Friday nights were “Boogie Nights” at L.A. Buka. DJ Kobaso, the resident disc jockey, kept the dancing floor bumping with world beat grooves. The eatery was transformed from its cozy and inviting lunch and dinner spot to a setting befitting an upscale Nigerian house party.
Nduka rolled up in his shiny black Mercedes, just as the front door of the restaurant flew open, allowing the rap favourite, “Stanky Leg,” to seep out into the streets. Gloria, Nduka’s trophy girlfriend, bucked rhythmically to the music in her seat, pleasing him mightily. He hated rap music, didn’t understand it, and didn’t want to understand it. But he liked the way she moved in her seat. He imagined her sweet gourd-like ass grinding away on top of him later on tonight. He couldn’t wait. His loins began to heat up in his pants. They cooled off quickly when he remembered that Gloria so far had proven to be a tough nut to crack. She was a hard-headed woman. And he loved it! He was tired of the submissive type. Boring. Been there, done that.
“Diopka!” a friend called. “I see you dey like you no dey.”
“How you dey now?” Nduka replied, dipping his voice two notches lower, enveloped in a certain satisfaction. He had the most beautiful woman in the club tonight, so give to Ceasar what was Ceasar’s. One of his favourite sayings.
The club’s door closed, choking off the music. Gloria settled back glumly into her seat and bobbed her head to an imaginary music. Crack, crack, crack, sang the Mercedes’s tires as it rolled over parking lot gravel.
Thud, the car’s door shut with a snobbish elegance. Nduka walked around to open the door for Gloria. On more than one occasion he’d admonished her for getting out of the car before he had the chance to perform his gentlemanly duty. He was a gentleman and he preferred – no, expected – his women, even the hard-headed ones, to act like ladies in public.
She came out of the car, her covertly pungent perfume as intoxicating as her beauty: curves so perfect they complimented an angelic face that boasted huge eyes and a hint of attitude. He grabbed her hand as he began walking towards the club. Her slender-fingered hand felt soft in his.
Bellocame out of the club looking all dapper. Thief, Nduka thought.Bello would steal your woman without batting an eye. His grip on Gloria’s hand tightened. An unconscious act. He nodded a salutationBello’s way, quickening his steps. When Osita Osadebe’s “Majorko” seeped out of the club, he stopped and joyfully swayed to it. Gloria studied him with a slight amusement. He resumed walking as the club’s doors closed, cutting off the music.
“Who’s he?” Gloria asked.
“That’s Osadebe, my lady. The greatest Igbo musician in the history ofNigeria.
“You wouldn’t understand.”
“No, I wouldn’t. I meant the cute guy.”
See, Nduka thought to himself. A Niaja woman would never say such a thing! “He’s not cute. He’s a thief!”
“Let’s not talk about him.”
Gloria smiled and pressed his hand playfully. “You are one jealous Nigerian.”
“All Nigerian men are jealous, remember that.”
“I hope so.” She giggled like a little girl. Nduka frowned. He hated that giggle. It was like she was making fun of him when she laughed like that. He let go of her hand.Inside the club, all eyes gravitated towards Gloria and her companion. Grudging respect and accolades poured in from all corners.
Strobe lights flashed happily all around as bodies gyrated suggestively on the dance floor. Nduka walked like a king to his reserved seat. He performed his gentlemanly duty by pulling out a seat for Gloria. She bucked suggestively in her seat as the waiter poured their drinks. His was Guinness Stout, and hers was Schwepp’s Bitter Lemon. Normally he opted for Heinekens, but on occasions like this – when he craved to show the world what he had for a girlfriend – he chose Odeku. DJ Kobaso dropped Snoop Dogg’s “Drop it like it’s hot,” igniting a frenzy on the dance floor.
“Let’s dance,” Gloria declared. She stood up and gyrated to the music.
“Not now, baby. We just got here.”
“C’mon. I love this song.”
“I don’t.” Nduka said it with a little edge in his voice. He was still irritated by Gloria’s comment concerningBello. Even though it was an innocent comment, it still rubbed him the wrong way. Never tell your man that his enemy was “cute.” Especially if the man had once stolen a girl from him. “Sit down.”
Gloria ignored Nduka’s command and continued dancing.Bellowalked back into the club and made a bee line for Gloria. He offered a hand to Gloria.
She leaned towards Nduka, kissed him on the cheek and said, “I’ll be back, Didi.” She tookBello’s hand and walked with him towards the dance floor. Nduka felt like rising to his feet, rushing up toBello, and slugging him right in his jaw.
“I tell you before say make you watch out for that akata, “ Rose said as she slipped into Gloria’s seat. “They no get respect.”
“Na who ask you to siddon for dat seat? Which kind respect be dat?” Nduka asked her. He studied her full juicy lips as she sipped from a straw immersed in a glass.
“How you dey, Nduka? I don call you sotey. Wetin I do you?”
“Wetin you want from me, woman?” He glanced at Gloria on the dance floor. She had her back pressed againstBello, who had his hands wrapped around her waist. A ragamuffin song shook the building as it blared out of the speakers. Nduka shifted uncomfortably in his seat.
Rose placed down her glass. “I wan give you wetin dat akata no fit give you. I swear.”
“And wetin be dat?”
“Love and respect! I swear. Wetin you see for akata girls?”
“They real now.”
“Wetin you mean?”
“They no be fake.”
“Na dem be fake! You don check her breast? Na plastic!”
“How you know?”
“Take it from me. No be plastic. Na oyinbo dey do all dat.” Nduka frowned as he noticedBellohanding Gloria a card. She accepted it.
“Akata dem dey do am too.”
“Excuse me.” Nduka stood up and walked up to the dance floor, grabbed Gloria by the arm and then led her out of the club.
Outside Gloria yanked her arm out of Nduka’s grip, and then said, “Let go of me!”
“What are you doing?” The coolLos Angelesbreeze did nothing to calm down Nduka’s nerves.
“What are you doing? Are you mad? Dragging me out of the club like that.”
“You have absolutely no respect for me?”
“What’re you talking about?”
Nduka jabbed a finger at the club. “You did not behave right inside there.”
“I was dancing inside there.”
“You only dance with the person that brings you to the club.”
“That’s our tradition.”
“Listen, buster. We’re inAmerica, and I dance with whom ever I want to dance with!”
“You’re stupid!” Nduka was ready to put a fist through a wall.
“What did you call me?” She waved her hands above her head and walked back towards the club.
“Get back here!”
“I’m gonna take you home.”
“I’m not ready to go.”
“Listen, you came here with me and you’re leaving with me.”
She walked defiantly into the club.Bellocame out of the club wearing a smirk on his handsome face. Nduka walked towards him, his right fist balled up. Two other patrons got between them, scuttling a fight in the making.
“You know who I be?” Nduka said, spitting the words out atBello, who remained silent but kept the smirk. Gloria emerged from the club, her purse in her grip.
“Let’s go,” Gloria said. “This is embarrassing.” She walked briskly towards the Mercedes. Rose came out of the club and pulled Nduka away from the fracas.
“One of these days I will show you pepper.” Nduka yanked his arm away from Rose and approached Gloria. “Where’s the card he gave you?”
“What’re you talking about?”
“You think that I’m a fool? I saw him give you his card.”
She reached into her purse, took out a card and threw it at him. He picked it up, studied it briefly, and then ripped it into bits. He turned and threw the shreds in the direction of Bello, who was now being comforted by Rose. Gloria, without Nduka’s gentlemanly duty, got in the car and slammed the door shut. Nduka got in the car and drove away, leaving a trail of dust in the car’s wake.