Sandra walked gorgeously and headed towards the empty seat that was closest to Henry. Henry could not believe his luck when it became obvious that Sandra was heading in his direction. He imagined Sandra all dressed in a wedding gown walking down the aisle to be betrothed to him. Henry snapped back into reality when Sandra got close to him and pulled back the seat so as to be able to sit down.
“Hello”, Sandra said with a bright smile on her face as she took her seat. Henry was dumbfounded. He could not come to terms with the fact that such a beauty was talking to him.
“Hello”, Sandra said again.
“Oh hi, hi”, Henry finally responded. “I heard you the first time, I was just trying to figure out the best kind of answer for such a beautiful and eloquent young lady like yourself “, Henry said jokingly although quietly.
“Very funny”, Sandra replied as she extended a hand to greet Henry. “Nice to meet you”, Sandra said as she waited for Henry to mention his name. “Oh I am Henry”, Henry said as he took Sandra’s soft hand into his and exchanged pleasantries with her.
Both of them turned their attention to the instructor after acquainting themselves with one another.
During the entire period that Henry and Sandra sat together, he kept stealing glances at her fair-colored thighs because the dress she wore revealed them when she sat. After the day’s session, the instructor asked the national service personnel to fraternize with each other before leaving. Most of the guys gathered around Henry and wanted to find out if he possibly had any information about Sandra. One of the national service personnel, Gideon, spoke as the boys huddled together.
“This Sandra chick is really fine”, he started, looking in her direction as she chatted and giggled heartily with one of her female colleagues. “I would do anything to get her phone number”, Gideon added.
At 5:00 PM, the instructor walked in and told the national service personnel that they could go home and report at 8:00 AM the following day for the training to continue. Some of the personnel exchanged phone numbers and made their way out of the plush offices of Kaprisky Law Firm. As Henry and Gideon made their way down the flight of stairs, they saw Ben, the man who came into their training room earlier in the day to ask them to introduce themselves, talking heartily with Sandra. Henry’s heart missed a beat when he chanced upon the two of them talking. Henry and Gideon walked past them quietly though disappointed and turned to see the two of them laughing heartedly when the got to the entrance.
“You see?”, Henry started. “The wealthy old men always get the fine ladies”, Henry added. “She would only be interested in his money and the connections she would get by affiliating herself with him”, Gideon rebutted. “Do you think a pretty lady like that would marry a potbellied, old bloat like that man?”, Gideon quizzed. “I don’t think so!”, Gideon answered his own question before allowing Henry to even say a word. “I think we are being too judgmental”, Henry started. “I am sure they are just discussing official things and not what we are thinking”, Henry added to give himself some assurance that nothing was going on between Ben and Sandra.
“Moreover, Ben does not come across as that kind of person who would be interested in sleeping with young ladies, he is a married man”, Henry added
Gideon and Henry made their way through the open car park of Kaprisky Law Firm and headed for the bus stop to join a commercial bus back home. As they stood waiting, a blue range rover evoque drove out of the premises of Kaprisky Law Firm and seated in the back seat were Ben and Sandra being chauffeured by a smartly-dressed driver. As the car passed by the bus stop, Sandra looked out of the window, saw and waved at Gideon and Henry. The two young men reluctantly waved back at her feigning smiles.
“I told you!”, Gideon exclaimed when they both saw the occupants of the luxury car. “I hope you would believe me now when I tell you something”, Gideon said. “All girls like cars and money and they can dump their boyfriends who do not own cars and jump into even a rickety car of another man, provided the car can move”, Gideon said sarcastically. “All girls are the same!”, Gideon added as he looked around to see if some of the people at the bus stop were listening to their conversation. Henry was shell-shocked. “For a moment, I thought she was an exception but she fell for it like a tree being felled with a chainsaw”, Henry said. “What is it with girls and cars?”, Henry quizzed. “And she even had the effrontery to wave at us, shameless girl!”, Henry retorted. “That explains why she even joined the training session at the time she did”, Gideon explained as Henry nodded his head attentively. “She knows that her boyfriend, Ben would defend her at any given time because of the sexual favors she might be giving him”, Gideon added. After a few minutes, a bus that was going in Gideon’s direction came by and Gideon boarded the bus, leaving Henry lost in thought to wait for the next bus going in his direction.
When Henry got home after his first day at Kaprisky Law firm, his father asked him to brief him on the happenings at Kaprisky and if anyone asked him any suspicious questions about the posting. Henry narrated what ensued that day to his father and assured him that nothing would happen provided he did not do anything that would put him into trouble. Later that night, Edwin and Kennedy came visiting Henry.
They met in Henry’s room.
“How did your first day at work go?”, Kennedy asked immediately he entered the room.
