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|Gentlemen Of The Bar by virgo(f): 10:32am On Oct 17, 2014|
Copyright © 2014 by Umari Ayim
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof
may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever
without the express written permission of the publisher
except for the use of brief quotations in a book review
Updates will be available on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Slowly, very slowly the world spins, taking me with it, turning me in wild circles until I feel that familiar feeling – the feeling of being light and far away from the gold and black damask curtains hanging stiffly from the windows with the weight of over familiarity and dismissal, the gray and sometimes black rug I have not gotten around to changing no matter how many times I jot down neat and self condemning reminders in my daily planner, the too large queen size double bed that seems to get bigger with each passing day, the forty nine inch Samsung black panel LCD television dutifully gathering dust on the black wood and glass television stand with steel legs, and the ceiling to floor mirror throwing fragments of my reflection back at me as I bask in one minute of magic and madness
“It doesn’t matter if I am off the beat…”
I lift my shoulder up and pretend I am being controlled by the strings of a puppeteer – like they said in the belly dance video. I rotate my shoulders and try unsuccessfully to do a shoulder shimmy. I give up and go back to Dan Pearce.
“It doesn’t matter if I am snapping to the rhythm…”
I should be happy.
It is not every day that your father, a shrewd lawyer and unrepentant manipulator, one who had mastered the art of changing his mind as often as he won court cases, the one who hounded you for years about being single-minded and ambitious and…single would finally turn around and eat his words.
Yes, eat his words.
I smile, throw my head back and breathe.
“It doesn’t matter if I look like a complete goon when I dance…”
The walk to the mirror is slow and when I do it, I go with the fantasies – fantasies of me on that high backed chair, in the dark room where blinds were pulled tightly over the windows by workers permanently stooped from cowing before my father, a room you approached on the balls of your feet and grazed the door with a slight brush of your knuckle.
The dragon’s chamber.
The slaughter lab.
The room of he-who-must-be-obeyed.
A thousand words run through my mind, all reminders of my whispered taunts and the resentment that has been my companion for the past twenty years of my thirty one years. We are just in the eleventh day of the two thousand and fourteen but I am back in that office, in that white and blue corporate edifice where my father rules supreme. A place where lawyers shiver at his summon and wealthy clients whip out cheques to settle six figure fees at his persuasion.
“It is my dance. It is my moment. It is mine. And dance I will.”
I know I should be sad, and maybe a little worried about his diabetes, about the doctors that visit him daily with their starched shirts and officious attitudes, but I am not. His health was being taken care of. My pride was still battered, broken and in pieces.
I should have had a son. You won’t get married. You won’t give me a grandson. You have not done anything for me Angela. Nothing! You will not get the firm. I will never leave it to you until at least have a son.
I close my eyes and stop the tears just in time. The earth rights itself and the sun breaks through the darkness caused by the memory of one of my father’s many tirades. I open my eyes, smile at the slim woman wearing a white tank top over blue cuffed shorts staring back at me from the mirror and summon a more recent and pleasing memory.
I am sick. The doctors say I should take the time off work and concentrate on getting better….
You will be taking over…
Yes…as senior partner. I have asked Ugonna to prepare some files for you to look into.
There was the caveat of course.
You are not to take any decision without informing me. I will be telling you what to do…until I can trust you.
I shrug off the scathing end of the last statement and concentrate on the victory. I, Angela Ranti Oyelowo had made partner and that was the most important thing this morning. The smile still on my face, I walk to the bed and sit at the edge. I throw one hand out to reach for my phone which is lying face down in the middle of the bed and it vibrates immediately with a call. I smile. Amina. She must have heard.
“Hey partner. Good morning.”
“Senior partner,” I gloat.
“Oh shut up. Congratulations anyway.”
“So tell me how it happened. How did you get him to change his mind?”
I tell Amina about the sickness. There are no secrets between us. Amina is sympathetic and says eyah and sorry after every pause.
“But at least he can rest now. We can rest.”
We laugh together.
“Yes we can.”
“Did I tell you, Aminu called? We will talk when you come to work on Monday.”
Agatha is the next person I call. Like Amina, she makes happy noises and toasts to a Martin Oyelowo free workplace.
“Ah,” she says, breathing her relief and causing static to fill my ears. “If only you know how relieved I am. I am not happy about the sickness o, I am just happy we can work without all that tension.”
“Well, me too.”
“And to think that you are now my boss. The wonders of two thousand and fourteen.”
“At least I know what to expect from you, so it is all good.”
“Maybe you can call me ma, no oga will do.”
“Ha, I am laughing. Later.”
“And oh, has he called you…Reuben?”
I smile. “No.”
“I am sure he will call you when he hears the news and when he congratulates you, just know he is crying into his shirt.”
I laugh again. “You are crazy Agatha.”
Agatha laughs and ends the call. I go back to my thoughts in the silence. Reuben. The tall, gangly divorcee who had immediately become my best friend and confidant from the very first day he walked into the firm. That was three years ago. A lot of things have changed since then. The truth had found its way past bright warming smiles, reassuring back pats and understanding eyes, and struck me raw like an unexpected blow. I had been devastated. I had ended the friendship and rebuilt the walls around my heart.
“I knew he was up to something. He is always with your father,” Agatha had told me that fateful morning when the truth came out. “I never liked him.”
Reuben stayed after the betrayal. I wondered why at the beginning, but in the end, I decided that it was not his ability for winning even the most difficult cases that made my father keep him. It was the hope that would I change my mind that guaranteed Reuben the place of the most trusted junior partner in the firm. The realization was as unsettling as it was upsetting. I used the only weapon I had against Reuben. I kept a grudge.
We teach girls to shrink themselves
To make themselves smaller
I look down at my phone. Reuben’s round face is staring up at me, his chin tilted and supercilious.
We say to girls, you can have ambition but not too much
You should aim to be successful but not too successful
I press the answer button and cut Chimamanda’s voice off.
“Happy New Year.”
“Same to you.”
“You are taking your father’s place.”
Agatha’s words return and I relish the picture they conjure.
There is an awkward pause. I lower my phone from my ear and check the screen if he is still there. He is. I roll my eyes and go back to the call.
“So urm…I guess we’ll meet at the office….oga.”
Reuben’s accompanying laugh is dry and affected. I smile this time.
“Have a good day Ranti.”
I am jarred by his use of my other name. There is a suggestion of intimacy and I balk against it.
“I will appreciate it if you stick to Angela like everyone else.”
“I will do my best to remember that.”
I imagine his trademark snicker playing on his thin lips as he says those words. I cut the call and dump the phone on my bed.
My mood shifts again when I think of my good fortune. I push thoughts of Reuben to the back of my mind, lie back on the bed and dream of my new office.
SOMEWHERE IN THE HOUSE
The man lifts a lazy finger and pushes down the button on his arm rest. A soft whirring fills the dark study as the recliner pushes backward and the footrest moves up, settling him in his favourite position. The ambience of the room is soft and meditative with low overhead lights casting soft shadows over the themes of black, burgundy red and cream tones. A spicy woody fragrance permeates the air, lifting the man’s pedigree and wealth from the soft leather recliner and flinging it against the walls, so that room and man become one. Framed canvases sit on the wall, some of them hold still life art and some hold images of the man frozen with governors, ministers and the powerful forces he called allies. Gleaming bookshelves made from dark mahogany hold volumes of law reports and autobiographies of men he admires. There is a large flat screen television at the far end of the room but it is silent. A Channels News reporter mimes her words, her tight plaited hair exaggerating the height of her forehead.
