Tonight, Isaac John looks like one of the many night women who dot her otherwise plain surface with variety; marked and mysterious, alluring; making promises she looks like she can deliver on. The night sky compliments the street’s atmosphere; dark and leaden.
I am sitting in my car; the same car I just re-entered into to put this down in response to the ubiquitous Facebook query; ‘What is on your mind?’
Tomorrow I wrap up on the week-long training camp I’ve been engaged in. My students have shown impressive growth – but I’m not thinking about that. They are supposed to show their parents/friends/teachers what they’ve learned tomorrow – but I’m not thinking about that either. I will miss some of them but that’s not what’s on my mind tonight. I’m not even thinking about the tiny sixteen-year old who complained to her mother that I ‘disrespected’ her.
I am thinking of a conversation I just witnessed in Coldstone roughly twenty-six minutes ago. A conversation I have been a part of but never actually listened to.
It was between two women. When they came in, I was in a corner poring over the last of my signature Ice Cream and thinking about ordering another cup. I was there to detox mentally; and I wasn’t sure it was working.
But I noticed when they came in.
The one leading caught my eye first; somebody armed with a voluptuous body dressed for murder. Eyes and lips went together like sex and the city. Hair braided in those styles that take one hundred hours to finish; it flowed down to rest on round, cream-colored shoulders. Black gown hugged her chest like an Okada man navigating a curve; hips looked like something the Lord made. Nails winked redly at the end of slim fingers; fingers clutching another hand.
I would have looked away after mental kudos; after all, no matter how murderous her body was we have seen such before. But the hand she was holding intrigued me. I wanted to know more, so I continued to watch, Ice Cream forgotten.
The girl who followed was dressed down. I couldn’t see her face clearly because of the face-cap she had on, but she had a generous mouth devoid of lipstick. Her hair was pushed underneath the cap, leaving her neck bare. I couldn’t see much of her body; covered in blue denim jacket, black t-shirt and jeans as it was – but the bumps on her chest were prominent enough to put her in one gender category.
Besides, both their walks were obviously feminine.
On the surface, there was nothing spectacular about their hand-holding. They could be siblings, no? But if you’ve been seeing things for as long as I have, you know when you’re looking at something special.
My interest was to be rewarded shortly.
The denim babe was chuckling softly at something madam-black said as they made their way towards the counter. One of the male staff detached himself from the group and approached. “How may I serve you?” he asked politely.
He took their orders quickly and began to put it together. Denim girl couldn’t stop laughing; giggling, smiling and pawing Madame Black. She touched hips, butt, breasts – neck sef no safe. Still, I didn’t want to conclude. Friends do stuff like that all the time, no?
Their orders came and Denim Girl got a hold of her cup. She scooped some ice cream and fed it to Madame Black who was counting cash out for the waiting sales person. Still occupied with the money, she turns her head briefly, opened chewable lips and accepted the ice cream offered. Some of it spilled on the left corner of her mouth but she didn’t notice. Finally, she settled the check and they made their way to the balcony, sitting in opposite chairs and away from the room.
But not out of my sight.
Denim Girl leaned forward and flicked the ice cream hanging on the corner of Madame Black’s mouth with a dainty fingernail and pushed it into her mouth – and then, as though unable to hold back any longer, she pushed her mouth against the other woman’s in a kiss.
I smiled. What did I tell you? I asked myself.
Madame Black sat still for about four seconds – and then suddenly leaned away. Denim Girl sat back down, confused. Madame Black averted her eyes and, letting her hair fall forward started to eat her Ice Cream. Denim followed suit, but she kept looking at Madame from underneath the brim of her cap. After about ten tense minutes – tension I could feel even through the glass – she suddenly set her cup down and took off her cap.
Natural curly hair fell to her shoulders, framing what I can only describe as a perfect face. Shey you know Alicia Keys?
I was so engrossed in staring I almost missed what she said; but I heard it. It was; “Seyi, is something wrong?”
