She walked over to her bed, climbed in and pulled the covers up to her waist. I was sitting at a considerable distance watching her and trying my best to understand this young woman. She lay on her side facing my direction, and then she flashed a smile as if she understood the quandary that I faced as I tried to understand her in greater detail. She wasn’t going to make this easy for me—she wasn’t going to make it uninteresting as well.
Her name is Bethel.
Who exactly is Bethel? Well that is the million dollar question isn’t it? That is the question that I wanted to discover an answer to. Outwardly, she was beautiful. She had a nice set of teeth and her smile lit up a room. Her large seductive eyes were set in a round face with lips that suggested it had uttered many strange things. She was soft-spoken (most of the time), and carried herself with an innocence that could deceive. She was sweet, friendly and kind. Above all, she loved to help people in need and nurse or attend to people that are injured. She was by all outward appearances an angel in human form—tender, gentle, caring, beautiful, sweet and charming.
But there was also something very fearful about Bethel. The first time I noticed it, I was horrified beyond words. It was the reason why I came closer to her, to study her so that I can fully understand her better.
Bethel had a dual personality. She was the classic Jekyll and Hyde. Behind the gracious, kind and well-behaved outward exterior lies the soul of something cold and sinister; behind the nice, tender appearance is the rugged imprint of a fierce character; behind her angelic nature lies a monster of horrifying proportions. How could a vessel be possessed of such conflicting and contrasting attributes? How can one explain the strange cohabitation of light with darkness? How indeed can I unravel and understand this mysterious woman who lay before me—filled as she is with genuine simplicity and at the same time seductive mischief? What sort of battles does her mind wage on a constant basis to balance the good with the bad—her aim of being a presentable lady of virtues with her deeper, lustful desires?
She lay there winking at me seductively, her eyes smiling in mischief as she spoke in very soft tones. She dared me to take a peek at her wild side. There was something strangely fascinating and terrifying about that smile. You could not tell what thoughts she was thinking. Was she setting a trap for me as she lay there inviting me to come and take a peek? Or was she just trying to allow me to take a simple journey with her perhaps to see how much the discovery would change all my previous perceptions? What is that mysteriously dark subtext that gives greater meaning to the mental and behavioral struggles of a split-personality like Bethel?
She beckoned me closer. I drew closer to her as if propelled by some strange magnetism. Then she closed her eyes dreamily and became silent for a moment. When she opened her mouth to speak again, it was as if some dark entity had overtaken and captured her faculties. The tender angelic and innocent young woman before me had disappeared. In her place was a seductive temptress filled with fierce carnal passions; what lay before me was animated, petulant, violent, tempestuous and burning with flickering memories, emotions and desires. I watched the transformation with great curiosity.
Her serpentine eyes opened presently and she looked at me and smiled. I smiled back in return. Then suddenly, as if overcome by her emotions, she covered her face with her palms. She dropped her palms and her countenance and mood fell. She looked away distractedly. I stared at her intently; very curious to understand what had helped to shape her.
Bethel began by telling me of her wishes. She was not craving for a relationship immediately, but that she was willing to date because she loved to meet new people. She was open to dating anyone from any ethnic background except her own. For some weird reason, she considers the eligible men from her ethnic group to be nothing more than greedy, uncaring bastards. She volunteered that if she is to marry, she would much prefer a man who is also friendly and easygoing as she is; a man who is faithful and respects his wife; but above all, a man who is in her own words a “freak in the sheets”. I pressed on, clutching my pen and paper and drawing my chair ever closer to the woman lying on the bed. By this time she was chatting rather excitedly even though her voice was still scarcely above a whisper.
Did she have any hobbies? Well, it turns out, she says, that she is usually too busy to carve out meaningful time for recreation. Then she chuckled and informed me that she loved to dance. She loved music from different genres: Hip-hop, Nigerian music, Ivorian music, reggae, etc. She loved to meet and discuss with new people. Occasionally, she loved to watch interesting romance movies.
