The Meeting – 1
Georgina turned to her phone and sent off Mrs Onwa’s number.
The phone to her ear, she waited.
Her roommates gathered round her, their ears propped up in attention too.
‘What?’ a voice came finally.
‘What do you mean we maimed the wrong person?’ Georgina said.
‘It is what I said,’ Mrs Onwa said. ‘Harry’s death did not come by me.’
‘If you didn’t do it, then who did?’
‘I wish I had the answer to that question.’
‘Why don’t I believe you?’
‘I do not intend to convince you, Georgina. After all, what more can you do to me? You and your friends have done the worst you could already. But the truth remains that I have no good enough reason to murder Harry.’
‘You killed him because he stands against your inheriting of his father’s company.’
‘That’s a very stupid accusation. Harry and I fought several times, but it was never to the death. When I got married newly to his father, I tried all I could to make him be on my side. I did virtually everything, but he never came along so I quit. Maybe if you’ve been stepmom once before you’d know this: you can never replace someone’s true parent, no matter how hard you try.’
Georgina was quiet now.
A period of silence passed.
‘If you are still bent on avenging him,’ Mrs Onwa said, ‘meet me at Four Chefs by 4 in the evening of tomorrow, there is something you should know.’
‘I will see you there.’ Georgina ended the call.
‘Hell no, you are not going anywhere to meet that woman!’ April said.
‘I will go,’ Georgina said.
‘No, you won’t!’
‘Do you actually believe all she said?’ April said.
‘Obviously she is lying,’ Loveth said.
‘That woman is rying,’ Nwamgbeke joined. ‘She is very very rying.’
‘That word is lying,’ Loveth told her. ‘And you don’t use very before it.’
‘Aproko, you will not mind your business,’ Nwamgbeke returned sharply. ‘The rying I talk is pepper your ear?’
Loveth drew back in mocking surprise. ‘See Mgbeke o,’ she said.
‘Wetin do am?’ Nwamgbeke asked her.
‘You are now feeling funky with me abi?’
‘I not funky before?’
April threw out a sudden laugh.
Georgina stood. ‘Well, there is only one way to find out if she is lying or not.’
‘And that is?’ Loveth and April chorused.
‘I will go and see her tomorrow,’ Georgina said.
She’d entered the bathroom before any of the girls could say anything else.
The door came open and Anthony burst into the room.
His face was damp with sweat, some of the buttons of his shirt open.
He stood in the middle of the room with his arms on his waist and face fixed into the air for long.
His chest was heaving and his sides burned.
His eyes fell on the photos of Loveth he pasted on the wall.
He went and grabbed all of them.
He tore messily at them and threw away the pieces.
He knelt to the bed and moaned out in frustrated pain.
It was the early morning of Saturday. Nwamgbeke was still sprawled on the bed, snoring.
April set down a huge pile of papers in front of Georgina. ‘That’s all you need to read.’
Georgina’s wide eyes ran to her. ‘Are you alright?’
April pulled a face. ‘What?’
‘I thought you said it is only a quiz.’
‘Yes, it is.’
‘If I read all these for just a quiz, how come you’ve written an exam here once without this room been crammed with books?’
‘That’s because I don’t do most of my reading here,’ April said.
Georgina wrinkled her lips. ‘Yea, right,’ she said. ‘As if you even read at all.’
April gave a small smile. ‘Babe, since the day I discovered your little secret, it cued me in.’
Slight surprise came on Georgina’s face. ‘What secret are you talking about?’ she asked.
‘Where do you normally go early Saturday mornings?’
‘Why is that relevant?’
‘Of course it is. You are always the one to bring home IV’s to parties, bring in new movies and suggest we learn a dance, yet every Saturday morning you sneak out to New Villa to read.’
‘Who told you that?’
‘Max. He goes there to read too.’
‘What are you girls saying?’ Loveth said, getting interested and rising from the bed.
‘Nothing,’ Georgina said. She turned to April. ‘And tell that your pigeon-like gay boy that if ever catch him snooping around in my business again, I’ll kill him!’
‘I think you are the one that needs to be killed for deceiving your friends!’ April said.
‘I go there to read, so?’ Georgina said. ‘I don’t feel comfortable reading here, isn’t that quite easy to understand.’