‘She doesn’t look like a Seyi,’ I thought as I continued to observe, hiding behind my empty-since bowl. ‘Seyi’ pushed her spoon through her ice cream – and then, she suddenly pushed it aside and looked Denim in the eye. “I – “ she stopped, inhaled and exhaled. And then she continued. “I can’t – I can’t see you anymore. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean for this to happen, but it has and I can’t do anything about it. I’m sorry.”
Having said that, she sat back in the chair looking very much like a woman who, after pushing for hours finally gave birth. Her chest heaved almost violently and from where I sat I could see her hands shaking as they held onto the arms of her chair.
I left Seyi for a moment and looked at Denim.
I began to think she could only manage two expressions; surprise and confusion. Her eyes blinked rapidly, mouth opening and closing like the gills of a fish under the knife. When she spoke, her voice was so small I had to combine that with lip-reading to get what she said.
“I don’t understand, Seyi. What is wrong?”
Seyi folded her arms against her ample bosom and frowned. “Nothing – “ she looked away, looked back and suddenly leaned forward. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry but – “ she swallowed. “It’s…we’re over.”
Denim’s face fell apart. It was as though someone broke the shell that held her egg-face together. The tears started to come, hesitant as though they weren’t sure they belonged. But when she spoke, her voice was quite steady.
“Did I do something wrong, my love?”
Seyi winced as though someone flicked a wet rag towards her face – and then I realized, as I watched her pretty fingers pinch the hapless Coldstone chair – that it was just as upsetting for her.
“Look ba – Uloma, don’t make a scene. Please.”
Denim – Uloma – shook her head. ‘I’m not – I won’t. I just want to know what I did wrong. What is it? How did I hurt you? You know I wouldn’t do anything to – “
“It’s not you! Stop that! I met someone – I mean, I met a guy.”
Uloma’s face came together and gradually re-arranged itself to express surprise. “A…a guy…? You met a guy…and you’re leaving me – because you met a guy??” Her voice was rising, and though I was the only customer the guys behind the counter stared at me, looking uncomfortable.
I smiled and waved.
“You met a guy?! After you told me men are liars?! After you made me fall in love with you, after making me need you so much that I left everything and everyone for you..” she stopped talking, inhaled and exhaled and – I braced myself for what I thought would be a scream but was actually a whisper – said; “You met a guy?!”
Seyi shook her head and tears flew from her eyes and splattered on the glass wall beside them. “It’s not like that. I didn’t….I didn’t…” she choked up and swallowed – and started to cry.
I looked away, feeling some kind of way myself. Whose fault is this sort of thing?
I must have looked away longer than I thought, because by the time I looked back Uloma was sitting beside Seyi, holding her against her chest and patting her back while she cried her heart out. “It’s okay, shhh, we can work it out…” she kept saying over and over in that soft way of hers. I was still wondering what to make of that when Seyi abruptly stood up and backed away. “Uloma, I’m sorry,” she said, wiping her eyes. “I’ll call you. I promise.”
And then she turned and was gone.
When I stood up, roughly an hour thirty minutes ago, Uloma was still sitting on the arm of the chair Seyi occupied before – but she wasn’t crying. She was just there, staring into nothing. I toyed with the idea of playing comforter for a bit – and then I just walked out.
I doubt Uloma wouldn’t want anything to do with a guy. At least for tonight.
I’m posting this and starting my car to go home. I will go over my kids’ presentation in my head, maybe write a few things and maybe watch some shows. But for now, as I start my car, I cannot help but think about the times I have been forced to have a similar conversation with someone I promised forever. Was I lying when I said those words, or is love so mysterious that we cannot see where it’s coming from or going – we’re just swept up in and along for the ride? And is that ride worth it when you consider the casualties it leaves in its wake?
I cannot find an answer. I put the car in gear and drive home, a troubled man.
I think that’s the scariest thing; an image of Batman with his arms around The Joker, laughing his head off.
