Short Story: The SMS – By Francis Doku

“Last nite ws gr8. Cn we do it again nxt wk. will call later. Nice day” Jacob keyed this message on his phone, looked through his phonebook to the B section and having picked the name Beckie, he pressed the send key.  He made sure the message was sent before he put down the phone.

He had arrived at the office about 30 minutes earlier. “Kate,” he called his secretary in the adjoining office, “kindly bring me the folder on Klixtel.” Kate walked into his office a moment later with a blue folder. “What exactly are you looking for so I can pull it out for you?” Kate asked. “Thanks but I need the entire folder, I have to do comprehensive recons of their payments over the last one year. I hope every transaction is in there,” he said. “Sure,” Kate said, placed the folder on Jacob’s desk and walked briskly to her desk in the adjoining office.

Just as he was about to open the folder his phone rang. He picked it up to see who was calling. It was Becky. He picked the call, put the handset to his ear and he said with a happy tone “Hello” and the person at the other end responded in a not so happy mood “Hi, why is it taking so long to hear from you?” Becky asked.

“Why do you ask that question?” a seemingly confounded Jacob asked.

“Why do I ask that question? Because it took you so long to call me after having the sex of your life, or so you claimed, last night,” Becky retorted.

“Well sorry, but I sent you an sms a while ago,” Jacob said almost apologetically.

“You have not sent me any sms Jake. Why are you lying?”

“Why will I lie to you, Rebecca,” a bewildered Jacob said in almost a whisper. “Just about ten minutes ago I sent you a text that Iast night was great and I hope we could do it again next week and then concluded that I will call later.”

“Well I have not received any sms in the last one hour which includes ten minutes ago, so yours could not have arrived. Maybe you sent it to one of your girl friends,” she said stifling a chuckle.

“No wait; you have not received any text message from me?”

“Did I have water in my mouth when I said it the first time? I HAVE NOT RECEIVED A TEXT MESSAGE FROM YOU,” Becky screamed.

“Goddamn it I am dead, goddamn it I am dead!” he exclaimed.

“Why are you cursing?”

“I think I have sent the message to my wife, no I know I have sent the message to my wife!”

“Yieee you are dead,” she said teasingly. “But how did you do that?”

“You know I saved her name with B-E-C-K-I-E and your name B-E-C-K-Y but when I was sending the message I chose her own instead of yours.”

“Yieeee you are really dead!”

“I am really dead; I will call you back okay?”

“Okay but….” Jacob cut the line before she would finish her sentence. He got off his chair and started to walk from one corner of the office to the other muttering to himself “what do I do, what do I do” for about five minutes.

He walked back to his chair, sat down and decided to call his wife. He picked the phone, went through her phonebook to the B section and having picked the name Beckie, he pressed the call button but he cut the call before it would ring.

He looked at his palm and saw the sweat. He touched his brow and felt the moist – beads of sweat were forming. He looked at the split air conditioner on the wall and it was at the lowest temperature – 16.

He pressed the call button on the phone again and this time he allowed it to ring. The phone rang through to the end. He called again but no one picked the call. He tried the third time and yet again the phone rang to the end without anyone picking. He tried the fourth time and it was the same result.

He took out his handkerchief and wiped the beads of sweat that had now become palpable from his forehead. “What do I do now?” he asked himself. After thinking for a minute or two he picked up the handset of the Vodafone branded landline phone on his desk and dialed 0 for front desk. “Ama, can you kindly call my wife on her office line for me?” he sad and hanged up. He put his head on the desk and started to tap his left foot on the carpet pa pa pa pa pa pa pa pa pa “cring cring” the phone rang and he picked it up in haste.

“Hello,” he said.

It was Ama the receptionist at the other end “Mr. Asante, I was told your wife is in a meeting and would call back immediately she is done.”

“How many minutes?” he asked Ama

“I have no idea, but her secretary said it won’t be long,” Ama explained.

“Thank you very much, Ama,” he said, hanged up and sighed.

He opened the folder Kate brought to him earlier and tried to make a sense of the contents. He was not seeing an anything written in there. He closed the folder. He got off the chair and walked to the door. Jacob opened the door and eased himself out of his office, walked through the adjoining office where Kate and another colleague were seated.

He turned right through the corridor and took left at the end to the washroom. He stood over the water closet, unzipped his flap, brought out his manhood to urinate but for about three minutes no urine dropped. He put it back and zipped the trousers. He walked to the mirror and looked at himself. “I think I have grown old in the last ten minutes,” he soliloquized. He washed his hands and went back to his office.

When he entered the office his phone was ringing and when he rushed to pick it up, it was his wife’s office line. He looked up to the ceiling and then picked the call.

“Hello Jacob here,” he said.

“Yeah Jake, it’s me, I understand you called a while ago,” Rebecca said.

“Yes I did…..I was calling to….to….find out how you were,” he struggled to say.

“I don’t get it Jake, its 10am and you have not done anything like that in the last four years,” she responded questioningly.

“Of course, but I mean people change, don’t they.”

“So you’ve changed, but please tell me the real reason why you called. You don’t call the entire day until you are on your way coming to pick me home.”

“Well I was trying to reach you on your mobile phone but there was no response so I called your office…”

“Just to find out how I am?” she cut him. “Well I left my phone at home. I only realized it when you dropped me off this morning and I wanted to call the school to find out how Maame was,” she said.

Jacob heaved a silent sigh and made the sign of the cross. “Actually I was trying to find out if you were able to call the teacher,” he capitalized on the situation.

“Well I am fine, but I was not able to call her because I left my phone and I have not memorized her number. I am sure she will be fine. And so if you have nothing else to say can we end this conversation so I can go back to work and we talk later when you pick me up,” she suggested.

“Sure. Will pick you up in the evening and do remember I love you.”

“I will and I love you too,” Rebecca said before hanging up.

“O God, thank you,” Jacob said as he punched the air!

Jacob Asante had been married for five years to Rebecca Amoah. Maame their only daughter was three years old. Jacob worked as an investment advisor with a brokerage firm at Asylum Down while Rebecca works as a partner in one of the leading law firms at Labone both in Accra.

They had moved into their own four bedroom home four months earlier. The house was situated at Aburi hence they decided that Rebecca would park her car so they used Jacob’s to work and back. The daily routine was that they first took Maame to her Montessori at Adenta, Jacob dropped Rebecca and then he would go to work.

A taxi driver was hired to pick up Maame at 3pm to the house where the house help, Adwoa took care of her until Jacob and Rebecca returned. They usually returned at 8pm or thereabout.

Jacob had been faithful to Rebecca until he met a beauty therapist who was also called Rebecca about five months earlier. What he thought would be a one night’s stand ended in a long relationship that he could not extricate himself from.

As he sat and gazed at the white wall in his office after speaking to his wife, Jacob decided that the one thing he could do to save his marriage was to get to that phone before his wife did and to delete the sms he had intended to send to the other Rebecca. That means going to Aburi right away!

He got up from the chair, walked to the suit rack, took his jacket and put it on. He came back to the desk to pick his car key and then he remembered that his mechanic had come for the car immediately he arrived.

“Holy Shinto! What am I to do now?” he said to no one in particular. The mechanic had promised to return that car at 3pm. “I will go in a taxi,” he said to himself and stormed out of the office.

……to be continued.

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