Underlying Love – Episode 1
By Kayode Odusanya
He had walked in and out of every room in his apartment aimlessly, now he was in the living room, standing by the 8ft tall mirror he had bought yesterday, staring at his slim 5ft7 frame. He cracked a smile and laughed lightly, wondering what his friends would say if they walked in on him right now. He didn’t even know why he bought the damn thing. The sales girl was so pretty and he didn’t want to say ‘No’ to her, now he was stuck with a furniture that reminded him how much he needed to take his health more seriously. It would have been no problem if the movers had put it in one of the three rooms of the apartment, but they were so untidy he would have been so embarrassed if a stranger walked into anyone of them.
Stephen was a writer in his mid thirties who lived in solitude. He had few friends, but he only hung out with them whenever he wanted to get drunk and forget his worries. He had gotten a flat on the outskirts of the city to get away from everybody. He had no cell phone, and no social media presence of any sorts. The only person he cared to constantly show he was still alive, his mom, didn’t have a phone anyway, so he made sure he went to see her on Sundays after church service. His other siblings usually also came around on the same day of the week, and it was a way of using one stone to kill two birds.
He spun the two-sided mirror around, stood to watch his face appear and reappear very fast like an old cartoon, and then walked off when the mirror stopped spinning. Stephen had given up alcohol last month, and getting inspiration to write, which was always easy with a little liquor in his system was now so hard. It took him a whole day to finish a two thousand word chapter these days, and he had to do a lot of pacing around the house and eating to work up the inspiration to write. Back then, two bottles of Guinness would help him knock out a thousand words in less than an hour. He thought of going back to the bottle, but his doctor had given him a scare the last time he visited the hospital, and he definitely wanted to stay alive long enough to enjoy all he had sacrificed for over the years.
Not having a steady relationship, self sabotaging any chance of experiencing love, isolating himself from the world, working hard to write 12 novels a year, and a host of other sacrifices he had to make to get to this point couldn’t all be in vain.
Now he was back at his laptop, with his hands suspended above the keyboard, summoning the words from the universe. Just when he got that urge to write again, he heard a knock at the door.
He sat at his dining table and waited. When the faint sound of knuckle on wood came on again, he was definite it was either a female or a kid. Who could it be, no one visits me, he thought to himself as he got off his seat.
When he was a few feet away from the door he realized he had on t shirt and boxers’ shorts, so he walked back to the dining area, and into the master bedroom to get a pair of jeans to wear. The knocking came on again, this time accompanied by a female voice that said, “Stephen, are you in there?” The voice sounded very familiar, but he didn’t want to believe it was who he thought it was. My mind is playing tricks on me again, he thought to himself.
He tiptoed to the the living room window and looked out to see who it was, but all he could make out was the outline of a female in skirt suit. He walked to the door, took a deep breath and opened it. “Modupe Aluko.” He said out loud with a shocked look on his face.
She smiled at him. “How sweet. You still call me by my full name.” She said in a low voice as she walked into his apartment holding a food cooler in her hand. She was wearing a black skirt suit, with a white camisole underneath her blazer. Modupe was an average height slender lady in her late twenties. Her braids were neatly packed behind her head and it brought out the beauty of her oblong face.
“Why didn’t you tell me you were coming?” Stephen asked as he locked the door behind him.
She dropped the cooler on the floor by the wall and walked back towards him, “Have you forgotten you don’t have a phone?” She said while fanning herself with her hand. “Men! It’s so stuffy in here.” She said as she looked around the living room. “Have you grown shorter or something.” She said and closed up the gap between her and Stephen, so that they were face to face, inches apart. They were eye level with each other now.
“That’s technically impossible. Besides, you are wearing high heels.” Stephen said and walked over to the cooler. “Are you coming from a party or something?” He said, crouched beside the cooler.
“No. We were meant to have an office meeting, but…” She was saying and her voice trailed off.
Stephen looked up from where he was and shouted out, “Stop! Don’t read that.” He raced over to her side and shut his laptop. “It’s a very rough draft.” He said with a smile on his face.
“So how many people are going to die in this one.” She said with hands at akimbo.
“Your novels. People die in them.”
“Oh! Modupe, i write crime stories, people have to die.” He said. She rolled her eyes as she walked past him. “So…to what do i owe the honor of this great visit.” He said as he sat by his laptop. He opened it, saved the manuscript he was working on and shut the silver colored Toshiba laptop. He looked up and saw her by his kitchen sink. He headed over to the cooler again, and before he opened it, he knew what was inside. When he took the lid off the top, he started salivating immediately. The cylindrical cooler was about an inch and the half tall, and it was filled to the top with Jollof rice and chicken laps. It took all his willpower to put the lid back on the cooler. He went back to sit by his laptop, and she emerged from the kitchen with two glass plates in her hand. He didn’t even know he had those types in his kitchen. “Stephen, when was the last time you entered your kitchen?” She said and he chuckled. “Dining table partially blocking the main entrance. Only Stephen Iloya does that.” She said as she dropped the plates on the table and he laughed some more. Her phone started to ring and she reached into her inner blazer pocket for it. Her face showed no expression as she looked at the phone screen and then picked the call. “Hello.” She said into the receiver.
The phone conversation lasted about a minute, and Stephen overheard her mention his name, and he wondered who she was talking to. “Jack said hi.” She said as she put her phone back in her inner blazer pocket.
“Oh, how is he doing?”
“He is cool.” She said and put the cooler on the table. She paused for a minute and looked into space before she shrugged and began dishing out food. “You want two?” She enquired as she dropped one chicken lap on his plate. When he didn’t answer, she smiled and put two more in his plate of Jollof rice.
They ate in silence for a few minutes, and then Modupe stopped to clear her throat. “You know why i am here, right?” She said with a smile.
A playful frown appeared on his face as he said, “Please, don’t start again.”
To be continued