Lekan was dead.
There was no doubt in my mind that he was in a mortuary or his body was floating in some river or slowly rotting in the boot of an abandoned car, the possibilities of his location were endless. I had forgotten how to do probabilities and permutations, they were part of my favourite things to do at secondary school maths, along with longitude and latitude calculations. I liked Maths in secondary school and would spend hours poring over the topics. Anything that wasn’t surd and matrix.
Well, I got along with surd and could answer the questions but matrix was Greek to me, ancient Greek for that matter- the type Jesus spoke, or was it Aramaic he worked his miracles in? I don’t even know, or care. It’s not as if the knowledge of the language Jesus spoke would make work easier for me, it is not the type of thing one whispers to a man when giving him a lap dance. I like to think that Jesus hides his face when I work, that he is not watching me via the celestial peephole while I throw off garments in what I hope is a sultry manner, with rods rising in greeting as I pass.
“Charlotte!” Big, Black and Hairy called out and I bared my teeth at him, he’d interpret it as a smile- he was that dense.
“Hi Handsome” I cooed when I reached him, snaking my left hand inside under the hem of his T-shirt, raced for his right nipple and squeezed it hard.
“You know how to scatter me, Char.” He moaned as I rotated the tiny knob with the pads of my thumb and index finger.
I bent my head so the hair from the wig would fall across my face and hide my eyes. Never show the client anything else but absorption in plus admiration of his body and dedication to bringing him pleasure- is the first rule of this business, Yolanda had repeated it several times during the two-week training before we began and several times since then, she was not interested in our stories and bullshit feelings that interfered in our primary duty here- she said often. Just show up and do the work, you can cry in your room as you count your earnings from the night- she would say in her sandpaper voice.
I bit my lower lip to keep a sob from escaping, if I cried here, Yolanda would never forgive me. Actually, she would sack me on the spot, that woman missed the queue for patience and empathy in heaven before coming to earth. She must have been collecting bitchiness from the queue in hell, Lekan liked to add whenever we gossiped about her. Shit! I couldn’t even stop thinking about him for ten seconds, I even had to go and remember absorption too and the memory of him correcting me on the pronunciation.
“Absorption woman! Not adsorption.” He said in between puffs of the glowing Benson & Hedges stick between his lips.
“Is there a difference, aren’t they just two ways to say the same thing?” I sprang up from my previous position with my head on his chest to face him, arms akimbo with my knees digging into the plush fabric of the duvet.
“They aren’t; absorption is the one that shows interest or engrossment in a thing. Adsorption on the other hand is a chemical process that… Wait! both of them are actually chemical processes even though absorption is applied in none chemical situations to show interest…”
“Mr man, you’re only confusing me further.” I snapped and butted his forehead with mine and he sighed.
“No vex, it wasn’t my intention to confuse you, I just wanted you to know your pronunciation of the word was wrong.”
“But how do you know so much, even knowing about chemistry when you are arts inclined?” I splayed the fingers of my right hand on his chest, with the light sprinkling of hair tickling my fingertips.
“Woman, I am a journalist. It is my job to know many things.”
“Even useless, scientific stuff?” I scoffed.
“Yes darling, even useless scientific stuff.”
I removed the dying cigarette from his mouth and bent my head to kiss him.
“You want to know why you love me?” he continued without waiting for my response, “It’s because I know so much, a walking genius I am.”
“If you know so much as you claim, how come you thought I had a stripping name?” He burst into laughter and wiggled his fingers on my sides to tickle me, I was laughing and sighing his name as he flipped me under him and began to kiss my neck.
I felt a small dab of dampness grow on the patch of my lower lap and that dragged me back to the dimly lit room with my butt resting on the groin of the hairy man whose fragrance was dried sweat and stale garlic. I stood up quickly before the inevitable eruption would smear my lap with gunk that would require me to take time off to wash it out. Yolanda hated it when we left the lounge while we were on duty- unless we were taking one of the clients to a room upstairs where she would earn even more in commission. I had never taken any man upstairs until Lekan…
“What’s your stripper name?” he asked as my butt rotated on his groin, five minutes after I had first seen him walk into the lounge.
“Stripping name ke, do you think we are in America or something”? I asked the handsome stranger whose eyes intrigued me
“Are you saying you don’t have a performance moniker?”
“From stripping name, you’re now talking about performance Monica. You will soon ask if I dance with Lewinsky when I work.” I hissed under my breath, the fine boy didn’t even have sense.
“M-o-n-i-k-e-r that’s another word you can use instead of name.” he said with a soft sigh that carried the thunder of his exasperation inside it.
“Effiko, clap for yourself. Mr Albert Einstein abi Wole Soyinka the grammarian. I hail you sha,” I snapped.
“Ok, what is your real name?” he asked softly.
“I can’t tell you, iz against the rules.” I mumbled and tried to wiggle out of his lap but he gripped my arms to his thighs and the force of it stopped my wiggling.
“It’s ok if you can’t tell me your real name, I can’t tell you mine either. I haven’t used my real name in a long time. I am pursuing a story that will kill me or win me global fame and awards. It can actually do both, and what a way to die! On a blaze of glory.” He ended with a chuckle.
“How can you be so morbid!” I cried, “Talking so casually about your death to a total stranger, a stripper for that matter.”
“I’ve seen you here a couple of times, watched you for a while before you finally noticed me today and felt the force that drew me to you. You are not a stranger, you are my salvation.”
“My name is not Jesus Christ.” I muttered while he laughed in my ear.
“But you can be my Magdalena” he whispered and my heart somersaulted as my brain’s bells chimed in warning.
I pulled him and led him out of the lounge, Yolanda was too busy berating Margaret to notice me, besides I was off duty that night and came down to work a little because I was bored. I did not take him to the wing where the private rooms were, I took him to my room instead and lay beside him while we talked until I drifted into sleep and he joined me minutes later.
It had been exactly 96 hours since his last call, the same length of time of time he told me he would never exceed without talking to me, unless he was dead. I walked briskly to the door with a sign showing a woman wearing a skirt, opened it, walked into one of the stalls and locked the door. I wept.