SIX – 10

SIX – 10

The man who started away from the car he had just parked was tall, dark skinned and athletically built. The lights from the parking lot lamps bounced off his completely shaven head and cast shadows over his face, which was accentuated by the full beard that shrouded his jaw.

He wore a contemplative look on his face as he walked toward the noisy bustle coming from the hotel’s events hall. His mind was far away, on incidences of the past. Sometimes he couldn’t believe he had the fortitude to go on every day, considering all that he had lost in his life. He’d lost his only son, Khalil, a tragedy that shattered him to innumerable pieces that he didn’t think he could recover from. Then he had broken up with the only man who had ever been able to put up with him and his bullshit, and in the process of finding his way back to him, he lost him too. Yes, Mide, the woman who shot him, had been arrested and prosecuted – but Aliu had still lost the love of his life, Moe.

“Welcome, Mr. Ajibade, it’s so nice of you to make it,” the CEO of Priq FM, Mr. Etomi, said with an expansive smile as he extended his hand towards Aliu as the two men met each other at the entrance of the hall.

Aliu shook his hand, a smile whose joy he didn’t feel already stretching his lips. In truth, he didn’t want to be here. He only attended the event because his company was one of the sponsors of the radio station’s new sports show.

“Aliu, please,” he corrected the executive. “Now that you have my money, I’m pretty sure we can dump the formality.” Both men shared a robust laugh. Aliu glanced around at the glitter and bustle of the venue. “Quite the turn out you have here.”

“Truthfully, I wasn’t expecting all our invited guests to be present, considering the late invitation we sent out,” Mr. Etomi said, “but our new ambassador has lots of fans apparently.”

“I’ll have to agree with you on that. I most probably wouldn’t have agreed to be a part of your new radio show if someone like him had not come with the total package.” He flashed a smile at Mr. Etomi to take the sting off his words, and as if on cue, a photographer walked up to them and lifted his camera. Both men took a pose and the camera flashed away.

“I wouldn’t have expected less. After all, this is business,” Mr. Etomi said with his grin still in place.

Just then, a loud burst of laughter drew their attention to a small group of people a short distance away from them. There were three men and a woman, and one of them had apparently said something that was hilarious, as they were doubled over with laughter, clearly having fun that Aliu realized wryly that he was yet to have.

“Oh look,” Mr. Etomi said, gesturing toward the party of four. “There’s the radio host – and his friends, I presume. Peka!” he called out loudly.

One of the men turned at the sound of his name.

Peka…Hmmm…Strange but fascinating name, Aliu thought as he watched the others turn with him before all four of them approached.

“Good evening, sir,” the one named Peka said.

“Good evening. I see you’re already having fun,” his boss said.

“So far,” he said with a short laugh. “These are my friends, Mundi and Faramade” – he gestured between the guy on his far left and the woman right next to him – “and of course, Derin.” He nodded to the man standing on his right.

“Derin, Derin! You just left us like that,” Mr. Etomi said as they all shook hands.

“Greener pastures oh,” Derin said. “You were the one that always encouraged us to be more than we were yesterday.”

“True that. Anyway, Peka, this” – Mr. Etomi said as he placed a hand on Aliu’s shoulder – “is Aliu Ajibade. He’s one of the major sponsors for your show.”

Aliu had been watching all four of them as they interacted with the radio executive. But as the host was introduced to him, he turned his attention to him, taking in every detail about his face. Peka’s broad smile was hemmed in by two seriously sexy dimples, which lent an attractiveness to his smile that struck Aliu like an elbow to the ribs and sent a mild rush of blood to his nether region. It had been a long time since he was turned on by anyone not starring in high-quality porn; definitely since he lost his boyfriend. It was strange how he noticed the little things about this Peka; like how full his lips were, the graceful way he held his hand when they shook hands, and how soft his hand was, and the way the dark purple button-down shirt he was wearing made him look really sophisticated. Aliu took a risk, holding his gaze for what seemed like a lifetime.

