Father Tom washed his hands and started walking towards the exit.
“Excuse me father, where is he?” One of the priests walked to father Tom
“Who?” he asked knowingly. He didn’t want to start explaining things to anyone. He felt his mission had been fulfilled, he helped a man turn to God and that was enough of an achievement for the year. His heart felt glad and he continued praying that wherever he was, he would be fine, he could learn to live with his past and start a journey that will bring him closer to God, be it in jail or free, his hope was he was happier than he was when he first walked in the monastery.
“I am not sure of his name Father but am sure you know whom am referring to” the other priests insisted
“Oh, am sure you are asking about Joseph, well he left father” he smiled walking on.
“But… I heard he killed someone father” he asked with a down face
“So? You wanted to jail him? Or maybe convert him to become a priest?” Father Tom stopped looking at the other priest.
“No.. I mean.. but.” he stammered not knowing what to say, Father Tom was one of the senior priest and he obviously knew what he was doing, the other priests sighed and gave up.
“Am glad he made peace with himself.” He smiled widely..
“And with God father, he is under his care and my job with him is done. Take heart son that boy will be better off to face the rest of his life alone, of course with Gods guidance, God will give him new purpose and he will live to praise and worship him in truth and am sure his family will serve the living God. That is enough to make you and I both happy” he smiled and parted the shoulders of the other priest and walked on as the other watched in silence.
Joe was standing on the road across from James` house. He stood there without making movement for over 15 minutes, there was no activity he could see from the windows but the lights on made me think there was surely someone inside. James was in there and he was contemplating what his first action upon seeing him would be.
“Joe you could have stayed on, running away was not the best of your solutions” his mind replayed the conversation he had with Alisha an hour past.
“I had to, I killed your father. That day was something Alisha, when James told me Chanda was beating you, abusing you physically and emotionally, punishing you for not loving him, for loving me instead, for not forgetting me in your life even when you agreed to live with him. I could not let anyone hurt you Alisha, no wonder when I heard that my first reaction was to make sure I saw you were okay. For days I walked about your house just to make sure you were okay. Then I saw you being pulled to that fool`s car, being dragged like a rag or sack of nothing and I could not hold it. I felt anger Alisha, I tried to stay back but I could not. I had to defend you” he argued.
“It was not in your place to protect me Joe, I was going to learn to defend myself, I just needed to gain courage and face my fears” Alisha faked a smile
“Well, I was there and I saw it all. I didn’t know your Father was coming to address the same issue that day Alisha, I swear I didn`t know. And you know what happened then” Joe paused as they both recalled the day.
Joe walked to Chanda`s car and angrily pulled back Chanda from the car and hit him on his face
“How dare you!” he screamed in anger
“What are you doing here you idiot! This is my house!” Chanda yelled
“Is this what you call marriage? Huh? Hitting a woman and dragging her out like this? You must be out of your damned mind you fool!” Joe let go of another blow landing it on Chanda`s face, he fell down. Alisha was watching hopelessly her face swollen from the beating Chanda had given him.
“She is mine and I can do as I please, I paid so much to have her and what does she pay me with? Loving you and hating me? You think I can live with a woman who despises me, who pretends she loves me when she sleeps she calls your d–n name? She had it coming, she gets me pissed and I hit her. Yes I do because I want her to feel the pain I feel when she calls your name in her sleep. I want her to know that am a man and I want to be loved by her, she didn’t marry me to cook for me and make my house clean, she married me to love me and she has failed! She is just as useless as her broke family” Chanda went on speaking out his anger as Joe watched in in anger.
“So you are going to kill her because she does not love you? You knew that before you forced her to marry you, buying her off like a piece of material, you idiot! No one ever taught you love can never be bought?” Joe angrily went for him his fist well-made and ready to pounce but his hand was held up by another and when he turned to see who it was. Alisha`s father was behind him staring at him with anger in his face too
“Stay away from him!” he raised his voice and Joe sighed stepping back.
“Am sorry, but he was… he was beating her, look at her face, look what this idiot has done to her” Joe tried to explain to Alisha`s father
“This is a family matter, I have heard about you young man and I am not pleased to meet you, you have been the cause of my daughter`s troubles and I would like you to leave now!” the old man spoke with command.
“No, am not leaving him sir, am sorry but I will not let this half man treat a woman like this” he shook his head
“No, you will leave, this half man as you call him is married to Alisha and that is not changing anytime soon” Alisha`s father replied.
