Those Awkward Moments (Episode 17)

Those Awkward Moments (Episode 17)

Previously on THOSE AWKWARD MOMENTS: So, a week after Jude’s coma situation, Kevin runs into Kuddus (Remember? The guy he met at the bar, whose number he lost in the toilet) and they set up a ‘platonic’ date. Hmmm… Platonic… Ok o. Meanwhile, Kevin is also a little anxious due to the fact that he is hours away from presenting the three new tracks they’d produced for Demoniker’s upcoming album to the oga, Chief Bassey. But, no biggie…right?

Well, that’s what you missed in Episode 16.

*

“Are you sure you don’t want me to come in with you?” Samuel asked as I undid the seatbelt to proceed out of his car. “You know, like for moral support.”

“I think I’ll be fine,” I said with a short laugh. Moral support indeed, I thought amusedly. Dude just wants an excuse to meet Demoniker again.

As much as I appreciated him taking me all the way to Highland on such short notice, this was just too important of a day for me to worry about him and his crush on Demoniker interfering with my day.

“Are you sure?” he asked when I was out of the car.

I peered at him through the car window and beamed. “Yes, Sammy, I think I’ll be fine. No moral support needed. Besides, it’s not always Bring Your Friend To Work day here.” And I turned to walk away, heading out of the parking lot and straight into the entrance of the building.

Once I was past security, I reached for my headphones, placed them on my head and put on the radio. Bruno Mars’ Uptown Funk was on. It was a perfect song for the way I was feeling at the moment, proud and confident. In spite of the fact that I’d had to work for the past week with two people, one who I could not stand, and the other who I no longer admired so much, we’d still worked together to finish three amazing songs that I was positive Chief Bassey would love.

I bounced into the elevator, a happy and excited person, ready for whatever the world was going to throw at me. That was until I saw her running toward the elevator as well. She held against her chest what looked like a heavy stack of folders, and in her left hand was a cup of coffee, and flying backward from around her neck as she hurried forward was her office ID.

“Hold the elevator please!” she hollered.

I instantly reached for the Fourth Floor button and began tapping it insistently, desperate for the elevator door to shut before she could make it inside.

Unfortunately, the universe was not in my favour. Ngozi squeezed her way into the lift, panting like she had just run a marathon. As she struggled to get her breathing in order, she stared daggers at me, as though to let me know she knew what I’d been up to.

We rode the lift in silence to our floor. Once the door opened, we both made for the exit at the same time, banging against each other at the doorway. Her coffee hand tipped in my direction and a small swathe of black liquid sloshed over the rim of the long cup unto the front of my Tee shirt.

“Oops,” she said simply and continued on with her journey out of the lift and down the hall.

I stared the fury of hell down on her retreating behind, before getting off while trying to rub off the stain with my hand towel. But my effort only seemed to spread the stain and make it worse. Huffing with frustration and muttering a swearword at that witch, I turned my backpack around, wearing it in my front to cover the stain.

As I approached the studio, I could hear voices engaged in a conversation. I heard Isaac murmur something and Demoniker’s light laugh came in response. Of course they’d already gotten here before me. I hissed in quiet displeasure and made to open the door. Then, on a second thought, I pulled my hand back from the door knob. I wanted to know what they were talking about. If it was about me, I felt the need to know.

“Your dad was a senator?” I heard Demoniker exclaim. “So money has always been a huge part of your life, huh?”

Isaac chucked. “Something like that.”

I rolled my eyes. Yea, and with that pampered childhood came your brattiness and thievery, I thought caustically.

“So how do you go from being a spoilt rich kid to being a music producer?” Demoniker asked.

I leaned closer to the door to hear his answer.

“Well, I just wanted something for myself, something I wouldn’t have to attribute to my father, you get?”

“I do. And you’re very good at the something you do.”

“Thanks.” He paused before adding, “I just wish everyone thought the same.”

Demoniker laughed again before saying, “You’re talking about Kevin, right? What’s the deal between you two anyway? Kevin says its nothing, but I know him well enough to know he’s been nursing something against you ever since you joined my team.”

I leaned closer to the door, waiting with bated breath for Isaac’s reply to that. A part of me wanted to know if he’d tell Demoniker the truth about how history, and another part of me hoped he’d just change the subject.

