SHALEWA!

SHALEWA!
After drinking two bottles of Orijin Premium spirit,
I became tipsy as I gazed at shalewa who as usual,
stood Akimbo under the dogonyaro tree in front
of our house. Her bowl of mixed roots, locally
brewed was before her. She sells kparaga and
other roots-distilled liquor that cure malaria and
typhoid. My eyes were permanently fixed to her
waist. Shalewa has a waist that could produce a
lump between any man’s thighs. She was blessed
with breasts the size of melons. She wasn’t dirty,
her skin actually glowed luxuriantly in the sun and the appendages on her chest kept swinging hysterically as she attended to her customers. I know she wasn’t near my league, but her
succulent lips, fabulously sculptured breasts and marvelous buttocks were definately affiliated to my class. I greedily undressed her in my mind before I knew what was happening and my manhood stood erect like Aso Rock. I walked up to her, just to tell her we were looking for a house-help and having perused her physical CV, she is just the best woman for the job.
‘Hi’, I spluttered. She knelt down and greeted me
“Good afternoon”. I noticed the excellent
arrangement of her dentition. ‘’ Were you told we
needed a house-help?’
‘No sir.”
‘’ well we need one and I think you could
take up the job’.
‘’Ah!’’ she exclaimed.
“I hope you can do it, ‘’ I shouted with the voice of a boss. ‘
“yes sir, I fit do am well, well,” She said.
Salewa resumed work the next day and made
one of the best stew ever. I ate and stared at her
breasts carelessly dangling from her chest as she took care of the home cores. While she mopped the floor, I tiptoed towards her and held her waist. She turned and looked at me. She was shy. ‘’Oga, no vex’.
I held her waist firmly, planting my manhood between her palatable hips. I caressed it and she
allowed me. Soon my hand got to her breasts and I squeezed them, she giggle. I pulled her straight to my room and she followed like a doe headed for slaughter. I kissed her gently, near the bed, playing with her thick lips while my hand ran gently around her entire body. The wrapper around her waist broke loose and fell gently on the floor. Her eyes became dimed, sexy and wild. I caressed her waist gently, pulling at her panties as she muttered inaudibly. I flipped up her spaghetti top revealing her rounded sexy tummy and I explored lustfully. Then I pulled down her bra and poured her
heavy breasts out; I sent my tongue to her
nipples immediately. Her nipples were tasty, hard
and rough to touch. She screamed softly as I sucked her deeply.
Now, her hand found my dick and
fondled it gently. She was really experienced .She
unzipped my trousers. As my trousers dropped on the floor my boxers held my
erect manhood like a toga. Then, I removed her
panties, her virgina was neatly shaved. It was a
wonderful pairsight that looked unbattered. At a go she pulled my boxers off my waist and my rock-hard dick sprang out steadily for.
She laid down on the bed while I knelt in-between
her legs and I pushed my tongue into her well-
sculptured virgina . She wriggled. ‘’ Ahrrr oga!’’
I went deeper as she screamed at the top of her
voice. I sucked her passionately and she cried out.
Her virgina had no stench, so I enjoyed eating her
while she climaxed to Elysium. Then I sucked her
breasts. Her breasts shone. She took her hand again to my manhood and fondled it. She stroked it vigorously to it’s full length. I made hee go on her knees. I bent a little and took my
penis into her virgina from the back. I entered
slowly, her virgina was tight, smooth and glossy.
She was also lubricated and her virgina swallowed my entire dick at once. I slowly began to thrust into her, she muttered words like “hmmmmmm.
Fuck me!, fuck me! Ah hmmh.” My thrusts were firm and fast now, and she kept asking for more. Her legs were smooth and divided wide, and her virgina hole was tiny, sweet and wet.
She unplugged my dick and held it as she sucked
it. It was sweet. She sucked my dick like her entire
life depended on it. Shalewa, swallowed my
manhood into her mouth just like the virgian did a
while ago. I screamed, my legs were shaking and I
staggered. She held on to my penis like a straw
pumping and sucking.
She had stimulated my penis well. Then she
punished me and I landed backward on the bed.
She climbed on me, held my penis and gently inserted it into her vigina. I felt good and she began to pound me like she was at war. Her breasts jiggled up and downed and I held them. Fondled them. She was moving faster now and my dick remained hard like a rod.
I felt a sensation whizzing down my spine. Then
she suddenly stood up. Landed on her back while I climbed on her, my dick went straight in without missing the target; it travelled deep and I thrust in and out gallantly and joyfully. She was equally on top of her game as she wiggles her hips while i thrust powerfully. She went “ Ah,AH, ah, ah fuck me! Fuck me! Yeah.” Her voice was coarse and she begged for more sex. I kept up the energy and she kept asking for more. She used her legs to wrap my waist around and begged me to fuck her still. I fucked her mercilessly. Her mouth was open as she heaved sighs of satisfaction. I pulled my dick out. It was still hard, I plugged it back in joyfully.
She asked to fuck her more. I did it until she
screamed vigorously, she was about to cum. She
screamed and I kept it slow. I came back faster
again I screamed, “ ah, ah ah. I pulled out my dick and my sperm gushed out and spilled all over her entire body. She smiled joyfully, held my dick and stroke it while I rested. Later, Shalewa served dinner. She asked me to take my bath and have dinner but I had another plan. So I called her up to the bathroom I loosed her wrapper. While the shower splashed gently on
her naked body I romanced her, sucked her breasts and finally I asked her to touch her toes. She did and I enter from the back, her virgina was so tight. I thrust gently and she wiggles her hips pleasurably. I caressed her body and my dick slippery inside her. Her hips kept wriggling. It was an exhilarating experience and she pulled me to herself and washes us off with water as I increased the strength of the shower.
I later had dinner, saw a movie and went to
bed. I called at Shalewa’s rooms at midnight and she was fast asleep. I stared at her sexy figure while salivating. I woke her up. When she saw me she smiled and held my chick up enfolding it graciously.
We had sex till day break Shalewa knows her job
excellently well.
I woke up again. I was startled to see my wife glaring at me from her own side of the bed. “Who is Shalewa?” She growled. “And why were you fucking my pillow for the past five minutes.”

JOY ISI BEWAJI STORMED LAGOS WITH,#ThisArtIsEnough

JOY ISI BEWAJI STORMED LAGOS WITH
#ThisArtIsEnough
Lagos witnessed a taste of the power of art on the 6th of December 2014 at Terra- kulture Victoria Island. #ThisArtIsEnough; a literary concert organized by the amiable Joy is Bewaji took a twist the left all attendees dazzled with jaw–dropping performances, poetry, spoken word, music, drama and book readings. The artistic impression create at the scene renewed everything in souls of literary enthusiasts. The suspense and pyrrhic, with the over flowing aura of wit possessed by the artist was outstanding. Dami Ajayi’s poem is all that is needed to wake the dead. He orates in simplicity, yet soaked in the vault of spontaneity. Dami splutters rich intellectual rendition that leaves the listener ‘Hony’ and in thought of ‘sin’. He catholicize his verse to heal the soul and resuscitate the human celebrate virtuosity.
Wana Udobang took the stage beaming a priceless smile reminiscent of purity. Her ‘spoke word’ performance lit up the stratosphere of exaltation and defined the geography of excellent artistry. She puffed her words in style with remarkable confidence. `This Love Is Not for Sale’ was rendered in a puzzling proportion.The clarity of her selection invokes powerful emotions that portrays her as a veteran of unassailable intellection.
The crown troupe came on stage with a redefinition of art. They put up a performance that could possible amuse even the devil. It was amazing! ‘Marriage destroys the body of a woman and the wit of a man.’ They mused. The brilliant performance was from Joy Isi bewaji’s Eko Dialogue, a collection a short stories. The troupe had the characters, the confidence and the art.
The Madhouse Dance had a cryptic performance that told a story of survival and the proclivities of death; a pantomime, fill with suspense and exegesis. The significance of life and the contempt of death pulled the dance to the common reality that ‘there is no armour against fate; death lays its icy hands on kings’ It was a luster ritual dazed with ambivalence and sublimity.
The melodrama was captivating. It extrapolates the rigors of marriage typical of the African reality. Yvonne Anoruo as the lead character was a touch of many things, leadership, humorous and classy. She portrayed a character of embellished sophistication
Aduke‘s song “Man is Man” was fresh. It reeled out smooth, emanating from the soul of a young girl determined to make a difference. “Made in Lagos”, another song of her’s, trilled the audience as they stood on their feet to echoe the chorus irresistibly.
The award winning Tade Ipadeola did a short powerful the poem- “Forest of flowers”, his words were refined beyond description. He gave Joy a unique poem in a bottle. This was priceless!
The mayor himself, Toni Kan, performed poetry in artistic sophistry. He choosed his words amorously, homely and graciously.
Efe Paul gave a remarkable performance with his delectable poem titled ‘History Is’. His oratory skill was magical. The essence of a foiled system was succinctly captured by his sophistry. Efe’s voice is like new wine.
Mtril was amazing on stage,his rape music had originality with a voice. Such skill is not easily found these days.
Sylva Nze, had a long captivating read from his book ‘The Funeral did not End’. The audience asked for more while he stepped off the stage.
Bura-Bari Nwilo, read from his book, ‘The Diary of a Stupid Boyfriend’. His amiable comical expression has won the heart of many in resent time.
Kola Tobosun read from Dam Ajayi‘s ‘Conji blues’, the “take offs” in that poem pose an imagery of what adults do when a force runs through their spine.
Tobi Adebowale is a poetic god. His diction could pull a string of ones hair with the effects and ecstasy .He rode on an unconventional style crowned with polymath distinction. His performance was sexy, soft and balance.
The book ‘What Pain May Bring” by Joy Is Bewaji was presented to the public at the event. It was a great moment for people who attended the event as we look forward to the next edition.
Evans Ufeli © 2014

I STAND CORRECTED MADAM


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Top of Form

Bottom of Form

I STAND CORRECTED MADAM(A Short Story)

 My knee ached so badly that I thought a nerve had ruptured. I quietly got up and sat on my hotel bed. My cousin’s pastor, who had been referring to himself as my pastor too, did not notice. Sweat ran down his face as he prayed with so much vigor that it felt as if he was physically pulling the Holy Spirit down from Heaven to come and cover me and protect me from all the evils that were lurking around in my new work place. I looked at the clock and saw it was close to the time when a driver would come to pick me up. I signaled to my cousin that it was time to stop the pastor. I wanted to spend a moment alone with Hegel, Confucius, Descartes and Thomas Aquinas before Madam’s driver arrived.

It took a while but the pastor finally said the last Amen. Before he left, he dug into his bag, brought out a bottle of holy water and gave it to me. He demanded that I sprinkle it on my clothes before heading out to meet Madam for the first time. I was reluctant to accept it but my cousin winked and I obeyed. With a grin on his face the pastor packed up his Bible, his candle, a paper on which he wrote prayer talking points and other tools of his trade.

As the pastor walked out of the room after a few more handshakes, my cousin closed the door behind him. 

“Now listen,” he told me. “When you get there, do not try to be a wise ass. Tell her you were sorry for all the lampooning you have done to her. Tell her they were all part of youthful exuberance. Tell her that you’re now matured. Let her know that you’re now ready for the responsibility of moving Nigeria forward.”

“Ok,” I said. He noticed a shrug.  

“Don’t go there and disgrace me,” he pleaded. “I worked very hard to convince her that you were reformed even when everyone said you were ‘irreformable.’ If you must know, your appointment was a favor to me for all that I have done for her. I told her that I have a cousin wasting away in America that I would want her to help rehabilitate. Don’t disappoint me.” 

I wasn’t going to take issues with my cousin and his characterization of how the whole thing happened. I needed him to get out of my room for now so that I could consult Hegel, Confucius, Descartes and Thomas Aquinas before Madam’s driver arrived.

Hardly did I open my book, How To Live This Life, when the phone rang. I picked it up. It was the front desk- Madam’s driver had arrived. I packed up my book, my resume, my NYSC discharge certificate and other important documents on the desk and placed them inside my Ecolog portfolio. I put on my shoes, entered the elevator and headed downstairs. 

A well-dressed young man was waiting for me. He came to take my bag from me and I told him not to worry. “Ah, Oga,” he said, “I’m at your service.”

“I can handle it,” I said.

He walked ahead of me, opened the back seat door of a black Toyota 4Runner and I got in. He closed the door, rushed around to the other side, climbed into the driver’s seat and drove off. I had wanted to look around for the sounds and sights of Wuse zone 2 but I felt there would be time for that. In the meantime, I opened my bag, brought out my book and resumed my consultation with Hegel, Confucius, Descartes and Thomas Aquinas.

“Oga, how is America?” the driver asked, interrupting my thoughts.

“Oh, it’s fine,” I said, wondering what else he knew about me. 

“Madam’s eager to meet you,” he said after a pause.

“Why is that?” I asked, almost regretting it as soon as the question left my mouth.

“Because people have been finishing her,” the driver said. “But she is a good woman. They just don’t understand her.”

How did he know that? Was he really sincere that his Madam was a good woman or was he pulling my leg? I wondered. I thought of closing my book and talking to him but I wasn’t sure who he really was. I kept quiet. I tried to read again but my mind was racing all over the place wondering about the intrigues of the life awaiting me. 

We passed three security points without any hassles and pulled into the East side of the Villa. I made sure I climbed out before the driver could come around to open the door for me. A tall young woman came to the car to receive me. She was Madam’s personal assistant, I found out. She ushered me in through a series of doors and reception halls until we got to an imposing door on which Madam’s name was boldly affixed. She gently knocked on the door. A voice inside said “open” and she opened the door and let me in. Before I could turn around to say thank you, she had closed the door behind me.

Madam was looking out of the window, her back turned to me. Her red wrapper glittered in the rays of the morning sun filtering through the window. Her green lace blouse matched with the color of the office walls. Though the ceiling was high, her headgear appeared to be stretching for a touch. 

“Good morning, Madam,” I said.

“Isi-okpukpu,” she said in Igbo without looking at me. 

I wanted to say that I was not headstrong, but I let it pass.
“Good morning, Madam,” I repeated. 

“Anu-nti,” she said, again in Igbo. I wanted to protest that I wasn’t stubborn or hard of hearing but that I felt it would be a wrong way to start.

Her spacious office smelt like a botanical garden in spring. I looked around for flowers but I found only a real dwarf palm tree and artificial flowers. The large desk at the corner of the office had a computer on top of it. Files and envelops occupied one section of the desk. A gold plated-phone occupied the center. 

“If it were in the good old days,” she said as she turned around, “I would get some people to hold you down and I’ll use pliers to crush your testicles.”

No, she did not go there, I said in my mind. Well, great to know that we live in the bad new days, I reassured myself. 

“Lets get to the point,” she said. “What will you bring to my team?”

“Please can I sit down first?” I asked. “My feet are tired.” 

“Am I sitting down?” she asked.

“No, Ma,” I said. 

