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MY LAGOS STORIES (2)

05 Jan 2013

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The Prostitute’s Ring

Thomas and Nancy are childhood friends. They came to Lagos separately in pursuit of the golden fleece, but they both end in the hole of Lagos life – Nancy, a prostitute, and Thomas an armed robber. Years later, they meet accidentally when Nancy is out of the hole. She tries to get Thomas out? Poor Thomas, the only thing he can give her is a ring he got from a robbery incident but it works. How? This is from my novel “Conspiracy of Lagos

Hard Times

“Nancy, I don’t know what to do,” he cried. “I can’t get a job and we are running down my savings very fast.”

Nancy rocked him in her arms and tried to calm him down. “It’s okay,” she said soothingly. “We’ll make it through somehow. Getting wasted is not going to help you, me, or anybody else. We need to find a workable solution.”

Thomas sat up suddenly as if he had been hit by a spark. “Wait!” he shouted. “I have it! Really! I have the answer!”

He clumsily pushed his way out of Nancy’s embrace and staggered back to the bedroom. She remained on the couch, trying to keep from crying. She didn’t know what Thomas was up to, but given his inebriated state, it was not likely to be anything worthwhile.

He stumbled back over to her, clutching something in his shaking hands. “This will carry us through,” he announced.

The Ring

Nancy’s eyes widened at the sight of the artfully designed ring encrusted with the shining, precious stones. “My goodness, Thomas,” she gasped. “This must be worth a fortune.”

He smiled at her response, proud of his presentation. “I was going to give it you to show how much I love and appreciate you. Now I figure, with your permission, we can sell it and have plenty of money.”

Nancy was instantly suspicious. “Did your boss give this to you?” she wondered.

“No, I got it from…” His voice trailed off.

“You got it from where?” she demanded to know.

Thomas drew in a deep breath and exhaled slowly. “You know, Nancy,” he began, “you said it yourself. Sometimes you’ve got to do whatever it takes to survive.”

“Thomas,” Nancy pressed, “where did you get this ring?”

Thomas stepped backward and dropped his head in surrender. “I stole it from a man I robbed on the way home from the bank, the night the police killed most members of our gang,” he confessed. “I don’t know who he was. I think he might have been American. He was driving a fancy car and wearing a tailored suit. He probably has enough money to buy a thousand of these rings.”

“That’s not the point, Thomas,” Nancy stated.

As much as he knew she was right, he could not bring himself to admit it: so he didn’t. “What difference does it make?” he argued. “Someone steals from someone else every day of the week. Who knows? That guy may have stolen all the money he used to buy that damn ring in the first place. We do what we have to do to get by. This is Lagos!”

Lagos Churches

Nancy was not about to cave in to such thinking. “This may be Lagos, Thomas,” she countered, “but we are not Lagos.” She studied the ring in her hand. “This looks like a very special item,” she commented. “It’s probably that man’s wedding ring.”

Thomas shrugged. “He can get another one.”

Nancy worked hard to maintain her composure. “Thomas, most couples treasure their wedding rings,” she explained. “This was probably given to him on the day that his wife promised to share her life with him. You can’t just take that away from someone because you assume they have tons of money. No amount of money can probably replace this item for that man.”

Thomas paced the room. He was still incapacitated by the strong combination of hemp and ogogoro, but he was sharp enough to recognise that he could not legitimately argue over what she was saying.

“We need to cleanse our souls, Thomas,” she said. “I mean both of us. We have lived horrible lives and done some terrible things. We cannot let evil overtake our souls just for the sake of ‘getting by’. Our lives have more meaning that than. We need to seek forgiveness and guidance from God. Please Thomas, come to church with me next Sunday for a start. We must return the ring.”

“Don’t be ridiculous!” Thomas scoffed. “Do you really think you’re going to find God in Lagos? There’s a church on almost every block of this city, every one of them asks for your money and then promises you eternal bliss. Do any souls really get saved? Does a holy spirit come down from the sky and save the meek or feed the hungry? I sure as hell don’t see it. When I see a church in this city, I see broken promises and fractured lives. If all the people who attend church services around here actually practiced what they preached, Lagos wouldn’t be a hellhole of pain, desperation, and blood!”

Nancy was not about to back down. “This is not about church; it is about your personal relationship with your Creator. Besides, there are some very good churches in this city, Thomas,” she maintained. “They worship God in truth, and also do wonderful charity work to help people who are suffering, and they provide inspiration that helps people gain control over their difficult lives. I know this because I’ve been attending church services all my life.”

The Prostitute

“And you still wound up walking the streets as a prostitute!” Thomas snapped.

