Junior is sleeping soundly in one of the guest rooms. He had wanted to see his father, and Eyram had thought it best he spent the night at her place so that she can monitor him further as he waits for Chris. Effe had decided to stay with her sister too, just to be close to her son. She had cooked some plantain and garden-eggs stew for herself and Eyram. It is the first time in a while that the two sisters have been alone and sharing a cosy dinner. The moment strikes both of them, and they laugh a lot as they remember old times.
After dining, they take tall glasses of ice-cold Coca-Cola to the porch..They sit on the beautiful cane chairs, and when Effe sees the Boys Quarters her mood suddenly dampens.
I wonder where that boy is. Lord, why did you allow me to fall in love with such a crazy man?
Her sad tone makes Eyram look at her sharply. She takes a sip of her coke to hide the sudden lurch of her heart.
Chris will always be Chris, Ef. You knew the moment that Crankson brute hurt Junior that Chris will never let it rest, didn’t you?
That’s it, Rammy. Chris’ life has always been like that, no resting. If he learns how to rest, for even a second, what a wonderful life he will have.
Again, Eyram drinks her coke. She looks at her sister and then she sighs heavily.
So. You and Steve. Have you fixed a date yet?
Effe looks up at her sister, and her face is a topography of worry and distress.
How can I? Can I do anything sensible when that bad boy Chris Bawa is around, Rammy? I tried. Lord knows I tried, and I guess Mom especially is going to be mad at me, but there’s nothing I can do.
Eyram is suddenly feeling quite sick. She forces herself to drink down all the coke, and put the glass down with the ice cubes tinkling in it.
Meaning you’ve decided to go back to Chris?
Something in Eyram’s voice makes Effe look at her sharply with a little scowl.
I’ve never stopped loving Chris, Rammy.
The man you divorced, the man you and Mom couldn’t stand, the man you left alone in a rotten prison for five years? You now want him back? You now realize you still love him? If he had not come out of prison you might have been a married woman now, Ef.
Effe slowly puts down her drink and turns and looks at her sister, so stunned that for a second she can hardly speak.
Jesus, Rammy! What’s this? Are you judging me? You of all people should know what I’ve been through. Young mother, budding lawyer, and suddenly my husband goes berserk and beats up an old man who wanted to take a roll of marijuana from him? He ends up knocking down a poor innocent girl who loses one of her legs? He bursts the eye of a policeman and then they find cocaine in his car? But suppose all that is just the workings of the drugs in him, so I forgive him for that. But what about Elaine? A girl who is like a second sister to me? My maid of honour! And he rapes her! What do you suppose I felt, Rammy?
I’m not judging you, Ef. I’ll never do that. But I find it so amazing when you claim you love him, and now want him back when you’ve never really believed in him. Even now, after knowing he made love to Elaine and you caught him in the act, but he wasn’t raping her, you still continue to believe Elaine’s version. And yet you claim you love him? Maybe we have different perspectives about love, but I know I’ll always believe Chris over Elaine.
What the hell are you talking about, Rammy?
You never believed him when he told you he didn’t rape Elaine.
Effe freezes. She looks at her sister carefully. She wonders if Chris has also told Eyram that he and Elaine had been in a relationship once. No, he couldn’t have. When he confessed to her it had been torn out of him. Eyram surely would have told her if Chris had told her anything like that.
What’s there to believe, Rammy? I didn’t hear it from somebody. Elaine didn’t accuse him. I walked into a hotel room and he is on top of her naked body. She is screaming, crying for him to stop, scratching his back until blood poured! And you want me to believe he wasn’t raping her, dear sister? I can accept he made a mistake he’s sorry for, and I’ve now forgiven him, and ready to rebuild our lives together, but what I saw that day was rape.
Eyram sighs miserably, and then she looks up as a Nissan Pathfinder turns into the yard. She notices how Effe jumps to her feet instantly and begins to walk towards the car. Eyram reaches out and touches Effe’s arm. She looks her sister in the eyes and speaks softly.
Listen, Ef. Chris doesn’t have to rape any woman. Apart from the fact that you’re sexier and far more beautiful than Elaine, he doesn’t really have to rape her, or any woman.
What’re you talking about, Rammy?
Unless you believe that Chris is a pervert, who can decide to rape any woman, let me tell you that Chris Bawa can have any woman he wants. That is what you’ve never understood.
As she turns away and picks up the glasses and leaves the porch hurriedly, Effe stares after her, aghast.
She suddenly feels cold, and has goose-bumps all over her body. The air locks in her throat and for a moment she cannot breathe. What is that air about Eyram, and that note in her voice? Effe feels there is something she is not getting, something she cannot put a finger on.
But can it be true? Has Elaine held back about something? Is that why Chris had made some veiled accusations?
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The Pathfinder has stopped, and three men jump out. She sees Chris taking a quick look at Effe’s and Eyram’s parked cars, and then he comes striding towards the main house. Effe descends the steps and walks slowly towards him. Up in the house Eyram parts the curtains and watches them.
Effe is looking into Chris’ face. His face is hard and still as if made from granite. When they reach each other they do not speak. Effe simply walks into him and her arms encircle his neck. He crushes her to him, and when their lips meet it is with a hungry violence that draws their souls out and unites them with the fervour of starved love.
Eyram turns away from the window with a little sob, and as she does so she sees that Junior has walked into the living-room and he is out and walking rather slowly towards his parents. The pain is sudden and unbidden, as terrible as it is unwanted in Eyram’s chest. She walks quickly to her room and slams the door. She leans against the door and take hard breaths, shutting her eyes tightly.
This is sick, Eyram. Very sick. You can’t have this feeling! You can’t have this pain. He’s your sister’s love! Stop this nonsense now, STOP IT THIS VERY INSTANT!
Even so, tears force their way past her tightly-shut eyelids and fall down her cheeks.
Chris feels a hand on his thigh, and he tries to pull back, but Effe will not let go as she hungers against his lips.
Daddy! Stop that! Mommy, stop the face-licking thing!
They break apart, and realize their son is with them. Chris falls down to his knees instantly and gathers his son into his arms. His huge body trembles as deep emotions overcome him. But he does not cry this time round. He leans back slowly and stares at his son.
Listen, Champ. I made a promise to you, and I’ll always keep my promise. But that man, he’s not a very good man. He keeps hurting people. And he hurt you, and I can’t allow that, Champ. I’ll not allow anybody to hurt you.
But I really really really don’t want you to fight, Daddy. I don’t want you to die, Daddy.
Chris gathers his son into a hug again.
Daddy is stronger than ever, Champ. Daddy is not going to die.
You promise, Daddy? You really really really cross your heart promise you’re not going to die?
The two other men have reached them now. It is Darlett Thompson and Wailer Vroom.
(crossing his heart)
I promise Champ. After the fight, I’m going to buy your Mommy the biggest diamond ring and we’re going to take our vows again, and we’re going to be a family again.
Junior’s worry disappears instantly and he looks up at his mother with the pure innocent happiness of an angel.
Is it really really really true, Mommy?
Effe laughs, and she runs a hand through the hair of her son and that of her man, and even though tears stream down her face she is also smiling happily.
I love your crazy father, my Prince. Yes, we’re going to be a family again, and you’re going to have little sisters and brothers!
No more Uncle Stevie step-father nonsense?
No, no more Stevie step-father nonsense, my dearest.
They all laugh, and the boy throws his arms around his father’s neck and whoops.
YAPPITY YAPPITY YIPPPPEEEE!!