BEAUTIFUL SINNERS (Episode 12)

BEAUTIFUL SINNERS (Episode 12)

I want to die!

I sat in the songwriters’ room at Mad House Records, writing the words over and over again in my notepad. Overwhelming sadness had taken full control of me.

It was 5.30pm, several hours since Kuddus ended our relationship. And with all the time that had passed, in spite of the work I’d gotten up to for the day, I was still in shock.

Kuddus gone! I couldn’t fathom it. In all the time I had gotten to know him and started dating him, I had never imagined a day would come when he would willfully drop out of my life. Kuddus was not supposed to be the one that got away! How could he just end things just when I was beginning to appreciate how much he meant to me?

Tears stung my eyes and I had just blinked them furiously away, fighting to keep my misery at bay like I had been doing all day, when a voice cut into my melancholy.

“Some dark lyrics you got there.”

I looked up to behold Chisom, a svelte woman with a very high pitched voice and pretty looks I might have been into if I wasn’t so attracted to beards and hard jaw lines. Chisom was one of the junior songwriters in Mad House, one of those people who met you one day and proceeded to make you their lifelong friend thereafter.

“Huh?” I said while snapping my book shut.

“Nothing…I just…” She gestured at the notepad, faltered and shifted tracks. “So a bunch of us are going to the bar opposite to cool off once its closing time.”

“Is it closing time yet?” I said, while glancing at my wristwatch.

“Just about,” she replied.

“Well, okay, sure,” I said, nodding. “You can go.”

She laughed a bit as she said, “I wasn’t asking for your permission.”

“Of course not,” I said.

An awkward silence descended on us, and for a few seconds, no words were exchanged. Chisom looked stricken, like she’d planned to say something but had just realized that she was off to a bad start.

“So, okay,” she finally breathed out. “Well, see you.” She turned to start walking away.

“See you,” I said after her.

She got to the door and stopped. She turned around and suddenly began speaking in a rush. “So I was going to ask if you’d like to join us at the bar.”

“Sure,” I said, unsure if I wanted to be in the company of people as a distraction from my sad thoughts or simply go home and be alone, wallowing in them. “I’d love to,” I continued as I began picking up my things.

***

“Wait! Wait! Wait! So you’re telling me she was actually nice to you?” Jerry, the head of the Mad House creative division exclaimed loudly after he had tossed back a shot of vodka. His voice rose above the din of the bar, competing with all the chatter and music that was the offering of a proletarian Lagos seeking pleasure and relaxation after a long day.

“Yes, she was,” I answered with a grin.

My colleagues and I were piled into a booth in a corner of the bar that was a few blocks away from work. From where I was seated, I could see a bright reflection of the neon lights that spelled the name of the bar ‘City Delights’ on the windshield of a car parked close to our window. The evening beyond throbbed with a different wakefulness in this city that never sleeps.

And because this was a gathering of coworkers, of course the first item of gossip was our boss, Theresa Bassey. I was the newest hire, and experience must’ve shown them that Theresa was not a very benevolent boss. And that made my narration of the cordiality the woman had accorded me the first day I met her unbelievable to them.

“Wow. That’s a first,” Jerry said.

“Totally! The woman is a grade A bitch,” Funke said from behind her glass of Smirnoff Ice.

“Are you telling me?” Chisom exclaimed. “The first time she saw me, she said I dressed like a preschool teacher with insecurity issues.”

Everyone at the table laughed.

“Well…” drawled Cassie with a smile and a meaningful glance at Chisom. She was a stylish senior songwriter, who managed to look well groomed at this harried hour of the day.

The other began to titter as Chisom said good-naturedly, “Oh shut up, Cassie! I’ve improved since then.”

“That you have,” Jerry agreed with a laugh. He raised his glass. “Cheers to Chisom’s makeover!”

They all touched glasses.

“Kevin, you haven’t taken much of your drink,” Jerry observed. “What’s up, brother?”