“First rule: you don’t sit when I’m standing.”

“Ok.” 

“And I prefer if you call me Her Excellency.”

“Does it matter what I call you, Ma?” I asked. “Isn’t what is important the thing people at home call you at their dinner tables when NTA shows a clip of you in public?” 

“I’m the one hiring you,” she said, her voice thin on patience. “You worry about what I ask you to worry about. Again, what will you bring to my team?”

“I’ll bring Hegel, Confucius, Descartes and Thomas Aquinas,” I said. 

“Who are those people?”

“These are people bigger than you,” I said. 

“I knew this was a mere waste of my time,” she muttered, throwing her hands in the air. “You think this is all a joke? Do you? We deal with life and death matters here each day. We deal with principalities far beyond what your silly mind can imagine. Are you ready to apply yourself or do you want to continue to kid around? If you want to keep kidding around, please leave my office.”

I pulled up a chair and sat down.

“You don’t sit when I’m standing,” she yelled, pointing a finger at me.

“Well then, you can pull up a chair and sit,” I said. “After all, this is your office.”

“You know what…” she started to say something.

“Madam,” I interrupted. 

“Another rule, don’t even interrupt me,” she shouted.

“In that case you don’t need me,” I said, rising up. 

“Yeah,” she said. “I get the same feeling.”

“If there is anything you need it is someone who will be seated while you are standing and someone who will interrupt you as often as is necessary,” I said. 

She looked at me the way a hyena looks at an antelope.  Then she drew her seat and sat down. I returned to my seat, too. I glanced at the monitor on her desk and saw that her computer was logged onto Saharareporters and the page that popped up was my column Correct Me If I’m Right. I stretched my neck to see the piece that was up: My First Day At Work.

I blinked repeatedly. I looked deep at her face for the first time and saw a restrained smile perched on it. A bag of skin was hanging underneath her eyes. Wrinkles round her neck betrayed some restlessness. 

“What do you need, Madam?” I asked. “Can you separate what you need from what you want? Have you noticed that all the pains that we have comes not from the search for what we need but from what we want? Do you have mental peace? Who are you? What makes your life worthwhile? Do you seek knowledge or just wealth? When your journey here on earth is over what happens to the wealth? Are you concerned about the consequences of violating ethics? ”

“I did not bring you here to ask me questions,” she said, raw anger erasing the smile off her face. 

“Why do you get so upset?” I asked. “What does that do for you?”

“If you must know, it helps me let off steam” she said. 

“What else goes off with the steam? Your reputation. What’s left? Ridicule! Think about it.”

“Look here, Mr. I did not bring you here to make me think. I brought you here to change how others think of me.” 

I wanted to use the fat analogy but I stopped myself. A fat person has three options to change how he or she is seen- go on diet, go under the knife or to tie his or her belly with a belt.

“The change must start with you,” I said instead. “For instance, what is your purpose in life? Do you care about being good? 

“I don’t care about purpose,” she said. “Life is what it is. Why should I bother about being good?”

“Do you know that the physical laws governing things on earth are so precise? I asked. “Like the law of gravity that says that everything that goes up must come down. Does it scare you? Do you know that there is no room for chance in how things work in this world? Einstein said that God does not play dice with the universe.” 

“I don’t care what your friends say,” she said. I’m here. Because I’m here, there is a here. When I am no longer here, there won’t be any here anymore. I live here. I do things that people here do -things that make sense here. When we get to the other place, we do things there the way they do things there.”

“What if the things that you see now are not real?” I asked. “What if the here that you do everything to conquer is mere illusion? What if you’re not the person you think you are? Do you know that the fluttering of a butterfly’s wing can change the weather? Aristotle said that, “the least initial deviation from the truth is multiplied later in a thousand fold.”

“I get lost when people talk the way you talk.”

“Being lost is not a bad thing, Madam,” I said. “Whether you’re lost in your blindness or just by accident, it only means you have an opportunity to search for ways, meanings, and answers. Questions like, should I pursue the “having mode” or the “being mode”? Dr. Erich Fromm said that the “having mode” of material possession, power, aggression leads to greed, envy and violence. On the other hand, the “being mode” which emphasizes love in the pleasure of sharing and engaging in meaningful and productive life leads to containment. Do you know that the future is nearer than you think?” 

“You’re giving me a headache with all these questions,” she said. “Just tell me how you can change the way people see me. How do you see your role as my spokesman?”

I looked long at the madam and realized that she just did not get it. She probably could not, just like millions of Nigerians, both the oppressed and the oppressors. As the Indian scripture, the Bhagavad Gita puts it, “He who thinks he kills, and he who thinks he is killed; neither of them knows the truth. For the eternal in us does not kill, nor is the eternal in us killed.” 

“How do you see your role?” she repeated, her voice rising a notch.

“I see myself as an advocate, your defendant,” I said. “So I need to know the real you, the real truth.”

“Like what?”

“Were you ever arrested by Nuhu Ribadu’s EFCC for money laundering?” 

“What else?”

“When did you stop getting paid as a civil servant in Bayelsa State?”

“Mmhuu?”

“When you said some of your friends were already selling your properties when they thought you would die in Germany, were these friends your fronts?

Fronts you use to hide investments?”

She kept her eyes on me as she got up from her chair and walked towards me.

 “Yes?”

“What kind of permanent secretary are you? Ceremonial or is your name really in the books as a civil servant in Bayelsa state?”

“Any other question?” She asked. At this point she stood in front of me, breathing down on my tie. I could feel the heat of the air coming out of her nostrils.

“That’s all the questions I have for now?” I said.

“You don’t want to know the color of my shimmy?” She asked. “No? No?” 

Then she pounced at me, grabbed the collar of my shirt and held me at a tight hold. “What else do you want to know? My weight? Do you want to see the scar of my surgeries before you become my useless spokesman?”

Her hands were particularly hard. I squeezed two fingers between my neck and my shirt to get a little relief. She slammed her knees on my thigh. I nearly lost my balance.

“What else do you want to know, Anu ofia?” she asked. “What? Oh, I got it. I need to acknowledge my sins before you. Dear Priest, I’ve erred. I’ve followed the devices and desires of my heart. I’ve left undone things that I ought to have done. I’ve done the things which I ought not to have done. There is no health in me.”

She edged my chin down. My eye balls turned around inside their sockets. She struck my thigh again. My only free hand went to protect my groin.

“Eh?” she mocked. “Should I continue from your book of common prayer? Oh, I do not sincerely believe. I’ve truly repented, Sir. I’m truly penitent. I want the rest of my life to be pure and holy.”

With all the strength left in me I cried out, “I need to pee.” She jerked me forward and backward and released me.

“Isi-okpukpu, bone-head,” she said. “Next time you smoke whatever it is you smoke, don’t come near this Lady.”

I staggered to the door, opened it and saw that a small crowd of people had gathered outside. I asked the personal assistant who was closest to the door where I could find the bathroom. She pointed to one end of the reception. As I followed her hand, I saw an object fly off Madam’s door, slightly missing my head. It was my bag. It landed on the floor and busted open. The contents scattered all over the reception floor. At one end I saw photo journalists rushing in with their cameras flashing. With a hand on my groin and eyes on the contents of my bag scattered all over, I was at a loss as to where to go first. I followed the lenses of the photojournalists as they zeroed in on a sachet of condoms and rolls of what looked like marijuana on top of my NYSC certificate.

I did not have any condom in my bag, I swore. I did not have any drugs in my bag, I kept swearing and protesting. The photojournalists kept clicking away. At one point they started laughing out loud.

And I woke up.

WHOEVER TOLD US IT IS A MAN’S WORLD LIED TO ALL OF US.

WHOEVER TOLD US IT IS A MAN’S WORLD LIED TO ALL OF US.

 

 

   

 

   

 

    Julius stared at the sleeping form of his wife for a long time, wondering how life would have been without her. From head to toe, she was unimaginably beautiful. Her skin glowed in the semi-darkness, her hips curved to perfection. And if she wasn’t backing him, he would be looking at well-endowed chests and finely sculpted face. He loved her lips the most. But with all these, Julius still wished his wife dead, or better still, lost. He wanted and needed a life devoid of her. He had never known peace and happiness since he married her. And he always wondered how he managed to miss her deadly qualities and was just finding out after foolishly getting himself hitched to her. He had run from pillar to post to solve the problems which were his wife. He was still searching; looking for solutions and dying slowly each day he spent with her.  He wasn’t actually dying physically, for she would not let him, but his spirit had withered, shrivelled out. Maybe he should just reach over now and try strangling her again. The last time he tried it, he regretted it for weeks. She punished him thoroughly and he thought God would finally grant him his wish and take away his miserable life, but that didn’t happen. He lived on, to suffer more in her cruel clutches. She stirred, sighing in her sleep. Julius quickly dived back on the bed, closing his eyes tight. ‘I know you are awake,’ Venus said softly, her eyes still closed. ‘I could hear you thinking in my sleep. Thinking one of your evil thoughts.’ Julius remained silent. She must not know he was awake or he would be in for a gruel night. Venus sat up, opening her beautiful eyes and smiling down at him. She reached over and smacked his cheek. ‘Get up,’ she ordered him gently. ‘Since you are awake, we can have some fun.’  Julius was already quaking. He was hungry and tired. If she handled him again, he wouldn’t be able to go to work the next day. His fashion business was already suffering as it was. The top of the shelf boutique he opened eight years ago, that had steadily drew classy crowd for five years until he married Venus, then the success of his businesses suddenly depended on her moods. He wished to God he never opened that boutique, the reason and where he met her. Venus removed her flimsy red nightie. ‘Come, I need it. You made me horny just by using your brain too much this middle of the night.’ He remained still. She got up and straddled him. He opened his eyes and sighed. ‘Venus, I am tired and hungry.’ She widened her eyes in shock. ‘Why didn’t you eat?’ ‘There was no food in the house and I had no money,’ he whined. To himself, he sounded like a pathetic child.  She shrugged. ‘’Kay, I will get you something to eat later. You shouldn’t have returned late today. I have warned you several times to always come back early.’ ‘The last of my workers left today. I had to run the shop alone.’ She shrugged again. ‘Well, if you had been a good husband, I would have come to the boutique to help you out.’ ‘Venus, I am a good husband. I do everything you tell me. Why don’t you have mercy on me and…’ Her eyes narrowed, suddenly changing colours, from light brown to stormy black orbs. ‘What? You want me to leave you again? To divorce you?’ Julius held his breath. ‘Well, you know I will never leave you now. I like you too much. I want us to have children. Plenty children. I have always wanted them. Maybe seven girls and a boy.’ She smiled. Then screamed, ‘but you don’t want to give me children! You are deliberately impotent!’ 8 Julius covered her mouth with his palm. ‘Shhh! The neighbours. You don’t want police case again?’ She scuffed. ‘Let them go report to the police that we are disturbing their peace and they will regret it the way they did the last time.’ ‘Julius shifted a little under her weight. ‘I was the one that suffered it. The policemen let you go and threw me behind counter all night.’ ‘Well, I poisoned the neighbours four Alsatians to revenge your incarceration. They couldn’t prove it.’ ‘That was cruel. Whatever the poor dogs did to you.’ ‘They disturbed my peace by barking.’ ‘When there is an intruder.’ She hissed. ‘I don’t need mere dogs to protect me. They weren’t mine so why should they be barking for me?’ Julius shut up. He didn’t want to rile her. After those incidents with the neighbours the people had learnt to steer clear of anything going on between him and  Venus. They never intervened even if Julius was screaming down the compound in agony. Presently, he hoped she had forgotten about sex. She disappointed him. ‘Darling,’ she purred, ‘I am all wet and dripping. Can you feel it?’ she caught hold of his hand and shoved it under her, in between her legs. ‘Feel it.’ He sighed, resigning to fate. She grabbed his penis and began to work on them, massaging and tugging it. Against his wish, his thing sprang to life. She grinned happily, that was the only part of him she really liked a lot. She lifted herself up, positioned his member at the tip of her opening, eased it in smoothly and began to ride him, moaning as she did so. She was on top of him for 10 minutes flat. He remained hard while she rocked, climaxing several times in a row.  She climbed off him when she was done, his dick still stiff. She traipsed to the kitchen naked, returning a minute later with a plate of rice and salad and a bottle of chilled Star beer. He didn’t wonder where she got it from. He was used to that. She could produce whatever dish she wished anytime and could make the house empty of food too. She placed the food on a bedside stool and returned to bed. Julius jumped up immediately to eat but she held him. ‘We are not done yet. I had just few orgasms. I need more.’ Julius shook his head. ‘I am starving.’ He stubbornly carried the food and spooned in rice to his mouth and chewed it fast. His throat constricted when he tried to swallow. He tried several times to swallow the food but couldn’t. Then his chest began to burn. He looked at his wife. She was glaring at him with squally eyes. He returned the food to the table and lay back on the bed,  his manhood pointing upwards like a long metal water pump. Wordlessly, Venus climbed on top of him and began to ride him again. She climaxed thirty minutes later and that was when he could swallow his food. He ate hungrily, polishing off the plate in a flash and chasing it down with gulps of his beer, breathing like he just ran a mountain race. She brought more food to him, rubbing his back as he choked down rice. Predictably, Julius was too tired to go to the boutique the next morning. He groaned as the sun broke through  the curtains to remind him men like him were off to work. Venus slept soundly beside him. He got up to ease himself then walked to the parlour. A flask and cups were on the dining table. Toasted bread and eggs in a plate sat beside the flask. When did his wife prepare this meal? He must be too whacked to notice her doing these things. He sat down and devoured the breakfast and returned to bed. When he woke up two hours later around eleven o’clock, Venus was already up and dressed. She was applying her perfume. She looked stunning in a simple royal blue gown that hardly reached her knees. ‘Where are you going to?’ he asked her. She turned around, checking herself in the full length mirror. ‘All of us mustn’t be lazy and idle about in the house. I have a job interview to attend.’ ‘You didn’t tell me that when you were here, all night, screwing me to oblivion,’ Julius almost shouted. She stared at him, her lips curled in amusement. ‘What is eating you? I thought men love vagina. Better get up and go to work. Lazy man.’ She picked up her bag. ‘Let me not meet you here when I return.’ She swished off. Julius knew she wasn’t going to any interview. She must have one poor man in one corner she was going to torment for the rest of the day. Julius was supposed to feel jealous, but it wasn’t there. He was rather relieved that he was going to be free of Venus for a while. He got up, picked his phone and called his brother, the only member of his family still talking to him. Venus had stripped him of almost all his relatives. She never allowed any of them to visit and never spoke to them. His father died a sad man a year back. On his dying bed, he lamented the misfortune of his first son. None of the family members attended Julius’s wedding, because his wife insisted they do it abroad. And Julius  never visited home after the wedding, even when his father was gravely ill. When the old man eventually died, Venus stopped him from going home for the funeral. Julius had sworn he must attend his father’s burial. And that was when she nearly killed him. She had glared at him and said. ‘You will not leave this street.’ He had decided to travel with his own car. As he was about to drive out of his street and join the main road, another car from nowhere rammed into him, Julius ended up with a fractured leg. He was screaming, telling people helping him out of his car not to take him home but to a motor park. ‘I need to see my father’s corpse,’ he kept shouting. ‘I must attend my father’s burial!’ ‘He is delirious,’ one man told another. ‘Shock, I guess.’ ‘Take it easy mister,’ another said. ‘Your father is dead. Thank God you are alive. Let’s take him to the hospital. Somebody, call his wife.’ ‘Don’t call my wife!’ he shrieked. ‘I don’t want to see her.’ ‘Delirious  again.’ He saw Venus looking down at him. ‘He is my husband,’ she cried. ‘Take him to the house. I will call our family doctor immediately.’ Julius was carried to the house. When everybody left, she bandaged his leg by herself and injected him a painkiller. ‘I used to be a nurse,’ she had told him. She got a bone doctor in later who treated him in the house. ‘Take me to your hospital,’ Julius begged the man. Admit me there. Admit me for months.’ ‘There is no need for that,’ the doctor said and left few minutes later.  Julius was devastated. He couldn’t get across to his village or talk to his family, his phone was nowhere to be found. ‘Don’t worry, they won’t miss you much,’ Venus told him while standing over him. ‘They always believed you were a bad son since you married me.’ ‘Please, I need to see my father before they bury him,’ Julius pleaded with her. ‘Don’t worry, you can always dig him up and enjoy the sight of his decomposing body when you are ready. You belong with me. I want you too much to let you stay away from me even for a minute.’ So, with him in bed, his leg in a cast and alleviated, Venus used him to her satisfaction thrice a day. He was able to filch her phone and get across to his brother few days later. Emmanuel was the only one that still listened to him. ‘You need to find a way to get away from that woman,’ he advised Julius. ‘That woman is pure evil.’

