A Lagos tattoo artist gets caught up in an explosive sexual thicket when he detours from attending his birthday party to confront his girlfriend for ditching the party.
Uyi walked into the New Lagos Bar looking like someone had just said something nasty to him about his mama. He walked past the “Wait to be seated” sign, threw his set of keys on an empty table, dragged out a chair noisily, and slouched on it.
“Sah, you need to wait to be seated, sah,” Bose pleaded, her brow furrowed deeply. Her eyes darted sideways, as if she’d never seen anything like this.
“Get me Tina,” Uyi ordered, unconcerned with the cold stares directed at him from all corners of the bar.
“Sorry, sah, but-“
“I say get me Tina. Or am I not clear enough? Mtcheew.”
“Yessah.” Bose scurried away like a chastened toddler, her grip on the menu tighter.
Uyi’s cell phone rang. He jabbed at an icon on the phone, sending the call to voice mail. Seconds later, the phone made a zoom, zoom sound, announcing a text message. He jabbed to see: Demola had written: “Jango. Where u dey na? We ready 2 get this party started!” Uyi swiped it clear from the cell’s screen.
Cheap cologne. OK perfume. Dodo. Fried fish. Jollof rice. Beer.
Uyi’s mouth watered, but he stifled his craving.
“Aya, you no see the sign there?” Tina’s pose as she stood before Uyi was both cocky and defensive. Her head was flung back slightly, her gaze hard, but evasive.
He sat up straight. “If I didn’t care for you, eh, I’ll say something right now!”
“What is your problem sef? Didn’t you see the waiter’s sign?”
“Fuck the sign!”
Tina bridged her lips with a finger. “Ssshhh, Uyi. Abeg. Why you no call me?”
“Do you know what today is, Tina?”
Uyi’s fingers drummed the table.
Tina rolled her eyes guiltily. “Your birthday, darling. I know na.”
He held up his palms and said, “I told you about the party, abi? Why are you here?”
“Abeg, Uyi. Parties don’t pay my rent o. I need the money, jo.”
“I told you that I’ll take care of that.”
“Talk is cheap, Uyi.”
Uyi stood up, pulled out a wad of five naira bills and slapped it on the table. “Oya, let’s go.”
Tina froze in place, smacking the gum in her mouth loudly for effect. “How much be dat?”
“Enough. No need for you to work today. Oya, let’s go.”
Tina leaned languidly against the table, separated each note with the base of her Biro pen, and said, “He no do, Uyi.”
Uyi searched his pockets. “Wey the rest?”
Tina struck an exasperated pose, rocking on her heels impatiently.
“Aye wo! Tina, what are you dooinng?” Leaning out the kitchen window, Mama Nkechi waved the large metal spoon at Tina, urging her to get with it. “Customers are waiting na!”
“Dis one here no be customer too?” Tina muttered under her breadth. “I dey come,” she said to Uyi, and then sashayed back towards the kitchen.
Uyi slapped the naira notes off the table, and then picked them up.
Tina marched back to Uyi’s table. “Mama Nkechi wants you to order or leave. What do you want? It’s on me.”
Uyi shoved the naira notes back into his pocket, and then sat down. “Sandwich.”
“Sandwich ke?” Tina’s posture collapsed. “Are you serious?”
“Do you see me laughing?”
“Aya. Na Eko Hotel menu be dat, Uyi.”
“Make me one. It’s my birthday.”
Tina chuckled. “This is not my restaurant, Uyi.”
“If you care for me, you’ll make it happen.”
“Why are you trying to be difficult,eh?”
Uyi drummed the table.
“Okay. The way you like it is thick meat in the middle, and two soft buns on each side, abi? Let me see what I can do. ” Tina shoved the Biro pen between her braids and hurried back towards the kitchen.
A new entrant into the bar distracted Uyi from completing his text reply to Demola. She wore her hair in shiny black puffs, and her face projected a Cape Verdean bone structure. She strode purposefully towards Uyi, flaunting curves that would make a man drive off a cliff, and a smile that told everything and nothing.
“May I share your table, yes?” A Portuguese accent.
“Thank you.” She pulled a chair and gracefully sat in it. “Come here often?”
“We don’t have any sandwich,” Tina announced, an edge in her voice.
“I’ll get you beer.”
“Okay…good.” Uyi shifted involuntarily in his seat.
“What do you want, madame?” Tina’s smile seemed forced.
“Give me a minute, please.”
Tina walked away.
“What’s with her? She’s usually cheerful.”
“Do you come here often?” Uyi asked.
“I have a room here.”
“You live here?”
“I’m a guest. Cesaria.” She offered her hand.
“Uyi.” He almost held her hand for too long, but let go when Tina reappeared.
