"You're a crawler, man," Smako said, beaming and rubbing his palms together. "How did you find out about this place, boy?"
Ugos was smiling as he poured out his ice-cold beer. He did not understand what his friend meant by him being a crawler but it sounded bad and, he had since learned that in these situations, bad was good. So he did not try to defend himself. He had never been much of an outdoors person. He preferred sitting in his living room or lying on his back in bed, scrolling through social media websites and keeping up with the trends.
But that day, Smako said he was a crawler, and he was inclined to accept that he was. They were seated at a restaurant and bar behind a bus terminal. The bar was housed in the shade made of nothing else but wood and corrugated iron sheets. There were other small businesses around the area. Just beside the bar, there was a kiosk where a man was advertising all sorts of roots soaked in spirits. The environment was noisy, and the crowd was loud, yet Smako preferred it to a restaurant in an upscale neighbourhood that Ugos wanted to take him.
Smako ordered okra soup with fufu served with fresh fish as he poured out his first bottle of beer. Ugos was still a little bit uncomfortable until he had drunk his first bottle of beer. Suddenly, the place did not seem all that bad. As usual, he began to enjoy himself. That always happened whenever he went out with Smako. He wondered if it was Smako or just the way he liked to relax.
"Do you remember that night at Orange Room?," Smako asked, shaking his head. Ugos could not help but laugh.
Both friends had enrolled for an executive MBA program at a Business school in Smako's town. They had classes on Saturdays and Sundays which meant that Ugos had to travel for three hours on Friday evening to enable him to be there on Saturday morning. Each time Ugos arrived on Friday evening, he would be tired of having driven the long distance straight from work.
"Pally, you know say food no dey house. Let's find somewhere and eat, then we head home, alright?" And that's how it always started. Ugos should have learned his lesson, but each time he was convinced that Smako meant it. He suspected that he usually meant it, but somehow, other events would always get in the way. That evening, as they drove to find something to eat, Smako received a call from Noski.
"Hey, man. Are you in town yet?" then he laughed. "My man! Ugos is here. Alright, we shall pick you up at orange room," he said.
Smako was driving. Ugos looked outside the windscreen and realised that he had never seen the city that empty; there were few vehicles on the road, and there were fewer pedestrians. He thought he knew why. The thought had been on his mind for a few days, yet he did not want to talk about it. Smako seemed to read his mind.
"Pally, this Ebola thing is scaring everybody, man. Everyone in the office wore hand gloves today, and there were limited handshakes and zero hugs," he said, making light of the situation.
Ugos did not think it was a funny situation. How often do you have a disease without a cure literally on the street? From the moment Smako suggested eating out, Ugos had been thinking of how to ensure that their food was Ebola-free. He kept his thoughts to himself for fear of appearing more uptight than most folks. He looked at Smako and realised that his friend was waiting for a rejoinder to what he just said.
"Oh, yeah, it is a pretty scary situation. Hopefully, it would be over soon," he replied, wondering what Smako would think if he knew that he had bathed that morning with salt water solution. He wondered who came up with that idea, that salt, soaked in water could help prevent folks from contracting the Ebola virus. Smako would probably laugh at him if he knew that he took that precaution.
Smako turned right, and the neon lights of the Orange Room Nightclub was visible. Looking out of the window, Ugos was shocked to see the crowd outside the club, waiting to be allowed into the club. There were so many people that the bouncers barricaded them out with the club gate and not the door to the club. The people clustered at the gate were bustling, trying to get to the front of the line. Ugos resisted the temptation to bring out his mobile phone and google Ebola, to be sure that physical contact was still one of the ways of being infected.
Smako parked the car and redialled Noski's cell. A minute later, Noski walked out from the club. He was about six-feet tall, a hundred kilos with a slightly bulging midsection. He was a clean-shaved as usual, wearing the most subtle aftershave and expensive perfumes. The cuffs of his expensive-looking shirt were folded, revealing his equally impressive gold Rolex. If you were not careful, you were at great risk of mistaking him for a gentleman.
