Are you new to Mystery Cookies? Read the first part here. Welcome on board.
“And it’s a wrap! Let’s go for lunch, ladies” Agyeiwaa said and dropped her pen on the table.
“Accurate time keeper. Thanks for the reminder. I really need this break” Lariba said and gave Agyeiwaa a thumbs up.
Catherine was still typing when Agyeiwaa walked to her desk to drag her to lunch.
“Look what we have here. Cookies!” she announced and helped herself to some. “You have such a sweet tooth” she continued as she ate.
“And you eat too much” Lariba teased and grabbed one cookie.
“What are we eating this afternoon? Gosh, I’m famished. I just realized I didn’t take breakfast in the morning” Catherine said and took her first bite of the cookies.
She felt guilty watching her colleagues munch on the cookies she had refused to touch. She still hadn’t figured out who they were from and her wild mind feared they could have been poisoned and so to ease the guilt, she took a ‘risky’ decision of eating it with them.
“Let’s pay a visit to Auntie Korkor’s joint. I need me some soft ‘kenkey’ and fish, shrimps and octopus” Agyeiwaa said gleefully and continued munching on the cookies.
“You’re going to eat all that? No wonder you keep bloating. You need to check that weight” Jacinta, who was quite sharp tongued said and signaled a no to Catherine when she offered her some cookies.
“That’s such a nice comment” Agyeiwaa, who hardly got angry said. “Anyway, are you guys in?”
“Not a bad idea. I also want to eat kenkey” Catherine announced and got up.
“It’s kenkey for me then. I’m really undecided on what to eat but the kenkey would be fine” Lariba said and picked up her purse from her bag.
“And you? Jacinta?” Catherine asked.
“I wanted rice but I don’t want to go and sit in that canteen alone. Besides, ever since Ma Kate left, the food served there really sucks. Let’s go and eat kenkey then” she replied.
“Let’s get going. Time is far spent” Catherine said and picked up her car keys.
Auntie Korkor’s joint was about five minutes’ drive away from their workplace and it was Agyeiwaa who discovered that place about a year ago. Ever since, they had become regular customers of the place. Catherine was going to drive them there. She led the way and bumped into a young man at the doorway which startled her.
“Hi, pretty one! Where to?” the young man greeted and smiled.
She rolled her eyes and walked past him, pretending not to have seen him stretch his hand for a handshake. It was quite embarrassing and the three other ladies walked past him quietly and said nothing.
The guy was Nii Teiko from the Marketing Department and he had been fruitlessly pursuing Catherine for a while now. Catherine on the other hand, had no interest in him and made that clear to him. He was however forceful and refused to back off, sometimes using crude ways to get to her. His behavior accounted for Catherine’s hostility towards him sometimes and today was no different. A thought suddenly crossed her mind. What if Nii Teiko was the one who put those cookies in her desk? She cringed at that thought and wished she had never touched those cookies.
“That guy is a douche bag, trust me. Why doesn’t he want to back off? I mean, after all the negative vibes you’ve been sending his way,he should get it” Jacinta said, quite cross.
“He’s not a gentleman at all and I just hate how forceful he is. I have made it clear to him that I’m not interested yet he won’t stay away” Catherine said.
“The way he shouted when he saw you says it all. Which gentleman shouts in an office environment? It’s not like you were metres away from him. You were standing right in front of him” Lariba remarked.
“Maybe you should give him a chance, you never know” Agyeiwaa said sympathetically.
“Oh please. He’s not my type. His sense of style is even whack. Did you see how skimpy his trousers looked? Plus those multi colored socks he was wearing. Argh!” Catherine threw her arms as they stepped into the elevator.
Lariba and Jacinta couldn’t help but laugh. Agyeiwaa however, kept staring at them not sure whether to tell them about how Nii Teiko had been buying her food and airtime just to get her to convince Catherine to accept his proposal. In the end, she decided to keep it to herself and put a stop to it since it was clear that Catherine wasn’t interested. Or maybe she should continue accepting them and just play along? Who doesn’t like free food? A sly smile played in the corners of her mouth.
