“YOU DIDN’T HAVE the right to take my phone. What’s wrong with you?”

“What’s wrong with taking your phone? I’m your wife!”

Patrick woke up with a start. He’d been hearing loud noises and thought they were part of his dreams without knowing that they weren’t. He turned towards the noise and groaned out loud.

“Oh, no. They’re at it again.” He threw his blanket down in anger. Not again. Couldn’t one sleep for once in this house without the Sampsons going at each other’s throats?

“Honey, they’ll wake up the kids,” Gina said quietly from beside him. Patrick sighed. He checked the time on his phone. It was 11:45pm. A quarter to midnight and as usual two very inconsiderate human beings were preventing him from having a good night’s sleep. He had never wanted to meddle in the newlywed’s issues but he guessed it was time he did so. It had been two weeks of constant bickering and he couldn’t go on like this. His family was being affected. He sighed once again and pushing his feet into his slippers, got up and went out of the bedroom.

Gina grabbed his pillow and put it over her head, trying to ineffectively block out the loud voices.

 

EFE WAS STANDING in front of her gate glaring furiously at Mike. For 3 days in a row, her husband had been coming home late. Earlier this evening, her mother called to tell her she wasn’t feeling well and couldn’t find her inhaler. She’d bought a new inhaler last week so rushed to give it to her. When she was leaving, Mike was watching TV but she returned an hour later to find him gone. Luckily for her, he’d left his phone behind. She took her time to guess the pattern to unlock the phone and thankfully the third one worked. She had grabbed a bottle of sobolo whiles reading all his messages.

He was in some adult groups where they shared porn and risqué jokes. He was a willing participant. Her eyebrows had raised at that and came down together in anger when she realized he was sending nudes to two different girls. From the chats between them, anytime the girls requested for his nudes, he showed them nudes of other guys, maybe pictures he downloaded online. It wasn’t the slightest bit of consolation. Efe got furious that he would stoop so low to chat with girls like that.

When he finally came home, she didn’t even allow him to drive inside and confronted him at the gate. This was her house and she had to make him respect that.

When she confronted him, instead of Mike to explain or defend himself, he rather got angry at her temerity to go through his phone and argued with her. That’s what led Patrick to finally deciding to intervene.

“What’s wrong with the two of you?” he thundered. “Are you kids to be standing here in the dead of the night arguing without caring how your neighbors feel? We all have our individual issues; do you think we fucking care what goes on in your lives?”

Mike was shocked but more so Efe. She had lived in the estates for 5 years and had seen her neighbor driving in and out of his house but they had never exchanged anything beyond pleasantries. She knew his wife had been outside for a couple of years and returned 3 years ago with their kids. That’s when she and Patrick started dating. When they decided to get married, she felt it was logical that he move in with her since she had built her own house whiles he was renting. After their wedding was the first time Patrick had gotten down from his car to talk to her. He had congratulated her and given her a new set of crockery as a gift from him and his wife. To hear him talking loudly and so angrily was a shock.

Mike was quick to recover, “sorry Patrick if we disturbed you. I went out for a bit and just came home but my wife is refusing to allow me to enter.”

Patrick turned his gaze at her.

“Mr. Patrick, it’s late and no woman would be happy screaming on top of her voice at her husband around midnight but it’s frustrating being married to someone who doesn’t appreciate what you do for him and rather uses any chance he gets to hurt you. Ask him where he’s coming from at this time of the night.”

Patrick looked at her long enough to make her squirm. Mike looked on quietly.

“I want to ask you something Efe. Do you love your husband?”

“Of course I do.”

“Then sack him from the house. Go inside, pack his things and force him out. Don’t mind where he goes, don’t call him to ask where he slept, just let him go.”

“Patrick, how can you say that?” Mike stuttered. “Did you come to help me resolve my issue or did you come to make it worse?”

Efe was shocked. “Sack my husband because I love him? I don’t understand. I will never do that. Why would I? Just because I was angry with him coming home this late doesn’t mean I will sack him. He is the love of my life!”

“If he is the love of your life, then why isn’t he indoors with you at this minute but rather stuck at your gate? I know this house is yours. Does it mean when he does something you don’t like, he’s no more welcome into the house he now calls home?” Patrick asked quietly.

“It’s not that. It’s just that I saw some chats on his phone and the fact that he went out and came home so late really made me mad,” she defended.

“What if I was an armed robber? What if armed robbers are on their way here as we speak? How safe would we be?” He further queried.

“I wasn’t thinking about that. Mike, please drive the car in.”

Patrick watched quietly as Mike drove the car into the driveway and parked in front of the house. Mike sat in the car for a moment and alighted. He went to join the two near the gate. A now calmer Efe had closed and locked the gate.

“Do you know how long I’ve been married? I’ve been married for 15 years.”

The couple stared at him in surprise. 15 years? He looked like a 30-year-old so how could he be married for half his age?

“I know why you’re looking at me like that. I’m 41 though I don’t look it. Listen, my wife and I married when I was 26 and she was 23. She was pregnant then so I decided to man up. I doubt I really loved her in those days. I just wanted a companion and she was easy to talk to. Marriage was harder than I thought and I wanted to live. I wanted to explore so I did things I hated and still hate myself for doing but my wife never gave up on me. I would come home and mess up and she will still mop up after me. I made her angry and she would still care. She never gave up until I one day woke up and decided enough was enough. I had to change for her and to finally make her happy.”

“Mr Patrick, I try to make her happy but she pushes me away. It’s been more than a week and she won’t even allow me to touch her.”

“I have HIV Patrick.”

The Sampsons gasped.

“Oh Patrick, I never knew,” Efe said in empathy.

