1st April, 2014.
Three hours had passed. Patience had never been a virtue for Martin, and that night would not be a starting point to cultivate it. Sweat found its way into his palms as he paced up and down his room, located on the first floor of this five-star hotel which he had chosen for what he perceived to be a special day in his life. He had put everything in place, at least as far as his anxious mind could remember. The wine was in place, the glasses were clean, the candle light had been set, and the tiny box containing the ring had been perfectly concealed.
Yes, he planned to add some weight to one of Taiwo’s fingers that night. He had only known her for about five months, but he was sure that he wanted to wake up to new mornings next to her until the day after forever. No one had ever created the effect which Taiwo caused in his head. She practically made it spin, and like cakes to a party, she was more or less the colour inside of his world. She was slender the way he liked it, her accent was polished, she could cook jollof like no one did, her wit was otherworldly, Sarcasm was like salt to their conversation, she loved reading, and her moves along the sheets were like an art, a language.
He could write an essay on everything he loved about her. Days with her felt like episodes from a drama series, only without the scripting or retakes. No one had ever made him feel this way, no, not in his adult life. In his own words, Martin had finally begun to make the kind of love that he could actually feel, which was totally surprising, considering the kind of guy he was.
Love and Commitment were not words which would exactly find comfort with Martin in the same sentence. An architect by trade, Martin knew just how to plan his way perfectly into a lady’s fountain, and knew how to break his way out as well. When it came to infiltrating the inner walls, he often set a target of three weeks for himself, and nine times out of ten, he achieved his objective within the self-stipulated time. From possession of multiple sim cards, to false aliases, to make-believe appearances, Martin knew how to work his way through the chessboard of emotions.
With a heart darkened from being jilted during his university days, he didn’t think twice when it came to pulling the “up and leaving” on ladies. He talked his way through, they let him in, he thrust, they squirted, and then he made himself invisible physically and emotionally. The trick was to be gone by morning. Depending on how good the swimming was, he would leave a flower, or a “thank you” note. Bed-cloths of many motels in the city had become familiar with his body fluid.
“You get in,
you get done,
you get gone.
You never leave a trace
To show your face
You get gone.”
But with Taiwo it was different. He had met her at an event involving the promotion of Olamide’s “BGEL” album, and after the show, they got talking. They happened to enjoy each other’s company, and by the end of the night, they were sharing a duvet at the top floor of a half-decent motel.
She had been quite the tigress that night, taking up his little friend up in her lips like a toothbrush, and swirling her tongue round and slow. She did most of the work that night, letting his head glide down from her mammary glands to her damp rainforest, and then letting him plough her from behind, her flexible waist facilitating easy negotiation through the thick vegetation. The contraction of her inner walls made ‘little Martin’ feel at home, and as he spewed out his natural starch, he knew this was different. He could not get up to leave as usual the next morning, and when he woke up with Taiwo’s head on his chest, he was certain that it would not be a one-off.
“Enter the morning light
To find the day is burning the curtains and the wine
In a little white room
No I’m not alone
Her head is heavy on me, she’s sleeping like a child
What could I do?”
Phone digits were exchanged, and with that came more hangouts, more witty conversations, and of course, more duvet-sharing. His friends knew he was gone when his social media updates slowly became all so mushy, as opposed to his earlier mantra of “who love don help?” Like Tinubu over Lagos, such was her power over his emotions. She was a permanent fixture on his Blackberry Display Picture, and that night, he would make his intentions clear. She had found the gloves to get a good grip of his erstwhile slippery heart, and he wanted her to keep it for decades longer.
“Suddenly I’m in over my head
and, I can hardly breathe
Suddenly I’m floating over her bed
and, I feel everything.”
But there was a little cause to worry. He had dialled her number over ten times that evening without response. It was very unlike her. After all, they had discussed about meeting there few days earlier. The ring was to be the only surprise in the equation. He dialled one more time, and a voice finally popped up from the other end.
“Sorry, quite busy with new boo”, said a soft, mellow female voice.
“Taiwo, what do you mean by new boo? We were supposed to be together tonight, as we discussed three days ago.”
“You heard me Martin. What part of “new boo” do you not understand? Now stop bugging my line. You’re draining my battery. I guess I should block you, or worse still report you for stalking.”
“Taiwo, I get it. Today is April 1st. You may want to stop the prank now.”
“Actually, the prank is on you. Telling you to arrange the hotel for us was the April Fool’s joke I wanted to play on you. I know who you are, Martin. Your reputation precedes you, and I want to believe that you did not go falling for me. I just wanted to know what it would feel like to ‘do it’ with a guy like you. It felt good, you’re quite the charmer, but the novelty has worn off, and I am bored. It was fun while it lasted. Now leave my line and my life alone.”
