He stood there just dumbstruck and then she took off, not running but also not walking- a hybrid of both. So Tai just continued walking at a much slower pace behind her. The girl got to the edge of the court, and walked out of the gate, (There was a gate but most of the fence wiring was long gone) she was staring at her feet as she walked but as she stepped out of the gate she looked up and Kenny who was just walking into the gate almost bumped into her. Her left hand went to her throat and she instinctively struck Kenny on the face. Tai who happened upon them at that exact moment exclaimed “Ouch, that’s gotta hurt” she turned and saw Kenny, a cloud of confusion passed over her face and cleared up on the realisation that they were twins.
“I am so sorry, I thought he, I thought you, were the one who…” she kept looking from one brother to the other, the one who had the amused look on her face and the one who had the shocked look on his face “Sorry I didn’t mean to, I was scared” she sounded really timid, and then she took off actually running this time. They would later find out her name was Claire.
“Mum! Mum!” It was Tai
“I can't find my shooooooeeeeeeeeeeeeeeessss” he was calling down the stairwell of their four bedroom duplex. There were three bedrooms upstairs and a wood paneled living room. The twins shared a room although they had always talked about having separate rooms but they never got around to it because no one was willing to move downstairs. Their parents had the two other rooms although both slept in the master bedroom but most of Julia –Mrs Brownsons belongings were kept in her room. Julia looked up from her reading – John Grisham and sighed, took off her spectacles, rubbed her temple all in the space of ten seconds. Her kids were totally dependent on her and she absolutely loved it. She loved them more than anything in the world. In the first few months after the twins were born she had a help come in from 9a.m till about 5p.m daily except on Sundays.
There had been no maids, nannies or housekeeps afterwards. When they were babies, she was afraid they would catch some disease or infection. When they were toddlers she was afraid they would be physically abused, when they grew up to ten years of age it was the fear of sexual abuse and they became teens at a time when stories of maid getting impregnated by teenagers were everywhere. She was therefore to her twins a mum, a maid, a housekeeper, a laundry woman and since they had no other siblings, a sister. She got up, walked up to the bottom of the stairwell and called up the stairwell “Kenny do you have yours?”
“Only the right foot mum” it was more of a grumble.
“And when was the last time you saw it?’ Silence
“Oh I have it now mum, it was under the bed , Tai’s too”
“Thanks mum you are just the best, Kenny hid mine when he couldn't find his own left foot . . . Ouch stop poking me”
“Break it up boys”
She started walking back to her book and her overstuffed recliner but paused midstride and inclined her head as she heard a scuffle from the top of the stairs.
“Do I have to come up there?”
The tone this time was stern.“No mum” it was a chorus.
She stretched out on the recliner, stared for a few moments at a picture of her, Femi and the kids. The picture was taken when the kids were about 4 years old. They were resident in Port Harcourt at the time, they moved around a lot in the early years. She took a deep breath, sighed and smiled. The world was indeed perfect.
“I am sure that’s us o”
“So who is the woman because that is definitely not mum in there” replied Tai.
“But that is us na” Kenny repeated
“You already said that” the look on Tai’s face was a cross between intense concentration and confusion.
“Let us ask mum”
“Yup as soon as she comes back from work” The boys had just returned from playing basketball on the neighbourhood court. Well it was really more of 15minutes of basketball, and two hours of listening to Bob. The thing is Bob could not play basketball so whenever he showed up on the court, he would start regaling whoever was not playing at the moment with tales of his latest escapades. Soon enough due to his gesticulations and the looks of disbelief on his listeners faces, those playing basketball soon lost interest and would just go to join Bob’s listeners.
Bob was supposedly the worldly wisest of them all. He has kissed a girl, grabbed a girl’s boobs and almost had sex, in fact he had even gone in but he refused to count it as sex because he did not climax. Well so he said but really they were all just tales. He loved the attention and would do anything for it.He was the last of six boys and he simply just lifted stories he heard from his brothers of themselves and made them his. He was a charming little devil, shorter than most of his peers, about 7 months older than the 2nd older in his posse of friends. He had a smile that could disarm the most cold hearted of characters – well almost. People just naturally gravitated towards him. Tai did not really care for his ways and stories; at least so he said but when the stories were being told, he listened as avidly as any other person in the group.
Once or twice he poked holes in the stories but Bob always had a way of parrying them away and when he couldn’t find a good response he simply gave his trademark response to any challenges thrown at his stories
“Do you want me shut up?”