“It is just National service”, Henry answered in an indifferent tone. “I wonder why you all think it is such a big deal”, Henry added. “It would not have been a big deal if you had been posted to any other place apart from Kaprisky Law firm”, Edwin cut in. “Anyone of us would kill to walk the halls of Kaprisky so to us, it is a privilege to be associated with someone who has been there and seen it all”, Edwin added.
“Very true!”, Kennedy seconded Edwin’s assertion.
“You should be excited about your prospects and stop being an ingrate and a pessimist like you always have been”, Ken reprimanded. “Or is anything the matter?”, Ken enquired.
“Everything is fine and just so you know, my day was fine too”, Henry added.
“What is eating you?”, Edwin asked, looking at Henry who was laying on his bed and going through his phone.
“Everything is fine”, Henry answered, looked at Kennedy and Edwin simultaneously and went back to concentrating on what he was doing on his phone. “You can talk to us if you are having any challenge, you know we’ve been like brothers for over four years and we’d be willing to assist you in the best way we can”, Edwin suggested. “I am serious about what I said; everything is fine, trust me”, Henry said. In fact, since you guys are insisting, why don’t we go out for some drinks?”, Henry suggested. Kennedy and Edwin agreed and the three of them stepped out of the house. Before they drove out of Henry’s house, he cautioned, “I hope you two have money on you because the bill will be on both of you”. “Don’t worry about that”, Kennedy said and they left for the pub in Edwin’s car.
After an hour and a half, Henry came back home to prepare for the next day. He ironed his clothes and polished his shoes. He then took his shower and went to bed. As he lay in his bed, he could not stop thinking about Sandra. There were flashbacks of the entire escapade involving Sandra. “Why am I even worrying my head over someone’s daughter?”, Henry soliloquized. “It is not as if what she chooses to do with her life is any of my business, after all, life is how you make it”, Henry said. He only managed to sleep after minutes of torturous images of Sandra and Ben making love to each other dangling in his thoughts.
The next morning, Henry hurriedly prepared for his training session at Kaprisky. He knew that if he spent too much time at home, he was going to get stuck in traffic so he left home very early. He was the third national service personnel to arrive the following morning. Soon, all the other service personnel started trooping into the conference room for the day’s session except Sandra. They all sat in the same seats and positions they did the previous day. Even as at 9:39 AM, Sandra had not still showed up. At 10:27 AM, the doors to the conference room crept open and Sandra slipped in quietly and took her seat, close to Henry’s.
“You are late”, Henry whispered as he breathed a sigh of relief after seeing Sandra again. Immediately he said that, he kept a straight face. “Yeah I know”, Sandra replied in an almost inaudible tone. “We had to do some stuff before coming”, Sandra explained. “By ‘we’, do you mean yourself and Mr. Ben?”, Henry enquired.
“What is that supposed to mean?”, Sandra enquired.
Henry looked puzzled and was speechless. He made a face which sent negative signals to Sandra making her look very silly
“I don’t know what you mean by the insinuations you are casting but yes, the ‘we’, refers to myself and Mr. Ben like you are saying who happens to be my father and also doubles as the owner of Kaprisky Law Firm”, Sandra reiterated…
At lunch break, Henry and Sandra spent the entire period talking.
“Wow!”, Henry exclaimed as Sandra narrated her life’s story to him. “I have been in school all my life outside this country and I felt I had to come back home to assist my father in the best way I can”, Sandra said. “I will go back to start and finish my law degree and then come back here to see how far I can go in the firm”, Sandra added.
Sandra and Henry had known a great deal about each other by the time the day’s session was coming to an end.
When they closed that day, Henry scolded Gideon on their way to the bus stop. “You don’t need to judge people you know little about so quickly”, Henry said with some authority. “I spoke to her and she is nowhere near the qualities you ascribed to her”, Henry explained. “I cant believe you managed to talk me into believing all the crap you were spewing about Sandra”, Henry teased.
“Okay”, Gideon started. ” “I concede defeat on this matter and I agree that I judged Sandra too quickly”, Gideon said. “But come to think of it, you seem to be so interested in this matter…or are you in love already?”, Gideon enquired. “If that is the case, you better wake up from that dream and face reality because Sandra would never fall for the likes of you and I”, Gideon revealed as they walked to the bus stop. “It would be a classic case of barking up the wrong tree”, Gideon added and boarded the bus heading in his destination.
After weeks of vigorous training, the national service personnel were to be assigned departments to work in after they had been made to sign a nondisclosure agreement. Henry was assigned to the finance department because of his skill set in business development. Sandra was assigned to the legal department to partake in court hearings and proceedings. Even though Sandra and Henry seldom saw each other at the firm afterwards, they kept constant contact and became very good friends.
