Does the fair lithe man in the lime green shirt know that the gap toothed woman with cowries around her slim neck is attracted to him but hates his shirt? Does the woman know that there is a leaf stuck in her hair? Will the man use it as an excuse to talk to her? Will it work? Does she know that it is an excuse? Does she care if it was an excuse as they end up walking from the crowded wedding reception to the bar inside the hotel because the noise from the live band in the hotel garden makes it impossible to talk without shouting?
Does the bar man wonder why they are ordering the same drinks that are available for free at the wedding? Is the bar man irritated that he is missing the game on the flat screen TV because she is wondering whether to have a Gordon’s Spark or Smirnoff Ice? Is she taking too much time deciding? Does she think of the bar man at all as she takes her time? Is the man irritated? Does he tap his fingers on the table or sit still? Is he nervous? Does he think of the bar man? Would he have ordered Smirnoff Ice if he were alone, or does he do it because she too is having one? Does she appreciate the gesture? Will the bar man think she is crazy if she asks for a straw instead of a glass? Does the bar man curse under his breath because after he has sat down, she has decided to have the glass since he doesn’t have straws? Does the man think of it as he drinks straight from the bottle? Does he take little sips from the slim neck of the bottle or is the bottle nearly half gone after two long gulps? Does she wonder if he is a heavy drinker because of this? Is he a heavy drinker? Does she have anything against heavy drinkers or does she consider it masculine? Is she laughing too much? Too often? Is she laughing, finding his stories funny because the bottle of Smirnoff Ice is almost finished? Are his stories funny and interesting? Is he flirty? Does she like that he is flirty?
Is the bar man carried away? Does he realize that he has been increasing the TV volume a little bit every ten minutes or so? The volume, is it now too loud? Does the bar man realise that the man and woman have stopped talking and are looking at him? Does the bar man turn around and turn down the volume? Will the bar man apologise and say to himself that they had better leave a good tip for all the trouble? When they remember what they were saying when they resume talking, or will he just change the subject?
Does the woman feel comfortable talking about her family? Is it easy for her to say that she is the seventh of eleven children? Does that make her insignificant, ordinary? Would she have preferred it if she was the first born, or last born, a position with a title? Is she intimidated that he is the firstborn? What does she think of firstborns? Does she think they are bullies, authoritarian? Is he rather sweet for a firstborn, funny like a lastborn? Are lastborns funny? Are all his siblings funny like him, sweet like him? Is he putting on a show for her? Does she mind that it is a show? Should she ask for another drink? Should she pretend that one bottle is enough? Was it bad for her to ask for alcohol on a first date? Is it a first date? Can she tell her friends that she followed a man to a bar one hour after they met? Did she follow him? Or did he follow her? Was her smile technically a first move? Did it embolden him to tell her about the leaf in her hair?
Now that the bar man’s game is over, does he take quick glances at the couple? Are they a couple? Does the bar man compare them with the other couples he sees in the hotel- the white men and skinny, barely dressed black women, the old black men and juvenile girls.
Does it matter that they seem to be about the same age and are really both into whatever they are talking about? Will the bar man gossip about them to the hotel cook? Is there anything to gossip about, apart from the fact that the woman has had more Smirnoff’s than the man has? Does the bar man wish he could one day afford the drinks they are having? Will the bar man buy them if he can afford them? Does the bar man think it is a waste to have drinks at five times the normal rate, even though he works there? The cook with whom the bar man gossips, does she think of him in any way apart from a bar man, and does this matter to him, to make him think of her in some way apart from a cook? Is it an affair, what they have, even if they do not say words to each other before or after he touches her? Does the bar man like touching the cook, is it something that crosses his mind when he steals glances at the couple drinking plenty Smirnoff’s? Is the cook someone the bar man can call his girlfriend or take to his mother in Otukpo? Is the cook’s seven year old out-of-wedlock son a problem? Does that mean the cook is promiscuous?
Is the bar man worried that the woman at the table with the gap teeth might have had too many Smirnoff’s or will he still ask if they want to replace the empty bottles with full sweating ones? Is the man tired of having sugary drinks? Will he ask for real beer instead? A Star? A Gulder? Will he ask for a Guinness Stout instead, will he drink it straight or mix it with the Smirnoff? Has the woman ever had a Stout? Is it because she has heard how bitter it is? Will the woman ask how it tastes, when it is mixed? Will she mix it? Has any of them checked the time? Do they realise that the wedding is over and the bride and groom have since driven off? Do they care?
