Chris is driving. He is obviously distressed. He keeps hearing the voices of Dr. Anaman and Bright Koffie. He runs his hand through his hair repeatedly. Finally he turns off the road and parks the car. He picks up his mobile phone and calls Steve.
Hey, paddy! What the dilly-dilly-dilly-dilly-yoo!! How did it go with the meeting, man? I just arrived to pick up Elaine! We’re meeting you at the church, right?
(voice dangerously soft)
Was Effe really trying to seduce you that night, Steve?
And what kind of damn foolish question is that, bro? C’mon, man, don’t tell me her wedding is affecting you that much!
Did Effe really try to seduce you, Steve?
Are you mad, man? Of course she bloody did! YOU SAW IT WITH YOUR OWN BLOODY EYES!! C’mon, man, what’s gotten into you?
(voice deadly, dangerous)
I saw what I saw, or what you wanted me to see, Steve. Swear to me, bro. Swear to me right now that she really tried to seduce you!
I swear on the grave of my mother, bro. The truth is Effe is a nut case. You should not waste your precious time feeling sorry for that girl. She is a good actress. What’s going on with you now, man? You’re scaring me, Chris. Damn, man, what’s going on?
I don’t know what to believe anymore Steve. Last night I learnt that Effe never raised a hand against my old lady, but four years ago my mother looked me in the eye and lied to me that Effe hit her on the head with a side-table!
And because of that you began doubting me, your own soul brother? You disappoint me Chris!
Damn it, Steve, she was my own biological mother! I am her flesh and blood yet she looked into my eyes and lied to me. This few days have been rough. I also just found out that Effe did not touch a penny of my money contrary to what I was made to believe. All she did was deposit it into another high-interest account. She didn’t steal my money, man! She just invested that money and thus increased it tenfold!For us, for our future! AND SOME STUPID MOTHERFUCKER MADE ME BELIEVE THAT SHE FUCKING STOLE FROM ME!
Wow, wow, wow…calm down, Bro. Is it not the same as stealing if she didn’t tell you she was depositing your damn money into another account, huh?
Shut the fuck up already, Steve! I don’t think that was stealing! The account she put the money in is in my name! You know what that means? I’m the sole signatory to the account, and she couldn’t have taken money out of it without my signature! Can you now understand where I’m coming from?
I understand, my brother. But honestly I think you are losing it. You still love that girl and her impending marriage is driving you insane. You should’ve let me know earlier so we decide what to do. Right now, as I speak Elaine is walking to the car. Let’s meet at the church and talk more on this ok?
Sure, sure, man. I’ll meet you two at the church. Bye for now.
GOLGOTHA HEIGHTS CHAPEL.
The church is packed with hordes of people. On the grounds of the church, parked on one side, are three sleek black cars decorated with gold and white colours. Chris is walking through the throng of people. Many recognize him and shake his hand, whilst others just stare at him in awe.
He is a famed designer in Ghana.
Soft music is filtering through hidden speakers mounted at various parts of the church premises. People are happy, and the whole aura is one of serenity and bliss. Chris takes out his phone and dials.
Elaine? Where’re you guys? Inside? Okay, I’ll join you presently.
He walks hurriedly to the entrance of the church and stops. The same gold and white decorations are everywhere. Chris sees Mr. Rupert Henderson seated at the front of the church with his best man, dressed in excellently-tailored black suits.
Chris’ face suddenly cringes with pain and a sudden bout of extreme jealousy. He cranes his neck, looking for Elaine and Steve. Finally he notices Steve standing up and waving to him. Beside him is Elaine, looking beautiful in a white and purple dress.
Chris begins to move towards them, and suddenly he collides with a lady.
Chris reaches out to steady her, and realizes it is Evelyn Boampong. She looks splendid in a cream suit and holding unto the arm of an elderly man in a white suit.
Chris! Glad you could make it! I already heard you were a bomb at the meeting!
Eve, glad to see you! You seem to be enjoying yourself!
Of course I am! Meet Mr. Joshua Darkwa, an Elder of this church! He’s more than an uncle to me! I used to visit him and his wife a lot when I was a kid! He and my father used to be business partners.
