Prince’s bleached face becomes the color of ororo except for the black circles round his cheek bones. He walks to a glass cabinet and pours himself drink. I stand, because I don’t know what to do. I am afraid of Prince’s anger and I am afraid of the clean rich leather chairs. I am afraid of the masks that hang around his parlor. I am afraid of this man. So I keep standing. “Thank you sir. Matron sent me to collect my passport and ticket from you sir ,” I say. I don’t answer his question and I can see that look he gave me at Ipoba River again. I should have worn something else not this tight blouse that makes my breasts look like I am hawking mangoes with my chest. I can still hear small anger in his voice but the colour of his face has returned. The bleaching is smoother than I thought, he probably uses original cream from Europe, not the ones from China or Lagos that burn people’s faces like acid. Prince is now smiling and adjusting his towel. I kept looking around trying to decide where to sit. “Itohan baby, so you want to leave us in this suffer-head country,” he says. I want to tell him that poor people don’t live in gra. Almost everything in this house looks like it came from overseas. “You will do well in Europe; for a nineteen year old, you are very smart and beautiful. I hope you won’t forget us like some of them that we help to get out of this poor place?” “Stop calling me sir,” he says, winking, “are you in a rush, my boy is not back from Lagos yet, he has gone to get the admission letter that will show that you are going to school in Italy. You will have to wait small.” I don’t want to spend another minute, but I have no choice. “Wetin you go drink, abi you dey hungry? Benson — Bensooonnnnn o. This useless houseboy nor dey hear well. Bensonnnn!” He calls at the top of his voice. I don’t know if Prince is married because I don’t see any sign of woman or family pictures on the table or wall. Maybe they are abroad. “Sahhhh!” I hear a voice. The houseboy, who is a man actually, comes in running, almost tripping on the center table. Benson is holding a white towel in his hand; probably he was cleaning. He is short with a police recruit haircut. “Sah!” he announces his arrival. “Ask Itohan what she wants to eat or drink and stop saying sah sah!” “Madam wetin make I bring for you?” He turns to me. BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE “Itohan sit down na, why are you behaving like stranger?” 11 We keep walking in a long passageway that ends in Prince’s parlor where music is coming from the ceiling. The red rug swallows my leg, it is thick. Thick brown leather chairs form a semi-circle in the middle of the parlor. A flat screen tv larger than a blackboard hangs on the wall near where Prince is talking loudly on the phone. He has just taken his bath and is still wearing a towel; his hairy legs with stubborn black spots that have resisted his original bleaching cream are exposed. He is screaming and pacing up and down: “Adesua, you are playing with fire, you hear! If you think you can run away with my money and hide peacefully in Milan, you are joking. I will sniff you out dead or alive!” His eyes are red now, “You will see…you will see Adesua, na this Benin you go come meet me. You go know say my name na Prince…na me get Italy and I will catch you like rat!” He throws the phone on the glass center-table and it slides down to the edge of the table and stops.