However, I didn’t get to know what he was going to say, because just then, I felt a heavy presence behind me, and I turned to see four serious-looking men in dark suits flanking my boss, Joshua, and my bigger boss, Chief Bassey.

The two men were staring at me with some curiosity; Chief Bassey’s expression was tempered with impatience. And their faces clouded even more when their eyes settled on the unattractive coffee stain on my shirt which my backpack had fallen away from my front to reveal.

My face flooded with the heat of mortification as I straightened to face them.

“Kevin, what are you doing?” Josh asked.

“Umm, nothing – was just looking for my contacts.”

Josh lifted a quizzical brow, as if to say he didn’t know I wore eye contacts. I looked away from him and quickly hunkered down, and began feeling about the ground with my fingers for the imaginary contact lenses.

Chief Bassey exhaled loudly just then, and I immediately picked up a random piece of lint from the floor and said, “I’ve found it!”

“Are you done now?” Chief Bassey snapped. “Do I now have your permission to get inside?”

“Of course, sir,” I said as I hastily stepped aside for father and son to get inside.

***

Presenting the three new tracks went by smoothly. Demoniker preferred to perform them in the recording booth for him, instead of simply playing him the recordings. And the live performance made the songs sound even better than I’m sure it would have sounded coming from the recording.

The first song was titled ‘Dangerous’, and it was about loving someone who only brought out the worst in you. The second was titled ‘Into the beat’, a simple upbeat song about clubbing, drinking and all that. The third, ‘Let me go’ was a reggae-style song about a girl telling the guys that she only did one-night stands and their thirst for more was not her problem. During her performance of this last song, she moved her body with sensual undulations in tandem with the beat, and I could already picture the music video being a hit because of the Beyoncé-esque choreography it’d have in it.

The Basseys listened and watched her and nodded their heads in tune with the beat. Josh had already listened to the songs, and so occasionally, he threw knowing beams at his father, whose gaze was averted to the woman moving sinuously inside the recording booth. I watched him watch Demoniker, and I wondered why nobody else had noticed the naked lust in the man’s countenance, or the fact that the sultry singer appeared to be putting on a show for him. I wanted to throw up. Jeez! Get a room, you two. Or a broom closet!

In the short space of about twenty minutes, all three tracks had been presented to Chief Bassey, and then we waited to hear the old man’s verdict. It didn’t take long to come.

“They’re good, I like them,” he said.

There were instant heavy sighs and exclamations of relief from us men in the room. Demoniker simply smiled and nodded in affirmation.

“Of course you like them,” she purred. “We worked hard on those.” Then she signaled her need to take a call and stepped out of the room.

“But they’re not good enough,” Chief Bassey snapped the moment the door shut behind her.

The room went completely silent, as Josh, Isaac and I exchanged looks of puzzlement. When we gaped at him, it was to see the smiling approval that had once being there replaced with the determined grimness that I’d become familiar with.

“Sorry, dad – what?” Josh ventured.

Just then, my phone began ringing. I flinched before hastening to switch it to silent.

Chief Bassey didn’t even pay me any mind as he replied his son, “They’re good, but not good enough for the album we’re trying to create.”

Well, I’d like to see you try your hand at some of that creation, Mr. I’ve-got-a-stick-up-my-ass, I fumed silently.

“What did you say?” the man’s glower oscillated in my direction.

“Nothing, sir,” I bit out, shooting a wooden look back at him. My thoughts must have been more mumble than contemplation. “Just that, you seem to be saying that all the work we did is for nothing.”

“It’s not. We can market the songs off to other artistes in our label.”

What! I thought, aghast.

“So, let me get this straight, sir,” Isaac started. “You want us to sell three award-deserving songs that we put all our time and energy into to other average stars who they hadn’t been intended for?”

“I don’t expect you people to understand, but it’s my decision. You lot will have to record better songs.”

“But dad,” Josh interjected, “Demoniker seems to believe the songs are great too. And you always said to believe in the artiste’s instincts.”

“Yes, but some singers sometimes don’t know what’s good for them. Look, the songs are good. They’re just not good enough, and honestly boy, you’re to blame!”

Josh was taken aback by his father’s offensive. “How am I to blame?”

The chief replied, “Beatz – he just started working with you guys, so he’s still getting the hang of things around here. And this other guy” – he waved a dismissive hand at me – “he’s an amateur, so I don’t really expect much from him.”

