As all three men walked into Pacific, the band immediately changed beats and sang their praises, drawing unnecessary attention to their presence. The musical welcome was such almost befitting for a king. Tobi was irked by it.
They all were regulars at the high-class club, but since Tobi’s brush with death, neither had been there until now. Pacific without Tobi would never have felt right.
Tobi walked side by side both men, paying no attention to shocking familiar faces. It was just like he’d envisioned, so he really didn’t mind the glares because expectation has its way of making things tolerable. His only irritation was at Dimeji and Tega who took double checks on him as they paved the way towards the favourite spot at the lounge’s reserved area. It was good knowing they had his back, but the uncomfortable glares made him self-conscious. As if the adulates rolling off the band’s lips wasn’t enough.
Unlike Tobi and Tega, Dimeji basked in the spotlight. His gait had turned slightly exaggerated and ego pumped, and he sent a one-off regal wave at the band as they walked past, while Tega, not one to revel in such- passed stoically, barely flicking a glance at the band.
Midway into the club a uniformed waiter with the name tag-Jeremiah popping off his breast pocket appeared. He was new at Pacific, and seemed such a sight in tightly knotted bow tie; it was a wonder how he breathes. He made a dramatic bow, straightened abruptly and did the inappropriate when suddenly he reached to help Tobi but stopped on Tobi’s refusal. Oblivious to Tega’s silent rebuff, he directed them into the empty booth they were headed.
Tobi settled first, claiming the seat closest to the wall, while Dimeji and Tega occupied two other similar sofas.
“Accident sir?”Jeremiah asked the obvious, in deeply intonated dialect.
Tobi’s response was followed by the man’s sympathetic sighs and words. He lamented in a native language, unrecognizable to Tobi.
“I hope you’re better now sir?” he finished with.
“Get us the menu!”
Jeremiah scurried at Tega’s impatient bark, and the group of three snorted. None was blind to Jeremiah’s wiles. They knew his sort; the sort who would break his back for a tip.
From the distance, Jeremiah could be seen seriously getting lashed at by the boss. ‘Madam Janet’s glance at Tobi aired her disapproval of the employees’ behaviour towards Tobi. He muttered something of an apology to her with his head severely bowed as she left. On his return, he proffered an apology and dutifully waited stiffed smiled as each man placed his order.
Tobi felt a twinge of guilt for the waiter. His action although unethical seemed much too innocent, it spurred a rethink of Tobi’s earlier opinion of Jeremiah. A couple of minutes later, Jeremiah returned with the orders of grilled fish and Juice for Tobi, catfish pepper soup and a bottle of vodka for the others.
Tobi turned to his friend’s cosmic faces.
“Since when?”Dimeji sardonically asked.
“Since I’m still on medication.”
Both gazes dropped to his cast in sync.
From the corner of his eyes, Tobi caught Madam Janet’s purposeful stride. Tega hissed at Tobi’s remark and the advancing woman. Janet donned a low cut dress, revealing much for one her age, heavy chunks of gold rested upon her neck and her heavily made-up face posed sarcastic with its dramatically high arched signature brows.
She reached them with a lit-up face, which only moment’s back had stared Jeremiah to the ground. She passed a merry greeting to the men, but for Tega, she lowered for a well calculative hug exposing copious bosom. Tega looked away repulsed, and could only hope for her departure when she started to chat about the accident and Tobi’s health. All through, her eyes stayed on Tega who did all he could to avoid her till she finally left.
Tega barely cracked a smile at Dimeji and Tobi’s joke about hooking up with Janet. Dryly, he cited her agedness which to him was a turnoff. The men knew nothing much about Janet except the usual rumours. Most painted the boisterous owner of Pacific an obviously wealthy widow who had inherited vast wealth upon her husband’s death. Though Janet would be nothing less than her mid-sixties-about two decades older than all three men, she was said to have a thing for younger men. Tega was her latest fry.
A younger version of the Madam would make a good match for Tega, Tobi thought because Tega needed a woman who would shake him out of his uptightness.
For the first time since entering, Tobi swept around the expensively decored lounge and stopped his peruse on a table at a distance where a pair of six feminine eyes were equally staring their way but with lucid interest. He would not know how long they’d been watching, but from the looks, he figured it’s been a while. The other men seemed to have noticed, but Tega looked away uninterestedly and tapped at his phone instead, while Dimeji watched them with that usual glint for whenever he was seeing something of interest.
