Previously on Down Low

*

She’s even fat. Ugh! Straight men sef! Apparently a vagina is all they need, no matter how shapeless the owner is, Ekene thought sourly as he stared at his phone screen.

“Ekene, I hope you know I am not your houseboy o!” Ayo called out of the kitchen of his and Siji’s apartment.  “Can you get in here and help me make the food we will both eat?”

Ekene lifted his eyes from his phone and blinked blearily before making a face.

“It’s like you want to be stabbed,” he called back. “How many times have I told you never to disturb me when I’m doing my CIA work on the gram? Besides, I’m hopeless in the kitchen. Of what use would I be?”

“You could at least be helping me pass things nau, ehn?” Ayo said, amidst the sounds of clanging pots and pans. “Besides, our gist would flow better, or do you like how I’m shouting?”

“OK, ok, I dey come.” Ekene rolled his eyes. He lifted himself from the long L-shaped couch and trudged over to the kitchen. He perched himself on the edge of one of the cabinets and resumed scrolling through his phone.

“So what are you even cooking sef?” he asked.

“Spaghetti bolognaise, or a very weak impersonation of it,” Ayo replied, turning on a faucet. “And who are we stalking on Instagram today?”

“One fat bitch like that, @Dr_RonnyQ. Her real name is Ronke, I think,” Ekene said. Dislike marinated his every word.

Ayo turned to look at him with a puzzled look on his face.

“OK, so why are you stalking this ‘fat bitch’ who you clearly hate? Heck, why are you even stalking a girl? Did you switch teams without me?” he queried.

“Eww, don’t be a pant, Ayo!” Ekene said, and Ayo giggled, turning back to continue chopping his tomatoes. Ekene sighed. “Haven’t you heard of ‘know thy enemy’, Ayo? That’s what I’m doing.”

“It’s like you want me to pry the full gist out of you with pincers and surgeon license. Can you spill this tea already?” Ayo snapped.

Ekene laughed and dropped his phone. “OK, you nosy bitch. Remember the cute guy I told you our record company just signed on as an artiste?”

“Yes, Gozie –”

“No, that’s his name. His stage name is Guzzman.”

“Right. I was actually glad. The boy is very good and deserves to leave the upcoming musician level,” Ayo said.

“Right?!” Ekene gushed. “His voice is literally heaven, the instrumental orchestration, and his lyrics…” He lifted his eyes heavenward in a swooning expression. “My God, the boy moves my soul!”

Ayo raised an eyebrow, a smirk playing around his lips. “Oh yeah?”

“Heck yeah!” Ekene practically squealed. “And the boy is fine, Ayo – Jesus! Whenever I see him, it’s so hard not to lick his face and just rip his clothes off!”

“He is handsome,” Ayo conceded. “I’ve seen a few pictures, and he has opened for a few artistes at Afropolitan vibes a few times.”

“Let me just refresh your memory,” Ekene said, opening the artiste’s Instagram account and hopping over to his friend. He held the phone screen to Ayo’s face so he could get a good look at the symmetrical golden face with cheekbones like kitchen knives that belonged to Ekene’s current object of desire.

“Very fine somebody,” Ayo agreed. “But dreads don’t really do it for me,” he added as his gaze lingered on the shoulder-length, neatly-twisted ebony dreadlocks that framed the handsome fair-skinned face.

“Me, I dream about twisting my fingers through those locks as he thrusts into me, while my legs are wrapped around his shoulders,” Ekene retorted, licking his lips lustily.

“Jesus Christ, you’re a thirsty whore!” Ayo laughed. “I think you need a cold shower. I have extra towels.”

They both burst into laughter.

“You are mad o, Ayo.”

“You sef, you’re not okay,” Ayo rejoined.

Ekene sighed, leaning against the fridge. “It’s not even his looks or talent that makes me like this guy so much. His heart is big and so pure. I have never met anyone so naturally kind, Ayo. So free of prejudice and negativity.”

“This sounds like something serious o,” Ayo said, examining the simmering contents of the pot before closing it. “So, I take it he’s on our team?”

Ekene bit his bottom lip before replying, “No. He’s straight.”

Ayo spun around, an incredulous expression on his face. “Ekene, how can you be allowing yourself to catch feelings for a straight person for God’s sake? Which kain rookie move be this?”

Ekene’s expression was stony. “Well, everyone is straight until they fuck another man. This one won’t be different.”

“Ha! Conversion, Ekene?” Ayo said, his eyes as wide as dinner plates.

“Yes ke. I just want to feel his hard, naked body against mine, even if it’s just once, then I can die happy,” Ekene said with a grin.

Ayo turned away, shaking his head, a look of mild disgust on his face. “This is not OK. There are enough gay people to satisfy your lust. Leave straight men alone o.”

“Keep quiet please,” Ekene said, rolling his eyes. “Anyway, the boy sef has a love interest.”

“Is this love interest the girl you were stalking by any chance?”

“Yup. The very one.” Ekene handed the phone to Ayo. “I wanted to check out the competition.”

Ayo collected the phone and stared at a full-figured, dark-skinned girl with a wide, white smile and kindly eyes. He scrolled through a few more pictures, observing her in different outfits and poses.

“She’s quite pretty and stylish,” he observed.

“She’s fat,” Ekene hissed.

“Oh, and she’s a doctor! Nice,” Ayo said as a picture of Ronke with a stethoscope around her neck loading completely.

“She’s still doing her housemanship please. Whose side are you on sef?” Ekene snapped, snatching his phone back.

“No vex, uncle. Just observing objectively,” Ayo said.

Ekene hissed and continued scrolling through his phone screen. “What is paining me is that the girl that he’s interested in is so…so unremarkable – fat, average looks, probably smells –”

“Haba, Ekene, you’re just being downright venomous right now,” Ayo scolded.

Ekene scoffed. “The point is, if the girl he was dating was gorgeous, I wouldn’t be so fucking salty about it. Like this girl for example.” He handed the phone back to Ayo.

Ayo took the phone, looked at the screen and froze.

“This is Liliana,” he rasped.

“Oh, your boyfriend’s alleged beard?” Ekene said, taking his phone back and peering at the screen.

“The one and only…” Ayo said. He didn’t like how he felt whenever he thought about Siji and Liliana; not angry, not sad, not happy, but he did feel a constant pressure in his lungs that made it hard to breathe.

“So this one is saying she’s a lesbian like this? With her skin looking like evaporated milk?” Ekene said. “Naaah, my friend, lesbians are usually more butch than this.”

“What are you saying?”

“This girl is not a lesbian. She’s probably bisexual or bicurious. She’s way too pretty. And your boyfriend has had relationships with females before. Girl, your man is towing the path of heteronormativity, and he’s leaving you behind.” Ekene paused and added, “Probably planning on leaving you, period.”

“Shut up,” Ayo hissed, his fists clenched.

“If you like vex, I’m sha preaching, and you know it,” Ekene persisted. “Please, we need to draw up a plan to fight for our men o.”

“I’m not fighting anyone please. I trust Siji. He loves me,” Ayo whispered, wishing he felt more conviction in the words leaving his mouth. “And Guzzman isn’t your man.”

“He will be, Ayo. Trust me. I will have that man in my bed sooner or later. Just watch.” There was a determined gleam in Ekene’s eyes. He squeezed his face and sniffed the air. “And I think our lunch is burning.”

Written by Santa Diaba

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