The Last Smile – Episode 20
By Adeola Nissi
Lucy washed the rice as she conversed with Vicky who checked the chicken in the oven. She was enjoying the conversation imensely but she could not help missing Raymond. He had resumed work about a week ago and Lucy had missed him with each passing day. Vicky was definitely fun to be with but she had grown so used to Ray that she felt his absence a lot.
“But my time in London was a real disaster” Vicky said
Lucy turned with a bemused expression. “Why did you say that?”
“I was despised because I am a l-sbian” she sighed. “I just wanted death. It was h-rder because no one in my family was in support of me. My parents condemned me totally and I became the black sheep of the family. London made it worse and I hid behind my shell until I was able to leave”. She was sober and sat on the chair.
Lucy stared at Vicky, feeling her pain. She was confused as to what to say so she just kept quiet. Vicky took her quietness for condemnation.
“I am sure you see me as the worst kind of human being. It is fine; I get that all the time”.
Lucy smiled. “That is beautiful?”
Vicky frowned. “What is beautiful?”
“That hair bond. It is absolutely lovely”
Vic smiled. “I got it from London. It is actually the only thing I bought there. Just wanted to have something from London in order to remember my time there, even if it was not so pleasant”
“I love it and I love you; in a platonic way though. You are a wonderful person; you just need someone to show you how wonderful love is. Love is a beautiful thing”.
Vicky swallowed and shook her head. “I can’t love a man; I have tried in vain”.
Luciana smiled and turned to check the food. “I am not asking you to try; in fact, you would not have to try”.
“I don’t understand” Vic replied, confused.
“Don’t worry. You would be fine. Let’s finish this delicacy.” She said as continued her cooking.
Teju sat facing a client at a popular cafeteria not too far from her office. She had preferred an open environment to the confinement of her office because she was beginning to feel choked lately. It had been over a week but that episode with Tunde kept replaying itself in her brain. Everything Mr. Popoola was saying was barely noted by her as she sat frozen on the chair with her eyes glued on her client and her face as blank as a plain sheet.
Deolu had arrived Lagos just as he said he would but she could not unburden herself. She felt that he already had enough problems and bothering him with hers would be wicked of her. She had to lie to him that her mood was due to a court case she lost. She wished her parents were not dead. She missed her mother a lot. She needed someone to talk to, someone to comfort her, but she found no one. Even her friends were not able to help her. Lucy would have understood, she knew.
As Teju stared at Mr. Popoola’s face, all she could see was Tunde. She wished he was just in front of her so she could show him the stuff she was made of. The door of the cafeteria opened up and Teju could not believe what she was seeing. She had just been wishing to find Tunde and there he was, coming into the cafeteria with a half nude girl on his arm. Seeing the girl’s dressing, Teju knew that he left her because of s€×. Tunde did not see her, considering the size of the place and the sizeable amount of people in it.
“Barrister” Mr. Popoola called and she turned her head like a robot. “You are not listening to me” he said, a bit irritated.
Teju relayed everything Mr. Popoola had been saying without missing a thing and he was so surprised. He knew that she had been lost in thoughts and found it amazing that she had actually heard all he was saying. Teju smiled at his amusement. “I have heard everything I want to know, if there is any other information I need, I would call you sir. If you don’t mind sir, I need to attend to some people”. He smiled sheepishly, knowing that whatever it was had nothing to do with business.
“Go easy on them” he said softly.
Teju stood up and her client did the same. She did not bother responding; she knew that he would have seen the way she looked at Tunde when he entered. After several verbal exchanges, Mr. Popoola left. She took a deep breath as she approached the table ahead. Tunde had his back to her, so he did not see her. She got to the table, with a frozen smile on her face.
“So, this is the girl that you are in love with?” Tunde looked up and blanched.
Ray was becoming much more tense by the minute. He stood up and roamed his office and sat back after pacing aimlessly. He never imagined that he could miss someone so terribly. He missed Luciana so much, it hurt. He missed her smile, he quiet and thoughtful times, her lively kitchen life and every single thing that summed up the fair goddess he was hosting in his house. Ever since he resumed work, he had wished he was managing one of his father’s companies so that he would be able to leave the house whenever he liked.
He had made that adamant decision to be independent when he was 23 years old. He had finished his studies with outstanding certificates but his father wanted him to head his companies. He had refused and had gone job hunting, in the quest to build something of his own. His father later came through and gave him his blessings, much to his relief and delight. The prayers of his parents worked wonders for him because he got a job with an oil company not quite long. It was all he ever dreamt of. At first, the salary was just normal, due to his position but as time went on, his salary was reviewed and promotions started rolling in. He made good use of the money coming in, buying shares and making investments. His house came as a result of his labour and his parents became proud of him.
Painting, which was his God-given talent, was what he always loved and enjoyed doing. Painting was already out of the window of his life; it had become one of his nightmares.
The door of Raymond’s office flung open and Ray had to snap out of his reverie. Duke bounced into the office without any prior notice but that was just like him. Ray was already used to Duke’s impromptu visits and even Ray’s zealous secretary can’t make Duke wait in the reception for a minute.
“This is my office Duke, I work here. Are you trying to get me fired?” Ray glared as he closed the door which Duke did not bother closing.
Duke paused. “That is the best greeting I have ever heard, also the longest”. He stated but Ray glared instead. “Ok, no one is going to fire your sorry ass. You are the manager here and that position comes with a lot of benefits, including going for lunch earlier than usual”.
“Halt. I am not going anywhere, especially not an 11 o’clock lunch”. Ray made his way to his seat.
Duke checked his watch. “This is almost 12” he declared.
“Obviously” Ray sighed.
“Listen, I think you need that lunch, especially since I found you standing aimlessly at the middle of your office during office hours. That lunch would help ease the stress” he smiled.
“Man, I just resumed work after a one month leave”. He stated.
“Quit the lecture James Ray, you are coming with me” he stood up, daring Ray not to comply.
Ray shook his head in surrender.
“Hi, I am Teju” she stretched her hand towards the wide-eyed lady who dumbly took it.
“I am Oyin” she replied.
“What are you doing here Teju?” Tunde growled.
Teju eyed him slowly before pulling a chair. After seating, she faced the lady who was practically confused. “I do not intend to waste your time, just want to have a little chat with you. Do you mind?”
“Yes, she minds. Leave” Tunde dropped.
“Would you shut your filthy mouth?” Teju yelled, drawing attention. “I am here to speak with this beautiful b**** here, so shut the trash”.
“How dare you call me a b****?” oyin stood up furiously. “What is the meaning of this nonsense Tunde?”
“Sit down now” Teju yelled. “You don’t want to know the angry part of Teju, I am telling you. SIT” she smiled tightly. Oyin looked a bit scared but she hid it. She thought about what was going on and decided it best to sit. Teju smiled as she stared at Oyin’s rage-stricken face.
“Good. I just want to talk about your friend here – Tunde” she started.
“Teju” Tunde gro-ned.
“I would not get mad at you for stealing my fiancé, no I won’t. In fact, you did me a huge favour”
Oyin stared at her. “What are you saying?”
“Oh… he did not tell you? He was my fiancé until last week. We had our wedding date fixed for December which should be six months from now” Teju laughed. “Funny right? I was busy thinking about our wedding night while he was thinking about another woman’s ass. I am not here to drag him from you, you can totally have him, but I want to advice you. Don’t think that the only way to get a man is by spreading your legs wide enough to accommodate him”
“How dare you?” Oyin yelled as she stood up. Teju dragged her down immediately.
“You don’t want to cause a scene.”
“If you dare call my name again, you would hate me” Teju half yelled. She faced Oyin “Where were we? Yes, your legs. Do you know why he left me for you? It is because your legs were wide open. He does not love you, he just loves that thing you offer to him free of charge. When did you meet? I am sure it is not even a month ago. Oh, who am I kidding? It can’t even be three weeks ago.
“Men are the same. They are never contented with what they have; they are always looking for extra until they lose what they had before. When this miserable being left me last week, my eyes opened and I got a new meaning to the word ‘man’. A man is a miserable adulterous nuisance who goes from skirt to skirt, seeking whom to devour. Thank God I wear trousers; it makes it h-rder to devour me. I have just one advice for you: redefine your life”
“Oh, I see. And where did your redefined life get you uhn?” Oyin asked, glaring.
Teju smiled softly, stood up and wore her sunshade. “It saved me from Tunde” she said and walked out, leaving the couple enveloped in serious tension. She got to the door and collided with someone coming into the cafeteria.
“Easy beauty” Duke said but she just walked away. “What a pretty babe”.
Ray shook his head. “Always a flirt!” Ray declared. “Vicky is back from the states”. Duke swallowed and walked on with a straight face. Ray smiled
…To be continued
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