Broad Street, Marina, Lagos Island.
Simeon put the key into the ignition. He held on to the key, unable to start the car. Earlier, after receiving Dr. Zakari’s call—and, of course, notifying Pamela that the list Cajetan Amira needed was ready for typing—Simeon had cut out a blank sheet from the pad that lay on his table, and promptly scribbled on it: next-line-of-action. It surely would guide him for the rest of the day—maybe, the rest of his life. After a painstaking effort that lasted almost an hour, Simeon had come up with only one proposed action: a private meeting with Kathryn. Now as he sat in his car, Simeon seemed unsure of that plan.
Simeon turned the key as he spotted the head of security approaching. Obviously he had noticed Simeon’s delay in starting his car.
“Oga, good evening sah.” the old man saluted when he got to the car. I forget something for my office?” he asked. Simeon smiled broadly at Audu’s comical way of imitating a typical Hausa man. Though Hausa by descent, Audu had spent too many years away from home that he had lost most of the mannerisms one would associate with a man from the Northern part of the country. Audu would easily claim that he was the longest serving worker in Chief Okoro’s company, having started as a gateman shortly after the civil war. He once told Simeon that he was among the guests that graced the occasion when Simeon’s wife, Chief’s last daughter, was dedicated as a baby in church.
“No. I no forget anything.”
“OK, sah.” Audu saluted again. He took few steps backwards as Simeon made to move.
“How my children?” Simeon asked, same time reaching for his wallet.
“Oga, dem dey. Na only money dey worry us.”
Simeon smiled as he gave out a crisp one thousand naira note.
“Oga, thank you sah. Ah, God bless you sah. As you remember my pikin dem, I pray say God go remember you and aunty Nkeiru for una own.” Audu said as he made a final bow.
Simeon only nodded. He put the car into gear, and slowly drove towards the open gate. He stole a quick glance at the old man as he danced to a silent tune. Simeon had not seen any of Audu’s children, still the man, he knew, had a large family and most of his children were still young. Simeon held up the image of Audu in his mind, like there was something about the man that enabled him to bear children with ease, something he, Simeon, lacked. He sighed knowing his recent discovery, Nkeiru’s limited ability to bear children, was responsible. And the test result Dr. Zakari revealed had completely dashed the hope that David might be his son. Simeon knew any attempt to father a child now outside of marriage was not something to be considered. Though he was certain that that testimony would not hold in the future. In the meantime, his marriage to Nkeiru held open a great deal of opportunities. And Simeon, now than ever before, knew he had to maximize all the benefits that came with the marriage—before he opted out.
Simeon gained speed after he eased his car into the fast-moving traffic. He had an episode to end with Kathryn. Before he flipped open a new one—with Nkeiru.
Dr. Kazeem Adisa shut the door behind him. He had just concluded a ward round, and wanted some minutes to himself.
His mobile phone rang as he approached the large table in his office. Dr. Kazeem pulled his seat back, and sat down. He slowly reached for the phone.
He heaved before he said, “Hello.”
“Kazeem,” she began. “I’ve been calling all day, where have you been?”
I’m a doctor and I work, Dr. Kazeem wanted to say, but instead he said, “Sorry, I’ve been busy.”
She sighed. “I’ve not really slept for days, Kazeem.”
“Did you complain to the doctor monitoring you?”
“What exactly do I tell him—that I’m worried my real husband will find out I’m carrying a test tube baby?”
“When do you intend coming back to Nigeria?”
“Less than a week.”
“We just got to stick to the original plan.”
“I have a bad feeling Simeon will find out. What if he does?”
“Nkeiru, let’s hope he doesn’t.”
Admiralty Way, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos.
The night seemed darker than it had been. The hoot of an owl could be heard in the distance too.
Kathryn turned when she heard voices behind her. She saw four figures than the usual three. The fourth had features like Simeon as a teenage boy. Kathryn looked on as the boys struggled. Soon one among the lot broke free and started running towards her. Kathryn knew she ought to run like she always did, yet she stood still. The grip at the back of her neck and the slap that followed were the same. Kathryn fell to the reeds after the slap.
“Philip” Kathryn screamed as her assailant pulled at her skirt.
Her scream did stir Kathryn from her sleep. It surprised David, causing him to exit the game he had been playing with Kathryn’s phone.
“Mum, what is it?” David asked as he moved closer.
Kathryn sat up looking completely dazed. Her breathing was fast and for a moment she seemed unsure of where she was. Slowly, it returned to her that she had been dreaming, and the one staring at her was her son. “David.” she whined.
“You screamed a name from your sleep—Philip.”
Kathryn threw her head back, before she managed to say, “Philip. He’s an old friend.” Kathryn adjusted her position. An attempt to resume the position she had before the shout. David knew she was done taking. He also resumed his activity.
Philip, she mused. For years without success, Kathryn had tried to shut Philip out of her memory; fighting to eliminate the possibility that it was Philip who had assaulted her. After that night, Philip had always been a recurring character in every nightmare she had. The uncertainty heightened her fear and suffering.
Kathryn’s mobile phone rang. “Simeon.” David said as he passed the phone to Kathryn.
“I’m driving towards your office; we need to talk.”
The urgency in his words got Kathryn worried. “Is the test result out?” She took a quick glance at David, and met his gaze. Kathryn wished she had omitted the word test.
Simeon hesitated before he answered. “No.”
“I left the office in the morning. Today was my son’s end of term party. I’m at home.”
The line went silent for some seconds.
“I’ll be there in few minutes.”
The silence in the room made David uneasy. He guessed he ought to have excused himself from the group immediately the greeting was over.
“Mum, I’ll be in my room.” David said as he rose to leave.
David turned to look at the pair before he turned towards his room. Simeon had his eyes on him. David quickly maintained focus, and disappeared out of sight.
The silence in the room continued even with David’s exit.
“You said we needed to talk” Kathryn said. While the silence lingered, her thoughts had wandered. Kathryn broke the silence just to still her thoughts.
“You’ve hardly said a word.”
Simeon sighed slyly. “Sorry if I’ll be peeking into your personal affairs, still you dragged me into it.” Simeon said. “I just want to know at what point you got to sleep with my brother.”
Simeon liked the look on her face—surprise slightly coloured with guilt. “Yes, I mean my brother, Philip.”
To read the previous episode, follow this link: www.naijastories.com/2015/04/illusion-episode-8/