Chief Emeka was having an affair?
Femi was short of words and even thoughts. He took out a pen and a piece of paper and wrote:
1. Family man
2. God fearing
He divided the paper in half by ruling a line and wrote on the right side:
2. Cheating/ having an affair
He put the pen down and looked over what he had just written. He then underlined ‘hypocrite’ with a red pen. He needed something more than that; he had to speak with Catherine and Nduka.
Femi looked back at the box and smiled at how the box had already smeared the image he had of the late Chief; and to think that there was more.
He looked back at the table and turned the picture around. There was nothing written behind it. He dropped it and looked inside the envelope but there was nothing there.
He remembered the note and picked it from where it lay beside the letter envelope. It read:
If you don’t want this to get to your wife, call immediately you get this message; 09035862561
Femi penned down the number immediately and wrote beside it ‘blackmail’.
He dialled the number but it was switched off. He banged his fist angrily on the table.
Why did it have to be switched off?
Of course Femi knew the answer to the question. Chief Emeka was wealthy and could trace the owner, so the blackmailer must have been smart enough to destroy the sim card after making the call.
Femi picked up the last thing he had seen in the box: the letter envelope. As he opened it and took out the paper, he wondered what secret lay within.
Catherine put her cigarette in her mouth and was about to light it when she noticed the little boy by the door. She took it out of her mouth immediately and turned to him with the lighter in her right hand and the cigarette in her left.
“What is it?”
He stared at her and felt his lips quiver as he replied. “Y…you didn’t come down f…for breakfast and lunch, mummy” he stammered and it was obvious he was scared and unsure of the reply he would receive.
“So?” she asked curtly as he took two steps closer.
Catherine noticed this and took a threatening step towards him making him retreat back to the door.
“Get out” she said as he started to speak but she threw the lighter at him making him jump. The way he jumped back made her think she had hit him, but she had not. The lighter had stopped just a few inches in front of him.
He looked up at her and felt hot tears sting his eyes.
“Okay mummy” he whispered and walked out with tears in his eyes.
She immediately reached for the bottle of whiskey she had dropped beside her bed but it was not there. She crouched down and searched under the bed but it was not there either. She was sure nobody had entered her room since she returned. No one would dare.
She was beginning to shake already. She put the cigarette in her mouth and began to look for the lighter before she remembered she had thrown it at Patrick. She picked it up and tried to light her cigarette but the lighter was broken.
“Damn that boy” she cussed and threw it in the dustbin.
She went to the kitchen and searched for a matchbox or lighter but she saw none.
Did Annabel usually sleep with them or has she hidden them because she was around? she thought and left the kitchen.
Godwin was around so she did not even think of checking his room for Annie.
Mummy could have one in her room, she thought happily and ran to her mother’s room.
Without knocking, she entered and noticed her mother sitting before a large portrait of her father.
“Oops” she said and turned to leave when her mother’s voice stopped her.
“Wait…come in” she said as Catherine made a face and entered closing the door behind her.
“I’m sorry I didn’t knock. I just needed a lighter or a match…there was none in the kitchen” her two hands were now shaking.
She needed to smoke fast!
Ujunwa stared at her and motioned for her to sit. Catherine obeyed reluctantly with her hands behind her.
“Are you hiding a cigar?”
“Not really” she sounded weird and her mum noticed.
“You promised you were going to stop” her mother reminded her as she sighed.
“I’m trying…really trying”
“You made that promise four years ago”
Catherine made a face as she knew where her mother was headed with the discussion; she did not have the time for that. All she needed was a lighter.
“Cathy” Uju called in a low voice and put a hand on her lap.
Catherine shifted immediately and Uju took back her hand.
“You used to love me…what happened?” Uju was close to tears. “Cathy, I need you to-”
“Mum, just give me a lighter or a match before you start” she begged with frustration in her voice as her mum opened the drawer beside the bed and held up a lighter.
This made Catherine think her mum had hidden all the lighters and matches.
“This is going to be your last…your shaking won’t move me the next time” she said as Catherine put the cigar in her mouth and her mum lit it. She was surprised Uju had even noticed how much she was shaking
It took a minute before she was stable. She was really trying her best to stop. Smoking only once a day had been a difficult and almost impossible mission, but she had achieved it. She had also improved in her alcoholism by taking only a cup in a day.