The apartment was instantly besieged by a frigid silence. Nancy stared back at Thomas, tears welling up in her eyes. She wanted to scream at him, but she could not call forth the words. He had struck her in the most painful part of her soul, and after everything she had endured throughout her life, she could not recall a moment when she had ever felt so horrifically wounded. She drew in a deep breath, turned her back on him, and quietly walked to the bedroom. She closed the door softly behind her, but to Thomas’s ears, it sounded like a ferocious slam.

Would he ever be able to convince her to forgive him?

The Long Night

Thomas spent the rest of the day and the entire night on the sofa. Every few minutes, he glanced back at the bedroom door, desperately wanting to open it, walk through it, and beg for Nancy’s forgiveness.

Even in his inebriated state, he was well aware of how badly he had hurt her. Her eyes had become watery and her shoulders had dropped lower than he had ever seen since that first night they had found each other in Lagos and she ran away to avoid him. She had been doing so well in recent weeks. When she began working, Nancy’s demeanour had become so much more positive. She walked with confidence, her eyes facing straight ahead rather than down to the ground in shame. She smiled more, and she carried herself with poise and dignity, which had been missing from her personality in the early days of their relationship. It was absolutely beautiful. The idea that he could have completely crushed her soaring spirit with one rude, thoughtless remark was heartbreaking.

He lay on the sofa all night long staring at the ceiling. Sleep would not come, no matter how much he begged for it. He listened for movement from the bedroom, but he heard none. He thought he had heard Nancy sobbing, but he could not be sure if the sound was real or if it was just a terrible noise playing in an endless loop inside his brain. Twice, he sat up and considered going to apologise, but he could not bring himself to go through with it. He wasn’t sure if she would be willing to forgive him, now or any time in the future, and he could not bear the thought of her rejecting him. And why shouldn’t she?

Although Nancy credited him with making her feel that her life was worthwhile, she would also charge him with building her up just to bring her back down harder than one could imagine. He wondered if she would be able to recover from such a heinous assault on her character. Nancy was very strong and she had more talents and gifts to offer the world around her than he could ever dream of possessing. Still, he knew that deep down she doubted herself, that although she had spent years doing all the wrong things for all the right reasons, she wondered if her life could ever be justified, revived, or valued. He wondered how much damage he had done to her soul and if, at this point in her life, it could fully be repaired. In the end, Thomas believed that since he had caused the destruction, it was his obligation to mitigate the damage. He just did not know where to begin.

The Turn-Around

A few minutes before the clock struck eight o’clock, Thomas finally heard the sounds of Nancy moving about, getting dressed. He was surprised by how nervous those sounds made him feel. The bedroom door would soon open and Nancy would emerge to find him still sprawled out on the sofa, looking just as pathetically dishevelled as he had been the day before. Would she be surprised to see him? Did she think he had left? Would she wish that he had gone?

Thomas braced himself when he heard the crackle of the doorknob and the squeaking of the hinges. When the door finally opened, Nancy emerged. She wore a simple cotton dress, understated yet elegant, accessorised by a pair of white patent leather shoes and a matching purse. She had pulled her long, silky hair back into a ponytail, which showed off her prominent brown eyes, her full lips, and her smooth, flawless skin. Thomas drew in a deep breath at her stunning beauty.

She stopped in her tracks when she saw him, not seeming surprised to find that he was there, but not appearing particularly pleased about it either. She flashed him a stern look. Thomas could not be sure exactly what that look was supposed to imply, but he knew it wasn’t anything good.

Nancy let out a soft sigh, walked past Thomas on the sofa, and headed directly for the apartment door. Her keys rattled in her hand as she moved across the room.

“Nancy,” Thomas called out.

She stopped, turned around, and looked directly at him.

“Are you all right, my dear?” he asked.

She let out a huff. “Of course, I am,” she said flatly. “Why shouldn’t I be? I didn’t mess up my body with hemp and liquor yesterday.”

Thomas swallowed hard. He could not think of a reasonable response to her statement and was not sure whether any answer would suffice at this moment. Nancy continued to stare blankly at Thomas’s face. She wasn’t displaying any anger, pain, disgust, or disappointment. In fact, she wasn’t displaying any emotion at all, leaving him with no strategy for addressing her.

“I’m so sorry,” he finally said.

“Yeah, it’s okay,” she replied.

She turned her back on him and reached for the doorknob.

“Wait!” he called out.

She turned back to face him, again with no emotion.

Thomas tried to hide the anguish in his voice. “Are you going to church now?

She nodded matter-of-factly. “The revival programme, which started on Friday, ends today.”

“Can I…” His voice trailed off uncomfortably.

She waited a few seconds for him to put his thoughts together, but quickly became impatient. “What?” she pressed.

Thomas drew in a deep breath and blurted out the words. “Can I go with you?”


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