The bright neon lights shone seductively between red and pink. The sign had that peculiar allure that enticed people to come in. A night club in the sub-urban area of the nation’s capital, Abuja. It was a few minutes to twelve and it was already getting filled to the brim despite it being a Monday night. No surprise there, this club was amongst the most popular clubs in the city. Club Blaze was a household name, to the stunners, ballers and party monsters at least. It played host to many an artiste, foreign and international due to its prominence and so, was always packed, even during the week. Not just anyone was given access into the establishment. Its parking lot by the side of the building, was even more selective about who it permitted in. Despite its enormous capacity, only the flashiest of cars were permitted. Exotic cars of the latest models lined up in the parking lot while lesser cars had to find a more secondary spot to park.
Two white cars pulled up at the gate. A 2015 Mercedes XL300 and a 2016 Range Rover sport, with a red bow on the roof, just behind it. The driver of the Mercedes, a handsome dark skinned man stepped out. Dressed all in white from his leather jacket to his Jordan kicks, he looked very confident. His accessories consisted of a diamond encrusted wristwatch, shiny rings on both index fingers and despite the time, a pair of Versace shades on his forehead. A young valet was at his side instantly. He smacked the keys into the valet’s hand “Be careful, yo” Clinton Okoye said, looking straight into the valet’s eyes. The valet nodded vigorously then stepped into the car. Clinton then walked quickly to the driver’s window of the Range Rover and then knocked. The window slid down in an automatic motion as was typical of such cars. “Sir?” the driver said, with respect. “Follow my car and go park inside. Then wait for my call” he said, indicating the Mercedes with his jaw. “Okay sir” came the reply and the Range Rover moved forward.
Clinton breathed in the Abuja midnight air. It felt like it was going to be a good night. He gazed at his wristwatch seeking the time. “Eleven minutes to twelve. Almost late” he said to himself as he turned and walked briskly to the club’s entrance. There was already a light crowd forming at the doorway. They were hindered from entering by two extremely buff bouncers. The bouncers wore bulletproof vests and held golf bats which they looked eager to make use of. Clinton raised his hand to catch the attention of one of the bouncers. The one on the left noticed him first and shouted “Cleanblings!” and then waved to him to come forward. “Clear way! Clear way!” he shouted with mild annoyance, this time at the small multitude. They parted quickly and he walked through as if through the red sea. “Musa. How far na?” he said to the bouncer that had just made way for him. “I just dey where you leave me oo, oga” his northern accent was heavy. “Haba na, trust me, I go see you later” he said, tapping the bouncers shoulders lightly before moving through the beautifully crafted twin doors of the nightclub. The bouncer was still singing praises to him but he couldn’t be bothered to listen.
The corridor he found himself, had a temperature of almost sub-zero and exhibited red lights which he suspected did something to the psych of its guests. People were hanging around, making conversations with one other. “Regulars” he said, to himself with disdain. He walked swiftly, taking his iPhone 6s out to check his notifications. An app, he recently installed, updated him every hour on the status of his social media accounts. 63 new Instagram followers and 16 un-followers, 43 un-viewed posts on Snapchat and about a 1000 new tweets. He also saw 3 missed calls. Damn, he was late.
The red lights bounced off the walls of the corridor that led into the main party space. The room was enormous. To the far right was a standard issue bar that had on display, drinks of all sorts. The dance floor, which was large enough to occupy about 150 dancers, was surrounded by long padded couches on almost all corners. It was occupied by almost a 100 people, dancing to loud resonating music from speakers strategically placed around the club. Light flooded the room from a large disco bulb that hung from the ceiling far above. It flung its different rays of colours around the dance floor, highlighting the frenzy going on. A spiral staircase was at the edge of the room, leading upstairs to the VIP section where he was supposed to be. And so he made his way towards the staircase, navigating carefully between wild humans that were gyrating. It wouldn’t do to get his white stained by sweat that wasn’t even his. As he moved, he came across a waitress dressed in a salacious club uniform. She held a tray which supported three glasses of champagne. In a fluid movement, he picked one and smiled at the waitress while still moving. She looked at him, smiled then winked before she continued her journey. They had had a brief swing once upon a time. He caught himself checking her out and then stopped. He was the strangest oxymoron, an introverted flirt.