Tobi’s gaze impulsively met with a light-skinned lady from the lot. He broke it without lingering much. When next their gazes brushed, her eyes unashamedly fed on him. Tobi ignored it. A few years back he would have acted differently, he would have taken up her bold summon.
Tobi was no saint. He’d had his own fair share of ladies, a couple of mistresses at some point until he’d finally returned to his senses and severed all ties. Though his whoring days were kept a secret from Kamiye, Tobi had decided never again to hurt her. And he intended to keep it that way as long as he could-most especially now that their love was intensified. The accident had re-ignited the sparks in their marriage, and he would never dare extinguish it.
The band and their songs had faded somewhere into the background until Dimeji rose and crossed to them with wads of hundred naira note. Tobi and Tega watched unsurprised as Dimeji unhesitantly sprayed the band. Naturally, the room’s ambience rose with the band’s surging tempo very well-intended at stirring Dimeji. It worked, as Dimeji did not stop until all two bundles were exhausted, and the band swam in a pool of crisp naira note readily collected into a black polythene bag by a skinny man who cleared it with such vigour as one scared Dimeji might all of a sudden change his mind.
Dimeji’s praises rung in the room, following him even long moments after he’d settled. Tobi thought the band the-devil, luring, rousing and stimulating one to the pinnacle, until leaving them drained.
“Show off.” Tega scoffed
Tobi’s smile shone agreeably. Both knew Dimeji’s motives which usually encompassed around women, prestige and pleasure, all of which he already had in abundance. His act did garner effects, for heads turned as he confidently returned to his seat.
“I know.” Dimeji flexed some muscle, unruffled by Tega’s mild tease for womanizer. His sentence broke midair as a lady from the group strutted to the band with a somewhat exaggerated catwalk.
“See that ass!” Dimeji sounded a low lustful grunt.
They saw it and the others admitted it indeed was a masterpiece. Neither could help a few appreciative glares at the wiggling rear in a tight dress.
The lady conversed with a member of the band, who nodded their way with a fractioned smile and then back at the woman more vehemently. They spoke as if in deliberation. Finally, both smiled as they’d clearly come to a conclusion. The woman then started back to her seat and brazenly sent Dimeji a suggestive wink. Her intent was clear.
Women have never been more opened with their sexuality as the twenty-first-century women, Tobi mused. Things were quite different from back in the days when women were forced to be coy with their sexuality, and he especially recalled that generation breeding a lot of ‘pretenders’ as his mother would say.
“Did you see that? I think the babe is feeling me.” Dimeji’s lips barely moved as he spoke, and stared at the lady unfazed. Tobi was not fooled; the man’s voice however subtly had given him away. They knew his love for attention.
“She has made it pretty clear. Why don’t you just walk over and work your charm like you always do?”
“There’s no need for charm, she is smitten already,” Dimeji replied Tega’s sarcasm as one not new to women wanting him. Truthfully he wasn’t.
“Tokunbo will skin you alive.” Tobi laughed over his glass of juice. And he had no doubt, given that Dimeji’s girlfriend was highly obsessive. But Dimeji had made her so, having spent six years with Dimeji without a proposal or even glimpse of one in the nearest future, she wasn’t to be blamed.
Thin lipped, and keenly concentrating on the seductress, Dimeji spoke. “That’s why she will never find out.”
For the first time, the lady looked away seeming flushed under Dimeji’s stare, and in just seconds she returned with a coy smile.
The band had started a slow beautiful love song, which no doubt was at the lady’s request. Its sensual lyrics directed at Dimeji proved to be the major reason for its pick. From her end, she gave a most seductive smile, a dreamy look and then an inviting pout.
All through the song, Dimeji’s face was expressionless with no clue to his thoughts. The moth-like attractions of ladies to him were common. Its reasons were simple. He is young, handsome, wealthy, and topping it, unmarried. All of those qualities made him irresistible to every and any woman, with only a few exceptions like Kamiye, of course, whom despite her royal birth had left it all for Tobi and then Pelumi who was by far the most independent woman Tobi had ever known. But Pelumi’s case was worrisome. She was strong, intelligent and seemed to have it all, but love. In her words, ‘she needs no one.’ But those words had turned to be her undoing. In the past, Tobi had attached no importance to them, as he had believed a knight in shining armour was the only requirement for a change in belief. Neither had come or now that he knew better, he’d rather say she’d pushed it away. He would never know. But he could only hope she was not beyond repair.
