Effe has reached her son.
She reaches out and takes his hands in hers. She is deeply disturbed.
Junior, my prince, please, that’s enough. We all love your Daddy. It’s just that-
If you really love Daddy then you should really really really love him, Mommy!
Effe goes still. Her breath catches in her throat.
Oh, my Prince!
I love you, Mommy. But I’ll not be called Hollison. If Grandpa doesn’t want us to use his name, Daddy will give me another name. Can I go home with Aunt Rammy today, please?
He does not wait for her to answer.
Tears drench Junior as he races towards the exit.
His little legs are unsteady as he runs blindly, his throat making choking sounds as his little heart breaks with pain and confusion and bitterness.
His little arms are held out, and his legs are so wobbly in his grief that he almost falls.
Eyram stands up and quickly moves into the aisle, and she get down on her knees and holds out her arms, and Junior collapses against her, bawling his heart out.
Effe’s stunned eyes meet those of her sister and she cringes inside at the look of sudden ferocious dislike in the depths of Eyram’s eyes.
She watches, weak with emotional torture, as Eyram picks up her son and walks out with him.
Dear Lord! Dear sweet, Lord! I’m losing my son… I’m losing my dearest son!
For a moment Effe trembles and her legs almost give way beneath her, but Ken Kedem puts an arm comfortingly around her.
The Reverend Brand speaks then, softly and gently.
You’re doing the right thing, Effe. Never despair. God rules, and I know He is going to touch Chris’ heart! Now, please sit down, and let us prepare our hearts and listen to the word of God.
Somehow, although his preaching is as usual powerful and deeply-spiritual, it does not penetrate as deeply into the hearts of his congregation as it normally does.
CENTRAL POLICE STATION
The room is bare except for a table and two chairs behind it.
Chris’ face is still swollen, and he has deep gouge marks on his face where Baaba had scratched him.
He is wearing a pair of jeans and a cross-stripped shirt.
His hands are handcuffed in front of him, and they are lying on the desk.
There is a single naked bulb above, but no fan.
The room is stinky and very hot, causing sweat to pour off him in torrents.
The door opens and two men come in.
One is a sneering Chief Inspector Danso Cuger, and the other is a young-looking handsome man who is very dark in complexion.
The man is in a black suit and a pink shirt, with no tie. His shirt is open at the neck, and he is holding a dark green paper file.
He has a little pot-belly, and his face is a bit florid like he enjoyed the occasional bottle of drink.
He does not sit on the other chair available, but rather slams the file on the desk and glares at Chris with all the contemptuous disgust he can muster.
My name is Ben Buabasah, and I’ve been forced to represent you in court by the Public Prosecutor. Apparently, no lawyer wants to represent you even at a high price because you’re a hated man, the Beast, that the whole country hates. I’m supposed to be interviewing you today to find out how best I can represent you, but guess what? I don’t give a shit! I hate being forced to defend you. Well, as the saying goes, you can force a horse to go to the riverside, but you can’t force it to drink. So, let me put my cards on the table. I think you’re a spineless piece of cow dung! Even your father disowned you in his church today. If your own father has pronounced you guilty for the whole world to see, how do you expect me to defend you? Listen, Mr. Bawa, I’m not going to defend shit! I think you’re guilty and deserve to be locked up for a lifetime! However, since it’s important that you get a lawyer, I’ve been appointed to represent you. But I’ll tell you that you’re going back to prison, where you belong! I’ll be in court, but don’t count on me! Good day, Mr. Chris!
He picks up the file, turns and storms angrily out of the room.
Danso Cuger laughs and then he puts his hands on the table, bends and blows cigar smoke into Chris’ face.
CHIEF INSPECTOR CUGER
Guess what, Chris-Pussy, you’re coming back to prison, and boy, am I going to set up a wonderful reunion package for you!
This time round, Cuger, I’m gonna poke out your other eye. Be prepared for blindness, motherfucker!
Cuger chokes on his laughter, and when Chris makes a quick movement forward Cuger dashes backwards with a grunt of fear, trips and lands hard on his butt.
Chris’ deep laughter fills the room as Cuger stands up and hurriedly leaves the room.
The huge courtroom is packed, every single seat taken.
There is murmuring as the crowd waits patiently.
Only the national television station has been allowed to cover the proceedings for the country but other stations have been given the rights to carry the feed from Ghana Television.
Five cameras have been fixed, covering every angle of the courtroom.
The Prosecution Team is seated. They are made up of Effe Kedem, Jeff Atakora and Albert Mensah.
The eleven-member jury is also seated. They look really grim and absolutely competent.
The bailiffs, orderlies and clerks are all dressed and seated. The court clerk is a grey-haired buxom lady whose hair is tied in a bun on top of her head, and she is making final adjustments to her computer.
The courtroom artist is in a seat just behind the clerk, and he has already sketched the jury.
Suddenly a little side door near the witness stand opens, and two policemen come out.
Behind them is Chris Bawa.
He is wearing a black T-shirt and black jeans, and his hands are handcuffed in front of him.
There is a sudden angry uproar in the courtroom as he moves forward, and behind him are two more policemen and his lawyer, Ben Buabasah.
As they approach the Defence seat he pauses and stares at Effe.
Effe turns slowly and meets his eyes.
He sees the acute bitterness around her lips. He sees no love there, no recognition, no tenderness.
