THE DEVIL UNDER YOUR SKIN

THE DEVIL UNDER YOUR SKIN

I want to tell you a story about life. And it begins and ends with my very first boyfriend. For the purpose of this story, I will call him ‘Karl’.

Karl and I grew up in the same building. My family was the landlord, and his were the tenants, and we both lived in the second storey.

The first time Karl kissed me, we were in Primary Three. I didn’t understand what a kiss meant, but I knew I’d seen Ramsey Noah do it Kate Henshaw in a movie.

When his parents caught me sticking my hands into his flowery yellow pants, that was enough for them to move out. His father was a pastor and his mother an evangelist, and they attended Deeper Life Church back then. Of course they reported me to my parents. But my parents couldn’t be bothered. The only thing that mattered to my dad was his business and the only thing that mattered to my mom was being the perfect wife to him. They discarded the report like they always did and I went on with my life as I always did. Karl wasn’t the only boy that would allow me stick my hands into his pants, but he was the only one that was memorable.

As fate would have it, Karl and I reunited in the university. He was now an evangelist like his mother and took charge of the Thursday students’ meeting. I’d lived and thrived by competition, but I just wasn’t ready to compete with God, so I let Karl be. What used to be a very close friendship was now reduced to a simple hello and hi whenever we encountered each other.

Then Karl invited me to his fellowship. I hadn’t been to church in a long time, but I figured: What the hell! What did I have to lose by sitting through the hysterics of some fanatics for a few minutes? Better that than watching my roommate watch The Tudors (a TV show I really do not like) for the umpteenth time. So I went for Karl’s evangelical programme.

And as though he had the fellowship specially packaged for me, his topic for the evening was about homosexuality. He preached on how homosexuals would burn in the seventh hell and spun a great many tales of horror that would have made for a good plot for the Night walkers in Game of Thrones. By the end of his very graphic preaching, I was more bored than angry.

At the end of the service, I gaily walked over to him and shook his hands. Then I asked him with heavy sarcasm, “Have you ever thought of writing for Nollywood? From today’s preaching, you’d make a good addition to the film industry.”

He didn’t appreciate my sarcasm and began laying on me how I was living in sin and would most likely perish in it. I dismissed his words, and he followed up with a plea for me to let him come see me every now and then to preach to me personally. I agreed for two reasons: at least his presence would break me from the monotone of my roommate’s company, and I felt I could use the distraction.

And so began our Bible studies…till the day it happened.

It was an evening, and I’d shut my eyes to pray with my self-imposed savior, when I felt a rush of warm breath fan my face moments before a mouth connected with mine. My eyes shot open to behold Karl kissing me.

“You grow more beautiful every day,” he whispered.

My response was to slap him hard across the face. You see, hypocrisy is one thing I really detest. Be you and do you, but taking advantage of people under the guise of religion is something I can’t stand. I sent the hypocrite out of my room, furious with him as I was. I wasn’t some toy that would be played with at nightfall and then condemned upon daylight.

That incident shredded the last bit of our friendship. The hellos disappeared along with our familiarity and we began walking stonily past each other.

We graduated in 2013 and life seemed to move on fast, till I was in Lagos for a purpose. And lo and behold, I ran into Karl.

He looked well, very well indeed. He was apparently well-to-do and looked loaded. Very few things in life impress in me, and money is one of them. You see, I kind of like the nicer things in life and it takes money to get them. So when Karl showed some interest in running things with me, I dumped my boyfriend – his resources were tapering down anyway – and I began dating Karl. And then, after knowing each other for a life time, we finally had sex. The sex was not great or even good; it was mind blowing. He turned me on so much, what with his looks; Karl was now ripped and strong and his dark skin shone like the popular Black Beauty stallion.

After the sex, as I rested my head on his chest which bulged with well-defined pecs, I glimpsed the marks, scar-like marks on his right hand. I was startled with the dawning realization that Karl was cutting himself.

I brought it up, wanting us to talk about it, but he outrightly dismissed my concerns. He wasn’t a cutter, he insisted. He asked me rhetorically why a man like him would want to hurt himself. He supposedly had it all – the looks, the money, the sexual conquests. He made a good argument, but the evidence of hurt was right there on his hand – and also in the darkness in his eyes that hinted at a pain I wanted to reach out to heal. By this time, I had started developing feelings for him and I wanted desperately to do what I could to help him, to heal him.

But first I had to know what was causing him to hurt. I soon discovered that it was his mother. His father was late at this time. She had somehow come to the knowledge of Karl’s homosexuality and had cut him off. She rejected any assistance he sent to her and his siblings, a rejection that seemed to cut deep into Karl. He was a man who owned two buildings in Lekki, but his family was tattered in rags, a situation he couldn’t help, because his mother wouldn’t speak to him and prevented his siblings from doing so.

