Monday, 29 June 2015

Fucking Interns: Ebony Ambition (episode 3)

                                   







DAY 16
9.30 hours

“Hey, how are you, colleague?” The bum by the Glitz building called sweetly as I stood at the pavement in deep thought. I was holding everyone’s coffees in my own moment of dilemma as the scraggly woman waving her fingers with dirt-clogged cuticles in my face was being very illustrative about how her business was on the boom. “I could open up a chain of assorted saliva stores around the country. There’s high demand for my spit, but you know that already. Haha. I am going to be huge. Think… Starbucks! Only this time I’ll call it SpitBuckets. Haha. I make lots of flavours of my spit, package them in very cool disposable see-through plastics. They would go viral! You think so?”

But my mind was elsewhere. All I was staring at was a crazy woman moving her hands fiercely before me with smoke-charred lips opening and shutting in rapid succession. I could turn back this minute and leave. I could quit Glitz. I could be out of everyone’s hair. I had done some thinking all through the night as Maggie’s words reverberated in my head. What the hell was I doing at a place I wasn’t needed anyway?

My phone beeped, notifying a text coming in from Winfred, my e(ee)vil boss. He was going to berate me for being late. He was going to demand why his coffee wasn’t up on his desk already along with all the other Perfect Interns’ coffees, why must I be so thick I couldn't run a simple errand, huh? Huh? The last thing I wanted to do was read anything from him—I quickly hit delete. I could stand here all day, contemplating a very good decision I’d come to throughout my night’s sleep. Or I could…

I brushed past the bum, walked towards a nearby bin and dumped the plastic cups of coffee in them.

“Hey, I hadn’t even spat in them yet!” The bum ran to assess the damage. I turned from the bin, moved towards the end of the sidewalk and raised my hands to a passing taxi that screeched too close to my feet.

For a moment, I spun towards the building holding the taxi’s door ajar, looking up the length of the skyscraper, early morning sun splattering across the chrome and glass. This was the last time I’d be seeing Glitz and I had to say my sayonaras.

I had this feeling on this summer day when you were gone…

My phone began blaring Icona Pop’s I Love It, a song the butt interns and I had come to love during one club-hopping event we’d stumbled upon a hole-in-the-wall nightclub whose DJ never ended the night without this hit from the band. Clubbing, it was one of the habits I’d taken on that I surprisingly loved. And here was the butt intern who’d introduced me to the wild, loud, people-fucking-in-bathrooms nightlife of Accra I equally loved.

“Taylor?” I answered curiously. “How are you doing?” It was a preliminary request to make sure in spite of last night's throwing-up incident she was faring well before I revealed I was quitting.

The taxi driver muttered something impatient at me, and I remembered I was keeping him waiting. I let him leave realizing I’d only stopped it on the impulse of my sod-you moment to my horrible boss and never considered if my funds were enough to afford it.

“Kobby, I am not doing well.” Taylor spoke down the line. True to her words, her voice was no longer oozing that definitive bass that marked her lively presence. Before I could ask why, she went on, “I was supposed to deliver some items to this fashion shoot taking place at twelve at this new hotel that needed publicity from the magazine, so it was opening its doors to…”

“Taylor, you’d have to speak louder, I can’t hear anything!” I shouted over the huge truck that was hurtling by.

“So we are supposed to be having a shoot at twelve at this hotel. And I was put in charge of booking the emerald Givenchi gown and this amazing matching Swarovski ring—which I did. I was also supposed to get the model—she’s famous in the industry, a bit of a diva too—also to the shoot. My head is pounding Kobby, I don’t think I can…”

I tuned out. A chill ran down my spine. If I was hearing right, she was asking me to run her errand for her. “No.” The word flew out of my lips before I could stop it.

“Kobby, this is huge. If I do not get the items there before twelve, I’d be fired. It’s the magazine’s COVER shoot. And I don’t think I could handle this task with my head feeling like someone was singing a Sarah Mclachlan song close to it.”

“Taylor, listen, I quit my job. I’m not anyone’s errand boy…” But she wasn’t listening to me.
“Kobby, this favour, please.” The urgency in her voice was riveting. How did she get herself into this mess anyway? Throughout our time partying to Icona Pop and barking at the top of our lungs lyrics we knew were so wrong, Taylor always found her way back to work looking fresh and rosy. I had figured she was one of those people who could hold their drink well. Why did today have to be different? Why wasn’t she bouncing in all rosy-cheeked and cracking jokes and leading us, butt interns, vandalize the bathroom walls and stalls' doors(—If you haven't read anything this year, here's something to enjoy as you shit: Flush Afterwards!!!) and other magazine property. In that instant, I realized how I’d miss her if I left.