I mean, we all know Batman is crazy, right? ‘Anyone who dressed like a bat and leaps across rooftops must have more than a few screws loose’. Nothing truer.
However, just the thought of Bats finally losing his sanity; that iron mental grip that sets him apart from all the various colorful characters his pursues all night – is a sobering thought.
And that is what makes Batman: The Killing Joke work so well.
I do own the graphic novel in trade paperback. The ending always put me in chills and asks questions of me. ‘Has Batman finally gone bonkers, or is this just his way of telling The Joker ‘I feel your pain’?’
I still do not have an answer.
However, I was excited at the news this classic story is about to be a feature-length animation. If anything, it would at least do justice to the story and put it in motion. I was also happy to hear about the guys playing Batman and Joker’s voices – Kevin Conroy and Mike Hammil respectively. I and a lot of other fans still believe – and rightly so – that those two are the best at those characters. Batman’s gravelly voice and Hamill’s jokes and laugh go together like Agege Bread and Agonyi beans and Coke – and they make for the best part of this story.
As for the story itself: SPOILER ALERT.
The Kiling Joke is directed by Sam Liu (greatness) and written by Brian Azzarello (geekasm) and the usual suspects – Bruce Timm, Alan Burnett, Sam Register – executive-produce.
Impressive lineup I must say!
The Killing Joke was released on July 22 and will be released on various media through to sometime in August. Stay tuned.
There’s an ‘intro’ of sorts, an attempt to introduce Batgirl and her motivations. She and Batman takes down a newbie crime boss and somewhere along the line he becomes obsessed with her. She starts to make errors in judgment and Batman yells and argues with her – which is pretty normal with Bats and his protégés. But then she makes it a point to disobey him and gets emotionally involved, beating the guy to a pulp and making Batman take her off the case.
As he gives her the news, she attacks him, knocks him down –
And then, they proceed to have sex. On a rooftop. In Gotham City.
That put a bad taste in my mouth, simply because I couldn’t see what the point of it was. That entire arch is unrelated to the bigger story, has nothing to do with Joker and his reasons, does nothing but make Batgirl weak, emotional and unbalanced – which still has nothing to do with the bigger picture.
From that point however, things pick up quickly. The story is a faithful adaptation of the comic – perhaps too faithful – and therefore, readers shouldn’t expect anything new from this one. Still, I enjoyed it in spite of its predictability, and every moment spent listening to Mike Hammil do his thing was an experience in itself. The Joker’s craziness lends itself to all sorts of scenarios, and even a musical number only emphasized the Clown Prince of Crime’s madness. The Batman is his usual grouchy and grumpy self; and Batgirl, who motivates the storyline is basically used and dumped here like an ex after a bad sexual experience. The idea of her having a bestie to complain to is just somehow…and I can’t help but wonder why said bestie is a gay guy.
Remove that intro – from the story and you have a damn good animated movie. The action sequences keep getting better, and while I would have preferred a different drawing style, the lines are clean and direct enough. There’s no over-curving hip or heavy breasts here.
As said in the beginning, the ending is exactly how it is in the comic; the image of these two sworn enemies laughing together is so surreal its chilly at its core. I can’t help but wonder what Alan Moore thinks of this recent adaptation of his work to screen – considering his reputation of never liking any of the movies of his work. I think Azarello’s writing is praise-worthy, and minus a few bumps, the movie is great. It is a lot more haunting than the comic; watching Commissioner Gordon driven through a hall of mirrors while images of his naked and gut-shot daughter (Batgirl) play on the screens is a harrowing adventure, more harrowing with the Joker’s craze laughter echoing through the speakers. Batman’s costume is older with the ears looking curved and wider. There’s also a peek into The Joker’s origin, how the clown goes from broke and desperate has-been comedian to a white-skinned, crazed killer.
