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Michael paced his office with every nerve in his body screaming for release. He had never been this confused in his life. He caught sight of the pictures which were on full display on his laptop and he froze again, staring at the pictures in stupefied horror. About two days back, Michael had noticed that the company had changed. He hadn’t been able to pinpoint what the matter is, but he had received numerous stares from people, even his staff. The reason for the long stares was foreign to him but he had shrugged it off. But now, how could he bear the thought that everyone saw him as a gay?
The Intercom rang and he grabbed it instantly. “What?” he barked.
“Sir, erm, your friend, Mr. Eric is here. Should …”
“Send him in” Michael barked again and slammed the phone back in its cradle. He paced the length of the office until the door finally opened and Eric walked inside in his usual calm composure.
“Alright, what is it man? Is the world ending today?” he asked as he sat on the chair.
“There is no situation you don’t make light of right? Well, let’s see you make light of this” Michael roared angrily as he turned the laptop to face Eric. Eric frowned and stood up from the couch he was sitting on. He bent the screen of the laptop till it was facing his.
“You never told me you were a model Michael” he murmured and Michael groaned, wanting to hit Eric. “This is more than enough invitation for sex-seeking women” he said.
“I regret inviting you here” Michael hissed.
“Oh shut up” Eric shot back. “Now, tell daddy; what has you so worried?”
Michael hissed. “That nonsense is making me nuts you moron” Michael yelled. “I can’t even understand this shit. I have never taken these pictures”
Eric frowned. “Then, how come you posted them on your Facebook account”
“Don’t you still understand this shit? I did not post them”
“Wow, let me get this straight. Someone hacked into your Facebook account and posted pictures of you on your wall” Eric thought out loud.
“Yeah! Only, those are pictures that I never knew existed, I mean; how would I take these pictures. I don’t do nude, I am surely not the one in that picture.”
“Oh, Michael, one thing is certain – you are the one in this picture. If you never took this pictures, then I guess whoever did this did some computer editing to get this”
“I have thought of that but these pictures look too real, I can’t imagine any computer doing these” Michael put in, totally frustrated.
“You would be surprised. Who is behind you Michael?”
“Damned if I know” Michael swore then laughed bitterly. “It would have been better if it all stopped here”
“There is more?” Eric now looked worried.
Michael ran his hands through his hair. “They have me labeled as a gay”
“What?” It was Eric’s turn to raise his voice in stunned surprise. Michael laughed strangely.
“It is good to know that someone else is as stunned as I am”
Eric stared for some seconds at a loss. “Wait, I don’t get this” he finally said. “What made people call you gay? Is it because of these pictures? We have numerous made models who showcase their muscles like this but that does not make them gay. Who called you that anyways?”
Michael swallowed and bent over the laptop, launched a site he hadn’t been able to keep looking at. There was silence for a very long time and Michael took a second to marvel at the speechless state of Eric. Eric was never caught unawares; he was always very vocal, no matter the situation. After a very long silence, Eric finally spoke. “It would have been better if the picture did not look a whole lot like you” he murmured.
Michael sighed and went to the massive glass which oversaw the large city. Cars and human beings went about looking like ants from his vantage point. He had always felt in control here, in this office. Nothing shook him, even his office made him look larger than life but someone somewhere had totally gone round all his defenses and brought him to his toes. Who had he offended which was capable of this?
“This is bad Michael, really bad. This alone can ruin your life and reputation. My God! Being gay is now against the law”
Michael sighed again, finally going to sit down. “Alexander was here”
Eric winced. Michael’s gaze looked haunted. Eric did not like this. “I can imagine what it must have been like”
Michael smiled painfully. “No, you can’t. It was all like a movie man, I have never seen Alexa that way, she looked so hurt; so shattered” Michael swallowed.
“Give her time, she would get over it”
Michael laughed. “She can get over a cheating man, a dishonest man or any other trait, but a gay? I don’t think so. She didn’t even believe a word I said in my defense; what is there to believe anyways, there is evidence which says the exact opposite.”
Escaping into her room had been very easy for Alexa, with Patricia’s help. After the two ladies had jumped on each other like two years old kids, Alexa had hurriedly greeted everyone, and then faced Patricia who dragged her towards her room. As Alexa went, she caught the frown on her mum’s face and knew she was not out of trouble yet.