The man shifts. Pensive eyes lift towards the high vaulted ceiling.
The stupid diabetes.
“The last thing I need.”
He sighs. His phone rings.
“Good morning sir.”
“Good morning Reuben.”
Shadows gather on the man’s brows.
“Heard what Reuben?”
“That erm…Angela is taking over from you.”
You did not think I was going to give you the firm after failing the assignment, did you?
The words are unspoken but the man’s silence conveys them all the same. The younger man hems and haws and hurries off the phone. A small smile lifts the face of the man in the study and he returns the phone to the shiny surface of his table. He liked this game. Intimidation was the drug that kept him alive. It was his revenge against a God that refused to give him a son and had instead given him diabetes.
“There is still so much to do,” he complains to the empty room. “Nothing can stop me from becoming senior advocate.”
He reaches for the button on the arm rest again and pushes himself forward. The blue plastic file is still on his desk. He leans forward and caresses it with loving fingers.
“Nothing,” he swears quietly.
The intercom rings, interrupting his brooding. He reaches for the receiver without taking his eyes off the file.
“Sir, there is a man here to see you. His name is Naden Tare George.”
“Send him in.”
The man straightens his spine and waits for his guest.
My privacy is violated by a plump, round faced woman with a gap toothed smile who just happens to be my grandmother.
“Aderanti, please come downstairs,” she says, standing in the doorway and bequeathing me with one of her cajoling smiles. “Prophet Jeremiah is asking for you.”
I sigh. Prophecy seeking was among my grandmother’s favourite pastimes. If she was not haranguing about my slim build, she was off seeking prophecies that claimed goodies in the future.
“I don’t want to see any prophet.”
“Please now Omoluabi, my sweet darling. Don’t worry, this one will not take time. He is not like Prophet Femi.”
I want to complain but my grandmother’s gap toothed smile is a terrible thing. It is my Achilles heel. I make a face but pull myself from my bed and follow her downstairs to our unnecessarily large living room with gray marble floors, black leather sofas arranged in a U pattern and a television screen covering most of the wall opposite the sofas.
Prophet Jeremiah is a fat sweaty man with a dull white cassock and a red Bible he keeps zipping open. My mother is sitting beside him, well coiffed and perpetually nervous. Her small white container of blood pressure pills is sitting on the glass stool beside her. She gives me an apologetic smile. I cross the room and take the sofa next to her. True to my grandmother’s words, Prophet Jeremiah’s prayer session is shorter than that of the last prophet. He falls into a frenzy of Halleluyahs and the Lord-told-mes
I nod stiffly and say a prayer for my neck.
“The Lord told me that you have met your husband.”
I quirk my eyebrow at him but lower it when I catch my grandmother’s eyes.
“Erm… I am single.”
“I mean, the Lord said that you will meet your husband.”
“The Lord told me to tell you to stop placing yourself higher than a man. The Lord told me to tell you that you must be humble. You must not be too proud. The devil use pride to defeat many of our young women so that they can’t find husband. Halleluyah?”
I twist my lips and look at my grandmother. She is quick to avert her eyes, but the guilt on her face gives her away as the source of the prophet’s last prophecy. I am glad when it all comes to an end. I escape upstairs but meet another interruption. Fausat, my cousin. A happy go lucky teenager with a pierced tongue and an occasional stutter. Fausat who had just clocked one month with us after her irate mother, tired of her antics had flown in with her from America and dumped her with us for what she called ‘an African upbringing’. Fausat is leaning on her door frame when I walk past. She gives me a conspiratorial wink.
“The…the…pastor has he…he gone?”
“Nope. He is still downstairs,” I answer Fausat, walking past her. The soft click of a door closing makes me happy until Fausat appears at my side. I give a start.
“Stop creeping, I told you I don’t like it.”
“Sorry,” Fausat says, sweeping past me and pushing my room door open. I walk behind her into the room and close the door as she dumps herself on my bed with a sigh.
“You are kinda uptight, why?”
I walk to the dark green loveseat in the corner of the room and sit facing Fausat. I watch her arrange herself in a lotus position and then defend myself.
“I am not uptight.”
Fausat smiles and then turn her nose up at me. “Yes, you are. Sorta…sno…snobbish too.”
I give a resigned shrug. “If you say so.”
“Do you have…urm…a boyfriend?”
I shrug. “No reason.”
Fausat makes a face.
Fausat toys with her earlobe for some minutes and cocks her head in my direction. Dark brown eyes study me under a microscope.
“Do you speak Yoruba?”
Fausat abandons her earlobe and nods enthusiastically.
“Me too. Wai….wait, I’ll tell you a story.”
I hear through jumbled adjectives and drawled adverbs the story of my cousin’s rebellious not too distant junior high school years. We get to the climax in minutes.
“So my teacher gave me detention. you know what a detention is right?”
I barely nod before Fausat continues her story.
“Well, I do it and when I leave the class in the end, I say wey rey niyen. Cool right?”
I find myself smiling. “Okay?”
“So she asked me, Fausat…” Fausat pauses to do a shrill mimic of her teacher’s voice. “What did you just say? Are you cursing at me?” Fausat goes back to her voice. “I tell her no, no, I am not cursing at you. I just told you good day, wey rey niyen means good day in Africa and she buys it, can you believe it?”
I chuckle in amusement and nod to encourage Fausat’s story.
“And the next day she sees me, she says wey rey ni yen to you Fausat, I hope you had a nice night. I say wey rey ni yen back.”
I laugh. Fausat beams at me.
“Okay now…now…I…I think you are cool.”
“My mum, she didn’t think it was cool. She kept saying I am bad and all, but I am not. My teacher was a meanie.”
The wall of communication torn down, Fausat looks at me with a new light in her eyes.
“And urm…did…did I tell you? There is handsome man downstairs.”
“Ewww no. A tall dude in white shirt. I think he came to see uncle.”
Fausat untangles herself, pushes off my bed and walks to the window. She is disappointed to find the view of our shrub lined backyard.
“Let’s go to my room,” she says, marching over to me and tugging my hand from my lap. “We’ll see…see him when he is leaving. Maybe he
can be your boyfriend.”
I harrumph but let Fausat pull me to her room. I am surprised to see that Fausat’s room is tidy and neatly arranged. There is no time to express my surprise to my cousin. Her hand clamped on my wrist, she drags me, determination all over her face, to the window.
OUTSIDE THE OYELOWO HOUSE
I nod at the man that holds the door open for me and step out into the harmattan. My car is still warm from the drive down here. The meeting had lasted for only a few minutes. I had been rattled by the man’s terms but there had been nothing else to do but accept them. I open my car and settle in the welcoming confines of worn black leather. A loud drumming begins in one of the consoles beside my gear box. I pick Henry’s call.
“He gave me the job.”
A shout of excitement, followed by effusive congratulating deafens me and makes me forget my foreboding for a minute.
“I know say im go give you the job. You get skills na.”
I throw my head back on the headrest of my seat.
“The job get as e be.”
“Don’t worry when I come we will talk.”
“Not really sha. E just dey somehow.”
“Okay na. I dey office now. I go drive come your house after work.”