In the opening, Batman tells Batgirl; “We’re partners. But we’re not equals. Not even close.” And when she starts to call him names (feminists take cover) he continues; “You’re not in this like I am. It’s still a game for you. It’s still a thrill. You haven’t been taken to the edge yet.” And all too soon, she finds that Bats knows what he’s talking about.
Rape and the Man Child
Close your eyes.
Or don’t. You need them open to read this after all.
You’re fourteen. You know about girls – well; you’ve seen movies, read James Hadley Chase and Danielle Steele among others. You have elder brothers who always have an errand for you to run whenever their female friends are around – and they are around a lot. You know to disappear when Daddy starts touching Mummy one kind. You know your way around girls as long as you’re not touching them. You’ve never actually seen a porn movie, but of all your friends you’re the only one – so you say you have. You’re curious – but not exactly in a hurry.
There’s a woman you have a crush on – you and almost every male in the neighborhood, weight and size regardless. She’s almost three times your age but it doesn’t matter. She’s that hot.
But you tell yourself it’s just a childish crush. Besides, she’s friends with your mother. You go to her house on errands sometimes and she smiles at you. Touches your head; your hair. Smiles at you some more.
But you tell yourself it doesn’t matter. She’s friends with your mother.
And then one day, everything changes.
There was something about auntie that afternoon that made you hot and bothered. She was nicer than usual, her hand lingered just a bit longer than usual on your chest; thigh – but it didn’t matter. When she asked if you wanted something to drink you nodded and when you saw the bottle, instead of protesting you saw a chance to impress her. So you poured 60 percent proof rum down your innocent throat, bringing involuntary tears to your eyes.
But you didn’t cough. You became dull – almost lethargic, but you didn’t cough.
So when auntie started to throw your clothes off, caution was somewhere in the back of your throat steaming in rum. You pawed her just as eagerly – and when you saw her breasts – breasts that looked nothing like you imagined – you were ruined.
And thus went your innocence.
You fell asleep on auntie’s bed – but before you left that day you ate a big Sweet Sensation meal and had ‘sweet sensations’ with auntie two more times. When you walked home later that evening, your shoulders were square; your head was high. You had eaten something men three times your age wanted to but couldn’t.
As you neared your house, you saw your mum waiting and the smile that had lightened your features disappeared. Your face darkened as you remembered auntie’s warning; Don’t tell anybody.
What you did must have been wrong.
Who could you tell anyway? You’re the black sheep of the family. No matter what happened it was your fault; always. So you shut your mouth and kept going, acting like everything was okay. But every time you went to auntie’s house, something inside you got smaller and smaller and smaller…
Until you went away to boarding school.
Years later, you still cannot shake the feeling of guilt. Men cannot be raped after all, and since men think about sex every nine seconds you must have somehow enjoyed it.
You must have, right?
But if that was what it was, how come you feel shame every time you think about it? How come you still have not told anyone about it? Why do you find it difficult to be entirely intimate with someone – with anyone? You think back on it; and while it wasn’t too bad as far sexual experiences go, you hate(d) that you didn’t have any choice in the matter. Something was taken from you without your consent.
You were little better than the cap of a bottle; the nylon wrapping of a new book – something to be used and discarded. You were meat.
Now close your eyes and walk in those shoes for a while.
It saddens me when people say stuff like ‘men can’t be raped’. ‘Men like sex so much they take it whenever wherever and however they can get it’. These are examples of the kind of thinking that makes people become weird, strange and alone – because something happened to them and you help them think it’s their fault.
As ‘boring’ as the concept of virginity is made to seem nowadays, I would have liked to hold on to mine; at least a bit longer than I actually did. But that was a choice that was taken from me at a time I could do little about it – and that is something I cannot get past no matter how I try. I felt – I still feel taken advantage of by someone I liked and looked up to – in a manner of speaking. I’m still all fucked up about it. I’m afraid of being vulnerable.
