Jerry pulled up in front of the four-storey edifice in the darkness as the security guard closed the gate. He turned off his car, and stepped out uneasily. Power was still on, so he was spared the painful cacophony that would have been created by different generators of varying sizes. It was a large building split in two right down the middle. A total of ten apartments. Sally lived on the third floor on his left, so he went in through the door and up the stairs, and then stopped in front of the correct door. Knocked. He heard her say “Coming!” then a shuffle, and then a key turning in the lock and bolts being thrown back. Then the door opened.
His breath was taken away for just a second, as the light behind Sally framed her head, giving her an angelic quality. He willed it away.
She smiled, ignored his offered hand, and hugged him lightly…but lightly was enough for him to smell the apples in her hair. Her scent dove right down to his core and dug up memories…memories he thought he’d lost, buried so deep beneath years of angst and anger and whatever emotion he’d also harboured within.
Her laughter in his ears, her moans, her sighs…
Jerry pulled back with a Herculean effort.
Sally gazed up at him, her heart racing. “Hello Jerry. Please come in.” She stepped aside for him to pass, and then she bolted the door behind him.
“Wow. Nice place,” Jerry said as he stepped into her sitting room. And it was nice, nicer than his in fact. The Home Theater system was state-of-the-art, gleaming like the whole set had just come off the production line. Her sofas were pink, lending more shine to the creamy colour of the walls. With the plush red carpet and the glass stools and centre table, the sitting room shone like a gem.
Beaming, Sally responded, “Thanks.”
Jerry walked to the sofa opposite the TV and sat down. Sally hurried off to the kitchen as Jerry watched TV. A Nigerian movie. He smiled. She still loved these movies. He looked around some more, and then Sally came out bearing a tray with Orange juice and 2 glasses. She placed this on the stool beside him and said “Hold on, let me get you some food.”
“No no no Sally, don’t worry about that.”
Sally turned to look at him, giving him a mildly smouldering look. “Jerry, you look tired and wrung out. You said so yourself on the phone. You need to eat something. And I doubt if you have anything to eat in your fridge, or if you will even eat when you get back home. So, let me serve you dinner.”
Silence hung thick in the air….then Jerry’s face broke into a smile, and so did Sally’s.
“Crazy girl. Well, I am at your mercy. Bring on the poison.”
Sally laughed. “Silly you.” She went in and Jerry’s ears picked up the sound of tinkling cutlery and ceramic while his heart tried to decipher what had just happened. He filled the two glasses with Orange juice, and as he sipped it Sally came out bearing another tray with a bottle of cold water, a glass, and a steaming plate of spaghetti with chicken bits. Jerry smiled appreciatively as he inhaled the aroma. He pulled a stool before him and she placed this before him. He handed her the second glass of juice as she settled down beside him. She turned down the volume of the movie as he forked some food into his mouth, careful to blow it first. The taste rang all the right bells within his mouth and brain cells, and his stomach growled in anticipation of more. He complimented her on the food, and set upon the food, savouring every mouthful. And as he ate, they talked. About nothing, about everything. Watching him eat as he talked made Sally’s heart beat faster; she didn’t realize how much she had missed watching him do the simple things, like eating.
As time wore on, Jerry felt something loosening within him; something he hadn’t known was tied up. A moment later, he realized what it was-his emotions. He was feeling lighter with every passing minute, and he welcomed this feeling. But he was quite scared because of the beautiful lady sitting beside him, who he’d obviously hurt. While he admitted to himself that he was still obviously in love with her, he was scared of a repeat performance. And so as they talked, he tried to rein in his emotions. Even when he finished the food and thanked her, she just waved his thanks away and they carried on talking. He was enjoying himself, until she became silent for a while, obviously considering something.
“What’s on your mind?” Jerry asked, and as soon as those words left his lips, he regretted it because he knew, somehow he just knew what she was going to ask him.
Sally looked up at him, her eyes expectant. “This is going to be hard, but I think I have to ask you this. I need to know Jerry, because I never really understood. You never let me.” She weighed her words carefully, and then asked, “Why did you push me away Jerry. Why did you let me go?”
