Her son, Damian, had fallen asleep on the couch again. Eve guiltily wished her husband were around to carry and tuck him in bed because she was tired of being the one to do it every night. At the age of seven, Damian was no longer tiny, and she felt his weight each time she lifted him. After contemplating letting him spend the night on the couch and deciding it was a terrible idea, she hoisted him, his head resting on her left shoulder, and walked him to his room. Damian opened his eyes and smiled at her as she placed him on the bed, forcing her to tickle him for tricking her into carrying him to bed. She loved how he roared with laughter and kicked his feet in the air, so she continued tickling him for a while before climbing in bed next to him and sang him the Itsy-Bitsy Spider song she had discovered on YouTube. He loved the song so much that he would not sleep until she sang it to him.
“And now it’s time for you to close your eyes and sleep,” she said tunefully, following the rhythm of the song.
“Okay, mum. But when did you say dad will be back?”
“Soon baby. Dad will be back soon.”
“You always say that, but he has never come.”
“I know. Dad is sorting a few things out and immediately he is done, he will come.”
“If he comes at night, will you wake me up so that I can see him?”
“Of course, baby. I will wake you up.”
He smiled. “Goodnight, mum, I love you.”
She kissed him on the forehead.
“I love you, too, baby. Goodnight”
She stood at the door, right hand on the power switch and watched him drift to sleep. He seemed at peace, but she couldn’t get over him constantly asking about his father and when he would return. By now she was used to wrestling with the idea of telling him his father wasn’t going to be home for a long time because people in jail don’t get to go home when they want. Even more difficult for her was explaining to her seven-year-old son why his father ended up in jail. Wouldn’t he hold her accountable for what happened to his father? Wouldn’t he hate her? No, Damian was too young to harbour hate feelings, but she still wasn’t going to take the risk. She switched off the lights, shut the door behind her and let the couch sink so low under her weight as she remembered that distant night when the silly idea that would ultimately land Tony in jail was born.
It had rained heavily earlier in the day and as darkness took over the skies, the heavy hitting rainwater reduced into drizzles, swaggering their way onto earth. Eve and Tony cuddled on the carpet in the living room after tucking their son to bed, watching a movie filled with lots of drama, sex, and drugs. Occasionally, the wind blew through the ventilation; past the Maasai shuka, they were covering themselves with, causing them to shudder and wrestle for a huge piece of the shuka. Tony let her win like he always did during such play fights and sat with his uncovered legs stretched before him.
“Now I know it’s true women will never know how lucky they are to have a good husband until they lose him to a more deserving woman,” he said, head twisted to the side as if what he just said was meant to be a silent thought.
He turned to her. “Do you know there’s a woman out there who would let me have the shuka to myself? Or, at the very least, walk to the bedroom and come out with a duvet that can fit us both?”
“And do you know there are men out there who, if given the chance to be with a woman like me, would even sell their fathers just to make me happy? Or how many women like me do you think exist out there?”
“In your dreams.”
“Come on, hypothetically speaking, do you really think I stand no chance of finding another woman out there who is just as good as you are if not better?” he laughed. “You must surely think highly of yourself.”
“Of course, I think highly of myself. If I wasn’t special, would you have begged me to marry you?”
“I didn’t beg.”
“Maybe just a little. But if we were to throw ourselves out there, like Tara and Oscar, I am pretty sure I will be spoilt for choice.”
Tara and Oscar were a married couple in the movie they were watching. Tired of their monotonous marriage routine, Tara suggested they start going out as single people and see who between them would land more suitors in a night. But they agreed not to go beyond flirting with the people they would meet in the clubs, and Oscar had gladly agreed.
“And just like Oscar, women will die to be in my arms and jealousy will drive you into doing crazy things,” Tony said, rubbing her arm.
“In short, you think your handsomeness is more than my beauty? Man, you must be out of your mind.”
“I am right on my mind.”
“That there are more men out there who would be willing to go out with me, than there are women who would be willing to go out with you.”
“Eve, my love, the things you say sometimes make me think I got married to a crazy woman,” he leaned in and kissed her on the lips. “I will not bet, just to save you the embarrassment.”
“Let’s experiment then,” she said, “Just like Tara and Oscar.”
“Let’s pick a date and go out clubbing as single people, and let’s see which one of us will be hit on more times.”
“One, that’s a crazy idea and two, men are the ones who do the hitting so the game is not fair.”
“Fine, for you, we will determine by the number of phone numbers you get at the end of the night.”
“You are kidding, right?”
“I am not the one who was talking rubbish a few minutes ago, am I?”
“Come on, sweetheart, I was only kidding. You know you are the only woman I am in love with and will ever be in love with. So, let’s forget this story, okay? We are grownups, married, and with a son to raise. Let’s leave such like games to teens who don’t know any better.”