Upon learning this, I got angry, especially at Karl for hurting himself to the point that it’d gotten physical over a woman who clearly didn’t care about him. I reprimanded him, telling him he had his own life to live, and that he should think for once about living for himself and not for other people. My chastisement didn’t get the desired result as he was provoked into firing back at me with a response that stung. He called me a gold digger who was with him only for his money (that was true). Then he accused me of not having genuine feelings for him, saying I would ditch him for the next rich man I could lay my hands on (that was a lie, because at that point, I was starting to develop genuine feelings for him). There was no going back from our fight, so we broke up.

It was late on a May night months after our breakup that I got a call from an unknown number. I do not usually pick calls from unknown callers, but my instincts told me to, and when I heard Karl’s rich voice, I was warmed and our rancor suddenly didn’t matter anymore. It fell away as we talked about a lot of things, from his work to our individual lives. He told me he was engaged to be married. I told him I’d just adopted my third she-goat and it was very much pregnant with a kid. He laughed. He told me he had a better relationship with his mother now and that she loved his fiancée. I told him I was happy for him. I really was.

We hung up and I suddenly felt hollow, like something unknown and dark had dug through me, leaving me with an echo.

Karl however never made it to the altar.

He died three days later.

The news shattered me. Talk had it that he’d died from depression mixed with a severe case of dehydration.

I went for his burial. I had long since lost touch with his family, but I had to go. Karl would have wanted me to. During the lying-in-state, I found myself staring at Karl as he lay serene in his casket, still as handsome as ever.

His mother was in a corner, telling anyone who had an ear to listen about how her son died in sin, how he’d refused to turn away from the sins of Gomorrah and God destroyed him like Sodom. At a point, I couldn’t take it anymore, so I launched an attack at her. I called her a witch and a living demon. I told her that she raised the best man on earth and if there was anyone that would burn for eternity, it would be her for ruining such a perfect creation.

And then I was thrown out of the funeral.

And then I cried.

I wasn’t crying for Karl, I was crying for myself. Because then I realised Karl had always loved me, but I hadn’t fought hard enough for him, because I was too engrossed in my selfishness to save this beautiful man. I hadn’t been able to take my eyes off my vanity to see – really see – this beautiful soul. I hadn’t stood on my feet to lift him up, and now he was gone, not just because of his cruel fanatic of a mother, but because of me. He gave me his heart and I hadn’t handled it well.

Depression is a real thing. It is not going away and neither are we. Reach out to someone today. It’s never too late to help save a life.

When the whole world turns its back on you, turn your back on the world and live for you. You’ll exhaust yourself chasing after these people of the world, and when you slump, no one will catch you.

You owe it to yourself to live, to love, to thrive. Do not let anyone tell you differently.

***

Someone caught up with me as I miserably made my way away from Karl’s funeral after I was thrown out.

“Hello…”

I turned to face her. She was Karl’s fiancée, a woman who looked even more beautiful than she was in the pictures Karl sent me after he told me about her. She looked wretched, like she’d been crying a lot. I couldn’t blame her. Cynically, I thought about how she’d come close to having a good life for as long as she’d stayed married to Karl, only to have it snatched away before she could get to it.

But beyond my cynicism, I permitted myself the thought that she looked like she’d genuinely cared for Karl, and that her grief was devastation over the loss of a man she’d loved.

When she walked up to me, she said, “Please, tell me the truth. Was Karl really gay?”

And after a moment’s hesitation, I answered, “No. He wasn’t.”

That’s what Karl would have wanted me to say.

Written by Foxydevil

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47 Comments

  1. JamJam
    September 07, 06:23 Reply

    So. Instructively. Written. Well done, Foxydevil.

  2. Canis VY Majoris
    September 07, 06:26 Reply

    Very few things in life impress in me, and money is one of them. You see, I kind of like the nicer things in life and it takes money to get them. So when Karl showed some interest in running things with me, I dumped my boyfriend – his resources were tapering down anyway – and I began dating Karl.

    LMAO ??. Talk about someone who’s true.

  3. trystham
    September 07, 06:29 Reply

    I even thought he suicided. I didn’t know ppl can now die from depression. That said, I hope the mother gets a VIP lounge in heaven for calling out her son’s ‘sin’. Iranu ati oshi. But calling the woman ‘witch’ and ‘demon’,…perhaps his siblings will start seeing her in that light

      • Brian Collins
        September 08, 14:36 Reply

        Knowing Trystham, this comment was not an Olive branch or anything like that.
        You’re accepting what wasn’t given.

        • trystham
          September 08, 14:46 Reply

          You know me too well. I wonder where and how he thinks this is an ‘olive branch’. The idiocy of any person is only secondary to my love for literature.

      • trystham
        September 08, 14:59 Reply

        LOOOOOL. Wait!!! You actually think/thought on the toilet corridor ur little mind my comment was a peace offering? I find using writers’ personal stories to insult them an all time low, even for me.

