“Where are you?”

The words pop up on my screen. It is a private message from someone. I check the handle, ‘ilovesoccer’. I groan and minimize the message.

I click on his handle to view his profile. 29 years old. He has a nice picture up. A dark skinned guy with his face cropped off, toned body naked except for the leotard briefs he has on. The body contrasts heavily with the white background of the picture. Bathroom tiles probably, but I am not interested in that bit. I hold the phone deftly in my left palm and use my thumb and forefinger to zoom out the picture.

It doesn’t look photoshopped, and no, I don’t mean the taut washboard abs that outlines defined muscles. I am more concerned with the bulge in the briefs. Even though the picture was taken in frontal view, the protrusion is obvious and…inviting.

I return the photo to its original size and swipe from the right in search of more pictures of hopefully the same body. Grindr is an app sent from hell to make life easier for people like me, but dubious people have learnt to use it to deceive people into buying big oversized shoes they don’t want. Pictures are one of the few steps I take in making sure I don’t walk into a trap with my hard-on leading the way.

Another picture loads up on the screen. I can see it’s high definition because it is still pretty clear when I zoom it out three times. The body in this picture is remarkably similar to the one I just saw. The junk is noticeably smaller, but it is not the least inviting. Yes, the body is real.

And so is the thirst.

I check three more pictures before I return to my inbox and click on his name. I might not love soccer, but I do love playing with balls.

“New Haven. U?” I reply.

This is a lie. I live in Abakpa. I have all my life. But in my years of man hunt, I have learnt that people are naturally averse to my locale. They have it in their head that anybody and everybody here is bad news. And they aren’t wrong. I wouldn’t go to meet myself for a hook-up down here. People around here could kito you before you can snap your fingers. Steal from you whilst you thrust away and cum in their ass. So I stay away from people around here too. Well, except for that one time I was really horny and – Oh, make it two…or – Oh, never mind.

My phone buzzes. “Independence Layout. Ur role?”

I hesitate. My profile clearly carries my role as Top, but it’s only because most people around here have the habit of misreading ‘Verse’ as ‘Bottom’. After too many embarrassing situations and sad let-downs, I’ve taken up to lying. Better that than being sexually frustrated.

“V,” I send. I recall that his profile reads him as Verse and I hope that is true.

I count up to five before a message flashes on my screen from him.

“K. Can u cum now?”

My bones start singing, a deep humming sound like a growling lion. My heartbeat increases its speed. Blood travels through my veins. I’m getting turned on already. It’s getting me high.

By the time my fingers type out “Sure, send me directions to your place”, I cannot control myself.

***

Harmattan. The loveliest weather we are afforded in Nigeria. The wind, dry and cold, tells the coming of Christmas. A season most Nigerians meet with apprehension. My mom becomes frantic in her plans for the travel back to the hometown, purchasing odds and ends that usually aren’t enough. My dad becomes irritable from all the spending he has to do. I sometimes wonder if their lovemaking suffers at this time.

However, my apprehension is of a different magnitude. Christmas is when the beast breaks free. Christmas is my version of the Blood Moon, because like a werewolf, I dread and anticipate it at the same time. I fear what I would become even though I enjoy myself when I am that person.

When I am home, free from the engagements of med school, I have lots of time to lie around and do nothing. This is usually all it takes for him to come knocking. He comes as a stray thought: how it’s been so long since I last had sex. And then, he has me downloading the hook up apps I deleted at the start of the last semester. A little while later, I’m checking out profiles and riding buses across town to meet them.

It takes me forty-five minutes to get from my house to Court Avenue. That is a pretty impressive feat considering that I cleaned up and dressed in nice clothes in that time. When I come down from the keke, I take a deep breath and start for the red gate he described in his text.

It’s not like I’m having a change of heart. I will need something more than a thirty-minute-ride to sober me up. Maybe, thirty minutes of thrusting.

At this moment, I am mostly pumped with adrenaline.

I don’t know the first thing about ilovesoccer, except that I like his body and will like to do sexual things with his balls. I don’t know his name, whether he is ugly or a gay man filled with internalized homophobia, looking to teach himself a lesson using another person. I don’t know what disease he harbours, whether he is married or whether he is a pastor.

But instead of scaring me, this intrigues me. It excites me, the knowledge that I am going to knock on that gate and be surprised. I liked it.

I call it the thrill.

It’s a high.

It is like Pandora’s Box. Every time I open a hook up app, I don’t know what I will find, but I dig my hand in anyway and surprise myself.

And does that surprise make me happy?

Some of those surprises have been unpleasant.

Like the time I turned up at the location I was given and saw that my host lives in a depleted face-me-I-face-you bungalow with a stench so strong, it stank off my clothes as I rode home. Or the time I met my host and he turned out to be pretty effeminate, which would have been no trouble if he hadn’t been in drag, complete with the Rihanna hair extensions and dark red lipstick. And then there was the time my host’s mother had almost walked in on us as he came. In retrospect, it is funny, but that that point, I was perturbed when he asked me to keep going. (We didn’t stop until he came onto his stomach.)

I sigh and retrieve my phone from my pocket. I called the number ilovesoccer had called me with and he picks up at the first ring.

“Hello,” a voice calls from the other end. It isn’t a bass voice, it is baritone, sensual. It had thrown me the first time I heard it when he called just before I left my house. It had sounded remotely familiar, but that might be because I wished I’d heard that voice before.