He was so beautiful.

“Thank you so much, Mr. Ajibade,” he heard Peka say.

“Call me Aliu. It’s what everyone calls me.”

The other man chuckled and nodded.

“Alright then, I’ll see you around,” Aliu said. He didn’t want to let go but he had no choice.

“Certainly, Aliu,” Peka said with another smile.

Aliu nodded to the group and Mr. Etomi before finding his way into the hall. It was really packed. Two large screens had been set up, throwing various pictures of Kareem Wihu and Peka from two projectors. Dry ice drifted from across the podium, catching the images so that the football star and the radio host mingled momentarily with the crowd and the silhouettes created by the decorator. Everyone in the hall was alive and bubbly.

As he sought out his table, a ripple of interest went through the room. Aliu looked up to see that the singer, Demoniker Dawson had arrived. His secretary had mentioned to him that the radio station had secured her for a performance for the evening. That was a coup, considering how big the singer was. Aliu let his gaze run admiringly over her, taking in her cocktail dress which was as startlingly red as her lipstick. Part of her hair was caught up in elaborate cornrows that ended in an explosion of curls. Her high heels looked like footwear only those with a death wish would walk around in. As she surveyed the hall in satisfaction, taking in the attention she was drawing as her due, Aliu watched her say something to the man beside her.

Aliu sighed when h recognized the man to Kevin Achike, the man who wrote the hits on Demoniker’s last homegrown album. He also knew the singer and the songwriter were friends.

Kevin also happened to be the last person Aliu felt like seeing, considering that he was his last fling.

He sighed again as he realized how long this night was probably going to be.

***

Near the end of the main course, Aliu sensed Kevin’s approach before he saw him. His ex-lover wore a distinctive scent around him that came from a concoction of perfumes he steadfastly mixed into one.

He looked up as Kevin hunched over him. His countenance was blank, but there were tense lines around his eyes. Aliu smiled and Kevin offered a small smile back.

“Can I see you for a bit please,” Kevin said to him.

Aliu nodded, excused himself from the table and followed Kevin out to the balcony, where there were a few people milling around.

“Hi. How are you?” he enquired.

Kevin simply looked at me for a beat, before looking away.

“Kevin, come on,” Aliu said. “I’m sorry I ignored you these past weeks…”

Kevin chuckled. The sound had no mirth in it at all. “You ignored me because it’s what you do. It’s what you always do.”

Aliu’s brow came together in the beginnings of a frown. “What do you mean? Where’s that coming from?” When Kevin did nothing but stare intensely at him, he said, “Kevin?”

“You know what I’m talking about. You shut people out. It’s what you do best.”

At his words, Aliu felt himself getting hot around the face and his eyes flashed with brewing annoyance. “Really? You went there? I open up to you about deep things regarding my life and you use it to validate this…this…this point you’re hoping to drive home?”

“Well, yes!” Kevin snapped. “Why else have you been distant? Why have you decided that I’m not good for you? Why does it seem like you don’t want to have anything to do with me, Aliu?”

“Kevin, you need to pause! Just pause right there! You are the one who thinks he’s not good for himself. You have all these thoughts about relationships one second, and the next second, you suddenly do not know how to commit. You’re here and there, it’s exhausting. And I don’t need exhausting.”

Kevin stared at him. “You sonofabitch!” he hissed.

“Kevin –”

“I’m here and there? I’m exhausting? You complete sonofabitch!! You want to make it seem like I have emotional issues – really?

“Kevin,” Aliu tried being conciliatory again. “I just –”

“A moment ago, you were going in on me for using what I knew about you to score a point, and then you go and do the same to me. You think I have emotional problems and commitment issues? Well, look in the mirror, mister. I’m pretty sure you’ll see that you are a poster boy for all that.”

“Kevin, I’m sorry.”