Going a whole day without smoking always made her moody, shaky and irascible. She immediately remembered how she had acted towards Patrick few minutes ago.
“Mum, I have to-”
“I’m not done with you…you are going to quit whether you like it or not ” she sounded firm.
“Okay…can I leave now?”
“No drinking too”
“What!” She exclaimed and remembered her missing whiskey. “Did you take my drink?”
Ujunwa simply turned back to her husband’s picture and smiled.
“Your father once had the drinking habit…when he lost his youngest sister who was just fifteen and I had miscarried during that period” she paused and touched a tear at the corner of her left eye. “He was broken…there was no one to speak to because I was in my own world and so he took to drinking…it was a horrible period for us but I couldn’t watch him wallow in that condition”
She turned to Cathy and smiled. “We fought together and he eventually stopped” she held Cathy’s unsmiling face. “Sweety, we can fight this addiction together just like your father and I did”
Catherine held her mother’s hand and gently removed it from her face. She looked angry rather than touched at her mother’s speech.
“Mum” she called in a low voice as her mum smiled in reply. “Don’t ever make a link between your husband and I…no matter what you’re talking about. I am nothing like him” she warned in a low but strict tone and walked out.
Femi knocked at the front door of the Kayodes. A huge dark man opened the door and offered a welcoming smile. He was grey haired and grey bearded. He was muscular even though Femi knew they wouldn’t be as strong as they looked. He bore a resemblance to Jide except that Jide was fair in complexion.
“Good evening” Femi greeted as the elderly man smiled.
“Good evening, how may we help you?”
“He’s my friend, sir” Jide came immediately to his rescue because Femi was not ready to give a heart attack to Jide’s parents if they found out he was a detective; their first thought would be that Jide had gotten himself in trouble.
“Welcome” Jide said smiling and turned to his father’s serious face. “He’s just here to have dinner with us” he whispered even though it was audible enough for Femi to hear.
His father simply walked inside and Jide offered a fake smile to the detective.
“He’s always that way…what’s your name again?” He asked.
“Just call me Femi”
“Good. Let’s go in”
Within minutes, Femi was seated at the dining table with Jide’s family. The meal was sumptuous and Femi could not resist the urge to complement Mrs. Kayode.
“The food was delicious ma” he said as she smiled warmly.
“That complement should be for Jide. He does all the cooking”
Femi’s surprise was obvious.
“You can’t congratulate me because I’m a guy?”
Femi chuckled. “No, I’m just surprised. You’re a great cook”
“I’ve always told him to start a restaurant. He cooks, bakes, fries, you name it, he does them all; he was made for the kitchen” his mum said proudly as Jide looked down at his plate blushing.
“That’s a great idea”
“Really?” Jide looked surprised. “You really think so?”
“Yes” Femi replied.
“You see…you can do it and the thing here is that you’ll enjoy it and work will become play for you” his mum chirped happily as Femi smiled at her.
Her eyes radiated with love for her son and even a blind man could feel it.
“Stop fooling him, woman”
Femi had momentarily forgotten Mr. Kayode whose face had been straight throughout the meal.
“You had your time and you wasted it”
“Tolu” his wife scolded but he ignored her.
“You chose to go behind bars and waste sixteen years of your life. You’re useless and that’s all you’ll ever be” he said and left the dining table without casting a glance at his wife.
Femi found himself tongue-tied. He did not like the air in the dining anymore. It seemed too stuffy suddenly. Jide’s eyes were fixed on his plate while his father spoke and his mother’s smile was nowhere to be found.
“Jide” she tried to reach her arm across but Jide was on his feet.
Femi feared he would ask him to leave.
“Let’s go up to my room” he said to Femi’s surprise and relief.
“I’ll clean up” his mum muttered as he left with Femi.
When they entered his room, Jide closed the door behind him and offered Femi a seat. He watched Jide enter the en suite bathroom. He suddenly felt uncomfortable with Jide’s mood. What if he lost control? Besides he had been arrested once for attempted murder.
Femi let his eyes wander around the room. The walls were plain. The bed was made and all the magazines and books on the table beside the wardrobe were perfectly arranged.
He’s really organized, Femi thought.
His eyes then wandered to the bathroom and he froze in his seat staring at Jide who had just come out.
He was holding a gun.
Written by Mirror Emeka-Nkwor
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