Those Awkward Moments (Episode 22)

Those Awkward Moments (Episode 22)

WRITER’S NOTE: This episode of Those Awkward Moments is dedicated to soul musician, Janelle Monae whose birthday falls on this day, December 1st. Oh and before you start reading, HAPPY NEW MONTH!

*

The early morning sun kissed my face as I ran at an easy pace down the road. Running was a habit I had picked up around the same period Jude and I had our falling out, before all this began. I wasn’t a dedicated runner, but when I did, I found that the physical activity helped to relieve me of whatever accumulated tension I was battling with.

And in the past two weeks, I’d accumulated quite a mountain of tension.

Just then, as I slowed my pace to a jog and raised my wrist to stop the timer, since I’d arrived at the front of my compound, my phone began buzzing. I reached for the device in the front pocket of my sweat shorts. Trying to ignore the thin crack that wired its way across the screen, my bequeathal from reacting to Jude’s reawakening at the hospital, I saw that it was Samuel calling. I sighed. He had travelled just days before Jude came awake from his coma and now probably needed to be filled in. I braced myself for the brunt of the impending conversation and swiped a finger across my defaced phone screen.

“Hello.”

“Hello to you, too! So, Kevin you still dey this planet?”

“What do you mean?”

“What do you mean by what do I mean? For the past week or so, your line has been unavailable. I almost started thinking you were dead.”

I chuckled. “Sam, if you were so worried, you could have just called my mom.”

“Tah! What is she, your secretary?”

“No, she’s just your handler in the CIA assignment of spying of the updating of my life.”

“Eh, make I hear word jaré. About why I called –”

“Yes, why did you call?”

“I just wanted to know how you were dealing with the whole sitch…”

“What sitch?”

“Situation nah! What century are you living in, this guy?”

I rolled my eyes. “I know what ‘sitch’ is oh, oga! I was asking what situation you were referring to.”

“The whole Jude thing, of course,” he answered. “Your mum said the both of you were at the hospital when he woke up from his coma.”

“Ah, so you have spoken to my mother.”

“Guilty as charged. So…” His voice trailed off, giving me a deliberate opening to fill in the gaps.

“So nothing. Yes, we were at the hospital.”

“Chai!” he exclaimed so loudly I flinched a bit from my phone. “That must have been really difficult for you!”

“Not really,” I said with a flippancy I didn’t feel.

“Seriously?” he said with some shock in his voice. “It wasn’t?”

“Not at all.”

He paused, and then said, “You’re doing it again, aren’t you?”

“Doing what?”

“Your Kevin thing –”

“I do not have a Kevin thing! What’s my Kevin thing?”

“This attitude you’ve picked up lately when it concerns Jude and you’re trying to internalize whatever emotions you’re feeling about the situation with him.”

That was incredibly and uncharacteristically intuitive of Samuel, and for a moment, I stood there, saying nothing and observing my breathing gradually return to its usual equilibrium.

“Kevin? Are you there?”

Before I could say anything, I heard the sound of pumping feet behind me. I turned back to see him approaching me, relief at being close to the finish line etched on his face. The shirt he was wearing was damp from the run, and was plastered to his well-defined torso, a sinewy definition I’d been surprised to see considering how skinny he was.

Quickly, I began rounding up my conversation with Samuel. “Look, Sam, I have to go now.”

“But I’m not done yet –”

“I’ll call you later.”

“No–”

Before he could complete whatever protestation he’d being about to utter, I disconnected the call and watched as my jogging partner slowed down his pace and walked up to me.

“Ten minutes and eleven seconds!” he gasped as he stared at the timer on his wrist.

“Guess I win…Again,” I said with a wide grin.

“Or I let you win…Again!” Kuddus retorted with a smile of his own, causing the both of us to burst out laughing.

***

Two Weeks Ago.

