When Richard went to bed that night he punched the pillow angrily several times. He could not sleep, kept tossing and turning from left to right on his mattress. The thought could not leave him, the thought that had been haunting his dreams every time he slept––his father an armed robber and a rapist. Richard felt rage within him. Evidently, he had always been in an unhappy mood, but the revelation about his father left him sadder than he had ever been. He could feel the blood of his own father flowing in his veins; the blood of a killer. Richard tried to forget about his predicament for the moment and thought about something else––he thought about Abigail. How lucky a girl she is. A girl who had never known sadness all her life. Richard could picture her smiling face; she was fond of smiling at whatever she says or hears. It was a kind of dimple feminine smile that added more beauty to her youthful face. She smiled with her whole face; her mouth, her cheeks, her eyes––especially her eyes. He loved so many things about her; he loved the way she said his name, he loved the way she breathed and spoke and the perfumes she wore. He loved everything about her with a passion that seemed to sweep him right into an emotion he had never before felt. An old ugly man like Cain getting married to this knock-out looking, smart, funny lady about thirty years younger. Richard could not figure out what she saw in him, because Cain was as annoying and cruel and ugly as he was old. Richard remembered an old proverb: love is evil; you could fall in love with the billy goat. And, personally, Richard thought Cain should be hanged for robbing the cradle; he was ready to donate the rope.
He checked the alarm clock by his bed: 10.45 pm. He rolled on his side and shut his eyes, praying that there should be no nightmare this time. In about ten minutes, he was already slipping into that deep, dark abyss when he heard a faint sound on his door. He was not sure at first so he ignored it. Another knock. He got up quickly, switched on the light, put on his trousers and a shirt without buttoning up, and opened the door. He found Abigail standing on the threshold with tears on her face.
“Abigail!” he said, a bit louder than he had intended. Her husband might hear him, and Richard was not looking forward to another vile disposition from the man. Although he knew his boss to be an early-to-bed man.
“Can I come in?”
“Oh, do please come in.”
She walked slowly inside and sat on a chair. She folded her hands on her laps, and they rested like a Mona Lisa’s.
“What happened?’ Richard asked, “Why are you crying?”
“It’s Cain, he slapped me.” She said from a sob.
“Slapped you? What has gotten over him? How dare he slap a woman?”
Abigail said, “Richard, please watch what you say about him. Don’t get yourself more entangled in Cain’s web than you already have.”
“I’m sorry, let me rephrase––kudos to him. He has all the right to slap you because he’s your husband, and he can slap a woman like you till his palm ache. What a gentleman he is.”
Abigail stared at him blankly for about half a minute before bursting again into tears, crying softly and heaving her shoulders like a child. Like most men, Richard was helpless in front of a crying lady.
“Abigail, come on, turn off the waterworks––I’m sorry. I understand the love you have for him, but that doesn’t mean he should maltreat you. I just believe that a man who beats his wife is nothing but a rat with syphilis.” Richard tried to comfort her but she continued crying. He didn’t know what else to say, he drew out a brown handkerchief from his trousers pocket and offered it to her. She took it and thanked him, wiping her tears with it.
“I’m not crying because he slapped me. No, not because of that.” She said at last.
“But why must he go so far? What really happened?”
“Can we forget about that for now?” she continued, “Cain has always been like that since I know him. Sometimes, he would be in a very good mood and won’t really mind anything you say to him. But most of the time he’s always cruel and easily angered. Most times, if I as much as show in any way actions contrary to his satisfaction Cain uses his fists to enforce his viewpoints. I don’t blame him much; I think he was born like that; wicked, arrogant, fierce and deadly.”
“He’s such a wicked man?”
“You haven’t seen any of his wickedness. Cain is meaner than a viper. He has the kind of nature that makes snakes cross the street to the other lane when they see him.”
“And you got married to that kind of man?” he asked her, “Why, because of his money?”
“Do you think I care about his money?”
“Then why did you marry him? There must be a good reason.”
“It’s a long story.”
Abigail sighed, “Can I have a glass of water, please? I’m thirsty.”
Richard rose and produced the glass of water she demanded. Abigail drank the water thirstily.
“I lost my mother when I was about two years old, she died in a vehicle accident and my father had been taking care of me ever since; spending almost everything he earned to send me to school. Four years ago, when I was in my final year in the higher institution my father became ill with the problem of the lungs. He found breathing very hard. I think they call it emphysema or so.”
“Wait,” Richard interrupted, “Was he a smoker?”
“Why are you asking? Are you a doctor?”
“We spent all the money we had but the bill was too high to foot. His condition was getting worse each day. He was barely conscious after just two weeks. I was afraid, I ran to the doctor begging him to save my father but he only told me to go and find some money for his treatment if I wanted my father to live. That was the time I met Cain. He had come to see the doctor for his medical check-up; Cain doesn’t joke with his health. Since the three years I’ve known him there was not a day he had ever fallen ill.”
“Is that a compliment?”
