BEAUTY AND HER BEAST III
Five months passed and it became apparent after the first that Mimi was the real deal.
“Why?!” he had asked after that first night of passion, “Why me?!”
“Because, I love you”, was all the reply he got from her.
This goddess, born into a family of wealthy bankers and politicians and raised with love and the best things money can buy, loved him. A lowly, good-for-nothing thug?
“Are you insane? How can you love me?”
Okon was as confused as he was scared. He was confused by her resolve to care for him even though he had done too many things to make her scared of him, done so much that no rational person would want to be around him.
He was intimidated by the intense emotions he saw in her eyes when she looked at him and the weight of the affection in her voice when she said she loved him. She was beyond anything he had ever experienced and the power she had over him scared him.
Okon swore to prove himself worthy of her affections. And prove it, he did.
The changes were subtle at first. He quit smoking, only partaking of the occasional tie of Hash brown or Skunk weed if she would share it with him. He carefully and deliberately avoided situations that would lead him to bursts of violence.
“Why are people so afraid of you?” She had asked a month into their passionate relationship.
“Don’t know” he replied with an air of exaggerated nonchalance, “Can’t say that I care”. He turned to her and asked, “Are you scared of me?”
“No… Yes… Sometimes”
“Perhaps if you smiled a little more often”
“I smile plenty”, he defended.
“No you don’t. You walk around with that perpetual scowl of yours”
“I don’t scowl”, was his heated reply.
“He said with a scowl”, she teased with a smile, stopping his heart and their argument with a kiss that devolved into a slow but passionate session of affirmation and re-affirmation of love.
The entire neighbourhood was stunned out of their wits to discover that the “Beast of Arroma” had been tamed by a tiny woman who stayed by his side as often as her schedule would permit.
Their world was perfect and beautiful, until it was not. A stupid argument over some inconsequential bit of information.
“You are angry”, she stated matter of factly.
“Not yet I’m not”, was his reply.
“You are, admit it”
“I said I am not angry. Leave me alone woman”
He stalked to a corner of his one room self-contained apartment, hoping to calm his raging heart into a semblance of control. He raised his fists over his head and hit the wall hard, clenching and unclenching his fists till he could lower his heart rate.
His mantra was working. His breathing was slowing to a degree of normalcy. He turned to face his angel – the beautiful woman who made him want to do better – bringing his fists down to his side as he turned. He didn’t hear her stand, didn’t hear her walk up to him. He didn’t even think she was brave or stupid enough to come to him when he was so close to losing himself.
The clenched fist that was yet to make a full retreat to his side stretched in instinct as soon as he felt someone sneaking up on him.
The room was filled with a resounding “CRACK” as Mimi twirled on her toes and crumbled to the floor in an unconscious heap.
He laid the unconscious beauty, whose bruised temple was already beginning to swell, on the bed. He scribbled a quick note, placed it on the bedside table and he fled. He ran as fast as his legs could carry him, as far as his heart could strain, and then he ran some more. As he ran, his mind replayed the entire scene in his head. He saw her eyes roll back in her head as the blunt trauma of his fist sent her spinning to the floor. He saw the bruised skin swell and swell.
‘You’re such a fool’, he thought to himself as he pushed himself forward across the busy round-about of Arroma junction.
‘Such a fool! You should be there with her’
His mind wasn’t running a mile a minute, his heart followed just behind it.
‘Why do you have to be such a violent retard?’
He ran hard and fast, unshed tears of pent up anger and frustration streamed out his eyes and soaked into his hair. He was an abominable beast that did not deserve to be loved. As he thought that, words came unbidden to his mind.
“I will love you even if you tell me you are a contract killer”
“Love is a choice, and I choose you”
“Promise me you will never again try to push me away”
‘I promise’, his mind replied. He’d been running for twenty minutes, he started to slow down as he decided he had put enough distance between himself and his anger. At least that was what he thought until he remembered the note he had scribbled in a hurry.
