BLINKERED -GRACE OCHIGBO
Ben paced restlessly around his room, fuming with so much aggression. He was on a boysenberry trouser and a white singlet revealing his fair skin. The house belonged to the students’ union and its rooms are quite spacious. This room particularly is the widest among all the rooms in the building maybe because it belonged to the presidency. Gadgets ranging from a television to different types of speakers, a standing fan and a refrigerator decorated the room alongside the wardrobe, the shoe rack, bookshelf, well-laid large bed, the deep blue rug lining the floor, the reading table and chair, just everything in the room, depicts clearly that Ben was a perfectionist. Blue-grey curtains hung over the windows accurately blending with the uniquely designed bistre and baby blue paintings on the wall. Ben’s bossy nature makes him cautious to a fault in the way he does and arranges things including differing the general care-free norm peculiar to guys about colours and decorations.
“But did she have to stare at him like that? l mean she totally forgot l was still standing there…” he said again for the umpteenth time in the past hour gloweringly
Akoji also kept giving him the same reply as often times as he complained, but he doesn’t seem to bulge…
“Seriously dude, l repeat again, you have to apologise to this girl!, l understand how you feel man, but she is just a girl and a girl she will always be. Don’t be quick to judge her, moreover we don’t know the real situation, you already started accusing her before even giving her a chance to explain. ”
Ben swallowed bitterly…”Akoji, what do you think l should do now?” he said throwing the tennis ball in his hands vigorously against the ceiling again, with so much frustration.
Akoji has been friends with Ben from their first year. They both had political dreams of rebranding the students’ union government right from those fresh days and have been working at it ever since. However their dream just came to manifest now that they are in their final year, he now serves as the vice president to Ben. He is tall, dark and chubby and with very handsome looks. He has wits and guts too, sweet-tongued just like Ben. He only was superior to Ben in the area of patience and tolerance. That virtue made him Ben’s confidant. Ben is always comfortable talking about everything with him, anything! Of course most especially ladies. Akoji seem to master the art of analysing issues related to women, and for someone like Ben, he always knew how best to pacify him. But that effort has been proving futile in this case. Tonia’s. It has lingered since Monday and nothing seem to calm Ben, he keeps getting impulsive whenever he remembers it.
Ben’s rather sympathetic face while asking the question made Akoji burst out into a scornful laughter. Ben dropped the tennis ball on the floor and fixed his stare at Akoji, his left leg beating impatiently against the rug on the floor as he wondered what amused his friend, but Akoji was engrossed in this jesting moment
“Hey, what’s funny? Don’t irritate me the more man!” Ben said hitting Akoji hard on his leg
“lf l didn’t know you well Ben, l would think you are genuinely in love with this girl” Akoji confronted him
“Well,…” he shrugged and drew his falling trousers up to his waist “of course l am, she is on high points in her class, she is beautiful and well behaved, such good girls are made for real men like me… and not that punk that calls himself the chief judge of the school” he said cynically
Akoji laughed even harder now but stopped when he noticed the hostile cum bitter look on Ben’s face. Ben was truly getting pissed off. Akoji walked up to him and patted his shoulders
“Cool man!! You have to really open your heart to one of these ladies, before you get tied up in your own ropes one day. You are in your final year for crying out loud, you have the money, you have the looks, you have the fame… shouldn’t you get serious now?” Akoji asked
Ben scoffed. “Come off it man! Are you preaching to me right now? l can’t get tied up by anyone… no one. And by the way, am working on truly giving my heart out, maybe to Tonia, who knows?”.
Akoji smiled. He knew Ben can be beguiling.
“But how do l get this babe back Akoji, she hasn’t even called my phone since Monday, it’s Thursday today” he took a thoughtful breath, “l actually missed her, l love using her company a lot, she is smart and really fun to be with…”
Akoji stayed quiet staring out through the window while Ben talked on. Ben heard the sound of the gate open and hurriedly walked to join Akoji at the window when he noticed an image approaching the house, he quickly drew closer, stretching to see who it was but the figure was already at the door. Ben’s heartbeat could shake the foundations of a building as he heard the voice of the person at the door. He stared firmly at Akoji who said nothing to him
“d-i-d y-o-u c-a-l-l h-e-r h-e-r-e?…” Ben muttered inaudibly amidst clenched teeth as Akoji moved towards the door. He quickly picked his white fitted v-neck polo from the bed and put it on
“l am saving my boss from an untimely death which is bound to happen if he doesn’t see this beauty one day longer” Akoji whispered as he opened the door and let her in. Ben just stood still, he was so nervous that he almost was unable to raise his head. Akoji hugged her and excused himself from the room, closing the door behind him.
She walked towards Ben and stood deadpan too, gazing into thin air for many minutes, her hands firmly tucked in the pocket of the amber jacket she was wearing on cadet-grey boot-cut trousers. Ben glazed speechless in front of her for a long while. He then gathered the strength, gained composure and broke the deafening silence.
“Hi…” She replied without looking up
“Wow!!! Dad! And you are just telling me?” Jerry said to his father over the phone. A little frown danced around his face. For him, the news about his family’s relocation was a mixed feelings. He shut the door lightly as he stepped in and dropped the books and I-pad in his hands on his reading table. He went over to the window and drew the curtain letting in the cool night breeze. ‘How on earth was he going to cope with this new environment?’ Or.. maybe that’s not even his problem now, ‘Why do they have to wait till they settled down in that town before calling him’. They didn’t even inform him about his father’s retirement from active service at the office. Not that it will change anything though but he prefers to be duly aware of decisions that will concern him… way ahead of time. That has always been the problem with his parents, even at twenty-five, they see him more or less like a baby. He jerked back from his thoughts when he heard his mother’s voice.
