Mr Cole was seated in his office at Overcomers University. His laptop was opened before him. He looked at a piece of paper sitting on his table and said to himself, ‘There is no way these students will not carry over my course,’ he studied their names properly, ‘Especially this Goke, he is the most unserious human being I have ever met.’
Goke should have graduated the previous year but had to repeat a year because he was suspended from school for a month after he and some of his friends were caught with hard drugs. Unfortunately for him, the period he was on suspension coincided with the first semester exams. He was unable to write those papers and that automatically meant an extra year because the courses were taken only in the first semester. Now, here he was repeating these courses and he still didn’t meet the 75% attendance cut off for one of them.
Mr Cole made a mental note to call him to his office after his lecture. That was if he was going to attend it in the first place.
As he stood in front of the hall, addressing the students, he combed through them with his eyes, searching for Goke. He was nowhere to be found. Mr Cole went on with the lecture and about 30 minutes into the one hour class, Goke bounced in.
‘Where do you think you are going?’ Mr Cole asked him. There was perfect silence. All eyes were on Goke.
‘I had a flat tire.’ Goke didn’t look remorseful one bit. Nothing about him showed he was a student coming to learn. He had neither book nor pen. He wasn’t wearing a tie, which was compulsory for all male students and lecturers.
Mr Cole had heard him give many excuses in the past but this was by far the lamest. He couldn’t take it. ‘Your tire was flat.’ He repeated the statement and was even more irritated by the way it sounded in his ears. ‘Couldn’t you take a cab? I mean, I don’t care if you chose to stay off campus for reasons best known to you but what I want to know is if there are no taxis anymore.’
‘I forgot my wallet at home.’ Goke gave another lame excuse.
‘You what?!’ Mr Cole had had enough. ‘Leave my class right now.’ He ordered him and pointed at the door.
Without hesitation or a word of plea, Goke who was still standing bounced towards the door.
‘And for your information, you did not make 75% attendance. I don’t care if you want to go and beg the VC, you are not sitting for the exams next week.’ Mr Cole was angry. Ordinarily, he shouldn’t have said all that in front of the other students but he was too upset to care.
‘Whatever.’ Goke threw his hand in the air and walked out on Mr Cole while he was still speaking.
‘Useless boy.’ He hissed and continued his lecture.
Mr Cole returned to his office. As he was about to open the door, he saw a writing on the door with a red marker. “NO TRY AM” (DON’T TRY IT).
He hissed and entered his office. ‘That fool thinks he can threaten me. Me sef get craze (I am also crazy).’ He dropped his laptop bag on his table. There was a knock on the door. ‘Who is it?’ Mr Cole wasn’t expecting anyone. He was about getting ready to retire from the day’s work.
‘Funmi.’ A female voice answered.
‘Come in.’ Mr Cole took his seat.
She opened the door and entered his office. She was one of his students. She usually appeared classy with wealth of her parents written all over her but today she looked different. She barely applied makeup, her hair; “all back” weaving which she usually concealed with her million braids wig was rough and unkempt. She had been crying, her eyes were red and swollen, no makeup could conceal that even if she tried.
‘Ha! I’m dead.’ She placed her hands on her head.
‘What is it? Please shut the door.’ Mr Cole wondered at the reason for the drama. He didn’t seem to care much.
She turned around and closed the door. ‘Mr Cole please cooperate with them.’ She clapped her hands together pleading, almost going on her knees.
‘What are you talking about? Cooperate with who? Please leave my office if you don’t have anything to say.’ He pointed at the door.
She brought out her phone from her bag. ‘I got a message from an anonymous person. The person sent me this picture.’ She handed the phone to Mr Cole.
He collected the phone and looked at the picture. ‘What?!’ He immediately started feeling hot. He loosened his tie. ‘What does the person want?’ He asked, finding it hard to swallow. His throat instantly dried up.
‘I don’t know sir. The only message was that you’ll understand when you see it. Please sir, my parents are top pastors in the country, if this picture gets out, I’m doomed. They will disown me. Whatever this person wants, please do it sir. I’m begging you.’ She went on her knees.
‘I will understand when I see it.’ Mr Cole repeated the message trying to figure out what it meant. He looked at the picture again. He could not imagine who could have taken a picture of Funmi and him stark naked in the hotel room where they had sex.
It was just once it happened and it was the condition he gave her for her to pass his course. She had begged and offered money instead but he told her if she wanted to pass she had only one choice- to sleep with him.
He didn’t mention it to anyone not even any of his buddies that drank with him at the bar. She wasn’t the first student, he’d slept with and nothing like this had ever happened. He always went scot free.
