San Jose was seated in his spacious living room watching a news broadcast. A pack of fruit juice stood on the stool in front of him as well as a half filled glass cup, his mobile phone and the television’s remote.
Just then, Bunmi walked out from the kitchen cleaning her hand with a napkin as she approached her father.
“Hi dad.” She greeted as she sat beside him.
“Hello princess.” San Jose replied.
“Dinner would be ready in ten minutes.” She informed.
“Okay.” Her father replied. “Have you seen the latest on ISIS?” he asked.
“No daddy. You know I hate politics, not to talk of terrorism.” She replied.
San Jose went silent for a while before he spoke.
“Collins, your boyfriend has really been impressive at work.”
“Yes dad. I’m impressed as well, especially at how quickly he understood how things are done . You need to see his presentation on monday, there wasn’t any debate. The factory workers are solidly behind him and are ready to work overtime just to improve production, especially after he promised them a reviewed salary package among other incentives. And for the first time since I started working in the company, the existing rivarly between the plastic workers and the funiture workers as well as other factories seemed to have disappeared.” Bunmi explained excitedly.
“He is the man we have been missing. Even though hiring him was a great risk, considering the department we let him head. It is paying off now.” Her father replied.
“Yes daddy.” Bunmi retorted.
“But, you know you have to be careful right?” San Jose asked.
“How do you mean dad?”
“This is the twenty first century, men and women inclusive wants quick money. They don’t mind serving their spouse, so far they will be comfortable.” San Jose began.
“I don’t understand.”
“Let him advance in his career. He can’t continue to be the production manager, and you can’t continue to be his boss. Of what gain will it be if you pay his salary, will he be able to stamp his authority in your married life?”
Bunmi thought for a while. “Does that mean you are going to let us get married?” She asked.
“You are the apple of my eyes. Whatever makes you happy.” Her father replied.
“And avoid telling him things beyond the description of his job.” He added.
“Dad. I trust him, nothing is going to go wrong.” As expected, She argued.
“I know you do, but do not let the trust you have in him becloud your reasoning, such that you won’t talk even if he is going about things the wrong way. And remember what the company’s policy says; no preferential treatment. So, if the board decides to santion or reprimand him, do not try to influence the decision of the board, or you risk other workers protesting.”
“Okay dad.” she retorted.
“Let’s go and eat.” San Jose said as he stood up, stretched out his hand and pulled Bunmi up. “Don’t think about what I said. They are just words of advice. You’ll need them sooner or later.” He whispered as Bunmi reluctantly followed him to the adjoining room to the living room which serves as the dining room.
“When is the next presentation?” San Jose asked as Bunmi dished their meal.
“Friday.” She replied.
“I will like to be there. I want to see Collins in action.”
“Its high time you returned to work as the Chairman and CEO.” Bunmi said.
“Yes ma’am president.” Her father replied amidst laughter. After the laughter had died down, Bunmi spoke up. “That reminds me, I met Tony Brown today in his office.”
San Jose almost choked on his food as he heard that.
“What was it about?” He asked.
“He invited me to his birthday party on friday night.” Bunmi replied.
“Don’t honor his invite.” San Jose said without battling an eyelid.
“Why dad? His chain of business alone contributes to twenty percent of our sales. He is our largest customer. I think I am representing SJC.” Bunmi
“That is final. At the close of work on friday, drive straight home. You must not attend Tony Brown’s party.”
“But dad…” She tried to protest, but was cut short.
“Shhhhhh…. Do you want me to skip dinner?” San Jose asked.
“No dad. Finish up your meal.” She replied as her mind wandered into deep thoughts. She definitely can’t ignore Tony Brown’s invite.
The time was 7AM when Kike Brown stepped out the mansion she lived in with her brother and step brother.
“Good morning ma’am.” One of the body guards greeted.
“Good morning.” She replied as she walked towards a black Toyota prado jeep.
A chauffer was already waiting at the owner’s corner door and as soon as she came to within arms length of the chauffer, he opened the back door and She climbed into the car. While the chauffer shut the door, a bodyguard hopped into the passenger seat up front with her handbag, and the chauffer rounded the car to
the driver seat. Less than five minutes later, they drove out of the
compound. Just when her phone rang, it was Tony, her brother.
