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“Nobody’s boyfriend
Evaded love,
Disregarded Romance.

I have decided to be ‘boy’,
Living per character,
Born for the role!

Nobody’s lover,
Because it got too cold in the chest,
Battered frail person tossed around by fate.

Until the coming of another
A start of the cycle,
The end of an era.”

© Jephthah Temona

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#StoryStory #4

TGIF <iii>

An officer Ify had not seen earlier when she arrived, struck the bars of the prison cell to get her attention. She rose quickly to her feet. She expected some news. She hoped it wasn’t going to be bad.

“Your mother is here!” the dark short police officer announced. Joy washed through Ify, but trepidation soon followed. Her mother was definitely going to be furious.

A single mother, Ify’s mom raised her only child guardedly. She did her best, and as she said she later realised over the years, sometimes your best isn’t good enough. She and Ify were always snarling and growling at each other, but sometimes Ify was sure it was all Love. When Ify was younger,she rode a speeding bicycle down a hill and into a wall, dislocating both wrists. Her mother swore she would never let her do anything involving riding ever again; at the same time, she took care of Ify patiently, with love.

Her mother who was sitting across the table of the Station Officer, stood and embraced Ify as she was accompanied into the office by a police man on duty.

“What have you done again this time eh?” Her voice quivered and tears rolled down her cheek as she twisted and played with the handkerchief in her hand. Ify was made to sit in an empty sit beside her mother, and across from the Station Officer. Ify’s mother replaced the handkerchief in one hand and squeezed her daughter’s reassuringly with the other. There was no flare of anger yet.

The Station Officer narrated and explained the entire situation as they understood it so far, and both women sobbed softly as he went on. Ify could not mention to the Station Officer that three guys had left. She had been warned the time she had been granted her call. “If you know say you wan comot for here, better cooperate.” Sergeant Sunday had advised.

As Ify’s mother was lamenting, grabbing her head and wailing about her family’s misfortune, another police officer rushed into the office and offered a salute before proceeding to whisper into the station officer’s ear, delivering urgent report. The naked body of a young lady had been discovered in a trash dump at an area nearby.

“What are we going to do? What happened to this girl eh, Ifeoma?…” Ify’s mother was asking at that moment.

“This your friend is bursting my head!” Rot said to Ify, shouting over the blaring music of the club.

Mary was dancing. She threw her head here and there, sending her hair in a frenzy. She felt she was having a really good night. The red wine had slowly seduced its way into Mary. She was loving the way being drunk felt at the time.

Mary noticed the long gazes he shot at her. He would smile sometimes too. She tried not the read too much to it. She was drunk after all; he might have been too. But as she made her way through the turbulent wave of gyrating bodies, she didn’t notice him till she felt Someone smack her on her ass in the rest room. Reflexively, she slapped the intruder’s hand away and turned to face whoever it was. Rot stood there grinning. Mary was confused and in shock, it took her a second to recover to find him leaning in on her for a kiss. She managed to dodge on time and quickly ran out of the restroom. She was fuming as she took quick decisive strides towards the exit. She was heading home. The night was over for her. Finding balance proved difficult but Mary made it out successfully.

“Taxi?” A taller bald man, walked up to her outside the club. The universe had read her mind.

He pointed out his vehicle –A red Volkswagen– parked in a dark corner of the club’s premises. He walked her over, supporting her unsure steps and helped her sit in the front passenger seat.

Mary was just about to ask how much it would cost, when she received a blow to her head. She passed out into the arms of the unknown bald man. He struggled to get the tall frame out of the front seat. Breaking little sweat, he was successful. He didn’t see the single black shoe on the floor of the car as he lifted and dumped her body into his empty booth.

As the bald man settled in the car and turned the car on, there was a satisfying smile on his face, and a craving tightness grew in his trousers. He licked his lips as he drive out the club, into the night.

The official report was that Mary had been raped multiple times, before being stabbed more than a dozen times leading to her death. Mary’s parents had been called to the station. Ify’s mother had left earlier with a promise of returning with good news. Ify knew the moment Mary’s parents had been told. Mary’s mother screamed and shrieked like a wounded animal. Ify started to sob again at the corner of the cell she sat in. What now? She thought, feeling lost.

The End.