“Oh my God, he’s awake! He’s really awake!” Janet exclaimed as she stood in front of her brother’s room in minutes after she was informed of his awakening. She was shaking, leaning slightly into the embrace of her husband, Charles Obi, a stockily-built man with premature salt-and-pepper hair and a strong jaw line.

“You can go in and see him,” the nurse she’d being addressing said with an encouraging smile.

“Are you sure? The doctor is in there with him.” Janet appeared reluctant to go into the room and confront whoever the awakened Jude was.

I could intuit into her feeling, because I felt the exact same way.

“Sure, it’s okay,” the nurse assured her.

Her gaze averted from the nurse, to her husband, to Jude’s room, and then to the other two people standing close by – my mother and I. She took in a bracing breath and proceeded into the room, with Charles following closely behind.

I stood there, still reeling from the recent event. A gamut of thoughts darted this way and that in my mind, the chaos of their disordered motion fomenting the confusion I felt.

It was a short while before I realised that the nurse was talking to me.

“Excuse me?” I said to her.

“I said you must be very excited about your friend waking up,” she reiterated.

“Ah…yes, very excited,” I said, my responsive smile wobbling on my lips.

My mother had gone to sit on one of the chairs in the lounge. The nurse and I turned our attention to Jude’s room, observing what was going on through the window. I watched as Janet hugged her brother, breaking apart to wipe at the tears in her eyes. He said something to her, which she responded with a teary laugh. There was something poignant about the moment between the siblings that had me getting misty-eyed.

The doctor began to speak. The other three gave him their attention, even though Janet occasionally glanced at me through the window before looking back at the doctor. I instantly grew wary of her intermittent looks my way, wondering if perhaps she was getting incensed by the doctor’s updating about how I was the one who’d been with Jude before he came awake from his coma.

And then, the doctor walked to the door, opened it and made a beckoning gesture at me. “Excuse me, sir, could you come in for a minute?”

I gaped for a second, and then shot a panicked look at my mother. She gave me a ‘You can do this’ nod. I nodded back and moved forward. I couldn’t get a read on Janet’s attitude as I walked into the room. My eyes skittered over Jude, this way and that, as though I was afraid to focus on him. My heart was pounding as I contemplated the reason why I was in the room. My hands were a little shaky as well.

“Uh,” the doctor began, directing his words at me, “we just want to clarify some things regarding his memory.” He jerked his head in Jude’s direction as he finished.

“Sure,” I said.

“Okay. So –”

Before the doctor could complete his sentence, Jude let a soft but audible, “Kevin?”

My heartbeat skipped, and I turned to stare transfixed at him. Oh my God, could he – was he – was this – I could not bear to think about the possible meaning of him calling my name without any prompting from anyone.

The doctor moved to his side, pulling me gently after him. “Jude, you remember who this man is?”

“Of course I do,” Jude said in a hoarse voice. A small smile, one which was so achingly familiar that I felt my heart constrict, spread across his face. He added, “He’s the guy I got robbed with, right?”

The collapsing of the expectation in the room was almost visible. I stood there, feeling a welling of shock and pain inside me, an upsurge that rocked around my insides, filling me with the sudden urge to curl somewhere and cry. Through my peripheral vision, I could see the distraught on Janet’s face. She had clearly also being expecting a miracle.

The doctor however wasn’t ready to give up, as he asked again, “Jude, look again. Are you sure you don’t have any earlier memory of Kevin?”

The ex-coma patient sighed. “Not really! I simply remember him from the day he visited me after I first woke up.” He turned to face me with an apologetic look that seemed to say: I’m sorry I don’t remember more.

I turned away. I was blinking back tears. And I couldn’t bear to look at him. The doctor sighed and moved back to Janet and her husband. “We’ll keep trying with other triggers to see if there’s anything that can jog his memory,” he said to the couple. “But seeing as he couldn’t remember a five-year friendship, I wouldn’t want you to get your hopes up too –”

I’d heard enough. I stalked out of the room as the doctor was still speaking.