He turned, running as fast as he could, doing his best to get back to Mimi before she could read it.
It was a short note that read:
“I’m sorry but I’m afraid I’m no good for you. I can’t do this anymore”
“STUPID IDIOT!!!” his voice carried over the roar of the Enugu-Awka traffic. He ran as fast as he could to the girl of his dreams.
* * *
Hindsight, they say, is 20/20. Knowing what he knew now, he should never have left her side. He should have stayed and begged on his knees that she forgive his actions. Knowing Mimi she would probably try to apologise for causing him to lose his temper. He should have stayed by her side, but he did not. He ran until he was almost at the banks of the Oji River.
He should never have left.
Okon returned to his apartment complex, soaked in sweat and weary from the impromptu marathon he imposed upon himself, and he was greeted by a throng of concerned neighbours waiting to give him news bad news.
The notorious Ejimbe had been freed from prison. He and his reunited crew marched straight to Okon’s apartment to settle old scores.
Thing was, Okon was not home… Mimi was.
Okon pushed past he crowd of onlookers to see a battered Mimi bleeding away on the ground. Her beautiful face was now formless mess of black and blue, swollen and bruised. Her straight nose was crooked and her luscious lips were busted.
Her clothes were ripped, and shallow knife marks criss-crossed over her back in a pattern visible only to the broken mind of the knife wielding artist who designed it.
“Who did this?”
“Ejimbe and his boys”, a neighbour volunteered. One look at the young man’s face and it was obvious he had tried to stop the thugs from hurting his Mimi. Tried and failed. A swollen left eye and a busted lip was enough to send a coward out of a fight. Okon could not really fault the poor fellow; he showed a lot of courage to confront Ejimbe and his crew of mad men.
* * *
Nine hours and a hospital visit later, Mimi was lying on her tummy in her apartment. Two cracked ribs and a dislocated shoulder were the worst of her problems. He stayed as long as he could, he called some of her friends to watch her and then he went hunting.
“Don’t do anything stupid”, Mimi had begged when he’d kissed her goodbye.
“I promise to be on his best behaviour”, he’d said.
Mimi, his bruised angel, shame he had to lie to her.
He walked about aimlessly until the decent folks were back in their homes, then he hit the town. The weasels all but sang the answers he needed. They knew better than to keep information from the Raging Beast of Arroma now returned from hiatus.
He waylaid the trio on the way their way to their homes. The men, while surprised to see him, did not hesitate to arm themselves the minute he let his presence known to them.
‘Calm yourself. Remember your training; six years in the Nigerian Military School ought to count for something’.
He drew a breath and started towards his quarry. He had longed to draw blood for too many nights now, a twisted smile broke through his mask of calm anger as he realised his dreams were about to come true.
* * *
Okon felt the wind drain him of warmth in a rapidly increasing manner that left his fingers numb. He could barely stand on his feet; he needed to return to Mimi. Tell her he loved her at least once before the darkness claimed him.
He longed to smell her hair at least once before he slept.
One step after another. The cut on his back was draining faster than his body could staunch the flow.
His eyes swam in a complex, dizzying and nauseating pattern.
Mimi, my angel.
Okon fell to his knees. He was out of strength, he could go no further. He crawled as far as he could, he knew he was close. Each meter he moved tired him more than a four hundred meter sprint.
“I can’t see”
‘Ejimbe… you bastard! Could he have poisoned his blade?’
“I can’t see”
Okon collapsed a few meters from the gate to Mimi’s apartment complex. He drew rasping breaths as he felt the steel tipped claws of death sink into his heart.
“I’m sorry”, he groaned as the perfect face of the perfect woman floated what remained of his consciousness.
“I wish…” he was too tired to speak, too tired to complete the sentence. He closed his eyes and pictured the one good thing in his life that he would willingly die for.
Her breath, her lips; her breasts, her hips. Her smell, somehow it filled his mind. She smelled like a peaceful home ought to smell. The perfect woman.