Twilight’s Crossroads

By Akonkwa Willy

The clock struck seven bells and Willy was still at the Health and Beauty Centre. The persistent trickling in of clients that had kept everyone on their feet throughout the day had finally stopped. Lisa and the other ladies were almost finished with the last client, having asked two other clients to come back the next morning. What a busy day it had been!

“Hi darling, I’m almost done—will be there shortly,” Willy said to Lydia, who had called to inquire about his whereabouts.

Upon hanging up, he walked behind the counter and started counting the day’s sales. Moments later he swung his charismatic figure towards the Centre Bar. With a finger gesture he summoned Anisha to a corner, where he gave her some of the money that he had counted. Gregory, who was downing his favorite Scotch whisky, stared curiously as the two went about their routine.

“It seems we are not leaving together this evening,” he said to Gregory, who seemed engrossed in his booze.

“I won’t be leaving anytime soon, boss,” Gregory replied as he stood up to dance to a David Guetta tune.

“No worries, my man,” Thompson said. He grabbed a bottle of the usual wine before rushing out. He had been in the bar only a minute, but he had completed all of his tasks with astonishing briskness.

When he got back to the salon, the last client requested to defer the final touches until tomorrow because she had just received a call from some unannounced visitors who were impatiently waiting for her at her home. The ladies promptly tied together the braids that were already plaited and covered the top of her head, even though the woman had a cap with her that would conceal the half-finished braiding. As the ladies were winding up their highly demanding day, Thompson reached for his phone and dialed Lydia.

“I will be there in a sec,” he said as he reached for the Cressida keys that were on the chemicals table.

“Make it fast, girls,” he urged the ladies who were brushing their clothes to remove the fluff from the pieces of cotton flying about.

His mood had changed from a muted strangeness to a softer version of his usual self. He stood by the door with all his belongings, thereby signaling to the girls that it was time to lock up.

“Let me just finish off, Thom,” requested one of the salon ladies, Lisa. She was applying ponds to her face while looking at her gorgeous self in the mirror.

Lisa was ravishingly beautiful. Her stunning good looks invited compliments from almost everyone who walked into the salon, and most of the men preferred to have their hair cut by her. Thompson had employed her based solely on her attractiveness and not on any proven merit. Her incomparable, enticing appearance did wonders for the salon’s marketing as some men, Gregory included, would walk into Thompson Health and Beauty Centre just to receive the scraps of her cherished attention. Thompson, being calculating, imposing, and charming, had had to use the carrot-and-stick method to bring her into line. However, she had made it clear that she would only surrender her mesmerizing self to the job; she would not be erotically available for him as he had wished because she was engaged to someone whom she deeply loved and immensely respected. Having a lot on his plate, and given that he had already bedded all of her salon colleagues, Thompson felt no hard feelings towards her. Furthermore, he had long made it a strict policy not to take any relationship seriously. So it was astounding that Lydia’s appearance in his life had suddenly triggered a paradigm shift.

He locked the salon door and burglar mesh as soon as Lisa was done. The ladies in Jody’s complex were in the habit of going to Mama’s Kitchen and the Centre Bar before walking to their communal residence, which was only 150 meters from the Greenstone shopping mall. Thompson rented it for his staff, who only had to foot the utility bill. All the salon ladies drank alcohol, but normally only on weekends, except for Lisa, who followed no set timetable—she drank if she was in the mood, as long as she was off duty. Thompson, who was raring to do a rerun of the previous day’s obsessive thrills with Lydia at the same venue, walked quickly to his vehicle. He violently opened and slammed the Cressida door, then started the car and immediately reversed out of the parking lot. As always, the Beast screeched away from the mall in the direction of the Verandah Lodge, where the endearing Lydia was waiting for him.

On the road, Thompson was always accelerator-happy, and today was no exception. With the time gone past eight bells, his arrival was long overdue, which prompted one of his frequent outbursts of impatience. He blew the horn in frustration at the car in front of him before steering the Beast onto the right shoulder of the road and overtaking the slower vehicle. Out of annoyance, the driver of the Toyota Corolla responded by blowing the horn indignantly at him—a futile gesture because the intended recipient of this “DAMN YOU!” had already fast and furiously vanished from sight.

The Beast screeched to a halt just as the amber robot turned red. Virtually all the drivers who had pulled up at the intersection cast their eyes over the Cressida. It was not the appearance of the vintage Toyota that had incited their curiosity, but the alarming and unscrupulous manner in which it had stopped. As soon as the light turned green, the Beast took off aggressively, provoking head shakes from the drivers of the trailing vehicles. The Beast groaned as it swiftly disappeared into Slaughterville. Thompson was given to such reckless, inconsiderate, perilous stunts. Thank God he had heeded the red robot this time. He was often pursued by the police for flouting traffic laws of which he could not plead ignorance. Such irresponsible conduct had seen him part with significant amounts of cash as time and again he had to bribe the police into letting him go with impunity.

The Beast made an alarming sound as Thompson applied the emergency brakes when he reached the entrance gate to the Verandah Lodge. As someone who was now a regular patron, he did not have to go through the strict security check.

“She is waiting by the pool shelter,” said a man from the security detail.

