I was with Mike and another friend, Eman. We walked on the long tarred road on the high street at Jamestown. Mike stopped to talk to some models he knew, he wanted to hook me up. Every time he threw me like a piece of meat to his female friends; I was okay the third wheel but he never listened.
“This is Lani.” he would say the moment we came across some ladies that knew him, and he knew a lot of them. Not just women, guys too. Mike was popular for carved a niche for himself in the art world, so while we walked on the high street, every now and then someone came for a fist bump, a hug, selfies, a handshake that lasted several minutes and sometimes a short conversation about certain projects. Eman never talked, only when he felt he had to. He was friends with me but he met Mike for the first time.
We searched for Ogenna, my sister; she strays to have a good time.
We found Ogenna after I tried her phone severally. The network was bad. When she picked I couldn’t hear a thing she said. When I got through to her via text message she said she was at a music concert and she wanted me to meet some people. We scurried there.
I stood with Eman under the canopy where I asked Ogenna to meet me. Mike talked to some girls he met; he talked for a while before he waved at me to come over. He did it again—tossed me like meat to his hungry pack of art groupies. It wasn’t just him; Ogenna did it too. Pimp me to whichever lady she saw was beautiful and sounded good enough for me. I had been single for so long and refused so many dates that she doubted my sexuality.
Someone ran up and hugged me, then squeezed me so tight and climbed my body to wrap legs around me. She kissed my neck and said she had heard so much about me, almost knocked me to the floor. I was too surprised to stop her.
Behind her was a black skinny guy that wore a tank top, white pencil pants and transparent boots; he carried a Louis Vuitton duffle.
“Heyyy bitches,” he said and twirled around stylishly. “Where Y’all beeeen all these while we looked everywhere,”
We all laughed. He was definitely homosexual. Mike was homophobic and so he left immediately after expressing his disgust. Just as he left I heard Ogenna’s voice call from behind; she was in a conga line with another girl and three other boys.
“This is Jerry, Elvis, Sebastian, Kelly and Anita, they’re my new bitches, bitches this is my brother Lani and his friend Eman,” Ogenna said.
All the guys came in for a hug. I didn’t know they were homosexuals, except for Jerry who wore an Ankara bum short and kept his mouth in a permanent pout.
I always thought I was homophobic until that night, I thought if I came in contact with a gay person I would go crazy or fold into myself, but I didn’t.
Jerry was a fairy; he looked like he looked for love. Sebastian didn’t look gay except for the way he held out his hands as he walked, Kelly didn’t look gay and didn’t dress gay but he was very bitchy and sassy and a tad aggressive, and when he moved there was an extra lean in his gait and every chance he got he broke into a Beyoncé song.
“I like Eman; he is so handsome and quiet,” Jerry said and moved over to hold Eman in his arms.
“Don’t be such a slut, Jerry,” Sebastian said and snapped his fingers in front of his face, he looked away to show disgust, “always lusting,”
“Get off my pussy baby,” Jerry said.
The girl who jumped on me now stood beside me, her hand in mine. I didn’t know her name but I liked her already. I noticed the hair on her head was dreadlocks, and she smelled so good.
“There is a much better place I want us to go hang out, it’s called Ten pounds, and it’s not a very far walk from here,” Elvis said. “What do you guys think, should we go there and have more fun?”
“Wait,” Ogenna called us back, “Anita is crying,”
We surrounded around Anita like she was our baby sister, “what happened?” we all inquired.
“She found her boyfriend with his skinny bitch ex and he told her he wouldn’t be around today, Men…they are all assholes, and dogs, useless sets of humans,” Kelly said with disgust written all over his face. “That’s why I said fuck love, serves you right Anita baby, I told you he didn’t love you, I even tried speaking to him.” he scoffed “disgusting”
Anita sobbed. After a while, she wanted to go home. Elvis and Ogenna saw her off to get a cab.
It was left with myself and the girl beside me, Eman, Kelly, Jerry and Sebastian.
“Oh, pearl… ashawo.” Sebastian said. He said a long phrase in Twi then added “I don’t know why everybody is being a slut this night, look at Jerry, now Pearl. Hey, sexy boy, Lani, leave her hand alone she has a lot of STDs.”
“Bitch” Pearl flipped him the bird. Sebastian blew her a kiss.
“I hope you don’t believe a word he says,” Pearl said, “That’s how we play.”
“We don’t play with the harlot,” Kelly said, and broke into Partition by Beyoncé; he swung his neck and demonstrated with his hands.