“Nothing,” I said, summoning a smile. Even though they were a fun bunch, I was starting to realize that perhaps I should have gone home to be on my own.

“You sure?” Chisom asked. “Your mood has nothing to do with those dark lyrics I saw you scribbling in your journal?”

“Umm, first of all, it’s a lyric book or a song book, not a journal. A journal means something totally different. And secondly, what I was writing was none of your business.”

In the instant I was done speaking those words, I suddenly felt like snatching them back out of existence. The astonished silence that descended on the table only served to deepen my mortification.

“I – I’m sorry…” I stuttered. “I’ve just been a little on edge…”

“It’s okay,” Chisom said, not looking at me.

“I really am sorry…”

“She says it’s fine,” Funke cut in, looking darkly at me.

Just great! I am now officially a jackass. I felt miserable at the thought.

For a few moments, nobody said anything. I suddenly felt very unwanted in their midst. Still, it would be an impropriety if I simply decided to leave, even though getting away from them was what I suddenly wanted to do.

I took a quick sip of my drink and then began to rise. “I have to visit the men’s room.”

There were quick nods from the table. I could tell they couldn’t wait for me to leave so they could get on my case. I grabbed my bag and stepped away from the table. I really did want to use the men’s room, but I had no intention of going back to join my party.

There was a small collection of men crowding the small waiting area before the single convenience. Feeling impatient, I left and stopped a man clad in the black-and-black getup I’d seen some of the bar’s staffs wearing.

“Excuse me, how can I get to the back exit?” There was no way I was going out through the front, walking back through the bar where my colleagues would see me ditching them.

The young man gave me quick directions and I was soon letting myself out back into the fresh coolness of the evening. Because I was pressed, I hastened to a far wall on the other side of the unlit alleyway from the back of the bar, unzipped my trousers and proceeded to ease myself with a sigh of relief.

However on the heels of the relief, just as I zipped myself back up, a deluge of sadness hit me. The weight dropped on me from nowhere. It felt alien and yet familiar, like I’d been carrying it for too long and hadn’t even realized it. I leaned toward the wall, mindless of the stench of my piss, and gave in to the crushing misery that poured from me. My sobs were choked and halting, and the tears dribbled freely down my face.

I hated myself; for how I betrayed Kuddus, for not being there for Tayo and Sly after Samuel’s death, for snapping at my co-worker. I didn’t deserve to be in this world surrounded by all these good people I didn’t deserve to know.

I want to die!

The four words I’d written in my song book echoed once more in my head.

“Life can’t be that bad,” I heard someone say.

Startled out of my grief, I looked up. There was a man lounging against the wall a few feet away from me. The smell of weed hit my nostrils a millisecond before I saw him exhaling around a joint he held against his mouth.

“Excuse me?” I sniffed, raising my hand to wipe hurriedly at my face.

“You were crying just now like the world is about to end, and I’m saying that life can’t be that bad.”

I peered at him. He was a wiry man, clad in a T-shirt, a jacket and denim trousers that hung low on his derriere. He had a full beard that seemed to crowd in his lips, pursed as they were around his joint.

He saw me looking at him and held out the joint. “Here, have a drag. It always makes everything better.”

***

“Guy, you no dey joke oh!” my newest companion chortled.

In the last few minutes, he’d introduced himself as Kayode, told me how he’d just gotten dumped by his girlfriend in the bar, shared his joint, and gotten me to tell him about the time I worked for Demoniker.

We were still backed up against the wall, two merry Lagosians passing a joint back and forth, getting high and enjoying the evening.

“I’m serious o,” I said with a cough after taking a hit.

“So you mean to tell me that you worked with that babe, and you no knack am?”

“Ehen!”

“Ah! Guy, you no normal be that nau!”

“Ahan! What if she no be my type?”

Kayode scoffed. “Fine woman like that? Man wey no think say Demoniker na him type, na homo wey he be.”

He began laughing at his bit of witticism, and I joined in. Our intoxicated mirth lasted for a few seconds, and then we sobered up. I looked at him. He was drawing on the joint, his small lips sucking on the end like a lover’s caress.