Now here he was looking at the picture, he could only imagine how horrible things would get if it leaked out. First he’ll lose his job and any chance of him getting a job as a lecturer in any other university was almost zero. Meaning his carrier was ruined. Next the shame he’d face before his family. He couldn’t even begin to imagine the gravity of what was at stake.
‘Who could have done this? What does the person want?’ He asked himself. ‘Take your phone. Stop crying, I will handle this.’ He handed the phone over to the young lady and tried to sound confident. ‘Don’t worry; there is no cause for alarm.’
‘Thank you sir.’ She wiped her face and left.
He had just told her there was no cause for alarm but the alarm in his mind had just gone off. It rang so loudly that all he could see was his pending doom. He buried his head in his hand. ‘What am I going to do?’ He thought. His phone beeped, an SMS entered.
He got a text.
He picked his phone and checked the message:
“I pass your course and this picture doesn’t get out. I don’t and you face the consequences!!!”
Mr Cole’s pulse quickened. His hand trembled. ‘So Goke is the person behind this.’ He dropped his phone, brought out his laptop from its bag and placed it on the table.
With sweat tracking down his face, despite the air conditioner on 18 degrees, he waited for the system to boot. He opened a document on his desktop “ARC408 Attendance”. He saw Goke’s name, with his index finger still shaking, he traced the row which revealed his weekly class attendance and a total attendance score of 30%. Without wasting time, Mr Cole doctored the figures and Goke’s total score became 80%. He saved it and short down the laptop before returning it into his bag.
He picked his phone, read the message again and decided to reply:
“Please don’t let it get out, you will pass my paper. You have my word”
He sat back in his chair, loosened his tie further and sighed. He bit his thumb. ‘This guy must not do this to me. I’d be doomed.’
Mrs Cole had just left work and was on her way to pick Bayo and Bimbo from school when her phone rang. She was held up in traffic so she comfortably dipped her hand into her bag to search for it. She brought it out and checked the caller’s ID. It was Emeka. She smiled and picked the call.
‘Hello dear.’ She had been expecting his call since morning.
‘Hi Funke, how are you?’ He sounded tired.
‘I’m good. How are you too? You sound tired.’
‘Yeah I am pretty exhausted. I just got home, the traffic was terrible.’ He told her.
‘Yes it is. I’m currently stuck too. I hope it clears soon. How was your day? Where did you go?’ She asked him. He hardly went out. Most of his work was done from home.
‘My day had been okay. I’m sorry I couldn’t talk much the other time.’ He said, avoiding the second question.
‘Where did you go? I always felt you hardly go out.’ Mrs Cole wondered where the curiosity came from. She just wanted to know.
He chuckled, ‘Hardly doesn’t mean never na.’ He still avoided the question.
‘Well that’s true. Anyway, it’s good you are home. Eat something and rest, you hear?’ She allowed the matter rest.
‘Always caring. I will dear.’ He gave a weak chuckle.
There was silence between then.
Emeka broke it. ‘So when next will I be seeing your beautiful face, Funke?’
Mrs Cole had been looking forward to seeing Emeka since that evening when he rescued her from the emotional turmoil she was going through. She however didn’t have the boldness to open up to him. She secretly prayed he’ll ask to see her again and he just did. ‘Errr.. I don’t know,’ she bit her lower lip, ‘When are you free?’
‘Baby for you, you know I’ll always be free.’ He was already used to referring to her as “baby”. He no longer seemed to care about any other thing but her.
‘What of your family? Your wife and kids?’ Mrs Cole wanted to understand what place they occupied in his life now. She didn’t want to displace them after all, she had hers and wouldn’t want anyone to stand between her and her children, not even Emeka.
‘They are fine. You have nothing to worry about.’ He told her confidently.
‘Won’t they begin to ask after your whereabouts?’ She was letting out all her concerns. The traffic was gradually clearing.
‘Trust me Funke, you have nothing to worry about. I give them all they want and if I tell my wife that I have to step out briefly, do you think she questions me?’
Mrs Cole didn’t answer. She figured it was an obvious “no”. ‘In that case, we could see this evening after I drop my children at home. Is that okay?’ She made a turn to the left and was completely out of the traffic.
‘Alright, cool. Just call and let me know when to start coming. Where are we meeting?’ He asked.
‘I think that street was perfect. What do you think?’ She asked.
‘I think so too. That’s fine, see you later then.’
‘Bye.’ She ended the call and returned the phone to her bag. She hoped that today won’t be like the previous day when her husband returned relatively early compared to previous times. It was good he had his copy of the house key but she still wasn’t ready to answer questions of where she went to or was coming from.
To be continued. Read Part 26 Now Here
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