Tina stabbed the table with Uyi’s beer, then placed Cesaria’s complimentary glass of water on another table. “This table is available.”
“I’m sitting here,” Cesaria advised, positioning a finger above Uyi’s table like a missile poised for impact.
“You can’t sit there.”
“Because I say so.”
“Ugh. That’s unusual.”
“Mtcheew. Tina, let her sit here, na. Be nice.”
“Eh, eh? Okay o.” She walked back to Uyi’s table, nicely placed Cesaria’s water before her, and walked away.
“My girlfriend,” Uyi offered, a nervous smile painted on his face.
“I see. Jealous, yes? She should relax. I have nothing but business in mind. How much do you charge?”
Uyi sat up. “Charge? For what?”
Uyi leaned back, sighing audibly with relief. “Depends.”
“I want your girlfriend’s.”
“The butterfly on her neck? Nice one.”
“No. The heart.”
But that one was on Tina’s…inner thigh. How did Cesaria know that? “How did you know about that?”
“But…that’s not on the website.”
Cesaria’s smile was enigmatic. “Yes, it is.”
“Neck tattoos are expensive.”
“I don’t want it on my neck.”
“Where do you want it?”
Uyi smiled, shifting in his seat. “Very unusual.”
Cesaria smiled. “I know.”
“Why do you want it…there?”
Cesaria stood up. “Why not?” She wrote on a piece of paper and gave it to Uyi. “Think about it. Here’s my room number. Come up when you’re ready.”
Uyi struggled to look away from Cesaria as she walked away, and the question of how she knew about Tina’s heart tattoo gnawed at him.
“What do you think you’re doing, Uyi?” Tina asked.
Uyi frowned. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“Why do you bring your girlfriends to where I work?”
“You’re my girlfriend!”
“Why did she sit at your table when there are other empty tables?”
Uyi stood up. “You ask her! Mtcheew.”
“Either you know her or you invited her to the table.”
“I’m getting out of here. This is ridiculous.” Uyi headed for the exit, with Tina in tow.
“Yes, run, Uyi. Whenever I catch you in one of your lies, you run. Run!” She ripped off her apron and threw it at him.
Uyi knocked over a chair on his way out. Outside, he strode up to a souped-up black Honda Accord with a “TA2U” magnetized ad sign on it. He entered the car and slammed the door shut. He reclined the seat, and sat still for a moment.
What to do?
He drove the car to the back of the hotel, parked, got out of it, retrieved his portable tattoo machine from the trunk, and walked into the hotel. Two can play the game. If making a few kobo more was more important to Tina than his birthday, then it was fair game for him to make a few kobo more by taking up Cesaria’s offer.
Uyi arrived at Cesaria’s door and knocked on it. D’banj’s “Oliver Twist” echoed from behind the door.
“Come in,” Cesaria cooed from the other side of the door.
Uyi opened the door and saw that it was a suite, Spartan in look but tastefully decorated.
“I’m in the bathroom,” Cesaria announced from behind a closed door. “Please sit down, I’m coming.” A champagne bottle chilled inside a silvery ice bucket.
Perfumed industrial cleaner. Cesaria’s fruity musk.
Uyi sat down in the black leather couch and took in the place. “We’ve not agreed on the price.”
Cesaria came out from the bathroom and poured the bubbly into two tall glasses, offering Uyi one. “What are you charging?”
Uyi waved off the drink. “No, thanks. What can you afford?”
“Whatever you’re charging.” Cesaria sipped coyly from her glass. She turned up the music and began swaying sexily to it.
Uyi walked up to the stereo set and turned down the volume. “You still want me to do the tattoo?”
“Ooh.” She playfully drew a cold finger across Uyi’s cheek. “Work before pleasure, yes? Okay. No problem. Where do you want to do it?”
“Where do you want me to do it?”
“Right here on the couch.” She stood there and studied Uyi as if he were an art piece she was contemplating purchasing. “But I’m hungry. I’m going to go downstairs and order some food. You want something?”
“Work before food.” She laughed as she exited the suite.
Uyi did a quick search of the suite and eventually ended up in the bedroom, but just before he could peek into the leather purse on the cabinet, Cesaria reentered the suite.
“I’m flattered.” Cesaria stood at the bedroom door, her drink in her hand. “You’d like to know more about me, yes?”
“Sorry. Was looking to see if it’ll be better on the bed.”
Cesaria grabbed her cell phone, strutted up to the black couch, waited for Uyi to sit, and then draped herself across his lap.
Uyi’s hands danced nervously above Cesaria’s back as he contemplated his next move. He started counting backwards to keep his manhood from rising. He slowly dug his left index finger under her jeans and pulled.