   

 

 

     Now, as he ate breakfast, Julius ran through his mind how he met Venus and why he had married her in the first place.  He had played the field thoroughly, looking for the right woman to make his wife while he screwed his way through myriad of babes. Julius had always been suspicious of Abuja girls. They were grabby; always looking for what to get out of a man: either money or marriage. He believed they were never selfless or in love. He had dated a lot and never found that pure feeling a woman should possess for a man she loves.  Though he was getting older by the day; galloping towards forty, he still didn’t find the woman he truly wanted. His family had called family meetings on his account, urging him to find a wife, any wife. He was the first son and ought to show good examples to his younger ones. They introduced him to several women, daughters or sisters of their friends. He didn’t like them. He didn’t know them well. He should be able to date a woman for a while to know if she was what he wanted. The last thing he would do was to get bound to a materialistic bitch. He wanted a calm woman, not loud and dumb, but pretty and young too. Though he was a year away from forty, he wouldn’t marry a woman above thirty. He also needed her to be good in bed and respectful. Women nowadays are something else. Gone were the days when women knew what virtue was. Now, they drink, they club, they rob. He wanted a woman he could be proud of. So, he patiently waited. Venus came to his boutique, located at Governor Street within the middle class town of Khutse in Abuja municipal Area Council, one morning to buy a dress. She was stunning. He chose to attend to her himself despite his two sales girls that were free. He had six of them. ‘May I help you?’ he asked her sweetly. She smiled demurely, hardly meeting his eyes, and he was captured. She seemed shy, a rare quality among girls of her age. He believed her to be around twenty three then. Julius now believed that he was mistaken. Venus could be a thousand years old. He never knew her real age. Sometimes, after their marriage, she would appear young some days and then older another time. She lied about her age all the time. She would say twenty five now and tomorrow, thirty five. So, that day, he attended to her while she looked at a yellow dress. ‘It would look nice on you,’ he told her. She sighed. ‘It is too short. I don’t wear short dresses.’ He was further enamoured by her show of virtue. She had great legs from what he saw under the modest grey skirt suite she wore. ‘You have fine legs. Don’t hide them.’ She smiled, casting a brief look at him. ‘I don’t need to show them around.’ ‘Okay,’ he agreed. ‘Choose another dress, there are hundreds to select from.’ He took his time to show her around and help her make a choice. She selected a pretty gown that crossed her knees. He asked her not to pay. ‘It is my gift to you if you would come and say hello anytime you are passing by.’ Her eyes opened wide with surprise. ‘I possibly cannot accept any gift from you. I don’t know you.’ Her reply amazed Julius, an Abuja babe refusing a gift? ‘You can pay for the next one you will buy.’ She still paid for the clothes and left. He followed her outside and trailed her with his eyes to know which way  she took. She entered a salon across the street to make her hair. Later in the day, he went to the salon and asked the owner about her. ‘Oh, she told us she just moved in with her aunty in the house right behind this salon,’ the salon owner revealed him. That evening, he paid a visit to the house and met a middle-aged woman who resembled Venus a little. ‘Ma,’ I am looking for a girl. She is fair in complexion and tall, with golden hair,’ he told the woman, after greeting her. ‘Venus?’ she asked, her brows lifted in wonder. The name surprised Julius. Who could name a child Venus? ‘Yes ma,’ he replied. The woman stared at him. ‘How did you know her?’ He smiled. ‘She came to buy clothes from my boutique yesterday.’  The woman sighed. ‘I don’t know where she is. Take my advice and stay away from her.’ She turned and went back into her house, shutting the door behind her. Julius was baffled. As he was leaving the compound, Venus was entering it. She seemed surprised to see him there. ‘What are you doing here?’ He grinned at her, she looked more beautiful today. ‘I came to see you.’ ‘Did you see my aunt?’ She appeared disturbed. He shrugged. ‘Yes, she said I should stay away from you.’ Her face clouded. ‘She hates me. I don’t know why.’ His heart melted for her and he determined to be around to support her against the aunt who hated her for no good reason. Who could hate a nice girl such as this? ‘Come and see me today and we will talk about it. I am ready to be your friend and help in any way I could.’ She smiled at him. ‘Thanks for the offer. I need to go inside now.’ She came to see him later that night, Julius was thrilled. He took her to a Mr Biggs and treated her to a sumptuous dinner. There she told him about herself, or as it seemed then. ‘My parents are dead and I came to live with my aunt. She has never married, so hates it when men talk to me. She will never allow me see you. I wish my parents hadn’t died, I wouldn’t have to be serving a woman who doesn’t see anything good in whatever I do.’ ‘Then I won’t let her know I like you or want to be with you. If you like, I can give you a room in my flat.’ She shook her head quickly. ‘I can’t live with a man.’ He touched her hand to reassure her. ‘No, it is an empty room I rarely use. You can have it until you get a job and start paying me. I like you a lot. You are a good  girl and an orphan for that matter. It would make me happy if I am of assistance.’ She gave him a small nod. ‘I will think about it.’ They finished eating and while in the car, before leaving, he counted five thousand naira and handed them to her. ‘Have this to take care of any little need. You don’t have to worry about anything.’ Few days later she came to see him in his boutique, carrying a travelling bag. ‘My aunt kicked me out. I have no place to go.’ He quickly took her to his house, along Alfred Oni Street, not far from the boutique and settled her in the room he had promised her. He thought his luck had finally shined. Having her in his house meant a lot to him, which also held the promise of sweeter things to come. Venus first cleaned the house from top to bottom that evening. She completely clutched his heart in her delicate hand by appearing hardworking and selfless.  Julius made up his mind to marry her. That was the only way he could bridge the distance still existing between them. She was accommodating yet aloof towards any romantic overtures from him. He hardly slept at night from wondering what she would be like naked and giving her body to him. Having her living just few meters from him and not been able to touch her was excruciating to his reproductive system. He needed to have her. Marriage or rape was the only instrument to accomplishing such feat. He chose the nuptial route. He took her out one night and proposed to her. That was when her true colours began to manifest. ‘I want to wed abroad,’ she had told him flat. ‘It is either abroad or nothing.’ It stunned him. He had never envisaged her as an opportunist. ‘I can’t move my family members to witness my wedding abroad,’ he explained gently.  ‘You are marrying me and not your family members. If you love me like you claimed. We will go abroad and wed. Just me and you.’ He stared at her for a while, drinking in her alluring beauty; even as she pouted and sulked her sensuality pulsated through to him across the table. She was driving him crazy by been near him yet so far from his touch. And because he so much wanted to get in between her legs, he was prepared to do anything. She had maintained that she would only sleep with her husband, therefore under that circumstance, she was still a virgin. He wanted to bed her by all means and keep her as his wife. So, he agreed. ‘I will marry you. We shall wed in London. It is the easiest place to arrange at such quick notice.’ She gave him a smile that made his day. ‘Thank you.’ Arranging a wedding abroad cost him a bundle to do but he went through with it. His family members were  disappointed but had no choice in the matter. His mother was the most offended. She wanted to be there to witness her eldest child’s wedding and to properly welcome her first daughter in-law. Julius and Venus married in London few months later after Julius had gone through overwhelming difficulties in securing the necessary papers and licences, including the fund to finance the trips and ceremonies in a land he had no friends or family members. He hated the bland wedding and the dour environment. The horrible weather didn’t help matters at all. But Venus enjoyed it all. That night, in their hotel room, he discovered another shocker. She wasn’t a virgin. ‘I thought I was going to be your first,’ he complained, disappointment showing in his demeanour as he stared down at her. They were both naked, his penis sliding smoothly in and out of her wetness. ‘Does it matter?’ she asked him, unperturbed.  He sighed, getting off her. ‘It does when I was hoping for it.’ ‘Well, I didn’t tell you I was a virgin, did I?’ ‘But you said you would only sleep with your husband.’ ‘I can’t recall sleeping with anyone before. Maybe I lost it somehow without realising it. And please can we drop the matter?’ He shook his head angrily. ‘No, I won’t. I went through this trouble of doing whatever you wanted because I believed I had found a gem in you. That you were sincere and pure.’ She scuffed. ‘Are you for real? Pure? What in fuck’s name are you talking about?’ Her use of language jolted him as if he mistakenly touched a naked live wire. He thought he was in a bad dream. This couldn’t be Venus; the reserved innocent girl he had come to cherish. He looked at her intently, trying to decipher who she really was. To see behind the façade she had on. ‘And stop staring at me like that,’ she snapped. ‘Better come and finish what you started.’ She spread her legs. ‘Come and fuck me.’ Julius was horrified. He stood beside her, swept his hand over her naked form and spread-eagled legs. ‘What is this?’ ‘My cunt needing your prick?’ she opened her legs wider. ‘Come here, now.’ He looked away. ‘You must be insane. Something is definitely wrong with you.’ That was when he felt the pain for the first time. The ache started from his chest, gripping and squeezing it like a fist of steel. He cried out in agony. It grew worse as the time passed and he could barely speak. It spread to other parts of his body crushing him to the floor. ‘Either you climb on top of me now, or you will die here,’ Venus told him evenly. Julius managed to pick himself up and wobbled to the bed dropping on top of her, the pain ceased

 

   

   

 

   

 

