I became O.J’s pet project. Not like I had any complaints about it, it was …
The two men in front of me looked like they were about to attack each other. I quickly jumped in to save the day…as usual.
Me: Can we all just calm down for a second. O.J you can take my car home I need to talk to your father.
Tunde Ayodeji: He will do no such thing! He will walk out that gate and to the bus stop and take public transport and stop trying to pretend he is living a life we clearly can’t afford.
O.J: Adenike I’ll see you tomorrow.
O.J turned around to walk away. His father reached out and grabbed his arm.
Tunde Ayodeji: You will not see her tomorrow or the day after. You will never step foot into this house again! I forbid you to remain in contact with her.
O.J: She may be your meal ticket but she has a mind of her own. Adenike do you have anything against my seeing you tomorrow?
Our eyes locked and I couldn’t say anything. I felt his father’s gaze boring a hole in the back of my neck and I couldn’t even bring myself to look at him. I felt like they were trying to make me choose. I was confused and so I simply chose myself. I walked away and left both men standing there.
A few minutes later, Tunde Ayodeji joined me in the study where I had gone to pour myself a drink.
Tunde Ayodeji: I am beginning to worry that you are developing a bit of a drinking problem.
Me: For now alcohol seems to be the only thing that doesn’t bring me more problems. What was that fracas outside about?
Tunde Ayodeji: I don’t know where I went wrong with my son Adenike. The boy is determined to go down a dark and dangerous road.
Me: He is not a child. You should let him make his own decisions.
Tunde Ayodeji: He is only twenty! And as long as he lives under my roof, he would live by my terms. I tried to do the whole let him be his own man thing but it backfired. Every decision he makes costs me and my family and I can’t keep allowing him bring us more problems.
Me: Is he really being investigated by the police?
Tunde Ayodeji: It’s not important. Just forget about it.
Me: No way! If I am to continue dealing with your family, I need to understand what exactly I am exposing myself to.
Tunde Ayodeji: He dropped out of the university in his second year and got mixed up with the wrong crowd. His friends were implicated in a major robbery case and right now he is being used as a police informant.
Me: Wow, isn’t that dangerous?
Tunde Ayodeji: It was the best deal I could cut to keep him out of jail. You see why I want you to stay away from him. Unfortunately, my son doesn’t really believe in hard work. He likes to cut corners and get to his destination quickly. I am sure he has spotted some form of opportunity through your friendship. Just stay away from him please.
I nodded. I definitely had to stay away from him but for how long I couldn’t tell.
Nothing was working the way we had planned. There had been an investigation into the board members of my father’s company and it became obvious that money had changed hands because they claimed there was no shady business. The allegations levied by the dismissed workers was tagged as a malicious attempt to soil the company’s name out of bitterness and so the case was basically shut down.
I was getting frustrated. Money wasn’t my problem, I was being paid a monthly upkeep from the company and my family estate. My problem was the lack of relevance. I had no job, no family, no social capital, and no network. I was just another “lucky girl” who didn’t have to work. I wanted more and I was easily convinced that whilst Tunde Ayodeji had tried his best, perhaps he wasn’t the man for the job.
As he had instructed, I had stayed away from his son but it was time to break the ice and see if his counsel would prove beneficial to me. Tracking him down was quite easy, I simply went one evening to one of the club houses we had frequented while we were spending time together. As I had predicted, he was there. I found him standing outside with a bottle of beer in one hand, and one arm around a the waist of the girl next to him.
I sized the girl up, she was pretty with a trim and lithe shape but she was shabbily dressed and her hair looked a little unkempt. I looked at all the people around him they all look a bit shabby making him stand out in neatly ironed blue shirt and jeans and his well-polished loafers. He didn’t belong in this crowd and I had to prove it to him.
I walked up to him and as I approached he spotted me and pulled the girl he was holding even closer while still holding my gaze.
O.J: Well, well look who decided to come to the slums today.
Me: Can we please talk?
O.J: I’m busy.
Me: Getting drunk and fondling street urchins?
O.J: At least my street urchins make me feel welcome.
Me: Let’s not do this here. Let’s go somewhere we can talk.
O.J: Say please.
Me: What is this about? Are you coming or not.
He pulled the girl in his arms closer and she wrapped her arms around him…I rolled my eyes.
O.J: Say please. You don’t own me.
