GOLGOTHA HEIGHTS CHAPEL – CONTINUOUS
Five white Chrysler saloon cars enter the gates of the Golgotha Heights Chapel. The cars are now parked in front of the church with precision.
Mr. and Mrs. Opoku alight from one car. Effe gets out, helped by two handsome men in black tuxedos.
Eyram pulls the veil across Effe’s face.
Mr. Opoku and Effe link arms, and they are seen entering the church.
People are shouting happily.
Photographers and media personnel rush forward; camera lights flash, recorders and powerful cameras are brandished. The organist plays a slow sweet flow that ushers Effe and her party to the altar.
Rupert Henderson smiles broadly as he gets up to stand beside Effe, and then they mount the elaborate dais, and stand in front of the officiating minister.
Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today in the sight of God, to join this man, and this woman, in holy matrimony. All sounds die down.
Rupert and Effe exchange glances. The organist begins a soft, barely audible tune.
Not to be entered lightly, holy matrimony should be entered into solemnly and with reverence and honour. Into this holy agreement these two persons come together to be joined.
His gaze sweeps the congregation. Tension mounts slowly.
If any person here can show just cause why these two people should not be joined in holy matrimony, please speak now, or forever hold your peace!
A tension-filled silence reigns as the Minister’s eyes sweep the room from one corner to the next slowly. Finally he nods slightly, picks up his spectacles, cleans it quickly, and settles it on his nose.
Marriage is a sacred union…
The entrance darkens suddenly.
Chris Bawa stands in the doorway.
Hold your peace, Man of God; hold your peace a moment!
There is a stunned silence. Rupert curses and grinds his teeth. The Bridesmaid whirls round, her face is absolutely startled and frightened.
Mr. Tamakloe jumps to his feet, but Evelyn holds his arm quickly.
The fool! What’s he doing now?
Hold it, John! Let him be!
Why should I? That boy’s going to make a mockery of Rupert’s wedding, for Christ sake!
Sit down! Should I remind you that you need Chris more than you do Rupert? And for God’s sake, that boy loves the girl! Did you think for a second that he wouldn’t fight for her?
There is a buzz in the church room.
Mrs. Opoku jumps up with a sharp groan, but her husband holds her down and stands up himself.
Chris walks forward. His steps are purposeful. Mr. Opoku meets him half-way across the room.
Young man, do you have anything to say?
You bet your holy clerical that I do have something to say to that woman!
(Holds up a hand to halt him)
Chris what’re you doing? Please don’t do this! If you love her please don’t do this to her! Don’t ruin her day, boy!
(Smiles sadly and stops)
But I am not here to make trouble for Effe, my dear Mr. Opoku. I just want to say sorry to her.
I don’t understand, boy!
Relax. You will in a minute.
He walks past Mr. Opoku, and pauses in front of the dais. The noisy mumblings in the room drop to a few scattered whispers. The Bridemaid stands up and walks towards Chris.
(Turns to Rupert Henderson, whose face is tight with anger)
I am extremely sorry to make such a scene, and believe me, I feel greatly humiliated. I just came to say sorry to Effe.
Effe does not stare at Chris. She is trembling. Chris’ voice is now filled with sadness.
I am sorry, Effe. I am so sorry for the pain I caused you. On my own behalf and on behalf of my mother and all the people close to me who contributed to breaking your heart, I stand here and apologize for our misdeeds. Please, forgive us.
Effe still does not stare nor speak. Tears slowly trickle down her cheeks.
Chris turns to Henderson.
Mr. Rupert Henderson, you are a lucky man. You are not marrying an ordinary person. Today, you’ve got an angel for a wife, and I hope you know that.
(Nods, and suddenly the anger leave his face. He smiles gently.)
I know, Chris. I know.
Yeah. She is a good woman, Rupert. I’ll tell you this for real, if it was in our era that God was choosing a mother for His beloved son Jesus Christ, I am convinced that He would’ve chosen Effe!
You know what, I think I agree with you on that too, Chris.
(Tears in his eyes)
Treat her well, Rupert. You treat her good. If you ever hurt her, I swear I’ll rip out your intestines through your nose and strangle you with them.
I will do my best, Chris. I give you my word.
Chris throws up his head; tears drown him. The room becomes absolutely quiet now.
Oh, God! I am in pain, but I think I’m done here now!
Rupert takes out a white handkerchief and hands it to Chris.
They nod at each other.
Chris turns away, and he faces the congregation. He is a picture of absolute dejection. He begins to clean his tears with the handkerchief as he walks away. He passes Mr. Opoku, who is still standing. Mr. Opoku pats Chris’ shoulder lightly. Chris is halfway to the door now. He is passing Evelyn. She reaches out and squeezes his hand.
Chris is almost out of the door.
The room is still quiet. He is passing an old woman who seems to be in her late sixties. She stands up and glares at him. She begins to speak.