He was right; the idea was dumb. But it wasn’t the first time she wished he could stop thinking of them as old people who were past their days of having fun and instead think of them as a young couple they were. He was too serious nowadays, always reigning in with common sense even on the days when she would have preferred him to go with her crazy idea if only to kill the monotony that was their marriage. Their sex life, though still very much alive, was devoid of the thrill it had before they got married. They could not have sex anywhere in the house mainly because of their son, but she wished he could spice things up so that having sex ceased feeling like homework. She had lost count of the number of times she had to feign interest when he rolled her over to her back and came on top, kissing her, because she feared driving the idea in his head that she seldom enjoyed sex now that they were married. He had feigned interest many times, too, but since they got married, he had become terrible at lying and pretending, so she always saw the lack of interest in him. She imagined the spark would be rekindled if they did crazy things like flirt with other people in a club if only to make them realize how lucky they were to have each other.
“Let’s do it,” he said.
“Let’s be single again for one night and go out there and reign terror on the bachelors and bachelorettes’ world.”
“Wait, are you serious?”
“But you know that I wasn’t saying we go sleeping around with other people, yes?”
“I know. Just the thought of us being out there again gives me thrills. Besides, I must admit, I think our romantic life lacks the thrills and excitement it had when we were still dating.”
She sighed loudly. “So, when do we do this?”
“How about next weekend? Remember Clair and Sam have invited us out for a drink next weekend?”
“Oh, yes. But we can’t go on flirting with other people in their presence, what example will we be setting for them? Or you don’t remember we are their role models?”
“We will wait until they go home. I know they can’t stay out late because their daughter is still recovering from the short illness.”
“But remember to stick to the plan.”
“We all know you need that advice more than I do,” she chided, nudging him with her shoulder.
She couldn’t believe she was going to do this. What would Clair say if she knew? And her mother? While other married people took family vacations to reconnect with their romantic selves, they were going to a club to flirt? But then again, they were not another married couple. That night, they kissed right after he paused the movie. She tiptoed to their son’s door, locked it from outside and came back to sit on him and continued with the kissing. They made love in the living room for the first time since their wedding. He gently humped into her, filling her void, and teasing her as she tried not to gasp loudly, lest they woke up their boy.
On the evening of their night out, both tried not to go overboard with their dressing. She put on a blue sleeveless dress and a pair of black heels and she could tell from the way he looked at her that she looked stunning. She wondered if he was jealous she was looking forward to meeting and talking to other men in the club, but that was before he later emerged from the bedroom in a pair of a white shirt and blue jeans, looking sharp. The strong scent of his cologne preceded him, filling the room, and striking her nose in a way that made her feel teary. She leaned back against the couch, watching him slip on his brown leather loafers. When he looked up and their eyes met, he asked, “What?”
“I see it’s game on,” she said.
He chuckled, walking to her. He pulled her up and drew her closer to him until her breasts touched his chest before leaning in to kiss her on the lips.
“If your mum finds out we took Damian to her place, so we could go out and do crazy things, she will kill us,” she said.
“I agree with you. Good thing is, she will never find out and we are never doing this again after tonight.”
On that evening, as expected, Clair and Sam did not stay for long. They left when the night was still young. Tony noticed how women leered at him when they thought Eve wasn’t looking, and Eve had had men openly ogling at her.
“I think it’s time we split up,” she said.
He nodded and stood. “Good luck.”
“You will need more luck than I will tonight, baby.”
He picked his bottle and moved to a different table. He had barely settled down when a man in a brown jacket and black boots walked over to Eve and whispered something to her. He watched on as Eve smiled at him, throwing her hair back and eventually shaking her head. The man walked away with a look of disappointment. Tony sighed in relief before looking around the bar for women he could seduce. He saw one, seated at the counter in a short shiny dress that glittered under the clubs’ neon lights. He loved how her hips and ass pushed the dress outwards. He glanced at Eve and she was watching him, pointing at the same girl he was planning to hit on. She must have noticed that she was beautiful and perhaps concluded he stood no chance with her, so he nodded and walked to the girl at the counter as Eve followed him with her eyes.
Eve watched on as he chatted her up before pulling a pen and small notebook out of his pocket and placing them on the countertop. Giggling, the girl dragged the notebook near her and scribbled her number on it. As Tony walked back to his table, he dangled the notebook in the air and she softly clapped for him before turning her attention to the gentleman standing in front of her. He was a tall man in a plain white T-shirt and black jeans ripped at the knees. It could have been her imagination playing tricks on her, but this gentleman resembled Tony. When he asked if he could join her table, she said yes. He pulled a chair and sat down, elbows on the table.