“Many thanks, my man, I owe you a drink,” he replied enthusiastically as he headed in the direction of his partner.

Upon reaching the pool, he discovered that she had moved a couple of yards away to view the picturesque hills across from the lodge. The lodge’s bright lights partially illuminated the landscape and enhanced the beauty of the surroundings. They ran towards each other with unbridled enthusiasm and immediately began to passionately hug and kiss. “Think Twice” by Celine Dion was playing in the background. The romantic music set the scene for the night as the two fondled each other.

“I don’t give a damn who is watching us tonight,” he said while squeezing her.

“Manners maketh a man,” she replied in jest as she reciprocated his romantic gestures.

Thompson and Lydia decided to move their foreplay inside. They did not even take the time to pay for their room booking. What flabbergasted one of the male guests was the carefree attitude they both displayed as they went about their activities. From their entrance, to their stop by the front desk, and to their disappearance into their room, the two never took their hands off each other and nor were they in any way inhibited by the presence of other people.

“This world is full of wonders,” said the guest.

“Life is too short, enjoy it before the termites enjoy your dead body,” replied a lady who was sipping a gin and tonic next to him.

The words did not seem to reach the two mutually engrossed partners who giggled as they went up to their room. The housekeeper had given them the key to a room next to the one they had occupied the night before.

“This isn’t the key to this door,” he exclaimed.

“It’s for room 6, and this is room 5,” replied Lydia, who saw that the key was not for the room he was trying to open.

“You are such a darling,” he said as he went to open the right door.

The two looked at each other before bursting into laughter, which startled the housekeeper, who had approached them after hearing their loud conversation about the key. Thompson, who had spent his day at the salon in a state of unease, was now in a totally different mood. He had not thought it possible that he would get carried away by a woman’s bedroom exploits to such an extent. The two wrestled and played like kids as they impatiently undressed to embark on their intimate adventure.

“You are going to make me pregnant,” she murmured to him soon after they had quenched their desires.

“I thought you said that’s what you need?” he replied romantically.

“Of course, that will change my life completely,” she asserted.

“Then it will happen, darling,” he said sentimentally.

The two continued with their intimate gestures, behaving as though they were the only people in the lodge. They laughed, giggled, and spoke as though they were high on something.

“I need one or two glasses of Four Cousins,” she said.

“The feeling is mutual, I am thirsting for wine too,” he replied.

“Or did you forget that yesterday you told me it’s your favorite drink?” she said.

“Of course I remember,” he replied as he got up to get dressed to go to the bar.

In no time he was back, holding a bottle of Four Cousins in his left hand and two glasses in his right. Accompanying him was the waiter, who was holding a bowl of ice cubes. He peeped through the open door of their room before looking away.

“Thank you so much, I owe you a drink,” Thompson said as he took the ice.

“My pleasure,” replied the smiling and courteous waiter.

As Thompson closed the door, Lydia, who was in high spirits, put her arms over his shoulders from behind. He turned his head to do justice to Lydia’s nonverbal invitation for a kiss. They temporarily forgot about quenching their thirst for wine as they caressed each other into bed. Immediately the room became enchanted. They tossed, turned, twisted, and shouted.

“You are driving me insane Lydia,” he said as he let go of her to pour some wine into their glasses. She laid there in bed and just stared at him, smiling.

“There must be something inside this stomach now, I can feel it already,” she said as she rubbed her flat bare tummy.

“I don’t fire blanks. I am a man and a half!” he arrogantly declared as he handed Lydia her wine glass.

“I don’t believe what you told me, Thom. You must have a kid somewhere,” she said, kissing him on the cheek.

“I must have my first one with you,” he teased.

“My husband will shoot the man and a half out of you,” she retorted as she put her arm around him.

Thompson remained silent. The mention of the word “husband” seemed to have a sudden adverse effect on his ecstatic mood. The reality was that Lydia was married, which made Thom a side piece. He looked at her quietly as they downed their glasses of wine.

“I may not be your husband, but I will be the father of your child,” he said with a degree of self-consolation and humility.

“Don’t worry Thom, nothing will stop you from having me,” she softly reassured him, realizing that her partner’s joyous mood was ebbing away.

The two finished their second glasses before having a third, a fourth, and a fifth, after which they decided to go to the bar to take in the boisterous atmosphere. When they entered, they were met by the eyes of the revelers, who were having the time of their lives grooving to a DJ Black Coffee house tune. After having locked themselves up inside for so long, joining in with the dancing was like a reflex action. Lydia, who only drank occasionally, felt the alcohol and danced unsteadily while holding Thom’s hand for support. After all, dancing is good for one’s health.

“Get down… Get down… Get down… Get down,” Lydia chanted at the top of her voice while pulling Thom up and down as she moved to the rhythm of the music.

The noisy bar turned into the ideal version of itself as Lydia and Thom kept dancing, fidgeting, whistling, and screaming uncontrollably. In the early hours of the morning, they drunkenly dragged themselves to their room. Thompson had to work at the salon in a few hours, and Lydia had to go home to Joshua, but for all his unscrupulousness on the road, Thompson didn’t like driving drunk. There was a certain logic behind his reckless driving.

20 July, 2023