‘Oh please,’ Georgina said. ‘You talk as if you didn’t just admit you stay back after classes to read too and I’m sure Loveth here has her method too!’
‘No I don’t!’ Loveth cried. ‘You girls are liars!’
They turned shocked faces to her.
‘Loveth?’ April called.
‘Don’t ever mention my name!’ Loveth snarled. ‘You girls are cheats and I have nothing else to do with you again! Ever!’
She wore her sandals and stormed out of the room, banging the door hard behind her.
Quickly, Georgina and April got up and ran after her.
‘Loveth!’ they called.
‘Love, please come back!’ April said.
‘Where are you going?’ Georgina said.
Loveth didn’t stop.
Finally they caught her near the stairs.
They blocked her.
April tried to hold her and Loveth slapped her hand away.
‘Come on, why are you so angry?’ April said.
Loveth said nothing, just glowering at the air and breathing fast.
‘Lovi—Lovi,’ Georgina called her, teasingly. ‘Lovi please na.’
Loveth pitched a long hiss.
Georgina winked at April and they dropped to their knees at once. ‘Please, from today onwards we will make a timetable,’ Georgina said. ‘Two hours of reading every day.’
The frown on Loveth’s face didn’t budge still.
Still on her knees, Georgina grabbed her legs and began to cry. ‘Mummy, please na.’
Loveth hissed again, trying to get her hands off.
But Georgina held on tight and continued to cry.
Finally Loveth’s face showed a difference—a smile alternating with a frown.
‘I want egg roll,’ she finally said.
Georgina and April got up at once and ran down the stairs to buy her egg roll from a nearby shop.
April took a deep breath and gripped the door handle.
She turned it and pushed the door open.
Chuka didn’t turn to look at her immediately. He was busy on his laptop working with AutoCAD.
‘Good day,’ April said, staring at him.
‘Day,’ Chuka replied, his attention still on his computer.
April walked to one of the chairs and sat.
Now Chuka turned his eyes up and glanced at her.
And then he looked at her again.
He closed the application and pushed the laptop aside. ‘My secretary said you wanted to see me,’ he said.
‘Yes,’ April said.
Chuka leaned back into his chair and joined his fingers together. ‘So what can I do for you?’
‘I’m Mary. I’m a Business Correspondent with The Watch, I’d like to know if you’d be willing to grant me an interview. Should you, your establishment will be featured in our Monday Business Column.’
Chuka was staring at her, saying nothing.
‘Sir?’ April said.
‘Yes, yes,’ Chuka gave out, collecting himself. ‘Of course. Of course, you will want me to…to…please tell me again all you’ve just said.’
‘I’m from The Watch.’
‘Yes, The Watch newspapers, right?’
‘And you will…’
‘I want to know if you’d allow me interview you, sir. Just a couple of questions and need I mention what a huge publicity your company will get once it is featured on our business column.’
‘Of course,’ Chuka said.
April waited, but he said nothing else again, just staring at her.
‘I’d take that as a yes, sir.’
‘Not really,’ Chuka said.
Chuka scratched at a side of his head and then leaned out of his chair. ‘You see, we are not really into all those publicity stuff.’
‘I do not get what you mean, sir.’
‘We tend to shy away from exposure.’
April gave a small confused smile. ‘That’s rather odd, I must say.’
‘Of course, it seems so.’
‘As a business, who wouldn’t want to get exposure, not to mention one coming from a reputable media such as The Watch.’
‘It all seem very palatable, the offer, but like I said, it is not really something we are very used to.’
‘Alright.’ April carried her bag and stood. ‘It was nice speaking with you, sir, and I do appreciate your time.’
Chuka said nothing.
She turned and adjusted her skirt.
She was close to the door when she finally heard, ‘Hello, wait!’
She stopped and turned back.
‘Yes, Mary. If it is okay by you, I can arrange for a private meeting where you’d tell me all I stand to gain from this your proposal.’
April curved her lips slightly, dimming her eyes. ‘I’ll be glad.’
‘It’s settled then,’ Chuka said. ‘Drop your contact with the girl outside, I will get back.’
‘Alright, sir. Do have a wonderful day.’
The bang of the door cut him off.