Tunji Davis handed over the bill to the waiter and the waiter left. “Ms. Williams, I would love to salute your courage on far on this case.” I responded with a smile. He sighed and then continued. “Well, after all is said and done, we would be starting the proceedings tomorrow, how do you feel?”
I couldn’t understand Tunji Davis. I am his lawyer, yet he kept asking about my state of mind every now and then. I could understand that maybe my age and inexperience was responsible for everyone ‘caring excessively’, but I am a professional and I should be given a free hand, shouldn’t I?
“I am in high spirits.” I replied, slightly cocky.
He smiled. That was satisfying to him on any level. “Have you seen the Dailies today?” he asked, placing on before me.
“I have read this exact one.” I said, tapping the paper.
The tabloids were boldly written:
“IN WHAT MIGHT JUST MAKE FOR THE CASE OF THE YEAR, DARLENE WILLIAMS, DAUGHTER TO RENOWNED LAWYER, SIR. KUNLE WILLIAMS TAKES ON THE EVERGREEN SUBOMI BANKOLE TOMORROW!!!”
“These Press People have a way of hyping Subomi. What’s evergreen about him? Is that layer of grey hair that he has?” Tunji Davis asked. I guess he wanted to start a joke, but it fell flat. I couldn’t even manage a chuckle. We both knew that Subomi was no child’s play.
I stared at the paper. Subomi Bankole’s picture almost stole the show. An almost-passport size of mine was used as my picture and placed below his. At the back page of the paper, people from all works of life had sent in their thoughts on the case and the most probable winner. Subomi Bankole, all the way! It could kill one’s spirit.
“I believe in you.” he said, collecting the paper.
I smiled. He didn’t have a choice. His money was on me. “Thank for the vote of confidence.”
“We could take our leave now.” He said, standing up.
I picked up my purse.
“Excuse me Ms.,” a voice said behind me and I turned around. “Do you remember me?” he asked.
I stared him from head to toe and smiled. “Bus boy, right?” he nodded in the affirmative. “Thanks for what you did earlier today.”
“The name is Bobby.” He said.
I smiled. “Nice to meet you, Bobby, I am Darlene.” Mr. Tunji Davis cleared his throat. “Meet my friend here, Mr. Davis.”
Tunji Davis stretched out his hand to him. Bobby bowed taking the hand of Mr. Davis. “Honored to meet you, Mr. Davis.” Tunji Davis smiled and patted him on the back.
“Shouldn’t you be in school, Bobby?” I asked.
He smiled. “Yes, I am on assignment. I have a term paper to submit and I am writing on ‘The Fall of Chidi Obi – a modern day tyrant.’” He said confidently.
Goose pimples flooded my skin. “Are you sure about the title of that Paper?
He nodded in the affirmative. “A lot of us are banking on you to put him away forever.” I stared at the Newspaper. “Of course, we don’t have the money to get heard in the papers.”
I swallowed. “Bobby, I appreciate the vote of confidence.” I said, clutching my purse to my arm indicating that I was on my way out of the restaurant.
“Could we take a picture together?” he asked. “The three of us.” He said with a smile.
Tunji Davis shrugged and joined us. Bobby gave his camera to an attendant who took our picture.
“Thank you Sir and Ma.” He said.
I smiled. “Can you take a joke?” I asked.
“Of course.” He replied with a smile.
I grinned and said. “Submit that paper when the whole case is over.” I winked and left.
“I BELIEVE IN YOU!!!” He called after me.
It seemed as though I was part of the majority who didn’t believe in me. We tried to avoid any conversation the case. ‘Let tomorrow take care of itself.’ He dropped me off at the Firm and I returned into my office. Toni was just returning from lunch too so we met at the door.
“Hope you had a nice and poison free lunch?” she asked with a smile.
The Escherichia coli thought flooded back in my head and I managed a laugh. “It was decent. I have something to tell you.” I said as we walked into her office. “No intern yet?” I asked, as I stared at picture of Toni and me on her desk.
“It gets lonely here sometimes.” She said with a faint smile.
I dusted what used to be my seat some months back and took my seat. “I am scared of losing tomorrow.” My eyes were full. Toni came over to me and hugged me. “I don’t want to lose.” I said in tears.
“You are a fighter, Darlene. I have seen you stand up for what you believe in. You will succeed, by God’s grace.”
I Squeezed out of her embrace. “Toni, you don’t understand, If I fail, I will be failing a lot of hopefuls.”
She sighed and shook me up. “You can’t fail.”
“There’s this young guy, Bobby. I met him on the bus this morning.” I started with a smile. “He gave me his seat. At first, I thought it was a bet of a sort with his classmates, but I later saw the reason for his gesture today at lunch.” I paused to clean my face. “Bobby is writing a term paper on: ‘The Fall of Chidi Obi – a modern day tyrant’.” Toni let out a breath. ‘Whew’
She bit her lips. “Just like Bobby believes in you, I also do.”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence.” I said and smiled. Slowly I started chuckling. I realized I had been saying ‘thanks for the vote of confidence’ all day. It got to my heart, I slowly started to cry. What if their confidence wasn’t enough? What if I really wasn’t ‘good enough’? Maybe I was just good for the small stages. “I could step down now.” I said in tears. “I am afraid.”
