I Wish I Never Answered That Phone Call
Thirteen missed calls!
Something must be amiss!
It is not in the habit of Paulo to call someone more than three times.
Then I saw the SMS he sent me with the message: “Guy, I’ve been trying to reach you. Something came up. Please try and get in touch asap!”
Quickly, I brought out my phone and dialed his number. Anxiously, I waited as I listened to the ringing tone.
I dashed over to WhatsApp and quickly typed in a message to him.
I watched to see if the message has been received.
No sign at all. The single tick stared back at me.
I decided to shoot him an SMS as well. At least, that will get to him faster and directly, I suppose.
So I typed: “Guy, what’s the matter? Call me now!”
I didn’t want to admit it but I was already panicking.
For so many different reasons, I suppose.
I could feel my mind racing as I waited endlessly for his reply, or call, or any news at all.
Now, this whole thing is really getting serious. What could be wrong?
My first thought was his cousin.
I had a thing for her. Some five days ago I told Paul I had a bad dream concerning someone in his family involved in a terrible road accident. I told him to be very careful and prayerful because most times my dreams do come to pass.
Being who he is, he quickly dismissed my apprehension and even reminded me—by way of mockery—to tell him how many of such dreams of mine in the past, had actually happened.
I didn’t blame him at all for being such a terrible doubting Thomas. I blame my super superstitious self.
Five days ago, he had told me his cousin was traveling to some other town to visit one of their relatives or something like that.
I am not sure if he knew there was something going on between his cousin and I but I suspected he does even though, I’ve been playing it cool with his cousin—to avoid creating any unnecessary drama between us as friends—most especially now the relationship is still at its budding stage.
Don't blame me. Some guys are like that. They don't just like it when their friend is dating their relatives...
Could it be that something terribly bad has happened to her?
I quickly tried to shake off that thought but I could only try.
Why not just call her?
With palpitating heart, I placed a call to her.
I listened in great torture as the line continued to ring without any response. I tried again. And again. And again…
I couldn’t even tell what to make of this now.
Julia had this horrible habit of never picking up her calls—and most especially when you really need to talk to her—about something very important! It’s always like a gamble whether she will pick or not whenever you call her. So you can’t really tell if she was being her usual self or if something was preventing her from answering this time around… something really terrible!
I shot her a WhatsApp message too. That was like another gamble too owing to the fact that she hasn’t even logged into WhatsApp since morning.
I tried to calm myself down by doing what I normally do whenever I found myself getting worked up over something.
I tried to picture that scene I witnessed a long time ago when two daredevil mischievous kids removed their teacher’s seat because he caned them. The teacher, oblivious that his seat was no longer behind him came crashing down when he tried to sit down much to the amusement of the whole class!
For the first time in my life, that scenario didn’t amuse me in any way at all.
Because I had more worrying thoughts on my mind at the moment!
So what could be the matter now?!
Or wait a minute... could it be that Paulo has lost the money I lent him just two days ago?!
My heart turned cold with fear as the reality of this possibility dropped into my mind.
I gave him two hundred and fifty thousand Naira two days ago because he complained to me that he wanted to settle his rent with his landlord so as to avoid being thrown out.
I had borrowed the money from a very good colleague of mine but I didn’t let Paulo know this. I just told him to make sure the money will be ready in two weeks’ time… which is exactly what I told my colleague when he lent me the cash.
Problem is… Paulo is a habitual gambler!
Which was why I felt somewhat scared in rescuing him with that rent issue... but then again, what else can I do? Lord knows, he's just like a brother to me.
Could it be that he had diverted the money to any one of his numerous gambling quicksand of a cesspit?
As my closest pal, I have warned him severally to quit gambling but to no avail. He had often boasted that the day he will—in his own words—hit it big, that we all naysayers advising him against gambling will have more than enough reasons to eat our words!
Could it be that he has finally hit it big?!
With a tiny surge of hope, I tried to imagine that possibility too. After all, no one says it must be bad news all the time, huh?!
No… no… no… it’s not just possible!
That’s the same stupid hope that keeps feeding all these gamblers in their addiction!
No one… at least, no one I know has ever made it through gambling!
And I’m so sure Paulo will not be the first.
Besides, the tone of his message doesn't even suggest a palatable news.
I must call him. I must find out what was amiss. It was almost two torturing hours now since I last tried contacting him. I must call him now!
And with that resolution, I proceeded to make the call.
So I dialed his number once more!
Surprisingly, it rang.
And even more surprising, he also picked!
I tried to control my excitement by controlling my voice.
“Guy, what’s up?” I asked him in a very cool tone. I didn’t want to betray myself.
“Nothing much,” he replied in his usual gruffly voice. “But didn't you see the news this afternoon?”
The news! Since when did Paul start getting interested in the news!
“No. I didn’t. Anything serious?” I was still trying to control my voice.
“The federal government’s ban on the importation of foreign rice has been relaxed!”
Of course, that was not the type of news I was expecting to hear from him. Besides, what exactly is his business with rice importation?
“So what’s your business with rice importation?” I asked him.
“Guy, don’t you know what that means? It means that rice importers will breathe a sigh of relief,” he told me excitedly.
I still don’t get it. Was this the type of news he had me getting so worked up?
I was already beginning to get somewhat mad at him but I still managed to keep my cool. Maybe he was saving the best for the last? I know that’s usually his way…
So I decided not to push him.
But he kept on rambling about several unconnected and totally trivial matters about football, hurricanes and forex pips.
No news about Julia. No news about hitting it big in gambling…
At last, I could no longer take it.
“So, ahem, Paulo, sorry for interrupting, but this reminds me… I forgot to ask you earlier but, have you paid that rent?!”
“Of course!” he answered in affirmation.
So what the fưck exactly is what came up that he had to kill my battery with thirteen missed calls?!
Somehow I just got the feeling that he was making me to beg. Of course, he already knew how curious I can get! And of course, how hyperventilating anxious I do get whenever curiosity takes control of me!
I couldn’t wait anymore.
“So Paulo, what exactly came up? You said something came up, remember, huh?!”
“Oh… that one!" he chuckled once more, "sorry, I remember now…”
Can you imagine! He was just remembering now!
“Yeah,” he continued, “…something came up. Guy, you know you are very intelligent?"
"And you know you read a lot and you also do a lot of research on the internet?”
“Good. So I was having this very interesting discussion with some guys this after noon when an argument came up. And I decided to ask you so as to get direct information from you because I know you are so versatile and you know a lot of things…”
Feeling somewhat confused now, I asked him, “So what’s the question?”
“Yes… you remember that time Peter denied Jesus?”
“There was a cock that crowed two times…?”
I wondered what he was getting at.
“So I just wanted to know if you can tell me the name of the owner of that cock. That was why I was calling…”
What?! I couldn’t believe my ears!
“Paul, do you know you are very stupid!” I raved at him.
He burst into a ferocious laughter.
“You are a fool! A very big fool, for that matter!” I cursed at him.
He stopped laughing and said, “I got you there, didn’t I? I told you I will prank you back someday!”
He started laughing again.
“Idiot!” I cursed under my breath, and then I cut the call.
Some calls are better not answered!