I felt a flicker inside me at the sight. I suddenly felt emboldened to do something…anything. I had no idea what came over me – whether it was the weed or my abated grief, but I reached out my hand to run the palm over Kayode’s thigh.

He didn’t recoil. He simply turned a hazy gaze to me and murmured, “Oh boy, wetin you think say you dey do?”

“Shhh!” I said, placing my finger over his lips.

He stopped talking and went back to his smoke. Feeling encouraged by his submissiveness, my hands went to his hips. I unbuckled his belt and unzipped his jeans. As I tugged at the zip, he began gently pushing his hips forward, his body already reacting to the imminence of my ministration.

And then my hand dived in and grasped a penis that was semi-hard. He gave a sharp intake of breath and looked at me again. This time, desire was clearly etched on his face.

“Suck me,” he said.

“With pleasure,” I said back and began to bend over.

“WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING?”

I froze as the raised voice of a man split the air.

Everything changed in a flash before I could even process what was happening. Kayode seemed like the shout had snapped him out of whatever trance he’d been in when I first touched him. He jerked away from me, shoving me from his crotch in the same move, and darted toward the backdoor of the bar while securing his jeans around his hips. Without a backward look at me, he opened the door and vanished inside.

That had happened in all of twenty seconds. Then I heard a scuffle coming from further down the alley. That was where the shout had come from.

“MUTHERFUCKER!” the same voice raged.

“FUCK OFF! GO AND DIE ALONE!” another male voice snarled back.

There was a sound of a car engine igniting seconds before car taillights came on, briefly illuminating the figure of a man staggering away from the car. Then the driver of the car revved the engine and drove off, leaving the man outside the car cussing furiously after him.

“It’s you who will die alone, you fucker! Nonsense human being! You won’t ever see anything good in your life! Fucker!”

And then, he whirled around and began walking staggeringly in my direction.

I’d stayed frozen in place throughout the brief altercation because the voice of the man now coming toward me had sounded familiar. And now, as he drew closer, close enough for the lights of the traffic on the main road ahead to cast some illumination over his features, I stiffened in recognition.

“Jude!” I choked out.

He heard and faltered in his steps as he turned to look at me. He recognized me but didn’t stop. He continued walking.

“Jude!” I called again, louder. As he walked past me, I said in an angry tone, “Jude, I know you’re not deaf!”

“What!” He whirled around to face me.

“What was that about?” I asked and gestured in the direction he was coming from.

“I don’t see how that’s your business!” he said nastily and turned to continue walking away.

Oh no you dont, I thought, my anger mounting. You dont walk away from me, not after youve ruined my life.

“Jude, I was talking to you!” I shouted after him, moving forward. “Where do you think you’re going?”

“Someplace that’s none of your business,” he tossed over his shoulder.

“Will you stop and talk to me!” I heaved in exasperation.

He turned again and flashed at me, “What is it you want, Kevin?” A breathy gust of vodka and nicotine hit me in the face since I’d gotten much closer to him. He was clearly inebriated.

“I just want to know what happened between you and that guy in the car,” I said in a gentler tone.

Jude gave a harsh laugh. “You say that like you care. Last I checked, you said you didn’t want me in your life anymore. You remember that? So how is it your business what happens in my life? Fuck off, man!”

My emotions had acquired an instability that evening, and so it didn’t surprise me when my anger bubbled up instantly at his tone. “You’re right,” I said stiffly. “I don’t even know why I’m bothering myself about you. You clearly want to ruin your life. Who am I to stop you?”

I made to move past him and started walking away.

“That’s right!” he sneered. “Walk away like the little bitch you are!”

Something snapped in my head and I whirled around, my eyes seeing red, and swung a fist in the direction of Jude’s face.

***

“Men, when did you learn to swing a punch like that?” Jude groaned.

I watched him as he raised a hand to tentatively feel the bruise on the side of his face. He winced upon contact and I felt a bite of remorse.

