“Get out! Get out, get out!” I panted furiously, tapping Paschal’s thigh with my right hand in small, rapid movements.

“What?” he muttered uncomprehendingly.

“I said get out!” Irritation and pain sharpened my tone.

He stiffened and then began to pull back. There was no care to his withdrawal, and the removal of his penis pulled at my anal skin, unlocking pockets of pain that caused my sphincter muscles to clench and another choked scream to erupt from my mouth.

“Gently, please…gently…” My voice broke, and tears stung my eyes.

My distress must have finally communicated itself to him, because he began to gradually inch out of me. Even with his deliberate motions, I still felt pinpricks of pain shooting up my spine from the orifice. When he was finally out, I felt the slight rush of air inside the ass hole that came from such a release, but with the pulsation of my sphincter muscles, the draft stung.

“Oh no, Declan…” Paschal breathed out behind me.

What – what is it?” I asked, turning my head around as I spoke.

He was peeling back the condom from his cock, and I could see that the latex was stained red. The colour of what could only be my blood. A wave of nausea at the sight surged through me, and I moved my right hand to my derriere, wincing as I tentatively touched my fingers to my anus. It felt moist to the touch. The pain throbbed.

“You’re bleeding…” Paschal said.

Yea, thanks for stating the obvious, I thought caustically as I brought my hand around to stare at the grimy-red stain on my fingers. My mouth started filling with saliva at the sight, as the nausea settled in the pit of my stomach, threatening to upend what I had for lunch.

I’d only bled once since I started having penetrative sex in my first year at the university. And it hadn’t even been with my first. The guy who disvirgined me was a student of Uniport, who I met at a small party in Port Harcourt, whose invite Ekene had scored for both of us. We flirted, had a few drinks, and retired to one of the rooms in the host’s family house at the end of the party, where he proceeded to be the gentlest lover I’d ever known. His dick wasn’t very big, and when he slipped it into my virgin ass hole, he’d had me too aroused with his kisses to feel anything other than a vague pinch. At the end of it all, I had no way of knowing if I’d bled or not, because he wiped my bottom clean, and I felt too languid with spent desire to investigate.

But with the guy I had sex with in my third year, a Masters student in my department, who went at my ass like a battering ram, there was no such luxury. The hemorrhage however wasn’t so grave, and the discomfort didn’t last for a long while. And it had just been that one time.

Until now.

“Is it bad?” I said to Paschal.

He bent close toward my behind. He placed his hands on the butt cheeks to part them for a closer inspection, but at my wince, he released me immediately. He must have seen enough already though, because he replied, “Not so much. But I think there’s some skin pushing out from the hole.”

Feeling faint, I thought about what had been dislodged in my anus upon Paschal’s penetration. This was not good. I’d never had to worry about my anus before, since I started having anal sex. Even though mine wasn’t a very active sex life, I’d had my fair share of big dicks, all of which had, with enough skill and lubrication, slipped in and out without upsetting my anal structure. I’d however known the capacity of my appetite, and hadn’t been daring enough to take on the monstrosities I occasionally came across, not even when their owners tried every trick in the book to get me to spread my legs.

The only reason I could think of for not adhering to my characteristic caution in Paschal’s case was the vulnerability I’d been feeling all day, what with the fiasco with Fabian, and my feelings of dread at been outed to my family.

I drew in a hissing breath as another bolt of pain shot up my spine from my behind. Paschal had touched me again.

“What the fuck is wrong with you?” I exploded. “Can’t you see that place is paining me?”

“I’m sorry…I just…What are we going to do?” As he spoke, his eyes darted about, giving him the apprehensive countenance of one who hadn’t had to deal with such a situation.

“Call Jonathan,” I said.

“Who?”

“Jonathan? Our friend who is a doctor?”

“Oh, right, yes, Jonathan…” He moved toward the edge of the bed, to climb down and get to his trousers. As he rooted for his phone in his trouser pockets, I watched him, my eyes drawn to his crotch, to his dick, which drooped downward, having lost its earlier rock-hard elongation. The penis moved infinitesimally from side to side as Paschal started back for the bed, a sad motility, like it was greatly disappointed at not achieving the objective for which it had gained its strength for.

I looked up at Paschal as he began dialing on his phone.

“Put it on speaker please,” I said.

He nodded, depressed the phone screen, and Jonathan’s callertune began to resonate from the device. A few moments later, the call connected and Jonathan’s voice came through.