"Hey Smako and Ugos-Bongos, my men," he called out gleefully as he wrapped each of them in a warm embrace. "Ugos, my man, you must be hungry, but you guys have to come in here for a minute. I have one unfinished business in there, and that DJ is crazy. Man, afuro kwa onye akoro, there are no words to describe it," he concluded as he gently nudged both friends in the direction of the club gates. By then it was a few minutes past ten pm, and Ugos found himself preoccupied with how he was going to stay awake in class the next morning.
As they approached the gates, Noski asked his friends to wait a moment as he approached the biggest of the bouncers and whispered what must have been magic words in his ear because as soon as he said those words, the crowd blocking the gates were parted in two and the two friends walked into the club. Ugos wanted to find out what Noski told the bouncer but the club hall was too noisy for him to be heard.
In the club, you would be hard-pressed to find a single person standing still, but that was what Ugos intended to do. He decided that he would find a safe corner and stand by the wall, a safe distance from all the drunk, dancing people looking for with whom to rub their possibly Ebola-infected skin. He found a suitable corner quickly enough, and he stood there surveying the dimly lit dancing floor.
The walls of the room were padded with soft materials that no doubt improved the acoustics of the room. The middle of the room was empty, and more than a hundred people were packed in it dancing. Along the walls were fully occupied low tables around which people, mostly girls, sat and smoked shisha from a hose which they passed around their friends. That was it; Ugos brought out his cell phone to confirm that Ebola could be transmitted through saliva but much to his chagrin, his battery was low.
Smako did not waste time to find a dancing partner for whom he was pouring a drink from a bottle of Johnny Walker's Red Label on a table near where Noski was dancing with another girl. Ugos only realised that Noski must have ordered the drink before their arrival. Ugos was not much of a drinker, but he could use a bottle of coke. There were several bottles on the table, so he grabbed one and returned to his position on the wall.
Fifteen minutes had passed, and Noski was not yet finished with his unfinished business. The energy in the club was infectious, and soon, Ugos was nodding to the beats and, he was gradually losing the edge that made him restless. Smako poured him a large glass of Red Label and handed it to him. Ugos took it but remained in his position. The next thing he noticed was a girl dancing in front of him. She was standing too close for his comfort. He looked at both of his friends: Noski was very busy dancing lasciviously with his dancing partner and, both of Smako's hands were in the air. From Ugos' assessment, it seemed that his dancing partner had handed him her glass of drink to enable her to rock him appropriately, but it would have painted a picture of helplessness to Ugos if an unknown girl was not doing something similar to him. After trying to make eye contact with Smako in the dim lighting, he concluded that Smako must have been the one that sent his willing dancing partner over.
Ugos was aware that he was a bit of a killjoy when it came to going along with fun activities, so he made a conscious effort to resist the temptation to go against the fun of his friends. As the content of Ugos' glass reduced, his Ebola scare began to recede to the back of his mind, and he suddenly realised that his new dancing partner was lovely. He soon finished the drink in his glass and poured himself another one. He felt so good that he did not remember that he was hungry when he walked into the club.
His dancing partner seemed to have an infinite supply of energy, and she danced to every beat the DJ played. Each time her hips made contact with Ugos, he staggered a little. Ugos was five-feet-ten inches, and he was more than a little surprised that a petite girl like that could make him lose his balance. Ugos could not dance to save his life, but he had since learned to copy the best dancer in a club and do whatever they did. That night, the most consistent person he found was Noski, so it was no surprise that his dancing became just as lascivious as Noski's. After a while Noski came and shouted an odd request in his ear:
"My man," he said, "Please help me watch this door. My girl and I need to use the toilet."
In his ground state, Ugos would have asked why Noski felt that the door should be watched, but Ugos was several levels above his ground state, so he did as he was asked. The door Noski asked him to watch was the door that led to the passage that led to the entrance of the bar. Inside the passage to the right was the male toilet and to the left was the female toilet. It was not up to five minutes that Noski went through that door that the first person came. As soon as he went to open the door, Ugos informed him, "Someone is there."
"A man or a woman," he asked truculently.
"Both," Ugos replied.
