"No matter what, do NOT contact Lisa."
Cal nodded. I thought he got it. I thought he comprehended all the ramifications.
He was leaving the island to attend University. Having experienced it myself, I assumed he would be captured by the different culture, the people, the course work so contacting Lisa wouldn't be a hought.
Lisa had been a casual girl friend of Cal's. He had lots of casual girlfriends. One offs, maybe a weekend or a month.
This one had migrated and phoned Cal. This was strange. So was her conversation.
She told him she was having his baby. He replied he'd always used protection, to which she responded that she had punched holes in the condoms and that she was pregnant for him.
I was with him when the call came in and considering how loud she spoke, I could hear every word.
The rubbish she blathered wouldn't work on the average man.
When she'd hung up we laughed about it, at least I did, and we moved on to other topics.
Lisa had no idea Cal had applied to and was accepted at a prestigious university which was in the same country she had migrated to.
Logically, she would assume he was here, and phone calls would be wasted and Cal should soon slip out of her fantasy world.
As long as he made no contact.
Cal flew out and contacted me about a week later. It was an easy note, describing campus life.
I didn't hear from him after that.
It was not until he graduated and returned to the Island to tie up loose ends. We met and shared a meal. After, as we relaxed, he admitted he had contacted Lisa, that he had met his daughter, Niomi.
"That is really stupid!" I exclaimed. "Do you realise that you are going to enter a high paying profession and Lisa can slap you with child support?"
"It's my daughter."
"Did you take a DNA test?"
He sucked his teeth, turned away. I knew he hadn't.
My mouth was jammed with remarks, but I told myself to leave it. Turn the topic and end on a high note.
So that's what I did.
Cal left a few days later.
During the next few years It was stray phone calls. During one Cal told me he'd opened a specific travel agency doing tours to Africa.
"Open an office here. Put your headquarters here for taxes would be lower."
"Hmmm," Cal replied.
Cal never opened an office in this country.
We called each other irregularly over the years. It was on one of these calls Cal told me Lisa had been shot and killed and he had Niomi full time. He was going to come here with her to meet relatives of her mother.
As he didn't really have anyone in his life; his girlfriends were casual and he spent most of his time working, I suppose having a daughter to look after would get him out of the office and some kind of life.
I saw them about a week after arrival.
Cal is short, thin, sharp featured. Niomi is huge with large features, and looks nothing like Cal.
I had always suspected she was a jacket, her appearance proved me 99% right.
Of course, I didn't say anything.
We spoke in general, Niomi with her headphones was just a blob on that side of the table.
I didn't mention DNA because having not listened when it mattered, there was no sense in doing the test now, considering recent events in Niomi's life.
He told me about his travel agencies, his offices in Accra and Lagos, and I didn't mention opening one here.
It would have made sense years ago to have the head office here and the branch abroad, considering taxes etc. To mention it now would be pointless. It would prove how much money he could have saved and, of course, advice coming from me would be ignored.
I realised that after I'd left him and Niomi.
For some reason he didn't take advice from me. Perhaps if I'd never told him not to contact Lisa he wouldn't have. Perhaps if I hadn't suggested a DNA test, he would have taken one the day he saw her.
Now, she was sixteen, with no one in her life but him, her psuedo-daddy.
When Niomi was eighteen Cal had DNA tests done and told me that she was not his daughter. He said he wasn't going to tell her until she completed college.
He, of course, had supported her all her life, and was paying for her education.
I didn't hear from him for a few years and he was back in the country for his father's funeral and we caught up after.
He told me;
"I said to Niomi, I have to tell you something, and went into a long preamble of my...."
The pain in his voice, on his face spoke volumes and I nodded.
"She told me she knew I wasn't her father since she was five years old but as I had money she was to play along and get as much as she could."
The silence was thick.
"Then she packed and left. I haven't seen nor heard from her for over two years."
I was going to say something but it would sound like a sneer, so only nodded and let him expell all the pain, humiliation and stupidity he carried.
I thought that now he would realise that the advice I gave him was for his own good.
That is probably why he never told me he was marrying an African woman who had scam written all over her.
Unknown to me, Cal married his Nigerian who quickly set about empting his bank accounts.
She 'worked' at his Travel Agency, and stole a lot of money.
When he confronted her she attacked him, he pushed her off. She left and shortly after he was arrested for spousal abuse.
He told me all this in a Messenger Account. Told me a few days before his trial.
I advised him to plead Not Guilty.
Of course, he had hired a cheap lawyer who told him to plead guilty on a misdemeanor.
I argued with him, I spoke of self defense, I spoke of provocation, but he didn't listen.
Cal never listened.
I contacted him via Messenger the day after the trial.
Without precursor, Cal told me he pleaded guilty. He was given a two year suspended sentence. He would be unable to leave the country for those two years.
Although I had a lot to say, I let him talk.
Clearly, anything I told him to do, he would do the opposite. I don't know why, I only know what is.
I sat in my room, seeing him on the computer screen, considering what a mess he'd made of his life.
Cal had spent his time, his money, his affection on a child who not only wasn't his, who not only knew she wasn't his, but disliked him so much she could take his recognition he was not her father as the opportunity to 'escape'.
Where was the simple decency in Niomi?
Cal built up a business abroad when he could have created one here where at least I could oversee it and prevent the various tricks and scams he had experienced.
He hired a scammer who knew his financial and social situation, and got him to marry her.
She saw what she could get and got it, then set up the 'attack' so she could have him charged and out of her life.
I sit here looking at his sad face, hearing his recaps.
When he finishes I will say nothing. I will never express another opinion or offer advice.
Considering the mess he's made of his life, I doubt there will be other cross roads or opportunities.