The party was held a hotel along Enerhen road. Brukeme got down from the keke he had entered and paid. At the gate, he called Lisa. She came out of the hotel and ran into his arms, excitedly. She wore a black short gown, with halter neck. She had a wedge on her feet and she looked stunning. She grabbed Brukeme’s hand and dragged him into the hotel. The party was already on.
Brukeme watched guys and girls dancing, talking, drinking and smooching. Everybody was richly dressed and everywhere he turned he heard people speaking with American accents. He shook his head in disbelief. “So everybody for here na American now? Na wa o. e no get wetin we no go see for Warri.” He thought to himself as Lisa maneuvered them through the crowd and found a seat for him among friends of hers.
At the table were two other girls and a guy. The girls were smoking and the guy had his nose on the table, sniffing something white. Brukeme looked at them in distaste and sat down. He greeted them and moved his body away from the smoke as best as he could. The boy raised his head and sniffed, cleaning his nose with his hands. He looked at Brukeme and smiled.
Boy: “Lisa has found another toy boy.” He said; his voice sounding like he had catarrh.
The girls laughed harshly, staring at Brukeme as if he was some kind of new species of cockroach. He turned to look at Lisa. She was smiling sheepishly but her hand had tightened its grip when the girls laughed. He sighed and turned to look around.
Some girls were dancing together, and some sucking on shisha like it was oxygen. Everywhere people were having a good time but he wasn’t. Lisa excused herself to get drinks. Immediately she was gone, one of the girls jumped Brukeme
Girl: “sweetheart, whatever you think you are enjoying with Lisa is small compared to what I and my sister can give to you. We will give you the greatest fuck of your life and we will still treat you to fun times, no strings attached. Just keep it on a low low.” She said, before taking Brukeme’s earlobe into her mouth and sucking.
Brukeme shivered. She stank of smoke, stale perfume, and old sex. He pushed her off him gently, turning around for Lisa.
Boy: “slut. Why do you always want to get on any man, Lisa brings? Can’t you get your own?” he asked, whispering like he was out of breath.
Girl: “well she jumps on mine too, if she gets the chance.” The girl replied, laughing.
Brukeme stared at them with open mouth. “These are Lisa’s friends? Na wa o. All these ones na ashawo na…wetin she dey do with these kain people?” he thought to himself.
Lisa soon returned with a waiter carrying two bottles of Hennessey, an ice bucket and glasses. He placed the items on the table and left them. Lisa opened the drinks and poured into a glass for Brukeme.
Brukeme: “I don’t take alcohol. A bottle of malt will be fine.” He said, declining the glass.
There was silence on the table then suddenly, the two girls and the guy burst into laughter. Lisa’s face flushed with embarrassment and anger. She stood up and dragged Brukeme with her. They got outside and Lisa dragged him to her car.
Lisa: “why are you embarrassing me in front of my friends?” she asked, her eyes filled with anger.
Brukeme: “those are your friends?” he asked, surprised.
Lisa: “what sort of question is that? Last year, I was with Chris and his parents in Dubai. Yemisi and Valerie are the children of Chief Omobudu. You know him? No you don’t. Such people do not mix with people like you. I brought you here so you can mingle with classy people not those guys with old trousers and corn all over their face that you mix with.” She replied, before gasping to draw breath.
Brukeme:”those guys with corn on their face have stood by me when I had no one to turn to. They have been true to me every time. These people you call friends; these are no friends. They will treat you with cruelty as well as hug you.” he replied, getting angrier.
Lisa: “why did I even invite you here sef. You are nothing. Go!” she said, throwing a thousand naira at him.
Brukeme: “you are your mother’s daughter. Jerry was right; I shouldn’t have come.” He replied softly, then he turned and walked away.
At night, when the customers had reduced to a trickle, Ashley went a rusted door at the back and broke the old padlock there. She opened the creaking door gently then she entered a dark passage and started walking forward. She soon got to a flight of stairs, joined to a wall. She climbed it until she got to a door. The door was metal and quite strong. She ignored the door and went to where crates of old bottles of drinks were piled up. She removed a piece of cloth and dug her hands between the bottles. She was in luck, the keys were still there. She took the keys and opened the door as quietly as she could.