“I thought Cain felt sorry for me when he saw me begging the doctor. After the doctor had filled him in about my predicament he gave me his business card and asked me to check him at his office on the third day. I was very happy, thinking I had found a saviour. But on the other hand, I was afraid my father might not survive the days before I meet Cain so I kept praying fervently to God to preserve his life.
“I went to the address written on the card and I was lucky to meet him there. He called me into his office where he told me plainly that he would pay for my father’s treatment bill. I was very glad and I rained all the prayers I could remember on him. Then he gave me a condition, he said I’ll have to do something for him first. What he demanded surprised me.”
“He wanted to sleep with you before saving your father?” asked Richard.
“Well, that is the commonest thing most promiscuous rich men always wanted, isn’t it? But Richard went farther than that.”
“What did he ask you?” he asked impatiently.
“To marry him. He said I must marry him if I wanted to save my dying father.”
“But that’s preposterous.”
“Initially, I thought he was joking but I became scared when I saw the seriousness on his face.” She sighed again and continued, “I told him marriage is more than that; it’s the union between two people who love each other deeply. He said he didn’t care about that; I must marry him he said. I answered him that marrying him is the last thing I will ever do, but he only smiled and said I have the choice to walk away and let my father die––but the conscience that I killed my own father when I had the chance to save him will haunt me for the rest of my life. He also said the doctor had told him that my father had only two weeks left to live if he was not treated fast.
“I was confused and scared. The thought of getting married to that monster nauseated me, yet, my dad was the only family I had. I went out of Cain’s office in anger but I returned after two days agreeing to marry him. I was hoping that after my father’s treatment and he’s alright I would refuse to marry him. My dear father would not even allow the wedding to take place.
“But Cain was cleverer than I thought of him. He said the wedding first, my father’s treatment after. I had no choice but to agree. He took me to a court where we were legally joined; no well-wisher, only the two of us. Immediately afterwards, he paid for my father’s treatment. But my father eventually died. No post-mortem examination was carried out and there was no autopsy report about his death. Cain purchased a piece of land in a local cemetery where my father was buried; not even a tombstone was erected over his grave.” Another trickle of tears found their ways down her cheeks. She wiped them with the hanky.
Richard shook his head slowly and pathetically, “I’m sorry. Didn’t you think that your husband had a hand in your father’s death?”
“I know Cain killed my father, with the help of his Doctor Frankenstein. Cain is a psychopath; he has no regard for other people’s lives.”
Richard became uneasy; the prospect of working under a boss who killed people as though they were cockroaches was not one that filled him with glee.
“I once had a boy-friend before getting married to Cain, but he was a fool; he didn’t know that nobody messes with Cain.”
“It was already about two weeks of living with Cain, still mourning my father’s death, when Tolu, my boy-friend, came into this compound lamenting that Cain had robbed him of his girl-friend. Can you imagine how insane that sounds? I knew Cain was very annoyed, he felt like killing him on the spot, but he didn’t show his annoyance. He apologized to Tolu and gave him a surprising large sum of money. Because of his greed, he collected the money and walked away peacefully but he came back a week later to demand for more.”
“I’m sorry you had Oliver Twist as a lover. Cain should have known that blackmailers rarely give up after one payoff.”
“He started getting more voracious until he was found floating on the lagoon.”
“Another of your husband’s handiwork, no doubt.”
“Then why are you still with that monster? Why can’t you just leave him? You have nothing to lose after all.”
“I have my life to lose; I can never escape Cain if he’s still alive. I wanted to leave when I realized that Cain was behind my father’s demise but I couldn’t. He caught me packing my belongings one night; he was looking like a devil, I’ve never been so scared in my life, I thought he was going to kill me on that spot. He locked the door behind us and faced me; he told me that he knew I never liked him and he didn’t care, he said I was very lucky that I hadn’t left because if I had, I wouldn’t have survived five days on the face of the earth. I know he was not joking. Everyday, I pray and wish he were dead; felled by a massive cardiac infarction, cerebral hemorrhage, cancer, bleeding ulcer or a plain spiritual, unmedical lightning strike.”
“Maybe he did all those for love. We all can do some crazy things because of love, you know? Initially, I thought you two had the greatest love affair since Hitler and Eva Braun.”
Abigail was wide-eyed, “Oh my God! You are comparing Cain with love? You’re insane; you know that, don’t you? Cain doesn’t have any idea about love. The word ‘Love’ is the strangest thing to him; he can’t just bring himself to love because he doesn’t know anything about it.”
“Okay, why did he marry you?”
“He wanted to be honoured as a married man. He doesn’t have what it takes to keep a wife either so he had to use force.”
Richard leaned forward, “What do you mean?”
“He has a limp membrum virile, I thank God for that. According to what I heard or read, I can’t remember; it happened about six years ago when he was ill with fever and was admitted to the hospital, the nurse who attended to him gave him an injection meant for another patient. The injection incapacitated him sexually. He has been as sexless as a neutered cat since then. I owe that nurse a big thank you, may her soul rest in peace. I can’t just imagine Cain climbing over me and humping the sanity out of me.”
