That was how he took the place of Kale, my erstwhile friend. Kale still calls anyway. Once in a while we Twittered.
With my improved personality, I got friendlier with and more used to people. But out of those who visited the library, it was Kale and this second guy that I fancied most. They had fine qualities of gentlemen.
“We’ll connect some other time” I said to him as my boss requested me to come with a hand signal. She asked to know if the agent had brought in the new books on board and I responded in the negative. I returned to the guy, checked the book, collected the sums and signed the ledger.
I handed him the canned coke but he declined with a smile and a sideway head movement. After he had extracted the office telephone number, he made for the door promising to call. I was sure to recognize him by the small dark papule around his chin slightly covered by some tender facial hair.
Not quite one hour, the new friend had called to tell me he got home safely. As if I asked. Anyway, it was nice of him to have called and even sent me a sweet good night short message. By post, he sent a CD which had his romantic baritone voice recording; four short poems with a lyricist precision. Who was it that opined that at the emergence of love, everyman becomes a poet? I was swept away by him.
On the brown pack that cased the CD, he had few words scribbled;
Just a note to you with warmest regards, Fred.
Two week later, on a bright Wednesday evening, 5:25pm exactly, the books we were expecting had arrived. I always checked the African writers’ series (aws) first. I liked all the recent prints.
While I was arranging and getting books off the reception desk to arrange them at the correct positions, a strong embrace came from behind-perfectly entering my sylph form.
“Kale!” I bellowed tenderly then turned to face him and wrapped him in a tight hug, my head rested against his broad shoulder. Our chins touched softly and my nostrils caught a fine scent of sweat mixed with cologne.
I freed Kale from the hug but he held my arms and I looked directly into his eyes pleasantly surprised. He smiled too then laughed.
“You didn’t say you were coming. Did you?” I asked him.
“Just the way I wanted it. A little surprise…” I laughed and fancied his long sleeved trim Kaftan about arms-length above the knee. It was beautifully embroidered in the same colour- brown with streaks of silver.
He settled on a seat, I then requested for some minutes to finish up with the arranging. He demanded to help but I declined. Kale laughed; I looked at him and grimaced lightly.
Just as soon as I finished, I returned to my desk, brought out the drink I kept.
“Here” I said handing him the drink.
Declining, he said “Am allergic to…to…M… Malt drinks”. He let out laughter. Afterwards collected it, snapped off the seal and gulped it.
I closed after my boss had left. I dropped the key where we hid it. Kale looked on with a droll on his face.
We chatted as we walked. He told me he had made up him mind to ‘unbolt the keg of desires’ his heart had for me. I let out a mischievous smile and didn’t say a word.
We said some few more things then parted ways. “These were good promising young men” I said to my Innerman which had been bettered lately by the self-improvement books and these two marvellous chaps. Probably Danielle, my friend of many years will be of help. She had a way of deciphering the nervousness of men. I think I will call her to give me tips on what to do. This was an apparent case of gambling. Eenie-minie-miney-mo!
Okay I think I got a solution. I stopped picking their calls. Yes I am unwell. Yes I want to know who will come after me first. In wellness or illness, love remains.
Kale; now 18 texts, over thirty missed calls and counting. Fred; 4 mails, 11 texts and about forty calls missed. All within three days. I always watched out through the steel-panelled-glass entrance, wondering who will come in first among them.
I was faking illness and I always came to the office with hoods and extra socks, just in case they bump in to demand response for my long silence and refusal to respond to alerts.
“Trust!” I gagged “Men?” not “so soon”. I have never had any bad experience with any, but I wondered if throughout my undergrad days, my unattractive look didn’t stir any interest in the skirt seeking men. What will make anyone see me- Kerewi Phoebe as beautiful or interesting? At twenty one, I am not in a rush. I will take my time before my feelings go bonkers and barmy. I have to subject their mettle to test; the truth of their feelings for me must be established before I take the plunge. By faking some nerve wracking sickness and waiting to see who provides me with support and succour in such a condition, I will know. My boss shall be an accomplice. I am taking a ‘leave’ right now. A sick leave.