    immediately like it never was. He became quite terrified. He had acquired more than he bargained for. He stared at her, numbed as she grabbed his manhood and magically brought it back to life despite his terrified state. She was stroking it, running her hand along the frigid shaft, and squeezing his balls. She looked into his face and smiled. ‘You’ve been dying to get inside me since you set your eyes on me at your boutique. I know that. Now you have the chance and you are shrinking back, pun intended.’ Julius’s breath became heavy. He was getting aroused despite himself. He didn’t want to have sex with her any longer until he knew what he was dealing with. ‘Who are you?’ he croaked. ‘I thought you knew me.’ She grinned. ‘I am Venus.’ ‘What are you?’ ‘Venus.’ She turned him over, straddling him, his erection disappearing inside her. She threw back her head and moaned, and began to rock wildly. He groaned, deeply afraid. He couldn’t feel what she was doing. His mind wasn’t in it as he imagined one thousand things she could be. Maybe a witch. No ordinary person could cause such pain he just experienced. He must think of how to get away from her. She suddenly screamed with release and collapsed on him making deep gurgling sounds in her throat like she just swallowed something big. Then began to purr sensually, her eyes closed. She stayed still for few minutes then got hold of his dick again, slipping into her mouth and sucked it sloppily. He was surprised to see it sprang to life again. It seemed he no longer had control over his person. She had sex him all night until he couldn’t move out of exhaustion. In the morning, she ordered room service and fed him while he lay in bed staring at her. Julius felt as if he no longer dwelled in this world. For all it was worth he could be living in the underworld with a witch queen. He had always heard bizarre stories about strange women who inhabit human bodies and preying on unsuspecting men. He regarded the stories as bogus and never thought he would ever encounter one. For two weeks they were in London he suffered as her sex slave, doing whatever she wanted him to do. He practically lived indoors in the nude. When they finally returned to Nigeria, the nightmare became worse. None of his people could come to visit them or him going to see them. She forcefully isolated him from everyone he knew.  ‘I don’t want anyone coming to this house. Not your relatives or your friends,’ she stated. Julius, at this time, had a phone to his ear, speaking to his younger sister who wanted to spend her holidays, from the college where she studied Engineering, with him. ‘It was my sister. She would only spend two weeks with us,’ he pleaded with his wife. ‘She is a good girl.’ He also wanted her to see with her own eyes what he was passing through and might convince his family to come to his aid. ‘I don’t want her here,’ Venus was emphatic. She flounced into the bedroom leaving him there. Julius shook his head, there was no way he was going to continue like this. He followed her to the inner room. She was lying in bed staring at the wall. He sat beside her, took her hand in his. He planned to appeal to any iota humanness buried inside her somewhere. ‘Please, Venus, have mercy on me. I have never offended you. I only loved you and helped you. Why should you treat me like this?’ She looked at him, her continence softening. ‘If you do the things I tell you, I won’t be angry with you all the time.’ Her mellow behaviour encouraged him to move closer to her. ‘I am not man enough for you. I am not strong. You need a strong man to satisfy you. I can’t. Please, release me. Let me go.’ She withdrew her hand from him as if he suddenly turned leprous. ‘You said what?’ her eyes had changed from its usual golden brown to tempest black. ‘You want to leave me?’ Julius’s heart quaked. ‘No! I just want you to release me on your own. Let me go. Find a better man.’ She jumped to her feet. ‘You ungrateful bastard, you want to dump me after sleeping with me. Lie on the bed right now!’ ‘Please,’ he begged. 35 She wasn’t listening to him. ‘I said lie on the bed. Or you want me to deal with you another way?’ He quickly scurried up the bed. She reached for his shirt and tore it off his body, removed his trousers and boxers. He lay there naked and foolish. He thought she was about to shag him, but was wrong. She went to the wardrobe and returned with chiffon scarves. ‘Lie on your stomach,’ she ordered him. He complied, she went ahead to bind his hands and legs to the bed. He craned his neck, bending it to see what she was doing. She had a pink belt in her hand, it had metal spiky studs. Julius shuddered. He let out a yowl when the first lash landed on his bottom. He was crying like a baby as she flogged him mercilessly. ‘This will teach you to think twice before talking rubbish. This will keep you in line,’ she fumed as she thrashed him. She dealt him more than twenty blows before stopping to untie him. She then knelt down on the floor, lifted her  gown up to her chest, she wasn’t wearing anything underneath. She jutted her buttocks backwards. ‘Come and fuck me now,’ she commanded. Julius had no choice. It was like his penis responded solely to her command as it quickly sprang to life and he had no choice but to kneel behind her, his buttocks throbbing painfully. He held his manhood and used the tip to locate her slit. He slipped in and began to pump, his backside on fire. She moaned loudly making weird noises. When he emptied himself inside her she got up pointed at his injured behind. ‘Go and wash and apply Vaseline on them.’ He felt his bloodied buttocks gingerly with his hand, they were crisscrossed with welts. He cursed her in his mind. This was the first time anyone had ever beaten him like this. Even his parents never flogged him. And since then, she dutifully meted out floggings to him once every month. ‘This is to keep you in line,’ she told him once she finished the punishment and having him empty himself inside her afterwards. The only person still in talking terms with him was his younger brother, Emmanuel. They often spoke on phone whenever Julius could manage it. His other family members had washed their hands off him since he alienated them during his wedding. His brother was the one that suggested he seek spiritual help. Emmanuel gave him the number of a spiritualist, Brother Akpan, who apportioned him three days fasting, and prayers in his prayer house every evening. Julius complied and drank only water every evening for three days, sneaking out in the evenings to pray at Brother Akpan’s place. If Venus had an inkling of what he was up to, she didn’t show any sign but she got worse during that period. She now starved him and tormented him every night. Until he married Venus, Julius never knew that sex could kill a man. Before he met Venus, he had always been the aggressor in sexual matters. His women strove to catch up with him. He had always feared he might marry a good girl who would not know how to satisfy him in bed. Now, Venus was using it to punish him. He complained to the spiritualist about the worsening situation, he declared another fasting, this time he made it seven days. Julius complied. He fasted and prayed fervently. After this particular fasting, Venus disappeared for days. Julius was overjoyed. He gave thanksgivings and blessed the prayer warrior with gifts and money. He was free indeed.  Julius immediately travelled down to Port Harcourt to see his family. They were happy to have him home after he had explained that he was no longer married to Venus. His mother was last to hug him, after his brother and two sisters who were around. ‘Welcome my son.’ She searched his face curiously. ‘You emaciated. She wasn’t feeding you?’ Julius nodded. ‘She hardly cooked. She was a bad wife. I made a terrible mistake marrying her.’ ‘Hm!’ his mother scuffed. ‘Any woman whose intent is to separate her husband from his family is a very bad woman. You should have married Elsa. She was good for you, but you wanted beauty above integrity.’ Julius shook his head. ‘Mom, I didn’t marry Venus because of beauty. I thought she was a good girl.’ ‘Elsa would have been a wonderful wife to you and a good daughter-in-law to me,’ the old woman added regrettably. Julius remembered Elsa quite well; the tall, dark and beautiful Elsa. He had gone out with her while in the university. They separated after their Youth Service and reconnected years later. By then she was in her thirties and working in a bank. His family knew her well and his mother hoped they would tie the knot. But Julius didn’t appreciate the fact that she was a banker. Would she manage her career and family life efficiently? He believed most women bankers were horrible wives because of their long hours at work. He preferred less career-driven women. Besides, she was in her thirties, a very precarious age for a woman hoping to start a family. The remainder of her ovulation periods might be inadequate to give him the children he wanted. So, he systematically broke up with Elsa. Then he met Abigail soon after. That one  was a disaster. She was simply chaotic; not leaving things where she took them. One day, she left a wet towel on his bed. He called it quit with her immediately after that. He used to be a perfectionist, quite finicky about the women he dated. Now, he wouldn’t mind a forty-year- old, career-mad, ordinary woman who would treat him well and not flog the man out of him every month, someone like Elsa. ‘How is Elsa?’ he asked his mother. It was his sister, Mabel, who answered. ‘She is still around, got a promotion the other day. Now a branch manager.’ He sighed, not sure how to broach the topic of seeing her. Mabel solved the problem for him. ‘I will be seeing Julia, her younger sister this evening. You might drop me off there with dad’s car.’ Julius nodded gratefully. He was forty, the faster he grabbed the best he could get now the better for him. He knew Elsa well. She worshipped the ground he

 

    immediately like it never was. He became quite terrified. He had acquired more than he bargained for. He stared at her, numbed as she grabbed his manhood and magically brought it back to life despite his terrified state. She was stroking it, running her hand along the frigid shaft, and squeezing his balls. She looked into his face and smiled. ‘You’ve been dying to get inside me since you set your eyes on me at your boutique. I know that. Now you have the chance and you are shrinking back, pun intended.’ Julius’s breath became heavy. He was getting aroused despite himself. He didn’t want to have sex with her any longer until he knew what he was dealing with. ‘Who are you?’ he croaked. ‘I thought you knew me.’ She grinned. ‘I am Venus.’ ‘What are you?’ ‘Venus.’ She turned him over, straddling him, his erection disappearing inside her. She threw back her head and moaned, and began to rock wildly.  He groaned, deeply afraid. He couldn’t feel what she was doing. His mind wasn’t in it as he imagined one thousand things she could be. Maybe a witch. No ordinary person could cause such pain he just experienced. He must think of how to get away from her. She suddenly screamed with release and collapsed on him making deep gurgling sounds in her throat like she just swallowed something big. Then began to purr sensually, her eyes closed. She stayed still for few minutes then got hold of his dick again, slipping into her mouth and sucked it sloppily. He was surprised to see it sprang to life again. It seemed he no longer had control over his person. She had sex him all night until he couldn’t move out of exhaustion. In the morning, she ordered room service and fed him while he lay in bed staring at her. Julius felt as if he no longer dwelled in this world. For all it was worth he could be living in the underworld with a witch queen. He had always heard bizarre stories about strange women who inhabit human bodies and preying on unsuspecting men. He regarded the stories as bogus and never thought he would ever encounter one. For two weeks they were in London he suffered as her sex slave, doing whatever she wanted him to do. He practically lived indoors in the nude. When they finally returned to Nigeria, the nightmare became worse. None of his people could come to visit them or him going to see them. She forcefully isolated him from everyone he knew.  ‘I don’t want anyone coming to this house. Not your relatives or your friends,’ she stated. Julius, at this time, had a phone to his ear, speaking to his younger sister who wanted to spend her holidays, from the college where she studied Engineering, with him. ‘It was my sister. She would only spend two weeks with us,’ he pleaded with his wife. ‘She is a good girl.’ He also wanted her to see with her own eyes what he was passing through and might convince his family to come to his aid. ‘I don’t want her here,’ Venus was emphatic. She flounced into the bedroom leaving him there. Julius shook his head; there was no way he was going to continue like this. He followed her to the inner room. She was lying in bed staring at the wall. He sat beside her, took her hand in his. He planned to appeal to any iota humanness buried inside her somewhere. ‘Please, Venus, have mercy on me. I have never offended you. I only loved you and helped you. Why should you treat me like this?’ She looked at him, her continence softening. ‘If you do the things I tell you, I won’t be angry with you all the time.’ Her mellow behaviour encouraged him to move closer to her. ‘I am not man enough for you. I am not strong. You need a strong man to satisfy you. I can’t. Please, release me. Let me go.’ She withdrew her hand from him as if he suddenly turned leprous. ‘You said what?’ her eyes had changed from its usual golden brown to tempest black. ‘You want to leave me?’ Julius’s heart quaked. ‘No! I just want you to release me on your own. Let me go. Find a better man.’ She jumped to her feet. ‘You ungrateful bastard, you want to dump me after sleeping with me. Lie on the bed right now!’ ‘Please,’ he begged.  She wasn’t listening to him. ‘I said lie on the bed. Or you want me to deal with you another way?’ He quickly scurried up the bed. She reached for his shirt and tore it off his body, removed his trousers and boxers. He lay there naked and foolish. He thought she was about to shag him, but was wrong. She went to the wardrobe and returned with chiffon scarves. ‘Lie on your stomach,’ she ordered him. He complied, she went ahead to bind his hands and legs to the bed. He craned his neck, bending it to see what she was doing. She had a pink belt in her hand, it had metal spiky studs. Julius shuddered. He let out a yowl when the first lash landed on his bottom. He was crying like a baby as she flogged him mercilessly. ‘This will teach you to think twice before talking rubbish. This will keep you in line,’ she fumed as she thrashed him. She dealt him more than twenty blows before stopping to untie him. She then knelt down on the floor, lifted her gown up to her chest, she wasn’t wearing anything underneath. She jutted her buttocks backwards. ‘Come and fuck me now,’ she commanded. Julius had no choice. It was like his penis responded solely to her command as it quickly sprang to life and he had no choice but to kneel behind her, his buttocks throbbing painfully. He held his manhood and used the tip to locate
her slit. He slipped in and began to pump, his backside on fire. She moaned loudly making weird noises. When he emptied himself inside her she got up pointed at his injured behind. ‘Go and wash and apply Vaseline on them.’ He felt his bloodied buttocks gingerly with his hand, they were crisscrossed with welts. He cursed her in his mind. This was the first time anyone had ever beaten him like this. Even his parents never flogged him. And since then, she dutifully meted out floggings to him once every month. ‘This is to keep you in line,’ she told him once she finished the punishment and having him empty himself inside her afterwards. The only person still in talking terms with him was his younger brother, Emmanuel. They often spoke on phone whenever Julius could manage it. His other family members had washed their hands off him since he alienated them during his wedding. His brother was the one that suggested he seek spiritual help. Emmanuel gave him the number of a spiritualist, Brother Akpan, who apportioned him three days fasting, and prayers in his prayer house every evening. Julius complied and drank only water every evening for three days, sneaking out in the evenings to pray at Brother Akpan’s place. If Venus had an inkling of what he was up to, she didn’t show any sign but she got worse during that period. She now starved him and tormented him every night. Until he married Venus, Julius never knew that sex could kill a man.  Before he met Venus, he had always been the aggressor in sexual matters. His women strove to catch up with him. He had always feared he might marry a good girl who would not know how to satisfy him in bed. Now, Venus was using it to punish him. He complained to the spiritualist about the worsening situation, he declared another fasting, this time he made it seven days. Julius complied. He fasted and prayed fervently. After this particular fasting, Venus disappeared for days. Julius was overjoyed. He gave thanksgivings and blessed the prayer warrior with gifts and money. He was free indeed.  Julius immediately travelled down to Port Harcourt to see his family. They were happy to have him home after he had explained that he was no longer married to Venus. His mother was last to hug him, after his brother and two sisters who were around. ‘Welcome my son.’ She searched his face curiously. ‘You emaciated. She wasn’t feeding you?’ Julius nodded. ‘She hardly cooked. She was a bad wife. I made a terrible mistake marrying her.’ ‘Hm!’ his mother scuffed. ‘Any woman whose intent is to separate her husband from his family is a very bad woman. You should have married Elsa. She was good for you, but you wanted beauty above integrity.’ Julius shook his head. ‘Mom, I didn’t marry Venus because of beauty. I thought she was a good girl.’  ‘Elsa would have been a wonderful wife to you and a good daughter-in-law to me,’ the old woman added regrettably. Julius remembered Elsa quite well; the tall, dark and beautiful Elsa. He had gone out with her while in the university. They separated after their Youth Service and reconnected years later. By then she was in her thirties and working in a bank. His family knew her well and his mother hoped they would tie the knot. But Julius didn’t appreciate the fact that she was a banker. Would she manage her career and family life efficiently? He believed most women bankers were horrible wives because of their long hours at work. He preferred less career-driven women. Besides, she was in her thirties, a very precarious age for a woman hoping to start a family. The remainder of her ovulation periods might be inadequate to give him the children he wanted. So, he systematically broke up with Elsa. Then he met Abigail soon after. That one  was a disaster. She was simply chaotic; not leaving things where she took them. One day, she left a wet towel on his bed. He called it quit with her immediately after that. He used to be a perfectionist, quite finicky about the women he dated. Now, he wouldn’t mind a forty-year- old, career-mad, ordinary woman who would treat him well and not flog the man out of him every month, someone like Elsa. ‘How is Elsa?’ he asked his mother. It was his sister, Mabel, who answered. ‘She is still around, got a promotion the other day. Now a branch manager.’ He sighed, not sure how to broach the topic of seeing her. Mabel solved the problem for him. ‘I will be seeing Julia, her younger sister this evening. You might drop me off there with dad’s car.’ Julius nodded gratefully. He was forty, the faster he grabbed the best he could get now the better for him. He knew Elsa well. She worshipped the ground he

   