“That’s because you didn’t. Listen, Patrick, my wife was patient with me but it came at a cost. She should have sacked me one day to go back to wherever I was coming from. That would have made me wake up to know whether I still wanted to be with her or get out completely from her life. She thought she was being calm and being good and accommodating but the more she did that, the more I became stupid. I thought she would always be so. I took her for granted. I stopped caring. Yet, do you know how I got to know I had HIV? From a text message sent from one of the girls I was sleeping with. My wife was near the phone and read it. She was quiet and that night refused to have anything to do with me.”

“Suddenly, the woman who would always welcome me with opened arms wouldn’t even touch me. I read the text messages and I felt worse. I needed her comfort. What she gave freely was now withdrawn from me. I wanted to die and she would have let me because that was how mad she was me. I then had the double job of getting better as well as trying to get her to forgive me, to still take me back.”

“She traveled out with the kids and wouldn’t even listen to me but I still held onto hope that one day she will forgive me. She did and promised to come back but at a cost.” He fell silent.

Mike and Efe were hanging so much on his words that they felt a sudden hunger for more when he stopped.

Mike asked, “what was the cost?”

“That she would come back only if I never touched her or another woman again for the rest of our lives. I had to agree because I love her. Where are all the women, Mike? They are all gone. Both those who tested positive and negative abandoned me. If they wouldn’t, why should I expect her to stay with me and suffer the consequences if I didn’t change so change I did. She’s been back in my life for 3 years and I can’t touch her. I can’t taste her lips nor feel her warm embrace. It hurts especially knowing how much my fault it is.” Patrick ended with a sigh.

“Hm,” Mike sighed. “I know how you feel. Efe, here thinks I’m cheating on so doesn’t want me to touch her but I’m not.”

“You aren’t?” Efe felt her voice going up and quickly lowered her pitch. “What about those nudes you’ve been sending to those girls?”

“Yes, I agree that’s what I did and I accept my fault but it’s because I miss you and I’m a man.”

That made Patrick snot. “You’re a man so you should be excused to cheat? You’re not serious. Is there a tattoo on your dick that “men can cheat?”

“Thank you Patrick for this. In fact, Mike has to come to you for lessons,” Efe was happy someone was on her side.

“Let me ask you something Efe. After denying him sex, what happens?”

She paused. Then she answered, “it’s to make him understand that if he continues, I won’t sleep with him.”

“So what if he sleeps with another woman and no longer needs sex from you then what happens? Would you want to cheat on him? After cheating on him, what happens after he finds out? Wouldn’t it have been been better to just walk away from the marriage so that both of you wouldn’t be playing games and hurting each other?”

She paused. This time she had no answer.

“And to you Mike, your wife is a rational human being. She can’t get up one day and to withhold sex from you. She can’t connect emotionally when all you do is make her mad. You’ve slept with enough girls in the past. Sleeping with only your wife won’t kill you, it’s not a death sentence and neither is it a farfetched idea. It is actually a pleasure sleeping with one woman without consequences.”

Mike also became quiet. He had nothing to say.

“Listen, the two of you. It is 12:32 AM and I have been standing with the two of you out here in the cold. I’m not going to say both of you are wrong, neither am I going to say both of you are right or one is and the other isn’t. All that I wanted you to know is that every action has consequences and there is no way you can resolve your issues by doing the wrong thing.”

“Patrick, you know it is wrong to chat up girls and send nudes. There is no excuse to justify that as well as coming home late. Efe, you now know it is wrong to punish your husband with sex and so on. You’re both adults and you all know all these things so before you do something which you know will have bad consequences, stop, think about it again and take the logical step. I’m done here kids. Good night.”

Without another word, he turned and went out from the outer door. Mike turned to look at his wife quietly.

“I’m sorry. I’ve been mad at you for always telling me what to do that I started acting out.”

“Telling you what to do? Listen Mike, if you think telling you to help with cooking or folding the laundry is because you’re living in my house then you’re wrong. I only need your help with them because I love it when you help me. Also, this is your house too. Certainly, you did those things on your own so it’s not wrong to do them here right?”

“But you always did those things for me when we were dating. You were cooking, cleaning, washing, sweeping and did everything. I mistook that it will continue after marriage.” He said.

“I get you now. I think we need to talk.”

“Yes, we do. I have to explain some things to you and ask you for clarification.”

Efe nodded and they both went inside.

 

MEANWHILE, PATRICK ENTERED his bedroom and went into the en suite bathroom. He hated going to bed with dust on his feet so quickly washed and dried them. Gina sat up to watch as he came to join her on the bed.

“They usually stop arguing after 2 AM. You did some magic there.”

“Yes, I did some magic alright.” He said as he got under the sheets. “I told them I had HIV.”

“You said you had what?” Gina was shocked. “Why would you lie to them like that?”

“They needed to think beyond themselves for a change and use that to effect some changes in their lives. Now, Mike will be too scared to get HIV so would either protect himself or not sleep around again. Efe, would also try her best not to give him any excuses to want to cheat so it becomes a win win for both of them.”

“So are you going to tell them you lied about having HIV?”

“Nuh uh. I’ll wait. If they don’t kill each other by the time they celebrate their 1st anniversary, I’ll tell them,” he grinned.

“You’re incorrigible,” Efe chortled.

“I know and that’s why you love me.” They shared a kiss.

“Do you know I told them you left me because I had HIV and I had a tough time getting you back which is why you came down 3 years ago?”

“You were certainly on a roll weren’t you?”

“Anything to shut them up. At least now we can both get some sleep.”

“When I was thinking of something other than sleeping?”

“Say no more love.”

 

THE END

 

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