“Taylor, you say this shoot cannot be rescheduled? And you can’t get anyone from your department to do this job for you?” I found myself asking.

“Kobby, you know how they treat us butt interns. News would go around about my negligence and I’d be fired. Seriously, you were the first person I thought of who could help. I’m relying on you.”

Oh Christ, when she put it that way how could I resist? It was a long time since starting out at Glitz that I’d felt this needed. Someone thought I was someone they could rely on with something more important than coffee and their lunch. I was needed.

Before I knew it, I was hopping into a taxi as Taylor droned on.

“So get this list down, the ring, the dress and the model. You take them all to…” She began barking directions of every nook and cranny I’d have to ply to get to the hotel.

“I got it, Taylor.” I said finally after jotting all the stuff I needed in my Little Big Black Book. “All this before twelve?” A rush of adrenalin flooded my system. I was needed.

“I knew I could count on you, Kobby.”

“Kobs,” I quickly spoke over her. “My friends call me Kobs.” But the line clicked dead.

I was needed. I couldn’t really feel like a failure anymore.                

10.10 hours
“Please keep the engine running.” I shouted into the taxi before dashing off into the clothes shop at Oxford Street.

I was at the counter in record time, interrupting a customer already in conversation with a shopping assistant. “Hi, I am from Glitz. I came here to make a pickup. This emerald Givenchi dress that—“

“The dress for the Glitz cover shoot?” The shopping assistant inquired as though it wasn’t all too obvious. I had a sense of foreboding that this dress might not be available. Then she confirmed it. “It had been brought back from a shoot by Abrefa magazine. Some stains on it. We had to take it to the cleaners.”

Right. Just what I needed. “When would it arrive? Fifteen-thirty minutes?”

“Roughly an hour and a half.” She responded commiseratively. “It was among a pile of other clothes. So we are looking at a while.”

I sighed defeatedly. But then I shot up to an upright position. I was needed. I couldn’t let negativity overwhelm me. Taylor needed me to stay positive in order to get her to keep her job.  “I have a lot of places to be.” I said importantly. “But I’ll be here exactly in an hour and a half to get the dress.”

“An hour and half, it is.”

I run out of the shop, apologizing to the taxi driver for taking a while and firing a quick text to Taylor to inform on the current state of affairs.

“What?!” It was a wrong idea briefing her in. “Kobby, this cannot be happening. Promise you’d go get it!”

For someone who needed me she sure knew how to sound like she didn’t. Wasn't it only minutes ago being polite to a co-worker when making a request was so in? Ohh Fashion. I can’t keep up. I just can’t keep up. “Taylor, calm down. You could rely on me. I’d get it all to the place before twelve.”
10. 45 hours.
Unlike the boutique, the jewellery shop was flooded with over five assistants pacing the length of the shop waiting for a customer to walk in.

“Hello, sir.” One of the shopping assistants approached me with a smile. Fancy being called sir. I smiled back. “What do you want to get?”

“A ring—“

“Mm, someone special?” She broke in to ask, arching her fashionably bushy brows curiously. Before I could answer, “Layyydiees, another ring-buyer with a special person in mind.”

Oooh.Disembodied voices gave fake—and from the sounds of it—rehearsed croons from their corners of the shop.

She quickly led me to the counter where the rings were glaring at me in all sizes, all cuts, all carats, all splendour. Suddenly, I was tempted to make a purchase in case someone special came around.

“You are pretty young, don’t you think?” A man in his thirties who looked expensive in a designer suit who had been speaking to another shopping assistant turned to me. “Oh, they really got it all wrong.” I could feel myself blushing with mortification. “I’m just here to make a pickup.” I turned to the assistant who’d led me to the counter. “I’m here concerning a Swarovski ring—" I recalled Taylor's description. "—an emerald-cut diamond ring for a Glitz cover shoot?” She stared at me darkly as though I’d aided her to jump over a cliff of her own conclusions. She gestured to the girl behind the counter and walked away to another customer who’d just walked in to browse the wrist-watch section.

“I’m proposing to my girlfriend.” The man with canescent George Clooney hair that actually looked good on him despite being dark-skinned spoke giddily. “Right this afternoon.” He made small talk as the counter-girl bagged his purchase. “At Le Tandem.”

