Fortunately, we’re 85% done with montage, editing and packaging when the operatives arrived. The only key thing left was voicing over. But we’re sure any good broadcast journalist could read my script and have an editor slap report over footage. There, however, was that unvoiced fear among my gaffer, rigger, editor and driver that I was being abducted. There was no way I could allay their fears; I did not want to tell a lie either so I left them to fester in their fertile imagination. They sought to suggest I should call that politically aligned senior journalist to apologize to him because they thought he might be behind the invitation. I told them that journo could stew in his pot for all I cared. Their suggestion and my tailored rebuff emboldened me the more.
“You’re wanted,” they announced.
“How far are we going?”
“We cannot promise you.”
I followed them to their car and enquired for my lawyer about the invitation but was waved off, a decline. When we got to the hotel, one of the soldiers directed me upstairs without emotion- his bland face was one of disinclination. I was not perturbed in the least. I assured myself that I was not guilty of any offence. After all, a guiltless conscious ricochets acquisition without recourse. Should I be killed as a worst form of occupational hazard that journalist were prone to, I wished to die slowly through agony so I could appreciate the peace and tranquility I might have ever taken for granted since my childhood.
Upon arrival at Room QB415, I purposed a masculine knock but was shortchanged by the soft surface of the door which reduced a vociferous thumb to a mere peck. And that brought my surprise number one: I was received by Ghana’s finest pilot, Capt. Honesty Mayqueen Arqhu-One, all by herself.
“I sent for you”, she greeted.
“Great,” I grinned.
We walked to the rooftop bar in silence, watching the goings and comings. It still looked like a student-teacher relationship.
“Were you scared?” she quizzed.
“Nothing scares me,” I assured.
“I shouldn’t have asked. I know you too well.”
“The reason you’re a rough rider”, that was Olivia. And they both laughed.
I was surprised Honesty laughed in my presence but judging by the conspirator glances they exchanged I could surmise what’s amiss. In fact, her laugh jolted no surprise like the magical appearance and intrusion by Olivia.
How did Olivia make it into Honesty’s exalted circles? Was this prearranged or something? They were no friends in high school, … I could vouch Honesty kept decent company. The self-search for answers raged wide.
“Rough driver?” that’s my counter.
“Yes,” Olivia iterated with truculence that made her sound surer than was socially appropriate.
I was scandalized as I sought to plumb the full and true depth of this mild accusation. This should be considered pragmatically ill placed but one had to take it in his stride by waning a smile. When I realised she felt my suppressed shock, I lowered my headteacher gaze. I must relieve her.
“Sir was none such! I could bet my life on that,” Honesty volunteered plaintively.
“Thanks, dear. But I’m…….”
“… You don’t know him well. Fact is we, his students, never knew his downside.”
“Sir, is that true?”
“I’m retired. That’s history,” I rebutted.
“You were the best.”
Olivia was one student leader I enjoyed working with as a teacher. She had everything one would look for in a juvenile leader and more. Our relationship hit a snug when she, after her final examinations, asked me out. She dated me to pork and beer. On the day, she drank more Guinness at a siting than was courteous to mention. I then excused myself and left the premises after settling the bill. Later, she went on an assignment to find out what type of girl I liked. In any case, she was misled by one of my social media posts which sought to suggest I liked bad girls and was to spend the next eleven months scheming debauchery. I truly loved Olivia but won’t eat my own words by dating my past student in a typical sense of the word in local context.
“But you’re unfair.”
“Who’s the proponent of your fairness theory?” that was my first bold demand of the evening.
Her throat run desiccated and patched; one could hear her gulp a swallow of blob. She felt the joke was stale and beyond her social pay grade. In any case, the social barrier between us remained unaffected from my dashboard.
Honesty was long noted for her innate social mixing feat, her ability to zero out class and ideological differences stood out. And this was her time to shine again, a time to make peace. But she was funny about it.
“Olivia, you’re peeved my favourite teacher refused to date you?”
“Do not deny it. I read it in your diary.”