“Hello, Miss Kike.” The ever loyal personal and media assistant to her brother, Malik said.
“Hello Mr Malik.” Kike replied.
“Please hold on a second for my principal.”
After what seems like forever, Tony’s husky voice came on.
“Hello Kiks.” He said.
“Bro. I’m on my way out now.” She replied.
“Oh! That’s great. Do you still have the credit card with you?” Tony asked.
“Yeah.” she replied.
“Okay. I will send one of the company’s mini-truck over to you so they can transport everything you buy.”
“That will be appreciated.” Kike replied.
“Can you do me a favour?” Tony asked.
“Tony Brown is a commander. You are not used to making requests. So, shoot.” Kike replied amidst laughter.
“I need the service of berbecue makers. Could you make a stop at the berbecue palace and negotiate with their best hands?” Tony requested humbly.
“What price?” She asked.
“A trip to mount fuji.” Tony replied.
“You know how much I hate the Fuji island, even as a kid. Tell me something else.”
“Okay, let me think.” Tony went silent for a while before he spoke. “There is going to be a board meeting today at noon. You are a member of the board too, why not show up and preside over the meeting?”
“Tony, you know….” Kike tried to protest.
“No excuses. Get me what I asked for, you prside over the board meeting today. That’s the deal.” Tony replied. “I’m sure you still know the way to my office.”
“I should get married soonest, so you will stop bossing me around.” She joked.
“It is long overdue ma’am. Menopause is real.” Tony joined in the joke.
“I’m still twenty six. I still have time. What about you? Come on, Tony, you are forty.”
“Well, you have maybe a decade and few years before menopause. But, as for me, even at sixty, I can still have kids.” Tony replied.
“I doubt if you can inpregnate a woman at all.”
“Come and let me prove you wrong.” He replied.
“Jeez! Tony, you are mad, I swear. That’s incest, inbreeding or whatever you want to call it.” Kike screamed.
“Get off my phone you little witch. See you at noon.” With this, Tony hung up.
With a smile on her face, she faced the road for the first time, but what she saw surprised her.
“Have we been strucked in this traffic or we are moving?” She asked either of the men sitting in front.
“We are strucked ma’am.” The well built bodyguard
“Listen to yourself fool. You should be sacked. Don’t you know it is your job to solve traffic issues everytime you are on my entourage?”
“I’m sorry ma’am.” The bodyguard who could only wonder if it was the same jovial and free spirited Kikelomo who just finished speaking with her brother or the well known brat that she is. More like the later, because Kikelomo is only open to two people. Her brother Tony, and their step-mother. Everyone else on earth is unimportant and doesn’t exist. Forty minutes later, Kike was on a shopping spree inside the largest supermarket in West Africa and on request, three attendants were pushing trolleys as she picked what she wants to buy. Mostly wines.
“I want six Moet.” She said once she stopped at the shelf where the particular drink was arranged.
“We have just four on sale. Let me check the store.” One of the attendants replied as she hurriedly left for the store house.
She returned moments later with another bottle. “There is only one bottle left ma’am.” She said as she dropped it in the trolley where the other four was.
“So, what’s the hype about your supermarket being the largest in West Africa?” Kike asked in irritation. “You should have everything readily available.”
“We are very sorry ma’am.” The three girls chorused.
“I think that’s all I need, let’s make payment.” She said and with one long stride, she turned and headed for the cashier department.
“What’s the total amount?” She asked the cashier who was making inputs into her computer.”
“One minute please.” The young man replied.
While waiting, she allowed her eyes to scan around the very big hall and suddenly, something of interest caught her attention. A young man stood at a counter,
probably transacting and making payment for the goods he purchased.
“One minute.” She said to no one in particular as she moved closer to the man.
“Excuse me.” She said as she got to where the man stood.
“Yeah?” The man replied.
“Kike Brown.” She introduced stretching her hand for a handshake.
“Ade.” The man replied non challantly.
If there was one effect the name Brown had on people, it has to be the sense of inferiority complex against the first class family. But, Ade here before her wasn’t even moved at the fact that he was standing before a billionaire. He didn’t even accept her handshake. And to make matters worse, immediately after telling her his name, he turned his attention to the attendant behind the counter.
