The mid-day November sun sat in the sky. A fiery ball, determined to scorch any thing that walked underneath it. A few cluster of people and cars could be seen scattered across the premises. A couple of children were chasing each other between the parked cars and ignoring the voices of the adults calling them to order. Other people walked about, sellers called out to buyers, friends called out to one another. It was a typical after-service scene on Sundays.
A small group of people walked out of the building. Among them was a tall, dark skinned lady dressed in a navy blue suit who broke away and walked to a nearby vendor.
“Madam, good afternoon.” she called out.
A middle aged woman turned and her face lit up. “Ah, customer. Na you? Happy Sunday o.”
“Same to you ma.” she replied giving a broad smile.
“Hope say you pray for me o?” the woman teased.
She laughed . “As usual. Can I have a bottle of water, please?”
“Make that two.” a voice said. “Hey gorgeous.”
“Hey, you too.” She replied.
The vendor handed over the bottles and was paid. The two figures headed back into the church building.
“So, water uhn? Third Sunday in a row I am not seeing you at the zobo stand.” Lady-in-suit said.
“Well, I’m on a diet.”
“Pffft. Na today?”
“Duh uh. You watch and see. Flat tummy loading.” They both laughed and walked into a waiting room. They picked seats in a corner and started talking in hushed tones.
“Ehn, ehn. Kemi, do you know that new guy was totally checking you out?”
A puzzled look came across her face as she pulled off her jacket. “What new guy?”
“The one that sat behind Pastor Nuel. Sleek navy suit. Exact shade as yours.” She giggled.
“I don’t know who you are referring to. Besides, I was on altar duty today so anybody could have been checking me out.”
She shook her head. “No, no. This was different. Trust me, I can tell.”
“Bimpe! How did you know this person was checking me out if you weren’t checking him out yourself?” she asked, raising her eyebrow. Bimpe pretended to drink more water. “Let your husband catch you checking out other men o!”
“Abegi. I was checking him out on your behalf now.”
Kemi laughed. “Madam matchmaker, international love guru, relationship expert, you will never change. Please, keep your button nose out of my business.”
Bimpe touched her nose. “Na you sabi.”
Kemi’s eyes had met with the stranger’s during the course of the sermon but to her, it was just another face in the crowd. It was her job to stand by the altar while the Pastor preached. Looking into empty space was the major trick but sometimes, her eyes darted into the congregation. She silently prayed Bimpe would drop whatever idea was buzzing in her head. Her thoughts were interrupted by a young man who had come from the Senior Pastor’s office to usher them in.
Bimpe grabbed her hand. “I think I just saw him inside there.”
“Who?” She paused. “Oh…I think you are seeing things. Better stop joking around. Lets go, please.” She draped her jacket across her arm and walked behind Bimpe.
Turned out Bimpe was right. Seated in the Pastor’s office was the stranger in blue along with the Pastor and his personal assistant. Bimpe turned to her and gave her an I-told-you look as she slipped into the seat next to him. Kemi chose to stand, avoiding eye contact with him. Bimpe’s talks had suddenly made her self conscious. She hated when stray thoughts found their way into her head.
“Aren’t you going to have a seat?” The Pastor said to her, cutting into her thoughts.
“I’m okay standing sir.” She smiled.
“All right then. This is going to be brief anyways.” He clamped his hands and placed them on the table. “With us here is Mr Lanre Badmus. He is going to be our new music director.”
She looked from the Pastor to Bimpe, who had excitement written all over her face and back to the Pastor who had turned to the newcomer and continued with the introductions.
“Beside you is Mrs Bimpe Shobanke, our Choir Leader and next to her is Miss Kemi Idoreyin, our Security team leader.” He could sense the many questions on Kemi’s face and proceeded to explain. “I know I broke protocol, but Mr Lanre here has a good resume with years of experience that check out. We have been without a music director for too long. So, he’s going to be on 3 months trial before we finalize the contract.”
“Alright sir.” Kemi said, giving Mr Lanre a sheepish smile and turning back to the Pastor. He pulled out a file and handed it over to her.
“Here’s every thing you need to know about Mr Lanre. That would be all for now.”
Kemi and Bimpe left the office.
“I don’t think she likes me, Pastor.” Mr Lanre said.
“Kemi? Nah. That’s her work face. She takes her job seriously.”
“Thank you once again for this opportunity Pastor. I won’t fail you.” He beamed.
** ** ** **
“Open this thing now.” Bimpe protested, reaching for the file.
“Out of your jurisdiction, babes. Quit your spot in the choir and come join us.” Kemi replied, giving her the tongue out.
“Oya now. Just his profile.” She pleaded incessantly.
“Fine. My car.” They walked to her car and got in. Kemi looked around to make sure no one was watching. She opened the file and handed over the first page to Bimpe, while resuming her look out.
“Things you make me do ehn?” She paused. “You realize you can’t tell anyone what’s in there, including your husband?”
Bimpe made a zipping sign across her lips and continued digesting the content.
“Bimpe, pigeon hole. Fast.” Kemi said with so much urgency. She had looked up in time to see Lanre approaching her vehicle. She wondered where he had surfaced from. Bimpe had trouble opening the pigeon hole and decided to sit on the paper just as Lanre got to her side of the window. She rolled it down and gave her fakest smile.
“Have a beautiful week ladies.” Lanre said and walked away. Bimpe went wide eyed and gave a silent scream. She looked out to see if he had completely gone.
“Oh…my…gosh, Kemi. That accent…”
Kemi rolled her eyes. “What about it? Abeg commot your big yansh from my paper.” Bimpe pulled out the already rumpled paper and handed it over to Kemi who gave her a stern look.
“He has lived more than half his life in the states and…drums rolling….he’s single.” Bimpe chuckled.
“Yaay!” Kemi said, sarcastically.
Ignoring her, she continued. “He is a master of music with a major in conducting. He also plays the piano, violin and acoustic guitar. I guess that’s why Pastor took to him.” She took in a long breath. “This is going to be good.” Her smile was met with Kemi’s straight face. “I mean, good for the church. You know?”
“I have his file, remember? You can stop chattering.” She dropped the file on the back seat, started her engine and put on the AC. “I am not comfortable with the fact that Pastor didn’t let us run a background check before contracting him. I mean, he’s not even a member of the church.” She shook her head and sighed.
“His referral is probably solid. Do you even trust anybody, ehn?” Bimpe asked.
“I trust you. Moreover, God’s work is serious business. You coming?”
“Ya. Gboyega is still in a meeting. Would let him know I have left.” She pulled out her phone to text her husband just as Kemi reversed and drove out of the church premises.
Stay tuned as the story develops.
Disclaimer: The events and characters depicted in this story are fictitious. Any similarities to actual persons, either living or dead is purely coincidental.