I’d heard of the place. A friend who doubled as my lifestyle guru, Charlene, had told me it was like stepping right into something at the back streets of Paris. “Fancy.” I couldn’t help but be delighted for him. “You’d go down on one knee?” I asked nonchalantly, my gaze betraying my hidden anxiety as it focused on the assistant tardily packaging the man’s purchase like she had all the time in the world. If I stared at her lips closely, I could see her humming a tune. Could I yell at her to audition for the X-factor if she thought she was good enough?

“No, who does that anymore?” The man laughed a nervous laugh. For a second I thought he was being reproachful of my thoughts.  “I was thinking of getting the chef to put the rings in a cake.”

Really, who does that anymore?

“It’s her birthday.” He quickly spoke noticing my look. “She wouldn’t see it coming.”
“Mr. Aryee.” The shopping assistant came closer to us brandishing the man’s ring box in her hand showcasing a beautifully cut stone over a golden band. Wow. I stopped myself from gasping before I did.   “Here’s your purchase. Hope she says yes.”

“She better does! I’d pester her until I get a positive answer.” He responded in a way that assured me he’d be risking getting a restraining order in his quest.

I smiled at him as he left the shop with an excited swagger.

“So, you are from Glitz?” The shopping assistant pulled a ring box from behind the counter before I could speak.

I quickly thanked her and ran out of the shop.

11.15 hours.

“Hell-ooo?” I called upon reaching the apartment at Jewel of the Ridge. I braved twisting the doorknob and to my surprise, the door creaked open.

I wouldn’t have barged in like this. I would have waited for my call to be answered before stepping into a stranger’s home. But I could no longer think of a reason to stay waiting out there when behind the door I could hear sounds of shattering glasses and the high-rung voice of a woman (was she angry?) wailing at the top of her lungs.

I stepped in and found a vase coming at me before I could figure out my next step into the room. I quickly ducked and clutched my ears at the shattering sound that went off over the wall behind me. What the hell…

“Who the heck are you?”

I stared up at a tall, bony thirty-ish woman with frizzy corkscrew hair and a wild look, in sweatpants standing amidst a room of shattered pieces of glass and overturned furniture. “I’m here to take you to the Glitz cover shoot? You are Ebony, I’m hoping?” It had to be. Taylor had been understating things claiming this model was a bit of a diva. A home-wrecker, that was what she was. But I made sure not to look like I was really concerned about her trashing her own apartment. Normal to me, normal to me.

“I can’t call in sick, can I?” She asked after a few seconds of realizing she had somewhere to be in forty-five minutes time. Forty-five minutes?!

“Could I get you any painkillers?” I said tentatively.

A loud fearsome laughter escaped her lips. Why did she need a bat to destroy glass? “I like you already?” You do? “But I’m not sure I can get through this today.” She collapsed into a nearby overturned sofa. “My boyfriend just took off and left. If painkillers could cure a broken heart I’d take an overdose.”

I contemplated how I’d respond to that. It should be funny. It should be spontaneous. She liked funny and spontaneous. It had to be something to convince her enough to get dressed and walk out with me. “Um, I… study psychology?”

11.20 hours.
I had meant that as a spontaneous and funny line. Sadly, Ebony the crazy model with a broken heart and a big mouth couldn’t stop offloading her boy-drama. And now, as we waited out the street for another taxi to pull by after the one she wouldn’t let us get in until she finished speaking, she wanted me to shed some light on her dilemma.

“I think you should fight for him.” I advised with a vigorous nod. “I mean, from all you’ve said he seems like a nice guy?” From what I’d gathered from her in toto description of their raunchy, hot sex-life. 

“I wouldn’t throw myself at a guy.” She squawked. “I know him. This is one of his stunts. He’d come back. He always does.” Then as an afterthought “You think he would right?”

“Definitely.” She shot me a beckoning glance, encouraging  me to elaborate. I stared around for inspiration. Anything to prevent her from preventing us from getting into another taxi. My gaze miraculously fell on the ring box I was clutching in my hand. “He might be doing all this because he wants to propose! He doesn’t want you to see this coming. Perhaps he’s waiting for your birthday! So he could get down on one knee or present the ring in a cake.”

She nodded assent, a cloud enveloping her gaze. She distractedly pulled the ring box from my grip. “Yes,” she said more to herself than me. “He’s going to ask me to be his wife. I’d turn him down, of course!” She was back to reality. “The idea of devoting my life to a single guy. No, this Leo wasn’t made for monogamy. Chubby,” she fixed me with grateful stare.