We were still in the alley but now seated on the kerb that flanked the property of City Delights. After I punched him, Jude had dropped to the ground. He didn’t fight back though. He simply lay there on the ground, holding a hand to his face where my fist had connected and staring up at me until my spurt of anger dissipated. Then he got up and went to take a seat on the edge of the sidewalk. I joined him after some moments, and he had just now broken the silence.

“I’m sorry,” I said.

“No, Im sorry,” he said.

I stared at him. “You have nothing to be sorry about. I shouldn’t have hit you. And I had no right to act like I deserved to know your business.”

He smiled wanly at me. As I smiled back at him, I remembered how once upon a time, that smile had the power to send my insides into a spin.

“You were right,” I continued. “I told you to back off from my life. You certainly had every right to tell me to fuck off.”

And that was when it happened. Jude turned away from me, kept his stare on the ground, and then his shoulders began shaking. I heard his sobs next, and it took three seconds for me to realize that he was crying.

“Jude…” I said, feeling aghast. I inched closer to him on the kerb and reached for him. His entire body was quivering; his grief was soft, not like the hard rush I’d undergone several minutes ago when I exited the bar.

“I said I’m sorry…” I comforted.

He kept on crying. Seeing him like this caused my heart to ache. It was an unusual sight. This had nothing to do with what just happened between us. This was certainly bigger than this evening.

“Jude, what’s wrong?”

He shook his head, as if to deny me a response.

“Jude, all the while I’ve known you, I’ve never seen you cry. Especially like this. What’s the problem?”

He shook his head again.

“Please tell me…” I could feel my heart twisting. “I’m here for you. But I need to know what the problem is. Does it have anything to do with that guy in the car? What happened?”

Jude started trembling really hard, his crying turned into wheezing.

He must be really affected by whatever his issue was, I thought dejectedly. I was just now realizing that he was another person I’d failed. Kuddus. Tayo. Sly. My coworker. And Jude.

“It’s okay. It’s okay,” I soothed, rubbing my hand over his back, attempting to calm his trembling. “I’m here. I’m not going anywhere. It’s okay…”

“The-the guy…” he finally began speaking with a stammer.

“Yes, the guy… What happened?”

“We-we were about to-to… When I told him…”

“Told him what?”

I was holding him at this point and he was really trembling as he began forming his response. I could tell it was something big.

“That I’m HIV positive, Kev,” he said ever-so softly.

I froze and felt my extremities go cold. I stared at him and he stared back.

“Kev…?”

“You’re H…HIV positive?” I croaked. My voice didn’t sound like it belonged to me.

“Yes, Kevin. And I’m dying.”

Written by The Reverend

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7 Comments

  1. Mandy
    May 16, 07:26 Reply

    Ghen ghen! See the Kevin that was already in freak out mode. Knowing he’s possibly HIV positive will probably send him in a spin to the deep end. Nawa o. Time is proving yet again that this Jude is just not good for him.

  2. Delle
    May 16, 08:35 Reply

    You got dumped by the only person who really loved you. Whose love you really needed.

    You were a sore bitch to a coworker and a good friend.

    You almost gave a total stranger, an unkempt fellow, a blowjob in public!

    The guy who cost you your relationship is HIV positive. Inadvertently means, should you both have gone at it unprotected, you could be too.

    Now he says he is dying. Probably means he has the AIDS.

    Kuddus may never get back with you (a possibility I’ve been holding on to since the last episode until the end of this read).

    I feel your scribbling on that ‘lyricbook’ is suddenly justified. Life just went haywire, Kev.

  3. omiete
    May 16, 13:12 Reply

    This is all just messed up, first he risked getting caught, now he just found out that he might be positive which means if Kuddus was ever going to come back to him it would never happen again. anyways i feel his heart yearns for Jude and kuddus saw that.Team Kude. Team Juvin

  4. iAmNotAPerv
    May 16, 15:04 Reply

    I see the future. Everyone dies. I’m looking forward to it. Drama ti poju

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