        • Foxydevil
          September 08, 19:59 Reply

          Since it isn’t an extension of an olive branch, then let’s continue, I guarantee you will be the one that will tire out.
          How does that saying go again…….when you want to wrestle a pig ,be ready to get muddle up……only the pig will enjoy it.

        • Foxydevil
          September 08, 20:02 Reply

          And for someone so particular about correct usage of grammar. That comment you left ? is an eyesore.
          Get it together.

          • Pankar
            September 09, 13:49 Reply

            Really ? Still pained from the long last time.. Im curious, how young are you

  4. Phoenix
    September 07, 07:05 Reply

    Very inspiring post.
    Now, the poster very annoying and troublesome .

    • nuel
      September 07, 15:14 Reply

      exactly my thought…. sad story. be that as it may foxy I doubt if u would have been able to change the status quo… Karl seem to me one rooted in the believe of family acceptance. u did try
      but he made it about. hope when u find ur love money won’t be a major criteria since clearly it hadn’t done u much good.

  5. Johnny
    September 07, 07:11 Reply

    This is fiction. Am I right?

  6. BRYAN PETERS
    September 07, 08:22 Reply

    Nice story. A bit confuse bout the bit that had to do with depression and severe dehydration as cause of death though. But I really loved it and indeed, depression plagues alot of us ‘stuck’ in our skins and a country where we can’t truly express ourselves. Good one Foxy

    • Foxydevil
      September 08, 09:39 Reply

      Thanks sweetie.
      You do know no one knew exactly the cause of his death?
      Cept the doctor that declared him dead.
      I’m going with a rumor, was not privy to the death certificate.

  7. Bloom
    September 07, 08:53 Reply

    This is so beautiful and inspiring! A lot of us are living in depression but the most painful part is that most of us don’t even know it.

  8. Higwe
    September 07, 09:13 Reply

    You’re incredibly talented foxy, you just have a way with words.
    I draw a lot of inspiration from your comments and write ups.
    And I love how you mostly take on serious issues.

  9. Mitch
    September 07, 12:37 Reply

    His mother definitely is crazy

  10. Jo
    September 07, 12:47 Reply

    *sigh.

    If there I’d any church that revels in homophobia, Deeper Life leads the pack!

  11. Malik
    September 07, 13:39 Reply

    Sigh. My body’s first response to stories like this is an enveloping heaviness, mixed with hurt and anger. And then hope wiggles through. “Very soon”, I believe, ” Very soon…”

  12. Gad
    September 07, 16:26 Reply

    A well thought-out story. Well, done

  13. KÄNE
    September 07, 17:24 Reply

    Beautifully written… loved every bit of it, got me tearing up! We should make a movie out of this… nice one, foxy!

  14. Jesujoba
    September 07, 19:07 Reply

    Omg…. This is very deep
    Please can we just stop writing such kind of stories. It makes me weak

    • Wonda Buoy
      September 08, 07:30 Reply

      … For in our weakness we are strong.

      Find the strength in you through such weakness.
      Or you meant to say sad, anxious, regret…?

  15. Franny
    September 07, 19:13 Reply

    Very deep beautifully written piece. The level of talents here is crazy.

  16. Dickson clement
    September 07, 19:47 Reply

    Nothing gets me like simple honesty. You just touched my soul. You were in it for the money …
    Aint nothing wrong with that

  17. cedar
    September 07, 21:56 Reply

    I was enjoying d story till d part where he died. It seems d beautiful ones have been born and they are all dying, so sad.
    Anyways, I love ur style of writing.

  18. Brian Collins
    September 08, 00:09 Reply

    But this story was not categorized as fiction na. I wonder why people think it is. Abi, is there a new memo that was passed that I didn’t receive?

    • Pink Panther
      September 08, 11:38 Reply

      Lol. Don’t mind them. Not everyone knows to check the categories of the stories posted here.

      • Yazz Soltana
        September 11, 01:29 Reply

        We do oo and it seems like there Is an intent to confuse here…
        the piece is just too well written. .

  19. quinn
    September 08, 13:26 Reply

    …Great story, then I saw “written by foxydevil”, …*sips tea*. ? Good one though

  20. posh666
    September 08, 15:29 Reply

    OMG foxy I love ur kind of person! I mean you are a gold digger and you embrace your truth….Aint nothing wrong in loving the finer things in life and being able to get them so long as it ain’t in an illegal way. Life’s too short to be unhappy and broke.

      • posh666
        September 08, 18:16 Reply

        Hi dear Pinkie.I’m doing great tnk u…Life has just been hectic.

  21. Delle
    September 09, 09:38 Reply

    This story is just as controversial as the writer. A lot of things to say, a lot but I’ll rather not.

    Because I love good literature (had a good story line), I’ll say it was a good one.

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