PLAYING THE PLAYER - Episode 1

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Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - Islington area of London, pizza bar, NatWest Bank cash machine, London, Lagos, bus, a pint of Strong Bow Cide, She kissed him, Professor, apartment, university.


“I need to make a call desperately,” Oluchi said with urgency. They had just exited a pizza bar in the Islington area of London. She had received a text message moments earlier, which sparked her rather abrupt need to make an important call. She looked somewhat panicky. “Do you really have to make the call now? I need to get on the next bus, you know?” Bernard complained. “Yes, I do. It is an important call,” she snapped at him. “But all evening at the pizza bar, you seemed calm as though you had no cares in the world. Let’s take the next bus back to your apartment and just chill out for the evening,” Bernard protested. “I am afraid I have to make this call,” she insisted. “Then, suit yourself,” Bernard said with resignation.

“I will see you guys at university next week then. I will be taking the next bus back to central London,” Chisom said as Oluchi walked towards the NatWest Bank cash machine in the building next to the bus stop. The winter cold was biting mercilessly. They had met with their friends and some professors from university at the pizza bar. As soon as they left the bar, people went in different directions, while Chisom, Bernard and Oluchi walked towards the bus stop. They had become close friends over the last years with Chisom and Oluchi having known each other from Lagos. Oluchi’s boyfriend was a friend of Chisom’s and he often called Chisom to find out how Oluchi was doing in London. He was working in Lagos while Oluchi pursued a master’s degree in London. Bernard on the other hand was Ghanaian. He had a massive crush for Oluchi, but he had not been able to divulge his feelings for her.

Bernard would help Oluchi write her essays, lab reports and all sorts of assignments. There was nothing he would not do for her, and Oluchi knew it…she took advantage of him the best she could. “See you next week, Chisom,” Oluchi bellowed as Chisom made a dash for the approaching bus. Bernard watched as Oluchi walked elegantly to the cash machine. Her undulating backside doused the bitter winter cold. He tucked his glove-covered hands in the pockets of his long, thick jacket as he watched her from behind. With every step she took, he imagined being in bed with her. He could feel a quiver in his chest. “You will wait for me Benny, right?” She asked. There was a hint of authority to her voice that she did little to hide. It was not a question that Bernard was expected to say no to. Of course, he said yes to her.

Soon, she managed to figure out how to top up her mobile phone directly from the cash (ATM) machine. A smile appeared on her face as she placed the all-important call. Bernard had an idea whom she was calling. He felt stabbing pain to his chest as he waited in the cold while she made her call. Soon, she returned to the bus stop. Bernard’s eyes gazed upon her luscious lips. A whiff of smoke wafted out of Oluchi’s mouth as warm air from her mouth mixed with the cold air outside.

“I need to go to a bar somewhere around Euston Road. Please would you come with me?” She asked him. “Yes…yes of course,” he answered obsequiously. They hailed a taxi which Bernard paid for. Soon, there were on Euston Road. When they found the bar, Oluchi said she had to go in alone to check for her friend first. “I will be right back,” she assured him. Again, he watched her backside as she marched delicately into the bar. As soon as she was in, Bernard followed her. It took him less than a minute to find Oluchi perched on a bar stool with Professor Evans in behind her. His hands were all over her, squeezing and pressing with annoying impunity.

Bernard considered murder for the first time in his life. If only he had the guts, he would have waited for Prof. Evans outside his apartment one night and knocked him cold. He felt a cold stabbing feeling walk all over him as he turned and walked into the chilly open. As he walked down the street, Oluchi yelled his name from a distance. “Benny,” she shouted a though she cared about him. The sound of her voice left him giddy. He loved her more than he could explain. He turned, fighting back the tears that were threatening to descend onto the corridors of his eyes.

“Oluchi, I have to go,” he said. His voice was croaky. “I am afraid I have to stay back here with my friend,” she said. “What friend is that?” He asked. “My girlfriend from Nigeria,” she lied. “I did not realize Professor Evans was black…and female too.” Oluchi said nothing for a moment. She did not realize that Bernard had come into the bar. “It is not what you think,” she said. “You said that some weeks ago when you spent the weekend at his apartment.” “I was just there so I could get some help from him with my assignment.” “You realize you don’t know how to lie.” “I am not lying. He is just helping me with my Biotechnology essay.” “The one I wrote for you?”

“I think you are just being too emotional. You should go home. I will see you tomorrow.” “I guess you will be spending the night at his place tonight and perhaps for the rest of the weekend.” “I don’t think so. I will be gone later tonight.” “What about your boyfriend in Nigeria?” “We broke up…I thought I told you that!” “No, you did not.” “I am not sleeping with Professor Evans anyway, but Azubuike and I broke up some weeks ago.” I guess I can tell Chisom that you have been spending weekends at Prof. Evans then, because I recall he told me that he talks to your boyfriend in Nigeria.” “No!!!!” Oluchi shouted. There was utter panic in her voice. “Why is that? After all, you have broken up with Azubuike.” “I don’t want Chisom to know yet.” “That makes no sense to me. I will tell him anyway.”