And what was that nonsense all about, young man? What do you think you were doing? You foolish man!
(Pauses and looks at her)
You speak the truth, old woman. Never has truer words been uttered by a human being. I am, indeed, a very foolish man!
He walks out of the church.
He walks on the grass, and his legs tremble. He misses a step, and he suddenly falls to his knees and throws up his face to the heavens. People stare at him. He bellows loudly.
Dear God! Why are you doing this to meeeee? How am I going to survive this moment? Help me out here! I need peace Lord! I am in pain, please give me a second, just a second of peeeeaaace! pleeeeease looooooord!
THE BEACH – EVENING
The sun is going to set. It is low over the sea, casting a golden glow on the waves. The waves are lapping gently, rolling smoothly towards shore and splashing the rocks with deep and muted sounds, and then cascading down the sides of the jutting rocks.
Chris is sitting a little way back on a flat rock. His shirt is opened halfway down his chest. His shoes are off, and one of his legs is propped up. Only few people are around, mostly new couples in love, and as he watches them he smiles sadly. He remembers, a few years ago, he and Effe had strolled these same shores, so crazy mad in intoxicating love.
A taxi pulls up behind his car, but because it is behind him he does not see it. Elaine alights from the car, pays off the driver, and turns towards the sea. She sees him immediately, a forlorn lonely creature sitting on a flat rock. Elaine bites her lower lip, and her eyes are deeply troubled as she stares at his back. Slowly and carefully she picks her way towards him. She rounds the rock and stands in front of him. He looks at her and smiles sadly again.
Hello, Elaine. How did you find me?
I know you, Chris. You always run to the beach, to this spot, anytime you are unhappy.
Hmm, I see. I tried to call you, but I couldn’t find my phone. Don’t know where I put it.
It’s with Michael. I called and he answered. He told me he didn’t know where you were.
Tears well up in Elaine’s eyes, and then she slowly falls to her knees in front of Chris. She reaches out and holds his dangling leg.
Oh, Chris, my darling, please forgive me! I know what I did was unpardonable. I know how much you must hate me now, but please, my love, I did those horrible things because I love you, and couldn’t bear to lose you! I do love you Chris. I love you a whole bunch!
Hmm. What can I say? Get up, Elly. Don’t kneel before me. I’m not worth it. I am not worth your tears. Come, sit with me a while. Don’t want you getting the wrong ideas though. We are done. We are finished.
(a bit confused. He extends his hand, and she takes it. He pulls her to her feet, and the smile on his face is very gentle)
Are you okay, Chris? I didn’t expect this from you. I was sure you were in a killing mood, ready to wring my neck for all the pain I caused you.
No, Elly. Look, fill in a few blanks for me, okay? Did you plan this with Afful all along?
(looks at him intently, and then she sighs. She bows her head, and tentatively she reaches for his hand and holds it.)
I’ll tell you the truth, Chris, because I don’t want any more lies between us. Yes, I was in great pain after I lost you. To say I was shattered was putting it lightly. One evening Afful sought me out. He had lost his job at the orphanage. He wasn’t bothered about the money because he had made a lot of money from dealing drugs and selling babies. He told me he had always been in love with Effe and wanted her to pay for the disgrace he had to suffer when you got him fired. He told me Effe had an identical twin sister who was a high-priced prostitute, willing to do anything for a price. He mentioned that neither of them knew the other existed. He told me he had a plan and if I played the cards right with his plan I would have you back, and he would succeed in wrecking Effe’s life forever.
And that was when it all began? You two also involved my mother and Steve?
Afful took some pictures of Eyram, Effe’s twin sister, in some very dirty poses. He told me to show them to your mother and Steve and get them to hate Effe. I went along with his plan because I wanted you back, Angel. I showed the nude photos to Steve and your mother and told them you knew about Effe’s sordid life but didn’t want them to know because you were ashamed. I told your mother not to confront you with it because you were almost decided on leaving Effe. They were both very angry, and decided to work together with me to get Effe out of your life for good. Oh, Chris, I’m so terribly sorry.
But how did you guys know Effe will meet Koffie at the Sports Club? How did Afful know about Effe’s meeting with Mr. Darkwa and his family at the Ocean Front Hotel? How did he plan these?
He and his friends were monitoring Effe constantly. He told me, for instance, that Effe has gone back to your house after the hotel incident. He asked me to persuade Steve to go over to your house and fake a rape scene on Effe to make it look like they were secret lovers. It wasn’t difficult to persuade Steve because I had an leverage over him. One time when you travelled out of town I was so bored I invited him over to keep me company. We had a few drinks and the inevitable happened. We were very miserable because we knew that was the one thing you would never forgive us. That day you made it much easier by asking Steve to lock up your house for you. I threatened him that I would tell you he raped me if he didn’t do as was told. First Afful wanted me to hide in the room and take pictures of Steve’s move on Effe and later show them to you. But then he called me to say you were on your way home, so I quickly left. I was shocked because Steve really meant to go ahead and make love to her. Believe me, Chris, I never meant for that to happen!
