Sheila has always been a free spirit; adventurous at heart. Very little fazed her. Sometimes this would make her stand out in our crowd of friends as people expressed their distaste or dissatisfaction with a certain topic. To her, as long as it did not affect her life, she had no opinion about it. I envied her, sometimes. Some level of ignorance can bring someone some peace of mind after all.
During one of our ladies’ nights out, Tinder had come up as a topic of conversation. From scanning the room, the popular opinion was that it was an application for desperate women who cannot seem to get men the traditional way. So when Sheila told me she was joining Tinder, I was not surprised. I, however, did not think much of it. I mean, what harm could a simple application bring?
She had apparently gone ahead to join, curious to figure out what the fuss was about. The first week was slow. A few conversations here and there that ended just as fast as they had started. It was not until she met Mike that things started to get a little interesting. A gorgeous buff lad in his mid-20’s-if his profile was anything to go by. They continued talking for about a week until Mike suggested they meet up for coffee. Sheila was all up for the idea; she liked her mystery man.
So that weekend they met at a coffee shop somewhere in Westlands – his suggestion. She had arrived there a couple of minutes before the agreed time so that she could compose herself. Meeting Mike made her a little nervous which was new to her. At around 6.30 pm, a man dressed in a blue blazer and white khaki pants walked in. Since they had shared what colours they would be wearing, it was easy to spot Sheila who was seated at the corner of the café.
‘Hello, Sheila is it?’ he quizzed.
‘I do not see any other red off-the-shoulder-wearing damsel in here,’ she answered jokingly.
According to Sheila, what followed was a lovely chatty night with Mike. So much so that their conversation was cut short by a waiter who told them they were about to close up for the day.
‘I am parked right outside, I can drop you off at home,’ Mike had been quick to add as they left the café.
Sheila had always been wary of strangers. But there was something about Mike that made her feel safe. She, therefore, found herself agreeing to his proposal. She was not a gold digger per se but even she had to agree that the sight of his Mitsubishi Pajero made Mike seem all that more attractive.
‘How old are you again?’ she asked as they got into the car. The comment clearly directed at the fact that he could afford such a car.
‘Btw, speaking of age, I have a little confession. I might have tweaked my age a little,’’ he said as he started the car.
‘Tweaked? By how many years?’ a puzzled Sheila asked.
‘Add 10 years to the age on my Tinder profile.’
‘You are 36?!’ Sheila snapped.
She did not know what surprised her the most. The fact that he had lied about his age or that he did not even look his age. She was both insulted and intrigued.
‘So since I cannot jump out of a moving vehicle, what else have you lied to me about?’ she was starting to get a little pissed.
‘Okay. I am a 36-year-old divorcee and a father of one,’
Sheila wanted to lose her mind. The hits kept on coming. She cursed the day she had joined Tinder. She just wanted to get home and forget that she ever met him. Noticing her clear discomfort at the situation he continued.
‘I am so sorry for keeping that from you but I really liked you and I thought that if I told you that you would not agree to see me.’
Damn right she would not have agreed to see him. By now Sheila had stopped talking. Just silently cursing in her mind. They got home in silence except for the usual directions Sheila gave him to her house. What felt like a ten-hour ride came to an end in front of Sheila’s home. She was just about to get out of his car when he spoke.
‘Look, I am really sorry I handled the situation this way. I just wanted to get you to get to know me beforehand. I am actually not looking for a serious relationship, just a lady to keep me company and keep me happy.’
Sheila was not having it. The fact that he was now offering such an arrangement only served to piss her off more. She bid him goodnight and walked out of his car. For the next couple of days Mike kept calling and sending her text messages which she ignored. She could have easily blocked him but for some reason, she liked the attention he was giving her. A week later, she received a Mpesa message. Mike had deposited 10,000 shillings in her account. She did not know what to feel about it. She had never thought herself to be the kind who would exchange sex for money. As enticing as the money was, she sent it right back to him. This time when he called, she was ready. She must have given him a ten-minute lecture about thinking her so shallow that she would sell herself for sex.
‘Wait, who said anything about sex?’ he had cut her short, ‘I asked for a lady to keep me company and make me happy. Period. I did not mention sex.’
Sheila then went silent. He continued to tell her that he would take care of any expenses she needed as long as she went out with him whenever he asked her to. He then told her to think about it and get back to him. For some reason, that arrangement did not seem too bad to Sheila. She did after all like him. What was the harm in monetizing something she enjoyed doing?
