It was a very hot night, the night of March 17, one filled with flashes of light in the skies as if the rain gods were teasing men with the hope of rain while still punishing them with heat. I’d previously made an appointment with my friend, Sage, to have a sleepover at his place that night. We had intentions of talking late into the night about certain issues that were plaguing us – relationship, family and our health. A mutual friend of ours, Zara, was staying with Sage for the exams, but went for a night class. So we’d be having the house to ourselves.
I arrived at his house by a few minutes to 9pm. On getting there, I met Sage cooking. Because of the stifling temperature in the house made so by the heat hanging heavy in the evening, I decided to go buy some cold water from any shop along the road. I was talking with my mother on the phone as I stepped out of the house. There was a group of guys gathered and drinking outside the house, and I walked past them with nary a glance at them, preoccupied with my call.
Before I could get to the gate of the compound, the caretaker of the building, a young man who also runs the mini-bar where the guys were drinking, called out to me, telling me the guys were calling me. I turned around to find that one of the guys had already walked up close to me. He asked me where I was coming from and I signaled for him to wait as I was still on the call with my mother. Reacting to my gesture, he moved forward to grab at my phone. Startled, I weaved my body away from him before hurriedly informing my mom that I’d have to call her back.
On turning back to the guy, he tried to snatch the phone from my hand again and I pulled away from him. What was the matter with this dude! I thought, not noticing that his drinking buddies had surrounded me at this time.
The next thing I knew, someone’s hand struck my face in a slap. Blinking against the pain that avalanched over my face, I tried to move away from my assailant, and that was when I realized I was surrounded.
What was going on!
Before I could process what was happening, the fists began to fly at me. It had become a free-for-all slap-fest as these four guys repeatedly struck my face. As they assaulted me, one of them said I was “flying their colour” (I was wearing a pair of red knickers) and that I had to take it off. I was still trying to process what my reaction should be at this point, when one thought shoved through into my mind.
I pushed forward, bursting through them, and ran back into the house as they’d totally blocked the gate. I fled for Sage’s room. Two of them were hot on my heels. I got to the room and began banging on the door. Before anyone could respond from the other side, my assailants pounced on me and pulled me outside again where they proceeded to beat me while shouting that I was gay. One of them tried to kick my feet off the ground so that I’d fall and make the beating easier for them. But I stayed on my feet, not falling, and they continued pummeling me.
At this point, I’d lost my footwear but I was still unrelenting, trying my best to ward off their blows while desperately seeking another chance to escape. The fates seemed to be kind to me as another slight opening showed itself and I took off again, bolting out of the compound this time towards a shortcut that led to another friend’s house. This guy not only knows and is accommodating of my sexuality but is also a cultist. His lodge mates are also people I’m cool with and some of them are good friends of mine.
I ran towards his house with these guys pursuing me. Along the road, however, I hit my foot against a huge stone and dropped to the ground. The four guys caught up to me before I could get up and dragged me by my ankles all the way back to the house we’d just left. When they let go of my legs, I tried to get up again but they kept beating me down. At some point, when I was on my stomach trying to get up, one of them stepped heavily on my left shoulder blade and part of that stomping hit my already-palpating heart. I have a heart condition and that blow took out the last bit of fight that was left in me.
Upon realizing that I’d lost my fight, they started making ludicrous statements about how I had come to see my “boy-girlfriend” and that by the time they were done with me, I’d never go close to another guy in my life. One of them took a bottle and hit me repeatedly on the side of my face with it. Fortunately, the bottle didn’t break but my face quickly bruised and swelled. The other people in the lodge kept to their rooms, with only a brave few coming out to their verandahs to tell the guys to stop beating me.
After they had tired of beating me, one of them began to talk to me, asking me how I was going to “bail” myself out of that situation. Another one took my phone and tried forcing me to unlock it.
At this point, Sage came outside. Apparently, he hadn’t heard any of the commotion (his room is quite far from the front yard where all this was happening). He’d been worried because it’d been over an hour since I left his room to get the cold water. When he saw me lying on the ground and surrounded, he approached. The caretaker, who was one of the two that dragged me away from his door during my first pursuit, just then announced to the others that he was the one I came to see. They quickly pounced on Sage and began to beat him. Still making their wild allegations about us being gay, they tried to force him to lie down on the ground like me. But Sage is a very stubborn individual and absolutely refused to obey. The beating became more vicious and it ended when one of them, Black (at this point, from snippets of their side talk, I’d begun to learn their names; Black was the one who’d been asking me how I’d bail myself from the situation) smashed a bottle on Sage’s head, hefted him up and dumped him on the ground.
By this time, the caretaker had quietly slunk away, leaving Sage and I to the mercy of Black and the other two, who called themselves Herod and Cross. Herod smashed Sage’s phone to its demise and handed me mine, demanding that I unlock it. As I did that, I very swiftly and surreptitiously deleted the porn I had on my phone. Then I handed the device back to Herod.
My mistake was in forgetting to delete my WhatsApp at the same time. It is after all where intrusive gay bashers always go to first.
Black came back to me and was still trying to get me to co-operate with them when I mentioned the name of a mutual friend of ours, Boos. (She’d mentioned his name to me a couple of times in the past and I knew they were friends). As soon as he heard her name, he mellowed and began to talk with me earnestly, saying he didn’t know I was acquainted with Boos. Then he tried to take my phone from Herod and return it to me, but both Herod and Cross refused, saying we had to secure our freedom with N10, 000. At some point, Cross even made a couple of ‘calls’ to a supposed SARS agent he kept calling Fryo as he spoke into his phone. (Yeah, right!) He told us that if we didn’t pay up, they’d hand us over to the police and we’d be thrown in jail (As if!). Sage and I maintained that we had no money, and finally, by a few minutes past 11 pm, they let us go with express instructions to bring the money by 10am the next morning or they’d continue from where they stopped.
Upon our return to the room, I set to boil some water for us to bathe with, while Sage went to the room of another gay friend of ours in that lodge, Rhean, to update him on what had happened. I’d told him to call Zara and ask him not to return to the house that night. This done, we washed up, taking turns to clean out the dirt in our injuries. After that, we took painkillers and tried to get some sleep.
As early as 5.30am, we left the house – Sage to go to school to try catch up some reading for the exam he had that day, and me to go see Boos to get her to prevail on Black to return my phone.
To the best of my knowledge, the worst had happened. I would soon find out how very wrong I was.
TO BE CONTINUED.
Written by Mitch