Henry got out of Ben’s car even more confused than before. He walked across the face of the currently stationary car and met Sandra standing at the other side of the car. She was all smiles.
“Things are beginning to look up”, Sandra said, still beaming with smiles.
Henry looked at her and feigned a smile.
“What is that supposed to mean?”, Sandra asked after deciphering the look on Henry’s face.
“What is what supposed to mean?”, Henry asked feigning ignorance.
“The smile”, Sandra started. “It didn’t look genuine at all”, Sandra added.
“Really?”, Henry asked. “That’s how I smile all the time”, Henry said.
“That is a lie”, Sandra said. “Did my father threaten you in any way?”, Sandra asked, drawing closer to Henry.
“Honk-Honk-Honk”, Ben’s car horn sounded, signaling for the two of them to break it up as the driver revved the car’s engine.
“Get in the car!”, Ben ordered Sandra as he rolled down the car’s tinted glass window.
“Let’s talk during lunch time”, Sandra said and quietly got on board the car.
Henry stood there for a while as he watched Ben’s car slowly zoom past him and vanish into the clear.
“What is all this?”, Henry asked himself as he pondered over what had just happened. As he stood there, he remembered that he had to fetch the evidence of threat on his life from Julius’s office.
“Oh my God!”, Henry exclaimed as he made his way into the building and into Julius’s office. He zoomed past the reception without saying his normal “good morning” and chatting with Audrey, the beautiful receptionist. Audrey looked on in disbelief as Henry walked past her desk and stood in front of the elevator door waiting for it to open so that he could go up.
“Henry!”, Audrey called out. “Is everything alright?”, she asked.
Henry turned and looked in her direction.
“Everything is fine, Audrey”, Henry answered. “I am just running late for an important discussion with my boss”, Henry answered.
“Okay”, Audrey replied. “I thought you were quarrelling with me because I know your first point of call when you come to work is my desk”, Audrey explained.
“Yeah, but I hope I can be pardoned just for today”, Henry said as the elevator door flew open. “I would come down for a chat during lunchtime”, Henry said and hurriedly entered the elevator before it got full.
Henry immediately head for Julius’s office when he got to the floor of his department.
He was so much in a hurry to get into Julius’s office and get his hand on the only piece of evidence that he could use as proof of the threat on his life.
Henry was shaking like a leaf as he walked towards Julius’s door. There were a handful of people on the floor so he timed his entry to synchronize with the blind spot of all who were present. He lurked around the entrance to Julius’s office till the conditions were right for him.
Once he saw that the coast was clear, he barged into the office with alacrity so as not to be spotted by anyone and banged the door behind him.
“What is the meaning of this nonsense?”, Julius yelled as he quickly retracted his hand from the front zip compartment of the trouser of one of the male workers at the firm.
Henry froze at the sight.
“What are you doing here?”, Julius barked.
“I…I…I…I…”, Henry stammered as he was taken by surprise both by Julius’s miraculous presence and current posture. The young and handsome worker jumped out of his seat and struggled to remain calm as if nothing was happening but his efforts were a little too late. “I…I…I didn’t know you were in here”, Henry said.
“That is beside the point”, Julius barked angrily. “Is this your office?”, Julius asked rhetorically. “This is not your office therefore you cannot come barging in here without permission”, Julius continued as he fumed. He was almost going into a fit of rage.
Henry pressed himself against the door not knowing whether to go out of the office or stay and take the bashing. He was literally rooted to the spot where he stood and searched the desk for the piece of paper. The other worker looked on timidly as Julius threw verbal punches at Henry.
“I didn’t know you were in here”, Henry spoke. “I came in to check if the place was clean enough”, Henry said.
“Nonsense!”, Julius fired back. “Is that your job?”, Julius asked.
Henry stood there in silence.
“Answer me!”, Julius screamed.
“No, please sir”, Henry answered. “But…”, Henry wanted to explain further when Julius shut him up.
“I don’t want to hear another word from you”, Julius said and turned to speak to the young man. “Fred, I am sorry for the inconvenience but I guess we have to finish this meeting a bit later in the day”, Julius said, signalling for the young man to take his leave.
