Hi guys, thank God it is Friday, and thank God it is month end!!!
And because Episode 30 is coming on the 30th, because also, tomorrow is October 1st, the next episode would be uploaded tomorrow… How about that? I know you are all smiles now but then, please encourage the effort with your comments and shares. Share #MaimedSoul on Twitter and include @nissi_Adeola so I can see and retweet. Love you. Kisses.

image

Episode 30

‘You knew all along?’ Jack asked as his frown deepened. This was something he had thought would be a stunning surprise, but it seemed now that the surprise was on him.

Felix nodded, looking uncomfortable. “I knew some days before I came to your place to stay with you” he said. “My mother, or rather, the person who raised me confessed this to me. She told me who my father was. I was so stunned when he turned out to be the same man you wouldn’t acknowledge as your father”. He stood up, leaving his bottle of drink on the table to move towards the window. “She took me to him upon my insistence” he continued. “I was so happy to finally see a fatherly figure in my life. He was so bemused…” Felix chuckled. “You should have seen his face when I was declared his son. There was the initial disbelief, then he behaved like a small in front of a new present package. Quite an unforgettable day!

Jack’s face was a thick connection of nerves as his face protruded in anger. Surely Felix wasn’t talking about his beast of a father! “Stop talking about that man” he growled.

Felix turned away from the window to stare at Jack softly. “You can’t tell me that! He is my father; I’ll talk about him anytime I want” he countered. “You should see him” he said. “He looked wretched, almost like a mentally disturbed man. He was all over me like a little puppy, despite his age”. Jack swallowed as he took his drink and gulped down a large portion, wishing it could wash a Felix’s voice. But Felix just continued, torturing him the more. “Do you know the first thing he showed me? It was your picture…’ he paused, wait, I think I brought it. Give me a minute”. Felix dashed into the room like someone on a treasure hunt.

Jack jumped out of his chair, drinking from the bottle like the drink could wash away his thoughts. This was the first time he would be spending time with Felix as his brother and it was upsetting him that talks about Pascal was souring the experience that he had envisaged to be sweet and beautiful. He walked pensively to the window, wanting nothing more than to vanish into thin air.

Felix popped out of the room, holding a rectangular glossy paper in his hand. Jack’s heart skipped, fearing what he would see; fearing the impact of see. His childhood was just a bitter memory, what would happen when he saw the small boy he had once been? No! He couldn’t go into his past!

Felix walked towards him, staring at the picture with a sober look. “You look so innocent in here, so happy; exactly like your father- our father”.

“I am not like him” Jack barked.

Felix ignored him and continued. “Your eyes are still the same and even though you do not have that small scar you have now at the side of your face, you… still look like you” Felix said softly.

“A lot of scars are hidden from the surface”

“I know” Felix whispered, as if talking to a small child. “You wanna know whose picture he showed me next?” All Jack wanted was to get the hell out of that house… as far away as possible. Maybe go for a long drive or a long run or something, he was feeling so tense and edgy, totally not what he had envisaged as the aura when he was spending time with Felix as his brother for the first time. “Your mother’s picture” Felix completed and Jack froze. “That was when I knew for a fact that he was your father. She looked exactly like the woman in the picture you always carried around.”

“I’ve heard enough”

“He is sorry Jack” Felix said softly. “Our father is really sorry for whatever it is he did to you and your mum. He has suffered, i could see that clearly. He regrets it”

“I said enough” Jack barked sharply, effectively silencing Felix for the first time. He turned away from the window to face Felix fully. “I don’t care, you hear me? I don’t care how much he has suffered. I don’t give a bloody damn whether or not he regrets his actions! It is too late for stupid regrets. He threw us out on the street and that cost my mother’s life; that is all I know” he growled out through clenched teeth. “No amount of regret can rectify that!”

“Then tell me what happened to her” Felix offered forcefully. “Talking about it might not heal the wound but it would at least ease the pain”

Jack laughed strangely. “Nothing can heal this wound! Absolutely nothing”

Felix swallowed as he watched Jack battle with himself. This was not the first time that he would talk to Jack about the woman whose picture he always took about (his mother), but it was definitely the first time he got an emotional rise from Jack. Other times, he had turned cold and rigid! Something had happened to him during this time away, surely; something that had opened the door to Jack’s emotions. “You want to take a look?” Felix asked gently, stretching the picture to Jack.