I felt vindicated and decided to celebrate by victory with golden silence. I now see why the joke could not cut its intended niche in this social intercourse…it’s musty and tasteless because it’s long expired.
“Can we make ourselves comfortable?” Captain requested.
When the waiter came, Captain introduced herself and that was all. The waiter excused us and left. Captain told us she had a surprised for us and for the rest of the wait time that we waited for the waiter, Olivia waited to be talked to. I also got engrossed in the conversation to the extent that I forgot to tell my crew I was safe.
“Turn all professional gadgets off.”
“I know your shock.”
“I thought you’re…..”
“….. a mathematician….”
“We, mathematicians, are capable of anything science.”
“I thought you’re……”
“….. a linguist……”
“We linguists are capably of anything…”
“How’s your wife?” Olivia shocked us.
“Not too bad.”
“Who’s that lucky one?” Olivia ventured again.
“Are you a bully?”
“A domestic terrorist?”
“What are you then?”
“A social democrat and a good lover of cargoes.”
A spurt of laughter with gusto.
“You did not go overboard.”
“So I failed to complain.”
“Bad for axle load….”
“Healthy for the piper.”
“You have not changed a bit,” that’s all Honesty could say.
“You have a Chelsea or Arsenal then..?”
“A good buy.”
“No. She’s unlucky.”
“You mess up paaa-oo.”
“She told me.”
Then it was my turn to quiz Captain.
“Your gold ring.”
“My second nature.”
Silence. Olivia had a call and left us. Good riddance! I was later told she was the receptionist on duty when Captain checked in, that’s the only connecting rod plausible. So they used the opportunity to connect.
“And what made you opt for Emirates ahead of Qantas?
“Turn all microphones off. We’re unwinding.”
“Yea. Emirates. My boyfriend’s advice.”
“How’s he now?”
“Almost… How did you know? ….. I almost forgot.”
“Who’s that lucky man to you?”
“You don’t wish…?”
“…wish…? … no!”
“Well, information about him is copyright protected.”
“You’re the custodian.”
“No, his lawyer is.”
“You pay the piper, so you can call the tune.”
“He pays her.”
“A certain Kweku,” she volunteered.
“You bet it’s not Kweku Shakespeare?”
“I can neither confirm nor deny that.”
“What have we done this time?”
“Who told you?”
“Whistle blower identity protection mode activated.”
We’re gelled now. She could now look me in the eyes and speak. The social distance between us was now evened and we could crack level jokes. We ate, wined and dined and danced and jammed, teasing each other all along.
It was our first major interaction after she left school. Now we’re real friends, and out of the hundred and one journalists, I was the one she chose to hang out with that evening. She too said she’s happy seeing me change my career. And we’d both go joking like real colleagues.
“I never dreamt you’re a journalist. I’m happy for you.”
“I want to buy you another beer.”
“Don’t you drink three beers a night ever?”
“No more than three on Tuesdays.”
“You’ve had only one.”
“Suspense account mode activated.”
Presently, a police officer approached Captain. He introduced himself and his mission.
“Tell him I’m unable to move to another table.”
“Should he come?”
“Probably. If he’s keen.”
“Consider it done.”
The Minority Spokesperson on Aviation came over to our table in the bar. He had a band of bloggers, tabloid journalists and reporters from some mushroom radio stations and YouTube channels. Everything about him reeks of cheap popularity. We watched him seat himself and shake hands with Captain amidst the clamouring of camera flashes. She was tactically patient.
“Good evening, Boss… Captain rather.”
“Good evening, Honourable. How may we help you?”
I’m a Member of Parliament …erhmh.. Minority Spokesperson on Aviation.”
“I’ve heard that before.”
“You’re a hero.”
“I’m here to dialogue with you.”
There’s an air of pomposity and overrated self-importance around the dude.
“I read aeronautic engineering.”
“I have two research degrees.”
“Boss. Can we have beer?”
“Don’t you drink beer?”
“I do. But not on Tuesdays.”
He could have continued till Christmas. Captain showed she’s not interested in a conversation but her cosmetic cabin smile goaded this blind dude on.
What actually saved him embarrassment was the presidential alert.