I swallowed hard as mortification and outrage burned in my heart.

“But you!” Chief Bassey was still talking. “You’ve been in the Highland business for what – three years now? And you still don’t know what goes and what doesn’t?”

“Dad –”

“Let me finish. I gave you Demoniker to manage because I thought you were ready to go international. But if this kind of mediocre stuff that you want to peddle to me as your wonder work, instead of what music is current and trending, then perhaps it’d be best for me to reconsider reshuffling the order of things with this team.”

“In all fairness, sir,” Isaac cut in, “how much do you know about current music?”

The chief stared nonplussed at him. As resentful as I was of Isaac, I was warmed by his comment.

Before Chief Bassey could formulate an appropriate response, his phone rang.

Saved by the bell, I thought snidely, as we watched him pick out his phone and stare at the screen.

“I’ll be right back,” he said. “I have to take this.” And then he was out of the studio, leaving the three of us in the awkward quiet of the studio.

Demoniker came in seconds later, humming ‘Dangerous’ under her breath. Then she took one look at our faces and stopped short. “The old man was lying when he said he loved the songs, wasn’t he?” she said.

“As in eh!” Isaac burst out. “He’s now saying that we would have to sell the songs to any other singer in the label for their own album.”

“He’s tripping,” Demoniker said as she reclined on a couch. “Josh, you better talk some sense into your dad.”

Why don’t you give it a shot yourself, I thought.

“I could,” Josh heaved, “but it seems he’s warming up to take me off your album.” He looked disconsolate at the thought.

Demoniker gasped. “Seriously?” She turned to me. “What about you, Kevin? Did he take you through the wringer as well?”

“Oh no. I’m only just the talentless amateur who doesn’t know jack about making music,” I said with heavy sarcasm that had Demoniker laughing and Isaac chuckling.

There was a bit of silence, before Isaac finally said, “Demoniker, you can talk to him, get him to change his mind.”

I smiled to myself, while Josh nodded his head in agreement.

“And what makes you think I’ll be a great candidate for that?” she said, seeming offended by Isaac’s innocuous suggestion.

Oh I don’t know, perhaps because you’re fucking the man? I thought.

Isaac replied, “I just thought maybe he’d listen to the international star who has produced three platinum albums.”

“Yeah well, I threw that power away when I signed off total creative control over the album. Trust me, I regret that now.”

Just then, my eyes slid toward my phone to see its screen illuminated. It was ringing again, but in silent mode. I saw the international number on the screen and sighed, knowing who it’d be that clearly wanted so much to speak to me. I depressed the green button as I got up and made my way out of the studio.

“Hello, good morning,” I said into the phone as I walked leisurely down the hallway.

“Chukwuemeka!” the deep voice of the man on the other line boomed. “Is that any way to talk to your father over the phone?”

“I said ‘Hello’ and then I said ‘Good morning’. However way was I supposed to talk to you?”

“With respect, young man,” my father scolded. “I don’t appreciate that tone.”

I sighed.

“Anyway,” he continued, “how are you doing? How is Lagos?”

“Dad, I’m fine, but I’m busy at work right now. Maybe –”

“That’s right! Amaka told me you have a job as a record label as a songwriter!”

“She only just told you that?”

“Don’t be a smartass, Emeka.”

“My apologies, dad,” I replied, not sorry at all. “And yes, I’m a songwriter at Highland.”

“Congratulations, my son…even if you didn’t give me the news yourself.” There was disappointment in his voice.

“I’ve just been really busy, not a lot of time left to do much family updating, not when I’ve got work and then taking care of mum, you know, your wife?”

There was a pause from the other end, before my father burst out into a raucous laughter. “So, that’s what this is, you’re mad at me for what’s going on with me and your mother. How is she anyway?”

“What do you care? And I’m not mad at you, I’m mad at the both of you, for dragging us into your lover’s spat. Honestly, you two!”

“Ogini? I didn’t drag anybody into anything.”

“You might as well have, when you sent your pregnant wife out of her house. Who else would she run to besides her children?”

“Is that what she told you? That I sent her out of the house?”

No, but why else would she be out of London and in Nigeria? I thought. Aloud I said instead, “Yes, and that you plan on getting a divorce. It’s what happened, isn’t it?”