Tega’s office was covered in darkness. She stood for several minutes to allow her eyes adjust to the darkness, and then she moved slowly to the only table in the room. She thanked God for the rug that muffled her footsteps as she walked slowly. She got to the table and went behind it to the chair. Years ago, when she and Tega were still together as lovers she had seen him bend down under his chair and he had been there for a while. She moved the chair to the side, gently then she saw that the rug on the spot where the chair had stood had been cut into a square patch. She removed the cut rug and behold; the door to a safe.
She stared at the safe for some minutes. The key to the safe was not going to be easy to find. She checked around the table but found nothing. She opened the drawers, went to the shelf of books hanging from the wall but found nothing. As she turned around in frustration, she saw the picture of Tega hanging from the wall. In the picture he was shaking hands with the local government chairman of Warri South L.G.A, as at that time. He had told her then that the picture was very valuable. She walked to the picture and stared at it. She removed it from the wall and turned the back. Underneath the carton that covered the back of the picture was the impression of a key. She smiled. She soon opened the safe and she smiled more at what she saw there.
She finished up, locked the safe back then she placed the key back into the picture and hung it on the wall. She arranged the office back to how she had met it then she left the way she came. She managed to get back to Ehis’ room without being seen by anyone. In no time, she was asleep with a satisfied smile on her face.
The Anigboro family called in the doctor attending to their mother, who had been given a bed by her husband. She had experienced a slight stroke on hearing about Fidelia’s pregnancy and the possibility of either her or Kate being HIV positive. At the moment she was asleep. With the help of Fidelia, everyone was being tested for HIV, including Fidelia herself and her father. Ese was the first to get hers done. She had wanted a test done again despite the fact that a test was done when she tried to kill herself. Kate followed, after which Fidelia, then her mother and father.
After the test, the family sat in the quietly, every one of them deep in their own thoughts.
Dr Fejiro: “Mercy was wild.” He muttered, staring at the ceiling. Fidelia looked up at him. She had a novel before her, which she was unsuccessfully trying to read. “She had everything she wanted. Her father spoilt her. She partied in Europe like no man’s business. Today she was in Brussels, tomorrow it was Frankfurt, another it was Spain, the next day London. She spent money. Your mother was her friend, who depended on her good moods for everything. I mean everything. And she knew how to use her wealth as a tool to punish any slight.” He continued. He sighed and looked at his wife, who was asleep. “At first, I felt pity for her. She was like a house help despite the fact that she was the one who did Mercy’s school work; assignment, thesis, classes…you name it. She read for herself and for Mercy. But Mercy treated her like trash. She had nowhere to go. She was an orphan, a family friend that had fallen on hard times, after her parent’s death. The pity I felt for her gradually blossomed to love and that was the tragedy of the thing. You see Mercy was tired of me. She had already started seeing one other guy. She had let it slip while drunk one day that she was done with me. But the moment she realised that your mother and I were in love, she decided that if I left her for your mother, she was going to frustrate your mother. That was why, one morning, I withdrew money from her account with a forged signature and disappeared with your mother from her life. I did not know she was pregnant I swear this.” He concluded.
Voke: “have you heard from her since then?” he asked, from the door way. He was seated in a wheelchair and a nurse stood behind him.
The nurse rolled the wheelchair in and left them. The family looked at Voke with a mix of emotions. Some had anger in their eyes, while some felt shame and others felt pity.
Dr Fejiro: “no I do not know where she is. I thought I saw her one day here in Warri but that is not possible. If she came to Nigeria, she will be in the East.” He replied.
Voke: “you need to find her and make peace or else none of us will be free. This thing will hang on our heads for the rest of our lives. I feel that Friday wanted you to wake up to your failings. I think he wanted you to not only feel pain but feel so much pain, that you will want to do about it. My apologies will not be sufficient to address what he has caused you but it is a start. Please fix the root of this problem the best way you can, so it won’t affect your grand children as it has affected your children.” He said softly, then he turned and wheeled himself out of the room.
Dr Fejiro: “hey Voke.” He called out.
Voke turned and looked at him.
Dr Fejiro: “I would love for you to come see us at our home sometime. I know you will want to know about your mother and all that. Between my wife and I, maybe we could help. You are family too.” He said. The question hung in the air then Voke nodded and smiled.
Question: the path to forgiveness and redemption is a long one but the rewards can be fulfilling. What is Ashley up to?
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