At the mention of the name Chris turns and looks at the elderly man with Evelyn, and then Chris’ face screws up with shock. The old man has a lot more greys in his hair, but yes, it is the same Joshua Darkwa! He is the man that Effe had spent so many hours with locked up in room 209 at the Ocean Front Hotel. He is Effe’s dirty old lover! Chris feels dizzy. He sees the scene again and again!
He remembers Darkwa wearing only a white T-shirt and trousers when escorting Effe out of the room after their encounter at the hotel. He remembers this old man embracing Effe! He remembers the old man making a victorious punch in the air!
From a long way off Chris seems to hear Evelyn calling his name. Slowly Chris comes back to the present, and finds himself leaning against the wall with Evelyn and Darkwa holding him with concern.
Chris, are you okay? What happened to you? You almost passed out. You scared me!
Young man! Are you okay? You almost blacked out! Have you checked your sugar levels lately?
Chris snatches his arm free from the grip of the old man and glares at him with venom. He hisses fiercely.
Get your damn hands off me, you son-of-a-bitch!
Evelyn gasps with horror.
Joshua Darkwa looks shocked and scandalized.
Hey, what’s the matter with you, young man?
Don’t give me that act! Elder of the church, right? I wonder how many young girls you’ve had your way with, you slimy bastard! You hide behind the church and do despicable things with the young and innocent women under your watch!
Chris takes menacing steps towards the old man who walks backwards with sudden fear on his face.
What’s gotten into you, young man? Have you perchance gone mad?
An elderly lady in a superb brown attire joins them. She takes the arm of the old man and glares at Chris. Chris was reaching out for Darkwa when Steve suddenly appears by his side and holds his arm.
Hey, hey, hey, Tiger! Take it slow, man! What the hell is going on here?
That piece of dung is Joshua Darkwa, one of Effe’s lovers. Four years ago he slept with Effe in some damn hotel! He is probably still sleeping with her!
Evelyn’s voice is hoarse with shock.
Chris Bawa!! Stop this atrocity!
The old woman slaps Chris across his right cheek.
You crazy young man! Watch your obscene mouth!
Cool down, dear. That young man is a troubled soul.
Chris struggles against Steve, intent on hitting Darkwa, but Steve holds him back with all his strength.
Hold it, man. You’re causing a bloody scene, goddamn it! Let’s bounce outta here, bro!
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Stop lying, old man, or I swear I’ll knock in the rest of your teeth! I saw you with Effe with my own eyes! Four years ago, Room 209, Ocean Front Hotel! Does that ring a bell? You spent three long hours alone with Effe in that hotel room when she lied to me that she was on an errand for her pastor! Don’t tell me you were praying in a hotel room!
The old woman is indignant.
She’s obviously Darkwa’s wife.
She tries to slap Chris again, but Evelyn holds her back.
Who’s this fool?
(nodding his head sadly)
Oh, honey, I think he is the young man our dear Effe was going to marry! The fool that jilted her and caused her so much heartache.
Yes, Auntie. Please forgive me. He’s our best designer. I feel so embarrassed.
No, it’s okay, my dear. I think the young man is just confused.
Confused? Are you for real?You were with her in a damn hotel room! Saw you with my own damn eyes. Deny it, and I swear I’ll break every bone in your body!
You fool! That’s my husband you’re talking to! That day you saw him with Effe, if you had bothered to ask, he would’ve told you that our only son had left home and settled at the hotel! He was suicidal because his girlfriend had left him! A friend of his alerted us about his whereabouts and his intentions to take his own life. I was with him in room 209 too! Later my husband came with Effe, so we were four in the room all that while.
He is stunned into immobility.
For a moment he can barely breathe.
Joshua speaks in a calm, kind voice.
If you had your doubts why didn’t you come inside to confront us, young man? That’s what I would do, under circumstances like that. I would break the door down if I had to, just to get to the truth. That day you saw me with Effe she was just trying to help our son who was so suicidal and all our persuasion failed. He was so burnt on ending his life that nothing could dissuade him. In my desperation I called the pastor, who told me that Stanley, that’s my son, was great friends with Effe. So the pastor called Effe to meet us at the hotel and see if she could talk him out of it. Effe did come, bless her, and spent time with Stanley. My son listened to her. Effe saved my son’s life that day. And I wasn’t alone with her in the hotel room, boy. Stanley and my wife were right there!
