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The sun was calling it a day; kissing the tall roofs of Palm Groove with fiery red lips when Priye and Fola; straining and staggering moved the last of the furniture from the back of Priye’s Uncle’s truck into the house.
“Drop am hia,” Priye said.
Fola shook his head. “No o – Frank said we should put it against the wall.”
“Yes na; we go put am down fest come shift am go wall.”
“No. It can affect the rug – “
Priye dropped his end of the settee. “Na why I dey quick tire for you be dat – you and your yeye English. Who you wan kill?”
“That’s I get tired of you too, you and your nonsense broken English. When it’s not as though you’re not educated…”
“Guys! Guys abeg chill! Haba na,” Frank said as he walked into the room, clutching a bottle. “You both are here for me, can you not forget that?” He looked Priye in the eye and shook his head. “Priye….”
Grumbles pouring from his lips sounding like a rumbling stomach, Priye hoisted his end of the settee and moved it along with Fola till they got to the desired wall. Carefully both men lowered it till it was sitting properly. Fola exhaled and wiped his forehead as Priye slumped on the settee.
As though on order, Sofia emerged from another room bearing a tray with cold drinks. “Thanks guy,” she beamed at the breathing-hard couple. “I didn’t think to bring alcohol, but next time I promise.”
Fola couldn’t hide his admiration. “It’s not a big deal o jare. This would do fine for me. I don’t know about Priye sha.” He took a bottle from the tray as Sofia lowered it before glancing at Priye. “How about you, area?”
“Like say I no dey drink minerals. Thank you jo,” the last part he directed at Sofia as he took the remaining bottle off her tray.
Sofia smiled and softly nudged Frank. “Where’s James?”
“Oh a customer called about an urgent delivery and I figured it would be best if he handled it himself.” He put his bottle to his lips.
“Chei!” Priye exclaimed. “This house come fine. Abi how you see am?” He asked Frank.
The friends moved for Frank as he joined them on the sofa and together they looked around the apartment. It was finally together; everything was as he wanted it. He nodded his appreciation and touched bottles with his friends.
“Thank you guys,” Frank began. “To new beginnings.”
“Yes o,” Fola started before suddenly laughing. “Oh men,” he started, wiping his mouth. “New beginnings. Hehehehe.”
Priye and Frank exchanged glances. “I’m sure you’ll share what the joke is abi?” Frank asked.
“Sorry jare. It’s not a big deal and it’s not you, Frank. You remember when I told you we were celebrating our boss’ sixtieth birthday?”
“Yes, that was last – about two months ago na,” Frank interjected.
“Well, you won’t believe what happened. My oga has this secretary; Eyitayo. Crazy woman. Anyway, while we were worrying what to buy oga and all that, she decides to surprise the sixty-year old with a blowjob.”
Frank spluttered. “What??” he said incredulously, catching Sofia’s eye on the opposite couch. Fola nodded, smiling.
“You heard me right. Blowjob.”
“Na my kind secretary be dat,” Priye said, nodding. “Ol boy!”
“The problem was oga, according to office gist, had never experienced a blowjob. Not once. You can imagine what that would do to a happily-married sixty year old bj virgin.”
“Oh man,” Frank said, slowly shaking his head.
“That’s right. The man simply went insane. And of course, his wife had to bear the brunt of it. I can’t even think of what happened – maybe he would have gotten away with his sudden requests for head had he not mistakenly shouted the secretary’s name during a session. In short sha, oga’s marriage is on the rocks.”
“Oh man,” Frank said again. “That’s a secretary from hell. How are you guys taking it?”
Fola chuckled. “It’s a joke in the office. Guys be asking if they can experience her life-changing oral skills and what not. Crazy girl just says ‘let me know when you’re sixty’.”
Amidst the general laughter, Priye said, “Na de madam fault na. How woman go allow her husband reach sixty years without giving him once? Shay she wan make de man get cancer ni? She’s evil!”
Frank chortled – and choked on his laughter as he caught Sofia’s unsmiling face.
“So it’s the wife’s fault?” She asked Priye.
“Yes na,” he answered enthusiastically. “Every woman should know to never let her man go without any of these three things: food, sex and head! What was she looking at for sixty years?”
Frank and Fola couldn’t hide their surprise at hearing their friend speak proper English.
Priye shrugged. “Because I no dey use am no mean say I no get am,” he said.
Sofia shifted forward. “So if he wanted…if he wanted head couldn’t he have just asked for it? Instead of allowing some other woman corrupt him for the one he has been with – “
“You be woman na. Wetin you know about those kain tins? Abeg enter kitchen jo,” Priye interrupted her.
“Now hold up – “ Frank started to speak.
“Don’t worry baby,” Sofia said, smiling. “I should enter the kitchen?” she asked Priye. “What do I know about such things? Maybe not much, but I know someone like me gave birth to you, and she didn’t do it in the kitchen. Maybe you should think about that, the next time you embarrass her by insulting women.”
In the silence that followed Sofia stood up, took the empty bottle Frank was holding, kissed his cheek and disappeared into the house. Fola looked like he was struggling to hold back a fart – laughter erupted from him suddenly. The other two eyed each other and then joined in.
