© Kayode Odusanya
It was some sort of punk rock themed party. Even though Jack wasn’t really into that kind of music, it was still a relief from hearing the same type of monotonous Nigerian party music at every Nigerian party or club. The party had extended outside the glass house residence, and Damilola greeted a few people before they made their way into the house. As they stepped into the crowded living room, a tall athletic guy appeared from nowhere and blocked them off. He had a mean look on his face for a few seconds, before cracking a smile and putting his arm around Damilola’s waist. She leaned in and kissed him, letting go of Jack’s hand in the process. When they pulled away, the guy looked at Jack with questioning eyes. Damilola whispered something in his ear, and he stretched his hand at Jack in greeting. After the two guys shook hands, Damilola told Jack to take a seat before walking off with her friend.
Jack squeezed through people to get to an empty couch. After a few minutes of sitting restless Damilola appeared with two bottles of beer in her hand and sat next to him. She leaned in and whispered in his ear, “Just say you would sleep with me and we will leave here right now.” He pulled back and shook his head at her; both in disgust and as an answer to her question. She smiled and got off the couch; with her eyes staring at him seductively, she walked backwards, till she got swallowed by the crowd.
He sat there, drinking his beer and watching people dance till he started feeling seriously claustrophobic and decided to go out for some fresh air. He walked round the house, admiring the architecture, and landscaping in front. At the backyard was a small sized swimming pool with too many people swimming in it. There was another DJ at the back, and he played slow music at a low volume. Dark corners had boys and girls smooching.
Jack stood around for a while till he felt the need to pee. He took the last gulp of the beer, dropped the bottle by the wall and found his way back into the house through the backdoor kitchen entrance. “Where have you been? I’ve been looking all over for you.” Damilola said as she walked in to the kitchen from the other end. She walked over to him and pushed him back out the door with fear in her eyes.
“What happened? Did he try to force you?”
“Please, you need to get out of here.”
“What? What’s going on?”
“I made a mistake asking you to come here.” She said as she pulled him towards the side of the house.
“Stop!” He said and pulled her back. “You have to tell me what’s going on.”
“He is high and very pissed right now.”
“He thinks…” She was saying, and then looked behind him and cursed under her breath, “Oh poo!”
Jack turned around fast enough to see the guy approaching him, but he wasn’t fast enough to stop the punch that hit him in the abdomen. With his hands holding his belly, he bent forward, and then sat on the floor in pain. Damilola’s friend was hyperventilating as he looked at Jack on the floor. He wanted to hit him some more, but could see Jack was in enough pain already. Damilola went straight at him, shouting, “Why did you do that? Why? I told you he was just my friend.”
Jack sat there, still in pain, watching everybody gather around, and wondering why he agreed to follow her to the party in the first place. He was angry and wanted to retaliate, but he was also in so much pain. It was like his internal organs had been shifted out of place. “I’m so sorry,” Damilola said as she squatted by his side. “I’m so sorry. He gets like that when he takes crack.” She left his side again and went off to the guy, screaming and pushing him. Jack just sat there, waiting…waiting for the slap he felt would soon hit Damilola in the face, and then something weird happened. The guy started crying. Damilola took him in her hands, cuddling his head. She held him by the hand and led him back into the house. When all eyes fell on him, he pulled himself up and walked around the house. He looked back at the entrance one last time before saying to himself, “she’ll be okay,” and then walking out the gate.
For some reason, while Damilola was driving him down to the party venue, he had been mentally recording all the turns she made from the estate gate. She had taken a right turn, a left, and then a right, climbed the bridge, and then made a right turn after descending the bridge, before taking another right turn that led them to the street her friend lived on. Now, he knew he had to do the opposite; take a left turn, and another left, walk over the bridge, and then take a left turn, and a right turn to get to the estate gate.
He had waited around for a yellow cab because he couldn’t get signal on his phone to call an Uber, but he finally decided to walk home when he considered the time. The drive down didn’t take them more than three minutes, and he believed he could make it home in fifteen minutes.
As he approached the highest point of the bridge, he saw a car parked by the side, and a man looking down into the water. His heart started to race as he hastened his pace. When he was a few meters away from the parked car, the man turned around, and to his surprise, it was Mr. Salami. “Jack. What are you doing here?” The man said, startled.
“I’m walking home.” He said as he walked up to Mr. Salami. “Sir, is everything okay?”
“What?” He said and looked at Jack quizzically for a second before smiling and saying, “It’s not what you’re thinking. I actually think I saw someone jump, that’s why I parked.” He said and looked down at the water again. Jack walked up behind him and looked down; all he could see was the beautiful reflection of the full moon doing a slow dance on the surface of the water. “It could be my imagination. You know news like these have been making rounds a lot lately.”
“Yes. That’s true.”
“By the way, you shouldn’t be walking alone by this time of the night.” He said and looked at Jack intensely for a few seconds before saying, “Come on; let me go home.”
As they descended the bridge, Mr. Salami slowed down, and then parked on the side of the road. “Is the car okay?” Jack asked.
“Yes. The car is okay. I just want to talk to you about something.”
Oh No! Does he know I made out with his wife? Does he think I’m sleeping with his daughter? Jack thought to himself. He turned around to face the man with a quizzical look on his face before saying, “What about?”
“Actually…” Mr. Salami was saying then stopped to wipe sweat from his head. “Actually I was about to jump into the lagoon before you came along.”
In a shocked tone, Jack said, “Why?”
“I’ve been living a lie all my life Jack. I’m tired.” Jack was silent, and Mr. Salami continued with, “I’m gay Jack. I’ve been in the closet all my life, pretending to like women when I feel nothing when I’m with a woman.” There was confusion on Jack’s face and the man went on with, “I kept womanizing having kids so that people would never suspect. Can you imagine what would happen if my enemies found out that a whole Scorpion Salami was gay?” He laughed a little, and then broke into a silent sob.
It was so weird seeing him cry when he had just seen another man cry a few minutes ago. Some days are just filled with fiction type occurrences, he thought to himself.
The man cried for about five minutes, and Jack just let him get it all out. He had read enough psychology to know it is best to not judge someone when they finally let out what they had bottled in for years. The day had been a weird one, but he wasn’t expecting what happened next. Mr. Salami turned to look at him, wiped the tears from his eyes and then said, “Jack, I’m attracted to you.” Jack was dumbfounded and looked at him in shock. Even though the man had already told him he was gay man, he never expected this. His mind raced, and in seconds, he went through all the times he had spent with the man, and it all started to make sense now. Mr. Salami took his silence as consent, and went in for a kiss. Without thinking, Jack gave him a resounding slap that made the man shout in pain. Still in shock, Jack got out of the car. “I’m sorry Jack. I’m so sorry.” Mr. Salami said and came out of his car walking towards Jack, but Jack kept walking backwards. He had never considered himself a homophobic person, but having this happen to him made him feel really disgusted. “I’m sorry.’ Mr. Salami said one last time before turning around, walking back to the car, getting in, and zooming off.
Jack made a move to run after the car, and then he stopped himself. He didn’t want the man to kill himself, but still he was angered that he had tried to kiss him. The thought of it made him feel nauseated, and he bent down by the side of the road to throw up.
To be continued