Whitney Daramola swayed her hips as she walked into Venom.
Venom was popular for two reasons; exorbitant prices and exclusive clientele. Although with the number of people inside the club on this weeknight, it didn’t seem so exclusive. It was a few minutes to 12 AM, she had arrived at the perfect time. The boring people were all gone, the alcohol was starting to kick in and the DJ was a little drunk himself. The room was lit in a weird way. The lights had different intensities, colours and they flickered at different rates. It had disoriented her the first time she entered the club, but now, it was all part of what she liked about Venom.
“Hey Riri,” the familiar voice of Jordan called from across the room.
Jordan was the only person who knew her real name here but he called her Riri just like every other person. He was a friend, as far as she was concerned but he still harboured hopes of dating her. She let him hope but she knew it was never going to happen.
She watched him make his way toward her with two shots of whatever the “Brewmeister” was serving that night.
“Hello honey,” she said, wrapping her arms around him and kissing him on the cheek.
“I told you to stop kissing me on the cheek, I have lips,” Jordan said.
“And they look gorgeous,” Whitney chipped back with a wide smile.
She pulled away from the embrace and collected one of the shots from him. She threw the content in her mouth and swallowed. She shut her eyes as something that felt like a bolt of lightning went to her head. She opened her watery eyes and looked at Jordan with a huge grin.
“You like it?” Jordan asked. Her smile told him all he needed to know. “Well, I will keep it coming all night.”
He walked back towards the bar and she meandered through the sea of bodies towards her usual corner. She felt the eyes on her as she walked, moving her body to the music. She enjoyed this attention and she never failed to get it. She had the body to get any man’s attention and she knew how to carry it. Her dress was helping a lot too. It was a short, black lacy dress that accentuated her shape and was transparent in all the right places. It was a great thing Venom had a ‘look but don’t touch’ policy.
She settled into her sofa and placed her purse close to her. She knew she wouldn’t be on the chair alone for too long.
“You look hot.”
Whitney turned towards the voice and saw Uche. Like all Venom waiters, he was built like an athlete and always wore a tank top. Waiters weren’t supposed to flirt with clients but Uche flirted with Whitney without consequence and she would not have it any other way.
“Thank you Uche,” Whitney said.
“Oh no, I was talking to myself but now that you mention it,” he looked her over, “you don’t look so cold yourself.”
Whitney laughed and rubbed her palm on Uche’s muscular arm.
“What do you want me to bring for you?” Uche asked.
“Don’t worry Uche, Jordan is my waiter tonight.”
“Really? Don’t take too much of what Jordan is serving. That stuff is…” he stopped and smiled. “Enjoy yourself good girl Riri.”
Whitney frowned, what was that about? Before she could give it further thought, a man was standing in front of her.
“Can I buy you a drink?”
Whitney looked at the man, her face straight. “No hi or hello?”
“Hello,” the man said, his face concealing whatever was going on in his mind.
“What drink are you going to buy me?” Whitney asked.
“What drink do you want?” The man smiled, he assumed he was in.
“You don’t know what you want to buy?”
“I’ll get you anything you want.”
“Really? Are you sure?”
The man’s smile was fading. “Yes.” His voice wasn’t as strong either.
“What if I wanted Legacy by Angostura?”
The man was getting pissed now but Whitney wasn’t done with him. She adjusted her dress and the motion knocked out all annoyance or resistance from the man.
“If they have it here, I’ll buy it for you.”
“One bottle costs 25 thousand dollars.”
Whitney watched the man go stiff, and she almost burst out laughing. She could tell the man was wealthy but she also knew he wasn’t going to spend that much on her. Where was Jordan anyway, she wanted more of whatever he had given her earlier.
“Okay,” the man said.
What? Whitney looked up at the man, “what?”
“I’ll buy you the Legacy drink.”
Whitney searched the man’s face for any hint of mockery or deception, she found none. There was no way he was going to spend that much on her. Did he want her that bad?
