Naija Tales from Los Angeles is fiction set in the city of Los Angeles, in the state of California, USA. The characters in the stories are members of the resident or transient Nigerian and African communities scattered throughout the city. The first instalment was subtitled Yellow Fever.
Tale #2, instalment #2
Queen came out of Creek, the Los Angeles vegetarian eatery, pissed off. How dare Kerete push her buttons like this? She undertook this trip in part to seek him out and…and…And what? She asked herself. Regardless, he should’ve been more respectful. He deserved that slap in the face! The nerve. She was a Nollywood queen, for crying out loud, and deserved some respect.
Queen hurried towards the lead cab in the row of cabs parked in front of the Hermosa Beach hotel that housed the restaurant.
She stopped just as she was about to enter the cab. She looked about. A sleek Mercedes sedan crawled to a stop besides the cab. Senator Tony Umeh was behind the wheel of the car. What was he doing here? Queen wondered.
“Ma’am, are you in or out?” the cab driver asked, his right hand on the car’s gear.
Queen struggled to make up her mind. She needed time to regroup from the altercation with Kerete in the restaurant. A quick drive back to her hotel room might just be what the doctor ordered. But a warm, caring refuge in Senator Umeh’s orbit might help her mightily right now and it was…just a few feet away.
Tony, dressed in a dark two-piece suit, stepped out of the Mercedes, walked confidently up to the cab driver’s window and threw a wad of dollar bills at him. “She’s coming with me.” He strode back to the Mercedes, opened the passenger door, and waited for Queen to get in. Queen got in the car, but just as the car was about to drive off, out of the corner of her eye, she saw Kerete emerge from the restaurant. She sighed with relief as Tony gunned the car forward. She hoped that Kerete didn’t see her get into Tony’s car.
Tony whipped the vehicle onto the long, winding road that was the Pacific Coast Highway in Hermosa Beach and navigated past scantily-clad beach worshippers headed for the beach, which was located on the other side of the road.
Queen leaned back onto the softness of the leather seat and gave her mind a chance to relax. The soft, rich R & B music seeping out of the multiple speakers didn’t hurt.
“What are you doing here, Tony?”
“You’re welcome.” He smiled as he rolled up the front windows.
“Thank you. Still, what’re you doing here?”
“What are you doing here?”
“None of your business.”
“Then it’s none of your business what I’m doing here.”
“You should not have followed me.”
“What told you I followed you?”
“It wasn’t coincidence, Tony. Stop playing with me.”
It’s not against the law to be at the same place at the same time,” Tony said. “Anyway, you lied to me.”
Queen turned to look at him. “How did I lie to you?”
“You said that the Calabar boy was not here.”
“First of all he’s not a boy, and I didn’t say he wasn’t here. Abeg, don’t put words in my mouth o.”
“Are you saying that I’m lying?”
“You said it not me.”
Tony hissed loudly. “Why I’m I wasting my time with you? I thought you came here to explore opportunities for your career, Queen? What are you doing risking it with this boy?”
Queen laughed. “Are you wasting your time with me, Tony?”
He paused. “It seems so, Queen. I’m known to get what I want when I want it.”
“Including me, abi?”
“I didn’t say that.”
“That’s what you implied.”
Tony slammed his palm on the steering wheel. “Damnit, Queen. I want you and you know it! I’ve never waited this long for anybody!”
“I’m not one of those things you get when you want it, Tony.”
“On less, of course, I was a certain Calabar boy.”
That set her off. She sat up on her seat, straining the car’s seat belt. “Let me tell you something. I’m grateful that you’ve helped me, Tony. But everything I have I got through my own sweat, so I’m not beholden to you in any way, shape or form.”
Tony sighed and blinked exasperatedly as he turned onto Torrance Boulevard. The car cut through a residential neighbourhood that boasted shops, open space and tall buildings housing beach condos. Surfer dudes with blond hair and surfer boards walked barefoot and bare-chested towards their trucks.
A silver Corvette with tinted windows drove up to the passenger side of the Mercedes and stayed with it.
“Who’s this idiot?” Tony asked. “Is he crazy? This is a two-way street.”
Queen shrugged innocently, but then sat up when the driver-side window rolled down.
Kerete was behind the wheel of the car, which had the sleekest body make and the fattest tires she’d ever seen on a car. Kerete waved at them to pull over.
Shit, Queen thought. She was looking forward to a quiet evening, but now it didn’t look like it was going to happen. Her face frowned, but her heart smiled. “He says stop.” “He says what?”
“He says stop!”
“Who is he?”
“That’s the Calabar boy you’ve been talking about, Tony. You should know, you’ve been following me all day!”
“I didn’t know that he is crazy. He’s going to get us killed.”
“Then pull over!”
Too late. The Corvette cut in front of the Mercedes and brought both cars to a screeching stop, drawing everyone’s attention to the cars.
To be continued…