THE BAWA RESIDENCE
The Reverend Brand Bawa stands at the upstairs window of his house looking out across the beautiful green garden of his backyard garden.
He can see Stan and his wife and daughter far off near the pool.
It seems Diana and her husband are also there.
He closes his eyes for a moment, forcibly trying to push the image of Chris’ mutilated back out of his mind, but the image persists.
What brute and evil people could have done that to the boy?
True, the boy had incurred a lot of wrath from the good citizens of the country after his famous trial, but to subject him to that kind of torture is absolutely unthinkable and unacceptable!
That is why the boy has changed so much!
The youthful exuberance and carefree abandon are gone, and the man he has tried to bring back home is just a bitter shell of a man with a sizzling hatred that has seared the soul of Brand.
Sure, he and Chris have always been at each other’s throats.
He hadn’t particularly liked Chris because he had been different, a pure-heart vagabond who has refused any form of leash on his wild spirit, but still he is a Bawa, his son, and the obvious horror the boy has gone through troubles Brand very much.
The bathroom door opens, and Lois comes in, pulling the sash of her morning gown around her.
He turns. Their eyes meet.
He can see the torture in the depths of her eyes too. The horror is still there, and from the day she had seen the savage story on Chris’ back, she has not been the same woman since.
She walks heavily to his side, and she also stares out of the window at her children and her grand-children.
They hurt him very terribly, Brand.
Yes, they did, dear.
She begins to tremble, and he reaches out in a rare show of affection and puts his arm around her shoulders.
Did you hear what he said? That we cut him off when Roland died?
He stiffens a bit. The name of Roland always did that to him.
Roland, wonderful Roland, who had been and always would be his favourite son.
Yes, I did, dear. For him to say that, I think, is my biggest failure as a father.
She gives a sob and lays her head on his shoulder.
It is true, you know. We all loved Roland, and I guess we were so hurt that we never forgave Chris, and we made him feel responsible for the death of his brother.
She sniffs, and puts a hand to her mouth.
Do you think that is what made him so… so … so different? He felt guilty and abandoned?
He gives a shuddering breath.
I wouldn’t be surprised if it played a huge role in his wild spirit. But he settled down somewhat after marrying Effe.
There is silence for a while.
He hates me, Brand, and it is killing me. Before he went to prison he always tried to impress us, to make us accept him. But, when I met him, I saw the hatred in his eyes.
Not for you alone, my dear. Yes, I saw the hatred in his eyes, for us, for Diana, for Stan. He wants us to leave him alone.
But we can’t, Brand, we simply can’t! I don’t want him to hate me, Brand! Bring him back, please bring him back!
He gives a shuddering breath, and his old face is filled with much pain.
Battle is the Lord’s, my dear. He can bring back our son. We can only pray, and hope, but ultimately, it rests on the Lord.
He can’t keep out of trouble, Brand. He lost the Company he started, and he has lost Effe He has lost his house, his possessions, and we abandoned him! That boy is filled with so much anger, Brand. The chances of him going back to prison are very high, so please don’t leave everything to the Lord like that! Let us reach out to him in any way we can!
He nods, and draws her nearer, and when she begins to cry he does not try to stop her.
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VELVET SPRINGS BEACH
Junior is having the time of his life.
He and his Daddy are making the beach theirs!
They ride an inflatable raft and on a jet bike. They drink coconut juice and almost eat a whole mini bucket of chicken with fries and Fanta.
Finally, they pick a place under the cool coconut trees, spread a comfortable blanket, and sit on it chatting.
Quite suddenly a group of people approach their position.
Chris is laughing at something funny Junior has said when the group stop near them.
There are three ladies and three men. One of the men is very huge and wearing a singlet that shows off his great muscles.
He comes near Chris, and there is a very bad look in his eyes as he looks at Chris.
I’ll be damned! Hey guys, isn’t this guy the Chris Bawa dude, the one called the beast?
His companions giggle uneasily, and one of the women step forward and grabs the man’s arm.
Come on, Kuntu. Let’s go.
The huge man shrugs off the woman’s hand and glares down at Chris.
I hear you knocked down that poor girl and she lost her leg. And you never said sorry, you piece of stinky and useless nun’s pussy!
Junior jumps to his feet and glares at the big man.
Leave my Daddy alone!
The giant glares at Junior and a nasty smile crosses his face.
Your daddy is an asshole, little boy. A fucking coward! Heard he beat up an old man and almost killed him. Hey, motherfucker, have you ever tried taking on someone your own size?
His friends laugh now, and they look at Chris who is still sitting quietly, his back against a coconut tree.
Junior moves forward and shoves the huge man’s thigh angrily.
I said leave my Daddy alone!
Without warning the huge man shoves Junior, and the boy topples over, cracking his head against another coconut tree.
What happens next is a blur!
The huge man barely notices Chris getting off the ground.
He sees a blur, and he tries to step back, but Chris’ hardened fist sinks into his ribs with such force that the huge man grunts as instant blood spurts from his lips.
He totters backwards, clutching his ribs, his eyes suddenly blinded with tears as the pain suffuses his whole body.
The people with him are suddenly shouting, looking at Chris with a mixture of sudden fear and apprehension.
The huge man called Kuntu suddenly gives a roar and rushes at Chris, his great muscle-bound arms reaching out to grab Chris so that he can crush him.
Chris grabs one of his hands, spins and uses the man’s rushing momentum to crash the man’s head into the exact coconut tree Junior had crashed into.
The man lies on the grass, his forehead badly split, blood spurting.
He is lying groggily, staring up at the cruel face of Chris with sudden panic.
As Chris steps towards him he raises his hands suddenly with terror.
Please …please! I’m sorry, please!
Chris’ face is unforgiving. The man’s friends try to hold him back, but the look of absolute mayhem on his face scares them.
Other people are coming around now. Chris bends, grabs the man’s singlet and raises him.
He draws back his right fist, intending to crash it into the man’s jaw, but Junior steps forward and holds his father’s wrist suddenly.
Daddy. It’s okay, please!
The huge man is almost crying helplessly now.
Please, please, oh please! I’m sorry!
Chris looks at his son, and suddenly the savagery goes out of his face.
He lets the man go, and he falls back down with a moan.
His friends help him up, and lead him away still moaning as they press handkerchiefs to his bleeding forehead.
Chris gathers his son into his arms and hugs him so tightly that the little boy feels almost swamped.
I can’t breathe!
Chris releases him immediately, and Junior looks at him with awe, his little eyes roaming his father’s face with complete worship.
Are you okay, Champ?
Junior nods vigorously, and then smiles wolfishly.
You maimed that man gooooood!! He was so chicken scared! Next time let him come and mess with my Daddy again!
They both start to laugh, and then they fall on the blanket gripped with gales of laughter.
Junior turns and climbs on top of his father, wrapping his little arms around him.
Chris feels a rush of love, the same strong blast of love he had felt the first time he took his son into his arms.
He wraps his arms around Junior’s little body, and a while later the boy’s rhythmic breathing tells him he is asleep.
Chris gently turns sideways and puts his son on the sheet.
He sits back against the coconut tree and watches his handsome son sleeping.
He feels a movement behind him and turns sharply.
Baaba Brooks is standing behind him.