He pulled himself out of the girl’s grasp rather rudely. We walked to my car.
O.J: Get in.
Me: It’s my car, don’t tell me what to do.
O.J: I said get in.
O.J: Look behind you.
I looked behind me and saw three very rough and angry looking guys charging towards us.
O.J: If those guys get to me, it won’t be a pretty sight.
I quickly got in the car, he shoved my legs in and then got in beside me. The guys started racing towards us.
Me: Mr Sunday please drive!
I screamed. Mr Sunday put the car in reverse and pressed the pedals so hard the tyres made a screeching sound. In a few seconds we were out on the street and racing away in the opposite direction.
Me: Who were those guys O.J? What do they want from you?
O.J: Just some guys I need to sort out.
Me: Sort out with what?
O.J: Never mind.
Me: Is it money O.J?
O.J: Yeah, I owe them some money.
Me: How much?
O.J: I said never mind! I will sort it.
He seemed angry and so I decided to let it go. Neither of us said a word until we arrived at my house.
We went to the study and I poured us both a drink. We drank in silence and I watched him. I had a lot of questions to ask but he seemed so tense like he would explode any minute so I kept quiet and until he asked.
O.J: So why did you bring me here?
Me: Why did you drop out of school?
I had no idea where the question popped out from. But he was so smart, so full of life, so ambitious…I couldn’t understand how he could be content with a life of bar hopping and street fights.
O.J: Don’t you think you have enough problems of your own? Why do you want to saddle yourself with the problem of rescuing me? I am asking again why you brought me here. If you don’t answer I will walk out that door and never come back.
This was it. Now or never.
Me: I need your help O.J.
O.J: How about my father? How would you handle it when he finds out you’re back to having contact with me.
Me: Leave that to me. Just help me. I have a plan but I can’t pull it off on my own.
O.J: Ok let’s hear it.
Me: I think the best way to regain my inheritance is to get some social relevance that can give me leverage. I can’t win this on my own…I am young, I am inexperienced, I am an orphan and I am a woman. I need some sort of backing.
He laughed out loud.
O.J: You think you need a husband?
I just knew he would catch on.
I nodded shyly.
O.J: How old are you? Twenty one, twenty two?
Me: Just turned twenty two.
O.J: Are you sure you are ready to get married?
Me: I wasn’t ready to lose both my parents but I did. I wasn’t ready to lose my inheritance but I did. An unexpected marriage won’t exactly knock the wind out of my sails.
O.J: You have a point.
Me: Good. So I need your help.
O.J: How? Do you want me to marry you?
I blushed at the question.
Me: Of course not! I need you to make me the kind of woman a man wants to marry. I need to marry someone from a prominent and powerful family and those kind of men always have a lot of women around them. I need to become the sort of woman that a rich and powerful man wants to marry.
O.J: So you basically want me to make you into the ideal trophy wife?
Me: Something like that.
O.J: I don’t know if I can pull that off. I mean I am smart and all but this is a herculean task.
Me: What is that even supposed to mean?
O.J: I mean look at you Adenike. You would be pretty if you try something new with your hair and smile more often. And I mean a man could find you attractive if you would occasionally wear a dress or something that shows off your figure as opposed to this long flowing things you wear and the bell bottom trousers you can’t live without.
Me: There is no need to insult me. Are you going to help me or not.
O.J: I love challenges and so maybe I would just take on this great one. But I would like to know one little detail.
O.J: What do I get out of this?
Me: Get me married before I lose everything and I will pay off all your debt.
His eyes popped open like saucers. I knew it was an offer he couldn’t refuse.
O.J: I’m in
He said stretching out his hand. We shook hands as a way to seal the deal.
Me: Am a fast learner don’t you agree?
O.J: How so?
Me: Find a person’s weakness you said. Leverage on it you said. And exploit it to get what you want. I know your weakness O.J.
O.J: And what exactly is it?
Me: You want to get into my world. This affluent, privileged world and I my darling have you in my back pocket until you do.
He smiled and picked up his glass and we toasted to our new found understanding. Albeit twisted and sick.
Written by Layemi Olusoga
The Duchess of Park-view is a work of fiction and names, characters, businesses, organizations, associations, places, events and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, events, locales, associations or organizations is entirely coincidental.
The content is strictly the opinion of the author and does not represent the views of Diamond Bank Plc or any of its affiliates or subsidiaries.