The Bet by Booky Glover won the third edition of Afriverve/Afristory Festival of Short Story. The theme for the edition was Romance.
“Ahhh! Yess! Give it to me baby… ”
I couldn’t sleep, it was my next-door neighbour at it again. I turned from my side to the other side. When the moans did not stop, I blocked my ears with my pillow. It was another dark night and there was no power. I hissed to myself as I threw the duvet away from my body, then I felt my side for my nightgown. As I touched my silky gown, I slide into it and got out of bed.
This time Natasha was screaming ot the top of her voice. I must talk to this girl come tomorrow morning, she can’t continue to disturb me every night.
I made some chocolaty tea, drank up and returned to bed. By this time it was the guy groaning, I hissed again. Why will these two be evil?
Soon, they were both quiet.
Ah! Peace to earth.
“I can’t take it anymore Richard, they keep making all those horrible noises all in the name of making love.”
I sat opposite Richard my colleague at work during lunch. Richard had a stupid smile on his face. “Sounds like someone is horny and depressed.” My mouth opened and I stared at him in disbelief.
“What the hell?”
“Huh?” Richard nodded.
“I’m not depressed and I’m totally fine.”
There was a twinkle in his eyes, oh yes, he was definitely up to some mischief. “Really?”
“Yeah,” I nodded.
“How about I prove to you that you’re horny and depressed.”
“Give it your best shot, Richard.” I replied and drew my chair back.
As I tried to stand up, he stood up with me and we were looking into each other eyes. For a moment, I saw something that was not there before. I shook my head and turned to leave the table.
“Hello Angie,” Natasha greeted me as I entered the compound.
“Angela,” I said to correct her, as I took in her scanty dress. Who washes clothes in the compound wearing a gown that stops just below her crotch. This must be desperate sex times. Of course, I was dressed in my blazers suit and pencil skirt.
“Angela, you’re welcome back.”
I walked in short steps to my room and opened the door. I didn’t need to converse with such a lousy fornicator. Yes, I was that vindictive.
Just a few minutes after shedding my clothes and getting into comfortable house wears, I heard a knock at the door.
“Who is it?”
I sighed. As if disturbing my sleep is not enough, she must disturb my day too. I opened the door slowly and stood in the doorway.
“I bring wine, may I come in?”
I sized her from head to toe. She had changed to a mini skirt that stopped above her knee, she had a bottle in one hand and a phone in the other.
“Yes, come in.” I opened the door wider and she sauntered in. “I’ll get the wine glasses.”
She sat on the rug beside my mattress by the time I returned with the wine glasses.
She opened and poured the drink for herself and me. I didn’t drink, I watched her down the drink first.
“You don’t like me.” It was a statement of fact.
“Why do you say that?”
“You don’t talk to me if I don’t talk to you, then you have this air around you – as if to say you’re too good for the likes of Natasha.”
“I’ll make this clear, Natasha you disgust me. Every night, you bring a new guy to sleep with you. Every single night. It’s really not my business what you choose to do with your life, but you know that we share the same wall, must you be so loud? Must the whole compound know your business?”
“I didn’t know you feel this much animosity towards me. I’m sorry I disturb your sleep.”
“Okay.” I stood up as she picked her wine bottle to rise. She left my room and I shut the door behind her.
I opened the door to the office and Richard brushed past me. The whiff of perfume and manliness got me heady. Throughout work, I couldn’t stop thinking about the contact.
I entered into the cafeteria looking around for an unoccupied table.
“Looking for me?”
“Looking for a seat,” I replied.
“We can wait, till the cows come home, let’s buy our food and go outside.”
As Richard and I spoke animatedly, I knew it I was falling hard and I couldn’t catch myself.
Each day, we sat together for lunch and gist through it. It was becoming a routine and I didn’t even think there was anything wrong about it.
“What will you be doing tonight?” Richard asked as we strolled to the bus stop.
“Well, I’m going to get dinner, soak myself in a warm bath and read before I sleep.” Richard looked at me and smiled.
“How about I take you out for dinner?”
I shook my head and stared straight on.
“Angie,” he held my right hand and I suck my breath in. I wasn’t prepared for the emotions coursing through me.
“Wha-What?” I looked at his forehead avoiding his eyes waiting.
“Let me take you out tonight. I’ll be the perfect gentleman.” I wring my hand out of his.
“I’d love to but…” I shook my head looking away.
“It is him, right? You think every man will be like him.”
“What are you talking about?”
“The man who broke you in pieces and made you feel all the other men should be punished for his sins.”
I smiled at him. “You presume too much. Come on Richard, you don’t even know my story.”
“I’ve got all night.”
I glanced at my wristwatch it was half-past five.
“If you still want me on that date, you need to let me go; so I can prepare for the date.”
“Yes my lady.”
Smiling to myself, I took a bus home.
Music was blaring out of Natasha’s room. Some people can’t help but be a pain in the ass.
I had a change of plan. I wasn’t going to soak in any bathtub neither was I going to read. I would have bought food from Iya Simbi and then crashed on my bed for the night. I had to form for Richard, he mustn’t see me as boring. Eh? I have a reputation to keep.
The night was going pretty well, we had the time of our lives. Richard took me back to my place. I didn’t mind that we had to jump the bike, I wanted to get in the sack with this hunk I refused to acknowledge until now.
I opened the door to my apartment and invited him. Immediately he walked in, I drew his head down for a kiss. As we kissed, I held him close. There was some urgency in the kiss and the way I held him. Richard suddenly stepped back, you were depressed and horny.
“Depressed and horny,” he whispered.
“Richard? I don’t care what you think of me tomorrow morning but we will do this first.”
“Make love to me.”
“Aren’t you mad at me?
“There’s plenty of time to be mad at you tomorrow.”
“It is getting late.” I knew Richard wanted to go but I wasn’t ready to let him go.
The blue gown I wore had slid down and half of my breasts were visible.
“Don’t you love me?”
“It was all about the bet. I like you but not like this. Sorry, Angie.”
His words struck me. I was not different from Natasha. I let Richard play me. As this realisation strikes me, tears came down my face.
“Go home, leave me.”
I’m a loner these days and I’ve kept Richard at arm’s length. You should not trust a man who can do all that to prove a point.