(Continued from Cornered III. This blog post completes chapter two of the novella ‘Cornered’. To read the whole story, kindly purchase the novella at only Kshs. 100 using the instructions at the bottom of the post.)
Idris is shocked by the news. Pauline, the SWHC Executive Director, has always been a very private person. But she and Idris have always enjoyed a warm relationship since she joined the organization four years ago.
Pauline and Idris’ former supervisor Smith Jones arrived at around the same time. The former Executive Director had retired after twenty years of service, while the previous Head of Legal had tragically died in a road accident. It was Idris who showed both Jones and Pauline around, and cultivated a warm personal relationship with both. So this all very shocking to him.
When Christine is ready to leave, she gets her purse to settle the bill; and when Idris starts to protest, she cuts him short.
“You are now jobless bro. You should be saving every coin you can lay your hands on.”
Idris does not take offence. Even though he has always had good relationships with all his colleagues, Christine is the only one he can consider a friend because their relationship extends beyond the office. He knows her husband Bradley and has visited their home several times. Although she is only 35, Christine has been working at SWHC for fifteen years. She got married three years ago; Idris was one of the groomsmen at the wedding.
She walks to the door, then seems to change her mind and comes back.
“I think there is something else you should know.”
“I am listening.”
She pulls a seat and sits down again.
“Pauline has a crush on you, and that is probably the other reason she is behaving the way she is.”
“Wait, you are confusing me Christine. I thought you said she is dating Professor Igweta? And by the way how do get your intel?”
Christine laughs softly, her deep dimples emphasizing the prettiness of her round face.
“I know many things bro. But anyway, Professor Igweta is doing a consultancy for the organization my husband works part-time for. Apparently once in a while the men in the organization hang out together to watch football and drink beer. It happens that the professor is a braggart. He is the type that like bragging about the women they are sleeping with, and he goes on and on about how he is sleeping with the ED of SWHC. Whenever Pauline calls him, he puts her on speaker. Sometimes when he is drunk he posts photos he has taken with her, some not so innocent, on a WhatsApp group they formed. I have some of those photos on my phone.”
She leans forward and shows him the photos.
“Bradley needs new friends.”
“You think so?”
“Yes. They say if you hang out with monkeys long enough, you will start chattering and stealing bananas. If your husband continues hanging out with these people, it won’t be long before he starts cheating. I don’t know how you will tell him to leave these people alone without triggering a fight, but you need to.”
“I won’t do it because you will do it for me.”
“Me? How will I even begin that conversation? No man would be cool with the idea that his woman was gossiping him with another man.”
“I know that, and you will not have to mention this conversation to him. You are the only Christian he thinks highly of. He says that he actually enjoys debating scripture with you and he is always enlightened at the end of it. I will invite you for dinner, and you will figure out how to bring up this subject.”
Idris wants to protest but then realizes that she is very serious, and that she has closed the subject. It is a done deal, even though he has not exactly consented to it. But he was serious too; Bradley is a nice guy, and there is no doubt that he loves his wife. But if he continues to hang out with people whose favorite topic of discussion is extra-marital affairs, he will want some ‘action’ sooner or later. And it would break Idris’ heart to see the bubbly Christine heartbroken. So yes, he will do it, if only for her sake. She has been on his corner many times before.
“So what makes you think that Pauline likes me?”
“It is one of those things you just see. Right from the day she came to SWHC, she has always looked at you in that type of way. Do you know that she wasn’t speaking to me during her first year in charge because she thought we had something going on between us?”
“You are kidding me. Why didn’t you tell me this before?”
“What would you have done?”
“Okay fine, you have made your point. So what did you do?”
“I figured out what was going on in her mind so I printed wedding invitation cards for everyone at the office. Bradley and I hadn’t even officially started wedding preparations officially, but I figured that that was the only way she would stop treating me like someone with a contagious disease. It is not a good idea to be at loggerheads with your boss.
The reason I am telling you this now is because the other day on TV you were speaking very fondly about Peninah. It was obvious to the whole country that you have feelings for her and Pauline must have been very envious. You committed two treasonable offences: one, you were speaking fondly about another girl; and two, you got Pauline’s boyfriend humiliated and fired.
I have to go now bro, because even though I really like you, I don’t want to lose my job because of your romantic problems.”
Idris is left chuckling as she walks away.
When Idris gets back to the office, Christine informs him that he is needed in the Executive Director’s office.
“So she has not yet left?” he asks in a low tone.
“She left. It is the chairman who wants to see you.”
Joshua, the Chairman of SWHC is a businessman whose greatest strength is neither scholarly nor intellectual. His greatest strength is in his ability to make deals and create partnerships. That does not mean he is not intelligent; Joshua is probably the sharpest brain at SWHC. But while he studied law at undergraduate level, he does not spend his time arguing points of law with the entity’s lawyers; he says that that is why he hires lawyers.
The legal department at SWHC has ten lawyers, and since Smith left, Idris is the most experienced. But the Confederation also hires from other disciplines: there are six political scientists, four sociologists and twelve support staff. Pauline, the Executive Director, is an economist.
Other than the Executive Director, the other directors serve on a part time basis. With the exception of the Chairman, the influence of these other directors is minimal; everyone knows that Chairman Joshua is the ultimate authority.
To his credit, Joshua actually listens to the advice of the people he hires, and that is why the Confederation has grown in the last sixteen years to become a heavy weight in the Kenyan Civil Society.
According to what Christine has told Idris, in the beginning Joshua used to dictate the type of cases that the confederation would handle. But as its structures developed, he has been more and more comfortable allowing the Executive Director make such decisions, while he contents himself with offering strategic direction in a general way.
Staff members of the Confederation usually don’t have to concern themselves with raising funds; Joshua does that single handedly. He uses his vast connections to solicit for funds.
Idris finds him reading a newspaper on the Pauline’s desk. He coldly points to a chair. Right there and then Idris know that this is going to be a very uncomfortable discussion because for all his alleged ruthlessness in business, Joshua is a very jovial person.
“Listen Idris, I have always liked you. I actually wanted to give you the Head of Legal post. But you crossed the line when you tried to rape Pauline.”
“What! I did not…”
“I don’t want to hear it. You probably don’t know this, but Pauline is my woman. You touch her, you have touched me. I will destroy you, that much I can assure you.”
He takes his phone and beeps someone. Minutes later, two uniformed policemen appear and slap handcuffs on Idris’s wrists.
(This is the end of the free part of the story. To read the whole story and find out what happens to Idris and Peninah, purchase a copy of the novella for only Kshs. 100 using the instructions below. And if you wish to join the Sanctuary Side WhatsApp group, kindly text 0105571156).
Image by Pexels from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/photos/black-and-white-businessman-man-1284271/ *
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