The sun was exhausted; it had come up since nine in the morning and lasted throughout the tormenting breeze of humans and animals. At six in the evening, it was already weary from stress and receded to the West to give way to the gloomy clouds. Kingsley looked out through his office window that overlooked the sight and sound of hilly topography and green vegetation of Enugu. He was already exhausted from stress. He wanted to go home, but a call had come through earlier in the day; this call would deal more blows on his wife’s nagging and his daily torments. He looked around his surrounding: a heavy oak table divided the spacious office into two; arm chairs, trophies, certificates and awards graced one side of the office while the rest were taken over by book shelves and a large door that shut him away from any other intruders from outside. He looked out again through the window to meet Enugu Coal City in its dawning rush hour. Kingsley had everything: a wife, kids and what could sustain them for many years, even after he was gone, but peace of mind. He had been troubled for sometime now and he could not figure out why.
The cars on the road blasted their horns; trailers, bikes, long commuter buses, taxis and private cars all clogged in a stiff tragic traffic jam. They could neither go up to Nise nor descend to Amobia. Rants and shouts also climaxed while ripping muscles and fist exchange joined in the drama. Kingsley gave out a heavy sigh, picked up his already parked suitcase which contained the contract, put on his jacket, switched off the air conditioner and lights, then left the office.
He drove out of the parking lot of Diamond bank and hit the accelerator straight home. The day had been hell for him; from one meeting to another, papers to sign, reports to go through, Abuja and Lagos hanging on his neck and all gush. He wanted something new, something to help him ease off from this agonizing work and life.
He was the manager; he loved duty and he was the last car to leave the compound each day after work. He has had several fights with his past girlfriends including his wife of five years and counting. Attention and affection, none he gave; he could not just tear off work-life from family-life. It was so impossible to deal with. He checked his wrist watch and it was eight O’ clock already. Linda would be mad by now but he had a meeting at eight-thirty and he had to be there. He knew Linda would be hysterical by the time he gets home at eleven, not minding the big fight they had in the morning. She had accused him of infidelity on numerous counts; he knew she was frustrated.
Depression set in immediately after the death of their precious son, Laruchukwu. They had to leave him in the hands of his chi. She had accused him of his death; of negligence and for not coming as often as possible to visit while he was on admission at UNTH, Ituku Ozara. But how could he when he had to travel to Lagos for a short course? The meeting had already been fixed long before his little man took ill. He had to work... to earn money, keep his job, provide food on the table, keep them out of the rain, and to a large extent her wardrobe too. He never complained. Never ever!
Kingsley was lucky enough to meet a less dense traffic jam when he decided to leave. He was able to cut it through Nise, CIC and Coal Camp. He then took Kwata to burst out to another busy area of Holy Ghost. He made sure his glass was wind up when he was caught roaming eyes about. He double checked his central lock before driving through Opara Avenue with the help of the street lights. Pedestrians walked fast and did not stop even when he honked his horn; they were too scared to be accosted by pick pockets and robbers. Some hid their bags – especially women – under the armpit and men dug their arms deep into their pockets. A member of staff at the office had once been robbed on the streets at night and he wouldn’t want to part ways with his car keys.
As Kingsley intercepted the traffic at Dustbin through Independence layout, his eyes caught them: women of easy virtue; Lagos haunted him once again. Lagos was one too many moments of weakness for him and he wanted it out of his system. But he did not know why it looked for a time to come and it was while he was parking right in front of Presidential hotel.
He had on a navy blue suit, sky blue shirt, black shoes and a red tie to go with that evening. It was the last day of their training at Swiss Villa hotel Lekki, Chevron drive and they leave for Enugu the following day. It was a gathering of top notch Brokers, bankers and investors that would take Nigeria to another level. They had all come with the hope of networking, but they found out that their intent was by far a luxury to deal with.
Leaving his room to the conference centre, Kingsley almost bumped into a lady in a short black gown standing on heels. What made him look the second time was the way she wore her natural hair and the smell of coconut that whiffed pass him along with her. He did not get her full frontal – only her face – but a tender looking back view. Luckily, they were seat mates for that night and he got to know that she was a brand name with her own marketing firm. To cap it all, she was the resource person for the night – a feisty looking diva clothed in real chocolate. Cleopatra – Cleo for short – had tenderness like a lamb’s. After her lecture that night, he was moved to start up his own business, but on getting home, he replaced all those thoughts with the loss of Laruchukwu. His wife had borne the pain all alone while he was busy traversing under the sheet of his hotel room in-between Cleo’s travailing thighs.