The words appeared to take the wind out of his anger, and Kevin took a deep breath. When he spoke, his voice was calmer. “I’m not the most intuitive person, but even I see through your insecurities, Aliu. This is why you won’t commit – to me or to anyone. You’re scared something bad might happen to me… Just like it did with your ex.”

“You don’t know anything about me,” Aliu growled.

“Yes, you may be right. But I know you’re not ready for anything. You’ve never been – which is fine. Just don’t make this about me or my shit. You need to come to terms with the fact that you’re your own problem.”

Suddenly, Aliu felt his irritation returning. He didn’t need this kind of amateur psychoanalysis from anyone – and certainly not from someone who he could hardly qualify as his ex.

“I don’t need this,” he snapped and turned around with every intention of walking away from Kevin.

“Yeah, walk away!” Kevin shot at his retreating back. “It’s what you know how to do best.”

***

“How was the dinner?” Ivan’s voice croaked from Aliu’s car phone-speakers.

“It went well. I ran into Kevin at the venue,” Aliu replied as he sped down the city-lit road of the Island.

Ivan had made it his duty to continuously check up on him ever since he lost Moe. They were still very good friends, and Ivan was updated on just about everything that went on with his life.

“How’s he by the way? Did you try to patch things up with him?”

“Well, we spoke for a bit but that’s about it. I think we’re officially done as friends.”

“Pity. I liked him for you.”

“I know you did.”

“So did you meet any new potential shag at the event?”

Aliu could hear the smile in his voice. An image of Peka, the radio host, flashed through his mind and he felt another stirring in his groin. Then he shook his head, and realizing that Ivan couldn’t see that, said, “Na.”

“Liar!” Ivan declared. “I know you did.”

They both laughed, and then Aliu acquiesced. “Yes, I did. But I don’t know if I’ll pursue him.”

“Whoever he is, go after him. You need to stop this hermit stunt you’ve been pulling these past months.”

Aliu groaned.

“Shut up there o!” Ivan admonished. “You know I’m saying the truth. Ever since Moe, you’ve been dulling yourself and acting like your world has crumbled.”

“Well, it has.”

“I said shut up there or I’ll slap your mouth shut through your speaker.”

Aliu laughed really hard at that. “But seriously, Ivan, with Moe being your friend, how can you say I should move on from him just like that?”

“Because it’s what I’d tell him if the situation was reversed. Yes, it’s good to hope and treasure the memories of what you shared with him, but you need to focus on yourself and your life. He’d want that for you too.”

“Hmm,” Aliu said simply as he pulled up at a red light on Adeola Odeku. He looked into his rear-view mirror; he was the only driver waiting.

“Don’t Hmm me,” Ivan said. “I’m giving you advice free of charge that a therapist would charge you an arm and a leg to let you have.”

“I didn’t ask for your awoof please,” Aliu snarked right back at him.

They laughed some more, and when they sobered, Aliu sighed.

Ivan heard it and said, “Come on, buddy. It’s time to stop holding on to the past. You fucked up, but that’s what people do. We fuck up all the time. But you need to keep living.”

“I’ll try –”

He didn’t finish the sentence as the rest of his words were choked off by the impact of a car on the back of his car.

Written by Vhar

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5 Comments

  1. Francis
    June 18, 09:22 Reply

    You no disappoint sha. Tragedy is you 😂😂😂

    • Michael
      June 18, 10:04 Reply

      I tell you. Var is tragedy, tragedy is Var.

  2. Ria
    June 18, 12:04 Reply

    *long drawn out hiss* WHAT NONSENSE! Chai. See wickedness. Brought in Aliu just to kill him like that. I have died and suffered. What the— URGH! I’m going to go and drink 🖕🏾🖕🏾🖕🏾

  3. Delle
    June 20, 01:35 Reply

    Am I the only one that saw “Priq FM?”

    Kikiki

  4. Yazz soltana
    June 21, 20:14 Reply

    Hmm, when you are mine type of triangle of love loading

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