The weeks drone by as Emeka falls deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole that he created for himself so long ago. Cassie is like cocaine, he knows that she is bad for him and is ruining her life but he is hopelessly addicted.The situation at home is deteriorating, he has not touched his wife in weeks and the responsibilities of work are drawing him further and further away from his children. His concentration is waning because of the constant state of flux that he has allowed to surround him.
As the weeks continued to batter at his jaded mind, his work began to slip. He is late on deadlines and is not as sharp as he once was. Only the few people closest to him begin to notice and the only reason that his fall in performance was not more widely noticed was because of the amazing team that he had the wisdom to put around him. Now they were more valuable than ever as Emeka was forced to delegate more and more work.
“Mr. Jones.” Janet said coolly one morning after he had been in his funk for weeks.
“Mr. Vincent has requested your presence.”
“Was it really a request?”
“Can your boss ever really request something from you?” She shot back as she turned on her heel and strolled out of the room.
Emeka stood heavily and ambled over to the Chairman’s office wondering what the man could want from him at this very moment.
“Dante,” he said, knocking and stepping through the door in one movement. “I understand you wanted to see me.”
“Yes, Emeka, have a seat. I want to know what has been bothering you these last few weeks. Your performance has declined drastically and more importantly you do not look healthy.”
“It’s minor some stuff, nothing to really disturb you with.” He said. When the older man refused to reply Emeka rushed to fill the gap the silence occupied.“It’s family related. There are some pressure points in my household.”
“What kind of pressure points?” Dante asked levelly.
“My wife and I are having a disagreement about her working.”
“Does she work too much?”
“She does not work at all, that is where the bone of contention lies. She wants to go back and practice law and I am not really in support.”
“I think it’s great that she wants to go and become a productive member of society.”
“You know, I can understand where she is coming from but I want her to be able to relax, not have to worry about a boss or deadlines or any of the things that comes with a stressful career.”
“Emeka,” the chairman said as he shook his head. “You are so intelligent in some areas and so lost in others. Is the reason you wake up every money and come to Constellation industries to face challenges purely money? I know that you will answer me no because someone that is only after the money will never be able to do it like you do.”
“So what is she looking for, fulfillment?”
“That is not a question I can answer for you but look at it this way. What would you do to the man that refused to allow you to follow your passion? A man that forced you into a subservient role that you know in your heart was not meant for you.”
“I would fight him, with every ounce of strength that my body contained and not stop until the rights were wronged.”
“Really? Then why do you treat your wife in such a manner? In a manner subservient to you and one that does not stimulate her intellectually? I have met your wife and I have spoken with her, I know that she is an incredibly intelligent person and that it is only out of the love and respect she has for you that she has not gone out and done what is on her mind.”
“Wow.” Emeka said after being struck dumb by the new revelation he had just been handed. “I never once looked at it from that perspective but at the same time she needs to look at it from my perspective.”
“And what exactly is your perspective?”
“I feel that she should not have to work hard and provide for a household when I do enough of that for two.”
“Well, I can only give you my advice but do not push her away because you have an erroneous opinion of what is best for her.”
“No, I can never push Hadija away.”
“It is understandable that you feel that way, the ones we love the most are often the ones that we disregard the most. I made that mistake and I hope that you do not repeat it. Enough of that dreary subject, how is my little princess?”
“Phoebe? She is fine and growing like a weed. I do not know what that woman I have kept in my house is feeding her but I know that I don’t want her to stop.”
“Well said Emeka,” Dante replied with a laugh. “I have held you here for too long but I thank you for entertaining an old man.”
“It is I who should be thanking you.” He said as he stood to leave.
“Emeka, understand that in order to live a truly wonderful life, all things must be taken in moderation.”
“Thank you sir, your words mean more than you may ever know.”
Emeka walked slowly to his office, contemplating the thinly veiled warning The Chairman had given him as a parting statement. Lost in his reverie, he did not immediately notice the man sitting in his chair until he nearly stumbled into him.
“Jonathan, what are you doing here?” he asked his childhood friend and Cassie’s boyfriend.
“Good to see you too old friend. What’s wrong with you? You look under the weather.”
“It’s nothing, what brings you to the office? Came to see Cassie I suppose.” He replied while leaving Jonathan in his chair and sitting down across from him.
“Well yes but I really came to talk to you about something.”
“It must be important, otherwise you would have called. Well what is it?”
“It is, the most important decision I think I will ever make.”
“Uh oh, what?” Emeka said anxiously.
“I want to marry Cassie and I want you to be my best man.”
“What?” The president gasped while all the blood drained from his face.
“Emeka, don’t look so surprised, you knew I was going to get married eventually.” Jonathan said cheerfully, misinterpreting Emeka’s reaction.
“Yes, but not to her.” The disoriented man replied.
“Well, you are the one who introduced us so you should be proud of yourself.”
“Why this girl, why didn’t you just fuck her and dump her like all the rest? What makes her so special?”
“Well, she is gorgeous, intelligent, well mannered, and cultured. You know that I travel a lot; I have seen the world and a vast array of women but never has any one so captured my mind like Cassie.”
“Jonathan, I’m not sure she would be such a good fit for you?”
“And why not?”
“She is a career woman, I know that you want to travel the world with your partner and she will not be able to do that with you.”
“We have to make sacrifices in marriage right?”
Emeka had no immediate answer for that but eventually, he told his friend. “I do not think she is a good match for you.”
“It’s just the way I feel.” Emeka said, not wanting to reveal the whole truth.
“What is your problem, you have been passive aggressive this entire conversation. This is the first woman that I have ever been serious with and you are not supporting me!” Jonathan shouted.
“Calm down my friend, you should know that I have your best interests at heart.”
“Best interest be damned, either you are with me or against me, there is no middle ground!”
“What kind of statement is that? You are willing to throw away decades of friendship for a woman that you have known for all of one year!” Emeka shouted back, rising to the challenge.
“I expected more from you Emeka, there is no one on earth I would rather spend this moment with than you. If you refuse to support me then you refuse our friendship. I bid you good luck and good life.” Jonathan said levelly as he stood and stormed out of the large office.
“You are a fool Jonathan, you will regret the day you decided to throw the advice of your best friend to the winds.” Emeka shouted at Jonathan’s quickly retreating back.
The argument drained the rest of Emeka’s waning strength and he slumped in the chair that Jonathan had vacated.How much more will I sacrifice for this illicit dance with the devil? He thought to himself.
Emeka watched helplessly as he fell from the pinnacle he had obtained to the very depths of despair all because he could not control his baser instincts. As he took stock of his situation, he knew that he only had himself to blame and that only he could draw himself out of it.
It was time to do what he knew how to do best, form a plan of action and attack; the first step would be to appease his wife.