“Are you sure? You know you can just walk away and talk to another girl.”
The man looked her over again and nodded. It was clear he was being controlled by his lust for her. She had no intention of sleeping with this man, what was she supposed to do now?
Her phone rang and she almost jumped for joy. She opened her purse and dug out the phone. The caller was her father. She shook her head and ended the call. She had hoped the call would save her from this man but she would rather sleep with him than take her father’s call.
Where the hell was Jordan?
“So, should I get the bottle and or should we have them send it to The Hayes?”
She needed to buy a little more time. “A hotel, really? A girl like me doesn’t deserve to go to your house?”
“I own The Hayes so it is kind of like my house.”
What? She looked at the man’s face, this guy was a billionaire. Behind the man, she sighted Jordan coming towards her with a bottle. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to see him now.
“Hey Riri,” Jordan said then noticed the man. “Mister Hayes, how are…”
He stopped in the middle of the sentence and for the first time, Whitney noticed that he was sweating. She stood but didn’t move towards him.
“Hey Jordan, are you okay?”
The bottle in his hand dropped and his hand started to shake. Whitney stepped forward and held his hand.
“Jordan,” she called his name, he didn’t look like he heard her. She looked at Mr. Hayes, “get a doctor now.”
Mr. Hayes stood, rooted to the spot. He was either in shock too or was too mesmerized by what was happening to Jordan. Or was he staring at her boobs?
She felt Jordan’s hand leave hers and he crashed to the floor. His body moved in violent jerks. She looked at Mr. Hayes, he was still there; no doctor was on the way. People were starting to gather around them.
She knew what to do but she didn’t want to do it. There was a reason they only knew her as Riri here. She had kept a low profile for so long. If Jordan was going to live, she had to do something.
“Riri, what’s going on?” Jerry, the club manager asked. He saw Jordan on the floor and ran off.
She could not wait for him or whoever he was going to get.
She got on her knees and picked up Jordan’s hand. She placed her thumb on his wrist, his heart rate was slow and so was his breathing.
“Jordan?” She called again.
He was unconscious now. Had Jordan overdosed?
“What did he take?” She shouted to nobody in particular.
No answer. The club had a zero drug policy, admitting they knew what Jordan took meant they would be kicked out too.
She looked up and saw Uche standing a few feet away. She looked at him, imploring. “Coke?”
He nodded and walked away.
She turned back to Jordan and ripped his shirt off. She laced one hand on top of the other and placed them on his chest.
“Jordan, come on,” she said and started to push. Her arms and her shoulder went up and down as she pushed. She had not done this in years but instinct had kicked in. Jordan lay under her, still unconscious.
“What are you doing?” Jerry was back and he didn’t look pleased to see her.
“CPR, what does it look like I’m doing?” She replied. “Do you have a naloxone injection here?”
Jerry, probably surprised that she knew what CPR or naloxone was, pointed at a box he held in his hand.
“Okay, open the box and hand me the injection,” Whitney said.
He opened the box and placed the injection in her hand.
“Riri, do you know what you’re doing? I can’t have a dead body here.”
“My name is Whitney and I am a doctor,” she said and removed the cap on the injection. “Now, pull off his pants for me.”
She waited for Jerry to pull off the pants and she resumed her position beside Jordan. She pushed the needle into his thigh and pushed the content of the syringe into his body.
She sighed and looked up at Jerry, “it may take up to five minutes for him to come to, call your doctor or an ambulance and get him to a hospital.”
Jerry nodded, “thanks Riri. I still can’t believe you’re a doctor.”
Whitney returned to her seat and picked up her purse, her night was done. So was her visits to Venom. She loved the anonymity and mystery she had but that was all gone now. She had hoped for a great night out after a whole week of continuous work. She walked towards the exit, amidst the several calls of “good job” and “well done”. The night was exactly the opposite of what she’d wanted, the night could not get any worse.
Her phone beeped and she pulled it out. She stepped out of the club before she checked the phone. She had received a text from a number she did not recognize.
