She turns on her back and yawns. She remembers dimly about being in Chris’ taxi for many hours and wondering where he was taking her, but not really minding where they were headed, or even scared of him.
The pain of seeing Steve looking so happy with Elaine, and being so romantic with her, had almost knocked Effe straight into a coma, and she had not really cared where that taxi driver took her, but she remembers getting out of the taxi finally and following him into a room and falling on a bed…
She sits up now with a little cry of alarm. What has happened? She remembers feeling hungry somewhere along the journey and the taxi driver had stopped to buy her some Digestives and Pure Heaven Coconut drink.
She sees she is still in her dress, and that she has not been ravaged.
She smiles in spite of herself. She has totally abandoned herself into his hands, and she knows a less respectable man would have taken privileges with her.
She looks around and sees that the room is excellent and luxuriously furnished.
The bed is four-poster, the three armchairs leather-bound, the carpet impeccable, and the small bar obviously well-stocked. A door opens unto a terrace outside, and to one side is a small but beautiful eating place.
The ceiling has excellent murals. On the walls are classic art drawings, mostly of rastafarian orientation.
There is a glass-fronted wardrobe, and a beautiful dressing-table. A huge mirror is set into the wall at the foot of the bed so that lovers can obviously watch themselves on the bed. The television on the wall is tuned to some reggae station, and Bob Marley is singing ‘Could You Be Loved?’
She gets up slowly. Her movements are hampered a bit by the cast around her elbow, but she goes into the bathroom and is again taken aback by the mini jacuzzi and the pristine look of the accessories and fittings.
She draws a warm bath and strips down. She soaks in it for a long time. She suddenly realizes that she has not packed any clothes for her impromptu flight from pain.
She puts on a fluffy white bathrobe and goes to the room. She has absolutely no idea where she is, and to make matters worse she realizes that she has not even bothered to take Chris’ phone number.
She sees a white telephone on the writing desk, and one fixed in the wall above the bedside table.
She sits on the bed. She notices a laminated sheet on the table and she picks it up. It is a list of some important numbers and extensions, and on the top of the sheet are the words: JAMAICA RESORT, AKUAPIM.
She raises her eyebrows. She has never heard of it before. She picks up the receiver and dials ‘0’. It rings twice, and then somebody picks it up.
FRONT DESK RECEPTIONIST
Good Morning. You’ve reached the front desk, please.
Good Morning. I came in last night and was very tired. I don’t know my room number.
FRONT DESK RECEPTIONIST
You’re in Hut Twelve, Madam.
Thank you very much. I came with a… erm, a gentleman. A taxi driver, actually…
FRONT DESK RECEPTIONIST
(breaking in politely)
You mean Mr. Bawa. He told me to inform him when you wake up, Madam.
FRONT DESK RECEPTIONIST
He is in Hut Eleven, Madam. The one after yours. You can dial Extension Eleven to get him.
Oh. Okay. Thank you very much.
FRONT DESK RECEPTIONIST
You’re welcome, Madam.
Effe replaces the receiver gently and looks at it. She had been both hurt and confused the previous day. She had asked him to take her away from the pain. He had obeyed, and he had even stayed the night.
She tries to tell herself that he had stayed because she had not paid him for the journey, but deep down she knows that is not the case. She is beginning to realize that he is a very caring person indeed.
She sighs and lifts the receiver a second time and dials Ext 11.
He picks it on the first ring.
She chuckles instantly.
My word, but you can be very infuriating when you choose to, can’t you?
Oh, Madam. You’re awake. I dey come your room pronto!
The receiver drops with a clatter and she chuckles again. A moment later there’s a gentle ding-dong sound, and she walks barefoot to the door and opens it slowly.
He is standing there in black jeans shorts, white sneakers and a white T-Shirt. He is holding a huge polyethylene bag in his hand. She steps back.
Come in, please.
He does not move. His eyes are riveted on her face, and as she looks at him she is once again struck by how extremely handsome he looks.
She finds it hard believing that he is just a semi-illiterate taxi driver. He looks every inch a model, or a leading Hollywood movie star.
