Abbie finished hanging her washed laundry and began pegging them. From the corner of her eye she could make out a figure peeping eavesdropping from the opposite building. She knew it must be Jay. She had come to notice that he always checked her out whenever she came out to do anything.
She suddenly noticed that she was out of pegs and had more clothes that needed pegging.
Then she smiled as an idea struck her.
She put down the basket and strolled towards the building housing Jay’s apartment.
Up at the window, Jay suddenly lost composure as he watched her advance towards his building.
Oh crap! She must have seen me watching her!
Idiot…didn’t I warn you?
I’ve got to do something…got to do something!
How about just accepting the fact that you’re a sitting duck?
The knock on his door almost made him pee his pants. It was a gentle knock but to Jay it sounded more like a vicious pounding.
Then he remembered the ring from Baba Sawonjo and had a brainwave.
This just might be his opportunity to use it. His lost confidence resurfaced again.
He took out the ring from its wrapped container, rubbed in the odd smelling ointment. He gasped as its strong odour hit his nostrils. It looked like some minty jelly mixed with ammonia. It stung the atmosphere and made his eyes water. He wore the ring and with a deep breath opened the door.
Abbie stood there, hands in jeans hind pockets, smiling at him, as if happy to see him. Her face radiated with that strange beauty that held him and robbed him of reason.
For a moment he was confused because he thought that smile ought to come after he had smacked her on the butt with the ringed hand.
‘Hi. Sorry to disturb you but I was hanging my clothes outside and ran out of pegs. Could I please borrow some from you? I promise to return them when my clothes get dry.’
She flicked a lock of her bob weave off her face and tugged at her red sleeveless T-shirt which heartlessly amplified her moderate bossom. It didn’t help Jay’s confidence.
‘Oh…ye…yeah. Just hold on, le…let me g-get you some. How many do you need?’
He left the door partially opened and ran to his bedroom to get the pegs. They were kept in a plastic container under his bed. He found himself packing almost up to twenty pegs instead. He was so overwhelmed and elated that his object of obsession had come to meet him at his doorstep.
By the time he came out of the bedroom, Abbie was already in the middle of the sitting room looking at the window where he had been observing her.
Jay stopped in his tracks, not knowing what to say. Guilt at being caught red-handed stifled him from cooking up an excuse. She eventually broke the ice.
Yeah…nice view, he thought, his eyes fixated on her hips and the junction where her thighs met. She looked so good…so delicious in jeans.
She looked back at him. He looked away quickly.
She was no longer smiling. Rather there was a mischievous smirk playing on her face.
‘Do you get a good view of me from here?’
The question hit Jay like a karate kick to the testicles. A couple of pegs dropped from his grasp, his hands suddenly felt moist. He searched his mind for something to say and found nothing.
She didn’t wait for an answer but moved towards the window and leaned over its hedge looking out as if to check every possible angle he could spy from.
Three more pegs fell from his grasp. Not because of any question this time but because of how she was standing at his window.
Abbie was leaning over the window hedge and her butt stuck out, neatly curved in the tight grey jeans as if begging to be touched…as if begging to be slapped.
He swallowed and looked about him as if expecting something or somebody to stop him.
He dropped the pegs quietly on one of the bamboo chairs and bumbled forward to seize the moment; the hand bearing the ring raised up eagerly.
Abbie closed her eyes as mid-day breeze caressed her face. She loved this view from Jay’s window. It was the perfect view. And she liked the fact that her apartment’s courtyard where she hung the clothes could be viewed from here. It gave her the opportunity to flaunt herself before him.
She had enjoyed the look on his face when she asked the question. He must have thought she never knew anything about him spying on her with his binoculars.
Maybe one day she would do a nasty striptease session in front of those lenses.
She giggled at the thought.
Then she felt the light but firm slap on her butt.
‘What nonsense…’ she growled spinning around defensively.
Her spin was accompanied by her raised hand.
Jay felt the slap hit him across the face with such force that his face was swerved to one side.
He placed his hand on the part where the slap had stung him while looking at her in shock.
Something strange had happened within that moment of brief subtle violence.
Abbie held her face, terrified at what she had done.
And more terrified at what she saw on his hand – a ring; the same as the one she had worn on the hand she had shook him with the day she arrived the neighbourhood.
No! It can’t be…
It glitterred with the same eerie shine as the one she had.
This was definitely the same type of ring.
The same one she had paid that raggedy Baba Sawonjo ten thousand naira to make for her so that the moment she shook Jay’s hand on the day they moved in, he would fall in love with her.
She had seen Jay earlier when she and her brother came to check out the apartment before moving in but Jay had been oblivious of their presence.
The crush she had developed on seeing him that day was instant. And since Abbie was one who always made sure she got what she wanted, she went the extra mile by paying Baba Sawonjo a visit.
Now Jay was wearing the same type of ring Baba Sawonjo had given her – she could even perceive the smell of the same ointment she had been told to rub on it. Jay in his desperation had applied it in excess.
This was the same ring that Baba Sawonjo had told her specifically the ‘don’ts’ – one of which was most important – never use the ring on somebody who had also used it…otherwise there would be a stalemate that would destroy the workings of the charm.
Jay had just violated that rule; a rule he knew nothing about, thanks to paying Baba Sawonjo only six thousand naira.
Now as he stood there, he could no longer see a beautiful damsel with intimidating sex appeal but a buck-toothed and unattractive plain faced lady.
It was like a veil had been yanked off his eyes and he could see her more clearly. Suddenly he couldn’t fathom why on earth he had obsessed after her.
They both stood there looking at each other, still smattering from being struck by bitter truths; Abbie mortified at her ‘loss’ of having this guy to herself, Jay confused and oblivious of the fact that he had been the one under a spell all the while.