Toni looked worried. “No Darlene, you can’t give up now. I am going to call Jake, maybe he can shake things up around here.” She said, reaching for her phone.
“Don’t!” I said, grabbing her hand.
She scoffed. “Why is that? There’s nothing about you that Jacob hasn’t seen. So this isn’t strange.” She said, trying to dial his number.
“We are no more friends!”
She dropped her phone. “When did that happen?” she asked, slowly taking her seat.
“This morning, Jake is now with Dora and this will soon be official between them; I need him to be free.”
Toni looked at me for a while and then laughed. “All this time you were pretending, you are meant to be with Jake! See you without him for few hours and you are like a vegetable.”
“This is not because of Jacob. I have a court case around the corner. I am worried.”
She shot angrily at me. “Just shut up! Why don’t you work out your emotions first? Today, I think you love Dare, tomorrow; it looks like your life would end without Jacob. What is it going to be? Make a choice! Stop playing with every man’s emotions. You are not the first ‘hot-beautiful-amazing-brilliant-and-b****y’ in all of a girl!” she rambled angrily and stormed out.
My tears dried instantly. What did Toni just say??? I couldn’t place the last words. ‘Hot-beautiful-amazing-brilliant-and-b****y in all of a girl???’ I left for my office. Toni had rubbed everything in my face all at once- good, bad and ugly truth!
I read the proceeding for the court case from the mail sent to me. I struggled to keep my eyes on the laptop screen. The intercom rang. “Yes Bola.”
“Mrs. Toni here ma’am.”
I sighed. “I won’t be having any visitors today.’ I replied and hung up. I shut Toni out.
The intercom rand a second time and then there was a bang on the door. I listened to the drum on the door. It soon stopped and then I had time to reply my mails. Aunt Sally and Grandma had sent me a mail wishing me the best against Subomi. Aunt Sally’s mail surprised me as she had never really cared about me whilst growing up, and she always made it a habit to avoid Mom’s memorial services. Well, people change-some good, some bad, others good and not-so-good.
After thirty minutes, I had gone through all my mails thoroughly and replied the deserving messages while the ‘SPAM’ messages went where they deserved, the thrash! My phone buzzed and it was Jake calling. ‘What does he want?’ I didn’t pick his call. He then sent me a text.
“I know you don’t want to see me again, and honestly, I won’t see you but if you could just come to the door and listen to what I have to say…thanks.”
He tapped the door softly, but I refused to go near the door. “OKAY, I’LL JUST SAY WHAT I HAVE TO SAY.” He said, in a loud voice.
“D…, I don’t want to be away from you. I’ll miss you.” he started. “We don’t need this rift between us. If you can handle it, I can’t. I need you, Darlene.”
I slowly approached the door. I took my seat on the floor and leaned against the door, I could guess he was leaning against the door also.
“I am sorry if I have ever disappointed you, but I want you to know that I would never want to hurt you.” he paused and let out a breath. I could hear him breath from the other end. “Darlene, if you feel that the best thing is for never to talk anymore, I would accept and respect it, it’s your wish, but I want you to know that above every other thing, I care about you a lot and would always be there would you need me.”
A silence followed. He didn’t say anything again, and when I was almost scared that he had gone and was about to open the door to confirm, he said, “Darlene, you will beat Subomi Bankole. You may not look big and have all the top credentials, but I trust in your brave heart that you will fight through this. I believe in you, Darlene Williams.”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence.”
A huge sigh followed from the other end and then footsteps. Jake left. I opened the door slightly to confirm my suspicions. Yes…he had taken his leave. I returned to my seat and focused better on the details for the arraignment. The case was to start by 4pm. What a time to start a case. I wasn’t going to wait till evening before leaving the Firm. I took my leave as soon as the time clocked 4pm.
As I stepped out of the Firm, I ran into Mrs. Abu. “Ms. Williams, I can see you are taking advantage of the absence of the young Ade-Cole to leave work early.” She said, with a smile. I stared at her carefully. She smiled at me. “It’s okay Ms. Williams, no one would know.” She said, tapping her steering.
I smiled. “Makes two of us.”
“I’ll give you a ride.” She said.
I joined her car.
“I’ll make a quick stop to pick up my nephew. He is in Montessori.”
Children swarmed out of their classes. It was the close of the day for them. I saw kids run to their moms for hugs, and for those that had the drivers pick them up; they just handed their bag to the driver and walked into the car. It reminded me of my childhood. Drivers and guards for me. No mom or Dad to pick me from school. It was really lonely until Jake came along. I would miss Jacob, but I need to let go. I pray I realize myself.