“Rascal, how far?”

My lips quirked with amusement at his use of Paschal’s nickname, one he’d personally bestowed on Paschal as his way of recognizing the other guy’s varied and, in his opinion, unconventional sex life.

“I dey…” Paschal began haltingly. “Um, see eh, Jonathan, I need your help with something…”

“Shoot, bro. What is it?”

“The thing is, I was having sex with De –”

“Don’t mention my name,” I hissed in a fierce whisper. In hindsight, I now knew I shouldn’t have entertained sex with Paschal, and I wasn’t ready to endure the gang’s ruthless ribbing – or reproval, in Jonathan’s case – over it.

“Rascal, are you there?” Jonathan questioned, and then his voice took on a teasing octave as he continued, “I hope you’re not calling to ask me for sex advice, because, bros, na your department be that o.” He chuckled.

Paschal chuckled back weakly. “No, it’s not sex advice,” he said. “It’s just…the guy I was fucking, he started bleeding when I penetrated him –”

“Bleeding?”

“Yes, and I think he may now have piles.”

“Piles? Are you sure? How do you know that?” Jonathan’s voice had now acquired the brisk tone of his profession.

“Well, I have seen someone, my cousin, when he had piles. The guy’s not gay, and I think he got his from indigestion. But I saw enough to know that the skin sticking out of De–this my guy’s ass must be piles. Plus he’s bleeding…”

“Okay, so you need to take him to the hospital then. I’m on night duty, so you can bring him to my clinic…”

I was already shaking my head as Paschal said, “No, no, no, I can’t do that.”

“Why?”

“Well, your hospital is in Yaba, and we are in Ajah,” he lied smoothly.

A forceful explosion of air came through the phone as Jonathan heaved a sigh. “Nawa o…”

“Look, just tell me what medication that we need to fix this, that’s all.”

“But this isn’t like malaria that you can just prescribe something for, and it will go. A physician has to examine a patient’s piles to determine just how it can be treated. And the application of the treatment should also be done by hospital personnel. It’s not –”

“Come on, Jonathan –”

“Look, piles is not an ailment exclusive to gay sex, thankfully. So you can still take him to any hospital close to you and have it checked out –”

“Jonathan, we are not going to the hospital. Just give me the name of a drug we can buy from the nearest pharmacy for heavenssakes.” Paschal’s tone was wearing thin with impatience.

Jonathan expelled another breath before saying, “Alright. Get Anusol, or Lignocaine with Adrenaline.”

“Anusol or Lignocaine with Adrenaline…” Paschal reiterated.

“Yes, they can be self-administered, or you can help him apply either of them. Over time, the swelling inside his anus should go down, and the protrusion down there should slip back in.”

“Thanks a lot, man. I owe you one.”

“Yea, yea, I’m surprised I haven’t even got this call sooner from you. That your weapon of ass destruction should have been responsible for more hemorrhaging long before now.”

Weapon of ass destruction, I chuckled at the words. Paschal also looked amused by it as he disconnected the call.

“Okay, why don’t you rest here, and let me run down to any pharmacy close by to buy the drugs,” he said, regaining his aplomb now that we knew what to do.

“Okay, sure, my keys are on the table there, so you can let yourself out and back in.”

He nodded, looking in the direction of the table as he picked up his boxers to put on.

“And there’s a chemist down the street, as if you’re going back to the main junction. You’ll see it on your right. You can’t miss their sign.”

He nodded again.

“And please, when you go out, lock the gate.”

There was another nod. He was almost fully dressed now. I stretched out on my belly on the bed, and watched him finish up his dressing. Then he smiled at me, and said, “Don’t worry, everything’s going to be alright.”

***

I wasn’t so sure of that on Saturday, around midday, as I lounged in the living room with Tonia, while we waited for the return of our family members from the East.

“You seem very…I don’t know…excited by them coming back,” Tonia remarked from the sofa where she was reclining. Her eyes were on the TV, on Angelina Jolie as she deflected a blow from her assailant and whipped a right hook to the man’s midsection. We were watching the movie, Salt.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Well, you’ve not been able to sit still all morning,” Tonia answered.

Yes, my dear sister, I thought. I haven’t been able to sit still, but not for the reason you just mentioned. Try the fact that my ass still burns from its inflammation. Or the fact that our younger brother may or may not have told our parents that Yours Truly is gay. I moved on my seat, into another position, as my bottom throbbed with muted pain.