The call with Henry over, I return the phone back to the console and lean back in my seat, my attention on the white brick style house outside. My eyes go up the building and stop at a window. Two pairs of eyes watch me with careful interest from the half open window. One is haughty and the other one, openly interested. I straighten in my seat and the eyes withdraw from the window. I breathe deeply and reach for my ignition. I turn my key and make my decision.
“Oh my God,” Fausat says, still under the window sill. “He saw us.”
I nod absentmindedly, my mind still churning out answers to the questions that had sprung up a minute ago. “I guess.”
“You guess?” Fausat asks, eyes round as she crawls on all fours on her deep blue rug to meet me on the bed. “He saw us. He was looking at you…like…like he knew you.”
I shake my head. “I don’t know him.”
Fausat rises to her feet and sits beside me.
“See? He already likes you.”
I give Fausat an incredulous look and then sigh.
“You are ridiculous sometimes.”
“Now, you will have a boyfriend,” Fausat says, looking very pleased with herself. “I’m…gonna ask him if he can be your boyfriend.”
I storm out of Fausat’s room and head for my room. Inside, I turn the key in the lock and settle on the bed in deep thought.
What is my father up to?
Umari writes at www.umariayim.com
5 Likes 5 Shares
|Re: Gentlemen Of The Bar by SMALLPENIS(f): 1:28pm On Oct 17, 2014|
*chewing popcorn,butter and zobo*
|Re: Gentlemen Of The Bar by Souljaboi1: 3:07pm On Oct 17, 2014|
Its nice to see you back. I hope 'Egbon' apologized ?
|Re: Gentlemen Of The Bar by Mutaino7(m): 3:12pm On Oct 17, 2014|
virgo nah u i 4low cum diz side of the continent.. Its bin long u made an appearance.. Hope dis will b entertaining as usual.
|Re: Gentlemen Of The Bar by virgo(f): 5:58pm On Oct 17, 2014|
Egbon and I are cool.
|Re: Gentlemen Of The Bar by virgo(f): 6:00pm On Oct 17, 2014|
Lol. Thanks for following me jare. As for the story being entertaining, you know I always do my best.
|Re: Gentlemen Of The Bar by LaurinaDavid(f): 8:53am On Oct 20, 2014|
auntie virgo, i followed you till you became auntie umari, now i've followed you here again, me i'm waiting for chapter 20 oooooo, more ink to your biro, more grease to your elbow
|Re: Gentlemen Of The Bar by Braggante(m): 11:43am On Oct 20, 2014|
Perhaps I have not been reading much, but this right here is one of the best I've read (of course by an 'unpublished', thats if you have not yet). This is incredible. you have it. You are the star. I love your descriptive powers, your use and choice of words. There's a lot to learn from you.
Well done Ma. Apparently, you're a lawyer. Clap clap clap!
Do keep writing please.
|Re: Gentlemen Of The Bar by virgo(f): 12:09pm On Oct 20, 2014|
My name is Naden Tare George. Today is the day I resume work at one of the most prestigious firms in Lagos. Oyelowo and Co. It is sometimes hard to take in, this unexpected stroke of good luck. In the past few days, I have tried to forget with the help of Henry and his rambunctious group of friends in bars where the lights hung low and football matches streamed live on small flat television screens on the walls, but this morning, there is no way to escape reality as orange rays of a waking sun slant on my bright green walls. I flip on my back and eye the mold lined ceiling. Some of the memories come back.
I think of the man. I think of the cold eyes that fixed you with a hard stare every time you answered one of the questions thrown at you in a toneless voice. I think of the thin lips that twisted in a sneer when you reeled out your academic feats. I remember the nose that appeared to turn in derision when you talked about your former job. In the end, only a nod, one so small that you think you imagined it, informs you of the decision to employ you. Then you hear the rules, the conditions and you try not to worry, because you see, moving from a small law firm in the rowdy and polluted area of Masha, Surulere to big law firm located in the posh environs in Lekki, is quite an achievement.
So this morning as a religious zealotry reached my ears through the unfriendly whine of a loudspeaker, damning all unbelievers to hell for not accepting the gospel, I stretch my stiff muscles, drag myself to the edge of the bed and throw my legs to the cold tiled floor. As I walk away from the bed, a voice from my past stops me dead in my tracks.
Tare you don pray this morning? Why you no dey pray for morning? Why you no dey thank God for morning?
I retrace my steps back to the bed with a sigh and drop on my knees beside it. I clasp my hands together, bow my head and rush through the Lord’s Prayer.
“Thank you and amen,” I cross myself and rise once again to my feet.
I refuse to think about my lack of religious conviction and I walk to the bathroom. In the narrow space of broken brown tiles and rusting railings, the taps splutter and hiss in defiance, denying me water. I shake my head and turn away from the bathroom to the kitchen where the hulking presence of the giant black drum Henry had recommended holds some of the water I had transferred into it from the kitchen tap yesterday. As I scoop out water from it into the waiting bucket beside it, I make a mental note to refill it when I return from work in the evening.
I leave the bathroom after my bath to find missed calls from my mother. I slip on my boxers, sit on the bed and call her.
“Good morning mama. I saw your calls. How far?”
My mother’s answer is cheerful. She talks about her health and her small retail business, peppering it with enthusiastic thank-Gods. She asks about my new job. I tell her I am resuming today. There is an outpouring of prayers and well wishes in Pidgin English. I smile and thank her. There is a pregnant pause after that. I can sense she has something on her mind.
“Is everything okay?”
There is a pause and then a denial.
“No. Nothing dey happen. Why you dey ask?”
“I don’t know. I am just wondering.”
My mother falls silent and I know my intuition is right. Something is wrong. Another thought is whispered into my mind.
“Is it Boma? Has he done something again?”
A long drawn out sigh makes my stomach fold into half. My younger brother Boma, black sheep extraordinaire, rebel without a cause and occasional law breaker is always the reason for the occasional hiccup in my mother’s voice.
“I dey here.”
I switch to pidgin out of frustration.
“Tell me if something don happen na. If na Boma, tell me.”
“Na Boma,” my mother confirms, her voice lowering with sadness.
I exhale and imagine the worst.
“Something don happen?”
“Police don arrest am again.”
I exhale again, but this time in relief. He was still alive. That fact was most important to me. Boma was the apple of my mother’s eyes. After my father’s death had denied her a male to pamper, she had turned her affection on Boma, accepting him as the center upon which her whole life revolved. Initially, I had felt alone and resentful, but like my mother, I loved Boma and wanted the best for him. However as we grew older and our lives took different turns, I had steadily grown into the arrogant distant elder brother with a career that made him think he was better than everyone else. Those were Boma’s words during a recent disagreement. They still rankled. Every now and then, I bristle at the memory of those scathing words and swear never to have anything to do with him, yet I know I must, because if Boma goes to an early grave, he is taking my mother with him and I love my mother too much to dream of a life without her.
“So wetin dem arrest am for?”
I look down at the hexagonal lines of the tiles under my feet. I think about my last trip to Bayelsa. I had been jarred out my orderly life by an SOS text from my mother about Boma. After a hurried explanation to my boss about family urgency, I had taken the next flight to Port Harcourt and boarded a bus to Bayelsa. It was the third of many of Boma’s brushes with the law but it had been serious enough to keep him behind bars for two days. The arrest had been over an armed robbery attack in the home of prominent local female politician who lived across the bar Boma and his gang of friends liked to visit.