“Emeka!” Mother called out as I started down the corridor, past her. “Emeka, where are you going?”

“Home,” I answered simply.

***

The Present

“Are you sure you don’t want me to come in?” Kuddus asked as he wiped the sweat from his face with his hand towel.

We were standing on my porch, just before the door I’d pushed open. The compound was beginning to stir awake.

“My mother’s in,” I said. “And I can’t have her seeing you.”

A grimace of disappointment went through his face. “Come on, Kevin. We’ve being going out for more than a week now. And I even agreed to come over at dawn so we can do these stupid early morning jogs together –”

“Stupid early morning jogs? You offered to run with me, Kuddus. I didn’t ask you to.”

“Yes, I know that. I’m just showing some commitment here, Kev. The least you can do is show me inside your house na.”

“Well, it’s not like I’ve seen yours.”

“I live with my cousin, you know that. I’m just waiting for a convenient time to ask you over.”

“Well, I live with my mother,” I rejoined. And then I sighed. “Look, if my mom wasn’t around, I wouldn’t even think twice about letting you in. Unfortunately she is –”

“But I thought you said she’s cool with you being gay and all.”

“No, I said she’s coming around to it,” I corrected. “And bringing in a sweaty albeit sexy-looking guy in early in the morning will not going to give me any points now, will it?”

Kuddus’ lips twisted in a roguish smile. “So you think I’m sexy?” He flipped his brows up and down suggestively as he took a step toward me.

I moved a step back, closer to my open door. “Well, it’s there for everyone to see.”

“That you’re the one seeing it is all that matters. And because you’ve just broken my heart by your refusal to let this sweaty, sexy-looking dude inside, you have to make it up to me.”

“Really? How do I do that?”

“You know…” His smile widened and his eyes sparkled with meaning.

He moved closer.

And feeling possessed by a strange instinct, I backed away from him, all the way inside the house and slammed the door in his face.

For a moment I stood there, staring with shock at the door. My heartbeat had escalated as well, at such a rate that I felt mildly dizzy. Placing a hand on the door, I leaned forward for about twenty seconds in an effort to relieve the dizziness. I did not know what to call what had just happened to me, a mild panic attack perhaps. In the two weeks I’d being dating Kuddus, we hadn’t kissed. Not once. Not even after our first date, or second, or third. The last impression of lips I’d had on mine was Jude’s, and the thought of sealing off everything we shared by kissing another man had filled me with instant terror.

“Uh, ok then,” Kuddus called from the other side of the door. “I’m going to call you later then.”

“Sure, do have a great day,” I said.

“You too.”

I heard a shuffle of feet and then his receding steps.

I straightened from the door and turned to walk across the parlour. My phone began buzzing just then. No, Samuel, not now, I thought as I picked out the device. It wasn’t Samuel. The Caller ID showed ‘Plumber’. My pulse quickened. That was the name I’d saved Detective Abayomi’s name with. I sighed. After a full two weeks of not contacting me, I’d actually begun to think these mad men had given up on using me to incriminate my boss. This call seemed to prove otherwise.

But I wasn’t in the mood for any cat-and-mouse conversations. Without thinking, I disconnected the call, and continued on my way to have my bath.

***

Demoniker had prolonged her stay in South Africa. For publicity reasons, her management team said. Chief Bassey was also in South Africa; I just thought it was a cover those two needed to carry on with their affair, away from the prying eyes of the home turf.

This meant that I was still stuck with working with Mula Mike and his team.

And making my way through Ojuelegba, getting buffeted by the deafening ruckus of the untamable public and traffic, was part of my work obligations.

I stopped at the junction I’d been asked to and brought out my phone to check out the exact address that had been sent to me by Mike’s manager, Kunle. It would seem that something “off the chain” was going on there, something that caused them to put off a recording session in the perfectly elegant, quieter environment of Highland.

