Grace was running as fast as she could, behind her she could
feel the labored breath of her pursuer, he ran faster, and bore down on her. As
soon as she felt his hand grab her shirt, she woke up with a start. It was all
a dream.
“Hey! Hey! What happened?” The man beside her asked, waking
up with a start and sitting up on the bed.
“I am sorry, I had a bad dream…we must have slept off.” Grace
replied sounding disoriented, she stared at her watch which was secured firmly
on her wrist and sighed, she had ended up wasting four work hours of her time.

“Oh my God! What time is it?” The man asked, this time
looking for his watch which he had placed on the bedside table. “Ehen! Fifteen
minutes to one am? Oh my God! My wife is going to have my neck this time. I am
off.” The man said jumping off the bed to put on his clothes.
Grace regained her composure, there was no way he was
leaving without paying her due.
“Mister, my money! Or have you forgotten?” Grace said to the
man.
“Money? What money? How many rounds did we go? I doubt I
even touched you, I drank too much remember?” The man said to her.
“That one na gist ooo…give me my money and don’t let me get
upset or I might increase your bill. If you calculate orals plus the fact that
you almost dissected me into two, I might just double the price.” Grace warned.
“Double what? Who paid for the hotel or aren’t you
calculating that as well?” The man asked, putting on his shoes. “Or the
drinks…” He said indicating at the bottle of already popped champagne at the
corner.
“The hotel is not my business, I gave you a hotel with a
decent price but you insisted on coming to this one and I wasn’t the one who
ordered champagne, you did.”
“That hotel you suggested was dirty and I will never step my
feet into that place.” The man said. “I should have known better than to pop
champagne with a whore…” He turned to stare at her, hoping his words made its
effect. “Anyway, I wouldn’t blame myself, I never even guessed you were a whore
till you gave me your price.”
“Pay me my money mister…”
“My name is not mister…anyway forgerrit…I don’t need a whore
knowing my name.”
Grace kept silent at his mention of ‘whore’, she always did
especially when she was regarded as that, a whore. It was unfortunate that that
was who she is, a lady who gave her body in exchange for money. She didn’t
blame him either for not knowing her profession at the time they met, nobody
did, even her neighbours or her landlady. Everyone thought she was a manager at
a hotel who worked night shifts.
Grace was born twenty-eight years ago in a fairly large city
in Nigeria, her parents who thrived on as successful business people died
unfortunately in a car crash which left her at the mercy of her greedy
relatives who didn’t even think of her when lavishing all her parents had
built. Grace grew up in tough times as she was turned into a slave by her
family members, beaten, molested and raped continuously at a tender age and she
would have gone through worse if she didn’t run away from her family at the age
of fifteen. She was on her way to the bus park that morning, on her fifteenth
birthday with a dirty luggage in her hands and with three hundred naira in her
pocket and with nowhere to go when she met Blessing, the lady who had pitied
her on sight and had taken her to Lagos with her.  That was where her involvement in the prostitution
trade began, Blessing was a prostitute and she had placed Grace in the hands of
one woman known as Mamee, a popular sex trader.
Right from childhood, Grace stood out from her peers, she
was the tallest, smartest and the most beautiful, it’s needless to say that her
rare beauty drew her favours in the trade as men from all works of life patronized
her. After spending ten years of her life under Mamee’s institution, she left
her service and started running her affairs alone. She moved to the center of
Lagos and with past connections at her finger tips, she found her way into
clubs, hotels, residential areas and many more, all to boost her trade. Grace
knew Lagos as the back of her palms and even as she strove to make it big, she
knew the places to go in search of ‘big fish’ places like Lekki, Victoria
Island, Park View, Banana Island, Ikeja GRA, Victoria Garden City, Chevron
Estate and many others. Grace avoided the policemen like a plague, she had seen
them arrest young ladies in her profession and she didn’t want that to be her
lot. Her strategy was very discreet, at nine-thirty, every Mondays to Fridays,
she dressed in provocative work wears and took taxis to the high-brows of Lagos
where she paraded around the zone looking like one who was either on her way
home from work and waiting for a lift. On weekends she wore her party look and
perched in big hotel lobbies and restaurants, lazily drinking champagne and
locking her gaze with prospective men that come either for business or
pleasure. Her ploys always worked and sometimes she snagged up to five men per
night, leaving her exhausted the next morning.
Now, as she watched the man who had picked her up from one
of her spots wear his clothes and prepare to leave the room, she took in a deep
breath, got down from the bed and proceeded to wear her clothes.