He had never seen Jack frightened, in fact, Felix was certain that ‘fear’ wasn’t an emotion that Jack was familiar with, but as Jack stared at the picture like he was being offered a timebomb, he could see fear clearly written on Jack’s face. He looked like a small boy and being the younger one, Felix felt weird seeing Jack in this state. Jack took two steps back. Compassion filled Felix and he swallowed heavily. This same compassion had drawn him to Jack when they were still friends, clueless to the fact that they might be related. Even when everyone regarded Jack as cold and stone-hearted, Felix had seen that invisible wall he had erected around himself to shield himself from the world and its inhabitants.

Jack shook his head vigorously.

Felix walked towards him with the picture and Jack backed away. “I don’t want it” before Felix could stop him, Jack turned and stormed out the door, slamming it forcefully.

*****
*****

Asides the scanty journalists outside the government house which Bola and Teresa had to shield her from, the government house still looked the same as if nothing had happened, even though Lara’s world had literarily crumbled around her feet. It seemed a lifetime since she saw her house but it was not even two weeks yet. She felt lifeless as she walked with her friends into the house she had stayed for a little below four years. With her mother dead, her father displaying heights of wickedness and Jack’s rather shocking betrayal; she felt like a football on a pitch being tossed around from one foot to the other.

Tears stung her eyes as memories floated through her mind with every step she took. Every room, every passage, every corridor, every entrance held memories… Times spent with her mother; times of sadness, times of laughter, times of rejoicing; all these danced through her head as she looked around the place she had once called home. But now, even the happy moments were sad! Every time she remembered that her mother covered up so much pain, she bled inside. Maybe the times she considered to be happy moments were not that way for her mother! Maybe she was the only one who had a cause to smile while her mother played along just to give her reasons not to worry.

Bola and Teresa held her flush to their sides as they walked with her. Lara stared at the bodyguards who stood like statues, only bobbing their heads in greeting like agama lizards. This house held no warmth anymore; now, it only housed cold people with hearts as rigid as the mighty walls of Jericho. No one was offering their condolences as if doing it would make them less rigid. The maids who met her just bent their knees slightly in greeting with their eyes to the ground, rushing off as though dogs were on their tails. She didn’t bother answering such feeble greetings; no doubt the maids would gather now to gossip about her return. Lara swallowed hard. Could she blame them? The only maid – Nora – who had been less rigid in her presence was probably in trouble now, because of her.

As they drew nearer to the door leading to the sitting room, Teresa stopped a passing maid. “Bring your voice down Terry, you know there are cameras here” Bola cautioned gently under her breath before the maid drew near.

“Roger that!” Teresa conceded then turned to the maid and whispered. “Where is Nora?”

The maid looked at the floor uncomfortably. “We haven’t seen her for days, ma’am”

Teresa swore under her breath. “I said it! I knew something was off” her face creased with worry.

“For how long now” Lara was the one talking now.

“About… about four days ma’am” she said.

Without bidding the maid farewell, Lara started towards the sitting room door. If her father had done something bad to the poor maid, it would take more than Bola and Teresa to stop her from killing her father. As she drew nearer, two guards blocked her progress, trying to stop her from entering. What on earth was going on? The few journalists she saw outside had got her curious but hey, how dare these large pieces of bamboos stop her from entering the house?

“We are just doing our jobs ma’am” one hefty guy said in explanation.

“In the five minutes, you wouldn’t have any job to do” Lara promised with steel in her voice, but the guys were not moving. But then, that was why she loved her rascal friends! They started creating a scene, causing a distraction and while the attention of the guards were divided, Lara slipped past them and opened the door of the sitting room.

The first sight of her father she caught was the pretentious sober look he wore as he sat now in the sitting room with three other men sitting on various chairs. Two others were standing with cameras in their hands, capturing the ‘august’ gathering. Something akin to panic crossed the governor’s face immediately he saw her but it was quickly replaced with a fake gleeful look. It seemed Lara had walked in on a rather interesting interview… she thought to herself as she stared in irritation at the gut-wrenching sight.

The governor’s face was a conflict of emotions as he stood up and walked towards her. “Oh Lara…” he murmured in a strange voice. Is that his own version of a sober tone? Lara wondered in anger. “I am happy you finally shed your mourning enough to come and see me” before Lara knew what he was about, he enclosed her in a hug so tight, she felt like ‘Titus’ in a sardine can. Her hands were glued to her side as he hugged her, holding her hands captive in his fierce ‘fatherly’ hug. The guys with the cameras were now capturing the ‘emotional’ scene with great interest, and then, Lara knew exactly what all these were about. Her father was just about to drag her into doing what he was discussed with Jack.