I’m a man. And yet, the shame I feel every time I think about it is almost physical. At times I drift and realize I cannot form deep bonds with people because I’m afraid of being taken advantage of again. That’s why I write a lot of the things I write; somewhere in here there’s a little boy still running around trying to figure out why what happened to him happened.
In a manner of speaking, I’m still trying to find closure.
We get raped too. We get taken advantage of, lied to and used by people we thought the world of. It’s bad because when as a man you say; ‘I was raped’ some people think you’re joking, some think you’re crazy for hating it and some say ‘so? Are you not a man?’
To think some people still think there’s no such thing as rape.
Don’t get it confused. This is not meant to make light of women’s pain; neither is it trying to compete or compare my/our pain to theirs.
Men get raped too. And it hurts too.
‘Don’t make her promises you can’t keep brother,”
“I’m a keeper, that’s the only promise I make her.”
Make her oiled up like the Delta;
With skilled words that penetrate steel doors
down to her center;
Her core; the koko I plunge into; a swimmer,
Don’t come up for air till her shaking’s over
Her left leg is helter; the right one is skelter,
When I’m done in between ‘em, she’ll have to stagger for shelter
Breakfast of breastesses, dinner of _____
Bend her over till there’s pain in her chest from angina
With a little rain; her breath I make hotter than a sauna
Got her breathing hard like she’s trying to climb Oke Sunna.
Because I lift her up; she’s now my ‘down-for-whatever’,
Whatever, however, any weather I got her
The room was unnaturally still.
Of course, any room uninhabited would be that still except for the constant back and forth of rodents and wall crawlers, but this was different – hence the use of the qualifier ‘unnaturally’.
First of all it was dark; which is what made all the explanation necessary. But if it was illuminated and you could see inside for yourself, you would be as confused as I was at first.
The second first thing about it was the fact that it was not abandoned. No; neither was it one of those rooms that littered the town, those rooms that had their windows and doors left wide open most of the day, with a little handwritten sign propped by the door – a sign which more than likely read ‘Vacancy’. It was not.
Now, as to why I said if it was illuminated and you could see inside for yourself you would be confused, it was simply because the room was fully furnished. Yes; I mean fully – complete with tables, chairs, wardrobe, TV, DVD player, sound system – the works. To add to the ‘lived in’ feel sef, there were dirty plates in the kitchen sink; there were dirty clothes in one corner of the room. On the table were several magazines, a couple of cds and a gun.
And to complete the picture, a still figure was seated at the table staring at the gun.
The figure was so still, you would probably remember that folk tale told when you were young; that one about the ‘Tortoise and the sigidi’.
You remember, don’t you? The story about how the tortoise was a constant thief at a neighboring farm and how the farmer, tired after a while arranged for a ‘sigidi’ that looked like a human being be placed in a strategic location in the farm. And the tortoise, not knowing the sigidi was not human; nor that it was covered in gum challenged it. And then, receiving no response punched the sigidi only to be stuck. He did the same with his second hand and both feet – till he was quite stuck.
You remember now. Good – that’s how still this figure was. So still, you would be about to start betting that it was a sigidi – and then you notice the perspiration running down the figure’s bearded face in rivulets; rivulets that ran into the black t-shirt staining it into an even darker black. And then you notice the eyes as they dart left, right and then back to the gun; lips as they mutter a silent prayer. You notice the nicotine-stained fingers of the left hand (still assuming the room is illuminated) as they drum a soundless pattern on the jean-clad thigh of said figure.
Having watched enough Hollywood movies, you draw a parallel. This character brings to mind several others in several action movies – the drug dealer who runs away with his boss’s money and then is hunted down. The girl who knows too much about a hidden clan of ninja assassins and is being hunted down to be silenced. The man who worked his way into a high up position in the mafia – and then reveals himself as a FBI agent.
This character reminds you of all these other characters because they all share one major thing in common.