We didn’t want to leave the boy alone after Effe had calmed him down. That was why my husband saw Effe off alone. If you are in doubt you can ask Mr. Afful. He was a new member of the church then. We bumped into him at the hotel that day and we told him our plight and the fact that the pastor had sent Effe over to see if she could calm the poor boy’s nerves. Effe gave us back our son! Did you honestly think Effe could do something like that? You are a big fool and I thank God she didn’t end up with a fool like you.Stupid, stupid man!
Chris cannot speak.
There is a look of abject misery on his face. He is almost gasping for breath.
Oh, God! Oh, no! Tell me I just didn’t hear that!
(face showing distress as she takes Chris’ hands)
Wait a minute. You mean you were spying on Effe? Were you convinced Effe was having an affair with my husband? Why, young man? Why would you even think that? You were her world! You were the reason that girl breathed. She couldn’t stop talking about you! She adored you! Why did you think she was even capable of such a rotten act? That girl is nothing but an Angel!
Blindly Chris snatches his hands from hers.
On his face is a look approaching panic.
(distressed, heart exploding)
No! No, she’s not an angel! She’s a bitch! She’s a nothing but a bitch! Somebody tell me she’s a bitch!
(suddenly at his side, hugging him tightly.)
It’s okay, my love! It’s okay. Come with me, dear. Let’s get some fresh air! Let me take you home and pamper you. I’m sure that would do you good!
Oh, God! Oh, dear sweet Lord! What’s happening to me? What’s happening? I’m dying, I’m lost. Oh, Effe! I should’ve gone inside that hotel room! Should’ve confronted her! Oh, God! Oh, sweet Jesus!
People are talking excitedly around them now.
Chris is gasping for breath.
Flanked by Steve and Elaine, they move quickly outside.
We gotta get outta here. You don’t need to be here, Chris!
Yes, Chris. Coming to this wedding was a bad idea. Look at how worked up you are. That’s why I told you to stay away. Let’s go home, my darling! Let’s go home so I can pamper you back to sanity.
Chris only nods as sweat pours off his face.
When they get to the car park a white Nissan Xterra roars in, executes a dangerous turn that makes people flee with cries of horror. The car comes to shuddering halt, and the driver’s door is opened almost violently. Michael Ameyaw jumps out.
He is wearing only a pair of black jeans, a singlet and bathroom slippers.
Mike! What’s wrong? Why’re you looking like that? Is everything okay?Is Mama Lois okay?
Is it my Mother? Is she okay?
She’s fine, Chris, Sisi is fine. So sorry, didn’t mean to cause any panic. I got a little problem and I need your help urgently. Bro, please come inside my car and take a look. We need to make a decision about something right now.
Hell, Mike, you think this is the time to discuss some damn rice deal? Gimme a break, man! Let’s do this at home. C’mon, let’s get outta here!
Michael’s face hardens.
He suddenly grips Chris’ arm as the latter tries to walk away.
Mike, let go my fucking arm! I ain’t gonna discuss no damn Colombian rice with you here, goddamn it! Get your hands off me!
Mike, let’s go home, okay? Chris is not feeling too good!
You got to take a look at this thing, Chris, trust me. You got to get into my car right now! It’s a matter of life and death please.
Hey, what’s gotten into you anyway? What’s the matter with you? What’s so damn important that it can’t wait till we get home? I am at my wits end presently.
Chris. Trust me. This won’t take more than a few minutes! Take a look at the damn thing!
(pushing Mike back)
Lay off, bro! The man says he gotta blast outta here, and we’re all heading home, so what’s stopping you from bringing your ass back to the house and having whatever problem you have addressed?
(sighing and speaking calmly)
Listen, Mike, I’m on edge a bit, okay? Forgive me for being harsh on you. Alright, let’s have a look at your shit or whatever the hell it is, man.
Darling? Are you doing it here? Let’s go home and take all the time you need to go through it.
Gimme just a few minutes, my love. I’ll be with you shortly.
Elaine and Steve head towards Chris’ car.
Chris moves into step with Michael, who opens the backdoor of his car.
Get in, please.
Chris looks at Michael for a moment, and then he gets into the car.
Michael climbs in beside him and slams the door.