“My name is Usher,” he said.
“Like Usher Raymond?”
He laughed. “No, just Usher.”
“I am Eve,” she stretched her hand out to him and as he greeted her, he kissed the back of her hand.
“So, what are you drinking?” he asked.
“Red wine. Though I have had enough already.”
“Let me buy you one more. Just one.”
“Thank you for the offer but I am good. You could sing me a song, though.”
He narrowed his eyes.
“I am sorry, I am still imagining your second name is Raymond and that you can sing like your life depends on it.”
He laughed, this time louder, loud enough to attract Tony’s attention. He looked at their direction and didn’t look away until Eve looked his way and their eyes met. She quickly looked away.
“Nice to meet you, Eve. I must say, I already feel lucky just sitting next to you tonight. Strange that men in this club would let the chaotic music being played in this club be your only companion.”
“Haha, it’s RnB they are playing, and that’s hardly chaotic music. Besides, I am not—”
She wanted to say she was not alone, but she looked at Tony again and saw that he was already talking to another lady. The lady was shorthaired, wearing a pair of high waist jeans that sagged under the size and weight of her ass. She was leaning over Tony’s table and he had his right arm on her shoulder. Eve hadn’t seen her face yet, but she could tell the lady was beautiful and charming from the way a smile the size of an ocean sat on Tony’s lips. Eve felt a little tinge of jealousy and she continued staring, willing at Tony to look her way but he didn’t.
“I am sorry, are you with someone?” Usher asked.
“No, I am alone.”
She chatted up with the Usher and even refused to push his hand away when he reached over and held her hands to his. She looked at Tony to see if he was watching but he wasn’t. At some point, the guy excused himself to go to the gents and Tony showed up almost immediately.
“This was a stupid idea,” he said, “Let’s go home.”
“But you seemed to be having the time of your life,” she replied, standing and picking up her handbag at the same time.
They wedged themselves through the mass of sweaty dancing revellers, pushing and stepping on some before they reached the door. Outside, he placed his arm on her shoulder and walked her to the car and the feeling of jealousy that had earlier on crept faded out. She held his waist and even asked, jokingly, how many girls gave him his number.
“Only three,” he said, opening the door. “But I shouldn’t have asked them to begin with.”
“Come on, I am not mad, a few men hit on me, too.”
“Yea, I saw that.”
He opened the door for Eve and was going to get in the car when someone tapped him on the shoulder. When he turned around, he saw it was the same guy who was talking with Eve back in the club and he immediately sensed trouble.
“Excuse me, bro, where are you taking my woman?” the man asked.
Tony held up his hand in the air. “I don’t want trouble with you, bro. The woman in this car is my woman, you must forget whatever happened in there because it wasn’t real.”
“What do you mean it wasn’t real? You think you can just snatch other people’s women and go home with them as if it’s nothing? She needs to step out of this car because I want to talk to her. She is not going anywhere with you.”
“You are clearly drunk; go home.”
Tony made as if to open his car’s door, but the guy grabbed the collar of his shirt from behind and yanked him back, ripping Tony’s shirt. Eve jumped out of the car and came between them.
“Stop this nonsense you two,” she said, turning to the other guy. “And you, what do you think you are doing? This here is my husband. Whatever you thought was going on in there wasn’t real.”
He chuckled. “Nonsense! You are nothing but a cheap whore! How much did he offer you for you to leave me? Huh? I can triple that, bitch.”
“You need to be careful with what you say to my wife or—”
“Or what?” Usher pulled a knife out of his pants and pointed it at Tony. “Go, on, tell me what you are going to do. Because it will be a cold day in hell before I let you go with this woman.”
A crowd was gathering with the excited people flashing out their phones to record. Eve asked Tony to get in the car, so they could leave but every time Tony made as if to move, Usher moved closer, holding the knife steadily.
“Get in the car,” Tony told Eve.
“She is not going anywhere!” Usher shouted.
“If you think she is a prostitute,” Tony said, “Why don’t you go ahead and look for another one? I am sure they are many out here at this time of the night.”
“No, I want her. Tell her to come to me.”
Eve was now shaken, she held on to Tony’s ripped shirt tightly and Tony placed his hand around her waist protectively. Agitated, Usher charged towards Tony with his knife, but Tony was too quick for him, punching him in the throat and sending him flying down, hitting the back of his head on the pavement. The next thing everyone saw was blood flowing from behind Usher’s head and everyone screamed, some scampering away in terror. A man from the crowd pushed himself forward and leaned down beside Usher and proceeded to feel his pulse before announcing, “This man is dead.”
Editor: Nyarinda Moraa
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