Henry’s immediate boss at the finance department, Julius, was a chartered accountant and was also a very shrewd businessman who kept raking in profit for the company. He was in his mid forties’ and was unmarried. He took a special liking to Henry and wanted to nurture him in the best way he could so he could also rise in the world of business and law. He always sent Henry on errands and gave him lots of spare change no matter the amount. He did not also hesitate in teaching Henry many business principles when he had the time.
One day after work, as Henry walked out of the premises of Kaprisky, his boss, Julius offered him a ride to his house. Julius dropped Henry off at home and gave him his phone number and asked him to call him if he needed any form of assistance.
Henry appreciated all that his new boss did for him and always talked to Sandra about him.
“Julius is one of my father’s very long-time, trusted friends”, Sandra revealed to Henry in one of their phone conversations. “He also invested heavily in terms of finances when my father was starting Kaprisky so he is more like a right-hand man to my father”, Sandra added. “I see”, Henry cut in. “No wonder he is so rich”, Henry said.
There was an awkward moment of silence.
“Why are you so quiet?”, Henry enquired
“Can I trust you with a secret about my father and Kaprisky?”, Sandra asked out of the blue.
Henry hesitated in his answer.
“Yes you can”, Henry managed to let out.
“Are you sure I can trust you not to tell anyone?”
“Yes you can trust me”, Henry reassured.
“Okay, Kaprisky didn’t get to where it is just by hard work alone”, Sandra started.
“What do you mean by that?”, Henry asked, trying to seek for some clarification
“My father and Julius have done many illegal and scandalous deals to get them to where they are today”, Sandra revealed. “These deals include bribing judges, bribing the jury, getting false testimonies, intimidating opposing lawyers and even bribing some of them to skew cases our way so we can win easily”, Sandra said
Henry’s heart missed several beats. “Why is she telling me this?”, Henry thought to himself. Henry did not know what to say in response to Sandra’s revelations. Worst of all, he did not know why Sandra was telling him all of these things
“Now that we have made a name for ourselves, we have cut back on the underhand dealings”, Sandra added.
“But why are you telling me all of these things?”, Henry mustered courage to ask.
“I am telling you all this because I trust you and I believe I have also won your trust in the few weeks that we have known each other”, Sandra started. “My dad has always kept me away from people in this country and as it stands now, you are the only close friend I have, so I think my secrets are safe with you, right?”, Sandra enquired.
“Yes, your secrets are safe with me”, Henry answered.
“Can we change the topic now?”, Sandra asked.
They talked about other matters and bade each other goodnight after they had exhausted topics to discuss.
The next morning, Henry rushed to his assigned office. He had many doubts about the entire firm after what he had heard from Sandra. The respect he hitherto had for the firm had reduced drastically. He now had a biased perception about Kaprisky. The weeks that followed saw his output as a service personnel plummet.
Julius called him to his office and wanted to enquire why his productivity and posture had changed negatively. He managed to convince Julius that he was having some issues at home and that he was going to change for the better. Julius insisted on having a one on one session with him over the weekend so they could talk about his problems. Henry reluctantly agreed even though he knew he had no issues at home whatsoever.
On the agreed date, Henry met Julius in his house.
Julius’s house was a joy to behold. It had many things that any young man could dream about. Henry sat at a mini bar and waited for Julius. Julius arrived and poured himself a glass of whiskey.
“Sir, this is a nice house”, Henry said. “Yeah I know”, Julius responded. “Now talk to me, Henry”, Julius started. “What is wrong with you?”, he asked. “Sir please I am fine”, Henry answered.
Julius shifted his seat closer to Henry’s.
“Henry, you are like a son to me and ever since I saw you, I saw a reflection of myself in you and I believe you are destined for greatness and I know you are going to achieve all of this right here and even more if you put your mind to it”, Julius said as he pointed to certain portions of the house. “Take a walk with me”, Julius ordered and took Henry’s hand into his as he showed him round the house.
When they got to a secluded portion of the house, Julius stopped.
“Like I said Henry, you are like a son to me and I would help you to become just like me if you are willing to learn”, Julius said
“I am willing to learn, sir”, Henry said with a determined look on his face
“I would teach you all you need to know but before that, I would want you to sleep with me”, Julius said
“I beg your pardon?”…
IF YOU THINK THIS IS THE BEGINNING OF HENRY’S DILEMMA, YOU BETTER RECONSIDER THAT THOUGHT BECAUSE YOU HAVE NOT SEEN NOTHING YET! STAY TUNED FOR MORE INTRIGUE AS HENRY FACES THE HARSH REALITIES OF LIVING AS AN AMBITIOUS YOUNG MAN. MY NAME IS EDWIN OKO LAMPTEY AND THIS IS ANOTHER MASTERPICE FROM RANDOM AFRICAN THOUGHTS! YOU GET THE DRIFT?
TWITTER: @eddylampz @ratcolony
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