“It’s Kobby.”

“You have a cellulite.” She waved dismissively. “Thank you for helping in my moment of need. You’d speak to my people to communicate your charges? Do you have a place? Could I book an appointment? Do you do reiki? All the fashion psychics do that these days.

A giggle almost broke out till my phone began screaming Icona Pop. I looked at the caller ID: Winfred Boss. Suddenly, my own dilemma surfaced. I clenched my jaw tight with determination. I was making the right choice quitting my job. I wasn’t needed. I hit the disconnect button. He could go get his own coffee. I was needed here for more important things than caffeine-supply.

“Kobby?”

I turned to Ebony with my brightest smile, hoping to tuck away the anger that was rambling deep within. She was staring over the ring box dubiously. “Is anything wrong?” My heart was going hundred beats per second.

“The ring?”

I quickly snatched the box before she could continue and released a huge breath realizing the ring was in its case. God, I’d have plunged myself into this street had it been missing. But why was Ebony staring at me with a confused expression. What was wrong with her?

“I don’t think you have the right ring.” She said finally and went on about a load of explanations to prove her claim, but I wasn’t listening. Taylor’s words seeped into my memory, this emerald Givenchy dress that matched with the ring. I jolted up right on the pavement. Fear zinging through me like an electric shock.

11.35 hours.
“Hello? Oh Christ, thank you for answering!” I barked sarcastically over the hum of the taxi. “I’ve been calling you for ages.” I said to the assistant on the other end of the phone. Ebony and I were heading to go pick up the dress, and would make a stop by the jewellery shop to pick up the right ring. See, all this could be fixed. There had been no need to have called Taylor and sent her in panic, yelling at me on the phone. In no time, I’d be dropping the dress, the model, and the ring before twelve. I looked down at my wrist-watch. OK, maybe perhaps I’d be pardoned for being five minutes late. Or ten. Or twenty. Really, everyone knew the last work ethic a Ghanaian employee would work on was being time-conscious. And until I handed in my resignation I was still a Ghanaian employee.
“What?!” I shrieked down the line in utter bewilderment, sending the driver jabbing at his brake on the highway and almost getting his boot connected to the headlights of a Chevrolet that drove behind us.
“The ring. That was the last in stock. A purchase was made this morning.” The shopping assistant repeated.
An avalanche of memories let loose at her words, flooding my nervous system. The man in the shop! His ring! His ring that matched with the Givenchi dress! He was going to propose to his girlfriend at twelve! The ring would no longer be an accessory for the shoot…
Not if I had anything to do with it!
“Driver, to Le Tandem at once!"
11.50 hours.
Winfred’s coffee. I’d dropped it in the garbage on impulse. A rash decision that was surely going to lead to consequences I could not foresee. What if he got his hands on my testimonials? Wrote shitty things about me for any future employer who might consider me capable for his vacant position? What if… oh Winfred could go straight to the part of Hell where horrible bosses went! The last thing on my mind was him and his stupid coffee. I was about making another rash decision whose consequences I hadn’t considered.


“You are really going to bust this ring?” Ebony asked as the taxi drew nearer to the plush, touristy neighbourhood of Accra in which the restaurant resided.

“I think so.” I nodded weakly.

The taxi’s screech rang loud in my ears as though announcing to me I could stop being a wimp and get this over with.

“Hey, anything, you decide, I’m in it with you.” Ebony said, a little too pleased to pass as comforting. It was as though she was thriving on the rush of attempting a felony. I wanted to bark at her this was serious, and stealing a ring that cost thousands wasn’t the appropriate cure to the common breakup, and damn bitch, she really did need help. But unfortunately, she began going on about how we were supposed to steal this ring. Then it hit me.

I didn’t have a plan!

The taxi driver yelled at us to pay him and leave his car.

“We could chop off her ring finger so he doesn’t get to propose.” Ebony said behind me as we crossed the street to the restaurant whose wide see-through glass window was blocked by a magnificent posh, red convertible. “We could threaten him with a fork in order to procure the ring. We could hit her with a roller blade from the kitchen as she’s heading for the bathroom.”

