It was not her first time in a place like this, not her first time in a hotel with a man… No… In a hotel room waiting for a man. There was always a first time in everything.The suite she had been led to was in a states-of-the-arts furnishing; posher than any lodging Ghenero had ever been in. Its rooms were very roomy, having a gigantic bed at the centre with over flowing sheets in one of the rooms. She had been led to the suite by one of the hotel attendants when she mentioned she was a guest Stanley Abia.
The attendant had asked if there was anything she cared for afterwards. She had declined the offer. She was not a glutton.
She decided just to wait.
Ghenero was quite a young girl but this was not the first time she will be spending the night with a man. At seventeen, there was almost nothing about sex she did not already know. She was one of those girl children who outgrew their age mates to reached puberty quite early in life. Even at fifteen, she was already looking like a full blown girl with a beauty that befitted a fairy princess. This coupled with the loose parentage she had growing up as a child had exposed her to so much exploitation by all sorts of men.
Thus this was not the first time she was being taken to hotel. Even before she dropped out of secondary school, she had had to visit and spend the night in a hotel with one of her male teachers who stooped so low enough to take advantage of her vulnerability to lure her to bed. She later heard from the grapevine that that teacher was found out by the school authority when he put an unfussy female student in the family way. One thing led to the other, a whorl of confession from most of the female students he had defiled in the past erupted. The ignoble teacher was fired and handed over to the police for prosecution. The story had it that he was still serving his term till date.
She was inadvertently on the look out of the hotel suite experience. Yet this was not the life she dreamed of when she was growing up as a child. She never had such premonitions earlier in her life that she would become a play thing for every Dicken Harry even as a teenage girl. But this was how life had turned out for her and she can but hope for a change some day. She could easily finger a couple of friends that were on the same boat with her, with no parentage or guardianship. Her sole consolation was in the fact that she was not alone in this kind of life.
Stanley did not show up at the hotel in time. He only turned up five hours later when it was midnight. He entered the suite and met Ghenero sleeping. He did not wake her up. He just took off his clothes and walked into the bathroom to freshen up with a warm shower.
Ghenero must have been woken by the sound of the water.
‘Stanley,’ she called out.
‘Yeah, are you up?’ Came the response from the bathroom.
Ghenero checked her wristwatch. It was past twelve am.
‘When did you come in?’
‘I just entered now. Why don’t you join me in the shower?’
‘No I don’t feel like it.’
‘Okay I will be out in a minute.’
A little moment, he walked out of the bathroom in a large white towel marked PM Hotel (whatever the initials stood for).
He was thirty four years old but still retained that boyish face of a sixteen year old. There was not a beard visible in his face. He was below six feet tall and slim. His eyes were bright and sharp, almost scary.
Ghenero was looking at him, wondering what the secret was for this smallish young man. She had seen a few young men who feigned being rich. But she was convinced Stanley was a different kettle of fish. He was rich indeed. His wealth looked solid and real to her. How else could he command attention in a hotel like this?
‘Baby, have you had dinner yet?’ Asked Stanley.
‘Why? You must be hungry by now. Call room service at once.’
‘No, thanks it’s late already’
‘Oh baby at PM, it’s never too late. Let me quickly dress up. We will go down stairs to the open bar. You would like it there. Barbecued fish and some Smirnoff Ice won’t hurt us, I’m sure.’
‘Well,’ said Ghenero.
Down at the outdoor bar within the hotel complex, Stanley ordered for a barbecued fish and cans of Smirnoff Ice.
The drinks were served immediately but the fish will have to cook slowly in the barbecue.
Stanley opened two cans and offered one to Ghenero. She collected it with a thank you smile and placed it on the table. She was not just going to start drinking at once. Her teenage timidity was still having the best of her. She watched Stanley sipping copiously from his can already. He returned the can to the table smirking his lips.
‘Are you going to just sit and watch me all through the night?’ He asked. ‘Come on have a drink.’
She smiled, hesitated a while and then picked the can slowly to her lips as if she dreaded the content. Stanley observed her innocence and smiled. This was exactly what he needed. Young, unique and naive.
‘Did you say you live with your aunty?’ Asked Stanley.
‘Yeah.’ She nodded slightly returning the can of Smirnoff to the table and holding the drink in her mouth for a while before swallowing.
Stanley wondered if she was savouring or detesting the flavour in her mouth.
‘Why is it you are with your aunt instead of your own parents?’
‘They are no more.’
‘What do you mean no more?’
‘They are no more together,’ said Ghenero.
‘Oh, sorry about that. But I believe you are schooling.’
‘Why?’ Asked Stanley alarmed.
His expression of alarm appeared sincere to Ghenero but she was surprise. What had all these questions got to do with him taking her to bed tonight and disappearing by the morning?
‘Well, I dropped out last year when my mum stopped sponsoring me. My aunt had made it clear that she can only afford to house me and not to cater for my educational expenses.’
‘Oh, I am so sorry about that but what about your dad. Does he not care about your education?’
