An African at a bar.

He took off his shoes and crossed his legs on the chair adjacent to me. His smell from his socks wafted to my nose, and I almost choked. He wiped his mouth with his handkerchief and belched.

“So, what do you think about content ideas that Aare pitched?” He said and rubbed his protruded belly.

I winced, not this again.

“What do you think of them?” I said like I always did any time he brought me to Mide’s bar.

“They were just there. They lack finesse and quality. Our client won’t like it.” He said and belched again.

I groaned inwardly. Tade had worked for weeks on that pitch. She had secretly shown me and Corsa, the client’s cousin. We both loved it.

The client would, too, cunt!

“She can do better.” I hoped Tade would forgive me.

“Yes. She did rubbish, rubbish. Mtchew.” He said and plucked his teeth with a toothpick.

I wondered how the combination of boiled eggs, pepper soup, and three fried fishes needed a toothpick; then again, Mide was the only one who served his kind of combination. His wife must be sleeping in the guest room because–

“Hey! What are you thinking about? Do I pay you to think about your family problems, ehn?” He said. His voice echoed in the bar. Everyone turned.

“You don’t pay me. The company does.” I wanted to shout at him, but I remembered the promotion he had promised.

“I am sorry, sir.” I said and sipped my glass of water, hoping it would calm my itchy tongue.

“Sorry for yourself, mtchew. I brought you here because it’s only you in that office that doesn’t gossip. If you like misbehave, I will just give the promotion to Kunle.” He took another swig of his beer.

“Please sir. I have worked for two years, attending to you sir.” I said.

Kunle was just two years in the company. I have been there for five years, half of it working with this he-goat on clientele management.

“Then behave. Mide! Mide! I need two bottles of Trophy. Where is this boy?” He sat up.

“Yes sir.” Mide appeared; by his side was one of his waiters. He and Mide looked were age mates. Though Mide looked more handsome in his dark grey trousers and black shirt. Greys gathered on each side of Mide’s hair, giving him a handsome glow. My boss had greys everywhere. His buttoned-down shirt barely covered his stomach.

“Get me two bottles of Trophy for me and a glass of water for him.” He said.

I scoffed. It was 12.30 pm for heaven's sake. Mide nodded, whispered to his waiter, and they both disappeared.

“Sir, it is almost time for us to get back to the office.”

“Shut up. That reminds me, did you send Osaze’s files to me?” he said.

“Yes sir. I did this morning.” I said and finished the glass of water.

“Oh yes. I just remembered. I have read it.”

“You did?” My stomach did a jig. I worked on those pitches for four weeks, researching, studying the company; Osaze spent the whole of yesterday retouching them. This was it!

“They were rubbish. Osaze doesn’t even know what he is doing.” He said. And I stopped breathing.

“I worked on those pitches.” I said in a small voice.

“Osaze lacks what we in the business call innovative creativity.” He stroked his beard.

“I worked on those pitches.” I said in a small voice. The last two years flashed before my eyes. I had written and single-handedly worked on thirty pitches for different brands, all of them supposedly not good. Except that four of those pitches had earned our clients several billions of dollars. No one knew they were my ideas. He had stolen them just like he wanted to steal this.

“He doesn’t understand the beauty of blue. Blue must be included as a brand color for every brand.”

“I worked on those pitches!” I said. The bar fell silent; every pair of eyes came back to me.

“Is that why you are shouting?” He said. His voice quivered a little.

“Shut up your smelly mouth!” I said. My blood was boiling; all I could see was red.

“Ha!” He said. “You–”

“Shut up! I wasted two years of my life working under you. There was no promotion, right? You were using me!” It was as if a dam burst open in my head.

“Is me you are talking to like that?” He stood up; I jumped up.

“If you don’t shut up, I will deal with you! You put me through hell. I have been your errand boy, idea generator, laundryman, cleaner, and supporter. I betray my friends for you, for the job so that I can have a better life. You have just been using me!” I shouted. My fists were curled.

“Calm down now.” He said. People had gathered now. One man was saying something to me, but it was sounded like the buzz of mosquitoes.

“I will quit! But first, I will make your life a living hell.” I hissed at him and stormed off.

“Uche! Uche!” He called. I didn’t turn; I just kept walking as fast as I could. I would rain hell on Mr. Bade.

I'm a writer, poet, content creator and Mental Health advocate. I'm known by my penname Eddie Levi. My works have been featured in online magazines and anthologies. I was shortlisted for Christlit hub competition. My first novella SHE (Death's Curse) has sold many copies and still selling. I have organized seminars on mental health and been part of several editorial boards including the magazine of Writers Space Africa, Lesotho. I'm a member of Earnest Writes Community and Writers Space Africa as well many other writing Communities and families.

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