Two Strangers

From the backseat, I observe as the taxi driver impatiently drums on the steering wheel with his thick fingers. He murmurs something in Yoruba before pounding on the car horn twice. We’ve been stuck in traffic for twenty minutes now, and the scorching sunlight, beaming through the cab window, is burning my skin. Just like most taxis here in Lagos, the air conditioner is broken.

My shaky hands dig into my trousers’ pocket for my phone, stealthily checking for any hawker nearby. One has to be very careful as some of these hawkers are thieves in disguise. There are numerous stories of roadside traders who stand by your car window, showing you the gun tucked into the waist of their trousers as they demand for your phone or wrist watch or anything valuable. It’s almost three o’clock. I sigh, burying my phone back into my pocket. Momentarily, I consider calling Isaac to cancel our appointment, but then cars slowly start moving.

The cab dashes through the third mainland bridge, with a wild gust of air attacking my face. The dirty smell of urine and feces from the ocean rush into my nostrils and I am compelled to roll up the windows a bit. I take a deep breath to calm my nerves, but my heartbeat is still accelerating. My pulse has been racing since I left home.

Loneliness, boredom and mere curiosity propelled me into this ride to VGC. My heart thumps hard within my chest, my stomach churns and I keep worrying about what I am getting myself into. It churns again, bubbling. My buttocks tighten and slowly and silently I release a fart.

Once the cab swings into traffic my memories catch up with me. I’d been trying not to overthink. The last thing I want is to turn this cab around. Today is the day I learn about myself. All I need to do is meet Isaac and let nature take its course.

Many times people have questioned my sexuality. Everyone sees a feminine man and assumes he’s gay. Deny it and you’re a closet homosexual. Throw on some designer products, take a photo of yourself smiling, sing a song sang by a female artist and some nosey people who can’t face their own problems would assume you like to spread your cheeks for another man. Even if you have or have had a girlfriend, they’d call you a closet homosexual.

For many years I have endured these assumptions. I have said no whenever they asked but deep down I am uncertain. I’ve caught myself admiring the sculpted body of some male Hollywood actors. When I visit adult sites I only click on the videos starring a well-built man. It’s never just about the woman and her massive breasts and buttocks. Some may call this admiration or self-esteem issues, but one can never be too certain.

“Na this be the house?” asks the cab driver, resting his hands on the steering wheel as he peeks at me through the rear view mirror.

I turn sideways to view the tall cream coloured fences and big black gate. Next to the gate is the number twenty-three. “Yes,” I mutter, handing him the money.

As I step out of the taxi, I clutch my phone to my ear. Reaching the gate, I impatiently wait for Isaac to answer. His husky voice comes up, “Hello, are you here?”

“Yeah,” I reply with my heart skipping a beat.

 Isaac and I have never met in person. We actually met online through a gay website and we’ve spoken over the phone. We both find each other attractive but we barely know each other.

For a fleeting moment, I envisage how this will go. Would we start kissing and touching each other once we enter the house or would we get to know each other first?

As soon as he opens the gate, I catch myself preferring the former. Isaac is hot, there’s no two ways about it. He’s about six feet two, brawny, with high cheeks bones and a double chin. I admire as his well-developed chest bulges through his tight t-shirt. “Come inside,” he says.

The house is a big cream building, two storeys with a balcony facing the street. The ground is decorated with gravel that makes a crushing sound as we head towards the house. I walk behind him as he says something, but his buttocks have got me heedless. We amble into the house, into a large white walled living room with a set of black leather seats, white tiled floor, a round glass coffee table and a big flat screen TV that poses right next to an aquarium.

“Wow, your place looks amazing,” I say, twisting my neck to appraise the room.

“Have a seat,” says Isaac with his deep voice that sends a tingle down my spine, gesturing to the leather seats. I do as I’m told and he asks, “Want something to drink?”

“Yeah, thank you,” I mumble, grinning at him.

“I have red wine, white wine, rosé…”

“White wine, please,” I blurt, cutting him off.

He smiles, giving me a perceptive nod. Briskly, he walks into a room which I believe is the kitchen. Alone in his living room, I survey the room once more just to entertain myself. There are some photographs hanging on the wall and, in one of them, I find a young version of Isaac with his arm wrapped around a smiling woman in a white lace wedding gown. Next to that photo is a picture of him, the same woman and a little boy.

My heart sinks to my belly and I gasp to myself, “Isaac is married?” My instinct tells me that he could be divorced. He could be one of those who found out late. This is why I have to experiment now, so I won’t end up like him.

“There you go,” chirrups Isaac with a sing song voice as he approaches me with two glasses of wine. He sets one glass on the small table beside me.

“Who is she?” I murmur, pointing a finger at the photograph.

“Oh, I forgot about that,” he mutters, still smiling as he peers at the picture. He takes a moment to clear his throat. “That’s Patricia, my wife.”

“You have a wife?”

I flash him a disgusted look but Isaac is unabashed, rather he sits down beside me. Still wearing a grin on that chiselled face, he mutters to me, “Yes, but you don’t have to worry. She went to England to visit my son.” Awaiting my response, he lowers his eyes at the ground.

“You’re a married man,” I say, glowering at him. “Don’t you think you should have mentioned that?”

“I’m really sorry,” he says with a rueful tone. I’m furious. Why would anyone do this? What was I even thinking coming all the way to VGC to have sex with a complete stranger? This is how people get killed. All for the sake of finding out if I enjoy gay sex or not. It’s true what they say, knowledge brings grief.

Isaac stretches his hands to caress my back but I cringe, moving away. “Don’t touch me.”

