MARK OF CAIN by Damex Mrcoded. Episode 18


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This is the confession to a crime…a crime of vendetta.

I have always had a series bizarre imagination from my childhood; the practice of delivering a message through rather extraordinary means never failed to impress my being. The ancient practice of slipping a little boy into a fortress from a rather narrow roof to steal treasures, hurling a bottle into the sea with an important message in it, or writing coded words on tissue papers and placing the papers into water after use––this would dissolve the paper and the message would never be retrieved, writing in codes, symbols, hieroglyphs and cuneiforms––all these are quite intelligent and clever in their own different ways. The acts thrill me so much that I decided myself to adopt one of these kinds of amazing courses––writing my confession in pieces of papers and pinning these manuscripts to the legs of a pigeon––a carrier pigeon. Some people would see this as a romantic feat in the extreme. But I know not how far the bird may have travelled with this confession, it could either have carried it miles further off than my current location or this confession may just be lying on the ground of the next street. That, I’m afraid, will remain a mystery even I may not be able to unravel. The likelihood of this confession getting to the doorstep of my recipient is indeed slim, but it’s a chance ‘we’re’ willing to take. This document may fall off the bird’s feet into a thick uninhabited forest and be lost forever, or it could fall to the hands of someone who may have no idea about the significance of what nature has presented to his palms. Nonetheless, I should let the reader here know that this confession is meant for the hands of Detective Georges Lot alone. If, however, you found it––kindly refer it to the aforementioned detective or rather submit it to the nearest police station. The next paragraphs hitherto would be the confession of all the circumstances that led to the unsolved mystery behind Cain Martins’ murder––yes, it was actually a murder. And this is a direct message to the detective. I assume, of course, that he got hold of this rather lengthy note. Although, this is a confession to the crime which had already been committed two years ago, I am still forced by my guardian to scribble out the truth down on papers for the knowledge of everybody involved in the affair, or rather those who believed that every door of the investigation had been unlocked. The truth is, there is still one door behind the unlocked doors which still stays locked.

There exists a popular anecdote that where there is smoke, there is fire. And where there is fire, something’s certainly got to be burning. Fire never erupts all on its own, its existence is birthed from something burning––without a burning object, there’s definitely no fire. But sometimes, we stare so long at the blazing fire that we take no notice of what is burning. However, in the affairs concerning the mystery behind the death of Cain Martins, some parts of the truth have been explained––but not all. The body that was found outside the gate wasn’t placed there by Richard Philip. The truth is, Richard’s explanation of how he came about the body was barely the smoke, the police officer’s confession was the fire, but what was actually burning is yet to be explained. The burning object began with Angela.

Angela was only fourteen when she was brutally raped.

Ashamed and scared, she told no one. When she later discovered that she was pregnant, what she did to herself after this discovery was downrightly horrible. She wanted to secretly terminate the pregnancy in her own biddings, because she didn’t want anyone to know about the misfortune that had come her way––most especially her parents, for she knew not how she would cope with their rage if they discovered the truth. As a naïve young woman of fourteen, she took stupid and reckless steps to get rid of the pregnancy.

She didn’t at first take seriously the constant headache, nausea, dizziness and abdominal pains that afflicted her. Her horror came when her period refused to surface. It was then that the meaning of the afflictions she’d suffered occurred to her. She knew no private doctor or nurse to consult about her predicament, so she decided to self-terminate the pregnancy, with total disregard for her own wellbeing––she was bent on crushing the seeds germinating inside of her––the seeds of the monster that had raped her. First, she began by punching her own belly, hoping that the actions would rupture the developing foetus. She would clench her teeth hard, shut her eyes tightly and would not be able to control the tears that flooded her face as she painfully hit her own belly with her fists. Within the first week of her discovery she’d done many things she’d heard about; the simple methods of pregnancy termination; she’d mixed a fistful of salt with water and gulped it down, she’d squeezed lime into a cup, added crystallized alum before she swallowed the sour mixture. She ate raw pepper, drank alcohol, starved herself––she would go for days in an empty stomach, all in the bid to flush out the congealed blood inside of her. But as much as she tried to rid herself of it, the pregnancy remained intact; she felt it growing in her day after day. She and the baby in her endured the nine months of self-imposed emotional violation and physical suffering. Not until the ninth month that it was discovered by her parents that their daughter had been pregnant––it was when she tried to get rid of the pregnancy the hardest way she could that her father got to know the truth. Angela had shut her eyes tightly as she’d always done, believing that this would definitely resulted in the miscarriage she so desperately craved, even if her life could be threatened and she might not be able to conceive ever again in her life––she threw herself down the long flight of stairs. And instead of having a damaged pregnancy she ended up with broken bones and concussions. She had fainted even before reaching the ground floor as she rolled like a ball down the steps of the concrete staircase.