As the young man made the effort to leave, he stared at Henry and whispered “Not a word to anyone or else you are dead”, before shoving Henry away from the entrance and walking out of the office, shutting the door behind him.
Immediately the young man left, Julius composed himself.
“Lock the door and take a seat”, Julius said calmly and pointed to the seat in front of him.
Henry could not believe what he just heard. He could not believe that Julius could switch from throwing tantrums to becoming so gentle within seconds. He walked slowly to the designated seat after he had locked the door and sat down, crossing his right leg firmly over his left leg for security reasons.
Julius took his seat and placed both hands on the desk to make them visible to Henry.
“I know why you came running in here”, Julius started. “I thought you would be smart enough to keep the piece of paper as evidence so I also came in very early today to cover my tracks”, I was surprised to find the note still here”, Julius continued. He pulled out his drawer, took out a piece of paper and immediately put it into the little paper shredder that was fixed on his desk. “Your evidence is gone”, Julius said, with a smile on his face.
“I can tell from the look on your face that you met Ben”, Julius started. “And I don’t need a soothsayer to tell me that your encounter with him was not pleasant”, Julius added.
Henry sat across Julius with his head bowed down and looking very timid but alert to any suspicious move.
“I can protect you, Henry”, Julius said wooingly. “I can make all of your fears and frustrations disappear and I can speak to Ben on your behalf to grant you genuine blessings to be with his daughter, Sandra”, Julius counted. “All you need to do is to allow me have you and I promise you, all your troubles would vanish”, Julius said. “I am your friend and as it stands now, you need me more than I do you, so giving in to my request would be the most humane thing to do”, Julius courted. “It is actually your only option if you asked me”, Julius continued. “What do you say?”, Julius asked
“Sir”, Henry started. “I never thought that it would come to this”, he said. “I am really desperate right now and I really need a solution to all of this mess but even in my desperation, I still cannot come to terms with what you are asking of me”, Henry explained. “If I give in to your demands, it would mean I’d have to be with you and be with Sandra at the same time…”. “Exactly my point!”, Julius exclaimed. “I am not prepared for that kind of commitment”, Henry said, shivering like a leaf.
“I am sorry sir, but I can’t see myself playing such a role”, Henry said.
“Then I don’t think you are also prepared to have your peace of mind because I know Ben and I know he can make your life a living hell if you want him to”, Julius stated.
Henry’s heart sank.
“Sir, please understand me”, Henry pleaded.
“This is what I am going to do”, Julius started. “Like I did the last time we had such an encounter, I am going to allow you to have a couple of days to think this over”, Julius suggested. “I am the only friend you have left and I can promise you one thing, if you give in to my demands, I would be really gentle with you”, Julius added. “Have a nice day, young man”, Julius said and asked Henry to leave the office. Henry had a disgusted and disappointed look on his face as he walked out of the office
At lunchtime, Henry met up with Audrey. Immediately he was done, he walked back to the office. As he stood in front of the elevator, waiting for it to open, Sandra came running towards him.
“Guess what?”, Sandra started, looking very giddy.
“I am not in the guessing mood right, Sandra”, Henry replied looking and sounding very indifferent. “I spoke to my dad and he wants the three of us to have dinner together this weekend”,
“You did what?”, Henry asked out of shock.
“Relax, young man”, Sandra said jokingly. “He won’t bite”, Sandra teased. “He just wants to get to know you”, Sandra exclaimed. “What do you say?”, Sandra asked.
“It sounds too sudden and I think we should take things slow”, Henry said, thinking about the threats he had to recon with.
“It’s fine”, Sandra reassured. “We are going to have a thrill time together, trust me”, Sandra said as the doors of the elevator parted. “Call me”, Henry signalled and walked into the elevator leaving Sandra standing alone in front of it.
After a lot of persuasion, Sandra finally got to convince Henry to come over for dinner at her house that weekend. Henry dressed up smartly and arrived at Sandra’s house at exactly 6:05 PM.
“You are looking dashing!”, Sandra remarked as she ushered Henry into her house.
“Honestly, my nerves are killing me right now”, Henry confessed.