I eventually tracked down the address. It was a shabby-looking garage with Highland bodyguards standing outside. I flashed my ID card at the men before they let me through. I walked past them into the sound of loud, fast beats and gyrating bodies.

It took me all of two seconds to realize that the filming of a music video was in progress.

And I recognized the melody as that of one of his hit tracks, Like This. A grudging smile tugged at my lips as I stood in one spot and observed the energy of the music video set. This would be my first time to be part of the production of a music video, and I felt some excitement flourish inside me. Mike was prancing before the camera, clad in a white jumpsuit, and gesturing as he belted out the lyrics to the song, while behind him, three buxom dancers, clad in skimpy attires of black and white, moved their bodies with sinuous grace in tandem with his rapping.

There were different crew members loitering around, some observing the magic of Mula Mike, while others moved about the buffet table, picking through the array of food items stocked for brunch.

Suddenly feeling like taking something into my mouth, I started for the buffet. And that was when Mike spotted me. He waved a hand, saying loudly, “Cut!”

The action halted at once, and the crew watched with puzzlement as he broke out from the spotlight and headed toward me. I felt the heat of self consciousness flood my face as I watched him approach. En route, some young intern handed him a face towel, which he used to wipe the sweat from his face.

“Kevin, ma man!” he hollered, following the words with a clap of our hands and a quick hug – the manly kind.

“What’s up?” I choked out, still aware of the looks we were getting, as the crew members no doubt wondered who this fellow was that had caused the rapper to halt the video shoot just so he could say hello to him.

“Plenty-plenty!” he said with a chortle as he pulled away from the hug. He waved a hand. “So, what do you think?”

“About?”

“About all these, of course!”

“Oh you mean the music video shoot?” Why was he asking me, I wondered before continuing, “I think its dope.”

“Really?”

“Yea, sure.” For the life of me, I couldn’t tell why my opinion mattered to him. Surely, he had a whole team of professionals whose job it was to give him worthwhile opinions.

“I knew it!” he said, pumping the air with a fist. “I knew you’d like it! We’ve got similar tastes, you and I!”

I chuckled at this, choosing to say nothing.

“And you won’t believe who I got to direct it?” Mike said, before calling out, “Yo, Six!”

I gasped as a man in a wheelchair turned around at the sound of his name and began wheeling down toward us. I could not believe I was about to meet this man. Six – whose name was actually Simon – was a legend in the Nigerian music scene – a singer, songwriter, choreographer, producer and director. Isaac’s reputation as an ace producer was nothing compared to this man.

He stopped before us, and I marveled at how toned he looked, despite the fact that he was bound to a wheelchair. A widely publicized accident about eight years ago had done that to him.

“Six,” Mike started, “this is Kevin. He just joined my crew.”

I did, huh? I thought before I gushed at the man, “It is such a pleasure to meet you, sir.”

“Oh please, no sirs,” the man said with a good natured smile and a proffered hand.

I shook the hand. “Very well, ‘Six’ it is then.”

“Not Six either. I’m Simon. And it’s a pleasure to meet you too, Kevin.”

“Kevin’s also a songwriter,” Mike interjected.

“It’s kind of obvious,” Six said, eyeing me briefly. “The quiet-looking ones usually are.”

We shared a short burst of laughter over that.

A few minutes later, they returned to their shoot and I located a couch to sit in and observe. I’d barely gotten comfortable, before I got a text. It was from Kuddus: That was weird, what you did this morning. But I forgive you, *wink-wink*

The humour in the message was infectious, and I found myself grinning at my phone, before typing back: I’ll make it up to you. And yes, I realize that’s two things I owe you now.

***

From the choreography to the song itself, and the fact that it had the magic touch of Six all over it, it was clear to me that this was going to be one of Mula Mike’s best works.

During one of the breaks for a wardrobe change, I got thirsty and decided to go get a drink from the open bar erected in one end of the compound. I was approaching the bar when I stopped short at the sight of Isaac and Ngozi, seated on high stools and chatting over drinks.