The room illuminated in glossy darkness except for the shadow that appeared for a quick grasp of the plate that had been placed before them, which had not yet been touched. They have been silent for over five minutes and were still tied up in shock. Kingsley, after some difficulties, found his way to the table. He noticed that they were clients to a lady who was already seated waiting for him. Unfortunately, it had taken him one hour to get there and he had kept her waiting for thirty minutes or more. He walked straight to her table and arranged an apology in his throat; but at the sight of the lady who had been waiting for him all these while, everything he intended to say vanished within a twinkle of an eye. The only thing he could remember was,
She smiled mischievously with a smack of scorn before she called him;
As though someone complained about the lights, it was tuned up a bit; it availed each person an opportunity to view his opponent’s face lesser in shadows than in thick mass of covering. She was yet unmarried; her naked fingers revealed that. She wore her hair just like before; that same hair he almost pulled out in the heat of passion while he saddled over her and she gave him sizzling briefs to take home. Their eyes were both naked and each saw what the other thought about, Lagos. She seems to be in love with black: she put on another short-sleeved short gown that gave a sprout look to her good-to-stare cleavage. She looked straight into his eyes and through him, then she realised the power she had over him, even in darkness. His wife, family and job was at stake here.
She took out her phone while he took the leisure to cool off by gazing at the other tables. Two tables caught his interest. The first had a lanky boy in his early twenties sitting with an elderly woman that looked fifty but dressed thirty. That was him several years ago; trying to meet one target or the other, he was forced to sleep with women much older than himself; married women who forced their husbands to bank with his bank without asking the sort of services he had provided their wives that nearly drove them crazy with demands. One thing was sure; his prowl in the intimate room was no match.
The other table had a young lady with an overly made-up face, in a tight short gown; she was actually caressing the arm of a sixty-year-old man who had been on his phone for the past ten minutes since Kingsley walked into the room. Before him was something that looked like bank forms that begged for his attention – which he had given the least thought about – including the sex toy that sat opposite him. He knew he had been there before and returned to work with a contract in his briefcase.
Kingsley was in a state of dilemma; by hook or crook, he has to save his job. He was not aware of what the other person had in mind to offer, except she is the person that makes the first move. Cleo was the first person who picked up her fork and dug into the rice and salad that was placed before her. A truce, maybe.
The pelts of rain on the corrugated iron sheet roused him from the long sofa; this had been his dwelling for the past few weeks. His wife wanted nothing to do with him after the fight and he wanted to give her some space to heal too. He went the extra mile to invite his mother-in-law over, in order to help his wife come out of her bad state and embark on a regular visit to the psychiatric hospital. It dug some memorable hole in his pocket. All he wanted was her happiness and that was why he decided to put her first before any other thing this time around because it would save everyone some good sanity.
Cleo had been nice enough to visit; she would spend at least three months with the branch. She had been contracted to train the members of staff for a voracious marketing skill, rebrand the branch’s image and as well, do a follow up of what she had done, after which a report of compliance from everyone is required from her. He needed her to give his branch the best report because this was a regional training. It would place his branch above any other in the Eastern region and as well, he looks forward for a transfer to headquarters or probably a fat salary, a new house and a good deal on a luxurious car. She knew how important this was for him, his branch and his family.
They had ran through the first quarter of the exercise which was the training. That day, they will test what has been taught with field work and then progress analysis would be made through the number of new customers that would have their accounts sent to head quarters within the time frame of the exercise. This move would decide whether to close down the branch, leave it to fallow or merge it with another bank. Closing and merging are not very good options for Kingsley because he knew what it entails: either he loses his job or becomes a subordinate to another cheap suit and tie wearing nut head.
This took him back to his earlier thoughts of starting up something for himself, but he was confused on where or how to start. He knew he had skills, but years of sitting over board meetings have drained him of all capabilities. He remembered back in school, even as an accounting student, how computers and writing used to drive him crazy. He had designed a website for his department and chaired the departmental Magazine club. He did not know what actually went wrong. The rain got heavier and as well as his attention told him it was time to leave the confines of Meniru.
Kingsley was usually the first to arrive on Saturday mornings; the day they were all scheduled for field work. Impressively, Cleo’s Range Rover was already parked at the lot in his space so he was forced to park right behind her and a little bit closer. The arrangement brought nothing but filthy thoughts. Lagos! As he tried to open his office door, a humid voice came from behind; a little too close to his ears and said,
“The King!” He jumped and nearly pushed her down, had it not been that she saw him coming and moved a little bit farther away from his elbow.
“Cleo! You startled me and nearly got yourself hurt.”
She gave him a devilish smile, drew closer to him and said;
“I am very sorry. I thought to come very early and see how everybody would individually respond to today’s exercise.”
He smiled back in a reassuring way and replied;
“No worries about us, we are a great team put together.” She smiled and left.
To be continued...
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Hahahaha! I can't stop laughing. Thank you.
@ Oluoma Udemezue , am completely in love with ur witting sytle. Full of suspense. U really demonstrated high degree of professionalism in writting. Nice story , looking forward to read more from u but pls u've got consider ur choice of words (adult language )