“Ha-ha”, Sandra laughed. “Is that why you are coming in here all dressed up as if you are going for an interview for the world’s most important job?”, Sandra teased.
“You can have your laugh”, Henry said. “After all, I am in your lion’s den”, he added.
“Henry, like I told you over the phone, I have spoken to my dad at length and I know this is very genuine, trust me”, Sandra reaffirmed.
“If you say so”, Henry said and they both walked into the main house.
Dinner was brief. They all ate their food in silence. Henry ate his food in silence and with fear. After dinner the three of them moved into the living room to chat.
Ben kept a close eye on Henry’s moves and made sure he kept eye contact with him to make him aware that he was not in any way doing Henry any favours. Henry sat across Ben in a couch and Sandra sat close to her father but not on the same couch.
“Are you a christian, Henry?”, Ben asked.
“This is the weirdest question ever for such an occasion”, Henry thought to himself.
“Yes, please Sir, I am”, Henry started. “My parents are devout Christians and they made sure to bring us up in a god-fearing manner, sir”, Henry answered as if his life depended on it.
“Call me Ben”, Sandra’s father requested.
“Okay sir…sorry…Ben”, Henry fumbled.
“This might sound a little bit forward and a bit rush but I want you to accompany us to church tomorrow”, Ben suggested.
“Wow, this sounds very rush indeed”, Henry said. “I have a program at church tomorrow and…”, Henry said and looked at Sandra.
Sandra returned Henry’s stare with a stern look and mimed the words, “Don’t mess this opportunity up”
“But on second thoughts, I think I’ll pass on the program and go with you to church, sir…sorry…Ben”, Henry said and looked at Sandra again who was now beaming with smiles from temple to temple.
“Great!”, Ben exclaimed. “Then I guess you should take your leave now so you go home to prepare for tomorrow”, Ben suggested.
Sandra saw Henry off and as they walked down the long, decorated aisle leading to the main gate, he engaged her in one last conversation as Ben stood on the corridor watching their every move. “What is the name of your church?”, Ben asked. “I don’t know why my father made us stop attending our church to attend this new church”, Sandra said to evade the question. “It is one of these newly created one-man, prophetic, charismatic churches with those funny string of names”, Sandra continued. “Ha-ha”, Henry laughed. “It can’t be that bad”, Henry said. “What is the name of the church, Sandra?”, Henry insisted. “Promise me that you won’t laugh if I tell you the name”, Sandra pleaded. “Come on Sandra, you should know me by now, moreover, I have no right to question your religious preference”, Henry affirmed.
“Okay”, Sandra said.
“Living Streams Of Flaming Grace International Church”, Sandra revealed.
“I beg your pardon?”, Henry asked as he burst out in uncontrollable laughter.
“Living Streams Of Flaming Grace International Church”, Sandra repeated.
Henry could not control his laughter and struggled to hold his breath to cease the laughter. “That is a mouthful!”, Henry exclaimed. “You promised not to laugh”, Sandra complained.
“I just couldn’t help it”, Henry pleaded.
“Just so you know, my father is the financial secretary and head of protocol at the church and he is held in high regard”, Sandra revealed.
“Why am I not surprised?”, Henry started. “Your holy prophet is going to milk him dry with financing of church projects”, Henry teased. “Get out of my house and don’t be late tomorrow”, Sandra teased and playfully shoved Henry out of the house.
The next day, Henry reported early at Sandra’s house even though he knew they were to attend the second service which was not bound to start until 10:00AM. At half past 9AM, they all left for the church.
Living Streams Of Flaming Grace International Church was a small church with a seating capacity of not more than 200 people. The church was expensively decorated as imagined by Henry and had many pretty young girls. More than half of the congregation was made up of women of all ages. The atmosphere was charged with songs and different dance styles as Henry watched on. There was a brief sermon and then announcements were made. After the pretty announcer finished her piece, the man who gave the sermon took over the microphone and started speaking, “Today’s service is a special anointing service and I would like to invite our financial secretary and his family to the altar for special blessings”.
