“I’m calling from Surulere. How’re you?”
“Cool. Which game would you like to play?”
“The game with the eleventh commandment.”
“You know the rules of the game?”
“Okay, your sixty seconds start right now. What do you think of the government banning street trading?”
The ringing of the phone made Katherine sigh because the HC had to reduce the volume of the radio disrupting her best game show on radio.
“Hello, good afternoon, sir. Oga, wetin I do? You de vex with me—sorry, sir–hein—she dey—okay, okay. I don hear.”
She directed her gaze to Katherine. “You no clean Oga Account office well well?”
Katherine twitched her lips and stopped herself from rolling her eyes. “Ma, you know me now, for the past seven months, you know as I de take do my work.”
“I know, I supervise your portion but the man de vex wela.”
“No be me clean the office finish, go help the girls for cafeteria.” She stood and went to the store.
“My pikin,” The Head Cleaner called when she was at the door. “Take am easy with am. No argue with am, na so he de do.”
“Yes, ma.” Her skin tinged at the scorch of the sun and she hurried to the main building. If he wanted her to clean his office again and again, she will do just that.
The secretary was not on seat and she hesitated when she found Patrick’s door ajar. She knocked and waited for a response. When there was none after knocking thrice, she took a couple of steps in. A frown etched her face when she noticed he wasn’t on seat. He was in the comfort room, she concluded and took more steps in deciding to wait.
As if on cue, the door slammed shut. Like a flash in the pan, a hand clamped her mouth and the other gripped her abdomen.
“You think you’re smart. Remember, you did this to yourself. I get what I want, always do. You will get down with me on this office floor.” The whisper and feel of his lips against her earlobe lurched her into a startling reality.
As she struggled to free herself, she thought of a means of defence and escape. The sweeping brush she had come in with was at her feet. She tried to lower herself but couldn’t.
Patrick tried to turn her to face him within his grip but couldn’t and did not want to release her because she had proved to be a wild cat.
Katherine pinched the mould of flesh around his abdomen, elbowed him at intervals and tried to scratch his face but he evaded her hands.
They lurched around the office, both sweating in the air conditioned room.
Don’t let go of her, remember you swore to teach her a lesson, this is an opportunity to tame her and don’t make a fool of yourself by letting her escape. Remember she’s only a woman not different from the ones you’ve dealt with in time past. She will get weak eventually for she is the weaker vessel. Patrick smirked, “Oh what a pity, such a sweet girl yet so stubborn. I am happy to tell you I have the perfect treatment.”
Katherine tried to remove his hands from her mouth, but it just stayed like it was glued. If you don’t help me this time, then I have every reason to end it all. She prayed as her vision blurred. Her strength was waning as she hadn’t eaten any meal for the day and it was almost noon.
“What in the world?”
Acting on impulse, Patrick pushed her; she collided with one of the vinyl chair and almost tumbled over.
Strengthened by anger and pain, she got to her feet, picked the air fresher from the floor and sprayed it on Patrick face who tried to block the spray.
“You want to sleep with everything in skirt? I am sure they will jump all over you now!” It finished and she flung it at him. “God reward you.”
She bent to pick three of the buttons of her overall that fell off in the struggle.
“Mr Sunday, what is going on here?”
He shivered, lowered his gaze but his mouth remained shut, knowing that even if he came up with a good explanation, the shakiness in his voice may betray him.
It was then she looked at who her saviour was. He was a Black American, she stood rooted.
He looked from Patrick to the lady with so much expression of her anger even after an assault he knew might have happened if not for his timely intervention.
“Are you hurt, Miss?”
“Emmm… I’m fine.” She picked her tools.
“Are you sure?” He studied her.
“I am fine.” She said in spite of herself but hoped it was assuring enough. She made to leave but he didn’t step aside.
“See me in my office.” He told her with a note of finality.
Did she nod, she wasn’t sure herself but he turned and strode out. Which office? Was the question on her lips but she couldn’t find her voice.
She followed to see where he was heading but he strolled down the corridor to enter the large open office shared by other accountants in the organization. The pain and weakness she felt made her contemplate sitting in the elevator but her thought prevailed. Who else could have made Patrick tremble? Could he be the director general and heir of Sigismund International Company? She exhaled.
Limping out of the elevator, she decided to ask the Head Cleaner.
On seeing his mother, Yerima Yekini hurried to her. “Mummy, what happened? I couldn’t make out anything from what you told me over the phone.” He said towering her.
Aisha was seated, both palms under her chin, her eyes sore from crying.
He removed his sun glasses and placed them in his bosom pocket before lowering himself to seat beside her.
“What is going on, what is happening?”
She burst into fresh set of tears.
“Aw, mother.” He sobered as he drew her close to him by the shoulders. “Come on mum, what is happening? Make sense to me, please.”
She looked up at his face and her brimmed. “I hope this make enough sense to you. Your nephew Prince is dead and your father fell off the stairs due to shock. Since he was wheeled in, I haven’t heard anything. I haven’t been told anything.” She swallowed hard and her lips quivered. “I don’t know if he is alive or dead.” She clasped her hand over her mouth and sobbed.
“No! No.” He let go of her and stared into space. “No, I spoke to Prince yesterday, how could he be dead today? I scheduled to take him out this weekend.” He glanced at his mother and was tempted to ask if she was sure. “Where—where are Tobi and Shaki?”
“They left to prepare for the burial ceremony coming up this evening.”
“Burial? Prince?” He exhaled, stood and paced. “This is ridiculous.” He muttered, buried his palm on his face as tears stung his eyes.
Her gaze swept the anteroom and lingered on the stairs where the incident happened and sighed. “Oh God, this is just too much for a day.”