“Everything costs twenty five thousand naira.” The attendant informed Ade who immediately produced his credit card and gave to the lady who slot it into the POS machine beside her computer.
“Could you please sell that to me?” Kike asked. Ade turned and gave her a “so-you-are-still-there” look.
“What?” He asked.
“I needed one more bottle of Moet, so I think I should buy this.” Kike replied.
“As you can see, I bought a bottle among other things and it is meant to serve a purpose.” Ade replied.
“Your pin sir.” The attendant interrupted Kike before she could speak.
The lady pushed the POS machine closer to Ade who quickly input his pin.
“How about if I pay one hundred thousand naira?” Kike asked.
“Madam, as you can see, he paid for the wine already. Why don’t you look around and pick something else. There are other good drinks around.” The attendant advised.
“I wasn’t talking to you.” Kike snapped angrily which prompted Ade into coming in.
“I already told you. If you have money to spend, you just met a wrong guy cos, am not a bit moved by your status or your worth.” He said to a rather surprised Kike.
“Please pack them for me.” He instructed the
Ade collected the things he bought and made for the exit, but not without saying goodbye to his new friend. But much to his chagrin, he was stopped by a heavily built guy who has the look of a bodyguard, and before he could say ‘Jack’ the wine was collected from him and a bundle he suspected to be a sum of one hundred thousand naira placed instead of the wine in the bag with which it was packed.
“Good day Ade.” Kike mocked as she catwalked out of the supermarket.
“What audacity? I will make sure I sue this supermarket and that damned lady. A supermarket that couldn’t guarantee the safety of its customers. See how I was harrassed and almost assaulted.” But all his rants were fruitless and it only made him look foolish. In anger, he stormed out of the building.
Collins hadn’t sat down to begin work for the day when his intercom buzzed. Instead of sitting, he rose up and grabbed the phone.
“Mr Collins, you have Miss Rukayat from Human resource on the line.” His secretary’s voice came on.
“Patch her through.” He instructed.
Moment’s later, Rukayat’s voice came on. “Hello Collins.”
“Good morning Miss. How may I help you?” He replied.
“Can you come to my office now?” She asked.
“Why?” He replied with a question. Typical of Nigerians, always replying a question with another question.
“Since you joined us here, you haven’t visited me, and I have visited you once. Don’t you think you owe me a visit?” Rukayat replied in her usual confident manner.
“But, I just resumed work. It is wrong to spend the early hours of the morning visiting people right?” Collins asked.
“Of course, but believe me it is work related.” Rukayat replied.
“Okay, I’ll be there in ten.”
“Ten minutes is too much, make it five or less.” She protested.
Collins laughed for a while. “Okay, seven minute tops.” He replied.
“Fine, I’ll be expecting you. Kisses” With this, the line went dead. But almost immediately another sound could be heard.
“Are you there?” Collins asked.
For the second time, the line went dead in the manner it did the first time.
“Is someone intercepting my calls?” He asked himself as he glanced through his ‘to do’ list for the day.
Five minutes later, he stood up, rearranged his table and stepped out of his office.
“I’m very sorry sir.” His secretary apologized as she scrambled up to pack her things together.
“Lydia, right?” He asked to be sure.
“Yes sir.” The young lady who couldn’t be more than twenty-four replied, unable to look at her boss in the face.
“I won’t scold you for this, I mean, am new here and I don’t know how things are done around here, but I’m sure every organization will frown at any of its staff
found doing what I caught you doing.” He began.
“I’m very sorry sir.” Lydia apologised. “I just felt my face was too oily, so I decided to do something about it.” She added.
“I understand, but the restroom is here for quick application of your makeup.” Collins replied. “Hold my calls, I have to meet the HR manager right now. See you later.” With this, he strolled out of the office.
“Thanks for your understanding sir.”
—-THE HR DEPARTMENT—
Collins sat in front of Rukayat as she recieved a call, while flashing him smiles and meaninful looks in between.
“Sorry for keeping you waiting.” She said once she was done talking on phone.
“So, why did you ask me to see you?” Collins asked.