© Jephthah Temona

Love stains

Love stains differently,

Memories that won’t wash off,

Remains of kisses; Ghosts of affection,

Big & even the littlest things,

Known only by its bearer.

All the familiar places,

Where,

Beneath fabric & skin,

Heart bled differently

Soaking up everything,

Leaving unremovable stains.

© Jephthah Temona

Moving on

I have moved on;

Met someone else, started another life.

There’s laughter; not like yours, not traveling to the eyes.

The kisses come but just lips; there’s no spark when tongues collide.

We dance together, differently; individual movements.

The songs play into the night; Nothing of our favourites, nothing memorable.

I am making new memories with someone else, but you still bloom when I let myself think.

Another face has replaced yours in my dreams,

A new fragrance hangs on to my clothes.

I have moved on to someone that’s not you,

Moving on and looking back as the space between grows.

© Jephthah Temona

#StoryStory #3

TGIF <ii>

The ride to the station had been very quick. Very silent also. Nobody reached for the Aux cable. The four of them in the car seemed to squeezing in on themselves where they sat. Ify had not wanted to leave the club premises. She sobbed, crumbled to the ground and then she started to wail. The friend home on holidays, lifted her up with some effort quickly and set her down in the backseat of the star. “What am I going to do?” she repeated and she cried, her entire body heaving.

Ify could tell none of the boys wanted to be driving to a police station around 2am. It was another level of having a dramatic encounter. Nobody wanted to be driving themselves to the police. But none of the boys dared to speak. It wasn’t her best idea, but she didn’t know what to do. The security at the club had told them the camera that faced the only doorway in or out the club, had been down and was due for a fix. So it was the police they had to go to.

“Nawa o! This kine thing you’re saying young woman.” The police man on duty remarked from behind the counter, after listening to Ify try to narrate the night before bursting into tears and then the friend from abroad helped finish the narrative.

“So, five of you went out. Three boys, you madam,” He shot a glance at Ify. “and that your friend that you’re telling me you cannot find again?” She managed to nod.

“What took you there?” The other police officer who had been quiet all the while queried. She had skin like the back of a ripe orange. Her crossed arms over her chest exposed her dark elbows. Ify didn’t understand the ranking of the police, so she had no way of telling what rank she might have been.

“Ma? I don’t understand. We were with–” She started to explain.

“Shut up my friend! You don’t understand what eh? Look at you! Just see what you’re wearing. I can almost see all your breasts and I’m not even trying to.” The police woman shot Ify down. She was standing now, and languidly she walked to the front of the counter.

“Even if you’re saying the truth, how will two girls go out three boys this late at night? What were you people going to do? And according to what you’re saying sef, you don’t know those two sitting there waiting. They’re your boyfriend’s friend” She went on.

“Sorry ma. I’m not her boyfriend.” The holiday guy corrected. Fumbling the keys in his hands impatiently. The female officer rushed towards him and grabbed him by his collar.

“If I slap this your stupid head!” He cowered with his arms up to protect his face. “Oga shey you dey see wetin I dey always tell you. The girl say na her boyfriend but now him dey talk say Na lie.” She didn’t let go of her prey as she spoke.

“This madam carry her friend comot for those other two guys, while this mumu here Na her own. Boyfriend, boyfriend, all na lie. Na fuck for money for ice cream or Shawarma or cloth sef!” Ify wished she had not come to the police station but it was already too late. One the walls of the station were old and new posters with slogans like, ‘The police is your friend’, ‘Bail is Free’.

Upon hearing two words, ‘write statement’, Ify’s fear grew. Her tears soaking up the paper made it hard to concentrate and recount the ordeal. She wrote it all as much as she could. Her brain felt frazzled but she needed to do her best. She just wanted to get to the bottom of the disappearance. She just wanted to find Mary.

Her friend, who wasn’t her boyfriend, took out his phone and made a call. Glancing over at the sheet of paper in front of him, she noticed that it was blank like hers had been minutes earlier. He had not been writing and neither were his two friends.

“My friends, you boys better write thing sharp sharp o.” The police man behind the counter also noticed their inactivity. But the phone stayed glued to his ear and he spoke in hush tones, throwing in a word or two in a language Ify did not understand.