What is it? Aren’t you coming in? Why’re you looking at me like that?
(in a very soft and calm voice)
You be the most beautiful woman I ever see, Madam.
Despite herself she finds herself glowing inwardly at his compliment.
(with a smile)
Thank you. Now are you coming in? And do call me Effe.
He steps into the room. She starts to close the door, then sees the compound of the JAMAICA RESORT for the first time and stares. It is very beautiful. The compound is taken up with great expanses of green grass and royal palm trees.
The HUTS are brown stone stuccos and spherical white edifices. She sees a great garden, and far off she can make out what looks like a sports complex. She closes the door and turns to him.
Waow. This place is so beautiful. I’ve never even heard of it. How did you know this place?
(with gentle smile)
I be taxi driver, abi. I know a lot of fine fine places because big big people be my customers. This place is owned by a rasta Dada called Sir Sullivan. He be ma paddy!
They smile at each other, and for a few minutes Effe forgets about her pain and only thinks of the fact that the world is not as terrible as she feared it is going to be.
He puts the package he is holding on the bed. She raises her eyebrows quizzically.
Oh, I use some of your money buy some things for you because you no bring anything. If you wan stay here then you for buy other things later. They get some nice supermarket around hut one.
She walks past him and opens the package. She sees black jeans, a red and white blouse, a couple of panties which thankfully are still in their original wrappings and down-heeled slippers. And then there is a bra. She turns and looks at him.
And you think you know my sizes?
He smiles ruefully.
I guess them.
You guessed my sizes? You’re obviously a womanizer, aren’t you?
The smile vanishes from his face, and his face becomes rigid with sudden anger.
My thanks be that?
Quickly she sees she has hurt him somewhat.
Oh, sorry. I was just joking with you, Chris. Thanks.
She goes to the bathroom, locks it from within, and changes. Everything fits like a dream, and when she surveys herself in the mirror she likes his selection very much.
When she returns to the room he is putting the telephone receiver down.
(in a brusque voice)
They called. They wan know if you dey want some breakfast.
For a moment she does not really hear him. She stares at him, and it dawns on her suddenly that he is quite resourceful and awfully caring, unless he is doing it simply to impress her. Try as she can, she simply cannot recollect the last time Steve has really been selfless and chivalrous towards her needs. Lord, she is doing comparisons already?
She chides herself and gives herself a mental kick to stop the wanderings of her thoughts.
Thanks for the clothes, Chris. I like them.
Ok. I go leave you now.
Yes. I for go make some rounds. My taxi be work and pay. Every week I dey pay the owner four hundred cedis. When I finish e go be my own. If you be happy here then I dey go.
She realizes she has not thought about him leaving. She is a bit dismayed when she realizes that she has been dependent on him, and has unconsciously assumed that he will be available.
Her mind races, and then she walks and stands in front of him.
(in a soft voice)
Look, my arm is still not quite healed. The Doctor said he would remove the cast tomorrow. I want you to wait. I’ll pay you for the week. I will even double it if I have to because I obviously can’t drive, and moreover I don’t have my car. So I’ll like to retain your services.
He smiles, and his cheeks dimples, and she is once again quite taken aback by his sheer presence and masculinity.
It is as well that he is not highly educated, she thinks, otherwise he would’ve been a very dangerous man indeed…to innocent women.
(his voice suddenly excited)
It is expensive here o, Madam. You can stay here. Me I go go the town inside go find some place sleep.
Another hotel? There wouldn’t be much difference in charges, would there?
No hotel. I get some old chick for here. I go go search for am.
She puts her head to one side and regards him.
You’re not going to break any girl’s heart again. You’ll stay. I’ll pay for your time, and you’ll stay here.
He salutes, and she laughs, and just then her telephone rings. She sits on the bed and stares at it. It is JOSHUA DARKWA, their family lawyer. She sighs miserably, suddenly reminded of the pain factor in her life. The love of her life lost to her own cousin. Oh, Steve! She picks the call.
(in an unsteady voice)
Hello, Uncle Josh.
Effe. I need to see you.
Steve? His divorce?