“Dad am leaving him, I cannot do this anymore, please I can’t” Alisha cried still lying in the back seat of the car, Joe could see she was in pain and walking or standing up was probably a problem.
“You will not leave anyone Alisha, let’s get inside and talk” the father looked at her.
“Please sir, please, he will kill her” Joe begged his eyes teary, at that point he could almost see his own father who ill-treated him when he was growing up. He wondered why Alisha`s father would want his daughter in such a marriage. She was begging him to take her away and he was insisting she stays on.
“No” Joe walked to the car and blocked Alisha`s father
“If you don’t want to take your daughter and save her life, then I will. Am sorry I know it’s not in my place as you put it but I love this girl and am taking her away from here” Joe held his ground and Alisha`s father looked at him with a shocked face.
“No you are not… Alisha is my wife Joe and she will stay here” Joe heard a voice walking towards him from his side. He had not realized Chanda was up from the ground and when he turned to look at him. Chanda had a gun pointed at Joe.
“Oh, so what, you will shoot me?” Joe chuckled not sacred one bit. His own was to save the woman he loved and he was not going to be intimidated, less still by a gun, one of his toys. He ignored Chanda and started bending to lift Alisha when Chanda let go of the gun and fired one in the air. Joe startled so did Alisha and her father.
“You move any close to my wife and I will shoot you. In fact I will shoot you both.” Chanda gnarled angrily. Joe slowly withdraw and walked towards Chanda who kept pointing the gun at him
You spoiled brat, you think everything is solved by violence. A woman fails to love you and you beat her up? You insult her and you think that beating her up will change her mind?” Joe asked taking slow steps to him
“Yes, I paid for her. You know money can buy anything man, I bought her, with my hard earned cash. She belongs to me and if her heart cannot work properly to love me, I will teach her to do it” Chanda giggled proudly
“Is this what you want?” Joe looked back at Alisha`s father who looked on without saying a word.
“You should leave” Chanda`s voice was firm
“Or what?” Joe challenged angrily and before Chanda could realize it, Joe snapped the gun from his hand and turned to point it at him instead.
“You will never, never treat Alisha like slave, this ends today” Joe shouted angrily. Chanda lifted his hands. Aisha struggling, started moving from the car and held on to the door standing up.
“Please Joe, you can leave now. My father is here and everything will be okay.” Alisha knowing things will not end well with all men angry.
“Young man, put the gun down and leave us, please” Alisha`s father chirped in too and Joe looked at him shaking his head
“You will let her die at the hands of this fool?” he asked lowing the gun and moving forward to look at the man.
“We are going to solve it Joe.. Its Joe is it?” the man paused
“Yes” Joe shrugged
“Well, you are a good man for looking out for my daughter but understand she is no longer yours to care for. I understand your anger when you saw her beaten up and I promise we will talk about this with my son in-law and find a solution to this problem. Just bear in mind that if you keep pursuing my daughter, you will make things worse for her”
“But I have not been.” Joe wanted to defend himself and then stopped realizing maybe his coming to Alisha`s house made things worse for her and so he thought letting go completely would be the best for both of them. He sighed giving up and when he was about to turn to face Chanda and probably hand the gun to him. Chand lashed at him and instantly Joe moved his hand to sway it away from Chanda and in a flash, he heard a gunshot, his face froze. At first Joe thought he had killed Chanda or worse still Alisha who was standing nearby but when he looked at them both and they were okay. He felt a sense of relief.
“Dad!” Alisha screamed running to her father laying down blood coming off his shoulders he was on the ground. Joe`s eyes pooped open in shock, his heart felt like it stopped for a while
“You have killed him!” Chand took the moment to accuse Joe
“You have killed him you bastard! It’s all your fault, you could have stayed away. Am calling James and the police” Chanda went on talking and Joe stood there in shock. All the anger he was feeling before left him and all he had was shock. He had never in his life killed anyone. Not even the thugs he used to chase about, the worst he went was shooting a thug in his leg when pursing him on duty and now he could see the man on the ground gulping his last breath.
“Am sorry Alisha” Joe whispered
‘You should have stayed away Joe, now you have killed my father” Alisha sobbed holding his fathers hands and shaking him to wake him up. The mans eyes were shut close and Joe looked about in confusion. He started withdrawing as his legs trembled. Chanda was on phone telling someone Joe had killed Alisha`s father and Joe started heading out without looking back.
