PAUSE: A short story by Daniel Okosun
Daniel Okosun is a vibrant young Nigerian from Edo State. A brilliant and gifted writer of our time. When I read his short stories titled “Pause”, I knew right away that I wanted to publish, that I was going to publish it, to share it with you on here. So I asked him if I could and he was glad I did. I was glad I did. So enjoy it and leave a message for the writer…He calls himself-well, people call him-One Men…
Originally posted here-https://1mensays.wordpress.com/2014/04/26/pause/
He pushed the pedal all the way and even though the sole of his right foot was almost flat on the floor, he applied more pressure. The loud responsive rev of the engine bellied the slothful pace at which the antiquated Opel Astra climbed up the hill. He pushed the pedal harder still, slapping the steering wheel and biting his lower lip in sheer frustration. The Astra slowed and sputtered, its entire frame spasmed as the vehicle threatened to go off. He quickly stepped on the clutch and shifted gears to neutral and pushed the pedal down again. Thick black smoke emitted from the exhaust pipe as the vehicle made coughing sounds; regularly at first, then intermittently, until all that could be heard was the loud cry of the ancient engine. He pressed the pedal a few times more then engaged the first gear.
A sharp pain seared through his right shoulder just when he started the calculated process of lifting his foot from the clutch and pushing the accelerator down, the resultant reflex action caused him to lean to his right and lift his foot off the clutch pedal, the vehicle lurched forward and died an instant death.
“Hurry up!!!” came the belaboured cry. He turned, and the sight of the woman in the back seat threw him off even more.
In all of his adolescent through to adult life, this was the most beautiful and put together woman he had known…well, up until thirty or so minutes ago when she threw all she knew about poise to the wind and was thrashing about uncontrollably in the back seat, keeping her legs as wide open as possible and cursing with every breath.
Pearly teeth, beautiful eyes, superb afro, fist sized breasts, unbelievable waist, not so wide a hip, a perfect curve of a rump that could pass for a Guinness Book of Records contender, and above all of these; a beautiful mind with the sweetest demeanor. Well, that was until fourteen months ago.
He had done the right thing, he had married his queen. He loved how she still decked herself in her finery, her denim pants and turtlenecks when outside and her wicked bum shorts when they were alone. How glorious that day felt when five months into their marriage, she showed him the result of the pregnancy test. She still wore her tight fitting outfits, she was still smashing hot, but the demeanor diminished with each passing trimester.
Her cravings were unbelievable; if she wanted coffee, it had to be from the Colombian mountains and they had to be beans of a certain weight and harvested at a certain altitude. If she wanted chocolates, it had to be made from cocoa plucked at 5:15 in the morning in the south of Ghana. If it wasn’t catfish with three pairs of whiskers with the exact same length caught from the Ikogosi warm spring (an impossibility mind you), then the peppersoup was cyanide to her. Her demands became more unimaginable as her denims became more difficult to fit in.
“Hurry up, Enyinnaya, aaaah!” she grunted in pain.
Enyinnaya could smell blood and body fluids. In his confusion, he reached for the key in the ignition and felt the sharp pain again, then he looked at his right shoulder, her fingers had torn through his flesh and dug in deep. Blood trickled down his skin and stained his white under vest. In their hurry to get to the hospital, he had not worn a shirt, just as she had thrown only a wrapper around her chest on her nightie.
“Chikamso, you are ripping me to bits.” He said and eased her hand off his shoulder.
“Drive, you bastard!” She yelled and returned her grip on his shoulder. He winced in pain and snatched her hand off his shoulder, reached for the ignition, and noticed from the corner of his eye a tree pass by. He thought he heard a light thud other than Chikamso’s hysterics from behind, then he rolled over a bump; only then did he become aware of the fact that the vehicle was rolling back downhill.
He hit the brakes and pulled the hand brake before the front tires could roll over the bump that he could have sworn wasn’t there before. He turned the key in the ignition;
Sputter, sputter, cough, cough. Silence.
He turned the ignition again;
Sputter, sputter, cough, cough, cough, sputter. Silence.
There was a low rumble, like the sound of distant thunder. He looked at the sky; it was clear, the only change in it was the characteristic orange hue of late afternoon.
He felt a stinging pain on the back of his neck, “Move this vehicle, are you not good for anything? Aaaah!” She had slapped him.
He turned slowly and glared at her, he could taste blood. She grunted again. The look on her face. He turned quickly, pumped the accelerator several times and turned the ignition. Like a note gradually hitting crescendo, the engine came to life. Quickly engaging gear, he nudged the vehicle up hill, climbing the strange bump again with his back tires.
From the zenith of the hilly, isolated road, he could see the lights of the hospital in the distance, dusk had set in now. He hightailed the vehicle and in a little over twenty minutes, he burst through the door to the reception.
“My wife, she’s in labour, come quickly, please.”
A grumpy attendant stared at him through bespectacled eyes, then stretched out and reached for a folder. Taking all the time in the world, he thumbed through the papers in it, every so often adjusting his glasses to keep them from falling off his nose.
“Sir, my wife, she’s in labour.” Enyinnaya said again.
“My friend, you are in a hospital, stop raising your voice.” The attendant said at the top of his voice.
“But you are…”
“Are you trying to teach me my job? Do I look foolish to you?” The attendant asked, “Do you not see that I am trying to ensure that paperwork gets done? Where is the respect in the world today? My third child is about your age… I’m not surprised in any way, the whole lot of you—”
Enyinnaya stared in disbelief, the several months of torture he had faced raced through his mind, and now this? He slammed his fist in the reception desk and threw tantrums. Soon nurses were running down the hallway with a screaming Chikamso on a gurney and a seething Enyinnaya on their heels.
“Sir, we can’t let you in yet.” One of the nurses said at the door to the delivery room.
“You dare not keep my man away from me, you dare not.” Chikamso said and held on to the edge of the door like her life depended on it.
“You need to fill out some paperwork first, then it is up to you to stay by her side or outside—”
“He is staying by my side.” Chikamso yelled.
“Sir?” The nurse inquired of him, he nodded absent mindedly. The smell of Chikamso’s fluids coupled with the characteristic sterile smell of the hospital was wearing him down.
“Do you have insurance?” She asked. Enyinnaya stared blankly. When nothing was forthcoming after a few seconds, the nurse eased him away from the door and back to the bespectacled attendant who had himself received a tongue lashing from the doctor on call and was extremely displeased.
Just as they made the bend to the reception area, they saw him (the attendant) end a call and stand up with urgency, he ran past them down the hall towards the admin area and disappeared behind the door to that area…
TO BE CONTINUED…