My father was quiet for what felt like a lifetime before giving a heavy sigh. There was a wealth of unspoken emotions in that simple exhalation, which tugged at my empathy. I suddenly began regretting being on the offensive with him during this call.

“Dad, are you okay?”

“Yes I am,” he replied. “It’s you I should be asking that question.”

“Huh?”

“You don’t sound yourself today, is everything alright?”

I know you’re changing the subject, dad, but I’ll indulge you, I thought, before saying, “Yea – I mean, not really. It’s just work stuff. My boss is being difficult.”

“Ah! The usual.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked, suddenly feeling defensive at the censure I perceived in the man’s words.

“It means you, Emeka, always have problems with authority figures. Isi iké is your problem.”

“I am not headstrong, dad,” I said hotly. “Chief Bassey is the one with the strong head.”

“Chief Bassey? As in Ryan Bassey?”

“Yea, yea, I know you know him and he’s your friend. Mum already told me.”

“Yes, I know him, but I wouldn’t go as far as calling us friends. The man is something else.”

“You don’t say,” I said sarcastically.

He ignored my sarcasm. “If he’s the one bothering you, trust me, there are ways to bend him to your will.”

As my father began talking to me about Chief Bassey, and the things he knew about the man, a sudden light bulb was turned on in my head. I suddenly knew what I must do.

Soon, we were done with the conversation and said our goodbyes, but not before I tried to talk him into giving Mother a call. He simply answered with a grudging “Hmm”.

As I made my way back to the studio, I thought about how completely devious and yet appealing my plan was. It had been prompted by something my father said during our conversation: “The only way you can ever truly handle Ryan Bassey is by introducing something into the equation that he can’t ignore.”

I was walking past a conference room with its glass walls that permitted me see into its expansive interior, with its huge oaken table and beautiful black swivel chairs arranged on the table’s sides. There was someone inside it, and it wasn’t long before I made out Chief Bassey’s form. The man was engrossed in his phone conversation.

This was my moment, and before I could entertain any second thoughts at my foolish daring, I seized the moment and walked into the conference room.

“Yes, I know,” he was saying. “But I’m saying it would be better if we just scrap the whole production team and hire new people – new songwriters, new producer, new…”

He turned around as he talked and gave a small start when he saw me standing there, my arms crossed and lips pursed, patiently waiting for him to conclude his conversation.

“Hold on,” he said into the phone, and then moved the phone to his shoulder as he asked me, “Are you blind? Can’t you see I’m on the phone?”

“I can see that, sir, which is why I’m waiting for you to finish.”

“Well, wait outside!” he bit out.

“It’s so much more comfortable in here,” I said, before pulling out a chair and settling into the seat. My heart began pounding furiously as I stared up at the man who looked astounded at my audacity.

“What nonsense is this!” he burst out then. “Are you mad! I said get out of here before I have you thrown out entirely from my building!”

“But, sir, I would think that such serious matters like I have to discuss would be something you’d feel the need to listen to at once,” I said with a calmness I didn’t feel.

“What! What serious matter? You know what, never mind.” He reached for the staff pager in his left breast pocket. He was going to summon the security to throw me out of Highland, no doubt. “Honestly, I blame my stupid son for hiring imbeciles like you –”

“My apologies, sir,” I cut in, “but I just wanted to report something disturbing I discovered in the broom closet last week.”

He froze. Then he looked up at me.

I added, “I just thought you should be the first to know.”

He slipped the pager back into his breast pocket, and raised his phone to his ear. “Kachi, I’ll call you back.” Then he advanced toward me.

I steeled myself against any cowering in the face of his intimidating presence as he got closer.

“What disturbing something?” he asked coldly.

“Something like two very important people doing what they shouldn’t be caught doing,” I answered.

His eyes widened fractionally, the only revelation of shock he permitted himself in reaction to my news. He knew what I knew, and knew better than to act otherwise.

“How do I know you even know what you’re talking about?” he said.

“You’re right,” I answered, getting to my feet and making for the exit. “I am probably mistaken. Sorry for wasting your time, sir.”

I was about to pull open the conference room door when he snapped, “What is it you want?”

“Nothing, sir,” I returned innocently, turning around to face him. “I’m just being a responsible employee.”

“Cut it out, you sonofabitch. What do you want? A raise? A promotion?”

