She caught his eye as soon as she walked in the door.
If this was at a place like Rapsody’s – or Beerhugz; or even maybe Chicken Republic – or any of the other outlets, clubs and joints that litter Lagos streets like so many bad billboards; a man noticing a woman – especially a woman like the one that just walked in the cliché door – would be nothing out of the ordinary.
But because it wasn’t in any of those places, it was noteworthy.
She had just walked into her apartment on the first floor of a three-storey building. He was hiding in the ceiling of said apartment, sweating while waiting and watching for someone – her; it would seem, though the reason for his watching and waiting wasn’t immediately clear.
From his vantage point, he could see her clearly – as clearly as though she was on the largest screen in the largest viewing room at the Silverbird Galleria.
Which was saying much, considering his view point – a small hole hastily carved into a corner of the ceiling boards.
His glance one again involuntarily sought out the picture his left hand was holding – and he whistled silently. He would have liked to think it was taken without her consent; but her smile and the unabashed way she was looking directly into the camera put paid to that assumption.
It was not fair to her – the picture was not fair to her. Not in the least.
Taking a last look at it, he shoved it into his chest pocket, moving awkwardly from his chest-down position – and continued to stare at her. She was on the phone, giggling animatedly. The soft bubbling streams of her laughter permeated the stale air around him and pulled at some invisible strings in his chest area – strings he would have sworn before now no longer existed.
He ignored the feeling; shoving it down into a place cold, still and hard – and concentrated on his quarry. Now, she was shrugging the silk wrap off her shoulders, playfully wriggling shoulders that looked like soft chocolate. Slowly she kicked off the black stilettos, leaving a strip of glimmering silver around her left ankle. And then she took off her earrings; one after the other and dumped them on the table beside the Samsung phone.
He swallowed thickly as she stood on tiptoes and stretched languidly, humming a tune he recognized as Banky W’s Strong Tin. She twirled as she hummed, waving her arms around and smiling happily. She looked like you and I looked the first time we realized the funny feeling in our stomach wasn’t hunger – but love.
She stopped dancing suddenly and moved her arms behind her neck. Before he could do more than blink, she was standing clad only in a lace bra and panties – dress falling around her legs in a slow cascade of black. He carefully craned his neck so he could look further down into the room; unwilling to lose sight of her as she started walking towards him –
And then, she disappeared.
A moment later, the sounds of running water came to him and helped him conclude she was going to take a bath. Ignoring the sweat running down his face – sweat as a result of heat; internal and external, he crawled forward slowly on hand and knees. He was carefully to avoid the joints of the ceiling – the last thing he wanted was to fall into the room with the gun in his other hand.
The reason for the gun was clear.
He was there to kill her.
Seun Odukoya Presents: