It’s never wise to try to catch two monkeys simultaneously. You end up losing them both. That is, except one monkey is catching the other for you and that one willingly comes back to you to be caught.
When I got home that evening, Fafa had poured us drinks and was waiting in my favorite night robe.
“So inside all the things to wear in this house, it is the one I love the best and would have been coming home to wear myself that you chose abi?” I asked.
“How else will you know I’m here if I don’t?” she retorted. “Now, sit down and take the whole of this glass before I start telling you anything. Trust me, you’re gonna need it.”
Slowly, I let myself into the couch beside her and then gulped down the liquid. It was some concentrated Vodka mix that Fafa never told me what else was inside. It shot like a mini fire down my throat but, yes, it did calm my nerves a little.
“Now that I’m through with whatever poison you mixed, shall I hear this your interesting tale before the poison begins to take effect?” I asked.
“Won’t you change into…” she responded.
“Madam, if you don’t start talking now, just know you’re in my house. I have a secret torture chamber that you’ve never seen.”
She managed to laugh and then began
“Well, there’s a bbm group I belong to, called London Matters, and it’s basically babes like me that travel a lot that are in it. I thought, if Ochuko was married to some big girl in the UK, someone there might know him. And I was right, because someone recognized him the moment I put his picture in the group.”
“Oh no you didn’t!” I screamed.
“Well, shebi I told you I would snoop around. Anyway, someone on the group knew him, so I added her on bb and then asked her a couple of questions. I should let you read the chat yourself.”
She handed me her phone and I quickly scanned through the conversation. My mouth opened in disbelief as I went over the chat slower a second time. It was interlaced with several pictures to emphasize the points that the lady was making to Fafa.
“Explain this,” was all I said as I handed her the phone.
“Well, I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true. Ochuko isn’t married, no. However, Joshua Aribiah is. And that’s the name that your Ochuko goes by in the UK. That’s the name he’s married to an Akudo Aribiah under. Those are their pictures together. The bastard is a con man. He’s basically lied to you, lied to his wife, and is probably lying to everyone. Which is his real name? Ochuko? Joshua? Or some other name we don’t even know? Who is he, really?”
“Oh my God! How did I get myself into this? How? I thought I did everything correctly. Waited. Fell in love. Thought I was going to get married to the perfect gentleman. How did the perfect relationship turn to this?” the tears were falling down my face freely now.
Fafa moved over and hugged me tight “don’t blame yourself for this dear. Anyone could have fallen for this. Anyone. But we shouldn’t wallow in self pity. There’s a plan, dear, the plan. He has messed with the wrong woman this time.”
“So should we report his 419ing ass to the authorities? Not on this side of the Atlantic o, he’ll just get away.” I asked.
“Noooo, that’s not the first step. Patience, my dear, patience.” Farida responded. “For this kind of thing, you take your time, one step at a time.”
My phone rang. It was a welcome diversion at that time, to take my mind away from the news I had just heard, even if it was briefly.
“Duke, how are you? Is anything the problem?” I asked in my madam voice, trying to mask my tears.
“I thought I should inform you that MD has called Somto and I separately since you left, and he’s been more interested in how you were acting, if you were angry and stuff like that. I thought it was strange, but I told him that you left early and I also mentioned that you lost your phone yesterday at Radisson Blu and I helped you buy a new one. That strangely seemed to make him happy.”
The fool, of course he would be happy. He would think his secret was safe.
“Is that all he asked?” I said.
“Unfortunately no. While I was tactful, Somto was not as skilled at knowing what to say and what not to. She mentioned the incident where you cried and why it happened to the boss. I thought it was a stupid thing for her to do.”
I thought it was a stupid thing for her to do to, but I did not tell Duke.
“Thanks a lot Duke, I guess he was just concerned after seeing all my missed calls.”
“Well, if he had just called you, he would have found out why you were calling. It’s strange that he chose to be snooping around your back.” Duke responded.
“It’s a bit queer to me too. I’ll call him again now. Thanks again for the heads up. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
I hung up and turned to Farida.
“My MD now knows that my phone was lost and his secret is safe. And what’s good, I didn’t have to tell him,” I said with a smile.
“Hmmm, now that’s good,” Farida responded.
“So what next?” I asked.
“You won’t like it, so let me move away from you small,” Farida said as she went to the fridge to mix us another drink. When she returned, she still sat close to me and continued
“You have to go back to Ochuko and tell him you’ve accepted his proposal. You’re in love, true love and can’t live without him. You’ll settle for some part of him rather than none of him. And you have to be convincing in your act as the love struck forlorn lover.”
“Ewwwwww, that’s absolutely disgusting!” I shouted. My tummy turned at the thought. Me, begging that bastard to be with me? That would be the lowest of lows.
“I know jor, but there’s a reason. There’s something else my friend said about him. You were so carried away by the multiple identity gist that you missed it. So I’ll spell it out for you.”
I reached for her phone and reopened the chat to see what I had missed. Farida continued
“He’s also known to run a serious scamming operation. Not the nonsense new yahoo yahoo that boys do. Real, old school big bucks 419 like the old boys do. And can you guess who his current target is?”
“Errrm, it isn’t me, I don’t have the kind of money he currently has or needs.” I responded.
“Ode, you are the target of only young Unilag boys, not seasoned 419ers. His friend and cohort, your oga is his mark. And sorry darling, his relationship and bet was probably just to seal and move their friendship and trust beyond business as men usually do. So, are you beginning to think what I’m thinking?”
The way her mind was working was becoming clearer to me, but to be on the safe side, I asked her to spell it out for me. And when she did, I was glad I had this witch by my side. That night, for the first time in a very long time, Fafa and I got drunk together and passed out on my couch.
Fafa is an experienced drunkard. While I was still sleeping and reveling in my hangover, she was up, made me breakfast and then woke/dragged me up from bed to get ready for work.
“Your boss’ fears are calmed. He will come to work today. Blow him out of the water. In fact, go and confide in him, like a big brother. It will clear all doubts in his mind.”
“Okay dear. You, laze around in my house. Just make sure there’s food and not alcohol waiting when I come back today o.”
We laughed, said our goodbyes and then I was on my way.
I spotted my MD’s car in the parking lot as I pulled in. He had turned in early today, perhaps to cover up for his absence from work yesterday.
I gingerly walked in. It was then I realized that in spite of Fafa’s best efforts, I had still gotten to work an hour late. My assistants were still tense, but within minutes, I had eased up their tension and we were laughing as we normally did. I powered my system up, signed in and waited for the computer to load all my personal settings. Because I left early yesterday, I would have many emails hanging, so I launched my email and once mails started dropping, I strolled into my MD’s office.
“Runaway, you have finally been released by your girlfriend that camped you yesterday abi?” I decided to open with a standard joke between us. Everytime he went AWOL like that, it was usually some escapade with some coded babe (though on those occasions I would still be able to reach him sha). He laughed, and I noticed that it was slightly uneasy.
“It’s only you that knows this truth, so swear you will take it to the grave,” he said with mock seriousness.
“I know many crazier secrets about you sir. You can be sure this one will be safe.” I responded, crossing my heart dramatically.
His eyes narrowed as I said the word “secrets”. I was enjoying toying with him but Fafa’s words rang in my ears. Make him feel easy, she had said.
“I had to leave early yesterday. Lost my phone on…” I began.
“I heard that on the office grapevine,” he responded.
“Make that Duke. He is the grapevine.” I said with a knowing smile. He laughed again, this time easier. Everyone knew Duke’s weakness.
“So since you have heard about the phone, I’m sure you have also heard about the drama I acted abi. I’m ashamed of myself,” I said, looking down at my feet.
My MD left his seat and was by my side in an instant.
I formed struggling to fight tears back for a few moments and then I simply said “Ochuko is leaving me because, you were right, I am pregnant.”
“Leaving you? But he should be happy you’re having his baby,” he said.
“Well, he says he married someone for papers in the UK and doesn’t want complications. He wants me to take this baby out…”
Over the next twenty minutes, I played the part of the distressed and confused damsel, while my boss was the big brother. By the time I was leaving, that indiscreet bb message was the last thing on his mind. And oh, the company picked the bill for my new phone.
“Duke,” I said as I entered my own office space “go and help me get one of these IT guys to configure my phone. I didn’t get around to doing it yesterday.”
The moment he left, I walked over to Somto’s desk, pulled a chair and sat by her. “Now that we’re alone, let me warn you and you better listen real good. If it ever comes back to me that you are discussing my personal business with the MD again, I will crush you.” I squeezed a piece of paper from her table for effect, then smiled and threw it into the bin. She was clearly shaken. I needed her to be afraid. I didn’t want to be watching my back over the next few weeks. Things were about to begin.
Back at my desk, I fiddled with my landline for a bit. This was going to be a bitter pill to swallow, but do it, I would.
I picked up the phone and dialed Ochuko from memory.
“Hello,” his rich voice filled my head.
“Hello. We need to talk. 6PM, The Pent House. I’ve ordered dinner already. Don’t be late.”
Then I hung up.
By the time I went into my MD’s office unannounced, he was receiving a call that he abruptly tried to end. I smiled. Assure him for me, I said inside. This was going to be fun.