Tap tap tap
Shiny red nails rang on the table, sending all sorts of signals into Chris’ left temple. Watching the woman sitting across him from under shaggy eyebrows, he muttered in distaste.
Women. Hell to live with or without.
He was – or rather, had been practicing the ‘without’ part for some time and he did like it, even though he longed for company of the other kind sometimes. The tap tap tap came again and he was reminded why he had decided; eleven months ago, to try the without part of the story.
Agnes. Hell in a skirt, hell on a man.
He looked up from his feet and met her eyes. There was a mocking smile on her face, a smile that said I know what you’re thinking. Sorry I can’t help you.
“I’d rather die,” he mumbled half-aloud.
“Chris? Is there a problem?”
He turned slightly in his chair to face the head of the department. Looking at her creased the middle of his forehead. Temi looked like she had been force-fed into a meat wringer sometime in her teenage years, and as a result she wore her clothes with as much aplomb as a clothes hanger. In them she looked like she could play hide and seek in an empty tin of sardines – no disrespect to the tin.
He liked her voice, however. She sounded like Omawunmi did whenever she was talking in between her songs. He could listen to her all –
He sighed. “You don’t have to yell, Temi. You’re scary enough looking like you look.”
Her jaw muscles clenched and his hand flew to his mouth as he converted the snort about to come out to a cough. Gently, muscles trembling, she put the marker she’d been writing on the board with on the table beside the MacBook she was sharing slides from and left the room, marching quickly and efficiently.
“What are you doing, pretty boy?”
He hated the way the fine hairs on the back of his neck stirred as though a soft wind was blowing through them. Arranging his face into a look of disinterest, he cocked his right eye in Agnes’ direction.
“The girl acts as though someone forgot a bee in her skull after her last lobotomy. If she keeps on with me I’ll probably have to help her remove it. I just can’t guarantee I’ll be as professional as a surgeon would be.”
“Ouch,” Agnes mouthed, red lips forming a pained ‘o’. “That’s a woman you’re talking about.”
Chris snorted. “Makes no difference to me. If she can work as rough as a man, she’s earned the right to play as rough as a man.”
He eyed Agnes skeptically. “Don’t tell me you’ve suddenly become an anti-feminist. You’re poisonous enough without adding that to your resume.”
Agnes chuckled, pink appendage darting out to lick dry lips. “I’m not anti anything darling. In fact, I’m pro everything except anything that’ll hurt Agnes. That’s the only thing I’m anti about.”
“Yeah – you love yourself and yourself alone. We all know that,” Chris blurted, hating the bitterness that weighed his voice down. “Look -forget about it okay?”
The office boy stuck his around the door Temi walked out through earlier. “Madam Temi say make you join am for office.”
Chris didn’t even twitch. “English, Joe.”
Joe cleared his throat. “Madam Temi says you should come and go and join her in her office.”
“Thank you, Joe. Tell her I’ll be right there.”
The office boy nodded and retraced his steps as Chris looked at Agnes with a question on his face.
She smiled. “The only way to know is to ask, bobo. So go ask.”
Chris stood up and buttoned his jacket, easing himself out from behind the table. “Here goes,” he whispered at Agnes.
She smiled and fluttered fingers in his direction. “Dont hurt her too much, dear.”
He nodded and bounced out.