A boy holding a canvas walked up to Mrs. Abu. “Aunty.” He said, with a smile. The boy had dimples. Beautiful!
Mrs. Abu rubbed his Thick lush black hair. “How was class today?” she asked, placing the canvas in the trunk.
“Good. I made a painting for you.” he said, pointing at the canvas. Mrs. Abu showed no interest, he then tilted towards me. “I am Gregory, but everyone calls me Greg.”
I smiled. “Nice to meet you, honey. I am Darlene.”
“Nice to meet you, Darlene.” he said with a wide smile.
Mrs. Abu eyeballed him coldly and shoved him lightly. “Ms. Williams, not Darlene!” She corrected in an instant. “Are you mates?” she asked. ‘Omo buruku’ she added in a native Nigerian tongue-Yoruba, which meant ‘a bad child’
“I am sorry, Ms. Williams.” He said with his head bowed.
She pushed him ahead. “Into the car, you rude tramp!”
“Mrs. Abu! Its fine, I am okay with it.”
She nodded. “Of course, I am not surprised.” She said with a grimace. “Get into the car, you too.” She ordered. I grinned and obeyed.
“I am into Art.” Greg started.
I peered slightly into the mirror.
“I am making a painting of an Opera night for the end of the year.” He continued.
Mrs. Abu hissed. “Can you spare us of your Art nonsense?” she asked, shutting him up. “I wonder who does Art these days?” she murmured and cursed in Yoruba.
I shook my head. “Mrs. Abu, Art is noble too.” I started. She stared at me. “On a serious note, I wish I could paint.”
She hissed. “What is wrong with this generation? How can you wish you could Paint? You have the best type of profession and now you wish to paint, how silly!” she scoffed.
“Mrs. Abu, this is not silly. Greg has a talent. That’s something beautiful, you should encourage him.”
She laughed sarcastically. “Darlene, why do you guys want to throw everything away? Sorry to draw you to this, but, your step sister, Dora Williams had life going for her and now she’s retired into Photography. Isn’t that foolish?”
“How do you know about Dora?”
She grinned wickedly. “Williams is a rival firm. When they lose workers, it is to our delight at Ade-Cole.”
“I am a Williams!” I said, shooting at her.
She smiled again. “You work for Ade-Cole and may end up as an Ade-Cole. Don’t think we aren’t watching.” She said, turning into the next block. Home was close. “Greg’s mom is just so full of herself. She thinks her boy is special and that’s why he is at Montessori.”
“Gregory has ability. You should learn to appreciate that. That’s something that some people would never have.”
She swallowed. I knew it was time to pounce on her emotions. “Gregory has something that some people are envious of and would never have. He is representing life in another dimension, something that brings out the beauty that we can’t see normally. Some people could write so well and string out those words in a way that you are seeing and believing at the same time. This is because they can work on your imagination and make you see it from their view. It is life made so simple.”
“What are you trying to tell me?”
I was slowly convincing her. “Gregory is a bright kid. I would love you to believe in him.” Gregory smiled. She pulled up in front of the block before my street. “Thank you ma.”
She smiled. “Well ‘sold’, Darlene. I will think about it.” I smiled as I stepped out of the car. I was able to ‘sell’ into Mrs. Abu’s life; I hoped she would let Gregory enjoy painting. As I walked down the Estate, I saw the church gate open. When is it ever closed? I walked into the church and thought of saying a prayer. You know we have ‘these moments’ when we feel we should be closer to God. I sat on one of the pews at the back and said my prayers. ‘Dear God, it’s Darlene. I know I might not be right with you, but I don’t want to lose to Mr. Subomi Bankole, so help me.’
I stared up at Pastor Ben. “Good evening Pastor Ben.” I took a quick peek at my wrist watch to be sure that the time was around the evening range. It was around 5pm, so I could call it evening.
“Big day tomorrow, isn’t it?” he said, taking his seat beside me.
I nodded with a wry smile. “I thought God should know about it.” I said.
He scoffed with some sarcasm. “God has always known about this date even before you were conceived.” I rolled my eyes. “I would appreciate if you rolled your head too.” He said and we laughed. “What is with youths and rolling of the eyes? Is that a sign of unbelief?”
“Probably, doubt inclusive.”
He adjusted his weight against the chair. “Darlene, right from when you were a toddler, I have always admired you. You have a strong will and confidence which is impeccable for anyone at your level.” He paused to give me the room to revel in my heart. “I know this case is within your reach, in fact, I believe if anyone will shut Subomi down, it has to be you, but I want you to know that you can’t do this on your own.” Oh no…the God factor! Subomi doesn’t go to church yet he wins almost every case! “I know you might feel that some bad people get away with everything looking good, but there is always a day when it will all be exposed.”
I cleared my throat. “I want you to trust God more. Love him more. Darlene, you used to be zealous for God. I know things change, but I believe you should give him more attention.”
“Pastor Ben, I would try harder.” I said, clutching my bag to my arm.
He smiled. “I would be praying for you.”