 

    walked on, at least few years back. He didn’t know about now. He wasn’t kind to her towards the end of their relationship. He took advantage of the knowledge that she hoped to marry him to deal her a bad hand, threw her devotion on the ground and trampled it into the dust. He prayed she found it in her heart to forgive him. He borrowed his father’s old Volvo from his mother and drove Mabel to Elsa’s house. Mabel went inside leaving him in the car for two minutes. He waited with trepidation, wondering how she was going to convince Elsa to invite him in. It surprised him to see Elsa come out of the house and approached the car. He came down and greeted her. ‘Mabel told me you were waiting for me to invite you inside,’ she said with a laugh. He laughed too. ‘I was afraid you might throw hot water on me if I barged in on you.’  ‘I am not as wicked as you are. Come inside.’ She led the way into the house and offered him a seat. ‘Sit.’ He sat down. Her home was comfortable, with comfy settees and lovely pictures on the wall. She didn’t sit with him. ‘What would you take?’ she asked him where she stood. ‘You,’ he replied in all seriousness. She almost laughed but noticed he wasn’t joking. ‘I don’t understand you. I thought you were married.’ He got up and held her hands. ‘I was married. But I am free now after realizing what I missed in you. I was stupid. Please don’t revenge.’ She pulled away from him, but didn’t leave. ‘If I said I do not love you anymore, I would be a barefaced liar. I still love you despite how cruelly you treated me. But it would be hard flying into your arms just because you suddenly realized your mistake and dropped by to see me.’  ‘I wasn’t expecting you to fly into my arms.’ He re-abridged the gap between them, holding her arms again. ‘I just need to remedy my error. To let you know I am sorry and willing to give our relationship another chance if you’ll have me. Please.’ He went down on one knee. His action flustered Elsa and she looked around embarrassed. ‘Get up, someone might see you.’ He remained kneeling. ‘I am not hiding my feelings for you. Everyone knew I walked out on you, so they should also witness my humility. I intend to remain like this until you accept me back.’ She pulled him up. ‘Okay, just quit embarrassing me.’ He stood up, grinning. ‘Does it mean we can get married soon?’ She considered him for a while. ‘I am thirty-eight now. I think I will give you a year, to see how really repentant you are.’  ‘Please, don’t be harsh. Reduce the sentence to at least six months.’ She laughed. ‘I will think about it.’ He hugged her. She accepted, moving into the circling of his arms. It evidenced her true feelings for him. She still wanted her prodigal man. His heart expanded with pride and joy. Things were going to be alright again after all. Julius ended up spending two weeks with his family and seeing Elsa every day. Their relationship passionately rekindled. He got back to Abuja a happy man until he entered his house. Venus, like an incurable disease, was there waiting for him. He almost collapsed from terror and confusion. He stumbled to a chair and slumped into it, breathing hard through his mouth as his eyes rolled into his head. He wanted to die.  She didn’t speak to him. She moved around the house doing her own thing silently. Julius couldn’t speak to her either after he had recovered from his initial shock. He wondered if the potency of the fasting and prayers he endured had worn off. That night, he slept in the sitting room after placing a frantic call to Brother Akpan. ‘Don’t worry,’ Brother Akpan had assured him. ‘Just stay away from her anyway you can.’ He woke up in the middle of the night and tiptoed out of the house. There was a small, inconspicuous motel nearby. He booked a room there and spent the remainder of the night trying to figure out what his next step would be. Brother Akpan came to his motel room the next morning. ‘You must fight this out,’ he ordered Julius. ‘Running away from your own home won’t solve the problem. You need to banish her completely out of your life.’ 47 Julius trembled in his shoes. ‘I am so scared.’ Julius produced a bitter smile. ‘That is why she would always win, because you are afraid of her. God is with you, go and destroy her powers completely. Come, let’s go.’ Together they left for Julius’s house; Brother Akpan marching along the road likes a knight charging into battle while Julius slunk along. Venus was calmly filing her long finger nails in the living room when they arrived. She flicked them a withering look and continued her chores unruffled.  Brother Akpan began to howl prayers immediately they cleared the front door. The whole house vibrated from the strength of his high coarse voice. ‘Be gone! Be gone!’ he screamed intermittently after a stream of spiritual words. Julius kept his eyes trained on Venus the whole time, watching out for any dangerous move. When she did react, it caught him unawares. Like a torpedo, she lunged for Brother Akpan, her hands to his throat. The spiritualist was startled. Clearly, he had expected a spiritual manifestation from the demon–spawn, but she came at him physically. They crashed to the floor with Venus on top. Brother Akpan was a small man. Julius remained rooted where he stood, watching as they grappled. Venus got to attach her teeth to Brother Akpan’s neck. The man letting out a blood-curdling scream propelled Julius to action. He held Venus’s wrists in a vice grip and pulled her from the poor man. Venus reluctantly let go, spitting blood from her mouth, her black tempestuous eyes on her opponent. Brother Akpan staggered to his feet in a flash, his hand pressed to his neck where blood coursed from, staining his shirt and many drops spattering the tiled floor. ‘She bit me! She bit me!’ he cried, horrified. ‘Oh God!’ Julius cried, scared shitless. ‘To the hospital quick!’ Brother Akpan, weeping like a baby, dashed out of the house. Julius tore after him, there was no way he would be left in the house with her. He couldn’t catch up with the diminutive spiritualist. Instead, he bent his steps towards his boutique. The place had been under lock and key for weeks now. He had his bunch of keys with him. He opened the shop entered it and snapped on the lights. Tears sprang to his eyes as he saw what he was losing. This place had been one of the best businesses in this area before he ran into Venus. He walked around the place, looking at rows upon rows of fineries worth millions of naira, remembering the good old days. Tears rolled down his eyes. While wiping his face, his phone rang. It was his brother, Emmanuel. ‘Where are you?’ Julius cleared his throat. ‘In my shop.’ Two introspective seconds passed before Emmanuel spoke again. ‘Are you all right?’ Julius sighed. ‘Venus has returned. It is even worse. I am running away from home. Hiding in my closed shop.’ ‘I’m in town. We shall see tomorrow to talk about it. I understand you are serious with Elsa.’ ‘Yes, but I’m afraid.’ They talked for some time and bade goodbye. Julius spirit lifted due to the prospect of his seeing his younger brother the next day. His eyes wandered around the shop again and through the window to the salon across the street. He remembered how he followed Venus there to ask about her. Then he recalled Venus’s aunt who lived behind the salon. He and Venus had cut all ties with her after she moved in with him. It occurred to him that the woman must know things about her niece that had made her hate her. He left his shop immediately, locking it behind him. He crossed the road and sprinted to Venus’s aunt’s place. He knocked several time, fearing that the woman was no longer living there. A weak voice from inside invited him in. The woman was lying on a mat in the middle of her sitting room. A young boy sat with her on the floor making tea from tins of beverages and a plastic cup of hot water, all in a tray. The woman remained where she was when Julius entered, her countenance indicated that she remembered him. ‘Good morning ma,’ he greeted her.  ‘How are you?’ she replied. ‘I hope you are not here to ask me about Venus again.’ Julius went down on his knees, bending towards her. ‘Please ma, I am in trouble. Venus wants to kill me. Who is she? What is she? What must I do to get her away from me?’ The woman looked at him for a long time then shook her head. ‘I don’t know. I don’t even know her well.’ ‘But she is your niece,’ Julius cried. She nodded. ‘Yes, she was my niece. I warned you to stay away from her like I warned several other men before you.’ ‘But she lied to me. She said you hated her and you maltreated her.’ The woman let out a short bitter laugh. ‘How could I have maltreated a girl who didn’t live with me?’ Julius was chilled to his marrows. ‘Didn’t live with you? But I saw her in this compound the day I came here.’  She looked at him. ‘Well, I could expect anything from her. Look, young man. Several years ago, I was called to the village to pick up my niece whose parents had died in an accident. Her father was my brother whom I had not seen for many years. After he graduated he ceased all sorts of communication with our family. We had given up on him long ago. So, when his young daughter suddenly appeared in my village, supposedly directed there by her mother’s relations, I was asked to come and pick her, because I was widowed and had only one child, a son. ‘She coughed, wiping her lips before continuing. ‘I made arrangement to bring her here with me. But on our way to Abuja, she disappeared at the motor park. I reported the matter to the police and everyone searched for her for months. We all assumed that she didn’t want to go with me. ‘Several months later, I was shocked when a man came looking for her at my house. Men kept coming to ask me about her, yet I have never set my eyes on  Venus after the motor park incident. I had reported this matter to my people at home and they said I should just ignore her, to let her live her own life. Two men had returned after their first visit, like you are doing now, to complain about her. But I can’t help you people, I don’t know Venus. Yes, she is supposed to be my niece but I can’t tell you anything about her. Anyone going after her does that at his own risk. ‘I have changed houses three times, but she managed to find me and use me and my address to trap her men. Now, I am too old to be running and ill too. I used to be scared of her, but I have fortified myself with prayers. And I expect you to do the same. Nobody knows who or what Venus is.’ Julius couldn’t get up long after the woman had finished her narration. His whole body felt numb and he was petrified. The woman was now been fed by her son when Julius finally got the presence of mind to get up and leave. He slept in his shop that night. He met Emmanuel in a bar near Governor Street the next day around nine p.m. ‘Man, you look awful,’ Emmanuel noted. Julius shook his head sadly. ‘If you went through what I have been experiencing you would be dead by now.’ He went ahead to relate what had happened since he returned from Port. ‘I wish God would just kill this woman for me. Or better still make her disappear.’ Emmanuel sipped his beer thoughtfully. ‘A woman was kidnapped in Port the other day, I wished it was your Venus.’ Julius bared his teeth in anger, ‘I wish one of those kidnappers would just kidnap Venus. I don’t mind paying them to do so.’ Emmanuel looked at his brother as he considered the possibility. ‘I think there is someone I know who run with bad boys. I can call him to arrange with some of his guys to do it, you have to pay him of course.’ Julius grabbed at the idea. ‘Please call him. I will pay him anything. Venus had no known relative. No one will look for her. He should make her disappear. I will pay him to do that.’ Emmanuel nodded slowly, thoughtfully. ‘I will call him. I will see what could be arranged.’ Venus was surprised to see Julius resurface after days of absence. She knew where he was but decided to let  him be. She had seen him sneaking out of his shop a day before, but ignored him. She was already tiring of him. He no longer thrilled her. She had thought he was virile enough to keep her well-fed for years. But the pathetic man was easily tired when having sex and whined too much. His sperm load was too weak and thin, not enough to sustain her the way she wanted. She was already on the lookout for a younger and stronger male she could feed from, or her youth and beauty would fade like a fresh rose plucked and left in the sun. She also needed a man who could absorb her wickedness. Julius was on the brink of death, she better move on to a stronger man that could last her for a while. She hated shopping for a new man. It was tiring and time consuming. Next year was the annual conference of the Vanssas, all the three thousand men and women of her race would gather to celebrate their new year, which came every ten human years. She needed a strong man she could present to the queen as her mate. If she presented the best, she had the chance to attain Golet position in their realm. Being a Golet would afford her the power to take on any human form she wanted at any time and also adding a hundred years to her life. She would also have the chance to become queen one day. She had presented two men so far. The third one mattered a lot. She thought Julius would be the one, but he was a disappointment so far. Any man she would take to the reunion must be tasted by her and found capable. He would remain her slave for two Vanssas New Year’s (twenty years) then released if he survived. Most men hardly survived, or remain damaged for the rest of their human lives, hardly useful to any human female, but would be very wealthy, a reward for feeding her with his life source. Venus learned as she mature in the realm that Vanssas were descended from a race of sea women that had existed in secret for thousands of years. They had so blended in with the humans for ages that the Vanssas true origin and forms originally known to people of the world were now regarded as myth. They still thrived as a race, feeding off men, and absorbing female offspring, produced through their unions with these men, into their fold as Vanssas. They have been called many names: Mermaids, spirits, mammy water, Agbara, even witches. All these names linked to their behavioural patterns or manifestations. But no one really knew what they were and no one truly cared to find out. With the gift of passing times, civilisations and education, people were forgetting and the Vanssas were well concealed among the ordinary creatures of the universe and thriving.

  

 

    

 

