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The Last Good Book is a combination of tumultuous emotions and everyday nuances forged into one. The various divisions in the take different jabs at societal issues needing urgent attention, from the tale of a nation about to collapse, the repercussions of indecision, unrequited love to environmental hazards. The setting is an answer itself to a lot of questions. This book is a bumpy ride. Only those seeking deep reflection and a bit of thrill would survive within these pages.
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The Last Good Book
Copyright © 2018 by Anthony Nwosu-Okorocha.
For more information about the author, write to the author from: [email protected]
All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part, in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including xerography, photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, is forbidden without the written permission of the author or the publisher.
The Last Good Book
WHEN IT MATTERS
A SILVER LINING INDEED
THERE IS GOD OH!
SOME PEOPLE ARE SUFFERING
THE MAN WHO CAN .
It was 8:15am. Ralph was inside his room. A dark brown cockroach climbed over his leg. He refused the urge to stamp it to death.
‘This miserable house, I shall make enough money to buy a luxurious house’. Ralph’s hope of living exquisite was the completion and sales of his book ‘Blending Memories’. His wife Citadel once asked him;
‘Baby, when would you be through with that book?’
‘One day’ Ralph said with a certain conviction that made Citadel never ask again. Just waiting for 'one day'
‘Daddy your food is ready’ a little voice sounded behind his dusty room door. The broad dining table seemed to intimidate the small chandelier hung directly above it, six chairs were positioned to face the other and one chair prominently placed for a proper view of everyone’s moving mouth. Ralph always sat on it.
‘For the food we’re about to have we thank you Oh Lord’. Ralph thought the prayer too cliché,
"Why wouldn’t Ugonna and her mother improvise?" he said to himself. Every one shouted ‘Amen’ in unison.
‘Dad your Amen wasn’t loud?’ Ugonna quizzed.
Ralph didn’t want to sound iconoclastic by telling her that ‘Amen’ was just a routine so he calmly said;
‘I will shout better next time’.
Ugonna smiled. It took Ralph off balance maybe she realized his mitigated response. Citadel knew he lied but to put out the pretentious atmosphere, she asked;
‘Please, can we eat now?’
Pretense wasn’t part of Izu. He often went straight to the point as he spoke now;
‘How long can you sustain your family from writing? According to the policy of Hallmark Bank where I work, we don’t give loans to writers because we cannot determine the sales of their books’
Ralph as if shocked by this utterance;
‘But Uche is building mansions from the dividends of his book sales’
‘I want to ask: Are you Ralph Igwe or Uche Obi?’ interjected Izu.
Uche Obi a well-known author made it well unknown that it had all the while been Ralph writing all his novels. The previous month, Uche came visiting Ralph.
‘Ralph my man. This is one million naira. Thanks for your efforts’
‘What? Just one million?’
‘Market didn’t move this time I tell you’
Ralph adjusted on the long seatee;
‘Uche, Behind the Scene sold 5 million copies. And you thought it fair to give this little sum to the person who wrote the book for you?’
‘Okay don’t worry when I am paid the remaining money. I promise to do something’ Ralph felt disgust, Uche wanted compromise but he had a plan. First he collected the cheque then;
‘Get out of my house’
It seemed like a part of a novel was playing out
Uche asked ‘What’s wrong with you?’
‘I said leave. You ingrate’ Ralph’s head shook violently turning a little scary. The protagonist of his first novel: The Eventful a unique and unpredictable character, who the world could never fool. Yes! He had finally figured it out. It was Ralph. The Unpredictable Ralph.
‘You have not answered my question?’ Izu asked feeling irritated. Ralph a little startled asked;
‘If you were in my shoes, what would you do?’
‘I would get a job’
‘And stop writing?’
‘You can work and write’
Ralph knew Izu loved him as a brother. In fact even more than a brother would. Only Izu could tell him ‘your shirt is worn out’ or ‘While you spoke with that tailor you sounded too condescending’. Ralph loved his sincerity.
