The ring of the alarm roused him in an instant. It had become second nature yet he didn’t feel like getting up from bed this morning; a decision borne out of fatigue. His ears grew accustomed to the ticking of the clock. How he hated it! It was a gift he had received on his thirty-first birthday from Janet before she had walked out of the door and had never looked back. It had come with a note.

‘Happy birthday Patrick. Here’s a souvenir for you. A perpetual reminder that time surely waits for no man’.

The cheek of it! He’d show her soon enough. She had returned the electronic debit card for the account he had opened for her when they met months ago. She claimed he was a broke guy who could not even take care of himself and had opted for a potbellied business man who had put her in the family way and sent her overseas.

Janet Akpan was as pretty as she was an expert in the art of scheming. Patrick had met her when she had come in to make payment for her school fees. He had been attracted by her smile and she basked in the ambience of meeting a banker. She was a temptress who knew how to use what she had to get what she wanted. It was only a matter of time before she cajoled him to open an account for her at Express bank, claiming she had commitments in school.

Patrick took care to ensure his cash deposits into the account would not be traced back to him in the advent of any eventuality. His little experience in financial services had imbued some level of paranoia into him. He had her log-on details for Internet banking access as well. Months later, his cravings for her affection could no longer match her demands which were boring a big hole in his pocket. Something had to give.

A flicker of a smile crossed his face in the dark. He looked around the room and took stock of its contents: The threadbare rug; a fourteen-inch television set; a DVD player; a two-seater chair and the bed he was lying on. His wardrobe and cupboard which housed his cooking utensils completed the ensemble. He swore under his breath that she would live to see him prosper.

He eased out of bed and checked the time. 5.20am. He had spent twenty minutes daydreaming. If he didn’t make haste he would miss his bus and God knew it was that time of the month when you would get neither friend nor foe to lend you money.

He picked up his sponge case and the half-filled bucket of water stored in a corner of the room, collected his toothbrush and headed for the bathroom. With luck on his side, he would beat the early morning rush for the shared sanitary facilities of ‘Thirty rooms’ as the house situated No 7, Kilimanjaro street was popularly called.

To be continued….

Author’s Bio – Ohaegbulam Fortune is a Nigerian engineer-turned-banker with a zest for living, reading, travelling, meeting people and writing stories. He has a collection of unpublished short stories on his blog. His stories, ‘Fated’ and ‘Senior David’ have been published on Brittle Paper and Moskeda Pages.