“There, you’ve done it again,” Tonia said with a laugh. “Jeez, you’re like a virgin bride waiting for her husband on their honeymoon night.”

Wouldn’t the world be a better place if my life was that uncomplicated, I thought, ignoring my sister’s teasing, and dwelling on the thought that Fabian and my parents were making the trip back to Lagos together.

All three of them.

Together.

Fabian wasn’t the kind of guy who would put himself through the presence and companionship of our parents more than he should. He wouldn’t even watch TV with them, and now, he was flying back home with them. I’d thought that he would return to Lagos on his own, on a schedule separate from our parents’. If they were traveling together, then it must be for one reason. He’d told them about me, and they wanted to confront me with his story, with him in the same room. The thought of that caused my heart to start triphammering as I seesawed between dread at the prospect of such a confrontation and fortitude to meet it head-on.

The distant blare of a horn, followed by Tonia’s small scream of ‘They’re back!’, jolted me out of my reverie. We both got to our feet and hurried outside, to the gate, which we pulled open to let in the unmarked taxi that must have picked our folks up from the airport. I could see Father and Mother conversing in the backseat, while Fabian sat with his characteristic wooden expression in the front beside the driver, his earphones plugged in to shut out the din of our parents’ chatter.

“Daddy, welcome…!”

“How was your trip, mum…?”

“You two look well…”

“Fabian, how was your interview…?”

“At least, hunger did not kill you in our absence…”

“And our house is still here, intact…”

For the next several minutes, there was a flurry of activity, interspersed with a lot of talk and laughter. While our parents and Tonia went into the house and reclined on the sofas to chatter about the events of the last few days, Fabian and I moved back and forth between the house and the taxi, relieving the vehicle of the luggage. I watched him. I watched Father. And I watched Mother. There was no tension or the telltale signs of a crisis brewing. Fabian even met my eyes a number of times, although his expression gave away no clue as to what he felt toward me. There was no antagonism, no hostility, just careful neutrality.

Things gradually settled as the afternoon wore on. Father retired to his bedroom, I went to mine, Fabian remained in the living room, watching TV, while Mother and Tonia bustled about in the kitchen. I lounged on my bed, pondering what had – or had not – happened. I wondered about my brother, why he hadn’t told anyone about what he knew. I felt at once relieved and wary. I wondered if he planned to talk to me in a more civil atmosphere about it, or if he was going to act like nothing had happened. And then, when my mind got too crowded with my ruminations, I picked up my phone and pinged Ekene, to update him on what had happened.

Minutes into my chat, my door was thrown open, and Tonia, wearing a beaming smile and pulling a grudging Fabian by the hand, walked in.

“Where’s the fire?” I said as I sat up on my bed.

“On the mountain far, far away from here,” she sallied back. Her smile widened a fraction and her eyes sparkled. “I just have some really big news that I want to share with you two.”

“You’re pregnant?” I asked teasingly.

She laughed, a full, rich sound, the kind that spoke of genuine delight. And then she said to me, “I didn’t want to tell you before…I don’t know, I wanted to tell both you and Fabian at once –”

“Tell us already,” Fabian groused good-naturedly.

“I’m engaged,” she announced. “Dennis proposed and I said yes.” She splayed the fingers of her left hand before us, and a gold ring with a small stone constructed on its top center winked at me.

“Oh wow, congratulations…”

“Finally, that bastard did the right thing…”

I rose from my bed, and Fabian and I took turns to hug a giddy Tonia. She was laughing and talking at once, and I felt my heart fill with emotions of appreciation for her happiness.

“It just happened out of the blue… Last night after dinner… One minute we were eating, and the next, he was looking at me and proposing… I’m still trying to process it all… No, I haven’t told mum and dad yet… He wants to come and see them first…” And then, she turned to me and said with a chuckle, “So now, that’s Dede and me, in that order, Declan. You should be next in line, don’t let Fabian beat you to the altar o.”

Right, of course not, I thought, feeling a nascent despair eclipse my exhilaration from seconds ago. We wouldn’t want to have me not getting married next – or ever –, would we?

And in that moment, when my gaze intersected with Fabian’s, his eyes on me, expressive all of a sudden, I knew he was thinking the same things as I was.

Written by Pink Panther

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