She woke up on the hospital bed, and the first person she saw was her father. At that instant of seeing the sadness in her father’s eyes, emotion had taken control of her and she could not help pouring out all what had befallen her––how she’d been raped on her return from school and all what she had done to terminate the pregnancy. She gave birth to a baby boy after two days of her diagnose. Because of all what she had done to herself, complication set in her childbirth, she had lost a lot of blood and suffered hypertensive crisis, low-blood pressure, violent seizure, eclamptic convulsions––after the delivery she could barely breathe. She knew she was dying, her father knew it too. She demanded to see her baby. With the infant in her arms, she looked at the baby for a brief moment, gazed upon her father for understanding and then looked directly at the boy she was carrying. This time, she looked at the baby much longer. What she said thereafter was the last word she ever spoke.

She named the baby Abel.
I knew not the real story behind my name until I turned twenty-eight, when my grandfather turned over a jar of glue onto my seat and made me sit for hours as he told me how my existence came about. I was not shocked, neither was I angry because from my earliest youth I have discovered that my existence revolved around a pillar of mysticism. You see, there was another angle to the triangle which led to the death of Cain Martins. What you need to know is that my mother was raped by none other person than the cruel Cain Martins himself. My mother, the easy-going innocent schoolgirl was brutally molested which made her do some horrible things to herself––things which eventually claimed her life. The anguish her demise caused my grandfather was almost unbearable––I understood exactly the kind of raw hatred he had for the man who had caused him so much sorrow. I knew what needed to be done––justice must be served. It was only when I assured my father that his daughter’s death would be avenged that he stopped himself from ending up in a nervous breakdown. Therefore, it took me three years to find the man who had assaulted my mother, and when I saw Cain Martins, I understood fully the reason behind my mother’s attempt to get rid of the pregnancy. The Cain Martins I saw was a monster not only in mind but also in looks. His countenace could make a vampire faint with fright. How did I come to find my monstrous father?

From the year 2000 that I heard the sordid tale about my birth, I’d been reading the papers. Although, the chance of finding him in this populated country was really long a shot. I read all the dailies; I scrutinized every obituary, searching for the name Cain Martins––the name my mother had managed to tell my grandfather before she died. The name was quite an unusual one––especially in this part of the world, which left me wondering why parents in their right minds would name their child ‘Cain’. I also began to suspect that my mother had named me Abel for this reason. I consulted the Holy Book and meditated daily on the Book of Genesis. In the Bible, I found out truly that Cain and Abel were relations, they weren’t father and child as in the case of myself and Mr. Martins, they were actually ‘brothers’. Above all, what worried me in the story was Cain killing Abel, and I could not easily assume that my being named Abel was only coincidental––and my evil father named Cain was out there somewhere. I was afraid that if I stayed idle and not act fast, fate might take a wrong turn leading to my father hunting me and killing me, hence repeating the affair in the book of Genesis. Although, of course, there is nothing in my personality that suggests I have any fondness for sheep. As a matter of fact, I abhor animals; I guess that is one trait I share with my deceased father. I hate pets as much as I hate wild animals. I have much more hatred for people who keep dogs or cats or monkeys, I can’t imagine myself having an attachment to animals like squirrels, snakes, rabbits, mice, toads, chameleons, worms, beetles, spiders, fish, centipedes and ants. The zoo isn’t my favourite tourist centre, neither would I deem it fit, after a hectic day, to travel into the forest for a relaxation.

