The Commander points in the direction of Chris, and then he turns and looks Effe, who is holding the hand of Junior and has a shocked expression on her face. Junior sees his father, and he drops his mother’s hand and screams.
Chris turns, surprised. Eyram’s arms drop, and she steps back quickly.
She watches as Chris rushes forward, drops to his knees, and catches his son in a fierce embrace. Across the bodies of father and son, the two sisters look at each other. Effe has deep surprise on her face as she sees the traces of tears on the cheeks of her sister. Eyram’s face only holds sad resignation. Chris stands up and grins down at his son. Junior grins back at him, and as the two sisters look at them they marvel at just how much they resemble each other.
Junior is holding unto his blue piggy bank. He extends it to his father.
I saved some money for you, Daddy. It’s all in here. You can have it.
Chris tussles his son’s hair. He is very touched, and for a moment he is unable to speak. He puts his arm around his son’s shoulders.
Listen, Champ. I’ll need that money, but right now I have to look for a job to do. Tell you what, as soon as I pin something down, I’ll let you know, and then you can loan me your money.
Junior looks shattered. His whole face collapses, and for a moment it looks like he is going to cry.
But you gave all your money as offering, Daddy. I really, really, really wants you to have this, Daddy.
They stare at each other. Chris reaches out and takes the piggy bank, and he sighs deeply at the depths of the strong emotions buffeting him.
Thanks, Champ. I love you.
(smiling, tears in his eyes)
I love you very much, Daddy.
They embrace tightly. Effe sighs tremulously and looks at Eyram, who has tears in her eyes.
So you came to bail him, just like you said you would.
I didn’t have to bail him, Ef.
(raising her eyebrows)
And why’s that?
You didn’t hear? The girl retracted her story. She says she lied. She admitted she had a little fight with Chris, and then she lost her footing and fell into the glass. She now says Chris saved her life.
Effe stares at Chris, then at Eyram, and her eyes narrow. She shakes her head numbly.
But it doesn’t add up. Chris was also hurt. Has she changed her story simply because she’s scared of-
She stops because Chris has turned, and has fixed her with his very cold eyes.
Scared of what, Effe?
His voice is bitter, and filled with such pain that for a moment Effe cannot speak.
She looks dejectedly at her son and former husband, and feels the sting of their accusing eyes.
I’ve never hidden my feelings from you, Chris. Maybe Baaba just doesn’t want to drag the issue.
So, you still believe I tried to do her harm, don’t you?
Actually, Ef, Baaba told me this morning that I should tell Chris to come and visit her, because she has missed him so much. She is also sorry for telling lies about him. Do you think a girl who has been subjected to the trauma of near-rape, would say such things to her attacker? There’s something wrong with Baaba, I’ve been watching her at church….she’s definitely a weird one.
Don’t waste your breath, Eyram. Your sister will never believe in me!
Effe’s defences come up, and she glares at him defiantly through the sharp pain his words has opened in her heart. She detests the fact that she suddenly feels so guilty. She remembers how she had behaved at the hospital when she heard the police were coming for Chris. To be told that Chris is innocent of the crime is really hurting her. She feels so terrible.
And do you blame me, Chris Bawa? Do you blame me for doubting you, for thinking bad of you?
Junior reaches out and holds his father’s big middle finger.
He stands beside him, and looks at his mother with hurt eyes, and slowly the words die from Effe’s lips. She is aware that she is incurring the displeasure of her son, and that stops her tirade.
I’ve to go, Eyram. Thank you very much.
Junior tugs at his father’s hand, and Chris looks down at him.
We’re on vacation now, Daddy. Mommy says I can spend some time with you, please.
Chris sighs deeply, and his eyes are troubled.
I know, Champ. I also want to be with you, but right now I have no job, and no place to stay. Let me try to fix that, and then we can spend some time together, okay?
Junior nods, and even though tears come into his eyes, he smiles bravely and hugs his father.
That’s one of the reasons I came here, Chris. The hospital has accommodation for its doctors. My bungalow is huge, and it has a two-bedroom Boys’ Quarters which is empty. You can stay there until you sort yourself out.
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Junior does not notice the sudden tension that has come between the adults.
He lets out a cry of happiness and suddenly rushes forward and hugs his aunty, his face alight with incredible happiness.
Really? Really, really, really, truth-truth really, Aunt Eyram? You will give my Daddy a place to stay?
Eyram ignores Effe’s stunned and frantic eyes and smiles down wanly at her nephew.
Really truth-truth really, my dearest Junior. But I don’t think your Daddy wants to accept it.
Well, I need to-
Oh, Daddy! Say yes, yes, YES! It’s not far from our place! If you stay there I can spend more time with you! I can even sleep over, Daddy. Say yes, please, please, pleeaaaase!!
Chris looks unhappily at Eyram. He is reluctant to stay with her, especially with Effe looking so furious all of a sudden. However, he can’t deny the fact that he doesn’t have anywhere to stay, and that he has no money and no possessions. A place where he can lay his head and see his son regularly is really appealing, and reluctantly he accepts.
This is what we’ll do. We’ll all go over and look at it, Champ. If you like it and I like it, then I’ll accept it!
Alright, let’s go! Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you, Aunt Eyram! Let’s go, come on! Mommy’s car is outside, Daddy. Let’s go sit in it! She’ll take us.
He pulls Chris’ hand and drags him towards the entrance.
Chris stops and shakes his head gently.
I’ll ride in Eyram’s car, Champ, if you don’t mind.
But I want to sit with you! Okay, I’ll go in Aunt Eyram’s car too! Mommy, can I sit with Daddy?
Effe has to drag herself almost physically to the present. Things are happening like a whirlwind, and
she is being sucked along against the tide! Her desperate eyes search Eyram’s face frantically. Before she can speak Junior reaches out, grabs Eyram’s car keys, presses the right button on the remote control, and the car beeps as the doors unlock.
Junior opens one of the back doors and quickly scrambles inside, dragging his father in. The two sisters are temporarily alone.
My God, Rammy! What the hell do you think you’re doing?
Eyram looks calmly at her sister.
Giving the father of your son a place to stay, Ef.
And when did you arrive at this grand idea, Rammy? Don’t tell me it was just now, because I know you! You took a decision like that and you couldn’t communicate it to me last night? What’s going on, Rammy?
Eyram moves close to her sister.
What’s the fuss about, Ef? He’s your ex-husband. He’s been in prison. He’s the father of your son. You’ve left him, his family has abandoned him. Society calls him The Beast now, thanks to your aggrieved bridesmaid. He has no money, no work, no place to live, nothing! That Baaba girl just falsely accused him, and he could’ve been in serious trouble if she hasn’t told the truth. He’s all alone, Ef! The father of your son is all alone and despised, even by you! Is it a sin to help him, Ef? This is not you!
That brings tears to Effe’s eyes. She looks away, and for a moment she can’t speak. Junior opens the door a crack.
Auntieeeeeee! Let’s goooooo!!
Wordlessly Eyram turns and enters her car. She drives out of the parking lot.