In the cool of the evening you met him. At a pub, a corner all by himself, gulping down shots of tequila. Only a gap separated you from him— a gap accompanied by a stifling silence. A gap, which melted away the moment he said hi! You flashed a hand at him.

He reminded you of him— Nelson. Short, stout, fair and a finely trimmed beard.

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Your heart skipped a beat as he drew near. But you were dying to meet him.
His eyes lingered momentarily on your shaky lips, wet with an urgency of passion.
He bit softly against the corner of his lower lush pink lips and, instantly, you knew he was one of them.

Nelson was also one of them. You loved him, but he left on his volition.

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He flashed a beautiful smile across. A full row of white teeth adorned his upper jaw, and a nice diastema separated the lower. Your gaze fell. He picked your face from the jaw.
You felt a sensational chill over your body. And you wished he would reach out for your lips and paint with kisses but…

My name is Adams. Adams Brown, with an outstretched arm, he said calmly and eloquently. He didn’t stutter like Nelson.
Lawrence is the name, you replied.
Suddenly silence fell over the two of you. He wasn’t much of a talker like Nelson. And you weren’t too. You fell for him. You had so much bottled up inside, but didn’t know how well to let them out. You tapped gently over your lap, and his eyes followed the movement, the rhythm of ecstasy.

Briefly, your gaze would stray from him. The scanty pub was soon filled by an upsurge of women chattering inordinately in pairs and men on weird hats and skinny jeans holding hands.

The night is full already, you cut in. Your head swayed with the rhythm of the song playing from the background.
He didn’t say anything. He continued to empty the shots of tequila in his mouth while pouring himself several other shots.
Are you this quiet? you inquired, as your gaze returned.
No. Not every time. Sometimes.
I love cats, you announced carelessly, worried if it was the right thing to say.
Oh cats! I love them too. I had a cat once, Freddy; so adorable.
Now there was a nexus between the two of you.

A smile curved in graciously, in your lips.
But he died. Freddy was squashed to death by this blind fellow while his car sped off, he had added. Your face crinkled in a frown.

You were so eager to tell him everything about yourself. Not everything actually. When he asked where you lived and if he could come visiting, you rebuffed quickly. You said you lived with your aged mother and she did not like visitors coming to your house. That’s weird bro, Adam stated.

And he was astonished. Why is a grown man like you still living with his parent?
But you didn’t tell him that you were married; that your marriage was at the brink of collapse; that your wife was the nagging type; that more often than not, you had wanted to end it all, but you feared your father’s reaction, the negative toll it would have on your sick mother, your pastor. You feared all these and more. What would people think of you?

So you want a divorce now. And why do you want a divorce Lawrence? you would hear your father’s whip-like voice from within. He would inquire, but you wouldn’t be able to provide a cogent reason. Even if you did, they wouldn’t understand because they are not like you.

Before Adams left the pub that night, he flung a note with his number boldly inscribed, then he left a peck on the side of your face.

A Sunday afternoon, you were seated at the edge of a long couch and your wife, also perched at the edge. Her eyes affixed on the plasma TV screen, blinking intermittently. Yours at your phone. No eye contact between the both of you.

You dropped the phone on the table and wriggled like an earthworm towards her. Maybe it would cause her to be more aware of your presence, of the stifling silence hovering in the air. She already anticipated the move. So she veered to another location like a rat escaping a cat.
You’re exhausted. Frustrated. Picking the phone off the table, you trudged upstairs.

 

***

In the bedroom, you lay like a log of wood, your legs crossed. Suddenly, you remembered him. The smile that left you craving all the more for him. The note where his mobile number was written was before you, staring intently at you. Why not call him. Call him. It wouldn’t kill. You could hear the voice of your mind speak. Crystal clear and succinct.

You began to wobble around the room. The air of indecisiveness all around.

Downstairs, Agnes continued to stare at the screen, a bowl of popcorn in hand this time. She continued to laugh hysterically at something she had seen on the screen. Her laughter filled the whole place. A series of sharp knocks rose violently against the door.

Who’s it? Who wants to break my door this hot afternoon? her voiced echoed. The person behind the door remained quiet.

She opened halfway. It was him. Adams from the pub. He wore a checkered sleeved shirt on black shorts and a pair of brown sandals. His fair face shimmered in the sun.
Good afternoon. I’m Adams. I was told Lawrence lives here, he stated.
She scrutinized him with gawky eyes then sighed.
Yes, this is the house, she said. And who are you?
A friend of his, Adams retorted firmly. She’s shocked. Confused. She was only aware of one friend whom you had introduced to her. Nonso!

She allowed him in, ushered him to his seat, while she rushed upstairs. She inquired if he wanted a drink, but he rejected politely. There was something she didn’t like about him; his gait was like a girl’s.

You stopped wobbling as you heard footsteps approaching the door. Your friend is here to see you, Agnes said, her face displaying sarcasm.

What friend? You’re surprised. He says his name is Adams, she retorted. Your heart began to beat faster. How did he get the address to your house? But.. You didn’t tell him. How come?

You went downstairs to him, in the heat of tension. And you sat a reasonable distance away from him as you talked. Your wife’s suspicious eyes lingered at the both of you from behind. Fear couldn’t let you say much. Surprisingly, he spoke volumes of words. Your affection for him continued to get the best of you. Yet, you wanted him to take his leave.

He soon took his leave. He wanted you to see him off some distance before he boarded a cab home. You wanted to, but the look on her face seemed to pierce your heart like a knife. But you did anyway. You were the man of the house.

You’ve not told her yet? he inquired while you walked down the road. No. Not her. Not anyone, you retorted. They must not find out, you added.

But why man, Adams insisted. You are silent.

Then he inquired how you managed to cope with the silence. Tou shrugged. You inquired how he managed to locate your place. He said he asked some people who knew you well at the pub.
What a small world! You only frequented the pub for drinks, nothing more. No acquaintances. Just a loner, a wanderer seeking escape from a nagging wife, his parents, the world and from himself. But some people kept an eye on your affairs.

Instantly, he paused, held both your hands and smeared your lips with his. It was a long kiss. His arms wrapped around you.

You closed both eyes as if to ward off every form of distraction within and outside. You tried to stifle an erection, but he held your shaky hands again. Then he said: I love you. I love you too, you responded lowering your gaze a bit.

He visited over again and again. You were scared that your secret affair would be exposed. You snuck off to the pub to see him.

One evening, your wife picked up your phone. Five missed calls! You were in the bathroom.
‘Sweet chills,’ were the words you used to save his name on your phone. Her face lights up with curiosity. She dialled the number. Another person picked the call. Leave my boyfriend alone. He’s mine. don’t ever call this line again, the caller attacked. She’s speechless, furious, sober.

Hastily, she hauled her luggage and left the house. A written note was left beside your phone on the bed.

You appeared from the bathroom whistling through puckered lips. Your eyes first met the phone. Five missed calls. Then the piece of paper with the words boldly written:

I LOVE YOU. BUT I’M SORRY WE CAN’T CONTINUE THIS WAY.
I’M FILING FOR A DIVORCE.
WISH YOU THE VERY BEST.
—Agnes

Soon your phone beeped. A message came in.
“Leave my man alone, bitch. He’s been avoiding me lately. Stay clear, else, you’re dead.” An angry face emoji was added.
You’re devastated, broken.

*************

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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About the Author:

Ewa Gerald Onyebuchi is first a Nigerian, then a writer. He loves his family dearly.