Suddenly, she raised her eyes and caught mine. The excitement was gone. Her eyes searched mine; it was as if she was unsure as to whether she should continue her revelations. I smiled weakly and then laughed; pretending to be amused by her sudden change in mood or temperament. Her voice became even fainter. Her voice was husky and tinged with deep emotions now. She spoke of having been raped at a tender age and how that killed whatever innocence she had and filled her with some vile revulsion for men. It helped me understand why she had practically lost faith in the men-folk and treated all male entreaties with disdain. It helped me understand why her eyes dazzled with deceit as she laughed and flirted with men on the numerous occasions that I have observed her—for I knew that she only thought of men as disposable walking pieces of skin that should be milked for whatever good they can temporarily provide and discarded when they cease to be useful. Herein, lies the dark soul of a partially damaged woman—beautiful, well-mannered and alluring until you interact with her to draw out the demons of her haunted past—demons which have indeed made her into a formidable femme fatale.
She spoke of having gone to an all-girl boarding school when she was much younger and how she found out that she was also bisexual. She told of graphic sexual intercourse with several young women in her boarding school. It was in boarding school she revealed to me, that she found out that she was extremely good at cunnilingus. She looked at me when she said that expecting to see disdain. I knew that I had to affect a total air of indifference if I did not want the darker side of this split personality to quickly disappear behind the angelic façade that I was used to seeing. Seeing nothing but empathy from me, she continued. She spoke of her sexual exploits. She laughed hysterically when she narrated how she used to date 4 men at once. She would talk to one on the phone, then go out and visit another, and while there, she would talk to a third; when she was done with the second, she would waltz over to the 4th—all in the course of one evening! There she was in all her beguiling glory, burning with lusts and full of dark fearsome passions. It was terrifying to behold but you just couldn’t pull away.
She also spoke of her threesomes with the latest man in her life as she laughed gently. Then she spoke with fire in her eyes of the fights she had gotten into; how she brooked no nonsense and could very well stab a person to death if push came to shove. On and on she continued with the strange and incredible aspects of her deeper darker nature. After a while, I was utterly silent as I watched her go back down memory lane; her face and appearance was a curious blend of happiness, excitement, sorrow, confusion, sadness and sometimes rage. All in all, it was more than amazing.
How indeed could such a tender, soft-spoken and gracious creature be capable of such things? How was it possible that such raw sexual passions, such mind-blowing violence, such wanton disregard for the feelings of men, such forcefulness of speech, such repressed rage, such blinding fits of jealousy, such cold reptilian calculations of vengeance, such laughing deceit, such haughtiness, and such seductiveness could be packaged into that delicate angelic form? How could she be so kind, so friendly, so easygoing, so sweet, so caring, so affable and yet in a manner of seconds, as if a switch was flipped, go from these endearing attributes to something dark and sinister?
When she was done, she looked at me again as if to make sure I had not completely fallen apart at the seams. She smiled again and wondered why I had gotten very quiet. I told her that I was breathless at her revelation. Then I stood up and stretched. Sensing that I was getting ready to leave, she licked her lips and she looked at me. I stopped dead in my tracks and looked at her wondering what she meant. Then her eyes gradually went from my eyes and trailed downwards to my nether regions. Then she smiled. I knew exactly what she was hinting at.
“You know, I am very tight” she said huskily.
“Really? Okay. Why should I know this?” I asked puzzled.
“Don’t you want to find out? Come on, you seem like someone who can take care of a lady” she replied.
“You are bad, Bethel. You know I am already taken” I replied laughing. The truth is that she knew that I wasn’t going to yield to such temptation. I suppose she wanted to know how far she could go when turning on her sexual charms before I would jump back in shock and horror by her brazenness.
“Don’t blame me. I’ve been on a dry spell for 3 months now. Besides the men in this city are nothing to write home about” she said.
“But you have a new man in your life. You told me so” I replied calmly.
“Well, I am beginning to see that I can’t describe him as my man any longer. He is just a close friend to me and he has helped me in many countless ways. It is just a friend-with-benefits kind of arrangement” she explained.
“In that case, why don’t you try and reap the so-called benefits of that friendship arrangement? Why go on a dry spell for 3 months?” I asked.
“He traveled” she returned flatly.
“Hmmm…okay. Well, I’ll see if I can help pair you up with a good guy because I think you deserve a good man” I replied.
We both laughed at my last comment. With that, I got up, waved goodbye at Bethel and disappeared from her room.
I know that I will yet spot her again in that virtual place of concourse as she smiles and charms her way into the hearts of many a guy who may not yet be privy to her dark secret—the fact that behind the smiling and adorable angelic face, behind her congeniality lies the soul of a damsel pavilioned in deception and girded with vice.