I swallow nervously. “Hello. It’s me. I’m here.”

“MilkshakeMaker?”

Even though I have gone by that alias for a year now, hearing it out loud usually brings a smile to my face. People usually don’t know whether to like it or not. But the way ilovesoccer said it leads me to imagine him moaning it out loud.

“Yes,” I say.

I hear something in the background. Another voice?

“Okay. I will be out in a minute,” he says.

He takes three minutes. By the time I heard the small gate swing open, I’d soaked up a sizable amount of UV Rays even with my face-cap on. We look at each other for a moment, doing a once-over in five seconds. I had seen and been impressed by – what I hoped was – his body in the pictures, but his face isn’t disappointing either. He isn’t drop dead gorgeous or ugly, just there.

“Come on in, or do you want to stand and look?” he asks with a smile that makes his face more attractive.

I walk into the compound and look around. It is a large one. A mansion, three cars in the driveway, lush green life in form of flowers littered around. Ilovesoccers’ parents must have cool cash.

“Pictures don’t do you justice, Jachi,” he says as he locks the gate.

I turn sharply around to face him. “I hadn’t told you my name. How do you know that?”

He chuckles. “Dude, it’s 2017. There are ways of finding out who anyone really is. Press some buttons. Moreover, I wouldn’t invite you over if I didn’t at least know something about you and be reassured that it is safe. Didn’t you at least try to know who I was or if it was safe to come see me?”

There is silence as he walks past me, gently slapping me on the back.

“Not really,” I respond. “You seemed like a safe bet. And I don’t imagine anyone around here would be interested in kito wahala.”

“Well, we all aren’t exactly like you.” He winks at me.

“Excuse me, do you think you know me?”

He looks me over. “I know you enough to like you. My friend, Michael, said you didn’t call after the day you two hooked up. Any other person would have thought that it was because the sex was probably bad, but Michael knows his stuff. So, I’m guessing you are the kind of person that likes the thrill – a thrill chaser. You might the like the idea of love, but you won’t allow yourself to be yoked down like that. You want to live. You want to do things that you will look back on and smile at yourself. That’s your high, your happy.”

I stop walking. My brain is doing something funny. It receives the information that the ears have passed, knows it might be true, but attempts to reject the notion because… Well, maybe because I have programmed it to overlook that suggestion. I’d never really thought about it, but he is right. I chase the thrill. I don’t care about love, at least not in the sense most people do.

But to hear it from a stranger, someone I met five minutes ago…

“Boner killer, huh?” He looks at me sympathetically. “Sorry, I tend to ramble when I’m nervous. I hope I haven’t pissed you off? I am not being judgemental – not that there’s anything to judge.”

I think about it. I shouldn’t be upset. I am not – well, not at him.

“Look, I have a friend who is excited about meeting you,” he continues. “Let’s just go and say hi. If you are up for it, we could play then.”

“Okay.” I say. “But you didn’t say anything about a friend being here.”

“Are you afraid of being kito-ed?” he asks with a sly smile while looking into my eyes. When I don’t say anything, he goes on, “Don’t worry. We don’t wear shoes here. We remove them.”

I wonder how he does it. Say things that turn me on and scare me at the same time. My instincts scream at me to leave, to turn on my heels and run like hell. But, my body wants what it wants. I can feel the excitement pumping through my veins.

“How do you know these things?” I ask when we walk through the front door. My words echo through the large room we entered.

“Because, Jachi, I am like you. I’m a thrill junkie, an in-the-moment dude. While other people smoke weed and snort coke, I seek thrill, and sometimes I do that through casual sex.”

I watched him walk ahead of me, his toned arms swinging gently at his sides as he climbs a staircase. We pass a picture of him, or someone that shares a strong resemblance with him, receiving an award on a grand stage.

I return my attention to him, watching his backside push out against the shorts and tank top he is wearing. The flip-flops on his feet make slapping sounds as they hit the marbled steps.

“My name’s Raymond, by the way.”

“Okay, Raymond. Weed is still awesome, though,” I say.

“Of course. As a means to an end. Sex after getting high on weed is just…” He makes a ‘puff’ gesture in the air.

He walks on ahead and I follow him to an intricately designed wooden door. He turns toward me. His tone is slight grave as he says, “Jachi, before we walk into that room, you have to promise that you will keep the identity of the person and whatever happens here a secret. Can you do that?”

I look at him intently. He isn’t joking. He really does want me to swear. Well, if the plan is to get me to be so interested that I would agree to anything, it’s working. “I promise.”

He nods and then slowly opens the door. I tentatively walked in, afraid that I am walking into a trap.

A television is on, tuned to a channel that is showing something about fashion. The room is well decorated. Rich window blinds, a large bed on one side; the other side of the room looks more like a tailor’s shop with the pieces of cut clothes lying on the floor. In the middle, there is a sofa of brown lush leather. I can see nothing but a head. A head with dreads…

“Chinedu, meet Jachi. Jachi, Chinedu.”

The head turns toward me and I lose my breath. I know that face. I see it on TV. He is a celebrity. I have pleasured myself a number of times thinking of him.

I feel my lower lips start to slacken. “Hi,” I say meekly.

“Hello, Jachi. You wanna play?” Chinedu asks coyly, raising his right hand to show a stick of wrapped paper.

Weed?

“Sure!” The next few hours seem like they will be very entertaining, thrilling. I look forward to enjoying every moment.

Written by Uziel