The woman had decided that Boma’s dark brooding manner and his circle of neighbourhood misfits was threatening enough to make him an accomplice in the robbery that had seen her lose two of her cars, so she called the police on him. Boma was taken to the police station at Amarata. I had gone there with my mother the following day after arriving Yenogoa. Standing beside the DPO’s table, his blue long sleeve shirt torn at the left shoulder, Boma had been adamant that he was framed by the woman who he claimed bribed the police to arrest him because he rejected her amorous advances. He had chosen to glower at the DPO while I leaned heavily on criminal law, going back and forth with the DPO over the conditions for his bail. The decorous atmosphere would however prove too hard for Boma to maintain.
I don’t know why you are begging him. I did not do it! I don’t know anything. The woman is lying. Just because person no gree for am, na im make she carry my name come give una. Make I just comot for this place.
The DPO had threatened him with incarceration. Boma had stood his ground and dared the DPO as my mother wept into the edge of her wrapper in the stuffy office.
You wan lock me? Lock me na. The one wey una do never do. Lock me again.
The DPO had swelled in rage at Boma’s dare, the buttons around his swollen midriff threatening to burst free from the threads that held them in place as he hyperventilated. He had summoned one of his junior officers with a loud voice and ordered him to return Boma to his cell. Boma had shrugged and swaggered to the door, leaving my mother to wail as the door closed after him. It was then that I realized how little my legal posturing would help Boma’s case. I reached inside the inner pocket of my suit jacket for the bulky white envelope that contained most of my savings at that time. As my hand left my jacket and moved towards the DPO, the electricity in the air disappeared. The DPO’s dark frown was replaced by a very toothy smile. We would chat like old friends as minutes passed, talking about everything from football, to religion, to sport as he counted the money in the envelope with fingers wetted with gobs of saliva to make sure he wasn’t missing a note.
“So what do we do now? You know I cannot come to Yenogoa.”
My mother sighs. I feel the pressure.
“But you know,” I insist, doing my best not to let frustration win this time. “I am about to start a new job and this man….he is giving me an opportunity you know. I don’t want to misuse it.”
“No worry Tare. God go do something. I wan go meet Brother Josiah for Government House. Maybe im go do something for Boma.”
Brother Josiah was my mother’s elder brother and the Assistant Press Secretary to the Bayelsa Governor. He was a short bespectacled character as well as a miser who gave my mother more excuses than he gave her money. Brother Josiah lived with his three daughters in a five bedroom duplex in Baybridge, Yenogoa. Sometimes the gate men at the towering high gates of the duplex told you he was around, sometimes they told you he was not. It all depended on your call to Brother Josiah the day before your visit. If your request was money, you got the not-around answer.
I sigh and desist from discouraging my mother’s visit to her brother. There was no other alternative.
After another round of prayers, my mother ends the call. I lower the phone from my ear and hang my head for some minutes. My younger brother’s face flashes in my mind’s eye. I try to summon some angst to keep me aloof from his troubled existence but my efforts end in vain. There is a dull ache where anger should be. I lift my head up, prompted by my ringing phone. I see the name on the screen and sigh. Another burden in my life I was having difficulty shedding.
We wait. I wait actually. There is nothing to say. I have run out of words of discouragement for my married ex girlfriend. I rely on silence to convey my decision to end communication.
“Can I come and see you today?”
Erotic images play on the projector of my mind. Esiri’s butter yellow skin is soft and yielding again, her moans invoking lust and powerlessness as her ringed finger touches me in places that no woman has ever touched me. It had taken every shred of control in me to stop the adultery from happening. My body crying for release, I had opened the door of my living room and let a disappointed Esiri out of my apartment. I had sworn that that would be the last time and had done everything to avoid her since then.
“No Esiri, you can’t.”
“Nothing is not a good reason.”
“Esiri you are married. Let’s stop talking please.”
“You are saying this because you know I still love you.”
I let out a dry laugh.
“And you married someone else?”
“Are we going to do this again?”
I lean sideways and pick my gold wristwatch from the table beside the bed. Seven thirty. I return the watch back to the table.
“Do what Esiri?”
“This whole you married someone else routine?”
“Yes we are. I am not committing adultery with you.”
There is a short silence and I use the opportunity to walk to the built in wardrobe where I find my white button down short hanging among the cluster of dark brown suits. I pick a suit jacket and trouser, and also reach for the red tie hanging from the wooden peg of the wardrobe door. I drop them on the bed the same time Esiri finds her voice again.
“You weren’t ready.”
“And I said wait for me to get a better job, didn’t I?”
“But you know….Naden. My parents.”
I walk to the mirror and examine the sprout of new beard covering my face. I think of shaving but change my mind.
“Okay, your parents were on your case. They said you were not getting younger, right?”
“You have said this a thousand times Esiri. It changes nothing. You are still married.”
“Maybe I could get a divorce.”
I begin to laugh because Esiri’s words strike me as funny.
“Are you serious? You want to leave your husband after one month together?”
Esiri’s silence tells me she is serious.
“Wait, are you serious?”
“Maybe I am.”
I shake my head.
“No Esiri. I don’t want you to leave your husband. We should stop talking. It is not helping.”
Esiri is hard to shake off but after a series of warnings, I cut her plea for another visit off before emotions overwhelm reason. I wear my clothes and stand before the mirror, adjusting my tie, one eye on the phone sitting on my new leather laptop case as I expect his call. It is five minutes to eight when it comes.
“Meet me at the house before nine.”
I slip my phone into the pocket of my trouser, pick my laptop case off the bed and leave the room. It was time to pay my dues.
This morning I have decided to let my hair down. I left the house with Fausat’s praise trailing behind me like the enticing scent of an expensive perfume.
Wow, just loo…look at you. So pretty. I bet your gonna get a boyfriend today.
I nod my head and tap my fingers to the music coming from the car speakers. I don’t know the words but I am happy enough to dance to meaningless lyrics this morning. My first day as senior partner at Oyelowo and Co. I swing my head back and forth and wave an impatient motorist forward. No sweat. Life is easy.
The drive to the office is done in ten minutes. As I drive into the estate where my father had spent millions acquiring a stately two story white with impressive columns for his law practice, I smile and wave with youthful exuberance at the uniformed gate man that holds the gate open for me. I spy the old gate man exchange a baffled look with his colleague from the rear view mirror. I shrug and smile.
“Good morning ma,” David, our new lawyer with a round cherubic face a barely dry call to bar certificate greets when I walk into the cool reception of the firm.
“David, really. I have told you about calling me ma. I am Angela.”
“Sorry,” David apologizes, smiling awkwardly at me and reaching to adjust his too tight tie. I nod.
I look at the sturdy black attaché case beside him.
“Are you going to court?”
“Yes, High Court Igbosere.”
I nod. “Okay. What case?”
“Adegoke versus Marine Management. Court two.”
I nod again, the facts of the case coming back to me. It was one of the firm’s longest running cases. It has been ten years since it was first instituted and after several counter claims and further affidavits, we were nowhere near the end of the case.
“Yes ma…sorry,” David laughs and scratches the top of his head. “Ange…Angela.”
I smile. “Okay.”