He walked in circles as confusion filled his head. He didn’t know what to do, but one thing he was sure of, James will put him behind bars. He will have him either killed in a man hunt of locked up for life.
‘No, please no” Joe kept Whispering to himself as he walked about aimlessly. The shouting of some men behind him made him realize the cops were on him and he started running without hesitation. Joe came to a dry pool and when he was trying to run past it. He slip and fall in his clothes staining with the mud in there. He struggled to get out as the men came his direction until finally he made it out. He ran across the yard the sprinklers spraying water on him taking off some of the mad on his body and it all went down his t-shirt. Joe ran across the houses and kept on running till he got to the busy town area.
Alisha shook her head looking at Joe
“Am sorry Alisha, I ran, I was afraid, and when I realized it was too late, I could not turn back. I am back now, ready to face my punishment. I know your brother would want to kill me for what I did but am here regardless. I came because I want to say sorry, I met a priest who in days taught me I had to learn to face my fears and trust God in everything. He cancelled me and brought me closer to God like never before in my life, I repented of my sins and gave my heart to God Alisha. Am here to make things right and I didn’t know where to find you but my friend told me you were at your parent`s house. Am glad you agreed to come have this talk with me when I sent my friend.” Joe said.
“Hmm so what now?” Alisha looked up at his face
“You buried your father already? Am so sorry… I put you and your family through that. I hope one day you will forgive me”
“Forgive you? For what?” Alisha asked.
Joe noticed she didn’t look like someone who had lost her father. She looked free, he could almost tell her life was better than before she met Chanda.
“Yeah, my father didn’t die Joe, he is alive, and he was discharged from the hospital 2 days ago. He is fine, we were told the bullet didn’t hit anything important and it was removed, he stayed in the hospital for a while but he is out now. I left him home”
“Wow, so.. You are telling me I have been running from something that is not even there? Your brother put up an advert in the media and placed a reward offer for anyone who would catch me, for what? A man still alive?” Joe shook his head.
“Yeah, James was pretty mad at you when you ran off, the reward was placed the moment he got back to the office after dad was admitted in the hospital. We were all not sure he will live or die. He was quiet critical and honestly I was scared too. Chanda blamed it all on you and was the one who even told James the reward issue for your capture. “
“Am not surprised, that bastard hates me” Joe muttered
“He does, I spent all my days in that marriage paying for that Joe. You have no idea what Chanda did out of his insecurities. But I am now free, I have to start reliving my life and hopefully I live a better one from now on”
“Does that mean you left Chanda? “ Joe asked
“Not really but James made sure he never had access to me after he found me beaten up. I sued Chanda for battery and abuse and he was fined. Have sued him for divorce”
“Oh great, finally” Joes smiled
“Joe am not..”
“I know, am not asking you to be with me Alisha, I have gone far of the path, I almost killed your father and your brother will obviously lock me up at first sight. So yeah, I loved you but we cannot be together. Father Tom was right, I have to choose a path that is Godly, not to be obsessed with my freshly desires”
“Oh now am freshly desire to you now?” Alisha asked
“Alisha, I didn’t mean it like that, am just trying to figure out my life right now. My childhood and growing up under my fathers harshness led me to develop so much hate and anger. I believe God has given me a second chance and I want to do right by it. You belong to another man, you are married to him and I cannot put myself in your way, Father Tom said, Marriage is sacred, blessed by God and no man must put it asunder. No matter how we met and what happened between us, I was made to understand that I have to let you go, you belong to another now. I have to.. Like I said before find another path of life. A better one, one without need to be violent.” Joe sighed sadly holding Alishas hands.
“I feel like am talking to a different Joe, something happened to you in that monastery, it sounds like a good thing but am not sure I like it coming from you. Where is the Joe that would fight for me? That promised to love me till forever?” Alisha asked tears in her eyes.
“He is right here Alisha, I will always love you but not like this. Now I have to go and face your brother” he smiled standing up
“Will we meet again?” she stood to him sadly..
“I hope so, I don’t know what will come out of my meeting with your brother, am handing myself in and I pray all goes well. I want you to be happy Alisha, its all I have wanted for you since the first day I met you”
“I love you, and I don’t want you to go “ she cried
“ have to.. am sorry again, for every pain I caused you and your family..” Joe hugged her and walked away before he could stop himself. He knew he had to do the right thing no matter the outcome as he recalled father Tom`s words.