only one hour earlier as we both laid on the bed, his head on my chest.

“Fope,” he called.

“What is it?”

“You know I love you, right?”

“Yes, of course.” I chuckled nervously.

“Do you love me?” he asked, a hint of desperation in his voice.

I flinched inwardly. “I do care about you, Chukky.”

Chuka lifted his head from my chest “That’s not what I asked you.”

I sighed. It was a conversation we’d had repeatedly, and I was not in the mood to go through it once more.

“Look, I need more time to figure out what I feel for you.”

The room fell into silence until Chuka rose from the bed and left without uttering a word. All my attempts at reconciliation were met by a rigid wall of silence. Not even when I bade him goodbye did he budge.

The truth is, I do not think I love Chuka, not anymore than I loved Kelechi or Akin or Tayo. I do care about his welfare. I enjoy his company and the intellectual conversations we have. I enjoy the sex the most though, and I know he does too. A man cannot love another man. It’s impossible. All we feel is lust, heightened lust. How does he not get that? But perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps I am the one incapable of love.

I shake off the thoughts of the morning and focus my attention on the rendezvous I am now undoubtedly running late for. I need the distraction of good sex to get my mind off Chuka. I try Charles’s number to inform him I’d be running late, but it doesn’t go through.

After an eternity, the rickety bus I am in finally comes to a halt at Obalende. I alight and am immediately assaulted by the foul smell of rotten tomatoes, sewage and sweat from too many bodies jumbled up in one place. I make my way back towards the bridge where I will take bike from the plethora of bike riders waiting to be patronised. As I turn, the pandemonium from an unusually large crowd catches my attention. I approach it and squeeze my way through.

I am greeted by the unsightly scene of two men, both naked and badly beaten with bleeding wounds covering their bodies. They lie almost lifeless on the ground, surrounded by people who are shaking their fists in the air and those who have their phones out, struggling to catch a glimpse of the men being lynched. A potbellied man with a round head and no neck emerges from the crowd and pours what I assume to be petrol on the men. I cannot bear to see more of this; it sickens me how everyone seems to be enjoying it, as if it is a circus show.

I turn my back and begin to walk away, wondering what their crime could be. Petty theft, perhaps?

I get my answer when I hear the voice of a woman from the crowd.

“How two men go dey fuck theirsef for nyash? Tufiakwa!”

I freeze upon hearing those words. My father’s voice reverberates anew through my head.

The wages of sin is death.

I reach for my phone to send Charles a message: I won’t be coming anymore.

Written by Tobi

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11 Comments

  1. James
    April 20, 07:18 Reply

    This suspense is thick !!!!
    Was Charles part of those being lynched ?

    We will like to know what happened to Charles

  2. Mandy
    April 20, 11:53 Reply

    HIV. Lynching. Parental condemnation.
    The hallmarks of being gay in Nigeria.

    Well done, Tobi.

  3. Leo
    April 20, 17:13 Reply

    This is the best thing that has been published on here in months

  4. BRYAN PETERS
    April 21, 15:05 Reply

    Na wa o. All the palava that come with being gay, especially as a Nigerian in Nigeria lumped into one story

  5. Stepford boyfriend
    April 21, 19:48 Reply

    My lymph nodes have been hard for almost a year now. I suspect HIV,But I’m afraid to go check.

    • CHUCK
      April 22, 07:29 Reply

      Go and check before it is too late. Aids + death is far worse than being on ARV meds. Have you been fucking raw in the last year? Think of others

    • The Promiséd One
      April 22, 17:50 Reply

      HIV test is free at all government facilities. If you’re in Lagos, You can visit TIERS or The Community Health Centre(Population Council) Yaba. For gay friendly services. Still free.

    • Jhon
      April 25, 23:25 Reply

      Stepford how do I get across to you. HIV test is 1.5k I’ll give you…..staying in the dark is risky

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