Ben and Sandra started their way towards the altar but Sandra signalled Henry to follow them up the altar. Immediately all three of them were standing in front of the congregation, the prophet went into a trance.
“The spirit is speaking to me”, the prophet started. He walked towards Henry and spoke. “Young man, you are in love with this young lady, am I right?”, the prophet said, pointing to Sandra.
Henry nodded. Ben’s eyes were firmly shut.
The whole church went into an uproar after Henry’s confirmation.
The prophet continued. “The spirit is telling me something”, the man of God said. “The spirit says that you two will get married but not for long because you are going to divorce this young sister over here and marry another lady”, the prophet revealed. “But we as a church will stand in the gap to break and loose the hold of divorce in your lives in the name of Jesus!”, the prophet screamed and began to pray and the entire church followed his lead. After about five minutes of loud prayers, the prophet signalled for the congregation to be quiet, said a separate prayer for each of them and sent the three of them back to their seats. As they sat, Ben leaned in and whispered to both Henry and Sandra, “The voice of the prophet is the voice of God and God cannot lie, so I would leave you two to ponder over what you want to start”. “God reveals to redeem, Dad”, Sandra whispered back to her father. “We would find a way around this”, she added. Sandra looked at Ben but Ben shook his head in disbelief and disappointment. “I think we should heed the caution from your prophet because I once received a similar warning from another prophet when I was younger”, Henry said.
Sandra’s eyes began to fill up with tears.
After the service, Sandra rushed back to the car leaving Ben and Henry behind. She did not say a word on the drive back to the house. Henry requested to be dropped off at a bus terminal to continue his journey home. Ben gladly granted his request.
“Baby”, Ben started as he drove both of them home. “I know you are disappointed but it is better to be safe than to be sorry”, Ben added.
“Why do I have the feeling that this is just one of your manipulative strategies to rid me of my own happiness?”, Sandra said.
“Are you calling the prophet a liar?”, Ben asked.
“I know what you are capable of doing and I know that you can buy the conscience of any man”, Sandra said
“Including the conscience of a man of God?”, Ben asked.
“Let’s just drop this topic for now”, Ben suggested.
“Before we do, just know that I love Henry and we will fight this together”, Sandra said.
“Ha-ha”, Ben laughed.
“Didn’t you see the look on that young man’s face as the prophet spoke?”
“I don’t want to be a part of these schemes anymore!”, Sandra exclaimed and disembarked the car to open the gate to their mansion.
For the rest of that day, Sandra failed in all her attempts to speak to Henry because he refused to answer any of her calls or reply any of her messages.
The next day, Sandra pressured her father into waking up early so they could go to the firm. Ben obeyed Sandra’s command and by 7:00 AM, they were already leaving the house. As the driver of the car moved into the car park, Sandra saw a man standing at the entrance of the building
“What is he doing here?”, she turned and asked her father.
Ben had already realized Sandra wanted to say something.
“He called the office last week and requested that we give him a space to do a project and I agreed”, Ben answered.
“You hate him with passion so why did you agree to help him now?”, Sandra asked.
“Let’s just say I changed my mind about him and I am prepared to give him another chance”, Ben said.
“Well that is your choice but I hope our paths don’t cross”, Sandra said and opened the door to alight. “Just be nice”, Ben pleaded.
Sandra alighted and made her way into the office.
She walked past the man without saying a word.
“That was to be expected”, the man said and followed Sandra into the building.
Henry was having his usual chat with Audrey when Sandra walked in with the man following closely behind.
Sandra stopped at the receptionist’s desk and smiled at Henry. “Henry, we need to talk”, Sandra said. Henry said his final words to Audrey and walked with Sandra towards the elevator with the man still following closely. As they waited for the elevator doors to open, the young man caught up with them. “I am trying to be nice so at least you should hear me out”, the young man said.
Henry was startled.
“Can you just stop following me?”, Sandra pleaded as she spoke to the man. “I can’t really do this right now”, Sandra added.
“But just so we are clear, I would like you to meet this young man”, Sandra said as she pointed to Henry. “Johnson, meet Henry, my boyfriend”, Sandra said before she continued, “Henry, this is Johnson, my ex-fiance…
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