So thus began their arrangement. They would hang out at his request and spend time in fancy hotels. They even took a weekend trip to Lamu- we were led to believe that she had visited her grandmother. Sheila was careful with her sudden influx of cash. She never spent too much of it at a time to avoid any of her friends flagging it down. To us, the extra cash she had was made from her online writing job.
One night during their arranged meetings, Mike had arrived at the hotel drunk. Something about the custody of his child had angered him. He was so rowdy that Sheila suggested they just head home. She proceeded to call an Uber because she did not trust his driving in that condition. As they walked outside the establishment, Mike started walking toward his car. He was convinced he could drive. Her attempts to take away his keys were met with a slap in the face. Before she could recover, he had continued to hit her face again with his keys. She was on the ground. A valet who was walking by was her saving grace. He had intercepted a drunk and angry Mike from turning Sheila into his beanbag. He helped her up and got her back into the hotel. The Good Samaritan had proceeded to ask her if there was someone she could call.
I received the call at 8.00 PM when I was just about to get into bed and binge-watch my favourite series. I quickly called a cab and rushed to find a teary Sheila waiting at the reception. I thanked the valet who told me that Sheila’s attacker had left. I got her into the car and took her home.
Sheila insisted that she did not want to be alone that day so we went to my place instead. My attempts to try and get a word out of her about what had gone down landed on deaf ears. I decided not to push it and let her sleep it off. Early the next morning, I was woken up by the front door slowly creaking open- Sheila was trying to creep out unnoticed.
‘So you were going to leave without telling me what happened last night,’ I asked clearly disappointed.
‘Look, I am thankful for your help but you would not understand,’ she replied.’
‘Try me,’ as I beckoned her to sit down.
‘Maybe another day.’
She then walked out and slammed the door behind her. I was lost for words. Clearly, something had happened to her, I just did not understand why she felt that she could not talk to me. I remember trying to reach out numerous times later in the week. My efforts were quickly thwarted by unanswered calls and when she picked up the phone she was always quick to change the topic. I figured I would quit pushing and let her speak to me when she was ready. Little did I know that things would only get worse.
A week after the incident, Mike reached out to her to apologize. After ignoring a few of his calls, she caved in and decided to hear him out. Just like any man who acts as he had, he was extremely apologetic, and told her that he was just having a day. Unfortunately, Sheila was quick to believe him. Call it having a good heart or maybe she just missed the perks of their arrangement. So just like that, Mike was back in the picture. He quickly wormed his way back into her heart by increasing the number of shiny trinkets, nights out and weekend getaways. Sheila stopped hanging out with us as much as she used to and she became distant.
After a few months of having a successful arrangement, Mike took her out on a trip to Zanzibar. Sheila could not have been more elated. Once there as they were preparing to go for dinner, Mike began being extremely touchy.
‘What are you doing? I thought we had an agreement,’ Sheila asked puzzled.
‘Cmn, we have been doing this for a long time now. It would not hurt to get a little closer,’ Mike replied smirking
‘I agreed to this on the terms we had set,’ Sheila began to sound stern.
‘Fine.’ Mike said as he stormed out.
No one said a word the whole time at dinner. After the meal, Mike retreated to the bar. Sheila did not stop him. She knew how he got when he got angry. Sometime later in the night as Sheila was sleeping, she heard a drunk Mike knocking at the door. Sheila reluctantly woke up and went to open it. That is when things began to go downhill. He started scolding her telling her that she had been using him for his money and that it was time to pay up. When Sheila realized that this would turn into the car park incident all over again, she tried to run out but Mike intercepted her and threw her towards the wall. He tried to chase after her but his drunken self tripped on the bedside table and fell. Sheila took the opportunity and even though drowsy since her head had taken quite a hit, she found her way to the concierge and reported the matter to the hotel attendants. The hotel manager was quickly notified of the incident and sent security personnel to Sheila’s room where they found Mike had passed out on the floor where he had fallen.
He was quickly apprehended and taken to the nearby police station. After making her statement, the hotel manager allowed Sheila to sleep in the room for the night. They would then sort out the issues the next day. Sheila did not sleep a wink that night, she just wanted to be back home. She regretted having gotten herself into such a situation. Early the next morning she walked into the hotel manager’s office in a bid to fix the mess she had gotten herself into. Here she reached out to us-me and her friends and asked for our help to buy her a ticket home and cover the hotel fees.
I remember being confused by her story since she rushed through it. But first things first, we had to find a way to get her back to Kenya. The rest could be dealt with later. It was not easy, but we pulled together the finances we had and got her back to Kenya. When she got back, she knew she owed us an explanation. She then proceeded to tell us how she got us in this situation in the first place. As for Mike, she never heard of him ever again. He must have learned his lesson.
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