I look away from David to nod in answer to the greeting of the receptionist, a petite light complexioned young woman in her twenties who wore ruffled blouses and sometimes spoke legalese.
“Good morning Laide.”
Three lawyers make their entry and another round of polite greetings ensues. The smiles are warm and the handshakes telling. It is clear that they know. They kiss the ring one after the other, complimenting my orange chiffon top and black skirt with colourful words and exaggerated deference. I thank them and watch them slink into their cubicles for early morning gossip. I turn to David again.
“So you know what to expect?”
David nods enthusiastically.
“What to say?”
“Yes, yes,” David says again, pushing his chest out. “May it please this Honourable Court, David Pam appearing for the first and second
defendants, appearing here with me…..” David stops in time, eyes lowering in embarrassment again. “Sorry, I forgot I am going alone. I will not say appearing with me.”
Bowing with flourish, David grabs the retractable handle of the attaché case and wheels it out with him as he hurries out of the firm. I turn to my office and wait for my father’s secretary. A phone call to her thirty minutes ago had been fraught with communication difficulties.
I am not sure I understand you Angela. You said I should do what?
The office. My father’s office. Please come and clear it for me. I am moving there this morning.
I said clear the office Ugonna. Can you hear me?
I can hear you but I don’t understand.
I had understood with Angela, sympathized with her for being befuddled. I couldn’t blame her. My promotion still surprised me. I resolved to
show more kindness.
I know you are surprised. Sorry Ugonna. I am surprised too. I hope you had a great time during the holidays. The thing is my father has made me senior partner and I will be taking over his office.
Oh…really? Erm I don’t know. Are you sure?
My kindness had dissolved under the heat of Ugonna’s scrutiny.
What do you mean am I sure? Am I supposed to lie about something like that?
I had put on my best senior partner voice.
I will expect you in the office before nine. Thank you.
I drop my car keys on the table, look around my soon to be former office with a smile. Yes.
I turn off the engine and look through the review mirror at the black tinted Mercedes as it draws to a stop before the tall white building. I see the door opening and grab my laptop bag from the passenger seat. I leave the car and lock it with a turn of my key from the driver’s side. He is immaculately dressed in charcoal black suit, a formidable frown on his face as he alights from the Mercedes. I keep my steps measured as I approach him.
I do not like idiots. Don’t be one.
His words control every step I take. I keep my shoulders straight and chin lifted. When I reach him, I find a shadow of a smile playing on his lips.
“Are you ready?”
We walk into the building together.
|Re: Gentlemen Of The Bar by virgo(f): 12:10pm On Oct 20, 2014|
Agatha is visibly upset. Her case at the High Court had not gone as well as she had hoped. She swears and rants against a conspiracy she thinks has been formed against her. I listen to her vent against the lawyer that had represented the other parties in the case of a frustrated property recovery. We represented the owner of the property, a ten storey building behind Silverbird Galleria.
“The idiot just kept giving excuses for not showing up in court the last time. He said his father was sick and he had to travel to see him, can you imagine? And this was after he claimed to have gone home to bury his uncle.”
“Did you point it out to the judge?”
“I did and as I was speaking the goat kept saying I was pre-empting him.”
I almost ask Agatha who the goat is, but she swears softly under her breath and crosses her arms against her chest.
“The lawyer right?”
Agatha’s frown darkens.
“Sorry. So the case was adjourned then?”
“Yes, the fool asked for one and the judge gave him.”
“Did you ask for costs?”
“I did, but the judge refused.”
“He was just being a man. You know the male paddy paddy thing. A judge is supposed to be impartial but no o, not Agbalajobi. He must nod to everything the cow says. Agama.”
I can’t help laughing.
Agatha’s face softens.
“I hate men sometimes.”
“No you don’t. You just hate this particular man and I understand why. If someone frustrates me with adjournments, I would hate him too.”
A sudden flurry of activities in the hallway cuts our conversation short. Agatha and I walk to the door to see a surprising sight. I walk towards my father and the man with him.
My father nods.
I look at the man again and recognize him. The stranger from the house. What is he doing here?
“Why?” My father repeats, eyebrows drawing together. “What do you mean why?”
I retreat. “Sorry.”
Looking sideways, my father seeks a quivering Laide.
“Where is Ugonna?”
“She is in her office.”
Ugonna is already here? And she had not stopped at my office to let me know?
There is no time to worry about Ugonna’s disregard. I concentrate on working out a reason for my father’s surprise visit.
“Call her for me,” my father barks, marching down the marble floors of the hallway to his office. I watch the man follow closely at his heels. I stare in confusion at their rigid backs.
But he is supposed to be sick.
I stand stiffly beside the desk and try not to look at the slim figure in orange and black beside me. The man facing us could as well be a stranger. His eyes are cold and his demeanour aloof as he looks from me to the woman who is his daughter.
“So he will be here,” my new boss says, tapping the well polished surface of his desk lightly with his forefinger. “You will assist him from your office.”
“Not now Ranti. I don’t have time for this. Naden will take over for some time. I know what I said. Just work with Naden for now.”
“So I guess he is the new senior partner.”
Barrister Oyelowo seems to hesitate before adding.
“And you too.”
The woman laughs. The sound is dry and bitter.
“Me? Senior partner? From my office?”
“Yes Ranti from your office,” Barrister Oyelowo answers, pushing his hands deep into his pockets. “Do you have any objections to this?”
There is a sullen silence from the woman and I can’t help but steal a sideways glance at her. Beautiful with a detached air that seemed to be borrowed from her father, she is stone faced at the moment, her lips tight with anger.
“No,” she says at last, drawing her shoulders higher.
“Good,” Barrister Oyelowo says with a smirk. “Please sit down Naden,” he adds patting the black leather recliner behind his desk. “I expect you
to start work immediately.”
I watch him turn to his daughter and nods curtly.
“Bye Ranti. See you at home.”
We are alone when he leaves. The woman Ranti glares at me as we face each other – me from an incredibly soft recliner that feels like heaven
and she from the other side of the desk.
“Pleased to meet you Ranti.”
“Angela,” she spits, turning on her heels and leaving the office, the door slamming in her wake.
I lean back on the recliner and close my eyes. Barrister Oyelowo’s voice plays in my mind.
Now, let me tell you something about my daughter. She is very stubborn. Beautiful too but too stubborn, but this is my fault you see. I made her to be that way…taught her to have a mind of her own. Made her play chess at an early age. Don’t let your guard down around her. Keep the file from her. I don’t like idiots, Don’t be one.
I open my eyes.
The battle line is drawn.
3 Likes 1 Share
|Re: Gentlemen Of The Bar by virgo(f): 12:12pm On Oct 20, 2014|
Aww...thanks love. As for episode 20, it will be up this week.
|Re: Gentlemen Of The Bar by virgo(f): 12:13pm On Oct 20, 2014|
Thanks Braggante. I am humbled by your kind words.
|Re: Gentlemen Of The Bar by Nobody: 1:53pm On Oct 20, 2014|
I'm ur new follower. I've just fallen in love with ur story.
|Re: Gentlemen Of The Bar by virgo(f): 2:17pm On Oct 20, 2014|
Great to hear.
|Re: Gentlemen Of The Bar by zyzxx(m): 3:29pm On Oct 20, 2014|
Am following you bumper to bumper
|Re: Gentlemen Of The Bar by rufychuks: 3:56pm On Oct 20, 2014|
|Re: Gentlemen Of The Bar by virgo(f): 4:53pm On Oct 20, 2014|
|Re: Gentlemen Of The Bar by virgo(f): 4:53pm On Oct 20, 2014|
|Re: Gentlemen Of The Bar by swtdarling(f): 7:10pm On Oct 20, 2014|
I miss. u oooo
I see u and seun have made up.hehe
why did u abandon ur fans on ur website na
God bless u o
when will u continue your story there na.
|Re: Gentlemen Of The Bar by Nobody: 1:58am On Oct 21, 2014|
Do you enjoy this story and that of others, are you going to keep on reading and not nominate your best writer for the year...and Writers come and vote your best readers...