Oluchi dashed towards him and held his hand. Soon, she was stroking his chest. “You know I like you, Benny. Let’s meet up tomorrow and make love,” she said matter-of-factly. Bernard felt hot blood surge through his body like jet fuel driving a jet fighter through the sky. “I will come to your apartment then,” he said immediately. “Yes…that is fine. I will see you tomorrow. You must not say anything to Chisom, okay?” “No problem.” She kissed him for the first time and promised him more as she ran back towards the bar. He stood there and watched her. He was transfixed. The feeling of her lips and tongue wading through his mouth like a duck through water left him delightfully dazed. He felt his poor heart pounding like a rocket on its way to the moon.

He did not go home though. He walked to the bar across the street from the one where Oluchi and Professor Evans were staying. He took a spot by the glass panel, which offered him a perfect view of the bar across. He bought and slowly sipped a pint of Strong Bow Cider. He relished every drop of the sweet taste to the drink as it went happily down his throat. A group of noisy students walked into the bar some thirty minutes later. They bought beer and vodka and began to dance on the floor. One of them, a Japanese-looking girl walked to Bernard and asked him to dance with her. She was clearly drunk. Her top was hanging askew, so much so that Bernard could see her ‘upper department’. They gazed at him invitingly. She had been sure to flash them at him. He had not been with any girl since arriving in London. This was his one big opportunity to change that record.

He saw other guys pick up some of the girls and leave shortly afterwards with them. The temptation was strong, but he declined her offer. Bernard was the type that loved passionately and fiercely. One night stands were not his thing. He said no to her with a smile as he focused on the bar across the street. The girl persisted for a while, but another “No” from him sent her away for good. Shortly afterwards, she exited the bar in the arms of another guy. She made sure to look back and make eye contact with Bernard as though she was saying, “Look what you are missing out on.”

Two hours later, Oluchi walked out of the bar in the arms of Professor Evans. She stopped midway between both bars and kissed him. Professor Evans was an older English man who fancied younger girls, especially those of African or Asian descent. He had been divorced for years. He never remarried. The joy of young girls was far too much to let go of. Bernard wished he had a gun. He wished he could shoot them both. They took a taxi to Prof. Evans apartment. He wondered why he had stayed back. Oluchi does not love me…what am I doing with her anyway, he thought. Love is like a string, when it tethers you to a tree, no matter how bad, it takes great courage and resilience to break free and he knew that. He went home and placed his head under his pillow as tiny streaks of tears wetted his mattress.

“Do you want to come over?” Oluchi asked Bernard over the phone. “Where?” He asked her back. “I am Evan’s. We can meet at the Starbucks around the corner.” “Why do we have to meet at Starbucks? Why don’t I meet you in his bedroom?” Bernard retorted angrily. “Come on, Benny…you don’t have to be too angry at me. I promised to give you what you want. By tomorrow, I will be in my apartment…you will come over and we’ll do it.” “I don’t want to sleep with you as a bribe to keep me quiet, Oluchi. I sincerely love you. At first, I could not tell you because Chisom had told me about your boyfriend in Nigeria and you mentioned a few times. It did not stop me from loving you any way. I am really disappointed that you are sleeping with that old hag…and heartbroken too. I don’t need your bribe. Carry on with your life. It is over between us now.” “You don’t have to act like a child. Come on, I am not sleeping with the man.” “I know that. I know you too just chat and laugh when you are in his apartment. I am utterly disappointed. I should hate myself for falling for you at all.”

Bernard hung up on her. On Monday morning, as Chisom entered their building at university, Oluchi cornered him.  She wore a sad look on her face. “I need to discuss with you, Chisom,” she said. “What is it? Your face looks like someone slapped you all through the weekend,” he answered. “It is Bernard.” “What about him?” “He…he has been asking me out. He even tried to sleep with me over the weekend.” “Really? I mean, I know he likes you, but I did not think he’d act on it because of Azubuike. I told him about Azubuike.” “That is why I am very angry. You know, he has destroyed the friendship we all share.” “You don’t have to go that far. He is a very nice guy. Let me talk to him first,” Chisom suggested.

Chisom found Bernard in the Library. They both walked to the lobby outside the library. “What happened between you and Oluchi over the weekend?” Chisom asked him. “I have been avoiding to discuss Oluchi’s behavior with you,” he answered in a low subdued tone. “Chisom, are you through with him? I have something else to discuss with you,” Oluchi said out of nowhere. She had been lurking around to keep Bernard from telling Chisom the full story. “I am not through with him yet, Olu. I will be with you when I am done,” Chisom answered calmly. They walked to a Starbucks outside the university. There, Bernard told Chisom what had been going on between Oluchi and Professor Evans for weeks. He found it hard to believe.

“I did not sleep with him. You need to believe me…I did not sleep with him!” Oluchi yelled when Chisom confronted her. “Actually, I believe Bernard. I have seen how you have been playing around with the man in the lab. At first I did not take it seriously but it makes sense now.” “How can you say that Chisom. You have known me for years. I would not do a thing like that.” “I will ask Professor Evans then.” “For what?” “I think you have been sleeping with him. I will tell Azubuike all, about it. You can be rest assured of that.”

STORY CONTINUES...                  CLICK HERE TO READ EPISODE 2

Written by:
Victor Chinoo

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Moofyme.com: An African Literary Blog: PLAYING THE PLAYER - Episode 1
PLAYING THE PLAYER - Episode 1
Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - Islington area of London, pizza bar, NatWest Bank cash machine, London, Lagos, bus, a pint of Strong Bow Cide, She kissed him, Professor, apartment, university.
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Moofyme.com: An African Literary Blog
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