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Friday, September 20, 2019

The Small Print (2)





Coleen continued. “Let’s get on with the interview?”
Jennifer spread her arms out as if to say “Whatever.”
The veins in Wale’s head throbbed. Why didn’t he hit the delete key when the cursed job advert landed in his inbox? Because he was an over ambitious idiot with a bank account the size of a dried pimple, that’s why.

Coleen looked at him, an expectant expression on her face. “Well?”
He sighed with weariness, feeling as though he was about to be strapped to an electric chair for a crime he did not commit. Finally he nodded. “I am ready.”


 ***

“Africa!” Wale’s colleague called out as soon as he returned to the main office floor of Syms & Syms, the IT project management consulting firm that employed him. Wale groaned as Q stumbled through scurrying assistants and ringing phones towards the cubicle they shared.

 Q’s real name was Quaddam, but everyone called him Q. They had been working in the same department- Admin and Supplies- since Wale started at the company. Unlike Wale, Q loved the brain- deadening post office runs, monotonous stationary upkeep and general servitude to the entire company that had been their duties for a little over a year. The position gave Q an opportunity to be the first to hear office gossip while it was still sizzling. On the bright side, Q’s enthusiasm usually made Wale’s days slightly shorter and more bearable.
 But not today.

“Get lost Q,” Wale muttered. “And stop calling me Africa.”
 Q gripped a bunch of manila files under his arm as though his life depended on it. “Not until I finish my investigation.” He wheeled a spare chair close and slammed his files on top of Wale’s desk, unsettling the dust around the pen holders.

“What is it?” Wale asked. He reached for a copy of the IT News magazine on his desk, and hoped that Q would take a hint and get lost.

“Andrea Lennox interviewed you,” Q said, hardly noticing his lack of enthusiasm.

“Yeah?”

“She left a massive IT firm in Manchester to help shape things up here for a few months.”
“And?”

“Why travel all the way from Manchester to London? Syms & Syms has never been in the Times top hundred IT companies to work for.” Q let out a chuckle. “Or top five thousand.”

“Your point is?”

“My point is why?”

Wale returned to the magazine and fingered it; moving his hands across the images at a snail’s pace. ”I don’t know. Leave me alone.”

Q nodded but didn’t shift from his position. ”I see the interview didn’t go well?”

“It was a blast.” Wale replied in perfect monotone. “Go away.”

“Feisty.” Q wiggled his index finger. “Don’t worry, Wale. You’ll get the job you have always wanted. Then you will get promoted and leave me here all by myself.”

Wale placed his palm on his chest and feigned distress. “I’m heartbroken.”

“Okay.” Q sat bolt upright. “One more question and I am gone.”

“Five seconds.”
“Are you and Andrea related in any way, shape or form?” Q’s beady eyes shone with curiosity.
Adrenaline propelled Wale out of his seat. “Me and Jen-Andrea related? Why would you think that?”

“Just answer me.”
“Why?”

“Why do you Africans answer questions with questions?”

“Are you going to talk or not?”
“See what I mean?”

Wale took a deep breath. “This is not the time to muck about.”
Q tapped his chin and stared at the ceiling as though his answer was engrained in the perforated tiles. Finally, he lowered his head and said, “I just ordered an ID card for the new project manager.”

“So?”
“In her passport, her surname is hyphenated.”
Wale’s heart thumped. “What has that got to do with the price of fish?”

“Wait till I tell you,” Q said and then paused.
“I am waiting.”

“The first half of her name is the same as yours.”
“Meaning?”
“Her full name is Andrea Ademola- Lennox.”
The room whirled. Wale closed his eyes. “No. No way.”
“Yep,” Q said. “I saw it myself. Now what was that about the price of fish?”




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