“But Tony do you think you can act the role?”
I swirled around in a move much quicker than I had intended. Shit! Way too fast. Not that I was really interested in any part of the movie that wasn’t showing on the TV but I didn’t want to reveal to her my excitement, at least not that easily. However, the words I had just heard were way too surreal for me to falsify any semblance of a macho. I could feel my stomach tie up in a die hard knot. The lump in my throat was going to choke me.
“What did you say?” I asked in a voice that sounded like a weak fart.
Lucie retreated defensively. That was probably not the response she was expecting. She blushed, bit her lower lip and ran her eyes from mine to somewhere around her feet. Her countenance was soaked in pure embarrassment.
“Nothing. Don’t worry.”
As much as I didn’t want to come off too strong, I wasn’t going to let that opportunity pass me by. There I was, sitting on the sky blue sheeted bed with the most beautiful woman that ever walked the Earth’s crust, on the receiving end of one of the most technical questions in humankind’s history. I couldn’t afford to flop that one. In her timid low-lit self-contain apartment, we were alone, like we always were. The way I loved it. It was always tantalising spending quality time doing quality things with Lucie, the top on the list being watching funny video skits and binge singing. She was always un shy around me and knew how to put my heart at ease.
This time was different though. It most certainly would have taken a butcher’s knife to cut through the tension that made its home in the air in the room. Her head was bowed, to my greatest agony as she sat in a relaxed yogi’s pose, probably cursing herself for allowing those words fly into my ears. My tingling ears.
“Lucie, please don’t do that. I just really want to be sure you said that. I’m not upset or anything. Okay?”
“I was asking if you would want to help me punish Justin for the next few weeks?” she asked as her chin rose ever so slightly, like she was trying to be sure it was safe enough to show her moist eyes to the dark world around her.
By nature, it wasn’t a strange question. Heck, it was borne out of the foolproof strategy I had mapped out for her under an hour ago. No woman deserved to be treated like a mere handbag. That’s except the handbag was from Valentino’s recent collections and priced at $250,000 but you get my point. I had given her the full script on how to end the treatment she was getting from her boyfriend. What was strange though was the fact that she was requesting that I co-star in ‘The Revenge’.
Quite simple. Justin had been extremely ‘busy at work’, taking cordial pictures of himself with some girl that could only wish she looked somewhat like a silhouette of Lucie, at workplaces that looked more like the interiors of eateries and cinemas. They were workplaces for people alright. Just not him. And where did all that leave Lucie? A sad confused mess, unsure of herself and unwilling to cut ties with the one because of whom she was star-struck. So what could she do to scrape some sanity back into her being? That was where I got brilliant, again. After hearing my plan, she was all set to get herself a new work partner to carry out all those time-consuming yet laudable projects with, leaving Justin with no choice but to quit his job. Ding!
For Lucie, I always found it easy to wear my thinking hat. My mind effortlessly brewed like a meth lab every time she needed answers. I didn’t even think that much on my examination questions and I was a first class student. I had told her to spite Justin. Cook him up with hot jealousy and leave him to explode. Every guy will be a step closer to death if he saw some other dude encroaching on his lady. That’s if he cared about her though. That was what my plan was based on. But to be the lab rat for that experiment?
“Lucie are you sure of this?” I asked, silently praying she answered yes.
“Tony it’s okay if you don’t want to do it. I’ll just find someone else or possibly might not-”
“No, I’ll do it”, I cut in quickly. By now her eyes were glistening as bead after bead, warm tears dove down and formed a dark patch on her dark green bum shot. I hated seeing her cry. Gosh I couldn’t even bear to see her frown. I think it’s high time I explicitly made it known that I had a huge crush on Lucie. Ever since the day I first saw her two years back, I had been held spellbound. Even then, while accepting the ridiculous task, I felt like the most noble of men. I get to be with the woman I have always wanted, even if it’s just a show for the audience seated on Facebook and Instagram.
She smiled a faint smile. Probably she liked me too. Maybe just a little above that facet of racism known as friend zoning. Enough to not be grossed out by sharing a kiss with me. Or was she just happy to have things going her way. I didn’t know and honestly didn’t dwell much on that. I’d rather not.
“But please, let’s not get carried away in all of this. I still love him you know and you are a great friend I wouldn’t want to lose. It’s just a farce, so let’s keep it so. Please? I know Justin, this shouldn’t last more than three weeks maximum.”
Alas, I was still down at that bottomless pit. In that moment, I hated Lucie and every other girl that tossed me in there, with a beautiful plastic smile emblazoned on her face. Before me was a girl I liked, really liked, but couldn’t be with because she liked someone else who didn’t care two hoots. And I was crazy enough to accept to be the agent of tactical mimicry channelled at re igniting his interest. How stupid could I be. I mentally hissed and raised my eyes to meet hers. That was when I realised she had been staring, in wait of an answer. Those eyes. Those intimidatingly irresistible eyes I could never say no to.
“Okay. I understand. It’s a deal”, I nodded. Even I couldn’t believe the words that had just escaped my own mouth. They were that strange. But who cared.
The following three weeks were the craziest of my life. Ever. But they were the best too. I never knew my own plan demanded that much work. I was expecting Lucie would keep our arrangements under wraps. But boy! Was I wrong? Everyday, I met friends upon friends. Some outing today, another tomorrow, clad in the same pattern and colour of clothes each time we did (yeah, she did go as far as buying alike). I suffered severe bouts of dysentery in that period. How could I have forgotten that ice cream and I do not familiarise so well. Lucie was the dream fake girlfriend for any man though. I didn’t spend a dime on her in all that time, as against my earlier calculations. She specifically objected, every time. More than once, she made rich soups and stews for me in my apartment and stayed over twice. No, nothing happened. To my dismay. It was crazy having to be a boyfriend but not be a boyfriend at the same time. Crazy I tell you. The best part? Good ol’ Justin wasn’t even flinching. And then, all of a sudden….
“Tony I think I want this to continue. I want us to be a thing. For real. I think a part of me really likes you and I want to explore it. I want you to be my baby”.
Lucie made that statement on the eve of the twenty-first day of our hoax relationship. To say I was shocked would be down playing how I really felt. My upper lip deserted the lower one for what felt like ten minutes, as my eyes almost ran off to meet hers. Could she be serious about wanting me? Was she falling in love with me? I wasn’t sure. I still am not sure today.
It’s been seven whole years since that night and I still can’t find a befitting answer for that question. It still haunts me, like it did this evening.
“Baby, dinner is served. It’s your favourite”, my wife called from the kitchen.
The sweet sound of her voice and the pompous aroma of the delicacy brought me back from the surreal world I had been lost in. I rose from the red leather armchair I had sunk in, just as my wife walked into the dining room from the kitchen, carrying a wide tray and clothed in smiles that suggested a promise of some extra-curricular activities after dinner. I knew her that well. I reciprocated the gesture. I could use some play too. Just before my buttocks possessed the dining seat, I dropped the peach card I was holding in my right hand on the table. An invitation card.
‘Otukpo Luciana weds Ayodele Justin’ was it’s message.