WOMAN IN WRAPPER
(There is nothing on stage except a bus-stop signpost. MYLES, dressed in an expensive three-piece suit, saunters in eating in ravenous relish. After a while, BEN, dressed in a normal white shirt, black trousers with shoes and covered in a drab, grey trench coat, walks in, hands in coat pockets. Myles hurriedly gulps up his food. Silence. Then…)
BEN: (extends his hand) Hello. I am Ben.
MYLES: (receives it a bit nervously) I’m Myles.
(They shake. Silence.)
MYLES: Which Ben are you?
MYLES: I mean, what kind of a Ben are you?
BEN: (carelessly) I’m just Ben, you know. Benson, Benlowes, Bentham, Bentley, Benito, Benedetto. Take anyone you like.
MYLES: Oh I see.
MYLES: You’re waiting for the bus, too?
MYLES: I’m waiting for the bus as well.
BEN: It’s a special kind of bus, I hear.
MYLES: It’ll take us to that place.
BEN: Most certainly. It’s a special kind of place, I hear too.
MYLES: What kind of bus do you think will take us to that kind of place?
BEN: A good bus. It must be a good bus. Good throughout.
MYLES: (wonderingly) That place must be wonderful.
BEN: So I hear.
MYLES: I heard that too.
BEN: Well, let us just wait for the bus then.
MYLES: A fine house I have.
BEN: Is it?
MYLES: Yes. Everywhere white. Everywhere silicon. Everywhere terracotta. Everywhere satin. Everywhere lace. Wonderful house. (hands in pockets)
BEN: (absent-mindedly) I see.
MYLES: You know, I feel like going back there. (turns to go)
BEN: Well, I can’t go back to mine.
MYLES: (still) Why not?
BEN: Why? You ask me why? When you get to your house, the first place you enter is the toilet. The lavatory, to be polite. After a hard day’s work, you would be filled with waste in you. You enter the toilet – em, lavatory. Tribes of human faeces infested with bold and shy flies greet you. If you are a polite person, you politely depart. If you are as desperate as I am, you will damn all consequences. So, you see, I cannot enter my house without entering the toilet – lavatory.
MYLES: (pitifully) Oh poor you.
BEN: Not at all. Not at all. I live in a peaceful environment. The people living above me feed my ears with the music of the 21st century and beyond, while the people downstairs compete with traditional, Fuji, reggae highlife music of ages past. This happens every night and day and afternoon. That is, when NEPA loves us.
MYLES: (laughs) I live isolated. And do you know what? I hate it.
MYLES: I am tired of admiring my house.
(A female passer-by catwalks by. She is in skimpy jeans shorts, a transparent blouse and platform shoes. Myles wolf-whistles and stretches out to touch her. Ben restrains him.)
BEN: Do not touch her!
MYLES: Why not?
(Ben sings the chorus of the hip-hop song “Dangerous” by Busta-Rhymes and even dances to it. Myles scratches his head.)
MYLES: What makes you think so?
BEN: What day is today?
MYLES: I don’t know.
BEN: Is it not Nwikpi… or Uwe?
MYLES: (with great contentment) The first one, sheer lace, scoop-neck, long-sleeve dress, with wide ribbon piping at neck, cuffs and hemline. The second one, three-piece skirt suit with three-button, long-sleeved, notch-collared short jacket and midriff blouse. The third one, black lace, round-neck, cap-sleeve dress worn over wide colourful cummerbund and bikini. You know, I really do not know which one of them was the sweetest. They were all sweet in my bed.
BEN: Why do you think about women this way?
MYLES: One just passed my way. I could not help but reminisce.
BEN: (shrugs) Well, I like the noisy comfort of my quiet home with only one, who later left me for another.
MYLES: Nonsense! You should have kept her.
MYLES: With a drug.
BEN: What drug?
BEN: (shrugs again) How do you think that bus would look like?
MYLES: (thinks for a while) Hm. Fine. In fact, better white, better silicon, better terracotta, better satin, better lace. Better wonderful bus.
BEN: Well then, let us wait for the bus.
MYLES: (laughs) A funny man my late father.
MYLES: When I was a boy, I made it a point of duty to watch him dress up before he goes for a constitutional conference. He must always wear boxer shorts under his regalia.
BEN: What for?
MYLES: Just in case there is a “small quarrel” over there. (takes a professional boxer pose)
(Ben chuckles and does the same. At first, they playfully box each other. Gradually, it turns into a serious fight. Quickly, Ben withdraws.)
MYLES: A sudden brief illness took him away.
BEN: Pity. Pity.
MYLES: Pity indeed.
MYLES: They keep coming. Each girl hot in my arms. As they keep on coming, it is getting hotter and hotter and hotter.
BEN: (angrily) What is the matter with you?
MYLES: Don’t mind me. Such a fickle thing. She is so so weak in my arms. And my desire is so so high. I don’t let her rest. I just keep on doing it. (demonstrates) And yet she comes out, high, proud, big, enormous, huge, it-is-my-prerogative. A no-nonsense woman she is now.
BEN: Are you crazy?
MYLES: Please, I say again. Do not mind me.
BEN: I am trying to concentrate.
MYLES: On what?
BEN: That place that bus will take us to. I guess you were miles away.
MYLES: Oh yes. It should be a wonderful place, that place.
(A beggar comes in, obviously tattered in rags. He carries a nylon bag of coins and he sings a doleful song. He approaches Ben and Myles. Myles fishes out a fifty-naira note from his pocket.)
MYLES: This is 50 naira. Take it and give me 49 naira change.
BEGGAR: But oga sah, I no get dat kind money. Please pity me.
MYLES: You are very mad! (snatches his bag of coins) What is this? Get away!
(The beggar sorrowfully exits with the fifty naira. Myles counts the coins and contentedly, he pockets them. Ben watches him forlornly and afterwards shrugs.)
BEN: Well, I’ll be going.
MYLES: Won’t you wait for the bus again?
BEN: I don’t know.
MYLES: I’ll be going, too.
BEN: You won’t wait for the bus?
MYLES: (pause) I don’t know.
BEN: (frustrated) Abeg I dey go jo!!
MYLES: Me, too.
(They exit in different directions.)