The other best thing is that you can vote yourself...
Come on be fast
. Vote at the link below...
|Re: Gentlemen Of The Bar by virgo(f): 8:36am On Oct 21, 2014|
Hello love, I have not abandoned you guys. GOTB will be continued there today by God's grace.
|Re: Gentlemen Of The Bar by LaurinaDavid(f): 12:54pm On Oct 21, 2014|
you welcome, i promised never to leave you since the time of Tamisho, would be expecting chap 20....mwuah :*
|Re: Gentlemen Of The Bar by Harmvirus(f): 5:54pm On Oct 21, 2014|
Umari please come back to your website.. I've really missed "gentlemen of the bar" and "unilag runs girl" love your stories ma. Although I've been a ghost reader buh I promise to repent
|Re: Gentlemen Of The Bar by virgo(f): 10:52am On Oct 22, 2014|
I have returned actually.
|Re: Gentlemen Of The Bar by Harmvirus(f): 11:10am On Oct 22, 2014|
Wow! *Starts dancing shoki*
|Re: Gentlemen Of The Bar by virgo(f): 11:13am On Oct 22, 2014|
I open one eye to thick darkness as a small squeak jolts me from the comforting depths of sleep and tosses me rudely to the conscious world of phantom images that creep stealthily towards me like ghosts with malicious intents. Rendered immobile by horror and surprise, I can only watch as the ghosts in the room come together, expand grotesquely before falling back into a compact, single form. The solitary ghost climbs into my bed, presses against me and inhales.
“I think they are fighting again.”
I try to stretch but the ghost which has now become the warm flesh of my cousin has attached itself by my side. I give up my bid to loosen my muscles and yawn instead.
“Aunty and uncle.”
I sigh. “Oh okay.”
Fully awake now, I listen to the soft whirring of the air conditioner in the room. The shadows have now cleared and I make out the small square shapes of the recessed lights in the ceiling. I think of my parents, of the many times I had woken up as a child to their loud arguments and my mother’s keening cries. Then my heart solidifies into that unfeeling mass of revenge and resentment. I hear myself swear in that wide living room with velvet chairs and pictures of old women wearing giant red beads on their neck.
I will be a lawyer. I will put men who fight with their wives in prison.
It was 1998 and my grandmother had been impressed by my solemn declaration as the white of the sky turned to burnt orange over the town of Oshogbo.
Beeni oo omo mi, you will be a lawyer, a very big lawyer.
I had been awarded the sugary treat of coconut chips covered with brown crusty sugar.
Oya wa gba Sisi Pelebe.
“They kinda argue a lot.”
I rub an itchy spot on the tip of my nose.
Fausat says nothing after that. She tightens her crushing grip on me and breathes noisily.
“I love your perfume.”
I wince and begin to pry Fausat’s fingers loose from my side.
Free from Fausat, I pull myself to a sitting position and push to the edge of the bed. I pad barefoot to the bathroom with a full bladder and the sudden reminder of a court case at eleven this morning. I close the door behind me and commence my early morning rituals.
A FEW ROOMS DOWN THE HALLWAY
The man stood a few steps away from the double size bed in the white painted room with ornate drawers and heavy red velvet curtains, a dark scowl on his face as he looked down at the silk covered figure glowering at him with equal dislike from the bed.
“And so what?” he fumed, lips twisting in anger. “What right do you have to ask me about her?”
They had been like this for the past thirty minutes, arguing about his recent friendship with the president of the boat club in Ikoyi where they were both members. The woman on the bed shook her head.
“You are a shameless man Martin Oyelowo,” the woman hissed at her husband, nose turning in contempt, “A useless man.”
The man approached the bed with threatening steps.
“Watch your tongue. Don’t make me lose my temper.”
The woman sprang to her knees, her eyes blazing in fury, neckline plunging awkwardly to one side and exposing the creamy swell of full D cup breasts weighed down by gravity.
“Or you will do what Martin?” she challenged, body shaking with anger. “Or you will do what?”
The man said nothing, his jaw working as he exchanged angry looks with his wife. The woman sank back on her haunches but her eyes still glittered with fury.
“You never get tired. If it is not that your secretary, it is the president’s wife.”
The man’s look became one of scorn.
“You are petty.”
“And you are stupid.”
“I have warned you…”
His wife was not listening.
“Just keep doing your nonsense you hear. Just continue. At least Ranti is grown now. I don’t have any reason to stay in this house.”
A sneer appeared on the man’s face.
“Oh you want to go? What are you waiting for? Do you think I care what you do with yourself?”
The woman hissed, drawing a serpentine sound that conveyed all of the disgust she was feeling at that moment.
“I am sure there are countless men standing outside your father’s house to ask for the hand of a fifty two year old woman in marriage,” the
man continued, his tone derisive as his sneer transformed into a mocking grin.
The woman laughed bitterly.
“Oh is it because I have not been telling you? You just wait. Wait and see Martin. Let me just leave your house first.”
The man scoffed and then turned on his heels. He was at the door in seconds, yanking the handle and stomping into the hallway. His progress was halted by the sight of his mother leaning on the wall opposite the door. He drew himself to his full height, against the disapproval on the older woman’s face. Mother and son said nothing. She glared, eyes reminding him of past family meetings and lengthy advice sessions. He shrugged, forcing the material of his cotton pyjamas top to rise and fall on his shoulders, and then walked away to his study downstairs.
Inside the room, his wife sank back on the bed, eyes brimming with unshed tears.
The man settled into his study, flipping light switches, remote controls and anything he could lay his hands on. When lights burned brightly above him and the television hummed with advert jingles, he stood in the middle of his study, eyes on the small framed Polaroid portrait of his wife in her twenties that sat on his desk. He remembered.
Ooo ah Tolu fimile.
Okay, I’ll let you go if you kiss me just this once.
Ah ooo (giggling) why do you like kissing so much? Is that the latest thing in London?
Okay fine, let me take you back to Surulere. I am sure your mother is expecting you back now.
Are you angry? Are you sure? Oya, come and kiss.
Some of the darkness left his face but he turned the photo face down anyway.
I massage the back of my neck as I read the report of the case on my desk.
The matter was set down today for definite hearing. Tobi Ezekiel and Sumbo Ayeni appeared for Plaintiff/Applicant. Okon Bassey appeared for the Defendant/Respondent.
Tobi moved motion to amend statement of claim as fresh facts had arisen since pleadings were first filed. Counsel to Defendant/Respondent opposed the application, stating that he was not aware of the latest developments and that the motion was only filed on him this morning. He asked the Honourable Court to dismiss the application, stating that several frivolous applications had been brought in the past. He asked for costs to be awarded in his favour.