Martin could not believe the words that were seeping out of the phone. He had been played. He, The Assassin of Hearts, played! He looked in the direction of the corner where he hid the (proposed) engagement ring. He began to speak again, his voice visibly shaky:
“Taiwo, please don’t do this. I love you, and I intend to build from there. I was actually going to….”
“Love, really? Oh please! Get a life, Martin”, Taiwo interrupted him, and with that she hung up.
Martin sunk from the bed to the floor of the hotel room, tears gaining liberation from his eyes. He had always been the emotional marksman, but this time he had been dealt with a dose of his bullet. He had not for a moment envisaged that Taiwo would do this to him. He had no idea how he was going to face his friends, to tell them that the lady whom he went cold turkey for, had dumped him. He got up, leaned against the window and wept some more. He had met his match. Taiwo was as ruthless an emotional assassin as he was, maybe even more ruthless.
“I was a killer, I was the best they’d ever seen
I’d steal your heart before you ever heard a thing
I’m an assassin and I had a job to do
Little did I know that she was an assassin too.”
The lights went off. The street had been thrown into temporary darkness. A general groan greeted the air, loud enough to drown the sound of a shattered window. The blackout lasted a minute, and soon enough the lights came on, but not the light in Martin’s eyes. He lay on the hotel floor, motionless, a bullet lodged in his heart. He had only just been assassinated emotionally, but now it had also translated into the physical. The location of the bullet was apt. His heart was already numb, so aiming that spot made it a lot easier.
At the other end of the street, Taiwo bore a pretty calm, Jega-esque demeanour as she blew the nuzzle of the sniper rifle. The short blackout had been perfect. The weapon had night vision, and within that short interval she had carried out her assignment to ice-cold perfection.
In actual fact, her contract had been to eliminate Martin. He had reckoned without the high and mighty as he sowed his wild oats. One of the ladies whose emotions he had toyed with, and who had suffered a nervous breakdown, happened to be closely related to a big shot in the nation’s commercial capital. This man of influence had taken it upon himself to repay Martin in the most extreme way possible, and he had engaged the services of Taiwo, microbiologist by day, but a whole lot more in afterhours.
Taiwo was a pretty good shooter, and she would have seen to Martin’s obituary in a matter of weeks, but she had other ideas. She was quite the heartbreaker too, and she wanted to hurt Martin emotionally first. She had studied him though, she did a background check, and she knew that Martin was slippery and emotionally dangerous. She had known that he would be at Olamide’s event, and had worked out her schedule, closing early from the lab where she worked on that fateful day months earlier. That first night had been a gamble; she knew that the success of her sub-mission to hurt his feelings depended on it. At Fate would have it, the skin-diving went well, and when she looked in his eyes the following morning, she knew that she had got him.
In Taiwo’s words, she would never make love, but she knew how to play “nurse and patient”. She had sworn never to attach emotions to her trysts with men, and not without good reason. She had seen her sister, Kehinde, commit suicide by painkiller overdose following bouts of heartbreak-induced depression, and as she dug the spade in to lift sand over her sister’s coffin, she made it a point of duty to hurt as many men as possible. She had all she needed at her disposal: she was pretty, she was intelligent, she knew how to do it, she knew how to seduce, and she knew what men wasted. To her, men could be compared to animals on perpetual heat, and she knew just where to hit them.
Dealing with Martin felt a little different, and sometimes she was tempted to call off the mission and cancel the contract with Mr. Big Shot, but whenever she felt that way, she reminded herself that one major difference between men and women was that women were usually more focused on accomplishing tasks they have set their hearts on. Besides, Martin developed a sort of clinginess she strongly detested. For her, Love emasculated him, and it made it a lot easier for her to finish him off.
She had seen the look in his teary eyes as she looked from the night-vision telescope. She had seen the pain and almost felt sorry for him, but then again it was Martin, Assassin of Hearts, and the look of pity metamorphosed into a triumphant grin. She had chosen to lie about being with a new guy because she knew that it would hurt him more. Nothing inflicted bruises to a man’s ego more than the news that his girl was happier with another man. Then again, he had hurt so many ladies in his wake. Hell hath no fury than a woman scorned.
She had chosen to shoot him in the heart, reasoning that it was a lot less painless. For all she knew, she was doing him a favour, liberating him from the pain that comes with heartbreak and the humiliation of being jilted by a lady. De-attaching the parts of the rifle and fixing them in her briefcase, she posed for a selfie before making her way out of the room. She got down to the hotel lobby, dressed like a medical student and swaying her hips provocatively. She knew the waiters would ogle her. Well they could only look, but could not touch unless she wanted them to. She was not the Svelte Siren for nothing.
(P.S: Happy 2nd Year Anniversary to Chi’s Epistles! This short fiction is more or less an anniversary edition. Thanks for the patronage thus far.)