Joshua is quiet for a little while.
Yes, my dear. They’re going to court, if necessary. I want to see you so that I’ll know how best to represent you and negotiate your interests to the maximum values possible.
I’m not fighting it, Uncle Josh. He wants it, let him have it. I don’t want anything from him. He can keep everything.
(his voice sharp)
Don’t react with your hurt heart, Effe. You can’t give in like this. I can convince the judge to grant you months for counselling, and even more months for a temporary legal separation, so that you think this over. I can drag this, if you want, and Steve would regret ever messing with you.
You know what this is about, Uncle Josh?
Yes. Elaine. Your Mama told me she’s pregnant for Steve. This is madness! It’s absolutely cruel. I can rip him apart, Effe. He wouldn’t know what hit him! Just give me the go ahead.
No, please. If he wants to go, let him go. He can have the house and everything. I’m ok. Please review the papers, and do whatever you need to do. I’ll come and sign them. Just make sure he gets everything.
(her voice catching on a sob)
Please. It’s over. Don’t let him take me through any more pain, I beg of you. Just do it.
The lawyer sighs deeply.
Okay, Effe, my dear. If that’s what you want, I’ll do it. Oh, before I forget, I’ve also been contacted by your insurers about your car. I’ll deal with that too. I’ll call you later. Take care, dear.
Effe cuts the line. Her eyes are blurred with tears. Her heart is breaking with pain. She gets up and tries to run to the bathroom, to hide and cry, but in her rush she trips and suddenly falls against the taxi driver.
He holds her, and her weight and momentum send them both sprawling to the floor. She tries to pull away, but he holds her, not tightly, not crushingly, but gently. She collapses against him, and she buries her face in his chest. And then she cries her heart out.
He says nothing. He just holds her. Her body is racked by sobs. After what seems like an eternity she calms down, but she remains within the circle of his arms.
Effe nods, but she does not look at him.
Yes. He wants a divorce.
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He’s with my cousin. She’s pregnant for him. He wants to marry her. I couldn’t give him any children.
So he hammer your own cousin? Cha, the man wild paa o! Oh Charley, e hard o!
Without meaning to, without knowing what is happening, Effe begins to tell the taxi driver about her life. When she has finished, she feels relieved. It is as though a great weight has been lifted off her shoulders.
The tears, however, slowly trickle down her cheeks. She cries for a while, and he says nothing, just lets her cry. After a while she brushes tears from her eyes and exhales.
That uncircumcised son of a bitch hurt me so bad!
What you mean uncircumcised?
Effe laughs and turns in his arms, leaning the back of her head against his chest now. He sits back and holds her.
Steve comes from a royal line. In the old days Kings in his hometown were chosen from his family line, and Kings shouldn’t have scars and wounds, and shouldn’t be cut in any way. They should be complete men. So the sons in his family line are always uncircumcised.
I no dey understand. If dey be Kings why say them no dey cut their dickies?
She laughs again and digs an elbow into him.
I just told you! Because Kings are not supposed to have scars! A King must be a whole man, a virile man. Getting a circumcision means he has a deformity.
Deformity! Cutting your dicky no be scar! Damn, so your husbie is a ‘kote bƆtƆ!’
Effe laughs uproariously this time, so hard that she turns into him and buries her face in his chest. After a while she suddenly stops laughing and lies quietly against him.
She is first aware, quite suddenly, that there are thick hairs on his arms and up his neck, and that her right arm is practically around his waist.
She becomes aware too, of his hard frame against her, and is simply aware that apart from her husband she has never been so close to another man. She had never allowed that.
Alarmed, she moves from him, and suddenly finds her face just inches from his, and notices how sensuous his lips are, and how penetrating his gaze is. She moves quickly from him and stands up. She speaks in a rush.
We better go and finalize the booking arrangements.
He stands up slowly and nods. When they leave the room and she locks the door, she walks beside him, and then he suddenly reaches out and takes her hand.
Her first instinct is to pull her hand out of his, but his big hand holds hers, and after a couple of tugs she stops trying to get free and walks hand in hand with him to the reception.
To be continued..