‘Good morning Lagosians. Its 5am this morning and it is all about the early morning traffic in the Metropolis. Ring us up and let’s know how it is in your region.’ I turned the volume of the radio down as I slipped into my bathroom slippers. I had rung a taxi to pick me up to work and then Dare and I would go to the City Mall together. Shower would not take forever, and especially when trying to beat Lagos’s ever busy traffic. Things only got worse when the Lagos State Government ordered the closure of the Third Mainland Bridge that linked into the City’s busiest parts.
“We will be moving against the traffic.” The Taxi driver said, as I stepped in.
That was a relief to me. I fetched my Phone from my bag and tweeted, ‘I will be moving against Traffic. Third Mainland can’t stop me.’ The driver raced against the traffic as we delved into the road recklessly, shoving other road users aside. I kicked, screamed and fumed to no avail, but the driver could not be moved. He kept bumping into every pothole.
“Ade-Cole Firm…we don dey check,” he said in his broken English accent as we highlighted at work.
I arrived at work for 6:47AM. That was a record! However, I had to pay for my early arrival. My head hurt! The security officers greeted me as I approached the building. I immediately left for my office. Arriving that early would mean that I would be the only one in the office, official duties starts by 8am. I turned on my office lights.
“Why are you here so early?”
Dare shifted his weight from the swivel chair and leaned on the table. “Good morning.”
“What are you doing here?” I asked, staring at him.
He stretched his body and his bones cracked violently. He must have slept in a position of discomfort. “This is my firm.”
“MY OFFICE! You broke into my office, which is punishable by the law. There’s a legal term for that, um…”
He smiled and picked his Jacket from the table. “Trespassing, it is called trespassing. I had a lot to do in preparation for tomorrow’s event, when I was done, the city’s traffic held me up. Satisfied?”
“Are you going home now?”
“Yes. I will be heading home against the traffic so that we’ll make it in time for City Mall.”
I nodded my head. “You have to be careful, because, if you get apprehended by the cops, you won’t go cheap.”
“It won’t be my first time in lock up, remember?”
“What are you doing here this early anyways?” he asked, opening the door.
“I had to beat traffic.”
He closed the door quietly after him. “Why not his office?” I thought aloud. I bent down and saw a Picture faced down. It was a picture of Dare and a little boy, probably around the age of four to five. ‘Who could this be?’ I thought. The door flung open as Dare rushed in. I stretched the picture to him. His eyes burned with fury. He took the picture from me without saying a word and walked out.
“Who could that be?” I asked myself.
Dare seemed upset about me looking at the picture, so it had to be important to him. It was still early in the morning and Toni could not help me with any answers yet, so I turned on my laptop and searched Paul’s Facebook Account.
‘Marital Status: Engaged to Marie Branson’
` I sighed as I went over his recent posts. Paul’s recent post read, ‘‘I’ll be happy with Marie.” I was not convinced with the post, but I became the 37th friend to LIKE the Post. Paul had posted several pictures of himself and Marie Branson. I had cold chills down my spine. At that moment, I had to admit to a slight jealousy. I logged off from the Internet and returned to thoughts about Dare’s picture. I got lost in the thought that I didn’t notice Toni before me.
“Darlene!” she yelled. “I have been here for almost five minutes.”
I popped my eyes open. “I am sorry Toni. Please sit.”
“Why do you look so worried?” she asked, as she took her seat.
I cleaned my brows. “It’s nothing Toni. I was lost in thoughts.” I replied, pouring myself a cup of coffee. “You care?”
“Yes please. Black, low fat.”
I smiled. “You should try more slimming down techniques, coffee isn’t really the best.”
She eyeballed me coldly. “Humans are so insatiable! You told me to try to work out, only last night, I saw an Indian movie ‘Anjaana Anjaani’ and Priyanka Chopra was going on about Black Coffee…Low fat. If I continue like that, I will be as fit and hot as Priyanka Chopra in a year.”
“Toni, you make me laugh. You will get there in five years, if you promise to reduce an intake on your Pepsi and burger.”
She scoffed. “I won’t take hunger as a substitute for good living.” She sipped her coffee lightly. “That aside, why did you look very sad?”
“Paul is getting married.”
She dropped the coffee on the table. “Paul?”
“Yes, and it will be soon. I don’t understand how it happened. He just decided to get married to some random girl I am sure he met while in the Bahamas.”
Toni sighed. “I still find it hard to believe. That guy was so much in love with you.”
“Jake must have planted that idea in his head. I bet he made Paul think of something weird.”
She shrugged. Toni finished the last bit of the coffee and passed the cup to me. “I think Paul is mature to take any decision he so wishes. Jake isn’t responsible for his actions.”
“If you say so, I have a question for you.”
She adjusted her weight against the chair. “Go ahead.”
“Is Dare hurt emotionally?”
She laughed. “I always knew that you care for him, why the question?”
“He slept in my office last night. He claimed that he had so much to do at work, so the traffic held him up, but I don’t believe it?”
Toni shrugged carelessly. “I don’t know if he is hurt. He is so over Reina, so I know that she’s not responsible for whatever shape he might be in. maybe, he’s having issues with his father.” She started. “Old Ade-Cole doesn’t miss a chance to take constant swipes at his son. He wants him to be HIM.”
“Almost every father wants that from his son. Do you think that’s the reason why he could be unstable?”
She nodded in agreement. “At the moment, I think so. He is under a lot of pressure to deliver tomorrow. Top members of the state will be in attendance, so everything has to go on well.”
“Okay. Is there anything special or sensitive about Dare that you know?” I asked.
Toni stared at me carefully. “Dare isn’t gay. He is a straight guy.”
“Shut up Toni. Who said a thing about Dare being gay?”
“Then why are you probing into his life without a destination? If you have something that needs to be cleared up, all you have to do is say what you know.” She replied with a bit of harshness in her tone.
I stared at her. “So much attitude for a simple enquiry.”
“It’s not a simple enquiry Darlene; you are beating around the bush. I bet you found out something that you want me to confirm, all I need is for you to say what it is, and then I will ease your suspicions.”
I was a bit skeptical about dropping the news. I am afraid of being seen as nosy by Dare and as impulsive by Toni. If I should mention it to Toni and she wasn’t aware of it previously, I would have leaked out something that I wasn’t sure of the import.
“Darlene, I have seen you as a close friend ever since you got here, you can try to see me as a friend. Dare means a lot to me, if there is something that should be known for his good, I’d rather you say.”
My eyes blinked repeatedly. “I would like an honest answer to the question, and a very direct one.”
I took a deep breath. “Does Dare have a son?”
“Darlene, I have never refused you a question about Dare, but on this one, if Dare has anything to tell you, he will. You won’t hear it from me.”
I sighed. “I just want a YES or NO”
“Sorry Darlene, you won’t get that from me.” She replied, standing up. She adjusted her grey jacket. “There are some matters that stay personal, and are rather not discussed for the good of us all. Don’t take it the wrong way.”
I nodded. “I understand.”
“That word weighs, if you don’t understand, just shrug.” She replied with a smile as she headed for the door. “Later hun, and best of luck with the stalker’s case.” She added and left.
` Bola came in. “Morning Darlene.”
She handed me the Dailies. “Dare called in and said that you should meet him in the Car garage in five minutes. He’s parked at the executives.”
“Thank you Bola.” I replied. She smiled as she left.
I flipped through the back pages and stumbled on a remembrance column that read:
“IN LOVING MEMORY OF TOBI ADE-COLE…It’s been 3 years since you’ve gone and I still miss you – Dad”