“That’s good news at least, his unplanned sterility is for the sake of humanity’s future.” He paused, “But, the nurse is dead?”
Abigail looked at Richard with more astonishment. “Do you really think Cain would pardon a person who did that kind of thing to him? The patient who was to be given the injection was a woman who came for her menopause treatment. The nurse made a mistake due to a simple mix-up, but Cain made her pay for that mistake with her life.”
“Do you know if Cain once had a wife before you?”
Abigail took a moment before replying, “I learnt from somebody-in-the-know that Cain once had a wife who died after fifteen years of their marriage, the woman had loved him so much that she had never allowed a drop of water fall on his fire. About eleven months after their wedding the poor woman had been raped by a psychopath. A burglar broke into their home, bound Cain and forced him to watch the Molest. Mrs. Martins could not fulfill her marital obligations from that night on.
“Cain’s wife, Rita Martins was already rich before she was born. Her father, Honourable Benson, was a strikingly rich multi-millionaire. He had bought five million units of shares for her when she was nothing but a seven-month old pregnancy. Honourable Benson was one of those who got their fortunes from embezzling the country’s budget allocations. By the time Rita Benson was twenty years old; her net worth could not be valued without the use of a calculator. She married Cain at twenty-three, and six months after her wedding her parents were killed in a plane crash. As the only heir to the deceased, Rita Benson took over her parents’ properties. But somehow, Cain managed to make her sign him as the only beneficiary to the properties incase of her own demise. She died fifteen years later of cancer, I don’t know if that is true.”
“I smell a rat there.”
“You’re not the one here with a sensitive nose. A few months after her Molest, Mrs. Rita Martins got in the pudding club.”
“She became pregnant.”
“She carried the child of the rapist?”
“She believed her pregnancy was Cain’s, but Cain believed otherwise. When the child was born, Cain never showed him any care; he kept abusing the child; savagely beating him and calling him a bastard. The boy died at the age of seventeen.”
“Cain killed him, too?”
“Hard to say. According to the little information I was able to gather; the boy was killed by armed robbers during a shoot-out with the police in 2002. The death of the boy was a great relief to Cain.”
Richard sighed and said, “Your husband is not only a psychopathic killer––he’s also rude, if his mother were alive I would have liked to meet her.”
“What would you have said to his mother?”
“For a start, I would severely chastise her for poor parenting.”
Abigail’s eyes suddenly caught the alarm clock by Richard’s bed. “Oh my God!” she lamented, “It’s already midnight. I have to be going now, it has been a relief talking to you––see you in the morning.”
Richard held her firmly by the arm as she rose up to go, “Wait,” he said, “I won’t want you to start crying again after you leave here, okay?”
She smiled broadly, “No, I won’t. You’ve cheered me up. Good night, sleep tight; don’t let the fleas bite, and sweet dreams.”
Richard still held her firmly by the hand. Then he did what he had wanted to do, and had determined not to do. He bent Abigail’s head, put his arm around her and drew her towards him before he gently kissed the mouth he had always wanted to kiss for a long while––those gentlest, heavenliest lips that the Almighty ever made. Before that time, Richard’s relationship with Abigail had been one of careful politesse, but this kiss was a sudden giant leap by this driver. For a moment, she did not resist him. Then he had it––Richard did not see the slap coming, her hand seemed to come from nowhere.
It hit his cheek connected with his ear with a loud clap. She was a good hitter; this was one of her best efforts. It hurt Richard like hell; the inside of his ear exploded with momentary pain, then went numb and became very warm––his cheek instantly reddened where she had slapped him. A high whistling sound began to whine in his head, but the shock was even worse than the pain. What was a gentleman to do?
Richard stared at her in surprise as though what he had just done was the sanest thing ever. He was too startled by the sudden attack to make any reasonable cause of his act. He bowed politely before her and said:
“I deserved that, I’m sorry.”
Abigail ran out of the room like an Indian maiden.
He leaned against his door with his back as the realization of the danger he had put himself began to occur to him slowly; he had kissed another man’s wife. He knew kissing her was wrong but he could not stop himself. Abigail was beautiful, there was no doubt about that, but Richard had met more beautiful women than Abigail, yet he found her irresistible when they were both alone in the room. If she had not stopped me, would I have gone far? He shook the silly thought out of his head.
Cain forcefully married Abigail but he had never taken her to bed, because he can’t. It means that for the past three years, Abigail had not––
Richard locked his door, switched off the light and landed heavily on his bed. Cain. How many people had died from that monster’s hand? Six maybe––or more. He’s just as dangerous as a bomb-wrapped terrorist. Richard was about falling into an uncheatable slumber when a sudden thought brought a cold sweat to his face.
If Cain had killed his first wife, would he not try to kill the second?
This time he kissed the pillow like a demented poet, but his ear was still singing with the inflicted slap.
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