Your mouth opens to laugh at the analogy – and then you freeze as, at the same time the character you’re watching opens his mouth to laugh too. His face assumes a confused look, and the sudden loud pounding in his chest is echoed by the pounding in yours. You lift your left hand and stare in sudden shock at nicotine-stained fingers…and everything comes crashing in.
The character is you.
You/he accepts this reality as he has accepted everything that has occurred in the last 48hours – even though none of it makes any kind of sense. He had gone on a mission with the capo…something really simple; teaching a girl how unwise it was to turn down advances from the ‘number one’ of the most feared cult on the campus – The Black Cats.
Somehow, they had gotten carried away and the whole thing had turned bad.
The capo had lost his cool and brutally raped the girl, and then commanded the soldiers to do same. As consigliore; or second in command, he had been next, and because he did not relish eating the boss’ vomit he had simply raped her in the butt. Honestly, he had liked it at first…but then he remember his kid sister; and all the alcohol and weed he had consumed earlier had come surging up and he had thrown up all over the poor girl.
Feeling ashamed, he had ordered the other guys to hasten, execute and then bury her properly. The boss waited calmly till they were all done before handing the newest member of the cult his handgun, with an order to kill her. They had all watched him put two bullets in her head, scattering brain matter in all directions. The boss had left then and he followed suit; going home to take a hot shower and then sleep like a corpse, a sleep completely devoid of dreams.
He had woken up the following afternoon to the loud shrieking of his iPhone 4 – and the nightmare had begun. It was the capo calling to tell him two of the boys they had left with the girl the previous day had not shown up – they had simply disappeared. He had calmed the boss down and promised to track them down, and then hung up to take a shower. He was in the bath when his phone started shrieking again.
Hurriedly, he had jumped out of the bathroom without a stitch of clothing on and picked the call. It was the boss again, but there was something in his voice – something cold and frightening.
It was simple; the boys had been found and the boss wanted him immediately.
Packing his arsenal (which were just a .45 Desert Eagle and two throwing knives actually); he left for the capo’s place without finishing his bath. As he left the house he ran into his neighbor’s daughter Nma; an eight year old girl he called his area sweetheart. He usually stopped to play with her but this time he just kissed her sweaty forehead as she giggled up at him and hurried away.
If looks could kill…
He arrived the boss’ house to meet him and two other guys seated at a table laden with guns and weed. The fumes in the house were enough to choke a horse on, and the sweaty, nervous faces did nothing to lighten the mood. As he seated himself, the capo had told him in terse sentences that the two guys left behind to bury the girl had turned up dead.
But it was not that they were just dead; the capo continued, and proceeded to share the gruesome details with him – details that had him gagging. If not for the fact that he had not had anything to eat since that day began he would have thrown up.
It seemed as though the guys had been stabbed over and over; wounds deep enough to bleed like water faucets but shallow enough to keep them alive. Then their privates had been cut off and shoved deeply in their mouths. They had asphyxiated on their own balls.
The boss was wondering if it was some rival cult suddenly trying to wrest power from the Cats – power they had surrendered when they had experienced the brutality of the capo. He did not think so.
Suddenly, he had made a joke about the movie I Spit On Your Grave; in which a woman who had been raped had exacted bloody revenge on all her attackers. He thought that was hilarious, and was actually laughing when the capo had struck him on the left cheek. He registered the shock on the faces of the other guys before he looked at his boss and saw something that made him forget his indignation.
On his boss’ face was a look of rage – sick, trembling rage. But beneath that, deep in his boss’ eyes…he could see fear. His unwitting mention of that movie had reminded them of the girl’s last words before a bullet had put an end to her life –
You are all dead; she had said, the venom in her voice chilling the blood of even the coldest of them; you’ll wish you had never been born.
The capo had gathered himself together with a visible shudder. She’s dead; he had said. This is Nigeria – real life; not some 1979 movie. They had been ordered to lay low for a while and await further word from him.
That was yesterday.