A hand came to rest on his shoulder. “Good afternoon, Yeri.”
“Hey Bob, can you explain what is happening to my world?”They walked away from Aisha.
Bobby Uchenna was Yerima’s friend in college and their friendship ran till date.
“I am sorry about everything, I’m deeply sorry.” He expressed patting him at the back.
“Yeah.” He exhaled. “How about my dad?”
“No going around the reality, I will be straight with you.” He paused momentarily. “Dad is under intensive care, equipments, tubes and all, his condition is critical but a cardiologist and a couple of neurologists are giving him their best.”
His heart sank. “That bad?”
“Yes.” Bob affirmed.
“Jesus Christ!” He worked his fingers through his afro hair as he blinked in quick succession in an attempt to fight back his tears.
“All he need is prayers man.”
“Prayers?” Yerima scoffed. “I can’t even think straight talk more of praying.”
“God is more interested in prayers from the heart. Just talk to him.” He glanced at his wristwatch. “I have to go now.”
“What a way to be placed before the devil and the deep blue sea.” He muttered and reached for his phone to call his elder sister. He inhaled deeply and expelled.
Now dressed in a multi-coloured knee-length gown, a black low heeled slippers and a scarf, she approached the office from the lobby. It was no new thing that her hair was always covered in spite of various opinions about her action, but she knew better.
The secretary looked up from the typing she had been doing and a smile formed on her lips. “Forgive me; I can’t remember your name.” She was in her mid-twenties.
“Katherine.” They had met once in the elevator and Precious had complimented her on her scarf and that prompted an exchange of pleasantries.
“Welcome, Katherine. What can I do for you?” The smile remained.
“The boss asked me to see him.”
She shrugged. “I will have to call to him for confirmation before I let you in.”
“Thank you.” She loved the secretary, she indeed know the word ‘ethics’. Her eyes swept her surrounding in sheer admiration. Breath-taking, immaculate and homely were the adjectives that came to mind.
“You can go in Katherine through that door,” She gestured. “Another lovely scarf you’ve on today.”
She chuckled. “Thank you.” Katherine halted at the door nervous and had to wipe her clammy palms against her gown before tapping her fist against the door twice.
She opened the door and stepped on the rug, the walls were blue and white. There was a large artwork of the sea hung and several others of varied size, her eyes drifted to the black cabinet that contained books, photos, awards and other memorabilia, then the plants. The sofas in the sitting area were cream-coloured and centred with a glass table. Who kept sound systems in their offices? She wondered, wide eyed. The interior design, decoration and furniture were like nothing she had set eyes on. “Wow.” She muttered before realisation dawned on her.
He was comfy in his burgundy leather high-back swivel executive office chair watching her.
“Good afternoon, sir.” She lowered her eyes.
“I am sure your afternoon was not so good and since you’ve wished me one, I will say a good rest of the afternoon to you.” Kelvin Sigismund beamed, revealing the dimples on his cheek. “Do make yourself comfortable.”
He had a model good look and one of his striking features was his soulful blue eyes. He was fair, kept his hair low and face void of moustache. He was six feet and an inch tall with a body that left no doubt on how fit he was.
Katherine sat and glanced around. “Sir, your office is outstanding and I am so overwhelmed that I can’t just help but say it.”
Was he hearing right or was he fantasizing? He was expecting vernacular like others he had spoken to and to think she was so self-confident!
Determined to listen carefully to ensure what he was hearing was not a figment of his imagination, he replied. “That is a powerful one liner compliment, thank you.”
You are welcome or it was pleasure didn’t seem like a good reply so she just nodded.
“We just did what is called expression, based on that, I will like you to tell me what is going on between you and Mr Sunday?”
“There is nothing between us. There was no tête-à-tête until Monday when he summoned me into his office.” Katherine paused for her purpose.
“I will appreciate it if you give me details.”
That was the encouragement she needed. “He wooed me.”
He was inquisitive and couldn’t help himself. “Come on be a good narrator and give me details.”
Katherine smiled, she shouldn’t be talking much in his presence not that she was a talker but there was an aura he portrayed that begged for indulgence. “He wooed me with compliments and promise of goodies. He said we are going start a relationship that begins with spending a night in the hotel, steady flow of money and a car…” She narrated it all.
He was attentive and thoughtful as he listened. “Do you believe the offers he made?”
“Why? He appears able to provide them.”
“I asked him if all the cleaners had to go through that. He said some of them; invariably this company should have had a car park extension now.”
“I feel too, if he could stoop to some of the cleaners, he might have done same to some of the secretaries.” She shrugged
“Hmm….” He nodded. Wisdom that couldn’t be overlooked was simply what he heard but he had learnt overtime that it was more blessed to listen regardless of the person’s social status.
“I hope I wasn’t too vocal.” She cast a glance at him rather shyly.
“Of course not, I did the asking remember.” He placed a palm under his chin.
She continued heartily. “I believe in the institution of marriage, I believe in the law and in the spirit surrounding it. I also believe violators have justice meted to them.”
“True.” He pursed his lips thoughtfully. “I hope you’re fine.”
“Ruffled but fine.” She smiled. “I’m glad you arrived when you did. Thank you sir.” She stood up.
“I believe you would have pulled through without my aid. Never underestimate the power of determination.” Kelvin said as an afterthought.
Her face lit up and her lips spread into a grin. “Do excuse my exit.”
He nodded and watched her leave. Then he shut his eyes and allowed his seat rock as he tried to remember the passage of the Scripture to back her claim. “Marriage is honourable in all and the bed undefiled; but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” He quoted aloud. She is good—damn! His eyes fluttered open.
He hadn’t even asked her name!