“Pardon, sir?” Florence asked hesitatingly as she leaned back from Jide Babalola’s intense frown. “I don’t think I heard you right…did you just ask what I know about cars?”“Yes,” came Jide’s terse and uninformative reply.Florence tried to keep her bewilderment off her face. What the hell was going on? In a work environment such as they were in, it was wise to answer any question posed by a superior cautiously. An employee never knew when they were being tested. Her reply could make or mar her advancement. “Um.. I would say ‘not much’ sir? As in, I’m no expert, sir.”“I didn’t ask if you were a mechanic.” Jide said impatiently. “Just how much you know about cars and how they work. Specifically brakes.”Florence finally let her confusion show.
She decided to be honest, regardless of how the answer might affect her. She just wished he would stop talking to her. “I’m afraid I have almost zero knowledge, sir. I cannot drive and I have not being around anyone who does, for a long period of time.”Jide straightened up, his furrowed forehead smoothening out. Florence couldalmost swear he looked embarrassed. Shewatched him more closely as he sighed and rubbed at the back of his neck. His eyes were not as bright as usual and his shoulders drooped tiredly. Despite her resolution to avoid any closeness, she felt concern trickle through her.“Sir, is everything okay?”Jide smiled wanly. “Oh, I’m okay, Florence.I just didn’t sleep well. I guess it made me sound like a grumpy troll. Sorry about the question, I just got carried away by… something. Just ignore it.”Florence nodded, watching Jide worriedly as he walked slowly back to his office door, where he paused with his hand on the door handle.“Sir? Was there something else…?”“Yes, there actually is.” Jide turned around, a new air of purpose in his voice. “Do me a favour. I know you’re smart, andpretty good at research. Use thirty minutes to do a quick internet run-throughon car steering systems, especially brakesand brake failure. Then come into my office.”“Alright, sir.” Florence answered as he nodded and entered his office. She turned back to the computer on her desk , curiousity filling her. Just what the hell was going on?** **Back in the Babalola home, Patricia Babalola hummed a song beneath her breath as she laboured in her kitchen, shredding vegetables.Cooking was a favourite activity for her; it was soothing, and as she went about the process of making three soups simultaneously , she felt peaceful and serene. Her thoughts were clear and her plans cycled through her head without interruption.
She occasionally smiled to herself as she sang.The issue with Jide and his infidelity had almost broken her, but now she had foundpeace. It had come with the hard decision she had made, and she was merely biding her time to fully implement it. As much as she loved her husband, she could not allow him get away with disrespecting the sanctity of their marriage by bedding another woman. She would keep cooking, keep her home clean and take care of herself, but Jide would not go scot-free.“Yes, he has to face the consequences of his action.” Patricia murmured to herself as she sliced at the pile of green leaves in front of her. The sound of the sharp knife crisply decimating the vegetables punctuated her words.
She frowned as theraunchy pictures of her husband and his mistress swam up into her mind again. “Yes. He has to.”Her concentration slipped and the tip of the knife bit into one of her fingers. She sighed and walked quickly to the kitchen tap, running water over her hand and the small cut, till it was clean of shredded leaves.
Then she stuck the bleeding digit in her mouth.A sad smile curved her lips as she tasted coppery blood on her tongue. Nothing could ruin her good mood. Not a small knife cut and definitely not thoughts of Jide.She would do what had to be done. She would be fine without him.** **“Pardon, sir?” Florence asked Jide for the second time that day. “I don’t think I heardyou right.”Jide sighed and leaned back in his office chair, rubbing his forehead. he could feel tiredness settling into his bones, an after-effect of his sleepless night, but adrenalin pumped through him, giving him what he knew was a false sense of alertness. His exhaustion was affecting his mood, but hekept the impatience out of his voice as he replied Florence.“Well, what do you think I said?”Florence hesitated, the tip of her tongue running nervously around the perimeter ofher lips before she bit down on them with small white teeth. Jide watched her every move with male appreciation. Even as tired as he was, he could not fail to feel theusual tug of admiration Florence always inspired in him. Her long hair was shiny and healthy, clasped in a long braid on one of her neck by a red brooch which perfectly complimented her black, red and white polka-dotted dress. Her make-up free face was pretty, bright eyes squinted in concentration, so that her long eyelashes seemed about to kiss her high cheekbones.She really is a beautiful young woman, Jide thought, his face softening.Maybe in another lifetime…“I thought I heard you say either your wife or miss Anita Bankole is trying to kill you, but I must NOT have heard you right.” Florence finally blurted.Jide nodded, feeling the weight shift from his shoulders. Truly, a problem shared was a problem half-solved; he felt better for just sharing his paranoia. “You heard me right, Florence. I really do believe that.”he gestured at his phone, which she was holding. “You’ve seen the picture of the cutbrake hose I took at the auto-mechanic shop. One of them did that to my car, and we need to figure out who.”Florence stared at Jide, mouth open in shock. Someone was crazy here. And if the last words she had just heard were nota figment of her imagination, then there was one other possible explanation.Before she could stop herself, pidgin English spilled from her lips. “Ha! Oga sir, you sure say you never kolo like this?”