She stood before room 624 and looked at her wristwatch. She was early.
Two months ago she had a conversation with her father.
“What do you need the money for?” He asked.
“I need to buy clothes and some other things. I shouldn’t be asking you for money all the time.”
“What is wrong with your clothes?”
“They are all faded.” She didn’t bother to tell him that they were also old fashion. She wore long skirts while her class mates wore the latest dresses. She didn’t want to look out of place among her friends.
“Feyi, you must learn to live within your means, with contentment,” her dad said and returned to his dinner of pounded yam and egusi soup.
She pulled down the black dress she wore as a maid walked down the narrow hall.
Three weeks ago she spoke with Ese, her childhood friend.
“When will you stop dressing like an old woman?” Ese asked.
“I don’t have rich parents who give me money,” Feyi said.
“Parents? Ha,ha,ha!” Ese laughed dryly. “Who said anything about my parents giving me money?”
Feyi was confused. “Then how are you able to afford such expensive clothes?”
Ese paused for a moment. ” Men help me out.”
“Men? You collect money from men?”
“Yes, from men! My parents are poor.” She lifted her right leg, showing off new shoes. “Where do you think my father will find the money to buy me this?”
Feyi took in what her friend was telling her.
“You want to know why they give me all the money I need?” Ese asked.
Feyi already knew the answer. It was taboo to her ears. She never expected to discover that her best friend was a….
“I have sex with them,” Ese confessed without shame.
“What will pastor Kwame say if he finds out?”
“I don’t care what pastor thinks. He lives his life and I live mine. I have bills to pay and needs to be met. Unless pastor pays my bills, he should mind his own business.”
These were not the words of the girl she had grown up with in church. They were the cold words of a stranger.
She pushed the door gently and it swung in slowly without a sound.
Yesterday she met Ese in church and they had a conversation in whispers.
Pastor Kwame Brown began his sermon titled ‘Money is your birthright.’
The girls barely listened.
“Nice suit and tie, don’t you think?” Ese observed.
“I like his shoes,” Feyi said.
A gold cross hung from a long chain around the pastor’s neck. On his right hand he wore a large diamond ring. He looked more like a drug dealer in Harlem than a pastor in Accra, Ghana.
Ese lowered her voice. “One of my contacts needs a girl tomorrow evening. Can you handle it?”
“Will…will it involve sex?” Feyi asked with trepidation.
“Of course it will involve sex,” Ese hissed.
An old woman sitting in front of them turned and looked at them with disapproval.
Feyi was shocked by the callousness of her friend who was a youth leader in church.
“Who is the man?”
“I don’t know who he is.”
Pastor Kwame rounded up the service and people began moving toward the exits.
As they stood talking outside the church building, deacon John Otubu walked over. The girls smiled at him.
He chatted with both girls but his eyes were on Feyi. He tried to edge her away into a private conversation but Ese wouldn’t allow it. He finally got the message and left.
“That man likes you and he doesn’t even hide it.”
“You mean he lusts after me,” Feyi corrected.
“Do you like him?”
“For goodness sake he is married!”
“What kind of men do you think I move with?”
“What cologne is he wearing?” Feyi deflected the conversation.
“I think it is called ‘Slav’.”Ese answered.
“Strong. I like it.”
“So, will you do it? The money will solve a lot of problems.”
Feyi had thought about this for the past three weeks. She convinced herself that she really needed the money.
“Yes, I will,” she said with some sadness in her voice.
She entered the room, looked around and her eyes fell on the bed. It occupied the centre of the room like an evil behemoth, waiting to devour her. She took off her shoes, turned off the light as Ese had instructed and lay quietly on the bed. Moments later, the door of the room opened and she saw the silhouette of a man at the door. He made his way to the bed, took off his clothes and lay down beside her on the bed. Seconds later, lust driven hands groped for her body. Feyi froze. He climbed on top of her, breathing heavily like a marathon runner. His touch made her skin crawl. Bile rose up in her throat and she felt like throwing up.
The darkness in the room was suffocating. She was scared. Her thoughts ran amok in her head like a stray cat. Her parents didn’t know where she was. This man could snuff out her life and dump her lifeless body by the road side. He could be an occultist who needed to harvest her sexual organs for some satanic rituals. He could infect her with some deadly disease which could mar her for the rest of her life. Her covetousness had led her to this dark place. Suddenly the new clothes she desired weren’t so important any more. She should never have listened to Ese.
“God, please get me out of here,” she prayed.
She struggled to get away but his hands were all over her body. She hit him, rolled out from under his oppressive weight and tried to make her way to the door in the darkness but stumbled on a chair and fell.
“Aghh!” she gasped in pain. She got up, reached the door, found the switch and turned on the light. What she saw made her body go cold.
Breathing heavily, white sheets barely covering his nakedness, shame etched on his dark face like botched Yoruba tribal marks, was a man she never expected to find in such a place. Pastor Kwame Brown stared at her like a deer caught in the headlights of a speeding vehicle which was completely out of control.