“Babe don’t worry, it’s going to be fine” He patted her on her shoulder as his phone returned to his pocket. “Excuse me sir, we can’t write anything. My father’s lawyer said we should wait till he comes”.

“Ha’an! Very fast o! Now now you’re calling lawyer abi? Who is your father?! All of you are bastards! You must sleep inside cell this night.” The police woman flared up and walked down a dim lit corridor. Ify could hear her hiss echo as she went. The sound of keys and the creaking of hinges in dire need of oil, made Ify start to shiver. As far as she could tell, Rot –the guy on holidays– was the son of some prominent politician on the Plateau but her father was nobody.

Before the lawyer arrived at the cell, the officer –whose name tag read ‘Sunday’– had searched them all. When Ify still sat as he searched the guys, he cursed her mother and shouted that she better stand. “If Na to shake body now nobody go beg o” he grumbled as he patted and ran his hand over her gown that obviously hid nothing underneath. He groped at her buttocks and when she tried to protest, he groped even more. “E be like say you no know wetin time dey talk” He grinned slyly. It was just after she was ‘searched’ that the lawyer rushed in.

A small man with his glasses on, he strode towards Rot who stood up when he saw him walk in. Close to Rot, he was towered over. A deafening slap followed and for a minute there was silence. He peered at Rot through the top of his glasses. “Useless boy”, he hissed and turned on his heels to the police officers by the counter who were staring at the strange man that had just entered the station.

The lawyer spoke to the officers at length, inaudibly from where Ify sat. She watched attentively, hoping to make out what was being discussed but she had no luck. It felt like much talk had occurred than actions, since Mary went missing. Then the lawyer shook hands with the officers and started to head for the exit. “Let’s go” He called after Rot. Relief washed over Ify to her toes and she moved eagerly to leave.

“Nyamiri, where are you going na? Is it you they came for?”

Puzzled, Ify stood steps away from the exit. Her shoes now resting in her hands. “Ma! But–”

“Better come back here for booking. You wey carry person comot loss am. Ashawo.” Officer Sunday warned.

Ify was not understanding the situation. Rot too in shock, stopped in his tracks but he could hear the lawyer calling for him angrily. “Don’t worry. I would come back.” the last thing he said before joining his friends in the black SUV with tinted windows and covered number plates. She watched the vehicle ride out, with someone else driving the car Rot had picked herself and Mary in. For the second time in less than 24 hours, Ify’s legs started to wobble and she fell to the dirty floor with her tears. “Your own na play. You never see anything” The police woman chuckled. Their captive couldn’t escape, she thought as she supervised Sunday’s counting of the ₦200 bills.

At the same moment, Rot had been driving towards the station at Anglo-Jos, a red vehicle slowed down at a checkpoint somewhere.

“Officer! Ha well-done o!” The driver hailed the soldier that stood at his side, peering into the vehicle with his torch light. He didn’t return the greeting as he scanned the vehicle. His light travelling from the front to the backseat.

“Where to?” The solider finally asked.

“House o. Let me rest small before morning again”

“You are a chairman nau. Us your boys, this is our house. Try for us small. Let us be able to buy airtime at least and call our madam”

The driver laughed. “My oga! My Oga! Oya take this one manage” They shook hands to seal their clandestine transaction. Even though it was too late for any one to see anything, the soldier was a creature of habit. Pocketing his gift, he hit the roof of the car lightly indicating he was free to pass. “Make I allow you waka. I sure say one madam dey wait you sef.” He nodded towards the single black shoe on the floor of the passenger seat in front. The driver laughed a nervous dry laughter and eased through the makeshift barricades.

He sighed deeply and picked up the shoe and tossed it to the back. Stepping on the accelerator, he put more distance between him and the checkpoint. Vanishing into the night, he smiled to himself and wiped off the beads if sweat that had crowned his bald head. A little investment in the government had paid off. Crumpled and passed out in the trunk of his car was a girl in black dress missing a shoe on one of her feet.

To be continued…

© Jephthah Temona

Price of Love!

Bouquet of flowers,

Baskets full of warm hugs,

Prompt calls hello,

Lullabies the soundtrack of starry nights.

Something must be paid!

Spend your time wisely.

The cost of love must be paid,

When that moment – the tax collector – comes calling,

Your body, soul, or mind,

Must answer.