“This interview would go live this evening on National TV, please play along. We don’t want to rouse any suspicions. Please” Tunji Banks whispered for her ears only, confirming her thoughts.

This only served to annoy her the more until she felt like exploding. Tunji Banks only said the word ‘please’ on exceedingly rare occasions, and that would be times when he had something big at stake. Did it seem to him like she cared?

He pulled back with his fausse sober look firmly in place and his shoulders squared to still depict the rank of a governor. Bravo dad! “I am glad you finally came home dear. I know memories of your mum would make this place hard to stay for you but we are in this together! We need each other at a time like this”

Wow! This is a really interesting speech, coming from your lips, Lara thought and as she was about to say just that, the men seated that she assumed to be a journalists, stood up and approached them. Lara could not even summon a remorseful look to reduce the awkwardness as she stared coldly at them. They looked gleeful, probably happy to have juicy gossip for Nigerians. One of them quickly spoke, taking the lead.

“Please accept my condolence on your mother’s demise” he began without the slightest look of condolence on his face. “What is the experience like for you?”

Lara glared at him. “That has got to be the dumbest question I have ever heard” she spat. “Why not wait till your mother dies, then you would know what the experience is like”

Her father looked like he would expire while the journalists, probably used to being insulted, seemed to be ready to ask another question. “Please don’t ask sensitive questions, she is still in pain” the governor put in and Lara nearly rolled her eyes.

Another journalist jumped in. “We were told that you were with the deceased when she died, it must have been tragic indeed” he stated

“Absolutely” the governor put in for her, not giving her a chance to mess things up. “She was so shaken, that is why she has been in hiding for several days.”

“You want to know how I felt?” Lara’s voice rang out, overshadowing her fathers. He tried to nudge her by the side but she wasn’t backing down. “I was devastated beyond words, bitter and confused. No words can explain my misery”

“Of course you were dear” her father popped in, obviously satisfied with her contribution but Lara turned her face to him, glaring.

“Yes, I was. And thanks to my friends, they saved me from completely losing my mind” she said through clenched teeth. “They were there with me…” the room had grown quiet and she could see her friends at the entrance with the corner of her eyes, staring at the scene. “ They were there!” she emphasized. “Not in some cheesy fancy boardroom, attending meaningless meetings while the house was on fire”

The innuendo was dropped heavily and the room grew silent with Tunji Banks as pale as sheet. Lara couldn’t care less. “If you are done with this pretentious charade, I would like to see you, dearest father; that is… if you don’t think your ambition is more important than your own family. But then…” she raised her brow, “when hasn’t it been more important?” without batting an eye, she stormed out of the sitting room, moving away from the journalists to her father’s home office.

*****
*****
Jack walked back to the apartment. He had taken a really long walk and still, his head was all over the place. So what? So what if his father regretted his actions? How would that change anything? How would that change the trauma that that night had brought? He opened the door to the apartment and slipped in. it didn’t look like Felix was home. Well, maybe he had scared the poor guy off after behaving like a small kid. He still couldn’t believe he had lost control so much. What on earth had happened to the steel nerve and coldness he was associated with? Damn! This was so not what he had envisaged for a family reunion. Surely, the issue with Lara was turning him into a puppy. But what could he do? He was helpless where she was concerned.

He entered the apartment and closed the door. He had always been alone, but why didn’t he like the solitude as much as he had? Why did it feel like hell now? Maybe because had had a taste of what it was like to have someone around. He had had a feel of what it was like to have someone rely on him. But then, what had he done to those who relied on him? He thought about Lara and then his mother and got his resounding answer. They ended up getting hurt or worse… dead! Maybe it was better for everyone if he remained alone, locked up in himself to die the cold and lonely death he deserved.

Jack sat down on the couch with a deep sigh, then, his eyes fell on something on the table and his heart came to a halt. Damn Felix! The picture was resting perfectly on the table tempting him and daring him to be courageous enough to take it. He tried to shake it off, telling himself that he definitely did not want to go there.

Swallowing hard, Jack leaned forward and took the picture in shaky hands. Taking a deep breath, he lowered his eyes and took his first peek in forever at his former self.

And because Episode 30 is coming on the 30th, because also, tomorrow is October 1st, the next episode would be uploaded tomorrow… How about that? I know you are all smiles now but then, please encourage the effort with your comments and shares. Share #MaimedSoul on Twitter and include @nissi_Adeola so I can see and retweet. Love you. Kisses.

Thoughts are Real!
Follow on Twitter: @nissi_adeola @inspysworld

Advertisements