“We don’t have to have sex,” he mutters, smiling at me. “I enjoy chatting with you, now we get to do it in person. Let’s just sip wine and talk.” He leans back, resting on the couch.

I didn’t come all the way to go back home and continue wondering if I’m gay or not. Perhaps I could interview him to discover how he found out about his sexuality and why he’s even married. But staring at Isaac right now, despite the ring on his finger, I’m finding it arduous to keep my thoughts from raunchiness.

Looking away from him, I ask, “Why are you married?”

He heaves a sigh. “No one understands what it’s like to be gay. I couldn’t bear to tell my dad. Now, I regret not telling him because he died of a heart attack, so it wouldn’t have made a difference. My mother knows, but she wanted a grand kid and now she has one. I just can’t break Patricia’s heart. She’s an amazing woman.”

“When did you tell your mother?”

“I didn’t tell her. She found out. She caught me sucking off one of my friends from secondary school in our house. I’ll never forget that day. She was so livid. Chased me around with a broom and beat the hell out of me. According to her, I was possessed by demons. She never told anyone in the family about it. But secretly we went to different churches to cast out this demon. We’d sit down at the pew and she’d whisper in my ear, ‘Tell Jesus to heal you.’”

I giggle.

“She’d tell me to tell God to open my eyes to see the truth, to see the light.” Shortly after draining the wine in his glass, Isaac turns to me and asks, “Does anyone in your family know?”

 “My mother has her suspicions,” I mutter, sipping my wine afterwards.

“It’s always the mothers,” he says, staring at his empty glass.

“Well, I never knew my dad. So I was raised by a woman. She was the only person I could look up to so I suppose that’s why I’m feminine.”

His eyes study me for a while and he says, “You don’t seem feminine to me.”

“Oh, I’ve slightly improved. Thanks to being forced to play football and do things every boy should do. My whole life has been socially constructed. I’m not even allowed to listen to Madonna, Beyoncé or Lady gaga because my mum believes they’d convince me to stuff round objects into a bra and pretend I’m a woman. To her, every gay man wants to be a woman.”

“I don’t want to be woman,” murmurs Isaac, narrowing his eyes at the thought.

“You have to understand that my mother is just like majority of the society. She fears the unknown, so she relies on stereotypes. Don’t except her to try a different brand of soap or cream. Or eat a meal she’s never had before. To her, anything that isn’t familiar is bad.”

Isaac drags his eyes to the flat screen television and snatches up the remote control. “Let’s find something less depressing on TV to talk about.”

On the screen, there’s a man standing at the top of a stage, singing to a crowd of waving hands. This man is dressed up in a tuxedo with the spotlight motioning around him. He sings so passionately with his husky yet velvety tone. His eyes closed as he feels the melody within him.

“I don’t understand why men feel the need to touch themselves when they sing?” I ask.

Isaac chuckles. “I know, right? It’s like they’re getting turned on or something.”

“They might as well, take of their clothes and play with themselves if they are that into the song. I mean, I won’t mind watching that.”

We burst out laughing.

With a residual smile on his face, Isaac tells me, “I like you. You’re funny.”

Momentarily, I study his eyes before lowering mine to notice the long, hard line running down the inside of his pant leg. I automatically calculate that it’s about nine inches and I feel my mouth water. My body begins to swelter. Only God can resist such. Then again, how dare I bring God into such a situation?

My instinct says, tell Jesus to heal you. It says, God open my eyes to see the truth, to see the light. Consumed by lust, in one quick move, I hop on Isaac’s thighs. He closes his eyes and moans as I rub my body against his. His hand reaches up and pulls me into him for a kiss. Our lips press together and our tongues start to wrestle. 

Isaac pulls back, panting a little, and looks at me. “You’re beautiful,” he whispers.

His warm breath caresses my face. “I bet you say that to all the guys.”

“Actually, no,” he mumbles. “You’re the first guy I’ve been with since I got married.”

Guilt takes its place amongst us again, beckoning our attention. Although the alcohol begs for us to ignore, our raging libido cries for satisfaction, guilt remains the elephant in the room.

“I have to go,” I mutter, getting off him.

“Did I say something wrong?”

“You’re married,” I blurt, loudly, throwing my hand up.

“You’re the one that sat on my lap.”

“I know, I know,” I bellow, walking towards the door. I turn around and say, “Look, you’re very attractive. You probably already know that. If I stay here for another minute I might do something that we’d both regret.” Opening the door, I say, “So how about we pretend this never happened.”

We head outside, under the bright sunny sky. “Can I at least walk with you until you find a cab?”

“No, thank you.”

As he opens the gate for me, he asks, “Are you sure?”

“Yes,” I say, nodding my head, vigorously.

He closes the gate behind me and I walk down the road bemused and distressed. Tears form in my eyes. A whimper crawls up my throat but I refuse to cry. That wintry quiver runs through and I can’t control myself. The tears leaked from my eyes, sliding down my cheeks.

“I am gay,” I whisper to myself. There’s no denying, there’s no escaping. This is who I am. People may not like it, my mother may not approve, but it’s the truth. Men are conformed to hide their weakness, women are conformed to hide their strength and homosexuals are conformed to hide their existence. There’s no way, I’m going to end up like Isaac. Wasting my life on someone I do not love; just to please those who do not care about my happiness.

One can never be truly happy if they base their entire existence on the approval of others. “This is who I am,” I tell myself. “This is my role on the stage called earth.” I throw my hand up to a hail a taxi driving towards me. “Taxi,” I yell and it comes to a grinding halt.

 About the author

Ethan Regal

Image credit: MorgueFile