#Read with us.....
By Hawa Jande Golakai
By Hawa Jande Golakai
“Grab her legs.”
“I should do whetin? Haaaay, mah pipo lookah troubo.
You nah serious for true.”
Shaking my head, I try to prop Leonora up by the
shoulders, making sure her head’s turned away
because that clotted spit oozing over the peeling red
lipstick and onto her chin is no wet dream. Then I
crouch low and heave; my wife is no small woman.
Once I’ve lifted her torso off the floor, I look up.
“Ciatta! Really?” Was she serious? I’m breaking
my back and my so-called lover is over there with
her arms crossed looking on like I’m a psycho, like
I just asked her to kill somebody. Okay, poor choice
of words, considering the situation. I jerk my head
wildly in the direction of Leonora’s feet, urging
her to jump in anytime. Ciatta still doesn’t
budge, instead draws her arms tighter
and juts a hip. “Cia, come on!”
I lose it, then “Dammit!”
when my back loses it,
popping a tendon
else that isn’t
pop. Grinding pain
between my teeth, I
drop Leonora, who does
quite an impressive face-plant
into the carpet.
“Fineboy chill, I beg you, befo’
somebody come bust inside heah and find out what
we doin’.” “We?” I rotate my spine, trying to unclench. “More
like what I’m doing. If you’re not interested in saving
my neck, I don’t see why you’re here.”
“Mtssshw. I’hn blame you. I came, dah why you tellin’
She cocks her chin away from me, classic move when
she’s trying to control that spitfire temper. She’s
not pissed, not really, I can tell. Anger runs a whole
different tier, in spectral shades, with her. She looks
round the room, deciding if she approves, if I chose
well despite the shitstorm this has turned into. From
t h e tiny smile that crooks up the
edge of her mouth,
I did good. Clean
but not high-end,
seedy enough for
debauchery. A tough combo
in this nosy Monrovia. She
beckons with the crook of her
finger; I notice for the first
time a French manicure with
a tiny red heart stuck to each
nail. Why would something
I’d normally find so cheesy
make me want her more?
I go to her like a little boy.
“Dah wha’ happin’?” she coos,
massaging me. Tiny knots dissolve
like sugar to caramel.
“You see what happened – my wife’s
dead!” I point to the body, which
I’m past the point hoping will wake
up, stagger to its feet and cuss my
Ciatta huffs. “Aay mehn, my eyeball
dem nah bust. Whetin happin
exactly, tell me it,” she flaps a hand,
“articulate it, in dah yor fine-fine
white pipo book.”
I ignore the gibe. She’s no trash but
playing up our differences (many)
is her thing and though I protest,
that edge of forbidden
frisson it adds ... hot
damn. Who knew I
knew how to mess
around. In looks
my jue is so like my
wife I shouldn’t have
bothered. Night and
day though. Take for instance
their outfits: Leonora, champion at
making pretty love and eye contact,
straight out of a corny rom-com
with her red trenchcoat, fancy
black frills underneath no doubt;
Cia in the very lappa I tore off her
the first time we ravaged, with
those hideous tiger-print heels that
slaughter me every time they’re up
in the air.
“She was sitting on the bed when I
walked in. I don’t know how but she
found out about your surprise and
genuinely thought it was for her.
What could I say?” I gulp. “Then she opened the box of chocolates …” My
head slumps into my palms. “Once
the reaction starts, it’s unstoppable.
She’s so sensitive. She’s always
careful about carrying her epi pen
but clearly dressing like a hooker to
surprise me took precedence.”
“De geh didn’t tink her husband
was gon kill her on Valentine’s Day.”
“I didn’t –” I choke on a sob and she
kisses me, silences me. “We ... we
need to get rid of the body.”
“No. Now’days you can’t try dah
one deh. You’hn do nuttin wrong
but let’s get yor story straight.” She
looms over my wife, unblinking.
When she looks up her eyes glitter
so dark and sultry in the twilight,
like oil dancing on top of ink, that
I know I’ll wreck it all for her, now
and always. “Nobody saw me since
I came by the back way, so dah part
okay. Jes pretend dis was like last
year but one smuh sumtin’ went
“How will that…” The clouds part.
“Yes, yes! I always order candy
for you, my Ma and a special box
for her. In my hurry to get here I
grabbed the wrong box and that’s
how this catastrophe happened.
Thank God the other boxes are safe at home. I’ll destroy the extra one
meant for Ma and use the custom
candy as proof of the mix-up.”
“Ehn-heeehhn, palaver fini. Dah
was mistake. Dey say when bad
luck call your name, ripe banana
will break your teeth.” She laughs
at my awe. “O-o-o you jek! You
lookin’ inside my mouf like my
teeth made o’ diamond. I nah only
good for one ting.” She crosses to
the bed and I drink in every muscle
shifting under her thin wrapper. I
shouldn’t be tingling right now …
why am I tingling?
“It been how long?”
I check my watch.
“Good. More than one
hour and it look bad.
After I leave be ready to
give de performance of
your life. After you give
me de performance of your life.”
She drops the colourful lappa. Her
body is heaven turned on its head.
She picks a truffle from the box and
runs it over her lips.
“Don’t,” I rasp.
“Why not? I nah de one who got nut
allergy. Had,” she smiles.
“Why you make me buy it? You
always say it’s too sweet.”
Ciatta shrugs. “Which geh can ever
be too sweet?” The finger with the
little red heart crooks at me again.
I’m going to hell a thousand times over.