Finishing the contents of the glass in one gulp, he continued his journey. He got to the staircase and climbed it, two steps at a time. Another buff bouncer was at the top of the staircase. This one was new, Clinton thought, for he hadn’t seen him when he had come the week before. He stopped before the bouncer who blocked the way with his rather large build. “Are you supposed to be here?” the bouncer asked stiffly. Clinton couldn’t believe it. He was in the club’s VIP section almost every other week and here was a new employee asking him if he was supposed to be there. Not deigning to answer, he stared at the bouncer’s face. He had to mark it so when he spoke to the manager later he’d be able to point him out. “I said, are you supposed to be here?” the bouncer asked again. Such effrontery. He was about to put the bouncer in his place when he heard his nickname “Cleanblings!” The voice came from the back of the bouncer. Stifler, his friend, came to the bouncer’s rescue. “What are you doing? This my guy is staff. Let him in!” he shouted to be heard over the music. The bouncer looked from Stifler to Clinton before reluctantly stepping out of his way. “Oh, he is getting fired, tonight” Clinton said to Stifler who laughed, revealing a golden tooth among the crooked ones. His real name was Samuel Onamakinde and he was Clinton’s current best friend. He unlike Clinton, wore equally expensive but darker clothing and a Trukfit cap tilted to the back. They had met in another club about three months before. A competition to see who could buy the most bottles had ensued between them, with Clinton winning at the end. Ever since that wild night, they had been close friends. “He should lose it” he said to Clinton “But come on…” swinging an arm across his shoulder “…Cynthia has been waiting for you all night”.
They made their way to a private booth on the far right of the VIP section. This was the booth they used most of the time they came here. Within the booth were seven girls in total, seated around a low rectangular table which had half-finished bottles of Aces and half-empty glasses of Hennessey. They all looked flashy and high class but one stood out to Clinton. Cynthia Nurudeen, his girlfriend. She was by far the most beautiful girl amongst them all. The rest were just friends of hers who always seemed down to party. He only knew their first names, Aminat, Sarah, Toyin, Haleema, Mariam and Sekina. Cynthia wore a black gown that was slit by the side all the way to her hip. Her heavy make-up made her look like a character from a Barbie cartoon. The fixed nails gave her the demeanour of a wild cat that was ready to use her claws. The Brazilian weave on her head also contributed to the dazzling look she had been aiming for. She was indeed a vixen, through and through. Across the gown was a red sash that read “Birthday Girl” in bold letters. “Happy birthday, my love. So sorry I’m late” he said, opening his hands. She smiled sheepishly and got up rather quickly for a girl on six inch heels. She hugged him and then pecked him on the right cheek. “Tell me you got me a gift” she whispered just above all the noise. “Isn’t today your birthday? Of course, I got you something” he said, smiling at her, his hands still around her tiny waist. Cynthia squealed with delight and then turned to her friends in the booth. “Clinton got me a present!” They in turn squealed and exclaimed in different ways. “It’s got to be a car, it’s got to be a car” he heard her friends whispering in a frenzied tone. “Come, I’ll show you” he said, grabbing her wrist and pulling her after him. Everyone in the booth stood up to follow. Making his way to the staircase, he pulled out his iPhone again and dialled the driver of the Range Rover. “It’s Showtime” he said curtly into the receiver then ended the call. Getting to the staircase, he eyed the bouncer that had hindered his entrance only a few minutes earlier and then nudged him aside with his shoulder. ‘That bouncer was so going to lose his job tonight’ Clinton thought to himself. He had to slow down on the staircase for Cynthia. Her high heels could only allow her move fast. At the bottom of the stairs, he held her close to him, navigating through the sea of people around. They used the back entrance this time because Clinton knew the gathering in front of the club would have graduated into a full blown crowd by now. On getting outside, Clinton used his hands to cover her eyes and then he guided her to the parking lot. Once there, he let go of her eyes. The first thing she saw was the bow wrapped Range Rover he had gotten her for her 25th birthday. “Oh my god, Clinton!” she screamed and flung her arms around his neck. “It is beautiful!” she said, holding that position long enough for her friends to take pictures. He moved forward to kiss her but it was too late, she had run to the car. Her friends screamed, running after her to the flashy new present. The driver strolled silently to Clinton’s side and handed him the car’s key and having served his purpose, disappeared. Stifler appeared in his place “Guy, you try oo! How much did that whip cost?” he was asking curiously. “It cost a lot oo” Clinton said, without turning his head from his beautiful girlfriend. A sixth sense had warned him about divulging financial details to Stifler. His close friend was a G-boy, an internet fraudster who indulged in scamming people, duping them of lots of money in different currencies. Stifler looked mildly annoyed as he always did whenever Clinton deflected a monetary question but said nothing about it. The girls were taking pictures of the car both inside and outside, snapchatting every single detail of its chassis. He let them have their fun. Fifteen minutes later, she walked back to him. “I’m tired, let’s go upstairs” she said and without waiting for a reply, continued towards the entrance. He had no choice but to follow diligently.
Two hours later, Clinton and Stifler were back in the VIP booth with Cynthia and her little party of friends. They were all a bit intoxicated as the alcohol that had been flowing into the booth had been in abundance. Bottles of Moet, Ace, Vodka, and Hennessey littered the floor of their booth and yet, Clinton had just ordered one more bottle of sparkling wine. “Babe, let’s get out of here” Cynthia said in a babyish tone. He liked it when she did that. “Well, where do you want to go?” he asked. “I just saw Sonya’s snap” another wild friend of hers “Club Lavish is bubbling right now and I want to go there”. Sonya was probably that one of her friends she had just chosen to make jealous. Clinton just didn’t get it. She was happy when she had all these friends around but she always singled out one friend at random to make jealous. ‘Stunting on these chicks’ she called it. Oh well, to each, her own.