I laughed, I turned to Eman and he mouthed “This shit is fucking crazy.”
I nodded and laughed.
“But seriously, you guys would like that bar,” Kelly said.
“Sure thing, let’s go,” I said. “Or what do you think?” I turned to Eman.
“I’m down,” he said.
Ogenna came back with Elvis, just in time, and we left.
“Batty-batty, cocky-cheese licker, Barrack Obama’s people” Passersby jeered.
“I told you to come with me lets have fun together, I know how to find the crazy people,” Ogenna said to me.
“Where did you find these people?” I asked her.
“They found me, bought me drinks and took me everywhere; the attention we got was so much. Elvis and Jerry are dancers; they’re the ones who introduced me to the rest of the crew.”
“Omo, you really attracted the crazies this time,” I said.
“They are nice abi?”
“Yeah, Jerry and Elvis said they like you and Eman because you didn’t look at them some way.”
“What other way is there to look at them?” I asked Ogenna.
“What are you two gossiping about?” Jerry called back in his sing-song voice. He was in front with Pearl, Eman, Kelly and Elvis.
I and Ogenna laughed but gave no reply.
“How have you been, I can see you like the other girl, the one with dreadlocks.”
“She seems cool, what’s her name, what did you tell her about me?”
“Her name is pearl, and that’s for you to find out from her.”
Just then pearl came and wrapped her hands around mine.
“Let’s walk together,” she said and pulled me away.
We walked until we got to the mouth of the street and crossed to the other side of the road, and then we took a sharp left into a dimly lit alley and then walked until we were on an open street.
Music boomed from all corners of the road, lots of people talked about, men who dressed and acted like women and women who dressed and acted like men.
“Oh… wow” I said.
“You have never been to or heard of ten pounds? You don’t know what they do here?” Pearl asked.
“First time ever,” I said to her.
“It’s a gay bar, lots of gay people.”
“Wo,” I said
She laughed and clung tight to my arms. “I won’t leave you,” she said.
Eman was far ahead with Kelly, Jerry, Elvis and Ogenna but he came over.
“Wow can you see this shit, bro?” he said when he got close.
“I tell you, it’s a gay bar.”
“How cool is that? It’s like free research for you.”
“I know right, just be careful.”
Eman put his two hands on his ass and walked ahead. Pearl and I laughed when we caught what he meant.
We walked into ten pounds and all eyes were on us.
“At least there are women here,” I said to Pearl.
“Majority of who you see here are gay, the women and the men, so be very careful and avoid eye contacts. A lesbian could think you want to steal her girl and start some shit you’re not ready for.”
I nodded. “Where is Sebastian?” I asked and looked around; I hadn’t seen him since we left the concert.
“He went home, he would wait for his parents to go to bed then he would sneak out and join us here later.”
“His parents know he is gay?”
“Yeah… they know he is but they don’t want to accept him, especially the dad, but I heard he is okay with the mom, moms always know, somehow.”
“Yeah, the same thing Jerry said.”
“You spoke to Jerry, about what?”
“I asked how it was to be gay and not get support or get looked down on, he said his mom supported him hundred percent but his dad was in and out.”
“It’s hard to accept your son is something else, I understand…” Pearl said. We kept quiet after that.
We find a couch and we sat. Jerry and Elvis broke out to the dance floor; they shook tiny waists to the amusement of other men seated on other couch, their legs crossed. Elvis was a more vigorous dancer than Jerry, and he raised his shirt to show his belly every time he danced. When I asked him why he did that he said he wanted the boys to see the way he twirls. He even did a full split and cat walked. Ogenna danced too but she got no attention. Kelly disappeared the moment we stepped in. Eman focused his entire attention on the movie showed on the Television. I was with Pearl and she didn’t let go of me, occasionally she gave me a lap dance which I was very grateful for.
After a while, Elvis came to where we sat, sweaty and tired. He wanted to know if we needed anything because he needed a stiff drink. We said we were fine and he left. Jerry too got tired and pulled up a chair to press on his phone.
“Guys check you out,” Pearl whispered into my ear.
“I know that, a lot of them.”
“Let’s get out of here and take a walk, for fresh air.”
We got up and out of the bar but stopped when we heard Elvis behind us.
“Where are you guys headed?” he asked.
“To take fresh air” Pearl answered.
“Okay, please be careful and don’t go far,” he said and left.
Elvis was like the father figure to all the boys, he was the one who told them when to act and when not to act, he was the one who inquired if everyone was fine and he was the one who fought off the attackers or alerted them on when they were monitored. Some men walked into the bar just to monitor those who were gay in other to waylay and rob them. Elvis had been beaten and robbed of being homosexual so much that he knew who all the attackers and robbers.