“Take a chill pill man. Coffee or tea?”
“None. I have a lot to do in the office.” He replied.
“Fine.” she said as she searched through the paper files arranged on her table. She finally pulled out a blue covered one and handed it to Collins. “Latest by ten thirty, you will take the day off. You and I have to be somewhere.” She explained.
“Take the day off? You and I?” Collins asked in confusion.
“Let me give you a summary. During the last quarter departmental meeting, the board set up a three member committee to investigate the source from where our raw materials are coming from. I led the committee and my members were the former acting
Production manager and a certain Ade from Sales department, even though he is currently on suspension.” She explained further.
“Go on.” Collins urged.
“That’s the report of the investigation and the committee is expected to present their findings by the next departmental meeting. With the former acting
production manager gone, and Ade still on suspension, I am supposed to present the report, but alas, my annual leave starts by the month end. So, I felt I should equip you with the necessary things to defend the report.” She continued.
“You still haven’t told me why I will take the rest of the day off.” Collins reminded.
“Well, a portion of the reports says, the materials we use in the production of plastic, that is the latex is a refined one. Meaning, it is sub-standard, and by the time it enters our factory, the first process is refining. That confirms that the latex has gone through two stages of refining and by the time the plastics are out,
they break before long.” She paused and gave Collins a searching look.
“Does that mean, the company isn’t getting what it ispaying for?” Collins asked.
“Exactly. So, we are meeting our major supplier of latex today. We need to know where the problem is coming from.” Rukayat replied.
“What if it turns out that we are getting latex from a different supplier from the one that we know?” Collins asked.
“We will know the truth by the time we visit the supplier.” Rukayat replied. “Meet me at the parking lot by 10:15.” She added. “Okay.” Collins replied and stood up.
Ten minutes later, he walked into the production departments and exchanged pleasantries with a few of the production team members who noticed his entry,
and without another word, he proceeded into the room concealed behind the door marked “PRODUCTION MANAGER.” His secretary, Lydia stood up as soon as she noticed his presence.
“Welcome sir.” She said.
“Thank you. Any calls?” He replied.
“None except the President, Miss Bunmi.” Lydia answered.
“Okay.” Collins replied as he made for the door into his own office.
He pushed the door opened and he almost died of shock when someone grabbed him without warning, slammed his back lightly against the wall, and the softest lips he ever kissed enveloped his in a deep romantic kiss.
“Oh! I missed my man.” Bunmi cried in ecstacy as she rubbed Collins all over.
Collins expertly broke the ensuing romance. “We are at work for God’s sake.” He said.
“And so what?”
“It is unethical and unprofessional.” Collins replied.
“Are you seeing someone else? This one that you are telling me about ethics and professionalism.” She asked.
Collins gave a short laugh. “Of course not.” He replied
and kissed her forehead.
“So, where are you coming from?” She asked as he led her in properly.
“Rukayat sent for me.” He replied.
“HR and Production. What’s the relationship between the two departments?” Bunmi asked.
“Are you jealous already?
“Of course.” She replied laughing.
“Don’t be. I am yours for life.”
“I know, but you had lunch with her the other day.” She said.
“Oh my God! Bunmi.” Collins exclaimed.
“I was just joking.” Bunmi replied laughing. “Are we having lunch today? You are paying, I’m broke.” she added.
“I’m broken as well. Anyways, am taking the day off as soon as it is ten, work related.” He replied.
“With Rukayat right? Just be careful.” She said kissinghim once again.
“Yes ma’am.” Collins bowed. Earning him a playful punch.
“Can I hang out with you till ten?” She asked.
“I have a report to go through.” Collins replied.
“Jesu! My boyfriend is so busy and obsessed with work.” she said dreamily.
“Maybe, we should work our leave to month end, so I can spend time with you.”
“You are funny. You can stay around, provided you won’t disturb or distract me.” Collins replied.
“I will confuse you sef. Let me just leave you. I’ll call you.” With one last kiss, Bunmi left the office.
As much as he tried keeping his status with her in secret, Bunmi kept doing everything to ensure that everyone at SJC knew they are going out.
“God help me.” He prayed as a smile escaped his lips.