Kamal’s hands fumbled with his pockets as he searched for the key to his apartment. He greatly hoped in his heart that he had not forgotten it in the conference room again like he did three days before; it was too cold today for him to have to go out looking for any key. He finally found it in the inner pocket of his coat, unlocked the door, walked into the darkness of his apartment and then turned on the lights. The heater was his next point of call as it had been in the last two weeks that the temperature danced between ten and six degrees.
He dropped his satchel on the beige carpet, kicked off his boots and jumped into the king-sized bed, sinking into the soft, cotton-filled duvet. If there was anything Kamal hated about his current environment, it was the skin-stinging cold which most of his other colleagues – non-Nigerians, of course – didn’t really classify as cold; but anytime he got into the bed, he felt a soothing relief he earlier described to Elsie as refreshing. He shuffled between the sheets and duvet until he found a perfect spot where he laid on his back, propped up his head on a pillow and stared at the white-washed ceiling. His stomach growled with hunger but he ignored it for his mind that wandered back home, to Lagos, to Elsie. Kamal wished she were with him; every night, snuggled up under his duvet, his mind dwelt on her like a dog on fresh bones.
He longed to feel her in his arms, breathe in the fruitiness of her cologne, delight in the music of her laughter and rest his tired head in her bosom. Even with the fact that he spoke with her first thing in the morning and her voice was the last he heard every night before he slept off, it didn’t cover up the distance that ran thousands of miles between them. The other day, she had sobbed when they spoke, saying how much she missed him and longed for him to be back. The eight weeks he had left in the US were beginning to look like eight months; he wanted to be home so bad. Hot blood running through his veins didn’t help either, and since Elsie wouldn’t do it with him virtually nor allow him touch himself, he sought relief in plenty mugs of steaming hot chocolate and hard rock music. Not that his relief-seeking methods helped much anyway.
Kamal rolled out of the bed. He needed to eat something and call Elsie, it was past ten o’clock. He moved over to the kitchen area and opened the fridge; so many bottles of beer and packs of bacon and sausages stared back at him. He closed the fridge, looked at the half-eaten loaf of bread sitting on the counter a while and then shook his head. He resisted the temptation to go for sandwiches – though easy and quick, he wasn’t going to sacrifice tomorrow’s breakfast for tonight’s dinner. He dropped onto the stool by the counter, picked up the landline, called his favourite pizzeria and ordered a large box and hot chicken wings with extra chilli. What Americans called hot chilli to him, was like tomato paste.
The door bell rang. Kamal frowned in wonder and took a glance at his wristwatch.
“Ten twenty-five” he muttered to himself, “Who on earth is at my door? It definitely can’t be the pizza guy unless they’d worked magic!”
The bell went off again.
Kamal got on his feet and walked to the door. He was going to take look at his unwanted guest through the peep hole when he remembered that the view it gave was blur, it had always been blur and he had always forgotten to make a complaint to the manager of the apartment about it.
He put his right ear against the door trying to make out any sound but heard none. He hadn’t made any friends that would come knocking at his door at that time of the night and he also wasn’t going to exactly admit that his heartbeat raced a little faster at the thought of racists and their likes.
“Who is it?” he finally asked.
The racing of his heart stopped for some seconds and then the beating began again, almost normal.
He unlocked the door and stood in the doorway, hands crossed against his chest.
“Hey Trish!” he flashed a what-in -Jupiter-are-you-doing-at-my-door-at-this-time smile.
Trisha, a petite, hazel-eyed, caramel-skinned brunette was Kamal’s neighbour; not next-door, five doors away. She worked a counter at Tesco during the day and that at the Corner Bar at night. The apartment she stayed in wasn’t exactly hers and she used to have a job downtown as a stripper. Kamal knew all of these not because he asked but because she volunteered the more-than-enough-information and more during her many unwanted visits to him, none that had been at a time as late as the one she just came.
One set of her fingers worked her brunette coils and the other, the top button of her coat.
“Uh, you’re okay?”
She smiled and ran her tongue over her crimson red lips. “Sure. Won’t you let me in?”
“I would, if you told me why you’re here this late”
Kamal knew what she was up to. Some days before, she had come to his apartment early in the morning to ask for some sugar dressed in a sheer mini nightdress without having on any underwear. He’d kept the door open and made her stand while he got her an entire pack.
“Can I come in?” she reached out to touch his arms.
Kamal slid away from her touch. “I’m sorry Trisha, you can’t”
In a split second, she ran her fingers down the buttons of her coat and shrugged it off, revealing her toned caramel body in nothing but lingerie.
Kamal felt his heart stop beating and all the blood in his body run into one spot.
Trisha stepped into his face and spoke in a suggestive whisper, “The bottom’s candy. You can eat that off me”
His breathing became belaboured and his face suddenly glistened with perspiration.
She chuckled childishly and shoved him back inside. Kamal staggered back a few steps and suddenly became awakened by the lightness of his own weight such that she had been able to send him staggering. She came after him and started to run her hands from his chest downward; he caught her hand just as she reached his belt buckle.
She looked into his eyes. “What’s wrong?”
“You” His voice sounded strange in his own ears.
She smiled again, tiptoed and kissed him on the lips.
Kamal pushed her back. “You should leave now”
She struggled to maintain her balance and began to make her way back to him.
Kamal dodged her touch again and went back to the doorway. “Get out of my house!”
She laughed. “House? Your house?”
The smile faded. The eyes dimmed. “Fine!”
Trisha stormed past him and out of the apartment. Kamal sighed heavily, stepped in, shut the door behind himself and leaned his back against it.
He ran his palms over his hair and shut his eyes in a bid to regain himself.
His door bell rang, again.
“Go away!” He yelled.
“Uh, dude, you don’t want your pizza no more?”
It wasn’t Trisha.
Kamal unlocked the door, again. “Sorry man. I thought it was someone else”
The skinny helmeted delivery guy shrugged and handed Kamal his order in exchange for loose change he had fished out of his pockets.
Kamal stepped back into his apartment and shut the door behind himself, one more time, only that this time around, he made sure he secured the deadbolt. No more opening of doors for the night. He dropped the box on the floor and slid down into a squat beside it.
Kamal punched the carpeted floor hard. “I want to go home!”
P.S: I sincerely apologize for missing the last two weeks. The last two Fridays have been my craziest ever… I’m terribly sorry. Hope you enjoyed this episode? We’re almost at the end, don’t miss out. The next episode ‘ll come up on Tuesday so as to make up for the ones I missed. See you then and thank you for reading.