Nine hours ago, he had received a couple more calls from the capo; calls that informed him that he and the capo were the only surviving members of the Black Cats as far as that campus was concerned…the other two had been killed in way more gruesome fashion. One had been fed with wet cement and the other one had had a live wire passed into his butt.
Both their privates were missing…
He is jerked from his reverie by a frantic knocking at his door. He grabs the Desert Eagle off the table and stands up, trying to control his shaking limbs. He darts to the window behind him, gently raises a corner of the curtain and looks out, taking the gun’s safety off. The compound behind his apartment is still; as illuminated in the 11 o’clock moonlight. The knocking continues and then he asks, trying to control the quaver in his voice; “Who – who is it?”
A little girl’s voice answers, “It’s me uncle. Nma.”
He nearly gasps in relief – and then it occurs to him. What is she doing at his door at this hour? Could she be…a hostage?
He carefully creeps to the front of the house and raises a corner of the twin of the curtain he raised earlier. The yard out in front is as abandoned as the one behind – there isn’t a car in sight. He allows his gaze wander over to the front of his door – and nearly gives a cry of horror. It is the little girl Nma indeed, but her dress is torn and covered in blood. As though she can feel his eyes on her, she begins crying, loud sobs that shake her tiny frame. He quickly puts the gun in his waistband after putting the safety back on and opens the door, looking over the little girl’s head into the yard as he beckons to her. She comes walking slowly, and as she moves past him into the house he quickly locks the door again.
“What happened, Nma?” he asks her as he slides the door’s upper and lower bolts back in place. “Who did this to you?”
A voice completely unlike the one that spoke moments earlier; an all too familiar voice – the voice of an adult answers him.
“You did. You and your friends. But don’t worry; I’m here to fix it.”
He turns around and finds that ‘Nma’ has disappeared, and standing in her place is the girl they had brutalized and killed two days before, smiling at him like some long lost relative. She is wearing the exact same torn and bloodied gown ‘Nma’ was wearing, blood all over her face, arms torso and running down her exquisite thighs in sluggish rivulets.
He/you begin to scream.
“What are you doing?” she asks in that lazy drawl of hers I like so much. It feels like – her voice feels like she’s softly drawing nails across my naked chest.
I like it.
“Isn’t it obvious?” I retort, injecting some impatience in my voice.
“I know,” she answers. “That’s not what I wanted to ask. I mean, what are you writing?”
My head dances from left to write as I shake it. “Nothing serious. I’m just fucking around.”
Even though I’m not looking at her – my focus is on the words unraveling on the page in front of me – I feel it the moment she goes still. She’s about to ask one of those annoying and absolutely irrelevant questions women ask in times like this.
I continue punching the keyboard and wait.
“Is that…is that what we’re doing – fucking around?”
I laugh; a short and harsh sound. “Not really. I haven’t fucked you – yet.”
The confusion she’s struggling with is a presence – a palpable enough presence even from across the room. I wait patiently till she opens her mouth – and then I say, “You’re trying to decide which to go with – offense or intrigue. Fair enough – but don’t deny yourself the pleasure of knowing just because you’re conscious of political correctness. It’s a waste of time.”
Now I lift my eyes to her face.
She sighs, swings her legs off the table and straightens her dress. “I’m curious as to why you haven’t…you know…” her voice trails off.
“Fucked you?” I ask, hoping the mischievousness I feel is reflected in my grin.
“Must you say it that way? Aren’t there other words for it?”
“It is what it is.” I rise slightly – and allow a mask of indifference settle on my face. “As to why I haven’t – “ she tenses and I smile. “…why I haven’t touched you, there’s a reason.”
She rolls her eyes. “Of course. There always is with you.”
“Well,” I continue like I didn’t hear her, “the thing is, I don’t like you enough to want to wake up beside you yet, and I like you too much to want to let you go so quickly. I’m getting to know you; taking the time to find if there’s more to you than those boobs that always look like they’re talking to me. If there is, well…” I lift my shoulders and drop them. “If there isn’t, well…” I repeat the action.
