Steve sees the dangerous signs, and he knows just how violent and unpredictable Chris can be. He turns hurriedly and runs into Effe’s bedroom, shutting the door and picking up his boxers and shorts.
Junior cannot be held back anymore. He comes round his father and looks at his mother. He holds up Chris’ arm and shows the new watch to Effe.
Mommy! Look at the birthday gift I gave Daddy! I called him this evening and he came and I gave him the watch which Mr. Abbiw bought for me as my prize. Daddy loves his birthday gift!
She almost falls down.
Desperately she holds unto the banisters to steady herself.
Yes, Chris’ birthday!
She has forgotten all about it!
But their son hadn’t forgotten. Of course, he will never forget.
Good night, Champ. Sleep bliss. Angels guard you!
Junior turns back immediately to his father, and grabs his thighs.
Daddy! But you said you were going to read me a story and put me to sleep and…
His voice trails off as he notices the sadness on his father’s face, and sees the agony Chris can no longer hold back.
(his voice shaking)
Daddy? What’s wrong? Did I do something wrong?
Chris crashes on his knees and sweeps his son into his arms. He holds him tight, and then his huge body begins to shake with abject misery, and then suddenly tears from his eyes fall on Junior’s face.
Daddy! Please stop! I don’t want you to cry, Daddy! What did I do? Please stop!
With an effort Chris holds his son back. The little boy reaches up and cleans tears from his father’s face.
Chris forces out a smile.
You’ve done nothing wrong, Champ. I’m just happy that I’m here, and you’re here, and Mommy is here and it’s my birthday, and it is just like the old days. Sometimes, when grownups are happy, they cry.
So, they’re happy tears?
They’re happy tears, Champ. Listen, I’ll read to you and put you to bed another time. Right now I want to show this beautiful watch you got me to my friends.
Wow! Yappity yappity yippeeee! You love it that much?
It’s my most precious treasure, Champ.
Junior hugs his father suddenly.
I love you, Daddy! I don’t ever ever ever really ever ever ever want to see you unhappy because I really really truly truly love you!
(fighting back his tears)
Yeah, Champ, I love you too. So much truly.
He lets his son go, and without looking at Effe he descends the steps.
Effe scrambles forward.
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Junior, please wait for me inside. I want to see your father off.
Junior looks at his mother, and she sees that deep inside her son is still confused, and his eyes are questioning her.
You got him a birthday gift too, right Mommy?
Chris is almost at the door now.
Effe is desperate. She kisses her son on the cheeks.
I did, my jewel. Please go inside. I’ll be with you in a minute.
She flies down the stairs, and her emotions let go, and her tears blind her. She has seen death on Chris’ face, death that has come about because his soul has died within him. She clutches the door open and goes out.
The security men look at each other with concern when she goes out the main gates screaming.
Chris! Wait! Please wait! Nothing happened, Chris! Please nothing happened!
But he is gone. He is running like a madman through the streets, trying to outrun his pain, his misery, his bleeding heart!
Effe stands for a long time looking after him, trying to see his figure.
Oh, Chris, Chris, Chris! Your first birthday outside, and what a birthday gift have I given you? She wipes tears from her beautiful cheeks as she goes back inside. Steve is standing in the living-room, fully-dressed. Junior is standing on the landing, his shoulders down, his head downcast. When he sees his mother he turns slowly and enters his room, shutting the door behind him. Steve looks at Effe, and there is resignation on his face.
She touches his arm, and moves past him.
Good night, Steve. We’ll talk tomorrow.
His jaw tightens as he stares after her, and then with a tight curse he turns and leaves the room.
Effe tries Junior’s door.
It is locked.
My prince! Open the door, please!
Junior’s voice reaches her, muffled by the closed door.
Good night, Mommy.
He is also hurting. Somehow, he has deduced that his father’s ‘happy tears’ might not be happy after all, but might have been caused by his mother and her companion. Effe turns with a sob and rushes into the room. She falls on the bed, buries her face in the pillows, and tears soon shake her whole body. She knows that somehow, it is now finally over between him and the love of her life.
This was not the way she had planned it to end. He has treated her worse, of course, but the last thing she wanted to do was hurt him like that, and she knows she has indeed hurt him badly.
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