Jerry sat back on the sofa, as the years dropped away. What was he to tell her? The truth? What was the truth?
He sighed. “Sally, look, I…I don’t really know what to tell you, or how to say it.”
Sally looked at him and saw his struggles. She realized it was hard for him, but it was hard for her too. She needed to know. But maybe the time was not right…yet. But was there a right time?
“Truth is,” Jerry continued, “I can’t readily explain anything right now. When the time is right, I’ll tell you.” At this he turned to look at her, and her heart broke as she saw the sorrow lurking within. His suffering, his pain, pain that he had carried with him for as long as she had known him. Was that what had drawn her to him? The chance to heal him? Only he had the answers, and until he opened up, she would still be an outsider.
Jerry looked at his watch and sucked in breath. “Almost 10 p.m. I need to go now.” He stood up and she followed suit. “Thank you for a wonderful evening. I offered to take you out, but you took me in.”
Sally smiled. “Don’t worry about that. Maybe you just might get your chance.” She walked him to the door and he turned and gave her a hug, which she returned. He saw himself sliding inexorably towards a door, and he didn’t know whether he wanted to stop or not. He broke the hug, his hands still placed lightly on her waist, and her hands on his forearms, and the lyrics of Mat Kearney’s song swam in in his thoughts-
Guess we both know we’re in over our heads
We got nowhere to go and no home that’s left
-and her face grew larger in his vision as the whole world fell away-
The water is rising on a river turning red
It all might be OK or we might be dead
If everything we’ve got is slipping away
I meant what I said when I said until my dying day
-and his head lowered, lowered slowly, as she stretched upwards in a daze, her lips opening slightly, her breath becoming heavy as his heart beat faster and his mind screamed, SCREAMED its warning –
I’m holding on to you, holding on to me
Maybe it’s all gone black but you’re all I see
You’re all I see…
-and he knew that once their lips met they were both lost and that they would both step over the problems of their past and he would never be able to confront those fears and issues and the history would repeat itself.
And so he tore himself away from the moment, pulling his head back with strength he didn’t know he had. Sally looked momentarily confused, as though unsure of what had happened, and then they let go of each other, laughing nervously. Jerry shifted from foot to foot while Sally hugged herself. Eventually, he said “Good night Sal,” in a voice so low it could have been but a breath.
Sally looked up. “Good night J…”
He turned and walked down the stairs in a daze, trying to clear his head of the swirling images and his nostrils of her essence. It was a fight he was losing.
As he drove home, her face filled his mind as Mat Kearney sang in his head.
I’m holding on to you, holding on to me
Maybe it’s all gone black but you’re all I see
You’re all I see…
Amizel is becoming bolder. That much is visible.
Torturing the Reverend, thinking he is in control. Mocking The Most High. I felt Him laugh in Heaven. It made me laugh as well. Me and all the other Nephilims and the Cherubims and the Seraphims.
He forgets one thing.
Nothing happens without His knowledge. Even his master takes permission from The Lord Of Hosts.
Maybe he didn’t get that memo.
But now my worry is what happens next. Who will the Reverend pick for this task? Because I had to show him…something. He knows that someone else is to take his place. Our Father feels he has done his bit; now is the time to pass the mantle, let him take the back seat on this one.
Who will he pick?
I feel like whoever it will be will be an enigma unto himself…
However, I must not force his hand; let him make his own choice. The choice must be perfect. The Lord decrees it.
But then, He will not let Reverend Taiwo choose who He doesn’t want. I know He knows who He wants already. If that person is broken, He will fix him.
Reverend Taiwo was afraid. I felt his fear, something visceral. It was eating him up inside, slowly, like a parasite. But I think that has changed. The knowledge that was revealed to him has done that.
The wheels have been set in motion.
Now to see if things will go right.
I hope he makes the right choice.
The club was getting into full swing. The heavy beats were like heavy, padded punches to the body. Bodies crammed on the dance floor, gyrating in time to the songs put out by the DJ. The heady, cloying smell of booze in the air; smelled like something so sweet it would make you sick.