Patricia slammed the door and turned to Alexa. “Oh my, look at this yesterday’s infant”
“Cut it out now before I tickle you” Alexa threatened, grinning. Of all the things that Alexa thought possible this fateful day, she had never imagined grinning happily while her sentencing tool lay in her bag. She dropped the bag inside her wardrobe hurriedly and closed the wardrobe before Pat decided to do what she did best, investigate. Alexa jumped on the bed, trying desperately to look as happy as she should. Patricia was almost like a best friend to Alexa, apart from being a cousin. Alexa felt that it was due to the closeness of their mothers.
“So, how was yanki?”
“Hmmm, it was good and stressful”
Alexa raised her brow. “That is what you all say, does that explain why you are looking so fresh? I could not stop boasting whenever I saw you on air; you have made waves even in a foreign land”
Patricia laughed. “Oh, come on. What of you? I have watched too many movies which were written by you. You are looking much more stunning also; I almost did not recognize you”
Alexa smiled. She was sure that her face alone was enough to stun people because she had just received exceedingly stunning news. Alexa loved writing, it was the only thing that she knew she did flawlessly. Leaving the house had been good for her because she had been able to write without disturbance. Patricia also wrote but her only niche was writing reports and articles after thorough investigation, Alexa wrote stories and novels.
Patricia turned serious. “Yes, I could not wait to get here. Are you still with Michael Coker, the guy you always told me about?”
Alexa swallowed and wondered how to answer the question. If she said yes, she knew that it would only take few seconds for Patricia to know that it was a lie; if she said no, it was certain that Pat would ask why.
“Why do you ask?” Alexa said instead.
“I want to know, why else would I ask?” Patricia pushed.
“Why do I have the feeling that you came back from Canada to interrogate me?” Alexa asked.
“Maybe because you feel I am so concerned about you, which is correct, so, answer me. Are you with him?”
“Yes or no?” Pat pushed.
“No” Alexa yelled. “You are such a pest, you have not been back for ten minutes and you are already under my skin”
“Oh, great. Then my first assignment in Nigeria has been made easy” Patricia sighed.
“What does that mean?” Alexa didn’t like this.
“I have been seeking for a transfer back to Nigeria for over six months but ‘Tellers’ had been postponing my request. All of a sudden I was granted the transfer over a week ago, I knew they needed me.” she paused and frowned. “When did you both break up?”
Alexa swallowed. “Today”
“Wow. Oh my God!” she wrapped her arms around Alexa who shrugged off, refusing to be pitied. “So, you were saying?”
“Do you know about the ‘gay’ stuff?”
Alexa winced. This bizarre news had spread throughout the globe and it would just be a matter of hours before her parents heard of it.. She closed her eyes and managed a nod.
“I am sorry I asked; it must hurt badly. Although, as I was saying, a day before I got on the plane, I received my first assignment. Michael Coker is my first assignment; I have to get the facts from the man himself.”
Alexander got her breakthrough some hours later. Just like a miracle, everyone seemed to vanish. Her mum was dragged along by Aunt Prisca, reasons unknown, both her dad and Uncle Tony had to rush off to their various hospitals to attend to emergencies. Aunt Prisca had talked ceaselessly with Patricia until Pat agreed to go home and rest. When Belina had tried to get off Prisca’s claws, Alexa had combined forces with her Aunt in order to make sure her mum left the house. Alexa saw the curious and suspicious look on her mum’s face but she didn’t care, she would find a perfect excuse for her mum later when the time came. It was such a relief to finally be alone. After seeing everyone off to their cars, Alexa quickly retreated to her room.
After closing the door, she dashed to the wardrobe and pulled out her bag clumsily. After removing the test sticks, she ran into the toilet. She took out a bowl, forced out urine from her bladder and threw the two sticks into the urine. She saw on the pack that the sticks needed to stay in the urine for five minutes. She swallowed as her hands shook uncontrollably. She left the toilet and went to the kitchen, filled a cup with water and drank everything at a go. She felt dizzy as she went back into the room some minutes later. Alexa stared at the toilet door for what seemed like hours until she finally mustered the strength to open it. She walked to the bowl with her heart in her mouth and shakily took out the sticks. The two sticks had the same sign. Her eyes blurred until it finally settled on the (+) sign on the sticks.