Your father has less than 12 hours to live, it would be nice of you to come see him. – Doctor Okiki, Whitney Medical.
She stopped and felt her head suddenly become light. She staggered and a guard rushed to hold her.
“Are you okay ma’am?” The guard asked.
She steadied herself, moved away from him and she walked on towards the parking lot. There was only one thing on her mind; finding her car.
“Hello Whitney,” a voice, accompanied by the sound of running feet came from behind her.
The owner came up beside her and it was Hayes. He walked in silence beside her until she got to her car. She clicked on her key and the doors of her car unlocked.
“I didn’t realise you were a doctor,” Hayes said.
Whitney looked up at him but instead of his younger but less good-looking face, she saw the face of her father. Was he really dying?
“So, I already paid for the drink. I can buy two if you want.”
Whitney looked at Hayes, her eyes bleary and glassy. “My father is dying.”
He nodded and paused for a few seconds then looked at her, “so, my place or yours?”
It was dark outside. The city was still fast asleep and it was going to be for some time. Whitney, the neighbour’s rooster was still asleep too, thank God. It looked like everybody and everything in the world was at peace except for him. And his daughter.
Wole Best sat on a white plastic chair watching April, his four-year-old daughter breathe in and out with her mouth wide open. She made noises so loud he wondered how his neighbour’s troublesome rooster slept through it all. He wanted to go back to his room and join the rest of the world in their peaceful sleep but he was afraid to leave his daughter alone. He was her father, her protector and it did not matter that he could do nothing about what plagued her.
He felt his phone vibrate in his pocket and he knew what was next. His alarm was about to announce that it was 5 AM with its annoying but effective loudness. He pulled out the phone and muted it before it made any sound. He looked at April, she had not been disturbed. He heaved a sigh of relief. She needed every second of peaceful sleep she could get.
Cock-a-doodle-doo! Whitney sang at the top his voice; the rooster from hell was awake.
And so was April.
She stirred for a few seconds and Wole hoped she would go back to sleep. Any hope of that was dashed when Whitney decided to turn his single into an album.
Wole watched his daughter go through her five minute process of waking up. He smiled and his eyes filled with tears as he watched her stretch and hum and rub her eyes till he was afraid she would bust them.
“Hello beautiful,” he said.
She looked at him and without a word, climbed off the bed. She walked past him into the bathroom. He moved to follow her but he stopped, she had warned him never to do that again. He smiled and waited. Two minutes later, he heard the toilet flush and she came out.
“Did you wash your hands?” Wole asked.
She stopped, looked at him like he was intruding on her perfectly organized routine. She returned to the bathroom and he heard the tap running. The tap stopped and Wole stood, it was time for his morning hug. It was two hours early and he was still hoping she would go back to sleep but he was going for the hug anyway. He needed it.
She was taking longer to come out than he expected. Then he heard her sneeze. He paused and waited, was this the beginning of another sneezing marathon? He waited but she did not sneeze again. Instead, he heard her blow her nose. He wanted to go into the bathroom but he waited, she was fine. If he wanted her to believe everything was going to be alright like he’d always told her, he had to believe it too. Or at least pretend to.
He waited for almost a whole minute, pacing in the room, telling himself she was fine. He could hear her moving in the bathroom so she had to be okay. Was he being stupid by not going in?
He could not wait anymore.
“April, can Daddy come in?”
“Yes,” she said.
Hearing her voice broke his heart. His baby had the most beautiful voice in the world, at least she used to. Now, she could not even say a word without people asking if she was okay.
He entered the bathroom and found her standing over the sink, looking into it.
“What’s happening April?”
He got to her side and followed her eyes. He gasped and grabbed the sink for support.
“Baby, go back to your room,” he said, trying to keep his voice steady.
He faked a smile the best he could until she was out of the bathroom before he allowed the first tear to drop. It was quickly followed by others. What was he going to tell her when he came out of the bathroom and she asked what this meant. He had no idea what it meant himself. He had seen a doctor, he had followed all his instructions.