I wanted to scream at her to shut up. Her suggestions weren’t helping. I needed to think of a plan. A practical one free from the impact of the restricted mental capacity of someone suffering a broken heart. But thankfully, she went silent before I could yell at her.
I walked into the restaurant, darting my gaze from one side of the room to another searching for my target. Of course, if I saw him, a plan would come to mind. And I wouldn’t have to steal that ring. I could just pry it from his fingers if it was one of those rare days I believed in my persuasion powers.

But my target was nowhere in sight. The room was full of Chinese tourists, a few Lebanese and fewer rich Ghanaians who could afford the exorbitant prices places like this charged for a glass of ‘sparkling’ water. Among the three couples of Ghanaians, a lonely girl sat on the table at the centre of the restaurant. Was she waiting for this guy? Suddenly, a thought dawned on me at how foolish I was being. What if this guy was just running his mouth at the jewellery shop? What if he was just some lowly servant picking up the ring for a richer boss? I knew nothing about this man, yet I’d reasoned he didn’t own a lying bone beneath his Armani suit. I turned behind me, and realized Ebony had disappeared too. Partner in crime—my arse!

I was about stepping out of the restaurant when suddenly my target swaggered out from swing doors I presumed was the kitchen. My heart skipped beats. He hadn’t been lying! He had been telling the truth! Oh, Christ, what did it matter now? I just had to get the ring and leave the place.

I had to steal it. There was no better option I could think of. Plus I was really good at stealing stuff (—or as my mum preferred to sugar-coat it, 'taking stuff without prior permission', upon one incident I’d bawled my eyes out confessing I’d stolen money from our church’s offertory box). I was no thief. I was just a Klepto like Queen Mary. And a judge would be sympathetic to that, wouldn’t he? (Note to self: Practice royal wave for when you are acquitted of charges)
I watched the guy take his seat by the girl who’d been sitting alone, smiling conspiratorially to himself. I would go to the kitchen he’d just come out from, and would find out which bloody chef he’d given the ring to and would nick it just like that. I could do this. I was needed. I couldn’t let Taylor down.

Hurriedly, I crossed the room to the kitchen. The cooks were too busy tossing off things in the air and catching them right back in their pans to notice. Then I saw it, the cake! Over a counter! A chef standing by it! Shoving the ring—the ring! The ring! The ring!—into it. He turned over to his colleagues to ask where the icing machine was. Foolishly, he looked away, and stepped away from a cake that was now worth thousands of cedis. It was my moment to go make my claim—

Wham!

I was out of the kitchen in record time. I stepped back into the restaurant, and made an attempt to dash for the door.

I had this feeling on this summer day when you were gone…

Icona Pop came to life in my pocket, shattering the quiet of the restaurant. Oh no. My breath stilled. What thief was I if I couldn’t switch off my phone before a heist? And why was everyone looking at me as though I was giving off guilty vibes? Must look normal, must look normal. Thankfully my phone turned silent. I had to run out quick.

“Hey, you.” My worst fears happened. Ring Man had recognized me and was beckoning me over. “You were the guy at the jewellery shop weren’t you?”
Oh Lord! He looked so excited you’d think he was happy for meeting an old friend—if he only knew, if he only knew.

I shook my head fiercely at him. But he already saw the cake in my hands. Then—oh, shoot me now—he looked over the top of it to see his girlfriend’s name written over it in pink cream. If I wasn’t cutting back on sugar I’d have licked that right then and there. But I was staring at this guy, who was staring fiercely back at me. I realized what compromising position I was in. He’d told me all about his plans, and here I’d showed up, about to take off with the ring. A dark patch run down my thigh. It would be the last time I’d be peeing without a police officer looking over my shoulder so I had to take advantage of the opportunity. My days in a cell flashed before my eyes. I’d die in a prison cell. But I could give my life to Christ, and get out for good behaviour, couldn’t I? If only I could muster courage to preach the Good News to inmates who weren’t thinking so much of a god when they’d stabbed someone to death there was still hope.

I had this feeling on this summer day when you were gone…

My phone blared once more to serve as a distraction to the man glaring at me over  his place on the table, with his girlfriend darting curious glances in my direction and wondering why the hell her man was staring another boy head-to-toe. (Would tonight be the night she’d be getting that threesome she’d been wearing him out for? she was probably thinking, but ROFL in all her fantasies of a guy spanking her as her boyfriend watched she hadn’t been thinking of one who didn’t look a day over fifteen) But this distraction was severed when the chef broke out through the kitchen door, frantically looking around for his missing cake. Then I knew I had no option than to…

La la la la…” I began weakly. “La la la la…” I hummed to Icona Pop blaring over my phone. Shit I knew at one point in time I’d regret not learning the lyrics to a song I claimed I loved rather loudly anytime the DJ turned it up. But for the meantime, I could handle shimmying slightly to the tune? I could pretend I was handing over the cake to the couple to congratulate the girl on her anniversary. Either that or jail.