They arrived at the office fifteen minutes late after the break period and met Comfort Aning standing in front of the department, having a discussion with the HR manager. They quietly walked past them and thanked their stars that she said nothing, although they could sense her eyes boring into them as they walked past her.
“Not so fast, ladies” they heard her say before they could settle.
She had followed them into the office and they turned to face her.
“If all four of you are going to go out together for lunch, you better make it back to the office on time or else, I’ll be forced to break up your gang. I keep stressing on time management and discipline” she said in a breath without blinking.
“And you” she said, pointing to Jacinta. “See me in my office”
Jacinta followed her into her office, leaving the three wondering what she could have done wrong.
“This woman is becoming unbecoming. I’m getting fed up with her. Ah!” Lariba exclaimed and slumped into her seat.
“Menopause is not treating her fairly. I wonder how her husband and children cope at home” Agyeiwaa said and sighed.
Catherine only shrugged. She was as fed up as her friends were. She only tolerated her because her dad had told her to. After all, she had a few months to leave. Left to her alone, Comfort Aning would have left long ago.
Jacinta came out of Comfort Aning’s office seething with anger.
“What was your offence?” Catherine asked.
“She said she didn’t like the scowl on my face when she was addressing us earlier and that I should be mindful of my facial expressions when I’m around her” Jacinta replied.
They exchanged surprised glances. Agyeiwaa tried to calm her down but she would hear none of it.
“That woman is a pain in the neck, Agyeiwaa. The next tick off from her and I’m going to tell her my mind” Jacinta added and walked to her desk.
Seconds later, Comfort Aning stepped out of her office and headed outside, her short and plump body swaying to the sound her block heels made on the tile floor. If looks could kill, the looks that was cast her way by the four ladies would have caused her to drop dead even before getting to the door.
The week flew by uneventfully and quickly. Catherine tried her best to arrive at work early to avoid any confrontation with Comfort Aning. She still didn’t figure out who put the cookies in her desk, though she was sure it was someone from the office trying to play a prank on her. After about three days, she totally forgot about it.
Monday came by and it was with great joy that Catherine pulled up in the car park at 7.38 am. Comfort Aning had nothing on her today. She took her time and walked into her workplace.
“Good morning, Owusu” she greeted and smiled.
“Aww, good morning ma. How are you?” he responded.
“I’m good. And how are you doing too?”
“I’m fine, ma”
“That’s good to hear. And your family?”
“They’re all fine, ma”
“Thank God. Owusu, I’ll need koko this morning” she said as she brought her purse out of her bag and fetched a 10 cedi note out of it.
Owusu smiled after seeing the denomination and quickly collected the money.
“Buy the usual. You know how I like it and keep the change” she instructed.
“Ha! Yes ma. Thank you oo. God bless you plenty. I’ll bring it right away” he said and smiled widely, revealing his dimples.
He set off immediately to buy the koko.
“Look who we have here” Lariba said when Catherine walked into the office and took a glance at the wall clock. “You’re always on time these days”
Catherine smiled and took her seat.
“Is she in?” Catherine asked, referring to Comfort Aning.
“Yes. But there’s a meeting with the departmental heads just about now so she will leave soon. Then we’ll have the office to ourselves. You know how such meetings drag into the day.” Lariba answered.
“Oh please, as if we don’t have a snitch in this office to report whatever will happen in her absence to her. He’s always quiet and hardly comes out of his office but we both know how much of a gossip he is” Catherine said in a low tone.
“Mr Inkoom!” Lariba exclaimed and started laughing.
“Excuse me ladies, can I have a pen?” Kwame asked.
“Sure” Catherine said and reached into her drawer for a pen.
Her hand touched something which she felt wasn’t supposed to be there. She brought out the item onto her lap and lo and behold, it was another box of cookies.
“Someone is definitely out to play a prank on me” she said under her breath, as she handed over her pen to Kwame. “Who could it be?”
See you next week!
Kenkey – a meal prepared from fermented corn similar to dumplings.