“Section 278. Homeostasis”

Fiction by Gabriella Rockson

“Why don’t we tell them the story of how we met. How we really met.” Kobina said to his girlfriend, as he carried his wine glass to his seat.

They were hosting a small party of close friends to celebrate their three year anniversary. Vanessa looked at the group they had over, smiled and shrugged.

“Okay, okay. But I want to sit beside you as you tell it so I can see their reactions,” Vanessa said, with a laugh, as she moved to sit on the armrest of the loveseat he was in.

“So you guys don’t know the NSFW details of the night we met. We have both never told anyone about this which is surprising because Vanessa can talk!”

“It was an eventful night,” interjected Vanessa with a rueful smile.

“Yes, a very long night that started with drinks at Cocktails with Denis…”

Kobina regretted coming to the bar alone. This was not the kind of place you could just sit down and drink by yourself. Everyone was there with someone and he felt he was sticking out like a sore thumb. The CoolVibes review of the place had said it was the perfect place to unwind from a stressful day at work. They hadn’t mentioned it would be best if you came here with someone. Or maybe that was implied. Maybe no one went out alone in Accra. Deciding he was going to stick it out, he settled back into his chair to think about work and the case he had in court the next day.

“Excuse me is this seat taken?” A soft voice asked.

Kobina looked up to see a petite, dark-skinned woman, with corn rows that reached the small of her back, pointing to the other seat at his table. She was wearing jeans with a black string top which covered her chest with the full material, and her back with strings crisscrossing.

“No it’s not, I actually came alone. I’m …yes the seat is free” he finished with a smile and gesture that said ‘take it’. He’d expected her to move the seat to a table of her friends but it looked like she was joining him at the table. Kobina didn’t know whether she’d be comfortable with silence like he was or would want a conversation.

He decided to try conversation.

“I’m Kobina.”

“Vanessa” she said fiddling with the straw of the drink. “I had no idea this place would be like this” she said looking around at the room packed with groups of friends laughing and having fun.

“You read the CoolVibes review eh?” he asked with a knowing smile.

“I did!” She exclaimed. “I thought it’d be like a really calm and zen with everyone just minding their own business and chilling. But it’s just more people painfully reminding me what I’m missing out on. I’m doing a paediatrics residency program at Korle Bu and it is beating me paa,” she said with a laugh.

“I know what that feels like. I still have the occasional nightmare from law school days.”

They started talking about their work and Kobina told her about his law firm and how he was sure his boss’s niece, who had trained in the UK, was getting more pay than the Ghana-trained lawyers. They talked about nepotism in Ghana, and the conversation drifted to schools they had gone to; where they even realised they had a number of mutual friends. By 11:00 pm. Vanessa felt like they’d known each other for years and the drinks she’d had had made her more bold and flirtatious.

“I have to get an Uber back. I planned to get really drunk because I have the day off tomorrow,” she said, as she slowly took out her phone; mentally willing him to ask for her number or give her a sign he was interested in her.

“Oh, I can drop you off,” he said.
“At Korle-Bu?” she asked. “I thought you lived at Spintex?”

“Yes but Korle-Bu isn’t far from here. Plus I actually have a late morning tomorrow.” He had court at 7 a.m.

“Let me drop you off Vanessa,” he said with a coaxing smile.

That was all Vanessa needed. As far as she was concerned he felt what she was feeling too. They both paid for their drinks and as they were walking out the entrance she turned and grabbed his hand. All she could think about as they made their way to his car was how loud her heart was beating.

They got to his car, a sleek Ford, and got in.

“So Korle-Bu” he said programming the GPS on his phone. They both put on their seatbelts and he locked the car doors. Was it just him or was the atmosphere more charged now that they were alone together? Things felt more… real. He pulled out of the parking lot and made his way towards Korle Bu. The only sound in the car was coming from his GPS giving him directions to Korle Bu. He didn’t even need directions. He was considering whether to turn it off and whether he could reach for her hand when she spoke.

“Could you stop the car and park there,” she said quietly.

He pulled into the side street she’d pointed at and shifted the gear to park. Turning to face her he reached for her left hand and gave her a quiet smile. “I’m really glad I came out tonight and met you.”

She took her hand out of his and reached for his face while taking her seatbelt off with the other hand and kissed him. It took Kobina a second to recover from the shock of her making the first move, and then he kissed her back. Their kisses progressed from slow and deliberate to more urgent, she was sitting in his lap. After what seemed like 3 minutes of kissing, Kobina, bursting with desire asked if they could move to the backseat.

They got out of the car and got in the back of the car which he locked again. She bit his lower lip and plunged her tongue down his throat. The moan that escaped his mouth fuelled her more and she freed her right hand from behind him. She caressed his face, then molded her hand against his jaw, deepening the kiss. Moving her hand lower, she started to unbuckle his belt. After a few seconds of her fumbling with one hand, he reached for the belt buckle. He’d just successfully unzipped his trousers when a light was flashed into the window followed by a loud knock.

