EPISODE THREE 3
Maxwell was checking on the lawn while he was still contemplating over his dilemma when Linda came rushing out to ask him a question. “Would you rather have boiled yam with sauce or you are a rice man so rice will do?“, Linda queried. Maxwell, since childhood had always been a glutton. He was devoted to eating and drinking in excess when he had the chance. He carefully looked at the expression on Linda’s face when he responded, “You know what?“. “Add a few slices of boiled yam to the rice and stew and I would very much appreciate it if you poured me a big glass of that pineapple juice in the refrigerator to help me wash the food down”. Linda raised her eyebrows out of reflex at Maxwell’s huge appetite. She immediately cleared her throat and said, “I hope you are not in any way measuring your hunger by the work you are doing because that can be very tricky”. “But I would do as you wish”, she added. Linda turned to go and get Maxwell’s order when he called out after her, “Who prepared the stew?“, Maxwell asked. “Which stew?“, Linda queried. “The one you are going to serve me with.“, Maxwell answered sarcastically. “I did”, Linda responded. “Do you have a problem eating food prepared by a stranger?“,Linda asked, walking back to the edge of the lawn. “No I don’t”. “I would actually love to taste your food because I have had one too any delicacies from grandma so a change in the menu would be splendid”, Maxwell added, hiding the fact that he did not enjoy his grandmother’s dishes. In a matter of minutes, Linda had dished out Maxwell’s food and served him under Maxwell’s grandfather’s summer hut. The summer hut which used to have four beautiful wooden beach chairs and a centre table which was made of marble was now left with two wooden chairs, one plastic chair and the once shining marble centre table had now faded. As he sat down to enjoy his meal, he heard many masculine voices. He recognized one of the voices as that belonging to Rudolph. Maxwell quickly signalled for Linda to clear the table but he was too late. The boys he grew up with had luck on their side and they had arrived just about the same time Maxwell was about to have his hard-earned lunch. “Heaven is really smiling on me today”, Rudolph yelled as he giddily rushed to wash his hands to enjoy Maxwell’s meal. All the other boys followed Rudolph’s lead and in a matter of seconds, the plate of rice and boiled sliced yams was nowhere in sight. The boys cared less about Maxwell’s grumbling as they devoured his meal with him. When the meal was finished, Raphael, Rudolph’s twin brother grabbed the pineapple juice and downed it on the first attempt. Maxwell almost cried out in pain but he held his peace and kept his cool. Rudolph, Raphael, Frank and Prince, the young men who partook in Maxwell’s free for all lunch had not seen Maxwell in a long while. Apparently, Rudolph had showed off his earnings when he met Maxwell earlier in the day so the other boys had also come to take their share of Maxwell’s give-aways. “Maxwell, we heard what you did for Rudolph and we are here to receive our share because it is only fair that you treat all your brothers fairly”, Raphael spoke, with authority. Maxwell looked at Rudolph who was already slouching in the plastic chair. “Right now, I have used up all my money but I will sort you all out shortly, hopefully by tomorrow morning”, Maxwell said. “That is not good enough, Max”, Frank said and gulped down the remnants of the pineapple juice in the almost empty glass. “Have I ever gone against my word before, Frankie”? Maxwell asked looking at Frank. “I should be the one complaining here because you guys came into my house uninvited, ate my food and you expect me to pay you for it too?“, Maxwell fired out. Frank looked at Maxwell as if he had just been hit by an upper cut and as his finally words reached its intended target, Frank drew close to Maxwell and gave him a tight hug. “It is good to have you back, brother”, Frank said with tears in his eyes. “You are still the straight-forward Maxwell I have known since infancy. Frank was the most emotional among all of them. He could cry at the least provocation. He was also the most adorable and coupled as the ladies’ man among the boys. He had busy eyebrows and the ladies often fell over each other just to be with him. He had completed the university two years after Maxwell and had been unemployed ever since he completed his national service. On that same day, he had gone to town to submit his résumé to some firms in a bid to get a job. He was fair in complexion and like Maxwell, sported a faded haircut. Raphael had changed totally, he had grown lean and his face was plagued with pimples. He was the brightest among all of them. He dropped out of the university in his final year because he spent all his tuition for his final year with his girlfriend, Ruth. She left him immediately she found out that it was his tuition that he lavishly spent with her. Even after dumping him, he still was doing everything he could to still be with her but it seemed that his efforts were getting the better of him. She was one very demanding girlfriend and the boys did not really like her company. Raphael had been advised to stay away from Ruth countless times but he always responded, “You’ve not seen what I have seen because if you have, you will not tell me what you are telling me now”. Maxwell always sympathized with him because he always maintained that his predicament could befall any one of them. Maxwell liked Prince for many reasons but one. Prince had started making advances at Maxwell’s sister and it made Maxwell very uncomfortable whenever he has in their company. His sister too had started developing a thing for Prince and it put Maxwell off. Maxwell had gathered that Prince had recently landed a job as a sales representative for a herbal medicine company. He always complained of how he was being exploited by his employers just because of the prevalence of unemployment. “If it had not been for unemployment, would these baboons even have the effrontery to employ me, a university graduate, to do the work that even high school leavers would reject?”, he would often whine. Prince was the tallest among all the boys and Maxwell was the shortest. Prince and Maxwell used to get along till Maxwell found out about his plans about his sister. “We need your help, Max”, Rudolph spoke as he lifted himself up from the seat. “We are moving from one room to another in our house and we could use your help in moving our stuff”, Rudolph added. “Our father wants to rent out our room so we can make some money to start up a small business”, Raphael chipped in. “Okay, let me grab my shirt so we go”, Maxwell responded with haste. He always wanted to help all the boys out with their issues and they knew he would never let them down. Maxwell rushed into the hall and asked permission from his grandmother to step out for a while. He went by the kitchen where Linda was washing the dishes and said, “We really enjoyed your meal, thank you”. “Stop flattering me”, Linda said. “I know your huge appetite needs some more so I saved some of the food for you”, Linda added. “You can have it when you come back or better still, I would put it in the microwave oven for you”, Linda said and dished out the food. “You are so adorable”, Maxwell said. “Will I see you tomorrow?