The Learned Judge asked Tobi why he was just serving the amended statement of claim on the Counsel to the Defendant and Tobi informed the Honourable Court that he had served the amended statement of claim at Defendant Counsel’s office since last week Friday. Tobi thereafter proceeded to provide the Court with evidence of receipt by another Counsel at Counsel to Defendant’s firm.
Citing Order 24, rule 1 of the Lagos High Court Civil Procedure Rules, the Learned Judge in his ruling granted Tobi leave to amend the Statement of Claim.
Consequently, the matter was adjourned to January 24 for Hearing.
Counsel – Sumbo Ayeni
I close the white arch folder with a snap, straighten and push back from my desk. I fetch my jacket from the coat rack beside the desk and push my hands into the sleeves. The door opens and the secretary I had inherited from my boss pokes her head through the door.
“Sir, the meeting you asked me to remind you about. It is about to start.”
“Thank you Ugonna.”
The woman gives me a red lipsticked smile and closes the door so quietly, it barely makes a sound. I pick the file from the desk and leave the office.
Our eyes meet as he walks towards me. I stop short of rolling my eyes and turn to David who is brimming over with curiousity at the moment.
“I have two questions actually,” David continues before breaking off to bob his head at the intruder approaching from the opposite direction. I keep my eyes fastened on David, refusing to give him any more attention.
“Good morning sir.”
His voice is deep and when he answers David, it is with a slow drawl that rolls into my ears with ease.
“Good morning…David, right?”
I scoff inwardly at his drawl.
David bops again, grinning from ear to ear.
I become impatient with the bobbing.
“Oh sorry,” David apologizes, even though his eyes are still fixed adoringly on the man I know is standing at my shoulder. “What I wanted to know is if there is a defence to an action brought years after it occurred?”
I smile and begin to answer David’s question but I never make it.
“You are asking about the limitation law and if there are defences, exceptions when an action becomes statute barred as a result of being instituted years after it occurred, am I right?”
“Yes,” David says, nodding vigorously.
“Actually, there are various limitation periods for different subject matter claims. For actions based on simple contracts….debt recovery, you have six years, twenty years for land recovery by a state authority, twelve years for claims on a deceased person’s personal estate. As for defences and exceptions, the time at which the party became aware of the injury can be a defence. Fraud, the existence of a legal right, unsoundness of mind are also defences.”
“Wow, thank you,” David says, taking his hero worshiping a notch higher. “I am sorry to impose but I have another question…” Pausing to consult the note pad in his right hand, David raises his head to beam brightly at the man behind me. I am completely forgotten but I stand bravely in the shadow of David’s object of worship. “I am trying to review a case and one of the documents attached to pleadings is an unsigned resignation letter. In the university and law school, we were taught that unsigned documents have no value as admissible evidence in the courts of law, so…I don’t know,” David’s grin is sheepish as he attacks an itchy spot at the side of his head which I think is more from anxiousness to please than from a scalp infection. “I wonder why the counsel to the other party attached it to the pleadings.”
“Well, you have answered your question yourself. The law is quite settled on the probative value of unsigned documents. It is useless as a means of proving the claim of its contents. You can look up the case of A.G of Kwara State versus Alao.”
David grins widely, bombarding me with soft pink tissue coated with the fine silver of saliva, and rows and rows of milk white teeth.
“Thank you sir.”
Suddenly remembering me, he turns to me and nods.
“And you too An…Angela.”
I clear my throat to clear hoarseness formed by irritation and smile as brightly as I can manage.
“It’s okay. I am sure he has managed to teach you something.”
David bows before turning away to walk to his office. As soon as the door closes behind him, I turn and then take a step back when I find him-who-is-my-nemesis standing too close to me. His eyes are cool as they appraise me.
I lift my chin up.
“Yes, I believe I said that.”
His eyes narrow and he steps away from me before I can ask him to.
“Okay Angela. I won’t take away your right to pass thinly veiled insults.”
I watch coolly as he looks sideways at the door of the boardroom.
“I believe we are supposed to have a brief meeting here.”
I raise my right eyebrow at him.
“I have a meeting with our lawyers. I am not sure about we.”
He smiles but it is humourless. I replicate his smile.
“Your meeting is cancelled.”
I stop smiling.
“You heard me.”
I scoff. “Like you have a right to. Like I am going to take someone who has only been here for two minutes serious.”
He shrugs. “You don’t have to but the fact remains that I am the senior partner in this firm now and my word stays.”
Anger shoots up in my veins and blinds me to fear of titles and fathers with tricks up their sleeves. I close the distance between us and jab a finger at his chest.
“Listen, I don’t know what game you and my father are playing but no one…I mean, no one orders me around in this firm, okay.”
He says nothing, does nothing, except to push one hand into the pocket of his trouser.
“Have you finished?”
I am too angry to answer. I lower my hand to my side and glare at him. Seconds tick and I suddenly become aware of the loud tap tap of keys and our single audience. I look back at Laide and find that she is staring with wide eyed concentration at her computer screen. When I turn back to him, his spot is empty and the door of the boardroom is now open. I hurry into the boardroom. I am just in time to hear him announce to Agatha and Aisha who are sitting behind the circular conference table, sheets of papers scattered in front of them.
“Good morning ladies. I am afraid there has been a change in plans. Angela and I will be representing the firm in this case. Sorry for the inconvenience.”
As my friends walk past me to the door with questions in their eyes, I realize for the first time in my life that I am capable of murder.
The judge, a no nonsense man with zero tolerance for adjournment seeking lawyers is breathing down the neck of my opponent, a tall stooping young man with an apologetic smile hanging awkwardly on his face.
“You think I am here to waste my time?” he explodes, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose. Rifling through papers and sending a few across the dias, he scowls at my opponent as the court clerk to scampers in pursuit of the papers.
“This case was brought into this court last year and all you have done is ask for adjournments the moment the case is set down for hearing.”
“Sir,” my opponent splutters, adjusting his stiffly starched collar and looking down at his papers in his hand. “From what I have here…as I have been briefed by the counsel that appeared for the defendant the last time, it was the counsel to the plaintiff that delayed the case by asking for more time to amend their statement of claim.”
I start to rise from my seat but the judge is already answering my opponent.
“I know exactly what happened at the last adjourned date but you people have been responsible for the delays in this case. Listen young man, this is the last adjournment I am granting in this case. If you are not ready at the next adjourned date, I am striking this case off the cause list.”
“Yes sir. Thank you sir.”
The judge orders the court clerk to find a suitable date for the next hearing. We get a date and the judge makes reads his ruling in a gruff voice.
Somewhere behind me, a soft chorus is taken up. I add my voice to it.
As the court pleases.
We leave the court, Angela and I. Outside the court premises, the driver is slouching behind the wheel of the white Mitsubishi Pajero Jeep that is the firm’s official car. He rushes out of the car, reaches for the handle of the attaché case in my hand and pushes it into the boot of the Pajero. We sit far from each other in the backseat. Her face is turned to window the entire length of the drive to the office, exposing the harsh lines of a jaw clenched too tight.
I dump the file on my desk with more force than is necessary.
“I am so pissed right now.”
Agatha and Amina sit on the leather sofa at the end of the office and shake their heads in sympathy.
