I stood speechless before Dotun. He blinked. I felt he was expecting me to say something, but there was nothing coming from my end.
While at high school, I thought Dotun was the hottest boy and I once slid a note into his back pack, although it was printed so as not to get into trouble with my handwriting. I had told him in the note to meet me at the school’s basket ball court by lunch that I would be waiting for him in the stands. He showed up but I lacked total courage to come out of hiding. I remember him pacing up and down the court and at a time; he started throwing the balls into the ring, until the school coach came into the gym and whisked him out.
Here he was standing before me, I felt like fifteen again and I tried to hide the nervousness in my eyes.
He smiled. “I always knew I will see you again, and as a success.”
“How are you, Dotun?”
He motioned to the chair. “I am doing fine. I won’t mind if you can say another word to me apart from ‘How are you, Dotun?’” he said.
I laughed. “Why is that?”
“That’s the only thing you ever said to me in our six years at high school.”
I was stunned. “Are you serious?”
He smiled, revealing his dimples. ‘Ouch! That’s what I think I fell for’. “Darlene, there was this day I hurt my knee in JS3, and everyone was comforting me, but you didn’t. I stared at you, but you looked away.” He started. “I felt really bad, and then the magical moment came when my driver came to get me.” He said with a smile. “You were standing near the gate, and when I limped across, you held me back and said, ‘How are you, Dotun?’” he stopped, and we both laughed. “That was the best moment of my high school life.”
I was so embarrassed; I had to cover my face.
“You were my first crush, Darlene. I could never forget that moment.” He concluded, straightening his glasses.
‘Why do we live complicated lives? If you love someone, or rather, if you have a crush, JUST SAY! Things were mutual between Dotun and I then, but no one could man-up. Did he expect me to?’ I thought. “Okay, how’s work?” I asked, smiling.
“It was fun until Chidi Obi decided to wreck my dad’s business.” He replied. “What would you have?” he asked, ordering drinks.
“Soda will be fine.” I replied. “There are many competent lawyers in the city, why me?”
Dotun handed me the soda and smiled. “You are one of the best persons I know when it comes to arguing, judging by your high school debating skills. So, when I heard that you were practicing law, I knew that it had to be you for this case.”
“Did you attend debates at high school?” I asked, sipping the soda.
He nodded. “I have never really been a fan of debates, but I just loved seeing you tear your opponents apart.”
“I see you had this all planned.”
He smiled. “Apart from that, I had to see you.” He sipped his drink carefully.
“Thanks for the vote of confidence, Dotun” I replied.
He laughed. “It’s nothing. By the way, how is Jacob?”
He nodded. “Do you guys till hang out like before?”
He smiled. “You guys always made a cute couple, never seen such committed friendship. Are you guys together?” he asked.
“No. we are just friends.”
He batted his eyelashes. “Soon you will be lovers.” He stood up and gestured to his Dad who was approaching.
“Darlene Williams, right?” Mr. Davis said firmly offering his hand.
I took the hand. “At your service, Sir.”
“Thanks for keeping our lawyer here company, Dotun. It’s getting late; you might want to go home now.”
I grinned. “Okay Dad. Can I have your card, Darlene?” he asked, turning towards me.
“Yes, please.” I replied, and fetched a card from my purse.
“I’ll give you a call tomorrow.” He said and pecked me on the cheek. “Good night, Darlene.”
I smiled. “Night, Dotun.”
Mr. Tunji Davis cleared his throat and Dotun scampered off. “You guys got along real good.”
“We go way back.” I replied.
He smiled. “That’s good. So, that aside, Chidi Obi has robbed me off an oil rig and I don’t want him to get away with it.” He started. “The society thinks that he has achieved something, not knowing that he robbed me off it, I bought that rig, but I don’t know how he was able to upturn the Dubai guys on me.”
“Do you have any document to prove your ownership?” I asked.
He nodded in agreement. “Yes, I do. But Obi also has the same documents with his name on them, it’s all messed up at the moment and I am sure that he did something shady.”
“Do you have any of the Dubai agents on your side?” I asked.
He nodded. “Sameer has promised to be in court for me. I will fly him in a week before the case.”