I was moving my shoulders along with the groove as I neared their table. Hmm… the girl looked interested and laughing to her boyfriend who she had no idea was about to make her his fiancĂ©e and about to kill me for ruining his moment. I guess I could whip up a few moves for her. Get into a routine for Icona Pop. Moonwalking? I spun and slid my foot backwards along the posh wooden floor. Shuffling? I guess I could hold on to the cake as I swished my foot with my hugest, goofy smile at the couple. Twerking? A few moves wouldn’t hurt my waist, except I made it a point to go down slowly in case the cake toppled over me.

Then the restaurant turned quiet. I paused mid-twerk. Shit, apparently ringing tones did not last the time it took to look not-guilty. The chef neared me. But I wouldn’t let him get to me. I was struck by inspiration. Either that or jail. And hell, I’d prefer being inspired than being in jail.

I got this feeling on this summer day when you were gone!” I screamed out the first line I  knew quite too well, bobbing my head as though I was made of silly stuff. “I…” my voice faltered. “… I might have thrown myself over the bridge and…” died?And swam ashore to find yoooooouu.”

Minutes later, before I knew it, no one could stop me. I was butchering Icona Pop and pretty much rendering it the ideal love song you’d be in the mood for if you were about to get hitched. And surprisingly, the guests of the restaurant were clapping along to my song and dance.

The foreigners were nuts for a little cultural moves. The Chinese! Don’t you just love them! They were grinning and whipping out their phones like this act deserved a place on YouTube.com.cn. If the foreigners were sold, why wouldn’t the Ghanaians be? It was so obvious with their claps and the swishing off their heads from side-to-side, they were having an internal monologue with themselves: If whites liked this shit, why wouldn’t I? I guess I could be white for a day.

I walked to the aisle and… run to youuuuuuu!” I paused in mid-shake of my bum, then jumped about part in relief and part excited to get to the chorus of the song I knew all too well! “I don’t care! I love it, I love it!” Gosh, I could throw the cake over my head and no one would give a damn. I was in the moment. I was making these people happy. I was carefree like all those dancers in the club the butt interns and I finished off our days at. Tomorrow, I didn’t have to brave work! I had no job! I could do this every day!

“Max!” A mad woman walked through the restaurant. It took me a while to realize this mad woman was Ebony. “You dumped me hours ago for this bitch?” She didn’t wait for an answer like any normal person would had they asked a question of this magnitude she was banging her hands against the table of the guy who was about to propose to his girlfriend. It really never was a right mix involving a crazy ex when you were planning a surprise proposal for your girlfriend.

It all happened too fast. Ebony was clutching at the girl’s throat. Ring Man was clutching at Ebony’s legs. Security was clutching at the man’s waist. I was dipping my hands into the cake, but that’s beside the point. Everyone was wailing in the restaurant. The chef was calling in reinforcements in the form of the police. My fingers stilled in the cake at the sound of the police. Ebony stilled at the mention of the police. Ebony ran through the exit. The whole place went quiet again.

“Happy birthday!” I said to the dishevelled girl who was crying a river, and dropped the cake on the table. I rushed out to Ebony who’d called for a taxi and yanked me into it.

“Where did you go and why did you just run out?” I demanded as I tried to control my heavy breathing.

She rolled her eyes as though I was very simple. "Chubby, I’m a model. I have coke in my panties.”

Oh.
13.00 hours.

Something was nibbling at my brain. Something I’d forgotten. Something that made me take stock like a shopkeeper would before she closed down. I had the model, the fake ring, the real ring…

“The dress!”  I wailed at Ebony who’d been cheering me on to remember. “The dress! The Givenchi dress you are supposed to wear for the shoot!”

But it was too late, the taxi came to a halt at the hotel. And Ebony ran out (—“Don’t worry, I’d go nude.”).

“Please turn around.” I barked at the taxi driver. I wasn’t going to let Taylor down. I was needed.

“Kobby!” A muffled voice from outside was calling.

I turned to see Taylor banging the rolled-up windows of the taxi. Wait, she was already here? I got out of the taxi.