Another seductively dressed waitress came with a bucket of ice and the sparkling wine Clinton had just ordered. He waited for her to set the bucket down before handing her his diamond status black card. This black card gave him a high limit of expenditure, allowing him to transact in millions at a time. The diamond status meant his manger still had veto power over his account. How he wished for a platinum black card with no external supervision.
The waitress, no stranger to black cards, took it away to go and charge him. “Alright, guys. Let’s go to Club Lavish!” he declared. “Whoooow!” the girls screamed excitedly. Everyone sprung to live, packing their belongings. They were ready to leave in five minutes. Just then, the club manager appeared with the waitress who was holding his black card in one hand and a POS machine in the other hand. The manager, a short and stocky man in his mid-fifties wearing a pink three-piece Christian Louboutin, had the look of a money hungry dwarf. But who was Clinton to judge. “Aha, Mr Mathews. I’ve been looking for you. We have something to discuss” he said, looking out of the corner of his eyes to the staircase bouncer who was looking right back at his direction. “Yes, Mr Okoye. Your card has been declined” the manager said in a sad tone. “That bouncer over there has crossed the… wait, what?!” Clinton said, taken aback. “Your black card has been declined” the manager said again. The rest of the crew looked uncertain, from Clinton to the manager. “Try it again!” Clinton said, all thoughts of the bouncer gone from his mind. “Linda, try it again” the manager said to the waitress behind him. She inserted the card into the little machine and pressed the keys. A few seconds later, a beeping sound came from the POS. She ejected it and started the process again but got the same result. It was only then that waitress looked up and shook her head apologetically. “Well, how much am I owing?” Clinton asked, getting cross. From the pocket of his suit, the manager pulled out a lengthy bill “Well, everything plus the VIP pass for the nine of you, amounts to two million three hundred and thirty eight thousand, five hundred and sixty naira. Give or take a few kobo”. That was slightly more than what he spent on an average night. “Clinton, pay and let’s get going” Cynthia said, looking bored with what was going on. How could he tell her that all he had was on that black card that had just been declined on her birthday? He couldn’t. And so, he pulled the manager away from the company of his friends and the waitress. “Can’t you put it on my tab? I’d pay up next week. You know I’m good for it” Clinton said, desperation creeping slowly into his voice. The manager smiled “But of course, Mr Okoye. Anything for a customer” he said with a smile. Well that ended well, or so Clinton thought. “But” the manager added, “As per house rules, we’d have to collect whatever vehicle you drove here as collateral”. “What?!” Clinton asked, unable to disguise his shock. “I’m sorry sir, we must abide by the house rules. Collateral conditions for credit exceeding 24 hours” the manager said, looking sad but Clinton could tell he was feeling happy with himself. His Mercedes cost well over ten million naira. “Kevin, would relieve you of your keys” the manager said as he walked away fast as if to reduce the time Clinton had to think. Clinton was still wondering who Kevin might be when he saw the manager tiptoe and whisper into the ear of the bouncer at the top of the staircase. Of all the people in the club, it had to be him. Kevin, the staircase bouncer, nodded and smiled in Clinton’s direction. Clinton sighed and walked back to the company of his friends, “What’s happening, Clinton?” Cynthia asked, mildly annoyed at the delay. “There’s something wrong with my black card. I’ll have to stay and sort the bill” Clinton answered, determined not to let them know the extent of the problem. “Are you broke?” Stifler asked blatantly, looking straight into his eyes, his lips almost breaking into a smile. “No! Why would you think that?” he asked, vexed at how close his accusation had been. “I don’t know” Stifler started “But if you are, they would collect the whip you drove in, man”. “Well, I’m not broke” Clinton answered “I just need to rectify…” “May I have your keys, sir?” a deep voice came from behind him. The timing could not have been any worse. Kevin, looking all smug as if he had just won a bet, was hovering behind him. Knowing the bouncer was only too eager to inflict bodily harm on him, Clinton decided to comply. He reached into his pocket to bring out his car key. The key felt unusual in his hand. When he brought it out, he realised his mistake. He had left the key of his Mercedes with the valet who must have put it in the glass case of key holders. This was the key of the Range he just got for Cynthia. Before he could explain, Kevin snatched the key from his hand and started walking back to his post. “Clinton, is that not the Range key? Is that not my car key?” Cynthia asked, in an unbelieving voice. “Baby, wait for a bit. I’ll go get it back” he pleaded desperately, looking around for the pink suit manager but his girlfriend was in no mood to be patient. “How will I stunt on Sonya now?” she lamented and then turned on her heels and walked away, fast. One by one, they all followed her. Stifler walked up to him, a certain crude smile plastered on his face. “Later, Cleanblings” he said and then followed the girls.