Dimeji leaned against an abandoned broken down commercial bus that had become a street prop and resting rendezvous for most of the area boys in the vicinity. He lit the rolled up weed and pulled on it till its embers lit up like a vehicle’s taillights.
He made an ugly shape with his mouth and he let out the thick smoke as the weed’s effect burrowed into his system. He made a quick scan of the area, seeking opportunities. The garage was noisy with buses lined up and their conductors bellowing with taut neck muscles and rippling veins for passengers to load up. Street hawkers consisting of kids, young men and fashionably garbed ghetto damsels darted to and fro in and out of the lined buses to get their wares sold. The next bus that was to depart had only two passengers so there was still enough time before Dimeji accosted its driver to pay his dues.
He put out the weed, tucked the remnant in the breast pocket of his worn out sleeveless jacket which he wore over a white singlet gone brown with age and a pair of green locally sown jeans, and sauntered out of the garage.
He needed to find out where Silifa was. There had been rumours that she had been selling more than just oranges but he didn’t care as long as she shared some of the cash she made with him. It was no longer news that many of the female hawkers had been delving into undercover part-time prostitution while trading on the streets.
Dimeji was not dumb; he knew his girl very well and he knew that it was a matter of time before a local beauty like her became one of them and the local whore every area boy wanted to sleep with. Silifa on the other hand cherished him; she would do anything to keep him to herself hence her constant jealousy anytime she saw him in the company of any of the other girls around the garage or market.
Though rogue and ghetto-bred, Dimeji was still a handsome hunk with a build that mirrored the image of famous actor, Djimon Honsou. The ghetto ladies kept throwing themselves at him, and many of them paid dearly for it – in form of swollen faces, bite and scratch marks courtesy Silifa.
He walked past several roadside shops where Igbo merchants sold generators. They hailed him and he acknowledged their salutes; he was a force to reckon with in this territory. He stood by the roadside watching out for any commercial bus manned by his buddies that he could latch on to. He needed to make his journey further up the road to where Silifa was hawking oranges in-between cars in a traffic hold up.
A silver Honda Odyssey mini bus with shining rims drove past him and parked some distance ahead of him. He was just beginning to admire the vehicle when its reverse lights lit up and it backed-up to where he stood. Its windows were tinted and he couldn’t see who was at the wheel, though he could make out the outline of a well dressed female.
He smiled more to himself than to the mini bus in front of him. Here was an opportunity. This woman had probably lost her way and needed direction. He would offer to help direct and he would expect to get paid a token too.
The automatic window on the passenger side came down with a soft whirring noise and Dimeji felt cool conditioned and freshened air caress his bony and partially scarred face. A very fair complexioned woman, probably in her early 30s in an elegantly designed red and white Ankara outfit sat behind the wheel looking at him. She wore short locks on her head, her neck and hands bore expensive jewelry; their glitter instantly intimidated Dimeji. Her face was well made up but her eyes were hidden behind sunshades. She smiled at him and said nothing.
Then she removed her sunshades and looked at him in the face.
Big bright beautiful brown eyes sitting under well sculpted and arched eyebrows held him.
A sweet smile tucked behind glistening rosy lips sent ecstatic electricity feathering down his spine. He felt the world around him become a blurry flash of movements; the only thing he could see for some reason was this beauty behind the wheel. His trembling hands moved and found the handle to the door of the mini bus. A soft snapping sound rang through the vehicle as she released the central lock and Dimeji found himself climbing into the passenger seat beside her.
The last thing he remembered seeing was the automatic window on his side going back up and the woman’s soft hand touching his dark forearm.
Silifa balanced the tray of oranges expertly on her head and walked slowly along the sidewalk; her big hips struggling under the tight grey jeans worn under a sweat soaked yellow tank top. Beads of sweat plastered her face smearing her cheap make-up and making her face glisten like well oiled suya on a barbecue grill. She was dead tired and needed to get some rest before going out to hawk the streets again. She wondered where on earth Dimeji was. He had promised that he would check on her that day but he never showed up. That was unlike him because he was a stickler for keeping his word; an attitude that earned him respect amongst every area boy and street urchin.
She slowed down her walk as a strange sight greeted her eyes.
Her boyfriend was disembarking from a nice looking vehicle with a woman at the wheel. The mini bus sped off and he stood there by the roadside looking about him like a lost puppy. There was a docile expression on his face and he wobbled as he walked.
She hurried her steps and caught up with him.
He said nothing but stood there looking at her, face sunken, eyes drunken, blank in stare and totally oblivious of where he was and who stood before him.
Silifa looked closely into his face. Initially a bout of jealousy had hit her on seeing him coming out of a nice vehicle with a female at the wheel but it didn’t last the moment she looked at him.
Something was not right.
He looked drunk yet he wasn’t; unconscious yet still on his feet.
Silifa looked towards the fast disappearing Odyssey in the distance and back at Dimeji.
‘Dimeji! What happened?’ she hollered in yoruba.
Dimeji held onto her shoulder and strained his eyes in recognition as his senses began to clear. Silifa helped him stay his balance while still holding onto the tray of oranges on her head. She was baffled; she had never seen him in such a vulnerable state before. Dimeji had always been known to have the ‘liver’ to stand strong after several bottles of local gin or beer. What on earth had he been given that seemed to knock him out of reason?
She needed to get him home. Maybe after resting for a while and fully getting himself back, he’d be able to recollect what had happened.
‘Come, let’s go,’ she said pulling him along. He followed her without a word. His mind was still clouded and in his semi consciousness, he fought with his reasoning faculty to figure out what had happened…