A young woman was driving too fast, her mind racing with a thousand thoughts. Her hands on the steering wheel were trembling. Her chest was pounding.
Had she killed somebody?
No, she can’t be dead. She shook her head.
Human beings don’t just die like that. Just from a few kicks from teenage boys, no. Slim, hungry boys.
Maybe she was just pretending. She slipped one thumb into her mouth.
Obviously, she was. It all had been a trick. This is her new plan to get her husband back.
Now Jennifer regretted having driven off like that. Like a scared little girl. So what if she is dead? At least she didn’t kill her.
She has to drive back to the house now. Immediately! She will set things right before Christian comes back. Dead or not, her body needs to leave the house.
Who will ask of her anyway? She was sure Christian won’t.
Despite the cool air surging out from the car AC, sweat trickled down Jennifer’s neck.
She inhaled deeply. Reaching into her handbag, she pulled out a white handkerchief and dabbed her neck with it.
Turning to drop it back, she missed the sign from the other vehicle that was coming into the road.
She saw the brown SUV late. She was dangerously close. In the confusion, she swerved left, slamming into the wall of a nearby school with tremendous force.
Behind the tall and thick wall, Baby Blossom was in one of the classrooms upstairs reciting a poem Miss Kate had written on the white board.
The people around rushed in to help. In many months to come, they’d still be talking about the big accident that happened at Hospital Road.
Okon did not wait for Christian’s car to fully enter the garage before he ran to his window, hitting hard on the glass.
Christian pulled down the glass. ‘Hey, what is it?’
Christian flicked the car door open and came down. ‘Jennifer is at the clinic?’ he asked.
‘No, no. First madam!’
He pulled a hesitant face. ‘Which first madam?’
‘Aunty Susan! She lie down for chair, I think say na sleep but no be sleep. She no well. She dey seriously sick. Oga, abeg you need follow me go the hospital now now. The doctor say make I call you. They no gree touch her till you come. Abeg, oga, abeg!’
Christian dropped one hand on Okon’s shoulder. ‘Stop panting, young man, I’m sure your madam will be okay. This is not the first time she’s been to the clinic.’
He bent to his car and picked his briefcase before slamming the door shut.
Turning, he started toward the house.
Okon ran after him. ‘Oga, abeg! Abeg na.’
Christian turned back to him. ‘Young man, go back to your post.’
There were noises at the gate. Christian looked.
‘Now go and see who is at the gate. I’ve told you your madam will be fine.’ His lips curved in the hint of a mocking smile. ‘Your first madam, as you call it. She knows the doctors well. Now run.’
Okon put his two hands on his head. ‘Hey! Oga o! Oga, abeg na!’
Just then the small gate flipped open, taking the two men’s eyes towards the direction.
The plump figure of Florence came through first before Loretta’s even plumper body.
The two women walked up to the men.
‘We’ve been horning, what’s going on here?’ Florence looked mildly displeased. Her eyes were on Okon.
‘Hello, ladies,’ Christian greeted.
‘Hello, dear.’ Florence turned to Christian with a smile. ‘Seems you just got back.’
‘Good evening, in-law,’ Loretta greeted.
Florence glanced back at Okon who had been making low whining sounds like a milk-starved puppy, face crumpled so badly you’d think lines were drawn on his face. ‘What is wrong with this one?’ Florence asked.
‘Obviously, he’s been sacked,’ Loretta murmured. ‘Don’t they always get on dangerous nerves?’
Florence smiled. Turning to Okon, she said, in a cautioning voice, ‘Bless your God, today is your lucky day’, and back to Christian, in pleading voice, ‘Chris, please for our sake, let him stay.’
Okon shook his head violently. ‘Hey,’ he whimpered. ‘Madam no o! No be that one we dey talk o! Hey!’
Christian smiled at the two sisters’ misjudgement. ‘Actually, ladies, that’s not the case. The young man claims his madam is unwell and currently at the clinic. According to him the doctors won’t attend to her till I’m there, but I’ve told him not to worry. Susan always has her way around doctors.’
On the two sisters’ faces you will see just how much this statement mystified them.
Okay it was a joke. It must be.
Loretta smiled first. ‘You and your jokes, Christian! Did Susan go out?’
‘Madam, na true o,’ Okon cried. ‘First madam dey hospital. Na me carry am go there. She no dey move at all.’
He glanced at Christian now before continuing.
‘As new madam drive comot, I enter the house come see madam on top chair. I think say na sleep before but as I come see blood for ground, I go check am. She no dey breathe. She no dey move. She no even open eye. I come carry am go that hospital wey dey Kennedy Street. The doctor say e no go toucham till I call oga. Na e I come tell oga now, oga no gree go.’
Neither of the women showed any bit of comprehension at Okon’s story.
‘I don’t get any of these,’ Florence said, a frown of mystification overlying her face.
‘Who is new madam?’ Loretta asked, sharing her sister’s expression.
Just now you could see how much the two resembled each other. They had taken after their mother. Philomena and Susan had more of Daddy Alphonsus’s genes.
‘Oh.’ Christian transferred his briefcase to the other hand. ‘The young man must be referring to my new wife. Jennifer is her name.’
‘Your new wife?’ Florence’s eyes were bulged to their limits.
‘Yes. There’s not been an official ceremony yet, that’s why you may not have known.’
‘Okay, Chris, this joke has gone long enough. Where is Susan?’ Loretta said.
‘Hospital, ma,’ Okon answered.
Loretta stared at him. ‘Hospital?’
Her eyes darted to Christian and then back. ‘Come and take us there, Okon,’ she said.
Florence gave Christian one last slow look before turning to follow them.
As they walked away, Christian sighed and transferred his briefcase back to his right. ‘Women,’ he muttered, shaking his head.
His hand was on the door handle upstairs to open the door to his room when his phone started to ring. He pushed open the door, no sign of Jennifer still.
He dropped his briefcase on the bed and walked to the bathroom. ‘Jenny,’ he called. ‘Jenny, you there?’
He heard nothing.
From his right pocket, his Bold 5 kept pounding with BlackBerry signature tone. Tum-Tolo-Tulu-Tum.
He reached into his pocket and brought out the black phone.
The number was new and business-like. He pressed down the green key and put the phone to his ear. ‘Hello.’
‘Yes, this is Mr. Christian.’
‘Yes, I’m with you.’
‘What?!’ His eyes flew wide.
‘Christ! When? I…I mean how?’
‘Okay. Okay. Be there right away.’
He picked his car keys and scuttled out of the room.
Jumping the first two steps, he missed a foot and came crashing down the stairs. He landed heavily on his back at the bottom of the stairs with a deep moan.