“I like this your madam, Frank! I swear! She’s a keeper!” Fola whispered loudly. “How body, Priye?”
The laughter started again, with Priye looking embarrassed. “An na play I dey follow am play o wey she jus’ enter me like dat,” he grumbled.
“What do I always tell you about this your woman talk? What do I always say, ehn Priye?”
“Ehn, e don do na, Frank. Shebi my eye don clear now?” He put his bottle on the table and stood up. “Where she dey?”
A frown appeared between Frank’s eyebrows. “Now hold up – “ he started.
“She’s in the kitchen like you asked her to go,” Fola said, holding up a hand before Frank’s face, effectively silencing him. “Go and find her,” he concluded to Priye who nodded and disappeared into the house.
“What – “ Frank started again but Fola hushed him. “What do you think he wants to go and do – beat your woman?” Looking at Frank as though something was growing on his face, Fola found the remote. “Can we watch some soccer?”
“There’s enough fuel in the gen for the night,” Fola said as he stepped out ahead of Priye. “I made sure he filled it.”
“Thank you guys!” Frank enthused.
Priye and Fola faced their grinning friend as he stood outside his gate – the gate to his new house. It was dark; the groans of a thousand generators filled the night with raucous noise.
“No be anything na. We dey together always.”
Fola nodded and pounded Frank’s back. “What he said.”
Together they turned to go; Fola leading the way to the truck that brought them. From where he stood he could hear the engine come on in spite of the generator noise, and he waved before turning to go in the house.
As he opened the door Sofia hugged him. “Hello Franklin,” she said before she kissed him. He kissed her back, mouth lingering on hers before he turned away to close the door behind him. “I expected you to leave with them,” he said.
She shrugged. “I just didn’t want you to be here by yourself for another night. But if you don’t want me to stay – “
He put his arms around her again. “It’s not like that at all o. Why would I not want you to stay? I just – “ he broke off, looking everywhere but at her. “You don’t like being alone with me is all.”
Sofia stepped out of his arms, turned her back to him and hugged herself. “It’s not like that, Franklin. It’s not you…”
He stepped up and put his arms around her gently. “It’s okay, really. I don’t want you to do anything you don’t want to, and you don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to. There’s no hurry.”
Sofia turned in his arms and pushed her mouth against his, kissing him lingeringly. “You sure about that?” she asked.
“It’s not fun talking to papa again since he coughs half of the time,” Frank said into the phone in his hand. “At least he’s out of the hospital.”
Knocking the ash off his cigarette, he leaned back in his chair and stared at the ceiling while listening to his mother. It was early evening yet; he expected Sofia anytime from that moment.
“…yes ma, Idowu told me. I’m sure papa is still upset with me about that but it’s not my fault. The heart wants what it wants.”
“So when are we meeting this new girl of yours?” His mother asked.
“New girl? Mama, I’ve been dating Sofia for almost five months now!”
“As long as I haven’t met her she is still new. So…”
Frank chuckled. “Don’t worry mama. I will bring her to you as soon the time is right. There’s no need to rush o. Not when it comes to matters like this – “
“You don’t want to rush?! Frank, how much longer do you think your father has on this earth? How much longer do you think I have for that matter? My son, don’t make me start talking like those Nollywood women o!”
They both laughed at that.
“Mama, I will bring Sofia to greet you soon. I promise.”
The relief he heard in her voice was worth it. “That is good, ehn Frank? We thank God.”
His phone beeped, indication that another call was coming in. “Mama I have to go,” he said.
“Take care, my son. Give me notice before you bring her o,” his mother said before hanging up.
He took the second call.
“Hi Frank,” Igo’s matter-of-fact tone came on.
“Igo! So good to hear your voice. How na?”
She chuckled lightly. “I’m good o. Really good. You nko?”
“Everything is fine. What’s going on?”
“Well…there’s this – “ there was an awkward pause. “My boyfriend needs a tailor urgently, Frank.”
He sat up, forgetting the cigarette in his hand for a moment. “And you recommended your ex-husband?”
“No, silly! I recommended a very dear friend of mine.” She cleared her throat. “We are friends, are we not?”
Frank took a deep puff from the cigarette before speaking. “Ah – sure we are.”
“Okay then. I’ll just send him to the shop.”
“Let me know soon as he gets there, I’ll call James and tell him to get on it immediately.”
“Thank you, Frank.”
“At all. After all what are friends for?”
“There you are.”
Sofia came in the house and hugged him, burying her face against his shoulder. He hugged her back, tangling his fingers in her coiffure and closing his eyes, inhaling the rich smell of her. He made to ease away from her – but she held on tight.
“Are you okay?” He tried to lift her face to look at her but she moved her head away and put it back where it was. The sour taste of unused adrenaline was in his throat; his palms began to perspire in spite of the air-conditioned room they were standing in.
She inhaled and lifted her face to his. In the white light of the living room he could see her face clearly; she was pale and looked like she had been crying.
“Kiss me, Franklin.” She said.
He obliged, and for the next few moments all that could be heard were soft moans and inhaled breaths. Then she pushed away.
“Franklin,” she sighed. And then she stared fixedly at him. “I’m pregnant.”
Written by Seun Odukoya