LP: Nigeria Special Part 1 by Various Artists
2008 Soundway Records SNDWLP009A
Favorite Track: Nekwaha Semi Colon by the Semi-Colon
Yarl and Thizzie ducked in the doorway to avoid the wintry wind. Thizzie fumbled with the keys while Yarl pulled his knit cap down lower to cover his gauged ears, the bezel plugs glinting in the moonlight. Inside, they ran up the black and white staircase, past the single red door which the cantankerous landlady lived behind always smelling of strange incense, up another set of floors to number 23, Thizzie’s apartment. Along the way, they shed coats, gloves, scarves, CleanAir masks, and unbuttoned most of their layers of clothing. Yarl pressed his lips against Thizzie’s neck as she ran her nails along curve of his torso to his bony hips. Her roomed smelled of roasted almonds and vanilla. The green lights were dimmed casting shadows upon shadows. Snow formed intricate patterns along the windows. Was there a minotaur in the center, lonely longing for love? Thizzie and Yarl were in love for the second straight year after taking some time off because of petty jealousies and difficult work schedules. Yarl lost his job and Thizzie was thrilled to see him for multiple days in a row. As he lowered her arching back to the half-drawn sheets, she pushed back the thought she had been avoiding. He was here again in her arms, familiar with her body and the secrets to its pleasures, and, despite losing his job at the library, he had found renewed interest in his writing career, the thing that attracted Thizzie to Yarl in the first place.
Numbskull, the orange tabby, yawned and stretched her paws across the books she laid upon. Yarl had put on a pot of water to make tea while Thizzie cleaned up. He fumbled his way around the kitchen, never able to find the teabags on his first guess. When he did find the box, he found there was only one bag left. The apartment was a comfortable temperature to remain naked and he secretly delighted in the way his skin glowed in the silvery dark of the night. He didn’t want to don all the heavy clothes and filters to go back outside again just for a measly tea bag. A loud scratching sound alerted Yarl that Thizzie had placed a record on the player. Soon, the room filled with African poly-rhythms and Ibo singing. Thizzie had been obsessed with this Afrobeat compilation after reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun, an evocative novel about the turbulent Biafran struggle for independence. Yarl, stroking behind Numbskull’ ears, gazed at the book cover, half a frown on his mouth. He also enjoyed the music and the book, but the record had cost 26 Plutos and they were forced to abandon the weekend trip to visit Yarl’s parents.
Thizzie entered the cubby kitchen, a diaphanous gown trailing from her shoulders. Her infectious smile revealed teeth like large prehnite crystals.
“What’s the matter?”
Yarl poured the water into the ceramic cups his mother gave him. Then he dunked the tea bag twice into his cup then put it in her cup. She took it with a customary nod of thanks.
“Tell me, Yarl. It is late but I can see something is on your mind.”
“I was remembering how beautiful you looked the first time I saw you. Sitting in the front row of chemistry class with that orange hat with the flowers in it. Somehow, you have grown more beautiful.”
Thizzie embraced him passionately even though she was used to his deflections. Yarl was kind-hearted to a flaw: he feared any criticism would be met with outlandish denial. She too felt the pressure every time the needle dropped on this record, however, she could not resist its songs. The music captured a celebration and freedom rarely recorded in music anymore. Not since 2111. She liked to imagine life returning to what it was and people picking up instruments and recording in the old-fashioned way. But Yarl had not seen his parents in almost a year and his father’s health was failing.
Thizzie kissed his eyes again, then said, “We will see them in two weeks. I have a vacation coming up and I have hidden some money aside.”
Yarl pulled back, his brow furrowed. “What do you mean? Hidden?”
Thizzie laughed and pulled a book from the shelf which caused Numbskull to leap with a meow, whiskers bristling. She removed a scrap piece of paper and handed it to him. It read:
- Damned Damned Damned – The Damned
- Oh Bondage, Up Yours – Xray Spex 7-inch single
- Hong Kong Garden – Siouxsie and the Banshees 7-inch single
- One Chord Wonders – the Adverts 7-inch single
- Hex Enducation Hour – the Fall
- Perverted By Language – the Fall
- The Return of the Durutti Column (original sandpaper) – the Durutti Column
- Love Bites – the Buzzcocks
- Hey Joe – Patti Smith 7-inch single
“This is the birthday list you gave me. I looked in every record store in the Kano Station. Even talked to a few collectors. They all laughed at me to think I could find such antiques,” Yarl turned away, “I felt miserable.”
“And what did I tell you to do instead?” Thizzie pulled him back to the bedroom. Her forehead felt hot from the heat emitting from his supple body. “I told you to give me some money to indulge myself with chocolates at Yellow Springs Spa. I never went.”
A goofy twitch of the lips made Yarl, for a moment, appear a young, naive child. “And where were you all day then? Dancing with Sorrel at the club? Reading at the coffeehouse?” A wicked glow lit his eyes, “Trying on those garters I pointed out in the window on Main Street?”
“Oh, please, how gaudy,” Thizzie laughed, “You’ll never get me in those. Let us just say I did some investing.”
“I don’t need to get you in those. I have you right now.”
They fell to the bed as the Nigerian Highlife beat swelled to a raucous roar. Thizzie screamed under his touch. In the back of her mind, she wondered when the mob would like their money back.
To be continued…