As tempting as the things he offered were, this was not the foundation I wanted my career to take off on. I certainly didn’t want to start climbing ladders at Highland based on blackmail.

“Seriously, sir, I want none of that. I only want for you to be more considerate and hands-off with the production team of Demoniker’s album.”

Chief Bassey smiled chillingly. “And if I’m not?”

“Did I tell you I’m good friends with a very popular blogger?” I returned with a small even more chilling smile of my own.

This was partly true. I did know a very popular blogger, but we weren’t friends. We were siblings. One of my older sisters, Esther, anonymously ran an entertainment blog in the US, through which she fanned scandals involving celebrities from all around the world. I wasn’t about to tell her of Chief Bassey’s indiscretion with Demoniker, but Chief Bassey needn’t know that.

We stared at each other for a moment, with him gauging whether he should call my bluff. Eventually, he must have decided not to, because he said, “Fine! It’s my cooperation in exchange for your silence, right?”

“Right.”

And I turned to leave the room once more.

“Kid,” he said, calling me back once again, “why are you really doing this? Do you have a thing for Demoniker?”

“No sir, not at all. And it’s Kevin. Not kid, not imbecile, not amateur. Just Kevin.”

Chief Bassey stood there, inspecting me with an unfathomable gaze, before saying, “Well, I suppose I underestimated you. And that’s not a failing I’m known for. I suppose you get to a certain point in your life and you begin to forget how hungry and determined the young ones are. You actually remind me of myself at your age.”

“No offense, sir, but I am nothing like you.”

“Is that so?”

“Even more than you can imagine, sir.”

He nodded, still smiling. Then he started toward me. I moved out of his way when he got to the door. Then he turned to me and said, “So we’re good?”

“Yes, sir, I believe we are.”

“Good.” And his face firmed into a stony expression, with his eyes icing over, as he continued, “Because, if I hear anything, even the faintest whisper, about this little secret anywhere else – even from you again, you can say goodbye to your future here, and in any other music company in Africa. You understand?”

His threat washed over me like cold water. I swallowed hard and nodded. He nodded too, pulled the door open and walked out of the room. For a man who’d been blackmailed to make a compromise, he had succeeded in having the last word.

Written by Reverend Hot

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  1. Mandy
    October 20, 09:25 Reply

    The series fiction writers on this blog are just giving me life. This week, they have been piling on the drama. The Controvert, PP, and Rev Hot, y’all are smoking.
    So Kevin has balls the size of Africa, eh? To dare blackmail a while Chief Bassey. Odiegwu o. At least though, now he has the ‘admiration’ and interest of the topmost oga at the top. lol.
    Now, can we please know how that date with Kuddus us gonna go? I’m anxious for us to leave Chapter Jude and get into Chapter Kuddus.

  2. Dennis Macaulay
    October 20, 09:29 Reply

    I have to set up cameras around my office. I need ammo to blackmail one of the big guys into getting the corner office…..

    • Mitch
      October 20, 10:30 Reply

      Okwa ima na i bu a foorish somborri, eh Dennis nwa Macaulay?

  3. Miles Nuel
    October 20, 09:51 Reply

    Beautifully written nd a nice ending. First time commenting buh I always read ur blog pinky, nice work.

  4. Ruby
    October 20, 09:56 Reply

    Hmmmmmmm….
    This is getting more interesting

  5. Delle
    October 20, 10:27 Reply

    Oh my! I love this Kevin already! #nohomo
    That silly Chief Bassey should just make the mistake of hiring a ‘me’ in his company…he’d step down for me. I swear!
    Nice one Rev. Hot (are u really a Rev btw?)
    *resumes watching latest on Lamar’s condition*

  6. Richard Moore
    October 20, 12:31 Reply

    Kevin, just one question…
    WHO DIED AND GAVE YOU BALLS AS INHERITANCE? SERIOUSLY.

  7. Wealth
    October 20, 23:34 Reply

    Great blog and nice work reverend,I appreciate your work please update other episodes soon. Great job pinky

  8. PETROVICH
    October 21, 08:16 Reply

    I love me some Blackmail…thumbs up Rev Hot…..continue with thy usual Braingasms.

  9. Kaytee
    October 21, 10:20 Reply

    Finally. .. i waited and waited for the next episode

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