"How can it be both? Besides this door leads to the passage and not the toilet," he said and opened the door. Then he tied to push the male toilet door open, but the door seemed to be stuck. He tried the female toilet, and there was no one there. He did his business there and left. The next set of toilet users were not as calm and collected as the first. They waited a minute before they started pushing the door. They seemed to know that the door had no lock so they pushed harder when it wouldn't give in, but the door seemed to be stuck on something because it was not the lock that held it.
The bouncers heard the commotion, so two of them joined to push the toilet door, but they only succeeded to open it a crack. It became apparent then that Noski had used his left leg and left hand to wedge the door. The bouncers could see his shoulder moving back and forth, but they still could not open the door. Finally, they did what they should have done earlier.
"Please open the door," one of them asked. More people who needed to use the toilet had gathered.
"Wait!" came Noski's forced response from within. A minute later, he let go of them and was pulling up his trousers as he walked out. The bouncers were amazed to see the person that held that door against them for that long because he did not look like much. The did not know what to do with him.
"Nawa for you oh," one said.
"Nawa for you too. I don't understand you people. Don't you have any decency? Didn't nobody ever tell you that you have to let a man finish?" he said with feeling as his partner followed him out of the toilet.
Ugos was amazed and, he just added another question to the list of the things he would ask Noski, "How is it that you, one man, could close a door against such odds?"
Smako missed most of the action because he was busy on the dance floor. When he realised what had happened, Noski had come out of the toilet, and they all headed outside the club. The girl that Ugos danced with was following him as if they were joined to the hip. When Smako suggested that they should find something to eat, Ugos could not imagine there was such a place by one pm in the morning but they not only found a place, but they discovered that those people opened for business just a couple of hours before then.
They ate. From when Ugos met his dancing partner, no word had been said between them due to the loud music in the club. Having come out of the club, they could have had a conversation but, Ugos preferred not to talk. So he had expected the girl to say, "No" when he asked her to follow him home, but "Ok" she said. By the time the party arrived at Smako's house, Noski's partner had left. It was a two bedroom flat, so Smako shared his room with Noski while Ugos and his girl took the second room.
By the time Ugos saw her under the white light of Smako's room, she did not look as beautiful as he had thought. For the first time, he saw the sadness in her sunken eyes. Ugos tried keeping up appearances, but he avoided physical contact with her all through. Smako and Noski were surprised when their friend came over to their room for a chat around two am. They went along with it until they realised he would stay much longer if they let him. They sent him back to his room. A half hour later, he returned to ask for a Holy Bible. Ugos was not a very religious person so when he asked for a bible, Noski raised an eyebrow but none of them had the strength for a long talk, so they suggested that he slept in their room.
By the time the friends woke the next morning, they were already late for the class which began at seven am. To hurry up, Ugos went to have his bath in the room he was supposed to share with the strange girl, but there was no one there. He decided that she must have walked into the bathroom for a shower but a minute in the room made him realise that none of her things was in the room. He checked the bathroom and was not surprised to find it empty. Along with the girl went all the money in his wallet, his wristwatch, perfumes and every other item of value he had with him.
When he told his friends what had happened to him, they laughed.
"Come on, man. You never leave valuable things where these girls can reach it. I was in a hotel room with a girl once. I hid my money on top of the ceiling inside the toilet and also hid the girl's cell phone under my pillow for good measure. Sorry man," Noski said.
Ugos was sad because he did not think through his actions the night before, and it cost him heavily. He was learning his lesson the hard way. He reluctantly showered and got ready for classes. When they were on their way to the class, he remembered how they went into the club in the first place.
"Noski, what exactly did you tell that bouncer last night?"
"Hahahaha. Nothing special. I pointed you and said you were the governor's son; then I said that Smako was a drug overlord in Malaysia. I told him that between the two of you, you could close the club for a few days," he said, laughing.
"Of course, they want people with deep pockets. Whatever else they tell you is a charade. As you could see, the club was not nearly full."
Ugos learned his lesson that day. The next time he travelled for those classes, he went straight to Smako's home with dinner he bought on his way. But he was glad he had that experience because it taught him not to make any decision after midnight, especially after a drink or two.
Authored by: @churchboy
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