(nods, and then he smiles sadly again)
You seduced my best friend? Ha, I don’t think I really knew you, Elaine. We were together for a long time but I think I didn’t really know you at all. As for Afful, he was a criminal. He was a very vicious person. Do you know he died? He paid for his sins somehow. He suffered before he died.
Yes. He had a terrible heart attack. I went to see him, and he really suffered for the one week it took him to die. He was in terrible agony, and that was when I began to get scared. It was as if our bad deeds were catching up with us. Oh, Chris, my honey, please forgive me! Please don’t hate me!
Chris notices that Elaine is shivering with cold. He drapes his coat across her shoulders and gently draws the lapels close around her.
He smiles into her eyes.
Hate you for what? I don’t hate you, Elly. I don’t even blame you. I don’t hate Steve, and I don’t even blame our parents who saw it fit to bring us together where there was no love. You guys have done nothing. I blame myself, and I hate myself. It is all my fault, and I gave myself this pain. Me, myself and I. No one else.
No, Elaine. It is me. I practically lived with Effe. I knew her. What I saw, what I heard, they shouldn’t have mattered. I should’ve known what that dear angel was capable of and not capable of. That should’ve made me pause, and speak to her. But no, I let myself be manipulated like some stupid mannequin, a moronic puppet, and ended up driving my brains up the lanes of hell, and burning my own heart. You are not to blame, Afful is not guilty. I am guilty, I am to blame.
Elaine looks horrified. She shakes her head, and tears glisten on her lashes.
She is suddenly desperate. She jumps down and holds his hands desperately.
No, Chris! You can’t take that stance! You have to hate me. You have to be angry with me! You have to be bitter! Only then can you forgive me, and possibly allow me back into your life as the woman who will always love you! You have to hate me, Chris! I deserve your anger. I deserve your hatred.
(Smiles and smooths her hair. He touches her cheek gently.)
I don’t hate you, Elaine. I just can’t. You’ll always be a friend. I gave you hell, forgive me. I have wasted many years of your life, please forgive me. Maybe, if it is not too late, you can get back with Frank Stiles, your fiancé, the one you introduced to me some years back?
You fool! It was just an act to get you jealous! That bastard was one of Afful’s stupid cohorts! It’s you I love, Chris! For you I will go to hell and back! Can’t you get it into your thick skull that I only love you?
I don’t really think what you feel for me is love. How do you justify sleeping with my best friend and I know he wasn’t the only one you have been with. That doesn’t even matter. Let’s say for the sake of argument that you do love me. The truth is I don’t. I’m sorry, but I see it differently. I had a chance with an angel, I blew it, and now my heart has ceased to function where love is concerned. By now that asshole is all over Effe, doing God knows what. I can’t love you, I can’t love any other woman. Friends, yes, but love, NEVER.
You’re hurt. You’re very hurt. Now I understand. Your brain is in a state of shock, and you’re not really functioning. You’re delirious with your pain, and your body is withdrawing, sheltering itself from the shock. I will give you time. Soon you’ll recover and my love will nurture your heart back to health, Chris. You will see.
I am not delirious or shocked or any of that drivel you just spewed out. I’m at peace with you, and everybody else. Steve was like the brother I never had. He betrayed me in the worse way possible. But I am not God to judge him. I will let him live with his conscience that would be the best judge of the matter. I’m okay. Come, let’s go. I’ll drop you off, and then I’ll go home and watch some Bruce Lee Chinese movies, crazy stunts.
Chris, don’t withdraw this way, please! Get angry, hit me, pull my hair. Curse me! Yell at me! Do anything but this, please. You’re scaring me, Chris, my darling! Stop being a damn Saint!
She begins to wail. Her face crumbles, and her body shakes violently.
Her tears are great sobs that racks her body, causing her to lose control. Her voice is not loud, but her agony is great.
Chris takes her into his arms. She buries her face in his shoulder, holds on to him tight, and cries in a heart-broken fashion. Chris brushes her hair and pats her back tenderly. On his face is a huge sad smile.
The damn wedding reception might be over by now. That stinking crazy old man is probably with Effe. He is touching her and there is nothing I can do about it! I gave her to him on a silver platter. I pushed Effe into that old man’s arms. For all you may know, she did it to scorn me.He’s going to hurt Effe, you know. Is it true men like him have giant, you know, THINGS? I hear old men take a long time to….. oh, shit, blast this! YOU’RE GOING TO KILL ME, EFFE!!!
Elaine looks up with tears still streaming down her face.
She stares up at him with some mixture of exasperation and confusion. And deep down she knows she has finally lost him, and it set her off on another wailing fit.