“That will be fine by me. Since Oil is involved, I would advise you not to reveal the identity of your witness at the moment, we don’t want Sameer compromised or killed.” I said, fetching my phone. “Can I have a copy of the deed?”
He opened his brief case and handed me the document. “That is a photocopy of it, I have the original in the bank.”
“This will do.” I said, putting the document in my bag.
We exchanged phone numbers. “I will set up a meeting with you tomorrow.”
“Be careful kid.” He said.
I nodded. “I’ll be.” I replied and left.
I boarded the BRT bus. I was lucky enough to get a seat, so that I wouldn’t have to stand for the next twenty minutes before getting to my bus station. The advantage of having a bag with you is that you can boss people to get a seat by putting it before you. I plugged my ear phones in my ears as the bus drove off.
I felt a light tap on my shoulder. I raised my head and an old man in a torn leather jacket and almost no teeth flashed a wide smile at me. You know what that means. I stood up and leaned for support until I got off the bus.
As I strolled into the estate, I watched teenagers riding their bicycles and enjoying an evening after school. Some were locked around in corners; well you know what they could have been doing. Work had officially begun for me at Ade-Cole, I held in my hand a file that would see me go up against a renowned lawyer.
“Dad, I am going up against Subomi Bankole in two weeks.” I said, standing by the door.
Dad’s eyes shot open. “Subomi?”
Subomi Bankole meant doom to my dad. His first lose was attributed to him. I nodded to affirm it. “Yes Dad, Subomi Bankole.”
Dad sipped his Red Wine. “I’ll have the boys in Sydney prepare the house when you fail, or is it Miami you would love to cool off.”
I managed a soft chuckle as I joined Dad on the sofa. “I haven’t even gone up against him, Dad.” I stressed. “Don’t be so negative.” I added, retrieving the documents from my bag. “I am going to attack him like a careless rookie; I won’t try to play professional.”
Dad laughed. “Tricks from your professor’s class at Harvard? Professor Dean told me the same thing when I was about to start my career.” He replied.
“Things were a lot different for you, Dad. You and Subomi were on the same level then, and you have been able to rise above him ever since.” I retorted, opening the file.
Dad smirked. “The first cut is always the deepest. Time has not been able to heal the wound. Subomi downed me in court that day. In this game, it’s about the lawyers, not the clients.” He paused to add more wine. “After this case, you are going to start taking alcohol, because, I know you can’t beat Subomi.” He concluded and gulped the wine.
“That’s not encouraging, father.” I said, frowning.
He looked at me. “Father?” he smiled. “Since when did I become father?”
“That’s what you are to me, isn’t it?”
He nodded. “Of course, I am your father, and it hurts that you don’t want to face reality. It’s harsh, but I can’t see you beating Subomi, you will be frustrated in five minutes.”
“Give it up, Dad!” I said, putting the file in my bag.
He smiled. “And the tabloids are going to read: ‘HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF AS SUBOMI BANKOLE TAKES DOWN DARLENE WILLIAMS’” he paused and smiled at me. “Drop the case before the world laughs at the Williams family a second time.”
“I will beat Subomi.” I said, and left for my room.
I slammed my door angrily and burst into tears. Dad made me feel incompetent. There was a light tap on the door. I could guess. “Go away, Dora.” I sobbed.
“Why try to deal with this alone?”
I stood up like a zombie and opened the door for her. She hugged me tightly. I didn’t want to let go off the hug, at that moment, I needed it.
“Quit working for Dad.” I said to her.
Dora chuckled. “Dad is great man, you know.”
“I have lived with him for years, and I still am. His ego above everything and everyone else,” I retorted.
Dora patted me lightly. “I resigned from the firm today.” She said.
“Really?” I said, wiping my tears. “I am not surprised. Did Dad throw one of his tantrums at you?”
She smiled. “Nothing of such, I am going into Photography.” She went on and on about how she wanted to view the world through pictures. She wanted to represent every vein in a leaf, wool on a sheep and all. I watched Dora talk with passion about something she loved to do, and I knew that all I needed was the passion I had when I went into law school, and I was sure to beat Subomi Bankole, not only for me, but for my Dad. God willing!