“Hey my big brother, please don’t be angry with us o. See we were just all through a lot of things…” he listened with his hands resting on the protective rod of the window as his mother continued apologising.
‘Big brother’ has always been how his mother called him. She will always say Jerry looked exactly like her late elder brother, in fact Jerry was named after his uncle. Jerry quietly listened to all the stories and explanations his mother was giving, none could justify them not informing him on time. His father feels Jerry listens and believes his mum more, so he will hand over the phone to her anytime they have offended him to save himself the stress
“So … my sweet big brother, don’t be angry with us ehn!”
Jerry didn’t hear all his mother said, he wasn’t even angry with them in the first place, he saw no use for the long explanation and pampering. Left for his mother, she could go on and on.
“Sister mummy, it’s ok o,” he interrupted her “Am not angry at all. Hope you people are enjoying your new abode? Mummy don’t you miss your friends? What about your business?”
He could hear his dad chuckling in the background. The phone must definitely be on loudspeaker as always. He knew his parents must right now be laying on a sofa enjoying moon light rays outside, they do that every night.
“l told you we left this town when you were barely two dear, this is home for us. I’ve been a bit used to this place before now. And you remember…?”
“Professor Abuh, daddy’s best friend and his wife, who is also your best friend too” he interjected completing her statement
“Exactly dear, you know one friend can mean the whole world to someone” she said.
Jerry tittered as he pondered briefly on his mother’s last phrase but readjusted when his father’s boisterous voice came up again
“Take care of yourself my boy and do daddy proud. You are gradually accomplishing my life’s dream of becoming a legal practitioner ”
Jerry imagined the proud look on his father’s face right now which could be felt in his voice. He blushed unconsciously as his dad’s normal encouraging sermon came over and over. He just hoped this call will end soon.
The door creaked and he was startled by who stepped into his room. He probably was engrossed that he didn’t hear the knocks earlier. He was however shocked and surprised at who came, he wasn’t expecting anyone anymore this evening seeing his time was past 8.
“AMEN Dad” he answered almost absent-mindedly and ended the ‘forever call’. His parents don’t call him often, but won’t mind talking about the world anytime they do. He enjoys it though, but that’s not important right now, someone is in here
“Gracey, good evening,” he said approaching her. Grace already offered herself a seat and was busy going through one of his legal journals she picked up from his table while he stood close to the window making the long parental call. Grace, looked rather too at-home for a first time visit. That, instead of bothering Jerry made his mind a bit calm, “at least she wouldn’t be this relaxed if something was wrong with Tonia” he thought within him.
Grace dropped the journal and sat up on the bed as Jerry sat on the chair in front of her. She looked ravishing tonight, her light make-up particularly added more beauty to her smooth brown face as a big golden pin held her hair neatly to the right. Jerry was too concerned about why she came that he didn’t even compliment. ‘This guy must have eyes only for Tonia’, Grace thought, before opening her mouth to talk
“Jerry, am sorry for barging in on you at this time. l didn’t plan to… but l had to… It’s just that…” She started slowly
“Hope nothing is wrong with Tonia” Jerry couldn’t help asking, her pace made him more impatient, worry written all over his face
Grace smiled nodding her head in the affirmative “Nothing is wrong with her Jerry. In fact she was in the room having some romantic time with Ben when l left.” She replied with sarcasm
“Jerry, l missed you” Grace voiced out invitingly.
Jerry felt like a demon knocked him. He thought he heard a wrong thing. His eyeballs popped out as he looked at Grace blankly, surprise mixed with utter confusion. She ignored his facial expression, it took her a lot of effort to get here, she must get to the end.
“Yes l do, Jerry. Don’t get me wrong,” she straightened up “l know you are very much in love with Tonia. All the while you both were together, l saw how you practically adored her. You came to the room every day and you both had swell time together. l was satisfied with just one thing… the fact that l get to see you every day… that was OK for me” she gazed firmly into his eyes, her lips were moist as she moved them slowly, Jerry felt jittery at first but he had to man up. And he did.
“But ever since she broke up with you, and you stopped coming to the house, l have always wished to still see you that often” she continued.
Jerry took a deep breath and turned his face away from her, trying to distract himself from her stern gaze that came like arrows fired at him
“l love her!…”
“l know! But she has moved on… Moved on with Ben” Grace announced without blinking her eyes
Jerry swallowed again bitterly, the atmosphere was becoming too tensed for him, his normally cool room now felt really hot. He stood up and walked back to the window.
“Yea, unfortunately!, l already figured she has moved on, it’s well though. But If she is happy where she is, that’s the most important thing right now.” He tried to wipe the sweat already streaming over his face. He could feel internal heat, his heart bled that he lost the best thing he gave his all to keep. He cherished Tonia from deep within him and the mere thought of her being with another man drives him almost to the point of tears.
Grace stood up, adjusted the golden tummy-belt she wore on her knee-length red floral dress and swiftly moved to where Jerry was standing. He turned quickly to face her. She held his hand with one hand, and placed the other hand on his jaw picking his trimmed beards carefully. Her cologne filled the whole room. Jerry didn’t understand what was happening, his broken self looked frightened before Grace as her attractive small eyeballs pierced leeringly at him, they carried deep emotions, they were truly sultry…
“l l-o-v-e y-o-u, J-e-r-r-y” Grace said seductively
Jerry’s heart skipped a beat.
To be continued…