How much is your love?

What must be done?

© Jephthah Temona

#StoryStory #2

TGIF!

Day wasn’t the only thing that had dawned on Ifeoma. She realised last night had been real. The taste of trepidation was back in her mouth.

The night before was intended be a fun night.

“See if you’re not going, talk sharp sharp let me know.” Fitting the wig over her cornrows was proving to be tricky, but Ifeoma had mastered the skill. She sat crossed legged on the rug in the room. She settled for a bright yellow dress made of stretchy fabric. Yellow was stretched across ample breasts and held her ass firmly in place. Slim straps kept the outfit in place. “Kai Ify! But you are Spec o!” Mary hailed Jokingly. Ify didn’t smile. Like Mary, Ify was tall, dark, dove eyes, white teeth, fleshy in interesting places. Sometimes, they were called sisters. Ify had been asking Mary if she was interested in going out with her and a couple of friends. That was over an hour ago and Mary still grumbled and danced around the question.

Mary didn’t want to go leave the comfort of her room, but she didn’t know if she could turn down yet another invite to go somewhere on a Friday night. She felt slightly guilty; like she was missing out on ‘the nights of her life’ (as Ify always emphasized when she returned in the morning). She also didn’t want to seem prudish. She knew Ify wasn’t one to judge but she wasn’t sure how long till the eye rolling and hissing would be followed by serious insults.

“See me I’m ready. So better answer now let me know if I’d call someone else to follow me”, Ify said as she stood taller than she really was, in black block heels.

Mary sighed dramatically and finally rose from the bed she didn’t want to let go of. “Okay fine” she shrugged, giving in. “Let’s go. But if any of those boys start doing anything funny, I’d leave you there o” She warned.

Ify was thrilled with her success. She hugged and kissed Mary on the cheeks, carefully, not to smudge her make up.

Like Ify had told her, a friend of hers who was back home from China on break, was coming with two of his other friends. “Boxed up guys o. They’re coming with car sef. So don’t worry. They’d bring us back home” she said. Mary’s mind was at rest. She didn’t like the idea of staying out late without a means of getting back home. It was Jos afterall. The city went to sleep before the night was in full bloom.

Keeping to the agreed time, the guys arrived.

“They’re outside.” Ify announced as her phone beeped. The two of them, – Ify shining like the sun, Mary cloaked like the night, in a black dress– putting on final touches, headed out laughing amongst themselves. It was going to be awesome.

Mary was thankful none of the guys tried to force a conversation. She couldn’t remember their names; she wasn’t sure if there had been an introduction after they got into the car.

At the club, the night was to a slow start. The DJ wasn’t playing any of their jams, and Mary was refusing to have any alcohol. Ify was starting to think she was a prude. She hissed, and though the blaring music drowned the sound, Mary saw her lips pout and twist. She said to one of the guys she would have some red wine instead.

Through the night, they danced, drank, smoked some shisha, laughed and talked. Ify was happy to see Mary finally loosening up. Mary was still dancing as the four of them sat back to catch their breath. A half full glass of wine in her hand. “This your friend is bursting my head!” The guy home on holidays leaned over and said to Ify. She smiled to herself. Happy that her plan was going well. Mary was having a good time.

“Guys! I can’t find Mary! Has anyone seen her?” It was time to leave and Ify was starting to feel anxious. She had scoured the club twice – because Mary’s black dress could make it hard to spot– but she had no luck. No luck either in the restrooms.

“That your snobbish friend. Abeg let’s go and leave her.” One of the guys that tagged along hissed. They were already sitting in the car, ready to leave. Ify was too worried to think of a retort.

“Have you tried her number?” Holiday guy offered. “It’s switched off!” Ify’s voice was quivering. Tears were brewing up to the surface.

That was last night. The Friday Mary finally agreed to head out and have fun. The night that had taken an unexpected twist.

As Ify woke, she still felt like her head was in a vice and its clamps winding tighter. Nothing still made sense, but now looking about herself, she knew last night had been real.

Mary finally agreed to go clubbing. She wasn’t a prude after all. But Mary had gone missing somehow. Ify started to sob uncontrollably and held her corn rowed head, in the corner of the cell that smelled of the urine of untold sources.

To be continued…

© Jephthah Temona