God! Ya had to hit me with two of them at the same time?! I thought wrathfully, before turning around to hasten back to my spot.

“Kevin!”

I stopped and closed my eyes. Ok, God, forgive me for blaming You earlier. This can’t be Your handiwork. It’s only the devil that will compound an initial punishment. Drawing up a smile that felt very plastic on my face, I turned back around to face the two people in this world I would never be in the mood for…Ever! “Hi.”

“Don’t tell me you were running away?” Ngozi said.

Gawd! She’s such a witch! I thought acidly as I walked over to them. “I wasn’t running away. I was walking away.”

“Right,” she said, arching her brows as though she couldn’t quite decide if my comment was genuine or snarky. “Look, if you wanted a drink, come and take oh! No one is stopping you!” And then, she got up to her feet and turned to Isaac. “I’ll be right back, hon. I just need to get something done.”

“Sure,” Isaac said, sipping from his glass.

She sauntered off, while I moved to the counter and placed an order. No words were exchanged between Isaac and I as the barman went about getting ready my drink. A sense of déjà vu went through me as I thought about Kuddus and that night at the Raven’s Club.

I got my drink and started back for my spot.

“Hey,” Isaac said.

Seriously? I couldn’t get away with you not speaking to me? I turned to face him and said stonily, “Hey.”

He heaved a sigh, opened his mouth to say something and closed it without saying it. Then he looked down at his drink for an interminable amount of time.

“What is it you want, Isaac?” I snapped, the very soul of impatience.

He looked up at me. “To apologise,” he simply said.

“I can’t do this now –” I began.

“Please just listen, Kevin. I know what I did wasn’t right –”

“What exactly? Which sin exactly are you talking about? Lying against me all those years ago or acting like I was a crazed lunatic when I confronted you about it at the cafeteria?”

“Everything!” he said with startling emphaticness. “You have to believe me.”

“And you see, that’s where we have a problem. I don’t think I can ever believe anything you say, Isaac. Not really. You may have everyone here fooled, but I know you. I know what you’re capable of –”

“You knew who I was, Kevin! Not who I am!” There was a thread of impatience in his voice now.

I was going to give a snappy rejoinder when my phone rang. I spared Isaac a fulminating look before moving off, taking out my phone in the process. When I saw ‘Mechanic’ as the Caller ID, I sighed. It was Detective Elohor this time. They must really want to talk to me today.

“Look, I can’t talk right now,” I said as I moved toward the dressing room section of the garage.

“Well, that’s too bad because our investigation doesn’t operate around when you can or can’t talk,” the man’s despicable voice cut in from the other end.

“What do you want?” I said woodenly.

“Whoa, not even an apology for not answering my partner’s call earlier this morning?”

“I wasn’t available then.”

“You weren’t available then,” he repeated mockingly. “Sorry, I forgot you’re the newly appointed Minister of Power, Works and Housing.”

I began losing my temper at the caustic tone of the policeman. “Listen here, detective. I don’t have to listen to your shit this morning. I have things to do. And I happen to think you guys have nothing on my boss. It’s obvious. If not, you would have called me with updates long before now. So, why don’t you two drop this whole thing and let me be.”

There was a brief pause, before the detective said, “Someone’s in a bit of a mood today, I see.”

“That’s usually how victims of blackmail react to the people blackmailing them.”

The man tut-tutted. “Ok, I walked into that one. Look, we already have something on your boss, but it’s just not enough to get a warrant. And that’s why I called. We now need your help to make that happen.”

“How?” I said, feeling an avalanche of dread drop on me. This is it.

“His computer,” Elohor said. “We need you to copy his files.”

My jaw dropped. “Are you kidding me? You want me to help you guys steal private information from Joshua Bassey’s computer?! Isn’t that – I don’t know, illegal?!”