Effe has indeed written him off, and he is no longer in her life.
Effe sees the shock in the depth of his eyes, and she sees the light slowly fading from them, and then finally she sees the deep lines of pain that has suddenly filled his face.
Her heart tears apart. She fights violently for breath, for strength and for the courage to carry on.
This is how it has to be; he is The Beast, and he does not deserve love. He does not deserve to live with humanity.
She turns her head away, and Chris moves on and takes a seat amidst the boos and shouts from the crowd.
Buabasah gives Chris a real dark look as he sits down beside him.
As the chattering in the court room grows louder another door behind the Judge’s stand open, and a grim-faced Judge OSSOM ANNOR enters.
Judge Ossom mounts the dais, enters his box and takes a seat. He motions to them to get seated, and everybody does.
Absolute silence reigns as the Judge removes his glasses and puts the tip of one stem in his mouth, and looks at Chris with the fiercest eyes ever.
Chris returns his gaze calmly.
Judge Ossom puts his glasses down and nods.
The case, THE STATE VERSUS CHRIS BAWA, is called.
Judge Ossom looks at the neat little folder in front of him and opens it slowly.
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I welcome you all. Jury, Prosecution and Defence. I also welcome the general public here. You must all note that, due to the circumstances surrounding this case, we have allowed live coverage on national television. Now, let me sound a note of caution to the spectators we have here. I’ll not condone any unruly behaviour, and if I see it fit to remove any one from this courtroom, believe me, I’ll do so without hesitation. I expect silence and decorum from you. Do I make myself clear?
He looks around meaningfully, and save for a low murmur through the room, no one speaks , and absolute silence reigns again.
Good. Now, I welcome you all here. The accused, Mr. Chris Bawa, is charged with raping Miss Baaba Brooks under Sections 97 and 98 of the Criminal Offences Act 1960, Act 29. Under Section 97 of this Act, if the accused is found guilty, he will be guilty of first degree felony and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of not less than five years and not more than twenty-five years.
There is an excited murmur in the room.
Silence reigns again.
We will now take the Opening Statements of the Prosecution and the Defence.
Ben Buabasah stands up and pulls his lapels close, and he speaks slowly but clearly.
Your Honour, ladies of the jury, the Defence will not make any opening statements.
He sits down. There are two empty chairs between him and Chris. Evidently, he does not want to be near Chris.
Thank you, Counsel. Lawyer Kedem?
Effe stands up slowly.
She is dressed in a most beautiful blue-black skirt suit, and she looks very gorgeous indeed.
Sitting at the upstairs first row, Afful digs an elbow into Steve’s ribs.
Now that’s what I call a good ***! Shit, won’t mind hitting it!
In your dreams, ***hole!
Effe walks forward until she is facing the grim-faced jury.
There is absolute silence as all eyes are fixed on her.
For several minutes she tries to speak, but nothing comes out. She begins to tremble, and then she turns slowly and looks at Chris.
When their eyes meet, time stands still. They have eyes only for each other. In that space of time their pain is shared, and their tortured souls reach out for relief.
And then something uncanny happens: at precisely the same moment tears come to their eyes, and at precisely the same moment they speak in perfect unison.
And then they are moving… frantically, painfully, tortured, agonizingly!
Blindly they reach out for each other, but Chris’ hands are cuffed so he cannot hold her.
Effe’s arms encircle his waist as he raises his arms and places them on her shoulders.
Their tears fall harder now, but it is not with pain this time.
It is the happiness of two souls who have descended from the bliss of heaven to the horrors of hell…and found their way back.
It is a unifying of hearts, a language of love on a level only true hearts understand.
And then, right there on national television, with everyone and everything frozen, their lips meet.
They taste their tears, and they taste their joy, and they taste love.
It is a violent kiss, and a tender one, and simply life!
And Steve stands up and rushes from the court.
Eyram looks down, and tries to still the sudden twist of pain in her heart.
(touching his wet face)
Oh Chris-Love! My soul, my heart! Forgive me, please! I couldn’t take it! I thought I could hate you back for breaking my heart with that Baaba thing. I thought I could prosecute you and put you away so that you can’t hurt me anymore. You killed my soul when you told me that maybe we’re not meant to be together. But I just can’t! I can’t unlove you, Chris-Love!
My Angelface, my breath, my air…it’s my fault! I hurt you when I cheat! You married me a virgin, oh Lord why do I hurt you so? I know you’ve known no man except me. Forgive me, Angel. No matter what, from this moment, I promise with my present tribulation, there’s not going to be anyone but you!
Oh, Chris-Love! That’s all I’m asking for. Nothing more! Yesterday your son told me to really really really love you if I love you, and that’s what I’m doing! Chris-Love, please love me if you love me!
Effe, EFFE, Effe! I love you. Always have, always will…and yes, from this moment, there’ll be no third parties!
They kiss, they cry, they hold tight…loving, because they love.
Suddenly Effe pulls back and looks at Chris with horror as she smiles…and her face, smeared with their tears, shines brightly with an amazing beauty!
She whispers to him.
Really? Chris-Love! With handcuffs and staring at twenty-five years in prison you still get an erection in court?
And the two of them suddenly break into laughter, still holding each other, still crying together….still alive!
Still living loving…and it is indeed a beautiful thing to behold!
What happens next? Find out.
JAILBIRD continues tomorrow