“Joseph the dreamer.”
Tobi recovered at Dimeji’s words. “Sorry, what was that?”
“You see, I knew he wasn’t listening,” Dimeji complained to Tega. “I was telling Ortega about that time Tokunbo caught me with Tina.” He expounded helping Tobi out of the clouds. “Tina, my model like chic on really low cut.”
“The pretty dark babe?” Tobi inquired seeming cognizant.
“Yes, that one,” Dimeji affirmed and then narrated how his side chick had been kicked out by his crazy girlfriend, who had sworn afterward to take both his life and hers if he ever again was caught in the act.
“Kill you?” Tega piped, ever the detective.
“Of course she is kidding.” Dimeji laughed.
“That doesn’t really sound like a joke to me. Love they say can make one do the unimaginable.”
“Well, not my Tokunbo. She can hardly hurt a fly.” Dimeji shot defensively.
For a moment, Tega charged a challenging look easily replaced with a smile. “Then get married to her already if you want to, and stop wasting her time, before she turns into one desperate lady.”
Tobi intervened, sensing the brewing tension between both men. Even more, he braced for what he was prepared to say. At some point, the truth needed to be spoken, and what better time than now he thought. “Dimeji, Tega is right. I think you should make up your mind on Tokunbo. If you aren’t really interested in her, maybe you should let her go.” He continued despite Dimeji’s sharp glare. “She is not getting any younger. Thirty-one at this part of the world is pretty old for an unmarried woman.”
Panic and thoughtfulness flashed into Dimeji’s eyes. He saw the truth in their words, and already he knew it was only a matter of time until Tokunbo left.“I know.” he echoed on a tired sigh. “I am considering it. But at the moment, we are fine. She has forgiven me, and things are well. Really.” He tried to sound convincing.
“It’s just for a while,” Tega said sourly, missing Dimeji’s cold stare as he dug into his half-eaten soup.
“Apologies are not enough Dimeji. She would want more… eventually.” Tobi spoke softly, hoping to appeal to the man’s emotions and reasoning. “You obviously love Tokunbo, why don’t you just settle, and concentrate on just this woman. She has always been there for you, even when you weren’t worth this much. Unlike them,” he directed at the ladies in the distance. “These wolves are just there to prey on your money, and trust me if things changed they would be gone in a whiff.”
“I know.” He nonchalantly agreed. “But then, there are times a man needs varieties. No offense, but being with one woman sounds boring.” he looked to Tega for support, whom to an extent in the whoring aspect was like him, but in recent times had seemed to have mellowed. Tobi suspected he was hoarding someone special.
Tega grinned on a gentle chew. “It really is.” He confessed. “But if you love someone, I guess you will readily give it all up for them.”
“Exactly! You know I used to be a badass too-“
“Until love swept you off your feet.”Dimeji completed.
Tobi finished with a knowing smirk. “So I know what you mean by variety.”
“Aha! See?!” Dimeji exclaimed. “Tokunbo is like the main course, but then even that needs to be balanced with an appetizer, and dessert, you know, a taste of other cuisines. Otherwise, the main course loses its appeal.” He finished on a wink.
“Well not in this part of the world, no time for “oyinbo” appetizers and the stuff,”
Tega’s joke passed indifferently. On the other hand, Tobi stopped on Dimeji’s issue. There was no getting through to Dimeji.
Tega also had a fair share of stares from the women, but he unlike Dimeji felt no inclination to any. “So the lady who can’t seem to get her eyes off of you, what meal category does she belong?”
“There’s only one way to know is to find out.”Dimeji’s mouth kicked at the corner, mischief shone in his eyes.
The ladies rose at that moment, all readying to leave.
“I think your newest course is about leaving,” Tobi announced.
The woman in mention looked beseechingly at Dimeji. She stalled at gathering her purse, and openly gave Dimeji the last chance on a platter. She had gone through hoops and lengths to reach out to him. Now, it was Dimeji’s turn. He could either take it or watch her leave.
He took it, languorously wiping his hands with a serviette and rising with ease and leisurely strode to her table.
Tobi and Tega watched unsurprised as the woman’s face lit then, ensured by an instant exchange of numbers before he left to join her waiting friends whose predatory eyes raked wildly over Dimeji despite their ‘friends’ recent chat with him. Dimeji saw it and could barely conceal a grin as he returned, rubbing his palms as he settled in accomplishment.