     In another part of Abuja, in one of the new bungalows within Puje Estates, Liam was having a hard time keeping his current girlfriend inside his one-bedroom bachelor pad. She hated him now after what he had done to her. She pushed further into the corner of the bed. Like a cornered animal she pressed her back into the crook where two walls met, her eyes shooting daggers at him yet scared that he might grab her again. Liam pulled on his trousers and buckled his bet. ‘You can go now,’ he told her. She eyed him angrily, also relieved that it was all over. She had begged him to let her go two hours ago, but he had refused, pinning her to the bed and did whatever he wanted to do. Despite she spent the night with him, he wasn’t satisfied. She complained of being sore and tired, but he still went ahead to have her by force. She  cried all through as he pounded away to satisfy his enormous urge. ‘I said you could go,’ he repeated. ‘Or you want us to continue?’ he leered at her. She jumped up and dashed for her panties, found it useless for he had torn it to shreds while ripping it off her. She abandoned it and wore her gown instead, keeping a safe distance from him. She slipped her feet into her beaded slippers the wrong way but didn’t care, she needed to get out. The spot between her legs was swollen, sore and throbbing like hell, she knew she wouldn’t recover for the next two weeks. The last time she spent the night with him, she had nursed a mauled private for a couple of weeks, temporarily breaking off her relationship with Liam. Then he had begged her and given her nice gifts. She decided to give him a second chance and now this. Despite he was handsome and generous he was an animal. No normal girl could handle him.  ‘Am I seeing you again?’ he asked her already knowing the truth. She ignored him, unlocking the door and left without a word. Liam sighed, hating himself; he should have been gentler with her. She was the fifth girlfriend he was going to lose in three months. He didn’t have much time to dwell in self-pity for his phone rang and his friends’ name was on the incoming call. He picked the call and they scheduled to meet to discuss the job at hand. Malachi already had a bottle of beer before him when Liam arrived at their usual watering hole, a classy little bar that just opened down the road. He ordered for a bottle of brandy. The waiter responded almost immediately. These guys were regular customers as well as big spenders despite no one knew what they did for a living in particular.  Liam downed a glass before Malachi spoke. ‘My contact says this woman is very dear to her husband and the man can pay anything to get her back.’ Liam nodded. The last kidnap job they did produced big pay that afforded him to buy a jeep and a down payment for a house for his parents. With another job like that he would be home and dry. But Liam had always been a criminal. He had his hands into many unsavoury businesses in and around town. The problem remained that he hardly made enough to retire on. Kidnap jobs, in spite of how dangerous it was, provided big cash. ‘When is it going down?’ ‘Tomorrow morning,’ Malachi replied. ‘We will use the usual hideout. Pick me up early.’ He got up, gulped down his beer and left.’ Liam
remained for a while then left for home, he needed sleep because the next day was going to be busy.  The next morning, he got the car already acquired for the operation; a nondescript brown Toyota salon and drove to Malachi’s place. He picked him up and they headed out. They parked before a house within Khutse conurbation for a while, waiting. Malachi was now behind the wheel, Liam would do the actual snatching. One of their guys hung around the marked area, ready to point out their quarry and disappear. There was no photograph to work with. It didn’t take time for the woman to come out of a building not far from where the boys were. Their guy gave the signal, identifying her and calmly walked away as if on a morning stroll. Liam whistled. ‘She is beautiful. Her husband will definitely pay heaven and earth to get her back. We are rich.’  ‘Is she human?’ Malachi asked, his mouth hanging open. ‘I’ve never seen anything like that before.’ Liam grinned. ‘Start the car it’s time to find out if she is human.’ He jumped out of the car and grabbed the woman as she passed by their car, pressing an unloaded handgun to her head as he threw her on the backseat. He jumped in and slammed the door shut. All these happened within two seconds. Malachi sped away. The woman didn’t make a sound through this. Liam had expected a loud shriek and struggles from the victim, then he would threaten her and maybe gag her. But this woman just sat there in his arms as if they were a couple taking a morning ride. It surprised him at first but decided that shock must have numbed her. Shock could do that. All through the breakneck drive to their hideout, more than four kilometres from her home, there was not a single pip from their victim. They stashed her inside the master bedroom within a two bedroom flat they had  hired from an absentee landlord for that purpose. Liam had gagged and tied her up on the bed and left with Malachi. Outside the house, inside the car, Malachi spoke, his voice loaded with worry. ‘I have a bad feeling about this.’ Liam lifted an eyebrow, a snicker escaping from him. ‘Since when have you turned prophet? We are not going to be caught. Relax.’ Malachi shook his head slowly. ‘I am not referring to that. It is the woman. She gives me the creeps.’ Liam laughed this time. ‘Do you have aversion for gorgeous women?’ ‘I don’t think we should continue with this. Let’s take her back and leave.’ Liam turned sharply, glaring at his friend. ‘What are you talking about? I’m not leaving this money behind. I need it. If you don’t want it you can go. I can finish this alone. This is an easy job.’  Malachi was silent for a while. ‘I just don’t feel okay with it.’ He sighed. ‘Let us get it over with quickly. Let’s call the husband for our dough.’ They drove off. Julius couldn’t believe it was over, just like that. A whole day and he had no Venus to worry about. He relaxed in his home for the first time since he married Venus. He had bought a bottle of wine and finished it while celebrating his new found freedom. With luck the kidnappers would kill her if he didn’t come up with the ransom money. His brother had arranged everything  and was now far away in Port to settle the guys that had contacted the Abuja kidnappers. He had gone to the market and bought groceries for a well-deserved meal. He made soup and used the wooden mortar that had not been used since Venus moved in newly and rustled up pounded yam. He enjoyed a hearty meal and went to bed. Around 11p.m. he got a call from the kidnappers. They demanded for five million naira. ‘I can’t afford it,’ he told them flatly. ‘You want your wife to die?’ the man shouted at him from the other end. Julius nearly scuffed audibly. ‘No, I just don’t have that kind of money now.’ ‘It is five million or she is dead.’ The line went off. Julius grinned and went back to sleep. The next morning, they called him again. ‘Your wife is going to starve to death if you don’t pay up,’ the husky voice told him.  ‘I don’t have that kind of money,’ Julius reiterated. ‘We can take four million.’ He sighed. ‘Where do you expect me to get it from?’ he was actually grinning as he said this. The man let out a deep frustrated breath. ‘I can see you don’t want to see her anymore. I won’t call you again.’ He dropped the call. Julius went to his shop to begin the revival of his business.  Liam glared at the phone in his hand and looked at Malachi. ‘This idiot is crazy. He is playing with us.’ ‘What do we do now?’ Malachi asked, worried. ‘We wait. He is going to call by tomorrow. ‘Do we feed her?’  ‘Not with my money.’ He switched off the phone and got down from the car and went home. His partner drove off in a cloud of dust. In the evening, Liam went to the hideout to look at Venus. She really was beautiful. How did men actually find women like that? With all his roving he had never met a woman like this one not to talk of catching her. He entered the room where she was and met her still trussed up the way they left her and also seemed calm. Not disheveled or hysterical like a typical captive should be. She was rather stunning, her sexuality radiated towards him like a homing device searching for a target. He stared at her for a while. She returned his gaze steadily. He moved over and untied her ankles and wrists and removed the gag from her mouth. If her husband decided to waste their time, he might as well have some fun with her. That would compensate him for his troubles.  She sat up. He wasn’t worried she would run, he was tall and muscular. His sight alone was enough to quell her. ‘Are you hungry?’ he asked her. ‘No,’ she replied. It startled him. ‘Thirsty?’ ‘Not really.’ She had been tied up since yesterday, she should be out of her mind with hunger or thirst. Maybe she was pretending or trying to prove tough. He would show her toughness. ‘Undress,’ he told her, expecting her to resist or beg him, then he would have fun scaring the hell out of her. Venus got up and removed every stitch she had on. Liam was flummoxed. He stared at her for a while. She was perfect. Everything on her was flawless; her breasts were the right sizes for him, like medium healthy pawpaw fruits, her hips well-rounded and her legs shapely and long. Her face was a dream. He reached over and palmed her breasts with both hands. She inhaled sharply. Then it occurred to him that this must be a sex-starved housewife. He chuckled. He moved in and crushed her mouth in a hungry kiss, she returned it eagerly. Liam lifted her and laid her back on the bed. He quickly undressed, by now he had full erection, his huge veiny cock standing out like a police baton. She gazed at it and licked her lips. He dipped one knee on the bed, held her waist and turned her over on her stomach. He adjusted himself and entered her from behind, she screamed; a piercing animalistic screech. It jolted him momentarily but happy that finally a woman was appreciating his asset. He dove in more, sheathing her to the hilt. Holding her waist in a vice grip, he pulled her up a bit and began to pound into her soft rounded flesh. For the next twenty minutes, he was hammering her non-stop, changing positions several times. He finally  released, falling on her, by now she was lying face up, his muscular chest crushing the two tantalizingly soft globes on her chest. He groaned, breathing hard. He’d never had it so good before. Liam was surprised when Venus reached for him again, running her hand all over his rock-hard body. It appeared this little wife wanted more. He obliged her. His monstrous penis was already responding to her ministration. He rounded her breasts in his large palms and squeezed, almost too hard. She liked it. He squeezed again and began to suckle them in turns, swallowing her nipples whole and letting them out with a slurp. She moaned. After a while of playing with them, she shifted, opened her legs wide and said. ‘Eat me.’ He grinned, and then slid down to put his mouth in between her legs; catching her long clitoris in between his teeth and bit it. She screeched again. He sucked at them using his tongue to peruse every inch of her labia.  He turned her over again and entered her. This time, he stayed longer. She took everything he gave her and asked for more. Liam has finally met his match. Hours later, she was sleeping beside him. He stayed awake watching her, trying to wrap his brain around what just happened. He had never met a woman like this before who could tire him out. He was finished. She had sapped every iota of energy in him. It was like she was made especially for him. All his life, he had been looking for a real woman who could satisfy him. Someone he could go all out with and not end up in disaster and now he had found her in a most unusual way. Meanwhile, she didn’t belong to him. Would he give her back? He asked himself. The husband might pay the ransom and demand for his wife back. Could he afford to comply? She stirred, and looked at him with dewy eyes. ‘What are you thinking?’  He didn’t reply. He could feel his heart beating fiercely. ‘You don’t want me to return to my husband?’ she asked softly. Liam looked at her, she had amazed him again. Could she read minds? Or read his mind. Maybe she was already attuned to him completely. ‘Yes.’ She held his hand. ‘Then don’t give me back. My husband is boring and abusive. I don’t want to go back to him either.’ He considered her for a while. ‘I kidnapped you. It is a crime.’ She smiled impishly. ‘I am the only one who can decide whether I was kidnapped or not. I will stay with you.’ ‘I have a partner.’ ‘Forget him.’ He nodded. ‘Come here. You’ve got work to do.’ She was already spreading her legs again. Liam casted her a curious look. ‘Are you not tired?’  ‘I can never be tired of you.’ He laughed and went to her. He was still on her when Malachi arrived. He kept knocking at the door and calling Liam’s name softly. Liam ignored him. He opened the door couple of hours later and let Malachi in. ‘I have been outside for hours,’ his partner complained. ‘Sorry,’ Liam replied sheepishly, sweat dripping from every pore in his body. Malachi gave him a suspicious look. ‘What were you doing with that woman?’ Liam walked ahead of him towards the kitchen area of the house. ‘Nothing.’ He took a cup from an empty fridge and walked to the sink to fill it with water. Malachi stood beside him. ‘What is going on? Why are you not calling the husband anymore?’  ‘He is not interested in getting her back.’ Liam downed the cup of water and filled it again. ‘Then what are we going to do about it?’ ‘I am keeping her.’ he set a stubborn glare on his friend, expecting protests. ‘Are you crazy?’ Malachi yelled at him expectedly. ‘She is somebody’s wife. We kidnapped her. The police are probably searching for her now.’ ‘Don’t worry your head over that. I called her husband and he is not playing ball. What do you expect me to do?’ ‘Release her.’ ‘She is free to go whenever she wants.’ Malachi opened his mouth in bewilderment. ‘She is here on her own volition now?’ ‘I offered her a chance to leave and she refused it. It is like she doesn’t fancy her husband anymore.’ Malachi waved his hands. ‘I still don’t like this. I don’t feel good about her. It is like we were sent into a trap. Something is not right somewhere.’ ‘Just go and forget this job. Just go. I will let you know if any other job comes up.’ Malachi nodded. ‘I am washing my hands off this. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. I have always known that women would cause your end in this life. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.’ He turned and strode out of the house. Liam finished his water and returned to Venus in the bedroom. She was still naked. She smiled when he entered. ‘Come and lie down. He did what she said. She climbed on top of him, touching him to life again and slipping his rod into her. She began to rock, riding him perfectly. Liam groaned with undiluted pleasure.  Few weeks into his relationship with Venus, Liam was afraid that he was no match for her, she was insatiable. He had thrown at her all he had and it was like she was a bottomless hole. The more he gave her the more she wanted. He was no longer the aggressor; she had made him pliant and subservient. She had bent him to what she wanted and used him like a sex machine. They had quickly married in a court two weeks after they met because she insisted and that was the only way he could keep her. He hardly went out. He lived indoors to feed her with his sperm and strength. As long as he was screwing her, she was happy. Any day he refused her, she became something else, lashing out at him with terrible rage that scared him. She had hurt him many times: A bite here and there and her long nails slashing at his skin. He couldn’t touch her, or beat her to submission. Her golden eyes turning black usually quelled him. They were now living in his house. He no longer ran with his guys or did jobs or saw his relations. All his time was spent on sustaining Venus’s ravenous sexual desire. She managed to provide food for them both as long as he was working on her. Sometimes, she starved him if he didn’t meet up with her expectation. Once, he had gone two days without food and he wasn’t fasting. This night he had been invited to a party by Malachi, the only friend still remaining. Though, Malachi was terrified of Venus and stayed far from them, he believed Venus was their punishment from Satan. ‘I have to be at the party. My friend’s fiancée is celebrating her birthday,’ Liam told Venus. Venus looked up from filing her nails. ‘So? Is it relevant?’

 

 