“My money.” She said as she held out her palms to him.
“How much?” He asked.
Image Source: madamenoire.com
“Five thousand…”
“Are you serious? What do you have down there? Honey?” He
asked in disgust.
She always had this problem when she asked them for her pay,
how she wished she knew how to snag the Senators and Governors, this wouldn’t
be happening. Ordinary five thousand naira and you see them whine like
children. Her prices differ, for most men she charged them from ten to twenty
thousand especially those who wanted her the whole night. This man however, had
drunk champagne and when it was time for sex, he had dozed off mid-way.
“I told you my price from the start and with my expertise,
you got it for less.”
“Oh please, I’ve had better.” The man snorted.
“Whatever…give me my money.”
The man eyed her for a brief moment and opening his wallet,
he brings out the money and hands it to her. She counts it and puts the money
into her purse.
“Bloody whore!” The man spits and walks out of the room.
“Useless man…Mtcheww…so he just realized he slept with a
whore…I wonder how women cope with the likes of these. Thank God I’m never
getting married, having this kind of man at home would drive me crazy. By the
time I get my boobs and butt done as well as liposuction, at age fifty, people
would think I’m twenty-five and I’ll continue my trade till I’m about eighty
and then check off” She says and putting on her clothes, she takes her purse
and leaves the room. As soon as she gets to the hotel lobby, she sees an
elderly man whose dressing suggests he’s rich, he’s not with a companion and he
was booking a room for himself in the hotel, his suitcase at his side with a
tag on it indicates that he’s just arrived from the airport. Grace squares her
shoulders, places a large smile on her face and walks past him slowly and
provocatively. It was time to put her body to best use again.
******
“But honey…I got you everything you need…what else do you
want from me?” George told his wife as he lay beside her on the bed.
“No…you haven’t gotten me everything I want yet…” Amelia his
wife whined.
They had just had their wedding about two weeks ago, a
wedding sponsored majorly by Amelia’s parents and family. George’s averagely
wealthy family had taken care of a smaller fraction a fact that Amelia never
failed to rub in his face. Amelia was spoiled, pampered, petted, whatever the
adjective for ‘getting everything’ she wants was and her newly wedded husband
was after one year and six months of courtship, just realizing that.
“I will get you everything that I can get…I earn a salary
remember? I have eaten deep into our finances these past months, from planning
the wedding to getting a new house and everything. Please manage the new IPhone
6, I promise to buy you the perfume, the Swarovski jewels, the Diane Von Furstenberg
jumpsuit when I get more money.”
“And that time, they might not be in stock anymore or worse,
new ones would have been out. All my friends have these things even the single
babes and I can’t look them in the eye and tell them that my hubby cannot
afford such stuff. From our proposal, which was a talk of the town to the
wedding, you have been so miserly and stingy. Shebi you know that Peter of Psquare
proposed to his wife a few years ago with a Range Rover. Besides you didn’t pay
for anything at the wedding, you just handled the wedding planner’s fees…my dad
paid for anything.” She grumbled.
“But Lola and Psquare are celebrities! C’mon! That guy Peter
has so much money and he’s a music artiste too. Why are you comparing yourself
to celebrities?”
“Excuse me? Am I not a celebrity? My dad is a well-placed
man in the society and my mom owns one of the largest lace shops on Lagos
Island.”
“That’s different…I know you had everything you ever wanted
with your parents, but learn to manage a little with me. We are a young couple
whose parents sponsored a hundred percent of their wedding! We are lucky that
we were given a chance to build a family with our finances which was never
tampered with by wedding costs.”
“My dad sponsored our wedding…ninety nine point nine percent
of it.” Amelia said in a snobbish voice.
“Atleast my dad sponsored a fraction and that’s something.”
Amelia sulks and looks away folding her arms under her
breasts and fuming.
“Let’s talk about this tomorrow okay…and maybe…” George says
as he sits up to pull her into his arms. “Maybe we could try making a baby
tonight.”
“What baby? I told you we have to wait till about three
years…or five years, I’m not ready to trade in my figure looking like a fat cow
all because I’m about to have your baby. I’m twenty-seven for Pete’s sake.”
“But it’s our baby…”
“Whatever…I’m going to sleep in the guest bedroom and I’ll
be there till you get me all I want. Goodnight.”
Amelia jumped down from the bed and walked out of the room
slamming the door behind her, George cussed in his head and hitting the pillows
with his fists, he tried to get some sleep.
