Tag Archives: Danger

‘Cali’: Part Eleven

Hot yellow light sliced into us from nowhere.

It blinded me. I flinched. The asshole drew back. He turned towards the light. A look passed over him. Anger. In that split second, it seemed to me as if he was baring his teeth.

“Chielozona?” The silhouette behind the car headlights was a welcome relief.  I walked quickly towards Cali, almost skipping in my haste to get to him. I threw myself in his arms.

“Cali…my car died and my phone died and…”

“It’s okay,” he said. He held me a little away from himself and scrutinised me. “I waited than I drove down here slow-slow to see if I would catch you on the way. Sorry I wasted time.”

“No, it’s not your fault,” I shook my head. It was just like Cali to apologise when he was the one helping me out.

The dizzy feeling had all but dissipated. I cleared my throat but Cali was no longer paying attention. His gaze was directed at asshole behind me who now slammed the passenger side door and came towards us with my things in tow.

“Here,” he said, thrusting his arm in my direction ungraciously. He bared his teeth again, not quite a smile but not a grimace either. I could not tell what it was supposed to mean but it made me uneasy. I looked at Cali. He was unmoved, casually brushing his jacket aside to slip his hand into his trouser pocket.

“Cali this is Mr…” I almost said ‘Mr Asshole’ but checked myself at the last minute. “He’s a customer. He was just going to give me a ride.”

“Tenk you,” said Cali. He held out his right hand.

“Later, stranger,” said the asshole ignoring the hand. He walked towards his car, started it up and drove away.

A frown creased Cali’s forehead. It disappeared when he turned, smiling to me. “Ngwa let’s go, mummy.”

On the drive home Cali was silent. I didn’t say much too. My brain buzzed like a hive of bees. Something had nearly happened or had happened but I couldn’t figure it out still and it bothered me. If Cali hadn’t come would I have…what would I have done? Would I have gone with him? I felt myself wanting to, in spite of myself. And what did the asshole mean by ‘unaffected by me’?

“Mummy? Are you okay?” asked Cali. I could tell he was searching my face in the lit spaces between the darkness.

I looped my hand around his neck and pulled his face towards mine. Cali pulled the car over.

***

My fears seemed unfounded the next morning. I felt like one of those women tied to train tracks in old black and white films, screaming ‘Help!’ and waiting to be rescued. In other words? I felt foolish. So when Cali offered to drive me to work, I refused.

“It’s cool, Cali. I can get to work by myself. There is nothing wrong with my legs,” I joked.

He tweaked my nose. “Did I say there was something wrong with your legs?” His eyes jumped about in his face. I could tell he was glad to see me. “I just want to take you, that’s all. You’re my darling wife.”

I rolled my eyes. “It’s like that the men in your village marry? No bride price? No palm wine on my head? You’ve tried.” I grabbed my bags.

“Okay, okay. Don’t be angly. You’re my wife-to-be?” Something in his tone made me turn around. Cali held out a box. My heart skipped a beat.

“Cali…what is that?”

“I was going to keep it until later but I think that now, you should take it. From me to you.”

“Cali…”

“Okay, okay. You don’t have to open it now. Just…take it.”

The box was a bigger than your standard ring box when I looked closely and my heart descended from my throat.  “Thank you,” I kissed him.

“I know you will like it….you don’t want to open it?”

My phone started ringing. I smiled at him, and raised a finger. “Hello?”

It was the bank manager. I handed the box back and raced for the front door.

***

“I swear I didn’t park my car in your spot, sir. I tried to get home yesterday and when it wouldn’t start, I just left it where I had parked it. By the wall.”

“I do not appreciate having to walk a long way through the car park with sensitive documents flying about because someone, a junior member of staff for that matter, takes it upon herself to displace the manager.”

I wondered what one had to do with the other but said nothing.  I had not parked in his spot, but  did he not have a briefcase for his documents?

“Mr Elendu sir, it won’t happen again,” said the floor manager, cutting eyes at me. I rearranged my face so that my thoughts would not show on them.

“See that it doesn’t,” said Mr Elendu. “It was very embarrassing.”

“I’m sorry, sir. I’ll move it now.” I left quickly before the floor manager could run after me to breathe fire down my neck.

I slipped my keys in the ignition and turned it. My car roared to life.

‘Cali’: Part Ten

I groaned. I could have sworn it was inwardly but the man laughed, so I knew I had done it aloud. His teeth gleamed unnaturally white in the dimness of his car.

“No, thank you,” I said. “I don’t take rides from strangers.” I started to walk away. He followed in the car.

“Ehh, let me guess. You can run your mouth when you’re behind the safety of your precious glass but now that I am here, I’m a stranger?”

“You were always a stranger,” I said, in spite of myself. Something told me to shut my mouth and just keep walking. I looked all about waiting for the okadas coming behind me or towards me on the other side of the road. Nothing. Only cars. Buses zoomed past without stopping. No conductors shouting for fares. They were all full. What time was it?

The man laughed again, as the last car whooshed past us. Darkness. I realised I had walked past the bank’s lit fence. My heart beat with so much force that it shook my body. I began to walk faster. I turned. The car remained ominously silent behind me…

“You’re being stupid,” said a voice.

I walked straight into the man. In front of me. I screamed.

“How did you…? Jes…”

“You’re going to break your neck,” he said. “Stop being a smallie. Get in the car. I’ll give you a ride. Okay?”

The asshole was almost murmuring now. I felt dizzy. I couldn’t think. My nose hurt from where I had bumped it against his body, like walking into a padded door. How had he got in front of me?

“I’m waiting for someone. My boyfriend. He’s coming to find me…”

His face was above mine. Way above mine. But I felt a disturbance in the air as if someone had sliced it in two with a hot knife. He was smiling again.

“No he isn’t,” he said. “Com’on. You don’t want someone to attack you, do you?”

What he said made sense. Perfect sense. Would I not be better off with someone I sort-of knew? But something in me was screaming. I backed away. I had been intending to get away and cross the road to the other side but somehow I got to the car and he was opening the door, standing near me, helping me in.

“You know, you really intrigue me,” he said.

My saliva turned to paste in my mouth. “I do?” I could see flashes of colour in my mind’s eye. Red mostly. Some silver. I knew I was afraid but it was as if my body could not feel it properly.

“You do. You seem…unaffected by me. Almost.” The asshole sniffed my ear, my neck. He backed away. “Listen. I’m sorry I called you a bitch. I didn’t mean that. And I don’t mean to scare you or anything. You are scared. I can tell.”

As he backed away, I felt a jagged feeling run though me, as if I was finally connecting to my brain. “Look, I’m sorry but I can’t…my boyfriend will pick me up.”

“We’ve been here for twenty minutes . Would you get in the car already? I’ve never had to work so hard to convince a woman to let me help her.”

A thought occurred to me. “No.”

“No?” he sounded surprised.

“No, thank you. I think I’ll…I’ll wait.”

The man stood there. I could feel the heat coming off him as he leaned in again. “Are you sure?”

Flashes of red. Silver. Sweat soaked into the wings of my bra from my armpit.