“I’ve got the dress!” Taylor shouted at me as the taxi drove off the abandoned cul de sac.
“So, wait, you were here all this time and you’d lied to me?” I was hurt. I was disappointed. Yet another person who only cared about using me for errands. Did I have a big neon sign flashing across my butt saying ‘Errand Boy, Errand Boy!’?

“I’ve got some explaining to do.” She said hastily. “I wasn’t suffering a hangover. My head wasn’t pounding. I was…” she trailed off sentimentally. “I was on the verge of quitting my job.” She confessed to my surprise. Taylor was the anchor of us butt interns; someone would complain about how much their job sucked and she’d say, go throw-up in your boss' coffee. Someone would complain about how much they wanted to quit, she’d say go vandalize some company property. I never pictured her as the kind who would think of giving up even though her superior, like mine, was straight from hell.

“Yes, Kobby, just like all other Butt Interns I have my bad days wishing I could stay home and lie in bed all day.” She pointed to the premises of the towering hotel before us, and through the gates, I could see the set for the shoot being prepared by technicians on the compound. “Over there, they are about to shoot the cover for the Most Daring Women of 2015 issue. For which Ebony happens to be on. This was the first girl who put out herself topless on a trashy newspaper, Ebony?” I nodded to inform her I knew the paper. How couldn’t I have known Ebony the newspaper? It decorated stands across the country with its tacky bold, display of women with huge boobs and sexist headlines. Between the paper and the model, I didn’t know who was crazier. “Now, she’s doing runway shows across the continent. She’s walked frigging Nairobi! Nairobi!” She said as though I’d catch reference to how important that could be. For all I knew she was banging on about a tourist sitewe had our own Kakum National Park that had a walkway metres above a lake. “What I am trying to say is…?” Taylor resumed, “If she didn’t have a little ambition… where the hell would she be?”

“Rehab.” I quipped to myself.

“What?”

“Nothing.”

“Kobby, you’ve told me you’ve always wanted to be…”

I tuned out. Because ahead of me, on the dead-end street was a town car I hadn’t noticed. I saw a model in a flimsy dress twisting side to side for the perusal of someone in the car whose heels were digging into the sandy ground beneath. At one side of the model stood Taylor’s boss, the magazine’s fashion director whose name I couldn’t quite recall because we spent our conversations referring to her as Cruella de Ghana.

Taylor caught my eye and nodded as a smile flitted across her mouth. “Yes…” she said affirmatively at my questioning gaze. “yes.”

“That’s…?” I was edging towards the car before I knew it, Taylor following behind me. A magnetic force stood between me and the car, pulling me closer as though if I missed this moment I would never be able to understand my raison d’etre.

“Kobby, that’s Claudia Sharpe.” Taylor spoke as my gaze pried its way through the people standing before the car door, searching for a loose space to catch a glimpse of—“Editor-in-chief of Glitz magazine.”

I looked closely. All I saw were floating strands of a chin-length purple hair that I was familiar with from media reports, the slender body that was a rare feature for women in their sixties—including my mom who maintained she was slim and would—RAAR!—if you told her otherwise, and the pale skin that looked like it had never seen a day of sun. There sitting in the car was the woman whose position I’d been coveting since I picked up my first issue of Glitz as a boy making it through tedious Senior High. The woman I had a shrine of photos of all her work, all her media appearances, the face you’d never catch without a pair of bold cat-eyed glasses.

“Yes, Kobby.” Taylor said behind me. “It’s not a bad thing being a butt intern. It’s staying a butt intern that is the problem. We need ambition.”

And there sitting in her car with her sunglasses pulled to the top of her head was my ambition, distractedly staring at me. Her gaze fixed on me and for a matter of seconds, I basked under the weight of her attention. Was it me or were her eyes a shade lighter than the normal African eye? I couldn’t decide, because just as fast as her attention came it had gone back to the model she appeared to be dissecting. Suddenly Winfred seemed so tiny.

Winfred!

What the heck was I doing here? I didn’t belong here. I turned to Taylor and barked off orders on what she should do about the fiasco of both rings. As an afterthought, I pressed a kiss to her forehead and thanked her. I was off.

“Maggie!” I yelled into my phone as I settled into the comfy leather seats of the taxi. “I’ve been calling you! I know I’m the last person you want to see right now. But please make sure Winfred is still in his office. I know it’s already two and you have to leave. But just do this favour for me.”

“Just… get here on time.”