Pearl and I met Sebastian and Kelly outside the bar.
“It’s the two lovebirds,” Sebastian said and rolled his eyes “where to now?”
“To fuck, obviously” Kelly clapped back, “Don’t fuck this girl I have told you, she has a lot disease in her body, and if she gives you I won’t be able to get sex from you.”
I laughed at him.
“Please use seven condoms, baby pleaseeee.” He said and batted his lashes.
Pearl pulled me away.
We walked down the lonely street hand in hand, and even though my palms got sweaty I didn’t want to leave hers.
“I needed air from all of that; sometimes it gets uncomfortable being around them. I mean, don’t get me wrong, we have been friends for a long time but I know where to draw the line.”
“I understand how you feel.”
“You don’t, I have a friend who couldn’t draw the line with them and now he is gay too.”
I understood, but I said nothing to that effect.
“I wonder if the parents in this area worry from fear of their children tuning homosexuals.”
“That’s how everybody in this area is so there is really nothing to worry or fear, your neighbor is homosexual, or the guy who sells call units, or the guy at your church down the road, only those few who want to grow up straight, the rest sometimes can’t handle it.”
“Gee… I even thought you were gay too.”
“What? No! Fuck that I’m not, I know where to draw the line, sometimes they set me up but I tell them I’m straight.”
“Ever seen them do it?”
“No, but there was a time Sebastian parents travelled, he invited so many gay boys. I was around too. One day I passed by a room and saw two guys doing it, the one under moaned and breathed like a woman and the one on top grunted. I didn’t see anything else.”
“Ha-ha wow must have been a lot for you.”
“Sometimes, I mean I hang with them and all but it gets uncomfortable, I’m very certain nothing feels better than being humped by a dick, a woman can never give me that pleasure, and that’s not about to change anytime soon,” Pearl said.
It was a cold night and the cold wind sliced through my ribs like a razor blade. She shivered and crossed her hands in front of her, and so I took off my jacket and gave it to her. She thanked me as she wore it.
“I want to go home, I miss my bed, and I haven’t slept for three days because we club hopped.”
“Please don’t go home, I want you here,” I said.
“Everything my sister told you about me is a lie,” I said.
“She said very good things about you, except you mean for everything she said she meant the opposite,” Pearl said.
“Maybe, I don’t want to raise unnecessary expectations,” I said.
“Trust me…” she said.
“So, tell me a little about who you are.”
“Me?” Pearl laughed softly, “Who I am, let me see, hmmm… I’m A-minus because my breasts are smaller than A-cups, but I make up for it in the ass. I like to read, a lot, I can read everything and anything. I don’t drink or smoke, I get high off life. I mean I smoke sometimes but I feel anything smoke in your body is bad. I love languages and I pick them up easily. I’m a night crawler; I love clubs, which is one of the reasons why I had to break up my last two relationships. My men don’t trust me enough to let me go out at night without thinking I screwed around…Yeah… I couldn’t have that, and I love to dance and I love to sleep.” She laughed, and ran her hands down her dreadlocks “Was that too much information for you?”
“No, it wasn’t. And it’s funny because I was about asked who you answer to.”
“Ha-ha there you have it then, I answer to no one.”
For a moment we had our eyes on the road and said nothing to each other.
Pearl nudged me. “So you… your sister told me you’re a gentleman, a writer, funny, handsome…bad… I wonder what you would write about tonight.”
I laughed and said nothing.
“C’mon… let up!” she said and tickled me but I didn’t budge.
“No electric charges in your body, huh? I guess it’s been a while, how many months ago?” she said.
“This month makes it a year,” I said. I had my eyes on the road but I saw her neck crane look at me.
“Wow,” she said, “what happened to you?”
“Similar to yours, they didn’t think I loved them enough and because I wasn’t the jealous type.”
‘That’s really stupid.”
“Tell me about it…”
“I’m really sick of everything emotions and relationships, look at Anita and all the bullshit she is going through for love; I would have left a very long time,” Pearl said.
“You look to me like you want someone to care for,” I said.
“What gave you that bullshit idea? I’m not, it’s stressful” she sighed.
We stopped when we got to the junction and Pearl turned to hug me, and then we shared a kiss for what seemed like a minute. My phone vibrated in my pocket and she stepped back. I took it out and checked; it was a text message from Ogenna asking where I was.
We turned back.