At which a collective moan and dirty looks would be thrown by the eager audience at the offender who just interrupted 'the flow'
Mostly Tai just waited till he was alone with Kenny to poke holes in Bob’s tales and theories. Today’s story was about a university party he attended with his brothers over the weekend and how a really tall and beautiful girl he danced with had slid her hand into his jeans and grabbed him “down there”.
“Didn’t anybody see you guys?” Tai had thrown at him
“Guy na uni party”
“Dem dey off light na, you never go one before?”
“So its pitch black?”
“And you won’t step on people or bump into people?”
“Make I shut up?”
The usual groans from the group and one or two interjections and expletives
“Tai shut up” Later when the twins were alone in their room, Tai continued poking holes in Bob’s story.
“So if the party was over the weekend, and today is Friday…how come Bob is just giving us the gist now?”
“Maybe he forgot” Kenny responded as if he was already expecting the question.
“How could he have forgotten something like that? I think it is a lie joor, and he came to the court the following morning o, I can remember he was not looking sleepy at all, and I know him, he would have been dying to give us that gist”
Kenny made a sound; half groan- half grunt. Tai looked at him expectantly but no response seemed to be forth coming. The boys were at a point in their lives where they thought they were ripe enough to experiment sexually. Frustratingly this was the age where nobody really got anything sexual done. So some like Bob fantasised and told tales; sometimes believing their own tales, while others listened to the tales, believed them and waited impatiently for their turn. Occasionally another member of the gang would come up with his own story and Bob would immediately poke holes in that story. It was his thing no one was allowed to take his shine and that was it.
“The laptop daddy seized, do you know where it is?” Kenny shot Tai a stare that his twin could not quite decipher.
“We know where it is . . . sir” came the sarcastic reply
“But we are not allowed to touch it remember? And it is your fault … sir”
“But why did daddy password those files?”
“Because he didn’t want anyone to access it, and how did you guess the password?”
“Mum’s date of birth? Please… isn’t that a little too obvious? And he already dashed us the laptop so I think we should be able to do whatever we like with it. What do you think it is in those files sef?”
“You didn’t see?” Kenny asked
“No! I announced that I had unlocked his files and he just jumped up from the chair slammed the laptop shut and looked at me like he was going to break my neck, that’s it” he paused to glare at Kenny
“What’s funny Kenny?” Kenny was laughing hard but somewhat quietly, he paused to catch his breath before he spoke.
“I can just remember it clearly, in my mind was like ‘uh oh, I’m about to become an only son!’ wait do you think we are ever going to be as big as daddy?”
Their parents were exact opposites, Femi was a giant of a man standing slightly above six feet 3 inches while Julia was a petite homely looking woman, fair as they come with dimples that were almost visible even when she wasn’t smiling and gave enhanced her warm smiles. Femi on the other hand was really dark and this coupled with his height and broad shoulders would have been really menacing but for his eyes, really soft brown eyes that lit up when he smiled.
“Let’s quickly go and get the laptop abeg, I want to browse”
“You go and get it” Kenny responded
“I won’t mind being an only child, that man will so murder you!”
“I’ll return it before he gets back”
He jumped off his bed and went to fetch the laptop. He knew where seized items went, the storage room beside his parents, that’s where all the items went since they were kids. He stepped in and shut the door the door very quietly behind him. For the first time ever, he could not find a seized item the room. He found this really strange went on rummaging through the boxes in the room. He just would not believe the laptop was not in the room. That was when he came upon the picture. “Kenny!!!”
The twins has seen almost every emotion expressed on their mum’s face, joy, pleasure, happiness, anger, pain, even frustration but never the look her face took on when they showed her the picture. “Mum who is this woman?” Tai had asked showing it to her. The look was indescribable but horrible to look at non-the-less. She pursed her mouth, and whispered almost inaudibly, “ask your dad”.
Femi looked away from the TV and muted it as he saw the look on his wife’s face. He sat forward abruptly and stretched his right hand towards Tai. “Let me see that” His voice was also barely audible. Julia stood up from the recliner - her favourite spot in the living room, her face visibly red, she shot her husband a murderous look, turned on her heel and walked slowly out of the room. Femi looked at the picture; he only had to glance at it once. He shut his eyes for several moments, took a really deep breath, took another deep breath, and fell back on his seat. He stood up took a few step in the direction his wife just took, then glanced at his children who were looking totally lost and scared. He walked back to his seat and sat down abruptly. He swallowed a couple of times, shifted to the middle of the couch and patted the spaces next to him. The twins took the seats as indicated, quiet as mice.
Stay tuned for episode 3. Like. share, comment and subscribe.