Lagos still made you sweat even with all the Atlantic around it. From my office building here in Lekki I can see the rippling blue water spread from the white sands out into the wall of silver expanse where it kissed the sky. My shirt was soaked, I went back to my desk. A ceiling fan rotated ineffectually above. It ruffled papers on the table and I placed a paperweight in the sheaves.
My door is half-open. Beyond it is the green wall of the outer office. I’m sitting behind my desk from where I can see half the face of my secretary, Lola. She appears 21 but every time she looked at me, she did with the eyes of a much more grown-up woman. This morning she came in with a polythene bag filled with clothes, Asoebi for her friend’s wedding. She told me there were 80 yards of clothes and she thinks my wife would love them. I said I do not have the money for Asoebi, not until the president stops picking his teeth. That’s how these girls who want to sell put their teeth in you, they begin with your wife.
Lola wore glasses for her eyes. She wore her hair low and her lips red. She had a boyfriend who doesn’t work. And parents who don’t like Igbos. I’m Igbo and they don’t think I will last in my line of work.
I’m an investigator by the way. Infidelity Investigator, that is. It says so on the little plastic tag on my door. Underneath that is my name, Azuka Collins, Private Investigator.
I heard the outer door open, the scrape of high heeled shoes on the tiles, then the visible half of Lola’s face turned away.
“Yes,” said Lola, her voice strong. “He is in.”
My half-open door swung all the way and a big woman was standing in the door, so wide was she that I lost the view of Lola and the entire outer office. She looked rich. Her perfume was the reluctant and expensive type that wafted in long after the wearer was gone.
She was breathing very hard, sweat beads arranged on her forehead. Her hair was pulled back on her head and there were streaks of grey in it. Her white blouse could clothe two more medium-sized women. Her dark eyes were sharp, below them there were blotches as though she’d been crying. There was a black purse under her underarm.
“Good afternoon.” she choked.
“Good afternoon, how can I help you?”
Her eyes roved over me and around the perimeter of my austere office. I and my office always have that effect on people for their first time. She clutched her purse tighter as though I or my office might be looking to snatch it.
“Please, sit.” I gestured at the chair opposite me.
She sighed and fixed her bulk in it. The chair groaned.
“I’m looking for my husband,” she said quietly.
I looked around my office in mild bewilderment. Some people come here to start a conversation like that. They don’t say there husband or wife has refused to come home from a rump. They go, ‘I’m looking for my husband?’
As though we pick people’s spouses off the street so clients can come looking for them. And honestly, that thought felt appealing for when business is slow. I chuckled and said:
“When did you last see him?”
“I’m sure he is at that girl’s place.”
“They all say that” I mused. But loudly I asked, “What girl?”
She looked away. She wasn’t that light-skinned. The lightness of her face ended in make-up around her jaw. The rest of her neck was the color of shrimps going bad. This is Lekki, there were a lot of shrimps going bad.
She searched in her purse, fished a business card. She put it on the table and said, “that’s the address.”
“She wants to take my husband from me,” she added hastily.
The address on the back of the card said, No 30, Lawrence Avenue, Lekki face One.
New sweat broke out on my back. It was my apartment building.