So, last week I posted a short story, but due to its length, decided to break it into two episodes. What follows is the conclusion of the story. If you missed the first part, please read it here. Please feel free to drop your comments. Thanks.
I had been at my job eighteen long months. At first, the craziness of it all; the job, its demands, and my prevailing mental state made me contemplate resigning. I would try again for another. Jane however would have none of it; she encouraged me, harangued, and ultimately blackmailed me. It worked.
After three months on the job, I started laughing on the show. Six months in, I started getting real calls and grown a fan base. No more pranks calls that I had to terminate. I began making insomniac friends. Then, naturally, I started dreaming again.
I innovated and started implementing all sorts of ideas to make people stay up late. My boss was very helpful, he would listen to me pitch him the idea, and when convinced, he would just say ‘it’s your show Afi, make it work.’ Otherwise, he would ask, ‘really?’
Then a year passed, and I started getting notoriety with radio listeners. My show starts at eleven p.m. and ends at five a.m. those were the best six hours of my day. I made new friends and acquaintances daily. I got invited on lots of dates and to a lot of parties. I went to all that I could attend. I was on cruise control, having the time of my life, that was when he came into my life.
He called the show at one a.m. in the morning one day. ‘I’m sorry miss, but I can’t sleep. Can you play me a lullaby, something personal?’
That was all. He had terminated the call before I could even query him about who he was, and where he was. I shrugged it off and continued the show gisting away with callers and playing great music. Somehow, his request kept recurring in my head and so finally, I made a shout-out to him, and played Mariah Carey’s ‘my all’ I waited to see if he would call back, he did not.
In the following days, I forgot about him, and his unusual request. Then I got to work Friday night to meet a bouquet of flowers waiting for me. ‘You have the loviest voice.’ Was all that was written on the accompanying note.
I hissed. As if I didn’t already know, I said to no one in particular. I trashed the note and prepared for work, wondering if the weirdo would call that night. He didn’t.
He called back two weeks later. ‘Hi, hi, I’m so sorry I haven’t called all these while, been away for a bit. Did you get my bouquet? Hope you liked it?’
‘I’m sorry sir, but you have to tell us your name and where you’re calling us from. Those are the two requirements for calling in to the show.’ I offered the explanation in my best professional voice.
‘Have lunch with me.’
‘What?!’ I was incredulous, nobody went on a date on the basis of a voice, I thought. ‘Sir, you have to tell us your name and where you’re calling us from…’
‘Next week Tuesday, at the Lagoon Restaurant on Ozumba Mbadiwe. Two p.m. think about it.’ The line went dead again and I was at a loss for words. Thankfully, I had earned the right to a wonderful DJ, he made the silence go away by playing soft music.
I sat there shocked. No one had blatantly come after me as this man had. To top it, he had an arrogant streak. I was working myself into a frenzy when DJ Xtreme asked, ‘are you okay? You seem a little rattled.’ We were off air.
I shrugged it off, lied transparently and he rolled his eyes. The show went on without a hitch. When I got home, I had tons to do; it was my cousin’s wedding at noon that Saturday. I didn’t sleep and went to the party after dosing up on caffeine. Yea, coffee. I got home totally spent and crashed into my bed. I slept fitfully through the night, and woke up thinking about the mystery man.
I banished all thoughts of him and went about living my life. The following Monday night, there was another bouquet waiting for me at work. I didn’t bother reading the accompany note. I carried the bouquet, opened the trash can and loaded it in. Then I clapped my hands and exhaled. Good riddance.
That night, he called again, ‘let’s say my name’s Ferimi, and I’m calling from Ogun state, would you still be willing to honour our date?’
I used up all the expletives I knew and invented some more… in my head, then I calmly answered. ‘I did not agree to any date. And no, I didn’t think of you either.’
‘Ah!’ He chuckled, ‘gotcha! You did think of the date, but you had to send a message. I got it loud and clear. We’ll reschedule ma’m. Afi the babe.’ He was gone again.
I looked to DJ Xtreme who smiled and turned up the music. I sat there in the studio stunned. I got your message, he had said… which message? When did I… then it clicked. He must either have seen me dumping the bouquet, or he had someone who reported back to him in the office. I smiled. So he was playing mind games eh? Well, two can play the game. I made up my mind then.
At two p.m. the next day, I entered the Lagoon Restaurant on Ozumba Mbadiwe road. All eyes were on me as people started pointing at me. His little stunt had ensured that the restaurant got patrons that afternoon as curiousity drove traffic to the restaurant. I was certain there were hidden cameras. I found an empty table and sat.