She walks up to me and leans a round hip against the table. “They did tell me you think too much. They told me you make mountains out of molehills and see signs where there’s nothing to see. What does all that thinking and analysis do for you?”
I drag my eyes off a thigh that is getting lighter the higher I go and frown at my screen. “Hmm. Remember Joseph? I’m sure Potiphar’s wife said the same thing to him – ‘What’s the big deal? My husband will never know!’ “
“We all know how that worked out for him, don’t we? Took his childish ass to jail!”
“What would have happened if he had slept with his boss’ wife?”
She rolls her eyes. “Nothing na! What would have happened?”
“Exactly. Nothing. He would never have gone to jail. He probably would have never had the dream interpretation skill, would have never become Prime Minister. And the famine would have come – and Egypt would have been just as devastated as the rest of the world.”
“You’re so full of yourself, aren’t you?”
I shrug. “I can make space for you if you like,” I say.
She looks like she wants to run and stay and slap me – all at the same time. Finally, she settles for hugging herself. “I really hate you,” she says.
“Isn’t that why you like me?” I retort with a smile.
“What makes you think I like you?”
I nod. “Well then, maybe ‘like’ is too strong a word. Whatever it is sha, it’s why you’re here – even though you know I’m an arrogant prick. That’s why you cannot leave even though you really don’t like the way I talk to you. See, in spite of your experience concerning men you haven’t met one quite like me – “
“Who says?” she interrupts.
“Hush,” I say gently. “As I was saying – I’m something new. Something you’re not used to. And that is the attraction I have for you. At the moment, I’m simply something you can’t figure out. I intrigue and confuse you. So you hang around, hoping to see something that will explain me, or you’ll become bored or I’ll revert to type and behave in a more familiar way – whichever comes first. But you’re starting to be unsettled because it’s not quite working out the way you expected. The deeper you go the more you like what you see – and the more you like, the more confused you get. You cannot help yourself – you’re bothered to find you’re a kiss-and-a-half away from falling for me completely.”
She doesn’t answer, engrossed in staring at the Kilowog action figure standing on my desk.
“You women are confused sha o,” I start. “You complain that men think with their dicks, and when you meet one who actually thinks with his brain you don’t know what to do with him.” I spread my arms. “How’s that for confusion?”
“It’s not that – it’s not confusion.” She sighs and purses beautiful lips. “See, we’re – women are used to men with agendas. We’re used to men offering us sex, and the ones that may be the exception to the rule don’t talk so it’s easier to assume they also want the same thing, they’re just too shy to admit it. Because of that, we know how to deal with men. We decide if we want it to or how it fits into our agenda. So imagine having to fight men off all your life – and then meeting one that just wants to keep his distance.” She inhales, and then looks at me with soft eyes. “How’s that for confusing?”
Leaning back in my chair, I frown. I cannot think of a response to that. “That’s – that’s a good point,” I admit grudgingly.
She smiles as she pushes the beads around her left wrist distractedly, and then the beaded wrist gets lost in her unruly mass of hair; hair I just want my fingers to get lost in. And she’s smiling – at me. It’s a smile I like better the more I see it. I want to touch her mouth so bad – it’s an urge that startles me – and I put my hands under my armpit.
It shames me that, for all my philosophizing I actually want her.
“Have you finished the story?” she asks softly.
“No,” I answer irritably. “Well yes, it’s done.”
She turns the laptop her way and starts to read, her lips moving gently – almost imperceptibly. My glance happens to shift downwards and I find myself looking down her blouse.
Quickly, I find some new holes to examine in my ceiling.
“That’s it? What am I supposed to make of this?” She pushes the laptop back to me and places hands on her hips, mouth in a pout.
“Well, I did tell you I was just – “
“Fucking around,” she says along with me. Her hair bounces as she shakes her head, but I’m pleased to see she’s still smiling.
“Exactly,” I finish.