Why did his little girl have to suffer?
“God, you promised to take care of April. This is not how to care for a little girl.”
He looked back into the sink and the bloody discharge that had come from his daughter’s nose. This was not how to care for anybody.
Whitney felt the cold breeze blow against her face as she sped down the Lagos-Ibadan expressway. She rarely drove with her windows down, the atmosphere in Lagos made sure she didn’t but this was a better way to drive. The traffic at dawn was light so she could drive very fast.
The road wasn’t much different from her last trip to Ilorin. She had gone to a friend’s wedding but she had returned to Lagos the same day. Her father didn’t even know she came to town. She shook thoughts of her father off her mind. It was strange; she was going to see him but even the thought of him made her angry.
She concentrated on the road and tried to keep her mind empty. It did not work so she put on the radio. It took only a few seconds before her mind went back to her father. Maybe there was no point fighting it. She needed to think anyway. She did not call the Doctor who texted her so nobody knew she was coming. She wasn’t sure she wanted to see her father, not even now he was dying. But then he was the only one she had.
“Stupid, very stupid,” she heard herself whisper.
Her sight blurred for a couple of seconds and she blinked the tears away. She reached for a flask sitting on the passenger’s seat beside. She opened the cap while steading her other hand on the steering wheel and keeping her eyes on the road. She took a sip from the flask, it would keep her awake for a while.
Her father forbade alcohol while driving or at any other time. You don’t need alcohol for fun, he would always say, all you need is friends and family. And he was right. For a while. She had the best fun times in her life with him. The death of her mother when she was born was supposed to be too much for him but it never was. He raised her like any girl who had two parents. He taught her everything she knew about anything. When she hit puberty and her body started changing, he told her everything she needed to know and do. It probably helped that he was a doctor. Sometimes she wished he wasn’t.
Everything had been fine before medicine entered the picture. She was brilliant and school was never a problem. She’d loved her father and loved how random people would walk up to him and thank him for saving their lives. She wanted to do the same; save lives and if she had to be a doctor to do it, she would. But while she waited to make the choice, her father made it for her. He filled her JAMB form and only told her about it after he had submitted. She didn’t like this but she was too young to say anything. She wasn’t too young seven years later.
Her brilliance had earned her scholarship in the United States. She wanted to become an ENT specialist, mostly because one of her most influential lecturers was one but her father had other ideas. Just like he did with JAMB, he filled the form and filled in her specialization as family medicine. She was furious when she found out and she made sure he knew it. But that was only the beginning.
Everything went to hell one day when after twenty-two years of being a family of two, he came home with another woman. She’d seen the woman around him a few times but she always assumed she was a colleague.
“Whitney, I want to introduce you to Shade,” he’d said.
“Hello,” she’d greeted the Shade woman.
The woman nodded back. She could tell the woman was nervous but she did not understand why. The woman had dinner with them that night. Dinner was a private father and daughter ritual that she cherished so much. Even the big fight she had with her father did not end it. Why was this woman qualified to eat dinner with them? But she should have known.
Her father dropped the words that ended their relationship that night. He was not only replacing her mother, he was replacing her. She was no longer enough for him. She had never been so angry and she had said a lot of things. Mean things. She shivered as the memories of that night flooded her mind. She left the house the two weeks later and never returned. Her father reached out but something inside her had died and she wanted to keep it dead.
But now her father was about to die. She was never going to see him again. The memory of her he would take to the grave was her angry face and her bitter words.
“No,” she mumbled and wiped away tears from her face with her sleeves.
She pushed on the accelerator, she needed to get to Ilorin very fast. She’d always thought she hated her father but she never did. She was hurt and angry but that wasn’t hate. How could she let her father die thinking she hated him?
“Daddy, please hold on, I’m coming.”
She floored the accelerator.
See you next week.
If you enjoyed the story please drop a comment and share.