Chapter 14

Kunle Adeife’s birthday was already in full swing by the time Kenneth and Marcus arrived, and as against their expectations, only a handful of guests were in attendance. As soon as they stepped into the semidetached duplex, they were warmly ushered into a shadowy, long dining hall where a dozen of guests sat round a table that was festooned with wines, foods, cutleries and flowers in vases of different colours. Several sconces with ribbons and balloons that held electric bulbs were hung along the lengths of the walls of the room which provided soft, agreeable lightening in the room. Kenneth, in a blue shirt tucked into white jeans on blue sneakers, was right beside Marcus who was garbed in a purple round-neck shirt on black chinos trousers with matching leather shoes. The two friends sat with other guests at the dining table who were prattling as they ate on, such that clings of cutleries and squeaks filled the room. From their seats, they could hear a music serenading from the patio, just outside the dining room, and it was obvious that a few of the guests were outside. Kunle Adeife who was clad in a white caftan, his wife and three sons were breezing round the hall with a chirpy face, they were moving from one guest to another, exchanging greeting and badinage, and as he did raucous laughter filled the room. After a while Kunle Adeife walked down to Kenneth’s seat, and Kenneth courtly stood up to embrace him warmly for the second time since he arrived at the party, Kunle signaled to his wife, Monica Adeife, a petite, lively woman, and introduced her to Kenneth. Kenneth bowed courteously to           Monica before he proceeded to introduce Marcus to Kunle.                                                                                                                        Kunle Adeife shook hands with Marcus, then returned to Kenneth, ‘’ I’m not much of a social person,’’ he said, ‘’you might have expected this party to be grander than this but this is the kind of model that my wife and I want, I chose to celebrate my birthday with a few of my friends, my staff and family.’’                                                                                                                ‘’This is good enough, besides your caftan looks beautiful on you,’’ Kenneth said.                                                                                                                         ‘’Oh, it’s the same remark I’ve got from the other guests.’’ He said smiling, then, eyed Marcus curiously. ‘’Your friend is a very quiet man, he’s so gentle, he’s been quiet all evening,’’ he remarked.     The comment nearly made Kenneth chuckle, and he aptly replied, ‘’Yes, he is.’’                                                                                                                                                Marcus smiled to himself on hearing the comment.                           Nevertheless, Kunle went on, ’’You two should feel at home, there is more food and drinks and I will love to have a discussion with you two after the party.’’        ‘’Okay sir,’’ Kenneth replied, ‘’As a matter of fact, sir, my friend here, Marcus, is hoping to discuss his situation with you, hoping you might help.’’            ‘’Okay, we’ll talk after the party.’’ Kunle said as he walked away to greet other gusts.  He said and walked past their chairs.                                                                         Shortly afterwards, a tall, chubby lady with long braids who wore a pink backless cocktail gown rose up from her chair and turned towards a short corridor that led out of the room to the patio. Marcus, who had been gazing round the room spotted the woman and at once took a fancy to her. His eyes trailing her out of the room. He then turned to Kenneth, ‘’I need to stretch my legs,’’ before Kenneth could respond, Marcus had got up and followed the exact path which the woman had taken.  He soon came to a patio that had a large expanse of land which had been fenced round by thick growths of bougainvillea. The flower sprawled all around the yard in lush mass like docks in the grassland, even as its leaves and  petals were gleaming with the strobe lights planted all through them. Marcus saw the woman in the backless gown having a light discussion some guests. He waited for the conversation to end and as soon as the guests had left the lady, he walked up to her.  ‘’Hi angel, I’m Marcus,’’ he said to her as his eyes drifted into her still, dark eyes, ‘’I’m one of the important friends of Mr. Adeife. I’m a businessman. I’m into oil and gas and also into importation. In fact, I was amongst the first people Mr. Adeife invited to this party.’’                                                The lady eyed him indifferently, and the look on her face showed she wasn’t in the least impressed by Marcus claims.                                                                                                                                ‘’I see,’’she said drily.                                                                                                ‘’Would it be a bad idea if you tell me something about yourself?’’ he said, smiling.                                                                                                                                  ‘’How do you mean?’’                                                                                                ‘’Yes, for instance I’d love to know your name, where you work, your phone number and so on.’’                                                           The lady regarded him with the same icy mien she displayed earlier.   ‘’Since you asked, my name is Rachael. I think it’s enough to say I’m one of Mr. Adeife’s staff. I’m actually his secretary, and just like you’re invited, Mr. Adeife invited my fiancé and I to this party.’’                                                                 Marcus winced at the information the lady just disclosed, even as deep frowns quickly formed on his face, he feverishly wished Rachel had no fiancé. He eyed her hatefully even as his throat ran dry and could not utter another word and found himself staring awkwardly at the lady. There and then, a shadow loomed and a smartly-dressed young man in a black tuxedo came down the patio, cutting Marcus dead completely, the man strode over to meet Rachael, warmly held her in his arms and planted a kiss on her lips. He glanced over her shoulders and saw the bystander (Marcus) gazing at them like a stature, and scowled at him, ‘’Hey you, what’re you gawking at, can’t you see we need our privacy? Look at his big eyes, as bulgy as frog’s,’’ he bawled and Rachel burst into laughter which made Marcus really furious. It irked him that both Racahel and her boyfriend were now making a fun of him. And without much hesitation, Marcus charged forward and came within an inch of where the two lovers stood, and in the speed of light, he shoved Rachel’s boyfriend so powerfully that the man fell over backwards and landed in the middle of the bougainvillea forcing Rachel to cry for help. Rachael’s lover began to groan as the sharp thorns of the flower pierced through his nape, cheeks and hands as he writhed on them. The black suit he wore had luckily prevented the thorns from penetrating deeply into other body parts, even then the pain he felt was deeply excruciating. He struggled without success to free himself from the thorns while Rachel kept on screaming and hauling curses at Marcus. Then, she nervously bent to lug her lover from the thorny flowers. Before all the upheavals could attract anyone, Marcus had swiftly vanished from the patio, and quickly re-joined Kenneth in the dining hall, but he didn’t settle down, rather he hurriedly whispered to him, ‘’I’m feeling feverish and I’ve to return home now.’’              Kenneth regarded him inquisitively, ‘’I thought we’re going to see Mr. Adeife about your case…’’                                                                                         ‘’That’s not important again,’’ he said, glancing over his shoulder as if to be double sure Rachel and her boyfriend hadn’t stepped into the room yet to alert the gathering about everything he had done to them outside. ‘’I don’t have to see him. I’ll find other means of getting a job. I’m going home. ’’                                                             He thereafter strode out of the room leaving Kenneth in huge shock on his chair.  A while later Rachel appeared in the room, in her trail was her lover whose face was prickly and swollen. The two lovers put up a grim expression as they surveyed the room, their eyes critically scrutinizing each guest in the hall, obviously looking for their assaulter; and as they were unable to pick him out, they dolefully walked out of the room.

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