A waiter came to my table with the menu, she offered it to me and I stared at her as I collected the menu. There were no food items on the menu pad, just an artistic writing: ‘you didn’t think I’d take you to lunch in full glare now, did you? Please follow the waitress.’ Again, it wasn’t signed. Why am I not surprised? I thought as I rose and followed the waitress out.
A charter boat was waiting for me, its engine running. I climbed on board and the captain slowly moved away from the moor. We were soon speeding away going to an undisclosed destination. I sat back and relaxed. Fear was the least emotion I experienced.
The boat slowed and I opened my eyes, the sea breeze was really wonderful, its soft caress had made me stretch out lazily on the boat facing the clouds. I promised myself that I would treat myself to another experience soon. I discovered that we were on a private beach. A table had been set by the sand bank under a huge canopy. I was bowled. This dude obviously had seen too many American movies, first the flowers, now the flamboyant display, I hope he would be an unrepentant romantic too. That would make this date very interesting.
I walked down to the table, took my seat and was handed a menu. Written on it were the words ‘what will you have today?’ two options I could choose from were below: (A) me, (B) lunch. I laughed, threw down the menu and asked the waitress. ‘Okay, where is he?’
‘At your service ma’m,’ a man came from behind a tree and walked towards me. He was wearing a blue shirt and shorts, he was barefoot. I studied him for a while then turned to the waitress. ‘Where?’ She didn’t say a word, only pointed behind me.
I turned around and almost fainted. It was as though I was seeing a ghost. ‘No!’ I screamed.
He rushed forward, and caught me, then he steadied me. He smiled, ‘you look like you’ve seen a ghost.’
‘No. No.’ I mumbled. ‘This can’t be. Abdul?!’
His smile was there still. ‘I wish I could say yes. Wish I could pretend that I am, but I can’t. My name’s Ferimi. Abdul is my cousin. We look alike a lot, but, I’m the prettier dude.’ He grinned.
I fought his hands off me. ‘What sick game are you playing here?’
‘None.’ Another voice said from behind me.
I spurn around in a flash. That voice, anyday of the week I would realise it. ‘Abdul.’ I said as my hand instinctively rose and clutched my chest. After eighteen months I was too dazed to see him. I stood still, immobile.
He was dressed like the clown that had run out from behind the tree initially. He went on his knees. ‘I know I hurt you terribly Afifa, and my behaviour was unacceptable. I cannot stress how sorry I am, but I couldn’t face you. I have tried to see you severally, but couldn’t, not until my evil twin from another mother deigned to play God and weave this web of intrigue. Please forgive me.’
I turned around slowly, and took it all in, the waitress, the mystery man that looked like Abdul, the clown that was dressed like Abdul and Abdul himself kneeling in the sands. It was all too much. Something out of a romance novel. I sat down picked the menu again and cleared my throat loudly. ‘Can I have that lunch now?’ I handed the pad back to the waitress who hurried away to fetch my lunch.
It was all surreal, too surreal, I couldn’t bear to the thoughts any more, the anger started building in me then. I rose up only to be confronted by Abdul. ‘Will you marry me?’ He asked without preamble.
I was not about to be deterred or cheated out of my revenge. I slapped him hard across the face. And his head bobbed sideways. Tears streaked down my face, slowly, I walked to him, held him by the collar then kissed him. It was searching at first, then we became rough as we rediscovered old memories, a touch long forgotten. His trousers developed a bulge, I broke the kiss and pushed him away, then I smothed my dress.
After that, I walked back towards the boat, got in and told the captain to take me back to the Lagoon restaurant. The boat was moving out when the waitress walked back with my lunch. Abdul, Ferimi, the clown and the waitress all stood there watching the boat speed away from them. That was when I realised that in my anger, I had missed lunch.
‘No!’ I screamed jerking awake. Strong hands caught me and held me down.
‘Are you okay Afi? Are you okay?’ His voice was urgent.
I opened my eyes wondering which version of the nightmare I had awoken in, because staring at me, concern in his eyes was the man I had just left on the beach. ‘I had a nightmare; I finally broke up with you.’ I shivered as I looked Abdul in the eyes.
‘That’s impossible love, we just got married yesterday remember? You said “I do.”’ He held up my left hand showing me my wedding band.
‘Thank God.’ I exclaimed and hugged my husband as I discovered it had all been a bad dream.
PS: Hope you liked it, @abdul 🙂