At the bar, Nelson sat nursing his fourth shot of Brandy. He kept glancing at his watch so much that the bartender started giving him the funny eye. Two rowdy girls came to order drinks, and he just wished they would fall in front of a speeding trailer. He didn’t want to know what would happen after that. He twirled the glass in his hand, stared at the drink within for a moment, and then downed it all in one gulp. Ordered another one. Paid for it. He raised it to his mouth.
“I think you need to lay off the booze man,” a voice said, before he felt a pat on the back.
He spilled his drink.
“Ach! Watch it Victor,” he said, seeing who it was. “You were supposed to get here thirty minutes ago.”
“Traffic.” Victor Tekena turned to the bartender and said “Can I have a bottle of Star, and please no more whiskey for this man here anymore.” The bartender smiled and nodded. In a moment, an open bottle of Star was placed in front of Victor. Nodding, Victor took a swig.
“Where’s Akin?” Nelson asked.
“He couldn’t come. Said some important work issue.”
“Hmph. He’s scared, and he should be. Something crazy is happening to us, and we don’t know what.”
“Listen Nelson,” Victor said, visibly irritated, “The Big Man said he was taking care of everything, so stop worrying.”
Nelson swallowed the last of the whiskey in his glass, then turned to look at Nelson. “Stop worrying? Are you seriously blind?”
Nelson chuckled mirthlessly, cutting him off. “You were always like this Vic. Too trusting. Which is why you got roped into this whole mess in the first place. And now it has come back to bite us all in the ass, you included.”
Victor stared hard at his drink, and then he shrugged. “Well, I’m not regretting it now, am I? And you were always like this, worrying. Can’t say it has gotten you anywhere…”
Nelson leaned in closer. “Listen to me.” The bartender stared at them, wondering if they were going to buy any more drinks, and then carried on serving customers. “Something bad is happening to us. Who knows, maybe God is punishing us for what we did back then, but what’s done is done. I used to think the Senator was going to be a problem because frankly, I hate politicians. But he’s dead now, so I don’t know what’s going on anymore, if I ever did.” His intensity held Victor spellbound, and he ignored the spittle that sprayed occasionally from Nelson’s mouth. “But I know that I don’t want to be around when this…whatever it is, comes for us. I am going to leave the country; I suggest you do the same.”
Victor stared at him for a while, then chuckled. “Man, you really are dramatic. Listen to yourself Nelson. Your paranoia is something else. Leave the country? Who will run my business? My family? What will The Big Man say? Do you think he will be happy, after he told us to stay put?”
“But Kabiru is dead!”
The bartender turned to look at them, and Nelson glared at him. He just raised his eyebrows and shrugged, and Nelson turned back to Victor. “Kabiru has been killed,” he said, his voice lower now, “or are you forgetting that?”
Victor shook his head, brows furrowed. “But isn’t that a political death? I mean, him and the Senator were in rival political parties. One party does one, the other party does the other. Isn’t that what the news said? And besides The Big Man confirmed it.”
Nelson looked at Victor for a spell, and then shook his head. “No wonder you were never much of an achiever in the Service. You are as dumb as they come.”
Victor’s eyes became steely for just a moment. “Watch your mouth Nelson. That’s quite a lot coming from a washed up failure like you. Since we all left, what have you achieved? One failed business after another.”
“But I think!” Nelson said, leaning in and jabbing his index finger on his temple. “I think, Victor; I make use of my brain. I put two and two together, which is more than I can say for you.” He drew back and stared at the tumbler in front of him. He wished he could have another drink, but sadly, Victor was right. He had to stop drinking, else he wouldn’t be able to drive home. Besides, the stupid fool didn’t believe him anyway, so…
“Go home Nelson,” Victor said, calling for the check. “You look like shit. Stop fretting. It is all being taken care of.” He paid for both his and Nelson’s drinks, and left the club.
None of them saw the shadowy figure that followed Victor out.