“Eyah. Sorry,” Amina says, crossing long smooth legs. “I would be pissed too if I were you.”
“Can’t you talk to your father about this?”
I shake my head at Agatha.
“I can’t and I won’t. I am not going to beg him to be senior partner. I don’t even know what he is up to.”
Her face squeezing in a thoughtful frown, Amina cocks her head to the side.
“Do you think he is trying to set you up with him like he tried to do with Rueben?”
I kick off my shoes and lower into my swivel chair. I think about Amina’s question for some minutes. Was there a plan by my father to get me together with him? I summon his face in my mind’s eye and study the proud tilt in his jaw and the coldness in his eyes. I shake my head.
“I don’t think so.”
“Me too,” Agatha says with a nod. “He is nothing like Rueben. He reminds me of your father in a way. Maybe he is here for something else. We have to watch him.”
We agree that the man who had somehow usurped my position in the firm had an ulterior motive that went beyond navigating the confines of my skirt and make a pact to study his every move. I am still incensed when my friends leave for lunch. I reach for my phone and dial a number.
“Hello,” says the voice of the man who provided occasional intimacy when I needed it.
“Hi. Can we meet later?”
“Hmm, this is a nice surprise and it is not even my birthday yet.”
I roll my eyes.
“You know me Angie, later…now…tomorrow…I am always at your beck and call.”
“Fine then. See you at six.”
I end the call, breathe out my frustration and look forward to a passionate night with my occasional boyfriend.
|Re: Gentlemen Of The Bar by virgo(f): 11:14am On Oct 22, 2014|
Her car is parked outside the gate of the compound when I get to the house. I slow down to a crawl and battle with myself for some minutes. Finally, I make my decision and press down on the accelerator. My destination is Henry’s place at Animashaun. He is lounging outside the gray and white building with his usual group of friends. I get rid of my jacket and tie and join them. The mood is mellow and the language informal.
“Guy, how far na?”
“How that your job?”
“Fine babes dey for the office?”
I deflect the questions and merge with the crowd until I no longer stand out. Soon, talk shifts to the hordes of women patrolling the street. A particularly curvy one with a quite sizeable behind obscenely outlined in a tight fitted blue dress is the center of attention.
“Chei, this babe no go kill persin,” Abbey, one of Henry’s friends says, his eyes bulging as he watches the girl swing past us with provocative steps. “Na which kain nyansh be this?”
“That one no be nyansh again o,” Itohen, another of Henry’s friends adds, his head shaking as he too follows the girl’s movement down the street. “Na persin. You no see say the thing get mind of im own? Check am….look am well. See as she dey go left, the nyansh dey go right. Na persin the thing be abeg.”
I join the raucous laughter but it is not long before my individuality wins and I begin to feel out of place again. I drag Henry to the side to discuss privately.
“How work today?”
“It was okay.”
“Your oga…you talk to am today?”
“No, not yet.”
“Okay. The chick nko?”
I smile at the memory of my face off with Angela.
“She hates me.”
Henry is not interested in Angela’s feelings towards me. His overall interest in women usually hinged on whatever aesthetic qualities they possessed.
“Yes, she is.”
“She fine reach Esiri?”
I look away to the dull yellow headlights of an approaching car.
“They are different.”
Henry smiles and winks at me.
“E be like say you don dey like the girl.”
I smile and shake my head.
“Not really. I feel nothing actually. She is a little rude but that’s okay.”
We stand together and watch cars whizz past us. Henry asks about Boma. My heart sinks.
“Not good. I spoke with one of the officers in charge of the situation. He gave me somebody’s number in Abuja.”
Henry shakes his head in sympathy.
“Na wa. Boma never change.”
I hang out with Henry for thirty minutes, listening to dirty jokes and ignoring my ringing phone. When night falls and I know she would have gone home to her husband, I leave Henry and his friends, and head home again.
We are on his bed, caught between sheets as we kiss deeply. I should be enjoying his groping, the tongue pushing relentlessly into my mouth and the knee finding its way roughly between my legs but I am not.
“Wait,” I gasp, coming up for air. His face is passion inflamed and very worried.
“Did I hurt you?”
I sigh and try to sit up. He retrieves the barricade that is his leg and helps me up. I give him an apologetic smile.
“I am sorry. I don’t know what is wrong with me.”
Disappointment clouds his face immediately. He knows he will not be sleeping with me tonight. I know it too. I pick up my discarded skirt and wriggle into it. I walk to his bathroom to reassemble whatever dignity had been dismantled by our fifteen minute pre-intimacy.
“Sorry,” I try again when I return back to the room.
Fully aroused and still lying on his back, he gives me a weak smile.
“It’s okay Angela. I know there will be other days.”
I blow him a kiss and lock myself out his apartment. As I drive back to Lekki, I can’t help but replay my time with him in my head.
What happened to me back there?
I allow the phone ring for a while before I pick it.
“How did it go?”
“It went well sir.”
“Did you have any difficulty with her?”
“Good. Have you started looking at the file?”
The phone clicks his goodbye. I sigh and return it to the bed. I reach for the file on my bed, separate the metal clips and lift up the papers inside. I read into the night, my conscience pricking with each turned page. The evidence is damning and the conclusion clear. I harden myself against my conscience. This is just a job.
I pace the room, unsettled and a little angry with myself.
“Think Angela, think. He is there for something. Find out what.”
Thirty minutes later, I am still blank. I sink into my bed in disappointment and scroll mindlessly through my phone. My finger stops at a name and flirt with a thought.
I call Rueben.
“Hi Angela. I missed you at work today. When did you leave?”
“Four thirty. Listen Rueben, I need you to do something for me. Please.”
I tell Rueben about him and share my suspicions with him. I hatch a plan with him and listen as he hails my intelligence. I enjoy the flattery and forgive Rueben his past sins. We talk easily as we bury the hatchet. We have a common enemy now.
Meaning of Yoruba words used.
Ooo ah Tolu fimile. – Ooo ah Tolu, leave me alone
Beeni oo omo mi – Yes oo my child
Oya wa gba Sisi Pelebe – Okay, come and take Sisi Pelebe (coconut chips roasted with sugar)
|Re: Gentlemen Of The Bar by Chuksemi(m): 3:40pm On Oct 22, 2014|
This is simply epic.
|Re: Gentlemen Of The Bar by SMALLPENIS(f): 4:02pm On Oct 22, 2014|
good job virgo, you took break to re-virgorise your brain abi
|Re: Gentlemen Of The Bar by sheffyUTD(m): 6:03pm On Oct 22, 2014|
Please I'm alergic to your moniker
|Re: Gentlemen Of The Bar by virgo(f): 8:48am On Oct 23, 2014|
|Re: Gentlemen Of The Bar by joanne1(f): 10:09am On Oct 23, 2014|
@Umariayim a very wonderful,brilliant,beautiful piece u got here,u deserve more than a standing ovation infact if I see u I wld jump on ya wiv a big hug. hv bn a silent follower of ur page like I look forward to it evry week until u went MIA. I jus hope and pray u finish dis beautiful piece here on dis forum + pls put on sth new on ur blog... Thanks!!! U guys shld pls visit her page www.umariayim.com dis babe has got wonderful stories there infact asyds frm royver,kayemjay,princesca,bukkydan and sme few mre dis babe is jus exceptional... Kisses gal4rnd...
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