They broke apart abruptly and turned to look at the window. There were two policemen outside the window on Kobina’s side. They were knocking on the window loudly, shouting for them to get out. Vanessa frantically kicked around for her shoes which had somehow come off when they moved to the backseat. Kobina zipped his trousers, took a deep breath and opened the car door. They got out and immediately one of the policemen began to take pictures of them while the other handcuffed them.

“At least let me arrange my clothes before you handcuff me,” Vanessa angrily said to the shorter man who had gleefully handcuffed her before she could adjust her top.

“You want to arrange what? Eh, you are in the car with this man at this time doing God-knows- what, and now you’re saying you want to adjust something? Girls of today, asha-”

“Hey, hey. Boss make you no talk plus my woman like that,” Kobina interrupted angrily.

“Oh your woman that eh? Oh sorry, chief,” the man said with a nervous laugh. “Chief but you know what you were doing is not right eh. Public indecency. It’s not right.”

Kobina stared at him. Vanessa seethed internally, fighting the urge to insult the policeman.

The other officer finally spoke. He seemed to be the leader of the two. “Look Counsellor, we have to take you and your madam to the station.” He had seen the Ghana Bar Association sticker on Kobina’s car.

After a moment Kobina spoke. Very slowly. “Okay, let me pass by the ATM first, I have to take something.”

“Oh yes, yes.” The shorter man said quickly, smiling fully now. “We’ll go with you to the place.”

Kobina got into the car, and the taller, quiet policeman sat by him; which left Vanessa stuck with the other man. Her handcuffs were still on. Kobina’s had been removed immediately he mentioned the ATM.

“Oh boss, abeg jie my woman ein handcuffs.”

“No, let them stay on,” the taller man said to his colleague

“It’ll give you some, eh, motivation to get to the ATM quickly.”

Kobina’s face tightened but he said nothing as he started the car, searching for an ATM.

At the ATM he got down and was joined by the officer who appeared to be the leader. He withdrew five hundred cedis and handed it to him.

The taller man counted the notes quickly and said “oh Lawyer, just five hundred? I’m sure that’s not your withdrawal limit.”

By then Kobina was visibly infuriated. The officer only had to look at his facial expression before he realised it was best not to push his luck.

“Call your friend,” Kobina said quietly.

The police officer called his partner.

“Unlock your phone and give it to me,” he said, his voice still deathly quiet. The shorter man who was ready to protest was quickly prodded by his senior colleague to hand over the phone.

Kobina took the phone and deleted the pictures.

“I’ve deleted the pictures from your phone. You don’t have a recently deleted album or a cloud storage app but if I ever see those pictures anywhere I will hold you two responsible.”

They walked back to the car. By then Vanessa had counted backwards from one hundred three separate times. She was reciting the Lord’s Prayer, hoping she’d have better success with controlling her anger, when they opened the door.

“Can you remove the handcuffs now?” She asked the now subdued policeman who had handcuffed her.

She got out and he removed her handcuffs.
They all got in again and her seatmate decided to make conversation.
“So madam are you a student? You look like a university girl” he said with a toothy smile. Vanessa just stared at him.

“Oh don’t be like that eh, this thing happens to everyone. It’s like… eh what’s that word from SSS science? Eheh homeostasis! Homeostasis,” he said with a laugh and smile. “We policeman have to keep the balance. We’ll take small from you and provide for our families. It will also make you act better because you won’t want us to be taking from you plenty eh.” He said with a wide smile.

Vanessa looked ahead. They got to the place where the policemen had knocked the window and the two of them got out.

“Okay Sa! Madam. God bless you. Drive safely oh. Don’t go and park anywhere again,” The talkative one said laughing at his own joke.

They drove the rest of the trip in silence. Vanessa could feel the anger radiating from Kobina and she just couldn’t’t believe how a night that had started out so great could become so ugly.

“You can drop me off here,” she said quietly once they got to the first residential block. It wasn’t hers but she needed to walk and clear her mind. He turned back and gave her a small smile. “What’s your number?” She gave it to him and then got down, fully expecting to never see him again.

“Ei so how long did it take you guys to start talking after such a night?” Kukua asked Vanessa with an incredulous look.

“Well, I felt really guilty because I had told him to park there. I actually started thinking what if he thought I was working with the policemen. I felt so bad. I didn’t have his number to reach out to him but he actually texted me the next day apologising. He thought it was his fault for saying we should move to the backseat. I was honestly just happy he texted.”

“And that’s how we got here.” Kobina said sharing a smile with Vanessa.

 

Bio
Gabriella loves to read and spends her time trying to understand how people think. When writing, she usually starts with an emotion and the rest of the story follows.

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Tampered press started out as a conversation on creating more platform and visibility for writers and visual artists in Ghana and Africa. While blackness has become more noticeable now than in the past, and more space is gradually being created at the table 

black as an identity is heavily nuanced and has to be dissected and carefully documented. African artists in particular have fewer platforms. Our experiences, mannerisms and culture often have similarities, but our style, design, creation and content are different.