‘I need to speak with my wife first’
‘Okay but do that quickly. There is a job vacancy at my work place. Put your B.sc Economics into good use’ Izu concluded by taking a large gulp of the cold beer, he stopped at the door;
‘Extend my greetings to your lovely wife and Ugonna your beautiful daughter’.
‘Alright I will. Do take care’ Ralph finally said.
Ugonna was not just beautiful in the sense but beauty-full in a complete way. Her Ebony skin glittered even at night. The smooth textured long hair seemed comfortable sitting on her slender body. If Ugonna was a medal, she would be a trophy. Everyone knew Ugonna got her skin from Citadel and her seductive eyes definitely from Ralph, but no one knew where Ugonna got the long slender nose, the shape of a palm tree.
‘Ugonna sleeps like it’s not sleep’ Ralph poetically said.
‘What does that mean?’ Citadel asked admiringly.
‘She sleeps like she’s listening to a cool music and not actually doing the activity called sleep’ Citadel let out a loud but respectable laugh.
‘I can’t wait till you finish your novel’
‘Yes, about that novel. I have something to tell you’
She remembered this look on Ralph’s face few years ago. It was during a soap opera they both watched in cuddles, ‘Super story’ he didn’t let the program finish completely. As if he wanted to pick something that fell to the floor, she saw him kneeling with a gold ring in his hand.
‘Citadel will you marry me?’ a voice on the television set screamed. ‘Yes!’ She couldn’t explain it that day. She was mute, only soft tears tumbled down her cheeks. Her heart just pounded two words AT LAST. Now Ralph wanted to say something similar.
‘Don’t tell me you completed the Novel? Oh! My darling I love you, love you, love you. Now our dreams can become reality. Where is it?’ Citadel asked in excitement.
Ralph took a deep breath and spoke.
‘I want to get a job tomorrow’
It was really obvious, those were not the words Citadel wanted to hear from the way she spoke.
‘Are you alright? Ralph what are you saying?’
‘Honey, I am tired of waiting endlessly’
‘You mean you are no more interested in completing that book?’
‘Absolutely No! How can I? I would work and write at the same time’.
‘Did Izu talk you into this?’
‘Honey enough with the questions you have to trust me on this one. It is in our interest’.
‘I know but I’m just skeptical, if you can make 50 million naira for Uche. Why can’t you do that for yourself?’
‘Sugar, I want to ask you: Do you love me?’ Ralph was already moist around his eye lashes.
‘Of course, you know I do’.
‘Then let me start a job’.
Ralph’s work was always packed with sweats even in the presence of the full air-conditioned banking hall. All his life he had always been the one at the other side of the counter handing money over to the bank cashier but never thought one day he would be the one receiving cash from people. He had been employed to count people’s money not his. Izu leaned over;
‘How are you enjoying your new job?’
His new job taught him to be able to count money and talk at the same time.
‘I am adjusting gradually just that I don’t have time to write anymore’.
Izu’s phone rang and he turned to speak with his caller.
‘Excuse me Ralph’
This was his daily routine: Always on the phone.
‘Sorry, you were saying?’
‘I don’t write any more, I wake up by 5am to beat traffic, 8am I am in the office busy till 8pm I get home by 10pm. You can imagine how tired I am. Its only Saturday I have to rest with Ugonna
‘My brother when I started this job, I complained about everything but see me today. Everything has fallen in place’
Ralph attending to an angry customer became a little distracted.
‘Sorry ma, for the mistake’.
The middle aged woman already fuming;
‘Don’t you know how to count money properly? You gave me 500,000 naira instead of 650,000 naira; see how stupid you can be’
Ralph was already fidgeting with so much sweat.
‘Madam I am really sorry’
‘Sorry for yourself, you idiot, 419, you can never defraud me. Is your salary not enough, you this greedy man?’