“We need whatever you can get to build a case.”

“So you want me to do the illegal for you to have something legal to work with.”

“Well, yea.”

“No way! I’m not doing that!”

“You don’t really have a choice!” the policeman snapped. “We’ve already sent something to you in the guise of a mail. In the envelope, you’ll find a twenty gigabyte flash drive. Use it to copy the files.”

“Are you even hearing yourself? How do you expect someone like me to pull off such a thing without getting caught!”

“Come on,” the man said, that familiar taunting tone back in his voice. “You’re a homosexual in Nigeria, and you haven’t being caught yet. I think you have the whole sneaky thing down pat.”

I felt a darkness collect in my heart at the detective’s comment.

“Once you’ve copied the files,” he continued, “sit tight with the flash drive. And wait for us to contact you.”

“But –”

“You have until the day after tomorrow,” he said, before disconnecting the call.

I wanted to swear, to hit my head against the wall, do pretty much anything to punish myself for getting into this mess in the first place. Then I remembered this was a necessary cross to carry, not just for me, but for Jude. Even if all hope for us was lost.

I took in a deep calming breath, got myself together, and drew open the dressing room curtain to step out.

I stopped short however, shock stamping itself on my face, when I saw the person standing on the other side, looking at me with a disbelieving expression of one who had heard the entire conversation on the phone.

Written by Reverend Hot

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Previous My First Love In Photographs
Next Kenny Badmus…A Year Later

About author

You might also like

Series (Fiction) 6 Comments

890-6

Because Aliu had a slew of appointments with Mr. Ajayi following that first day, I got to see Khalil almost every week, after school hours. Even though he exhausted me

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Series (Fiction) 27 Comments

WHORE Of BABYLON (Episode 3)

“Oh yes, baby! Suck my prick o! Suck am! Suck am!” I look up from Ferdinand’s dick at him with total disgust. That’s the bad thing about this ashawo work-

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Series (Fiction) 13 Comments

DOWN LOW (EPISODE 7)

Previously on DOWN LOW… * As soon as Martin gained consciousness, he instantly regretted it, as his head threatened to split open with the force of his headache. He tried to

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

10 Comments

  1. Mandy
    December 01, 08:16 Reply

    Ok, I can see the disaster that is Kevin waiting to happen to two good men who won’t deserve it.
    Kuddus.
    Mula Mike.
    Like seriously, I’m nearly over this hang-up with Jude.

    • Brian Collins
      December 02, 09:08 Reply

      I was totally over it with Brian and Michael in QAS too. The thing AF taya me

  2. ambivalentone
    December 01, 08:48 Reply

    I am comment-less. This blackmail-ish doesn’t seem able to stick as far as I’m concerned o. The ppl who matter to him already know and from all indications can fly out to ‘fairer’ climes when they want to, including Kevin. I say ‘let the police do their own dirty work’. No be two of us go chop their salary na.

    • Pink Panther
      December 01, 10:42 Reply

      Lol. Well said, ambi — Oh you have to change this pseudonym. It hurts my thumb to type it.

  3. Delle
    December 01, 10:00 Reply

    Oh my God! Why do I feel in my marrow that the mystery guy who listened on to his conversation is Isaac? No, Mike! Aaaarrghh!
    Rev. Hot, can y’all stop giving me a heart attack…
    *crying hysterically*

  4. Nightwing
    December 01, 11:11 Reply

    Jude this, Jude that…. Kelvin please have a foursome please Kuddus, Mike and Issac ought to get Jude outta ya head. I’m tired of Jude Jude Jude

  5. Richard Moore
    December 01, 11:12 Reply

    Reverend, Reverend, Reverend…
    how many times have I called you?

  6. Ruby
    December 01, 12:06 Reply

    Ghen ghen ghen!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. MagDiva
    December 02, 06:56 Reply

    I’m more concerned about the use of being instead of been. Brilliant piece though

Leave a Reply