When Papa Flex looked across the marble table at Araba, it was not with the soulless, dead stare he had on the previous night. It was a smile that reflected a warm professionalism. It was the same smile he had on when he first met her, promising stardom. It was a smile that hid a morbid secret, which almost made her visibly shudder. She did not, however, shaking off the negative thoughts on her mind. She knew exactly what she was getting. She tried to forget the unpleasant events of the previous night.
The smile did not betray itself, however. Jeanine Atkins, creative director for one of the largest advertising firms in Ghana, was smiling back with approval already. From all indications, Papa Flex had already won her over. The 6th floor conference room was filled with executives. When the MD finally walked in, Araba tried to focus on the way his dark suit swished against his body as he moved. Her gaze jumped across the room towards different objects -the young intern’s spectacles, staplers at the edge of the table, even the shiny, polished tile floor. She could not, would not, look at Papa Flex.
“Well, I think we can get started.” Jeanine cut through Araba’s thoughts as the MD sat down. “Mr. Flex, why don’t you tell us about what you have?”
“Yes, so my artiste, Araba Menson…”
Araba lay on the carpet writhing and convulsing. The studio, in her eyes had turned a glowing red, and it felt as though the embers of Hell itself had engulfed it. Engineers, backup vocalists, and everyone, led by Papa Flex, began to chant as they formed a circle around her. His pupils seemed to have completely dissolved and his eyes, glowing white, were fixed on her. The group closed in on her and the chanting grew louder. She felt a disgusting rumbling in the pit of her stomach. She doubled over and clutched her groin in agony. The feeling slithered along the walls of her abdomen. The chanting grew louder and louder. Her throat gave way from within, and she felt a disgusting rubbery creature wriggling out of her throat, ‘til the fat snake, bloodied and black, had been vomited out. Then, almost in a trance-like state, it glided into the recording booth, and she rose and followed. The chanting rose to shouting as the door slammed shut.
“Araba?” Jeanine, the MD and Papa Flex were looking directly at her. She did not realize how long she had been lost in her thoughts.
“I said, the company is very impressed with your new song, and we would like you to represent us.”
50,000 Ghana cedis, she thought to herself as Papa Flex led her out of the building.
She looked at him and laughed, knowing that it was all real. She had done it. She was in.