What do you have against that, Charles? I asked. ‘In surviving, we contend with one another both consciously and sub-consciously and that has been the nature of man through time,’ I reminded.
‘Nothing,’ he responded, a bit churlishly. He obviously was not pleased. ‘Competition is good for all – cheerleaders, spectators with the exception of the combatants, especially where they have diverging outlooks to it.’
‘John has a pit-living, below-the-surface sense of fairness and that begs for more. Boy, it’s highly antagonistic,’ he provided. A fine covering of sweat added some darker shade to his face. ‘A lot of John’s actions fill me with horror, I must admit,’ he added.
‘Is it that bad? I asked. Shocked.
‘Truly bad, no exaggeration, Tony,’ Charles responded, dropping his upper body a bit on the back-rest. No pretence – he looked worried. ‘He corners all the jobs all the time and he’s quite comfortable watching me idling away and that doesn’t blow my socks off in the tiniest bit.’
‘How’s that possible?’ I asked, truly bemused.
‘He sits close to the boss and fanning the man’s ego with his tongue,’ he informed.
‘Have you had a chat with him, turned your nose up at his actions?’ I asked.
‘Many times,’ he responded, paused for a while, before he added: ‘The last time I felt like racing a mile from him because his body language screamed out to me that he wasn’t about to implement all the
agreements we reached that day like the previous others.’
‘Then he’s no gentleman,’ I pointed out.
‘Call him another name.’
‘It’s time you told the boss … make a formal complain.’
‘Just told you that John has eaten the man’s brain,’ Charles reminded.
‘Gentlemen, what’s the issue?’ Teju Orimoloye asked. He had appeared from out of nowhere. ‘You guys look weak with some sort of worry.’
‘Remember him, Charles?’ I asked, looking up at Teju.
‘Yeah, I do,’ Teju responded.
‘I do too,’ Charles chipped in. They locked hands, exchanged some pleasantries. Teju held a smile a while longer. Charles had other worries. Moments later, we all stood up. The banter continued.
‘Someone is ruffling my friend’s feathers in his office,’ I informed Teju.
‘Really?’ Teju asked.
‘Very true, TeeJay,’ Charles confirmed.
‘You don’t do dis-similar jobs, do you? Teju asked, turning to Charles.
‘Yes, TeeJay, we do exactly the same kind of job and at first, I thought that called for collaboration on the job but I think I…’
‘Sure you both have similar kind of qualifications, don’t you?’ Teju interrupted with another question for Charles.
‘I think so,’ Charles responded. It came out a bit weakly.
‘That’s the key – the door has been unlocked,’ Teju pointed out, a bit animatedly. ‘Independent of your earlier conclusions, I like to add that there is always some sort of competition, disharmony among parallels,’ he informed.
‘How?’ Charles asked.
‘Why should that be?’ I threw in, becoming more interesting.
‘Remember that cliché – opposites attract?’ It came from Teju. ‘Parallels are the opposites of opposite and they are constantly in conflict,’ he added. Winking.
‘Teju?’ It was a call from our boss. Teju jounced away. ‘Not my wisdom but my father’s,’ he screamed midway down the hall.
‘That’s it.’ Charles let out in a soothingly calm voice.
My mind hurried back to high school mathematics. Mr. Ajayi, my mathematics teacher taught me a thing about parallel lines. They never meet. I should have known that. I felt I had let Mr. Ajayi down. I gave my head a little shove. It was an act of disappointment in no one but yours sincerely. Some of life’s greatest hush-hushes might have taken residence in shallow graves. Who knows? Then again, my mind wondered about the frosty working relationship between Charles and John. A question disturbingly covered the perimeter of my mind. Just want to share it with you – isn’t there fairness in competing? What do you think?