Already the banking hall was getting tensed, other customers turned to look at the 419 banker. Ralph felt the ground open and swallow him. Izu stood there transfixed and clueless; he just found his mouth to save the image of the company.
‘Please ma, I apologize on his behalf’
‘No problem, but put an eye on his man, he has ulterior motives’.
Ralph went home humiliated and stressed due to traffic, he couldn’t imagine himself a common thief. A fraudster and all the names that fat woman called him at the bank. He lay on his bed like a log of wood and fighting the fat woman in his dream.
It was 6.00am. Ralph in his grey suit marched majestically to the door; he sensed something wasn’t right so he turned around only to see Citadel who just told him ‘Have a nice day’ shedding tears. He imagined the entire ‘Have a nice days’ Citadel had always told him at the door every morning. Had she always been crying all along? He rushed to her and asked;
‘Honey, what is the matter? Tell me’
‘Ugonna broke her hand yesterday...’
Ralph felt a boiling ring drop into his soul and boil his blood to boiling point. He finally realized that he had become less of a father and more of a banker. Citadel continued:
‘She cried that you wouldn’t complete your book, I tried to console her but she ran towards her room only to fall dangerously while trying to close the door’.
‘Why didn’t you inform me yesterday?’
‘I saw your eyes, you were stressed out’.
He picked up his phone and called the office. He made no mince of his words.
‘Tell manager I have resigned, expect the letter soonest’.
RALPH BEGAN SPENDING much time with his family; Citadel went to her stall just across the road while Ugonna attended a primary school close by. St. Mary’s Nursery and Primary School wasn’t a school one would classify as well equipped or under equipped, it was an average-grade school. The unpainted building housed enough classes that 3 rooms were always vacant. Perhaps the headmaster anticipated more pupils. Ugonna already in Primary Four had always occupied the first position in the class, the only time she fell to second position was this first term that passed she missed her father so much.
‘Daddy, I love you’
‘I love you too. Go straight to your class. Mummy will pick you up when school closes’
Ugonna squeezed a little hug round her father’s neck and ran towards her classroom. At home Ralph had started writing a new chapter in his book Blending Memories. Slowly boredom kicked in. Lonely, alone with a small music player: a gift from his caring brother. He sauntered around the house, just past the kitchen when something caught his attention in the living room. A newsflash on the television screen: ‘250 young school girls kidnapped by Boko Haram’ Ralph thought out the possibility of Ugonna being kidnapped. His precious Ugonna, so he wrote a lengthy article to The Daily Sun Newspapers and it was published the very next day. He showed it to an excited Citadel.
‘Really, my husband wrote in a newspaper? Honey I’m so proud of you’ she pressed her lips against his.
He didn’t refuse it; instead he held her firmly using his strong tongue to explore the soft corners of her mouth, several tiny shocks ran down between her legs, it shook her violently making her a little wet. She moaned aloud in response to the rhythm, the drum beats had gotten louder in her system only Ralph could quench it; Now she desperately yearned for him inside her, Ralph took his time dipping slowly, then fast, Citadel spoke in foreign languages that Ralph couldn’t understand but he continued pounding till he gave the last moan and their hearts beats reduced.
THE NEXT DAY RALPH joined a non-governmental organization which was involved in protesting the kidnap of the young school girls by Boko Haram. The campaign was titled ‘Bring Back Our Girls’. That morning he went to the ‘BBOG’ office.
‘Good morning madam’
‘Good morning sir, how may I help you?’
Ralph noticed the smile on the receptionist’s face and decided to ease up.
‘I got information that this organization is involved in the fight against the kidnap of the young school girls. I am here to join the campaign’
The receptionist stood up and decided to introduce herself.
‘I am Amaka Nwankpa; you are in the right place. Please come with me’.
He followed her through a wide passage then a narrow one all laced with doors but only one stood out, deep red. She took a deep breath and opened the door.
‘Sir, you can go in’
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