As Cesaria’s jeans slowly slid down her buttocks, she turned her head to take a peek, smiled, and went back texting on her phone.
Uyi bit his lower lip and leaned back against the couch.
That’s when Tina entered the suite, a room service tray in her grip. Tina and Uyi locked eyes, and then Tina let go. The tray fell, causing the silverware to shatter and spill the food.
Cesaria rolled off Uyi’s lap and pulled up her pants.
“What are you doing here, Uyi?” Tina’s eyes blazed with fire as she stood frozen in place.
“Working? What type of work are you doing in her hotel room?”
“I asked you the same question, Tina, and you didn’t give me a good answer.”
“You didn’t catch me in her hotel room, and my penis was not standing up like that.” Tina pointed at Uyi’s pants.
“You don’t have a penis!”
“Hey, wait a minute,” Cesaria yelled out at Tina. “You’re supposed to knock, yes?”
“Shut up, bitch!”
“What did you call me?”
“Bitch, bitch! You want to steal my man?”
Uyi rushed to get between them as they lunged at each other. Cesaria grabbed Tina’s blouse and yanked. Before Tina could react, her clothes lay in tatters on the carpet. Uyi picked Tina up off the carpet and carried her into the bedroom. He kicked the door close behind him and threw Tina on the bed. Her breasts bobbed deliciously as she bounced around on the bed.
“Open the door!” Cesaria said as she banged on it.
“Shut up and sit down!” Uyi said to Cesaria as he blocked her from going after Tina. “I mean it!”
“You can’t talk to me like that!” Cesaria retraced her steps backwards anyway, and then plunked down on the couch.
Tina was in Uyi’s face as soon as he turned around. She swung at him, but he ducked, picked her up and threw her on the bed.
“I said stop, Tina!” Uyi pinned her down on the bed, and then let go of her hands when suddenly he noticed that she had something else on her mind.
Tina turned a suddenly pliable Uyi on his back, and then feverishly unbuttoned his shirt. She jumped off the bed and slammed the door shut just as Cesaria rushed up to it.
“This is not fair!” Cesaria said as she banged on the door. “Guys, this is my room, you know?”
Uyi tripped as he hurried to get out of his pants. Cesaria jumped on his back, making him fall on the bed. Within moments they were into each other, both moaning and groaning as Tina rode him fast and furious.
“You’re probably fired by now,” Uyi said to Tina as they lay on the bed thirty minutes later.
“I clocked out.”
“Good. Can I ask you something?”
Tina stopped caressing the hair on his chest. “Yes.”
“How did Cesaria find out about the heart tattoo on your thighs?”
Tina rolled off of Uyi. “I slept with her.”
Uyi sat up on the bed. “You what?”
“Slept with her. She’s my friend.” Tina grabbed Uyi’s phone and called a number.
Uyi stood up. “You’re kidding, Tina.”
Tina struggled to stifle a chuckle. “Do you see me laughing?”
“You’re a lesbo?”
“Shit!” Uyi picked up his pants and flung it across the room. “That’s crazy. No one’s a lesbian in Nigeria.”
“Welcome to the new Nigeria, Uyi.”
“That’s so unfair!”
“Now you sound like Cesaria. Unfair to who?”
“To me! I didn’t know you were a lesbo.”
“And I didn’t know that you’re a big cheater.”
Tina threw the phone on the bed. “Yes, cheater, Uyi. What were you doing here with Cesaria on your lap and her ass all exposed?”
“I was working.”
“Do you work with your dick standing up like a sugar cane?”
“My point exactly. Abeg, jare.” Tina dove for Uyi’s phone as it rang. “Yes? Hello, Cesaria. Come in. I’m sorry too.”
“I’ll get the phone later.” Uyi searched for his clothing.
“Yes, come in.” Tina turned around and faced the bedroom door. “Uyi, unlock the door.”
“So? Abeg open the door.”
Uyi partially covered himself as he carefully opened the door. His jeans fell out of his grip as a naked Cesaria stood on the other side of the door, her gaze searching. Cesaria brushed past him and rushed into Tina’s arms. Uyi pressed against the door as he tried to process the sight before him.
“Join us, Uyi,” Tina said as she paused from kissing Cesaria passionately. “I’m sure Cesaria won’t mind.”
A glorious smile colored Cesaria’s face. “Happy birthday, Uyi.”
“You said you wanted sandwich, abi?” Tina said. “Well, here it is, just as you like it. A hard middle hugged on either side by two soft buns.”
When Uyi looked down, he noticed that he was as hard as a rock. Demola and the guys can wait. “Happy birthday to me,” he muttered as he strode towards the bed.