The empty can of Orijin lay on the table beside the used drinking glass. Jude’s resolve had weakened and strengthened in succession like the rise and fall of a sleeper’s chest over the past hour, so much that he was in danger of chickening out again. Glancing at his watch, he took a deep breath, stood up from his seat and walked purposefully towards the ‘inner sanctum’ door. His heartbeat that had previously returned to normal picked up speed again.
A twist of the door handle gave him access to a dimly lit corridor where the volume of music was much reduced. Females in various states of undress stood or sat, faces garishly painted, their expressions bored, sharks waiting to devour whatever fish ventured in their general direction. Some of them were quite young, with budding chests and barely noticeable bums; while some were obviously old birds. All of them looked hard as nails, most chewed gum, fast and furiously, as if to distract their minds from their immediate surroundings. The sight confused him as he wasn’t sure how to approach any one of them or which one of them to even approach.
One of the girls noticed Jude’s discomfiture and walked over.
“Guy, how far? You wan do”?
Each word was accompanied by the sound of frenetic open mouthed chewing. Jude could only nod meekly in response.
Her face immediately lost its bored look as she sensed he was new to the game, an experienced nose never missed the smell of opportunity.
“You get money? No be mai mai to carry Vero o”
Again Jude nodded in reply, patting his pocket for emphasis.
“No yawa. Because you be fine boy, I go collect only 5k and I go do you well”.
Jude finally found his voice.
“Thank you Vero”.
He then quickly counted out the cash and handed it over.
Vero smiled at his naiveté. Only a JJC would thank her for charging more than double and only a very green JJC would pay for service when he had not even entered the room for action. She signaled to him.
“Oya follow me make we go my room”.
Walking behind Vero afforded Jude the opportunity to assess her assets without any embarrassment. Her jiggling rear was a delight to his eyes, like two basketballs bumping against each other. He couldn’t wait to see them free from the captivity of her flimsy shorts.
They walked down the corridor, past a couple of doors before she entered one and he followed her inside a small room with a single bed. The walls were covered with music posters and various items of female clothing. The light of a single blue bulb shed subdued illumination, not as if it was needed anyway.
Vero first kept her money safely under the mattress, then sat on the bed, removed her shorts and was ready for business. She looked up at Jude.
“Me i don ready o, ashawo no dey wear pant. Make you sef comot trouser come do am sharply, no time to waste time”.
He immediately started stripping and was soon naked. Then all hell broke loose.
The door to the crowded cell clanged shut, announcing the entry of yet another citizen. Jude sat in a corner, staring morosely at the ceiling as events of the past days replayed in his mind.
Pandemonium had broken out that evening just after he finished removing all his clothes as a Police team on the trail of a robbery suspect had entered the Hotel in response to a tip off. Some of the girls and their customers had escaped the dragnet but he had been caught pants down, as had been many other unlucky patrons. Even Vero had jumped out in time while he tried in vain to put on his clothes. The indignity of being taken into custody wearing only boxer shorts is better imagined than experienced.
The Police had contacted his parents to inform them of his arrest after keeping him in their cell for 3 days but his Dad had as expected refused to come and put up bail. He was stuck here till only God knows when. Being the first child of a General Overseer was such a burden.
Worst of all, he still hadn’t lost his virginity.
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