“, Maxwell asked. Linda wiped her hand on her apron, turned and said, “I will go to work tomorrow so you might see me the day after tomorrow”. “Okay”, Maxwell replied and stepped out of the house with the boys. On their way to Rudolph’s house, the boys passed by another drinking bar in the area called ‘Cool Running’. It was run by some Rastafarians. It was the only bar that was actively patronised in the entire neighbourhood. As they walked past the bar, Maxwell recounted how his father used to send him on errands to the bar to buy him two shots of dry gin and one shot of lime whenever he wanted to eat his evening meal. As they arrived at Rudolph’s house, Maxwell greeted Rudolph’s father and as usual, he gave his sons the lecture of their striving to be like Maxwell. As the old man gave the lecture, Maxwell looked straight on and just nodded, in his head, he thought to himself, “If only this man knew what I have been through, he would not wish for his sons to be like me”. When the lecture was over, Raphael gave Maxwell a knock on the head and said, “You see the disadvantages of being too good?” Maxwell laughed off the question and followed Raphael as he led the way to the room. Upon reaching the entrance of the room, Maxwell held his nose and asked, “What is that smell?” “What smell?”, Raphael asked with a surprised look on his face. As Raphael opened the door to the room, the suspicious smell filled the hallway. “What the hell have you boys been doing in this room?” The room was really stuffy with a lot of dirty clothes in it. “So are you guys able to be this dirty and still keep your girlfriends?”,Maxwell asked sarcastically. “I wonder the kind of girls that would date you lot”. “I guess they might be as dirty as you two”, Maxwell added, pointing at Rudolph and Raphael. In about two hours, they had managed to move the stuff from one room to the other. After the work was done, Rudolph picked up his football boots and headed straight to the pitch close to his house. “Do you still play like you used to when we were kids?”, Maxwell asked Rudolph who was already getting dressed. “Follow me to the pitch and you will see me in action”, Rudolph replied. As they all stepped out with Rudolph in front of them, they saw Ruth approaching from the opposite direction with one of the footballers. Maxwell walked past her as if he had never seen her before and sat on a short wall to watch Rudolph play. As he sat, Ruth walked to him and said, “I thought you always claimed that you never forgot faces but in just a matter of years, you have forgotten about me”, Ruth lamented. “I haven’t forgotten about you, Ruth, I am just ignoring you”, Maxwell replied. “You can be so annoying at times that is why we never lasted”, Ruth said and asked Maxwell to hug him which he reluctantly did. Ruth used to be Maxwell’s girlfriend but the two of them only dated for three weeks before they eventually broke up. Maxwell really loved Ruth but he could not keep up with her lavish lifestyle. “What brings you back to this part of town, Ruth queried. “Have you come to apologize so we get back together?”, Ruth added. “Hell no!”, Maxwell barked back at Ruth and broke out in hysterical laughter. “I have seen what you have done to Raphael and I don’t want to end up like him so thank you, I think I am doing just fine without you”, Maxwell said. “Moreover, I have enough on my plate already”, Maxwell added. “Welcome back home, Max”, Ruth said and left him alone. After the football match, Maxwell headed back to his grandmother’s house. When he got to the gate, he heard people arguing inside the house and rushed to see what the confusion was about. When Maxwell got into the hall, he saw his father and another brother arguing on top of their voices. “What is going on here?”,Maxwell asked as he pulled his father back from facing his brother in a fist fight. Maxwell’s grandmother had called her eldest son to inform him that Maxwell had visited her. Her eldest son in turn called Maxwell’s father to tell him to tell Maxwell to leave the house. The argument started over the phone and both of them ended up in the house to face off. Maxwell’s uncle looked at him and asked, “Hey you, do you think you can fight over this property with me?” “I have never for once sat down to think of taking over property from anyone”, Maxwell started. “All I have ever wanted since all of this started is for us to forget about our differences and live together as a happy family and I know this is not difficult to ask. Maxwell’s father, who was already speaking on top of his voice, asked his mother, “How can you allow him talk to my son in such a manner, mother?” “How else do you expect me to talk to him?”, Maxwell’s uncle asked. “You have sent him here to fight in your stead but I want you to know that your plan will not see the light of day”, Maxwell’s uncle added. All this while, Maxwell’s grandmother was in tears over what was ensuing between her sons. “All of this could have been avoided if you didn’t call your beloved son to inform him that your grandson has visited you”, Maxwell’s father said while pointing at his mother. “What have I done?”, Maxwell’s grandmother asked amid tears. “Aren’t you the one who called Donald to inform him that Maxwell was here?”, Maxwell’s father barked at his mother. Maxwell walked to the middle of the room and yelled, “Can’t you people see that you are killing your mother with these arguments?” “Tell, them my son”, his grandmother chipped in. “You people need to come to an agreement so we can all be happy once and for all”, Maxwell started. “This family is dying because there is no love in it”, Maxwell said. “We need to put all this greed behind us and live together as one happy family”. “I doubt if you would behave this way if grandpa was still alive”, Maxwell added. “Now, both of you should leave my grandfather’s house because the only one who is the legitimate owner of this edifice is this woman sitting here”, Maxwell barked, pointing to his grandmother. “You people are our role models and it breaks my heart to see you people fighting one another”. “You people should find a way to settle your differences”, Maxwell added….. IS MAXWELL GOING TO BE THE SAVIOUR OF HIS FAMILY?