Effe stirs slowly and sits up. The sheet falls off her. For a moment she looks confused, and then she looks around her and realizes that she is still in the taxi. The taxi driver is not in the car. She looks at her watch and sees that it is a few minutes past five a.m. She opens the door and steps outside. She sees the taxi driver sitting on the boot of the car and smoking.
(wrinkling her nose with distaste)
Is that all you do? Smoke?
The taxi driver gets down, and Effe notices for the first time that he has dreadlocks, and that he is tall and surprisingly very good-looking. He drops his cigarette and steps on it.
You be okay now? I go fit lef?
Effe looks around. The city is just waking up. Some cars are passing, and some cleaners are already sweeping the streets. Suddenly a look of intense pain crosses her face as she recollects her husband making passionate love to her cousin.
I left my car at the hospital.
You wan make I take you back to the hospital, madam?
(shaking her head vigorously)
No, no. Please can you take me to Dzorwulu?
No fears. Make we go.
He gets into the car. Effe sits in the back again and begins to fold the sheet he covered her with. He starts the car and moves into the street.
(in a very soft voice)
He looks into the driving mirror at her.
I said thank you. I fell asleep, and obviously you stayed with me. You covered me with a cloth. You didn’t try to take advantage of a helpless girl. I denied you the comfort of your bed, and maybe put you in trouble with your girlfriend or wife. I’m sorry, and I thank you very much.
Ebe cool. No fears.
They drive along in silence for a while. Effe leans back and closes her eyes, but immediately she sees the awful picture of her husband and cousin together and so she sits forward and tries hard not to cry again.
I’m Effe Kedem Hollison.
Oh, would you please stop that?
Effe chuckles and shakes her head in spite of herself.
I said my name is Effe.
Oh, you be Ewe chick.
You’re impossible, and definitely uncouth. What has my tribe got to do with me introducing myself?
Abeg, reduce English small. Wetin dat? I just mean I no make surprised you be Ewe woman because of how fair you be, and how beautiful you be, Madam.
Anyway, my name be Chris. Chris Bawa. My paddies dey call me Darling Boy. You go fit call me Darling, I no go mind.
Effe laughs this time, although very briefly, and shakes her head.
Pleased to meet you, Chris.
Soon they arrive at a plush residential area at Dzorwulu. Effe directs him to park in front of a beautiful house with silver and gold gates. She gets down and leans through the passenger window.
Wait here, Chris. I’ll go inside and bring you some money.
No fears, Madam. I dey for you.
Effe rounds the car, and she sees for the first time what is written at the back windshield of the taxi. It is in stylish yellow writing: DARLING BOY.
She shakes her head and walks to the gates and rings the doorbell. A huge dog begins to bark immediately. The small gate at the side of the main gates opens, and a security man looks at her and smiles warmly.
Ei Madam Effe! Welcome!
Effe nods at him and enters, but suddenly she begins to run because tears are flooding her again. She runs up a beautiful driveway, past the parked cars, up a beautiful patio and straight at the ornate doors.
The door flies open and her mother, Mrs. IVY KEDEM, comes out. She is still in her nightdress, her hair covered. She is still a strikingly beautiful woman.
(with great concern)
Effe, my darling, my sweet! What’s wrong? Why are you here this early?
Everything okay with Steve?
Effe’s tears fall in torrents now. She throws herself into her mother’s arms.
Mom! Oh, Mom! My heart! I’m dying!
(scared and frantic)
Come on, my Pearl! Stop scaring me!
What is it?
A calm voice speaks from the door. It belongs to Mr. KEN KEDEM, 63, Effe’s father. He is of medium build, and a handsome distinguished gentleman.
Let her come inside first, Ivy.
The two women enter the plush living-room of the Kedems. Madam Ivy gently helps Effe to sit down.
Effe. I thought you were in Takoradi attending a seminar, and you were supposed to come back this weekend. What happened?
Mr. Kedem sits down besides his daughter. He slowly takes Effe into his arms and pats her back gently.
Stop crying, my Sweet Apple! What is it?
Why is your heart so broken?
(holding unto her father tightly)
I lied that I would come back on Saturday. I wanted to surprise Steve. He was not expecting me until today. I went straight to his office yesterday to surprises him…and…and…I found him in the office with Elaine. They were making love, Mama!
(in deep shock)
(shaking so badly that she sits down)
You don’t mean Elaine Boateng, my own sister’s child, do you?
Yes, Mama! My own cousin Elaine! Steve has been cheating on me with my own sister!
(in a very angry voice)
That’s utterly ridiculous and simply too dastardly to even imagine! Elaine is pregnant, for Heaven’s sake! She is what, nine months pregnant? She is practically going to give birth any day now! What is he doing with an ugly pregnant girl like Elaine? Are you sure you saw clearly, my dear?
The two women look at each other, and then Effe begins to tremble hard. Her whole expression is one of acute shock and pain.
(holding her stomach now and crying silently but with great pain)
Oh no, no, no, noooooo! Oh, Steve, please, please, please, pleeeeeaaassse!
Stop this, please, Sweetheart! Did I say something wrong?
(looking very shocked)
Effe and Steve have been married for ten years!
(shaking his head in confusion)
(tears in her eyes now)
Effe and Steve don’t have any children. I know Steve’s mother has been pressuring both Effe and Steve to have babies. You may not know this but Effe has even tried artificial insemination, but it didn’t work. Elaine has been living with them for two years now, ever since Steve employed her as a nurse at the hospital. Elaine is now pregnant, and she has never told anybody who made her pregnant.
Mr. Kedem’s eyes open wide with shock. He looks at Effe’s bent head and pain crosses his face.
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Oh no! Dear Lord no! You think Steve impregnated Elaine? Effe’s cousin?
(voice very sad)
What cousin? They’re sisters, Ken. The bastard! That heartless bastard! I didn’t expect him to stoop this low!
Oh, my God!
Effe is on the floor now, weeping uncontrollably, her heart broken. Mr. Kedem sits down besides his daughter, and without another word he pulls Effe into his arms. Effe holds her father tightly and cries her heart out.
Madam Ivy is shaking, and she sits and watches her daughter’s agony helplessly. Effe cries until no more tears flow, and then she sits still. Her father passes her a box of tissues. Her eyes are swollen and very red.
She blows her nose, and then suddenly she jumps to her feet.
Oh, no! Daddy, your wallet, please!
My wallet? What for? There, on the glass table.
Effe takes her father’s wallet and opens it. She pulls out some fifty Ghana cedi notes and runs outside. The taxi is not there. Chris is gone. She looks up and down the street. He is nowhere in sight. She sighs deeply, turns and sadly goes back into the house.
To be continued