That constant vibration on the table that she ignores because she is laughing so hard, even before the punch line of his story, is it her phone? Does it ring again, does she get a message? Will she check it or excuse herself to go to the bathroom and call or text back? The heaviness in her legs as she walks to the bathroom, clutching her blackberry and purse, does she pretend it’s from sitting for so long and not from having a lot to drink? Will she say to her friend that she met this really cool guy and is feeling kinda slutty being so free with him the first time? Will she count the hours that she has been sitting, laughing, drinking, hitting him playfully? Three hours? Or four?
Does the bar man decide to inflate the bill a bit? By the price of one bottle? Or two? Have the couple been counting or does the man just pay without asking and even ask him to keep the one hundred and eighty naira change? Does the woman insist on splitting the bill? How much is half of five thousand three hundred and twenty? Is her math very bad especially now that her stomach is full of Smirnoff’s? Does the man ignore her and simply pay the bar man? Does the woman take out two thousand from her bag regardless and force it into his pocket as they walk out together? Does he succumb or does it result in a play-fight with plenty of touching and tickling?
Is the bar man excited or does he feel guilty inflating the bill especially as the man was kind enough to leave a tip? Does the cook know that the bar man inflates the bills? Does the bar man share it with the cook and is that why the cook lets the bar man touch her? Do they do it in one of the stores that is hardly used or do they do it at home in his little room on the outskirts of town? Will they do it today?
Does the man have a car? Does the woman have one too? Will he take her number and wish her a safe trip home? Will he think that she has had many beers and insist on taking her home and then coming back for his car? Will he say it nicely and make her agree or will he make her get defensive and swear that she isn’t drunk? The silence in the car, the first time there has been silence since they met this afternoon, is it awkwardness, is she reflecting or does she really have a headache?
Will he come in to her two bedroom flat for a bit when he parks her car? Will she need a coffee or an energy drink? Will he take one? While she rushes into the bathroom for a second will she ask herself what the hell she is doing with a stranger in her house or just settle down to a warm shower and brush her teeth?
Will she put on the TV, sit in her t-shirt and shorts sipping on Power Horse, close to him? Too close to him? Will they laugh on the couch and until their bodies are too close to be separated? Will he worry about her fresh breath and his Smirnoff and Stout breath? Will she care when she kisses him? Is it him who kisses her? Do they care? Do they care? Does he have a condom? Does she? Should a lady have condoms in her apartment? Does that mean that she does this a lot? Will he have one in his wallet? Does she not trust a condom that has been sat on for God knows how long? Will they use her studded, flavoured condoms? Strawberry? Apple?
Does she feel the need to say to him, ‘I don’t want you to think I am easy or anything, this doesn’t happen often…’ just before he takes off his pants, or will she just drive the thoughts from her head and take off hers?
Will he finish very quickly and rush out in shame to go get his car or will it be too late to leave when they finish? Will she offer to drop him in the morning? Does he sleep off, knackered and snore, or will they go at it again? And again? Will she sleep off?
Will she panic when she wakes or will she think he is even better looking in the morning without his clothes? Does the man disappear or do they become inseparable? And is that why she excuses herself when the women in her office begin talking about what not to do on first dates? Does she wonder if men sit around tables talking about what not to do on first dates? Does she think it is fair, these one-sided rules? Are they, one-sided?
One word: Terrific! Saw this on your page earlier Elnathan and I’m still blown away by the style.. Great story, GREAT work!
A story of questions. I like the style and the story it tells, and I think it was well handled. But I must say I found it a bit tedious after a while. Maybe if it were shorter… But that’s just me.
I agree with you Uche. The style became far too distracting for me. Only an opinion.
The style is refreshing, different even, but there are way too many questions in this story. It’s more of a rant than a short story.
Ok I read dis after reading 3 others so I’ll av to say its too long. I like the style tho.
On a second read, wow, even better than the first time i read it. Preying Mantis and Osemhen, I am American and I would say ‘I want a coffee’ or ‘I want a tea’ if I were ordering them. I don’t think that is a problem here.
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Love the style. Love the imagery. Love it.