    This is the only party I might attend for the past months. I am becoming a recluse.’ She glowered at him. ‘Are you tired of me?’ ‘No, I just need to mix with my friends more.’ ‘You have me; it should be enough for you.’ He got up from where he was sitting with her. ‘I’m leaving, would you like to come?’ ‘No. I don’t want you to go.’ ‘Sorry.’ He began to walk away from her. Hell would freeze over any day a woman would begin to make Liam her slave. That was when he felt the pain. It started from his chest and radiated to every part of his body. It was so powerful and body-wracking that it brought him to his knees within few seconds of the ordeal. Tears sprang to his eyes as he struggled not to cry like a baby. ‘Take a step out of this house and you are dead,’ Venus snarled.  Liam’s breath quickened as he groaned in terrible pain. He struggled to his feet staggering back to slump on a chair. Venus took a sweeping look at him and smacked. ‘That’s better.’ The pain left him immediately. Liam was short of words. Cold terror gripped his heart as it downed on him what he was dealing with. No ordinary woman would be that good for him as he had thought. He had strayed into something bigger and deadlier than he was. He kept his eyes on her silently, all fight drained out of his system. He felt ashamed for being subdued by a woman. He had always been a strong man; dominated his women and the men around him, but this was beyond his sphere. Venus calmly finished filing her nails and got up, making her way to the bedroom. ‘Come along now.’ He didn’t move.  She stopped and frowned at him. The pain began again. He clutched his chest and jumped to his feet. It left him again. He followed her like a sheep to slaughter. In the bedroom, he asked her. ‘Who are you?’ She began to undress. ‘Isn’t it too late to ask?’ ‘What are you doing to me?’ ‘Making you my own. I own you now.’ He shook his head wildly. ‘You can’t own me. I am a man of my own.’ She flicked her head towards the door. ‘Then step out of this room, and let’s see how independent you are.’ ‘What do you want now?’ She smiled. ‘What you do best. I want to have sex all the time.’ She finished undressing and climbed into the bed, moving to the centre and spreading her legs. Liam couldn’t believe what he had gotten himself into. Who would have believed that he would end up a sex slave? He discarded his clothes and joined her in bed. As he took her, he wasn’t feeling a thing. He did it mechanically, his mind numb. She moaned under him, writhing like a beautiful snake, not caring if he was enjoying it or not. She was getting fed and that was all that mattered to her. Months into his relationship with her, Liam was ready to kill himself. Venus knew of his intention and kept a keen eye on him. After a sex marathon one morning Liam voiced his frustration all over again. ‘I can’t continue like this.’  She covered her nakedness with a blanket, the morning was chilly. ‘What do you intend to do? You should be enjoying what I am giving to you. You said many times that I was a godsend to you. We are a match. Your former girls left you because they couldn’t handle you. So, why the grief?’ ‘I am not meant to be anybody’s slave. I barely leave this house except to run errands for you. I’m barely human to you.’ She eyed him. ‘You caused it. If you had obeyed me without question, you would be better off.’ ‘I want you to release me. If you don’t I will take my own life. I’d rather die than live like this. What is the use of my life if I am a nobody? I had dreams. Things I wished to do.’ She rolled over on her stomach, her hands linked and supporting her chin. ‘What else do you want? Money? I can give you money.’ She got up, walked to the wardrobe and pulled out Liam’s cheque book. ‘I will give  you money today. I hope it would keep you quiet. Besides, we are attending a conference very soon.’ Liam glared at her. ‘What conference? Besides, I don’t want your money. I don’t want to be your kept boy or slave.’ She waved him off. ‘Whatever.’ She left for the bathroom. Liam ran his hands through his thick hair in torment. He didn’t leave the house even as Venus went out. Before evening that day, he received his bank’s alert. His eyes popped out when he saw the figures. He was a hundred and fifty million naira richer. He would have been happy but knowing that he wasn’t going to spend the money with him trapped under Venus. His heart filled with overwhelming bitterness. Liam didn’t protest when Venus asked him to accompany her to her conference. It would be the first time of going somewhere in weeks. He had been trapped in his own house servicing her. She had tightened her hold on him after giving him that money. He couldn’t even go to the bank or spend the money. He hated his life more each passing minute. That day, she made sure she dressed him up in the most expensive apparel he had ever seen: A blue silk suit and black leather shoes. She was wearing a white sequined long dress, looking every inch like a queen of the coast. They waited until it was 10 p.m. then a knock at the door shocked him. There had not been visitors for a very long time. He wondered who that person was. Venus opened the door to a man that could have been Liam’s brother going by their resemblance in built and handsomeness. He was dressed in blue silk suit too. They followed the man outside to where a car was parked. They got in to the back while the stranger drove the car. Liam slipped into unconsciousness immediately he sat in the car. He woke up later as the car pulled in before a sprawling mansion painted in white. He had no time to look at it properly for Venus hurried him inside. By now, his heart was thudding with dread. He concluded that he was about to die. He hoped it won’t be painful. Inside the building, in a large hall, were hundreds of beautiful women dressed in white. They all had a guy in blue silk suit with them. The women were chatting happily while the men waited silently, like Liam. Venus slipped her hand into his and led him to the front of the hall where three thrones were set on a raised dais.  Drinks were handed out, Liam downed his at a go. Few minutes later, the most beautiful woman he had ever imagined existed on earth walked to the stage and sat on the middle throne. She had a sceptre in her hand and a tiara on her head. The hall went quiet. ‘Welcome my children,’ she greeted in a strong melodious voice. ‘I welcome you to our Vanssas new year.’ They all clapped. She continued when the ovation died down. ‘Today, we are choosing a new Golet. Can we inspect the mates of our five princesses contenders.’ Venus held Liam and led him to the podium, two other women brought their own men. A vote was cast and one of the women left with her man, crying. She had lost the contest. Venus and another woman remained. Another vote was cast and it was a tie. ‘I can see that Venus and Ashar have equal marks and supporters,’ the queen said with a smile. ‘This makes  for an exciting contest. According to our tradition, we have to wait for six months for another vote. The princess who could feed from her man the most and still keep him alive will win the position. Need I remind you that we are taking measurement of what you can drain from him? Your radiance and beauty depends on how often you nourish yourself from him. So, don’t let your rival out feed you.’ ‘We are going to win,’ Venus whispered to Liam. ‘You are stronger than that thing Asher brought along.’ Liam looked at the poor man who had the bad luck of meeting a Vanssas like him. The guy was slightly smaller than Liam. He looked at Asher and saw how malevolently she glared at Venus. The woman clearly hated Venus. They left the podium to re-join other revellers and the party began proper. Venus was busy receiving congratulatory greetings from her supporters who already saw her as the winner. Liam wandered away from her side. If he was to be a slave forever, then he should enjoy himself whichever little way he could. He collected a drink from a male waiter and stood near a pillar to drink. ‘Eager to get away from Venus I see,’ a silky voice said to him. He turned and faced Asher. ‘I know she is treating you badly. She is legendary for destroying her mates after half a New Year. And if she wins, she will drain you and throw you out half-dead or dead and move on to a fresh mate. I can help you get away from her if you like.’ ‘What must I do to break her hold over me?’ he asked her. He marvelled at his luck. This woman really loathed Venus. She would do anything to defeat her in the contest. He looked over to where Venus stood; she was already looking frantically for him. ‘Look at what you must do…’ Asher quickly revealed a secret to him and vanished.  Venus got to him immediately and snatched hold of his hand. She was infuriated. ‘Why did you leave my side? It is dangerous to wander around alone by this time. Jealous rivals could poison you or destroy you. You shouldn’t have left my side.’ She berated him further and led him away. She never let him out of her sight for the rest of the night until morning. That night, as he lay with Venus in their assigned room, he could hear groans and screams echoing through the mansion; the noise of women in throes of passion and that of men screaming or groaning in pain. He wondered what sort of torture those poor souls were undergoing in the hands of their captors. Venus climbed down from him and went to the table beside the door to fetch a small silver bowl and a thin stainless knife in the other hand. She came to him. He made to get up but a look from her stopped him. She lifted up his left arm and deftly pierced the underside, between the elbow and wrist, drilling the knife in. Liam  groaned in pain as blood spurted out of the wound. She positioned the bowl to catch the red fluid. She bled him for a while, Liam heard himself screaming in pain like the other poor fools. When she stopped, she carried the bowl of blood, looked at him triumphantly. ‘Now, you are completely mine.’ She drank from it and left the room with the rest. Liam felt weakened and drowsy. Through his hazy mind he could hear the women chanting from somewhere inside the mansion. He drifted into sleep and woke up the next morning more weakened in his bodily state. He regained a little of his strength later in the day after a sumptuous meal, but Venus drained half of the regained stamina by forcing him through a long drawn-out sex session. That evening, the same man who brought them to the conference took them back to Puje and Liam slept throughout the ride once again. He guessed it was their way of keeping their evil kingdom secret. 94 Two days after they returned from the trip, Liam decided it was time to break free of his tormentor. He had worked hard to regain part of his strength and health by pleasing her enough to allow him eat well. He hoped his plan would work or else she could kill him if he failed. ‘I need to go out today,’ he told her, a way of riling her and part of the plan. If he failed, he would lie to her that he did what he did out of anger. ‘She glared at him. ‘Why? This is morning and I haven’t fed yet.’ ‘I fed you throughout the night. I need to take in fresh air.’ She reached over and like a flash slashed her sharp nails across his chest. Four gashes appeared on his chest and blood spilled out. Liam cried out in shock rather than pain. Venus was an expert at inflicting pain.  ‘Don’t you ever talk to me like that again,’ she snarled, her black eyes flashing. ‘I want to feed now.’ Liam bared his teeth in anger. ‘You want to feed? I will feed you well.’ He caught hold of her, turned and pushed her down on her stomach. She grinned on the bed, it was her favourite pose. He knelt behind her, pulled her bottom up. She moaned in anticipation. He ignored the blood gushing from his wounds. He parted the cheeks of her perfect bottoms with his fingers and with his turgid dick in his fist ready to penetrate, he reached over the table beside the bed, collected a small container of Vaseline and coated his manhood with it. Venus waited, wriggling her bottom. Liam rubbed his oiled manhood in between her luscious behind dragging it to her anus opening and plunged in without warning. Venus screeched and lurched forward, throwing herself on the bed to get away from him. He held her in a vice grip sliding in all the way into her anal passage.  Venus thrashed about madly. ‘Remove it. Get it off me,’ she cried in terror. Liam held her in place and continued ramming into her back channel. Venus flayed around like a wounded wild animal, shrieking madly. Liam kept pumping until he sprayed in his seed down her narrow chute. Venus passed out. He withdrew, his cock coated in blood and some faeces then padded to the toilet to wash. When he returned to the bedroom, Venus was still not moving. He checked her to be sure she was still breathing. Her pulse was steady. He looked for a bottle of sprit and cleaned the wounds on his chest. He dressed up in fresh clothes and went out. He walked along the street, freely feeling the breeze blow at his face for the first time in ages. He laughed as he almost ran to Malachi’s house. His friend welcomed him with open arms. Malachi, after witnessing what befell Liam, had since turned a new leaf and now engaged in a legitimate business of running a dry cleaning service. ‘Long time my friend,’ he greeted Liam. ‘I am finally free,’ Liam laughed maniacally. ‘Where is your wife?’ Malachi asked, a tad apprehensive. ‘I don’t want that devil beating down my door.’ ‘She is at home, as meek as a mouse.’ ‘Then you would be coming for my wedding?’ ‘Absolutely. Hey! I didn’t know you were getting married.’ Malachi shrugged. ‘I couldn’t summon courage to bring you an invitation’ Liam clapped a hand on his friend’s shoulder. ‘Don’t worry, things will be different now.’ Malachi brought out a bottle of wine and they shared. ‘What are you going to do now about a job? You can see I am a new person now. I run clean business and I want it to stay that way.’ 98 Liam downed his drink, smacked his lips. ‘I am going legit too. I want to run a farm; Very big farm, where I can get lost and be busy for the rest of my life. My parents were farmers. I know a lot about agriculture.’ The two friends talked into the night until Liam decided to go back home and check on Venus, if she was still alive. When he returned, Venus was awake and weeping. She looked up at him with bloodshot eyes. ‘You’ve killed me.’ He ignored her. ‘Why did you do it?’ ‘It was a mistake. I thought you’d enjoy it,’ he lied. Asher’s advice had worked for him. The Vanssas women must not be sodomised. It was against their cardinal rules. They could have all the sex they wanted through the vagina but the other passage must not be touched. The act neutralises their transcendent powers 99 and render them completely human, thereby banishing them from the realm. So, Venus was no longer a Vanssas as at today. Liam grinned happily. She cried all through while he dozed soundly beside her. The next morning, she seemed subdued and smaller. He asked her a question. ‘How did you become a Vanssas?’ She answered him. ‘My mom was one. My father met and married her in Lagos. Then they disappeared, leaving me behind. First my mother disappeared abandoning me with my father. My father couldn’t continue to stay in that area. He packed his bags and disappeared too. People believed they had died in an accident or killed somehow. But I knew my mom had been resettled elsewhere by the Supreme Council. She had attained a position to be able to be somewhere managing a colony for the Vanssas. My father decided to start a new life far away where nothing would remind him of my mom. Besides, he had nothing to live for. He was finished. He only had money but lacked the will or health of mind and body to enjoy it. When I was old enough, the Vanssas picked me up and brought me to the kingdom and initiated me properly. I stayed with them since then. I reconnected with my father’s people just to gain a hunting ground. I used my aunt to snare men who thought I was an innocent living with her aunt. That was how I caught the man that you kidnapped me from. He arranged the kidnap as a way to get rid of me. Now, I am no more one of them, because of you.’ She continued wailing. Liam touched her. Her sadness was bothering him somehow. ‘I’m sorry. Go back to sleep, you need to rest. Humans need rest.’ She obeyed him. He watched her for a while. He still liked her. If she remained this docile, he could stay with her for a long time to come. He contemplated what he had done to her the day before. He had actually screwed the demon out of her.  He wasn’t afraid to chuckle loudly to himself. He could handle Venus now. And she was what he wanted, sans her evil side. He would take her away to the farm he was planning to own, away from prying eyes. There, they could make a better life for each other. He wasn’t perfect, in fact he was rotten to the core judging by his past criminal activities. If Venus could bear to live with him, he would gladly have her. He wasn’t looking for a saint because he wasn’t one. He just needed a woman to make him happy; a woman that would appreciate all of him. He sighed and got up to prepare for the day. Time would tell. He had just fought the worse battle of his life and only time would reveal if he had won. He prepared food and she ate, thanking him afterwards. She seemed a little scared of him. He left her alone the rest of the day to visit Malachi. When he returned in the night, she was in the bedroom, cutting her nails. ‘Did you eat?’ he asked her.  She nodded. ‘Do you want some?’ He shook his head. ‘I had something with Malachi. Are you alright?’ She nodded. ‘Then let’s sleep. He turned in, she joined him later. He slept before she did. The next day, in the morning, he was hugely aroused right from his sleep. Having a sexy woman stretched out beside him was enough aphrodisiac. He reached out and touched Venus where she lay snoring softly. She didn’t respond. He turned her to face him and kissed her. He caressed her for a while, trying to rouse her too. He slid his fingers down between her legs, stroking her there. He palmed and rubbed gently. He parted her legs and worked some more. She sighed, adjusting her posture to accommodate him more. His kiss deepened.  When he entered her, she moaned softly. She was tighter than he had known her, and she fitted him better. ‘Take it easy,’ she purred. He nodded, slowing down to move gently. She was so silky and sweet. He shifted her blouse up to reveal her exciting breasts and took a nipple in his mouth and sucked it. She whimpered softly, yielding. He stopped moving and concentrated on both breasts. She responded lovingly, wrapping her legs around his waist and her arms clasped around his neck. ‘That’s my girl,’ he sighed. They made love until mid-morning and Liam was glad that they both relished each other. Venus got up later, washed and went to the kitchen to prepare breakfast for her husband, a proof that things had changed.  

THE END.

 

LIFE NUGGET

The 3 Vital Steps Of The Apprenticeship Phase In Mastering Anything
By Robert Greene

This post is an excerpt from Mastery by Robert Greene (Viking). Mastery is the latest book from the bestselling author of The 48 Laws of Power, The Art of Seduction, The 33 Strategies of War, and The 50th Law.

In the stories of the greatest Masters, past and present, we can inevitably detect a phase in their lives in which all of their future powers were in development, like the chrysalis of a butterfly. This part of their lives—a largely self-directed apprenticeship that lasts some five to ten years—receives little attention because it does not contain stories of great achievement or discovery. Often in their Apprenticeship Phase, these types are not yet much different from anyone else. Under the surface, however, their minds are transforming in ways we cannot see but contain all of the seeds of their future success.

Much of how such Masters navigate this phase comes from an intuitive grasp of what is most important and essential for their development, but in studying what they did right we can learn some invaluable lessons for ourselves. In fact, a close examination of their lives reveals a pattern that transcends their various fields, indicating a kind of Ideal Apprenticeship for mastery. And to grasp this pattern, to follow it in our own ways, we must understand something about the very idea and necessity for passing through an apprenticeship.

In childhood we are inculcated in culture through a long period of dependency—far longer than any other animal. During this period we learn language, writing, math, and reasoning skills, along with a few others. Much of this happens under the watchful and loving guidance of parents and teachers. As we get older, greater emphasis is placed on book learning—absorbing as much information as possible about various subjects. Such knowledge of history, science, or literature is abstract, and the process of learning largely involves passive absorption. At the end of this process (usually somewhere between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five) we are then thrust into the cold, harsh work world to fend for ourselves.

When we emerge from the youthful state of dependency, we are not really ready to handle the transition to an entirely independent phase. We carry with us the habit of learning from books or teachers, which is largely unsuited for the practical, self-directed phase of life that comes next. We tend to be somewhat socially naïve and unprepared for the political games people play. Still uncertain as to our identity, we think that what matters in the work world is gaining attention and making friends. And these misconceptions and naïveté are brutally exposed in the light of the real world.

If we adjust over time, we might eventually find our way; but if we make too many mistakes, we create endless problems for ourselves. We spend too much time entangled in emotional issues, and we never quite have enough detachment to reflect and learn from our experiences. The apprenticeship, by its very nature, must be conducted by each individual in his or her own way. To follow precisely the lead of others or advice from a book is self-defeating. This is the phase in life in which we finally declare our independence and establish who we are. But for this second education in our lives, so critical to our future success, there are some powerful and essential lessons that we all can benefit from, that can guide us away from common mistakes and save us valuable time.

These lessons transcend all fields and historical periods because they are connected to something essential about human psychology and how the brain itself functions. They can be distilled into one overarching principle for the Apprenticeship Phase, and a process that loosely follows three steps.

The principle is simple and must be engraved deeply in your mind: the goal of an apprenticeship is not money, a good position, a title, or a diploma, but rather the transformation of your mind and character—the first transformation on the way to mastery. You enter a career as an outsider. You are naïve and full of misconceptions about this new world. Your head is full of dreams and fantasies about the future. Your knowledge of the world is subjective, based on emotions, insecurities, and limited experience. Slowly, you will ground yourself in reality, in the objective world represented by the knowledge and skills that make people successful in it. You will learn how to work with others and handle criticism. In the process you will transform yourself from someone who is impatient and scattered into someone who is disciplined and focused, with a mind that can handle complexity. In the end, you will master yourself and all of your weaknesses.

This has a simple consequence: you must choose places of work and positions that offer the greatest possibilities for learning. Practical knowledge is the ultimate commodity, and is what will pay you dividends for decades to come—far more than the paltry increase in pay you might receive at some seemingly lucrative position that offers fewer learning opportunities. This means that you move toward challenges that will toughen and improve you, where you will get the most objective feedback on your performance and progress. You do not choose apprenticeships that seem easy and comfortable.

In this sense you must see yourself as following in the footsteps of Charles Darwin. You are finally on your own, on a voyage in which you will craft your own future. It is the time of youth and adventure—of exploring the world with an open mind and spirit. In fact, whenever you must learn a new skill or alter your career path later in life, you reconnect with that youthful, adventurous part of yourself. Darwin could have played it safe, collecting what was necessary, and spending more time on board studying instead of actively exploring. In that case, he would not have become an illustrious scientist, but just another collector. He constantly looked for challenges, pushing himself past his comfort zone. He used danger and difficulties as a way to measure his progress. You must adopt such a spirit and see your apprenticeship as a kind of journey in which you will transform yourself, rather than as a drab indoctrination into the work world.