‘Is that not obvious enough?’ Replied Ghenero taking her can and drinking seriously from it. She swallowed hard and shook her head vigorously. She stared dazedly away from Stanley’s face. She was beginning to feel uncomfortable. She loathed being pitied.
‘Life!’ Muttered Stanley deeply. ‘Well, you will, be okay. You just don’t worry.’
‘I know it will be okay and I am not worried.’
The night in the hotel complex was very much alive with the music and drinkers even though it was quite late in the night. Ghenero turned her mind to the music that was playing. She did not want to listen to any assurances from any man. She had become used to being deceived by men.
He had given her a lift two days back, an event that has led to their meeting here tonight. The next move will be to take her to bed. All she really cared for as she sat there with him was to get the night over with. She only hoped he turns out generous enough when giving her money by morning.
Stanley’s voice suddenly brought her back.
‘Did you hear me?’
‘I said, I will make you happy.’
She wondered what he meant by that. She threw her mind back at the music. It was the only thing that truly made sense to her at the moment. Music to her was the only thing that made sense in life.
One of the female tenders came over to their table with the barbecued fish. It was wrapped neatly in a shiny paper wrap. It was served with sauce and lime juice.
‘Please get us two more cans of Smirnoff Ice.’ requested Stanley unwrapping the fish. He further split it in two to remove the centre bone and poured lime juice on the cooked white flesh to improve the taste. He pinched a chunk of flesh from the fish, dipped it in the sauce, clutching some condiments along and taking it to his mouth. Ghenero joined him after quickly washing her hand in a bowl of water provided by the hotel attendant.
She relished the meal copiously partly out of hunger and partly out of the realisation that such treats do not come all the time.
By the time they had finished eating the fish, just before washing it down their bellies with the drinks; Stanley asked if she cared for more. She nodded no.
‘Now one of those hotel workers will take you to my suite. I will be joining you in a jiffy.’
‘Why? We came down here together.’
‘I need to speak privately with someone. You cannot wait for me here. You will be bored.’
‘How long will you take?’
‘I won’t take long.’
He beckoned to one of the bartenders. He came over. A lanky young man all dressed in suit and bow tie even at that informal hour of the night.
‘Please take my angel here to suite 026.’ He requested stretching the bartender four notes of a thousand naira denomination. ‘Here, hold this for the trouble.’
He then called for his bill at the bar and paid before leaving to join a group of men at another table.
Ghenero walked with the lanky bartender into the hotel lobby. She was a little tipsy. The man led her without a word to suite 026. She was holding the key. Once she had opened and entered, he greeted good night and hurried away.
Again alone in the suite, she began to wonder what Stanley was shilly-shallying about for. He should come and get it done with so she could sleep for the rest of the night.
Stanley did not show up in the suite till 4.00 a.m. Ghenero had kept awake all the while. She could not sleep again for whichever miasma: fear or tipsiness. Stanley did not appear drunk when he returned to the suite even though he had been drinking all night.
‘Oh baby, you have been awake all night.’ Stanley spoke as he came in to see her sitting on the bed watching television.
‘You promised not to take too long.’
‘Sorry to have kept you waiting all night. I will make it up to you. Besides, it’s good because we can talk now.’
‘Talk?’ Wondered Ghenero aloud.
‘Yes, talk,’ replied Stanley.
‘Is that all you ever do?’
She was almost infuriated.
‘Yes and more.’
‘Okay, what about?’
‘You want me to tell you how much you will pay me?’
‘That’s not what I mean. I want to talk to you about you making money for yourself.’
‘That’s interesting,’ said she. ‘Go ahead, I am all ears.’
‘You are going to work for me henceforth.’
‘And what exactly will I be doing for you?’
‘I don’t understand, please explain further.’
‘You will understand by and by. I will explain things to you on a need to know basis. For now just know that you will run errands for me across Nigeria and you will get well paid for that.’
‘I don’t get it. What type of errand?’
Your first assignment is to go to Port Harcourt tomorrow.
‘I am yet to agree with you on the proposal to work for you just yet.’
‘Oh you have to.’
‘What if I say no?’
‘Then you will lose out in whatever payment was coming your way. Look there are many girls out there that will hurriedly grab this offer.’
‘Okay then, let’s say I agree which I’m yet to, what will I go to do for you at Port Harcourt? And, how much payment are you talking about?’
‘You are simply going there to deliver a parcel by hand to a friend. You will return immediately after to collect twenty thousand naira payment from me. As time goes on and I see how forthcoming you are, I will give you bigger assignment and you will make bigger money.’
‘Sounds fabulous.’ Muttered Ghenero.
‘Life itself is fabulous,’ said Stanley.
Ghenero’s mind was brought alive. She began to imagine things. If this was true, then it could just be it for her. She could go back and complete her secondary schooling and even proceed to a university.
Stanley had taken advantage of gullibility to lure her into agreeing to work for him.
‘I want you to go to bed now. You are traveling by the first bus to Port Harcourt tomorrow morning.’
‘Is that all for the night?’ She asked.
‘Just go to bed.’