I rushed into the Glitz building. I brushed past the bum who was asking me if she was out of business, what she was going to do if I didn’t need her to spit in Winfred’s coffee anymore, she’d die out here. I rode up the elevator and found myself on the Intern Floor.

“Kobby!” Perfect Intern Boy and Girl cried at my presence. “Where the hell are our coffees?”

I ignored them, panting as I hunched over Maggie’s desk. I immediately thought of firing away the speech I’d rehearsed in the car, but then I caught sight of what she was wearing? Oh, Christ, why was she wearing a tulle gown with matching gloves for an internship? Why couldn’t Maggie come to work looking normal in a casual jeans and t-shirt like we all did? Oh, why do I care! “Maggie, you were right.” I launched into my speech. “Lately, I’ve been so overwhelmed being a butt intern that I didn’t see I should work my way out of it. I just thought vandalizing bathrooms, hitting the clubs after work was all there was to this internship for me. You were right telling me to make myself a little needed because no one wanted me around anymore. A little—ha! I guess I could make more effort from now on. Things would be different this time! I need…” I took in a sharp breath. “… ambition.”

A trace of a smile stayed hidden on her face then shot me severe stare. “Kobby, I see you are all in the heat of the moment. And saying all the things I want to hear. But I do not matter. Winfred does. If you do not rush up to him and say all you’ve got, forget ambition, you’d lose your job.”

“I will.” I answered, still breathless. “But promise you’d be here when I get back.” I back-pedaled towards the elevator and rushed to Winfred’s office.

“Kobby.” I was met by my boss’ icy gaze. A while ago, I would have been afraid. I would have been scared of being the focus of his withering gaze. But now, I stood up taller. I had a secret. I saw Claudia Sharpe. I had ambition. “I thought you quit.”

I almost did, the words pierced against the shut borders of my tightly-pressed lips threatening to spill over. But I ignored them. They weren’t part of the speech I’d rehearsed coming here. I walked to the middle of his large office. “I know I suck at Copy-editing. I know I suck at journalism. I know I am a simple English major. But I could learn… if you are willing to teach me. I know I’m no good for your experience and all it seems like I should do is ran errands. But I am more than an errand boy. I can learn. I want to learn—“

“Shut up.” Winfred ordered to my surprise. He had a scowl on his features as he leaned in on his desk to place his head on his fingers held upright.

Oh hell. Was this the part he threw me out? Was this the part he told me I was fired? Because if it was I promise I would charge at him. That’s what ambition did to someone. It drove them crazy. I realized I could topple Winfred’s desk over taking cues from Ebony. I couldn’t lose my job.

I watched him gesture towards his desk at about five huge bound books. “Why did I have to wait a long time for you to say those words? These books contain all you need to know about journalism.”

Until then I hadn’t realized I’d been holding my breath. I took in a large breath of air. “Thank you! Thank you so much!” I was honestly grateful. If I hadn’t wet my pants already I’d have done it all over.

He arched a brow at me like I was the silliest specimen of the human species he’d ever encountered. “You are supposed to go through every of those thousand pages in each of these books over the course of five days.”

Oh.

“And get me a coffee before you step any further to my desk.”

I was going to take up his challenge. In five days, I would have pictures of each and every page of these books ingrained in my head. Someday I could be Editor-in-chief of Glitz, or a lifestyle magazine that was equally good. But for now, I needed to stop being a butt intern. I needed to be a kick-arse copy intern.

I left to get his coffee and rushed back in record time.

“Want to go down to the pub down the street?” All but a few interns had cleared out of the hall including the Perfect Interns.

I thought for a while at Maggie’s request whilst balancing the first book among Winfred’s guides to journalism. It had been days since Maggie and I unwound with a nice bottle of beer regurgitating to each other the million reasons we hated Winfred. “Hell, yes, I’d love that.” I caught sight of something leaning against a cubicle over at the fashion department as we moseyed towards the elevator.

It was the graffiti spray Taylor and I and the other butt interns had been using for the bathroom walls. I’d leave the building. But not after I vandalized the bathroom one last time:

No One Died From A Little Ambition (That Said, I’d Finally Leave You to Shit in Peace)


Next morning, spread over all Fashion papers were mugshots of Ebony. She’d been charged for grand theft auto of a sleek red convertible. When asked to reveal the whereabouts of this car, she’d quoted Icona Pop.




Author's Note: Thanks for reading my blog. Please share with #FuckingInterns on twitter if you loved it. Till next Sunday, bye.

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