The Apprenticeship Phase — The Three Steps or Modes

With the principle outlined above guiding you in your choices, you must think of three essential steps in your apprenticeship, each one overlapping the other. These steps are: Deep Observation (The Passive Mode), Skills Acquisition (The Practice Mode), and Experimentation (The Active Mode). Keep in mind that an apprenticeship can come in many different forms. It can happen at one place over several years, or it can consist of several different positions in different places, a kind of compound apprenticeship involving many different skills. It can include a mix of graduate school and practical experience. In all of these cases, it will help you to think in terms of these steps, although you may need to give added weight to a particular one depending on the nature of your field.

Step One: Deep Observation—The Passive Mode

Becoming A Master – Robert GreeneWhen you enter a career or new environment, you move into a world with its own rules, procedures, and social dynamic. For decades or even centuries, people have compiled knowledge of how to get things done in a particular field, each generation improving on the past. In addition, every workplace has its own conventions, rules of behavior, and work standards. There are also all kinds of power relationships that exist between individuals. All of this represents a reality that transcends your individual needs and desires. And so your task upon entering this world is to observe and absorb its reality as deeply as possible.

The greatest mistake you can make in the initial months of your apprenticeship is to imagine that you have to get attention, impress people, and prove yourself. These thoughts will dominate your mind and close it off from the reality around you. Any positive attention you receive is deceptive; it is not based on your skills or anything real, and it will turn against you. Instead, you will want to acknowledge the reality and submit to it, muting your colors and keeping in the background as much as possible, remaining passive and giving yourself the space to observe. You will also want to drop any preconceptions you might have about this world you are entering. If you impress people in these first months, it should be because of the seriousness of your desire to learn, not because you are trying to rise to the top before you are ready.

You will be observing two essential realities in this new world. First, you will observe the rules and procedures that govern success in this environment—in other words, “this is how we do things here.” Some of these rules will be communicated to you directly—generally the ones that are superficial and largely a matter of common sense. You must pay attention to these and observe them, but what is of more interest are the rules that are unstated and are part of the underlying work culture. These concern style and values that are considered important. They are often a reflection of the character of the man or woman on top.

You can observe such rules by looking at those who are on their way up in the hierarchy, who have a golden touch. More tellingly, you can observe those who are more awkward, who have been chastised for particular mistakes or even been fired. Such examples serve as negative trip wires: do things this way and you will suffer.

The second reality you will observe is the power relationships that exist within the group: who has real control; through whom do all communications flow; who is on the rise and who is on the decline. These procedural and political rules may be dysfunctional or counterproductive, but your job is not to moralize about this or complain, but merely to understand them, to get a complete lay of the land. You are like an anthropologist studying an alien culture, attuned to all of its nuances and conventions. You are not there to change that culture; you will only end up being killed, or in the case of work, fired. Later, when you have attained power and mastery, you will be the one to rewrite or destroy these same rules.

Every task you are given, no matter how menial, offers opportunities to observe this world at work. No detail about the people within it is too trivial. Everything you see or hear is a sign for you to decode. Over time, you will begin to see and understand more of the reality that eluded you at first. For instance, a person whom you initially thought had great power ended up being someone with more bark than bite. Slowly, you begin to see behind the appearances. As you amass more information about the rules and power dynamics of your new environment, you can begin to analyze why they exist, and how they relate to larger trends in the field. You move from observation to analysis, honing your reasoning skills, but only after months of careful attention.

We can see how Charles Darwin followed this step quite clearly. By spending the first few months studying life on board the ship and perceiving the unwritten rules, he made his time for science much more productive. By enabling himself to fit in, he was able to avoid needless battles that would have later disrupted his scientific work, not to mention the emotional turmoil these would have presented to him. He later practiced the same technique with gauchos and other local communities he came in contact with. This allowed him to extend the regions he could explore and the specimens he could collect. On another level, he slowly transformed himself into perhaps the most astute observer of nature the world has ever known. Emptying himself of any preconceptions about life and its origins, Darwin trained himself to see things as they are. He did not theorize or generalize about what he was seeing until he had amassed enough information. Submitting to and absorbing the reality of all aspects of this voyage, he ended up piercing one of the most fundamental realities of all—the evolution of all living forms.

Understand: there are several critical reasons why you must follow this step. First, knowing your environment inside and out will help you in navigating it and avoiding costly mistakes. You are like a hunter: your knowledge of every detail of the forest and of the ecosystem as a whole will give you many more options for survival and success. Second, the ability to observe any unfamiliar environment will become a critical lifelong skill. You will develop the habit of stilling your ego and looking outward instead of inward. You will see in any encounter what most people miss because they are thinking of themselves. You will cultivate a keen eye for human psychology, and strengthen your ability to focus. Finally, you will become accustomed to observing first, basing your ideas and theories on what you have seen with your eyes, and then analyzing what you find. This will be a very important skill for the next, creative phase in life.

Step Two: Skills Acquisition—The Practice Mode

Robert Greene – The Art Of MasteryAt some point, as you progress through the initial months of observation required in an apprenticeship, you will enter a critical stage: practice toward the acquisition of skills. Every human activity, endeavor, or career path involves the mastering of skills. In some fields, it is direct and obvious, like operating a tool or machine or creating something physical. In others, it is more of a mix of the physical and mental, such as the observing and collecting of specimens for Charles Darwin. In still others, the skills are more nebulous, such as handling people or researching and organizing information. As much as possible, you want to reduce these skills to something simple and essential—the core of what you need to get good at, skills that can be practiced.

In acquiring any kind of skill, there exists a natural learning process that coincides with the functioning of our brains. This learning process leads to what we shall call tacit knowledge—a feeling for what you are doing that is hard to put into words but easy to demonstrate in action. And to understand how this learning process operates, it is useful to look at the greatest system ever invented for the training of skills and the achievement of tacit knowledge—the apprenticeship system of the Middle Ages. This system arose as a solution to a problem: As business expanded in the Middle Ages, Masters of various crafts could no longer depend on family members to work in the shop. They needed more hands. But it was not worth it for them to bring in people who would come and go—they needed stability and time to build up skills in their workers. And so they developed the apprenticeship system, in which young people from approximately the ages of twelve to seventeen would enter work in a shop, signing a contract that would commit them for the term of seven years. At the end of this term, apprentices would have to pass a master test, or produce a master work, to prove their level of skill. Once passed, they were now elevated to the rank of journeymen and could travel wherever there was work, practicing the craft.

Because few books or drawings existed at the time, apprentices would learn the trade by watching Masters and imitating them as closely as possible. They learned through endless repetition and hands-on work, with very little verbal instruction (the word “apprentice” itself comes from the Latin prehendere, meaning to grasp with the hand). Because resources such as textiles, wood, and metals were expensive and could not be wasted on practice runs, apprentices would spend most of their time working directly on materials that would be used for the final product. They had to learn how to focus deeply on their work and not make mistakes.

If one added up the time that apprentices ended up working directly on materials in those years, it would amount to more than 10,000 hours, enough to establish exceptional skill level at a craft. The power of this form of tacit knowledge is embodied in the great Gothic cathedrals of Europe—masterpieces of beauty, craftsmanship, and stability, all erected without blueprints or books. These cathedrals represented the accumulated skills of numerous craftsmen and engineers.

What this means is simple: language, oral and written, is a relatively recent invention. Well before that time, our ancestors had to learn various skills—toolmaking, hunting, and so forth. The natural model for learning, largely based on the power of mirror neurons, came from watching and imitating others, then repeating the action over and over. Our brains are suited for this form of learning. In an activity such as riding a bicycle, we all know that it is easier to watch someone and follow their lead than to listen to or read instructions. The more we do it, the easier it becomes. Even with skills that are primarily mental, such as computer programming or speaking a foreign language, it remains the case that we learn best through practice and repetition—the natural learning process. We learn a foreign language by actually speaking it as much as possible, not by reading books and absorbing theories. The more we speak and practice, the more fluent we become.

Once you take this far enough, you enter a cycle of accelerated returns in which the practice becomes easier and more interesting, leading to the ability to practice for longer hours, which increases your skill level, which in turn makes practice even more interesting. Reaching this cycle is the goal you must set for yourself, and to get there you must understand some basic principles about skills themselves.

First, it is essential that you begin with one skill that you can master, and that serves as a foundation for acquiring others. You must avoid at all cost the idea that you can manage learning several skills at a time. You need to develop your powers of concentration, and understand that trying to multi task will be the death of the process.

Second, the initial stages of learning a skill invariably involve tedium. Yet rather than avoiding this inevitable tedium, you must accept and embrace it. The pain and boredom we experience in the initial stage of learning a skill toughens our minds, much like physical exercise. Too many people believe that everything must be pleasurable in life, which makes them constantly search for distractions and short-circuits the learning process. The pain is a kind of challenge your mind presents—will you learn how to focus and move past the boredom, or like a child will you succumb to the need for immediate pleasure and distraction? Much as with physical exercise, you can even get a kind of perverse pleasure out of this pain, knowing the benefits it will bring you. In any event, you must meet any boredom head-on and not try to avoid or repress it. Throughout your life you will encounter tedious situations, and you must cultivate the ability to handle them with discipline.

In practicing a skill in the initial stages, something happens neurologically to the brain that is important for you to understand. When you start something new, a large number of neurons in the frontal cortex (the higher, more conscious command area of the brain) are recruited and become active, helping you in the learning process. The brain has to deal with a large amount of new information, and this would be stressful and overwhelming if only a limited part of the brain were used to handle it. The frontal cortex even expands in size in this initial phase, as we focus hard on the task. But once something is repeated often enough, it becomes hardwired and automatic, and the neural pathways for this skill are delegated to other parts of the brain, farther down the cortex. Those neurons in the frontal cortex that we needed in the initial stages are now freed up to help in learning something else, and the area goes back to its normal size.

In the end, an entire network of neurons is developed to remember this single task, which accounts for the fact that we can still ride a bicycle years after we first learned how to do so. If we were to take a look at the frontal cortex of those who have mastered something through repetition, it would be remarkably still and inactive as they performed the skill. All of their brain activity is occurring in areas that are lower down and require much less conscious control.

This process of hardwiring cannot occur if you are constantly distracted, moving from one task to another. In such a case, the neural pathways dedicated to this skill never get established; what you learn is too tenuous to remain rooted in the brain. It is better to dedicate two or three hours of intense focus to a skill than to spend eight hours of diffused concentration on it. You want to be as immediately present to what you are doing as possible.

Once an action becomes automatic, you now have the mental space to observe yourself as you practice. You must use this distance to take note of your weaknesses or flaws that need correction—to analyze yourself. It helps also to gain as much feedback as possible from others, to have standards against which you can measure your progress so that you are aware of how far you have to go. People who do not practice and learn new skills never gain a proper sense of proportion or self-criticism. They think they can achieve anything without effort and have little contact with reality. Trying something over and over again grounds you in reality, making you deeply aware of your inadequacies and of what you can accomplish with more work and effort.

If you take this far enough, you will naturally enter the cycle of accelerated returns: As you learn and gain skills you can begin to vary what you do, finding nuances that you can develop in the work, so that it becomes more interesting. As elements become more automatic your mind is not exhausted by the effort and you can practice harder, which in turn brings greater skill and more pleasure. You can look for challenges, new areas to conquer, keeping your interest at a high level. As the cycle accelerates, you can reach a point where your mind is totally absorbed in the practice, entering a kind of flow in which everything else is blocked out. You become one with the tool or instrument or thing you are studying. Your skill is not something that can be put into words; it is embedded in your body and nervous system—it becomes tacit knowledge. Learning any kind of skill deeply prepares you for mastery. The sensation of flow and of being a part of the instrument is a precursor to the great pleasures that mastery can bring.

In essence, when you practice and develop any skill you transform yourself in the process. You reveal to yourself new capabilities that were previously latent, that are exposed as you progress. You develop emotionally. Your sense of pleasure becomes redefined. What offers immediate pleasure comes to seem like a distraction, an empty entertainment to help pass the time. Real pleasure comes from overcoming challenges, feeling confidence in your abilities, gaining fluency in skills, and experiencing the power this brings. You develop patience. Boredom no longer signals the need for distraction, but rather the need for new challenges to conquer.

Although it might seem that the time necessary to master the requisite skills and attain a level of expertise would depend on the field and your own talent level, those who have researched the subject repeatedly come up with the number of 10,000 hours. This seems to be the amount of quality practice time that is needed for someone to reach a high level of skill and it applies to composers, chess players, writers, and athletes, among others. This number has an almost magical or mystical resonance to it. It means that so much practice time—no matter the person or the field—leads to a qualitative change in the human brain. The mind has learned to organize and structure large amounts of information. With all of this tacit knowledge, it can now become creative and playful with it. Although the number of hours might seem high, it generally adds up to seven to ten years of sustained, solid practice—roughly the period of a traditional apprenticeship. In other words, concentrated practice over time cannot fail but produce results.

Step Three: Experimentation—The Active Mode

Experimenting and mastering a new skillThis is the shortest part of the process, but a critical component nonetheless. As you gain in skill and confidence, you must make the move to a more active mode of experimentation. This could mean taking on more responsibility, initiating a project of some sort, doing work that exposes you to the criticisms of peers or even the public. The point of this is to gauge your progress and whether there are still gaps in your knowledge. You are observing yourself in action and seeing how you respond to the judgments of others. Can you take criticism and use it constructively?

With Charles Darwin, as the voyage progressed and he began to entertain the notions that would lead to his theory of evolution, he decided to expose his ideas to others. First, on the Beagle, he discussed them with the captain and patiently absorbed his vehement criticisms of the idea. This, Darwin told himself, would be more or less the reaction of the public, and he would have to prepare himself for that. He also began to write letters to various scientists and scientific societies back in England. The responses he received indicated he was on to something, but that he would need some more research. For Leonardo da Vinci, as he progressed in his studio work for Verrocchio, he began to experiment and to assert his own style. He found to his surprise that the Master was impressed with his inventiveness. For Leonardo, this indicated that he was near the end of his apprenticeship.

Most people wait too long to take this step, generally out of fear. It is always easier to learn the rules and stay within your comfort zone. Often you must force yourself to initiate such actions or experiments before you think you are ready. You are testing your character, moving past your fears, and developing a sense of detachment to your work—looking at it through the eyes of others. You are getting a taste for the next phase in which what you produce will be under constant scrutiny.

You will know when your apprenticeship is over by the feeling that you have nothing left to learn in this environment. It is time to declare your independence or move to another place to continue your apprenticeship and expand your skill base. Later in life, when you are confronted with a career change or the need to learn new skills, having gone through this process before, it will become second nature. You have learned how to learn.


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