Amelia got into the guest room, tears trickled down her
face, she pulls out her phone and types in a long message;
‘I am so sad daddy and I
haven’t gotten the latest perfumes and clothes and I fear that I’ll be the last
of my friends to get them if I wait on George’s salary. Can you please help me
out? Thank you dad.’ She pressed sent and the
watched the message deliver to her father.
*******
Image Source:liveofofo.com 
Demilade was late for rehearsals, again. Last night Bobo had
complained of a headache and this morning, the headache had continued till the
wee hours of the morning. She had taken him to the nearest clinic and after
waiting for a full thirty minutes, the doctor had called her in to relay the
bad news to her. Well, it wasn’t really bad news, but for a struggling single
mother of one, and her bank account, it was. Bobo had digestive problems and
the doctor had billed her thirty-five thousand naira. ‘Where am I supposed to
get that kind of money?’ she had asked herself. With Bobo’s dad running off
nine years ago while she was still in school and pregnant, she had no one to
turn to except her family members who were already growing tired of her
incessant pleas for money. Her parents were both retired and they relied on
their small businesses for money while her brothers and sisters were all
married, and training their children in decent environments and expensive
schools, while she was considered the unfortunate one. Having gotten herself
knocked up at the age of twenty-two and still regretting her mistake at falling
heads over heels in love with the good-for-nothing Dapo, Bobo’s AWOL dad,
education had been placed on standstill for her as she dropped out of her final
year in school to get work and start raising her son. She couldn’t believe that
it was nine years already and that he was all grown up and almost in secondary
school. She neared the location for the movie shoot and suddenly grew tense,
she knew she had to call her sister, Gbemi. She watched the phone dial while
holding her breathe, her sister picked at the last ring.
“Hey sis.” Demilade greeted.
“What do you want?” Her sister spat.
“Ah ah…is this how to greet your sister…haba!”
“This is how I greet the sister who never calls for anything
but money. For your information, I am broke, penniless and wretched at the
moment.” Her sister informed.
“Me too…but I just need a loan please…”
“I have no money…call Morayo, she works with the bank, surely
she has some money to give to you.”
“She recently gave me forty thousand naira for Bobo’s school
fees this term.”
“Hmmm…I have no money.” Her sister said crisply.
“Bobo is sick…he has a digestive problem, doctor says that I
need to pay thirty-five thousand naira…please Gbemi… Bobo’s all I’ve got…I
don’t want him to die.” Demilade’s voice cracked as tears fell from her eyes.
“I don’t want to die too because of your incessant demands
for money. How do you do it? Do you shuffle it? Today you call Gbenga, tomorrow
you beg Jimoh, the day after that it’s Morayo…”
“Please…you guys are all I’ve got and Bobo too…” Demilade
said in a low voice.
“Take him to his father! Look for that useless pimp who got
you pregnant and force him to pay his sons bills…Haba!”
“You are talking as though I love to milk you guys dry. Do
you know how painful it is to beg my little sisters for money? Do you know how
much it hurts when I can’t make ends meet? You know that Dapo left immediately
I told him that I was pregnant…and…” Demilade cried.
“I have no money, Period! It’s high time you started making
money from that your actress job anyway. And by the way, why haven’t I seen you
in any films yet or do you act for directors and the film crew alone?” Gbemi
snorted and not even waiting for her reply, she hung up.
Demilade closed her eyes when she heard the click, it was
always like this every time. Her sisters and brothers mocked her, laughed at
her and made her the butt of their jokes even extending it to her son. Bobo had
gone on a short holiday to his cousins place and had come back home telling her
that his cousins called her ‘Aunty Beggy Beggy’ and it wasn’t fair. Her parents
who were meant to scold them were taking sides, besides they were the ones who
provided money for their upkeep. She was the first daughter of her parents and
she hated it when her little sisters disrespected her this way.
Taking in a deep breath, she walked in through the estate gate
where the film crew were setting up.
“Demi…you are late.” The director said as soon as he caught
sight of her.
“I’m sorry…my son was sick.”
“You lateness caused you something big though…” He said to
her then, pointing at one lady at the distance he said, “that lady just got
your role and she plays nicely too…I guess we’ll call you for another gig
then.”
“No please…I need this role desperately sir…I have already
rehearsed my whole lines…please let me play this role…I beg of you…”
“You were late last time and I covered for you, the producer
came and didn’t see you so he asked for a replacement. Call time is call time,
not an hour late dear, you’re not one of the popular actresses.” The director
said and walked away.

Demilade stood there and cried, feeling for the umpteenth
time, the weight of the world on her shoulders.

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