However, adding to the fact that I detest animals from cradle, I have always believed that God do not exist. I strongly believe that religion is only a solace for feeble-minded people who lack the bravado to meet eye-to-eye the challenges inherent in our existence. I have nonetheless nothing but scorn for those who refuse to face the fact that the universe is without god, and man’s existence was nothing but nature’s biological accident. I despise every man who goes down on his knees to humble himself before an imaginary god of creation; Methodists, Catholics, Baptists––even Muslims. I imagine those who were initially clean of religion coming down again to share in this sick delusion, eventually slipping off the path of sanity and diving into the pool of superstition. Believing in the half-baked, dreamy promises of an afterlife with togas, harp music and Saint Peter in flowing white robe and viciously banging down his gavel for order over the screams emitting from the dungeon they call hell.

I’m afraid I’ve been digressing off the reasoning behind this note. Reading papers after papers, I was looking for my father––it was a jolt of which it took me some hours to recover when I realised that my father owned the popular Kane International. I was skimming through the papers one Thursday morning when I came across his name. Although Kane International is among the African leading companies, I knew not the name of the man who owned it until that morning. Even when I saw the name ‘Cain Martins’, I was still having a doubt if he was the same man I had been looking for. And because Cain is not a common name, because this owner of Kane International is not as popular as his company name, because I had no other promising lead on my research, I decided to work on the only hunch I had. That was in 2006––when I was thirty years old. My mother was raped by her schoolmate, which prompted me to continue my hunt from there. I dug deep into Cain Martins’ past from the internet. I found out the high school he attended. He actually attended the same school as my mother. I still could not believe it that the public figure was my mother’s rapist. To curb any doubt that might be building from within me, I decided to travel down to St. Joseph’s Secondary School to find out the record of the old school’s alumni––I searched the names of those who passed out in the 70s––I found his name there––alongside Michael Kish they passed out the same year. There was no other Cain Martins in all of the school records. Cain Martins, the Managing Director of Kane International, was actually the man I had been searching for––he was the monster who raped my mother. He was my father! The revelation almost made me welcome the decision of killing myself.

As soon as I knew exactly who I was looking for, I told my grandfather about him. We planned meticulously how we were going to carry out our revenge, we decided that my grandfather should go and live with this monster. He was a retired soldier and he’d worked many times before as a security agent. So, applying for the post of a gatekeeper under Cain didn’t pose much problem, his experience and blunt countenance convinced Cain that he was the perfect man to watch over his house. Yes, ‘my grandfather is Eze Chima’––the father of the girl Cain had raped. Cain was living alone at the time my grandfather was employed––but a few months thereafter, he came home with a lady. If we weren’t careful, the arrival of this new lady lady would thwart our plan, so we therefore deemed it fit to bring this lady into our confidence. Finding out about her history and discovering what blow faith had dealt her too through Cain, my grandfather showed her much affection by acting much like a father to her. He made Abigail like him. Every time Cain paid Eze his salary, Abigail was always there to add more to the money. It was an added merit to us when it became obvious that there wasn’t an iota of love between Cain and the lady. Of course, we didn’t allow Abigail to know who we really were, most especially me; she knew me not at all. We took our time––we looked into Cain’s past some more, I read the papers voraciously, we succeeded in connecting some past events with Cain. In our investigation, we came to find out about how Cain came to be a wealthy man––all that had happened to his first family. We discovered about his delinquency. We dug and dug and dug until we also stumbled upon the circumstances that surrounded his marriage to Abigail.

For three years, we gathered all the evidences detailing every evil my father had done. I visited the Bedlam, as you know, it is the most extensive library in the whole of the country, and in that library they have back issues of newspapers dated to almost half a century past. The exercise took a little bit of my time, because the first couple of pages of most of the papers were devoted to advertisements of coffins, houses for sale or rent, cures for private diseases, abortifacients, restoratives for lost manhood, and Indian jinxes. I counted back numerous years, lifting off the first five years’ worth of paper before beginning to scrutinize and voraciously reading the headings of these papers. I sat in the library for ten straight hours; poring over the papers and gathering enough evidence to stake the vampire in the heart––his conspiracy with the doctor to murder Abigail’s father, the brutal way he killed over a hundred innocent people aboard a plane in order to get just two people out of his own way––all these horrors we collected, with evidence to back them up. We certainly knew that we could not kill him then––at least, not yet. He was still too powerful for us to take down. So, we decided to make it a household murder––a kind of murder even the best detective in this country would not be able to solve. A kind of murder which would occur at the face value––before we kill him, we would have brought into his notice all the evil acts he’d pulled, he would see nemesis staring solely at him in the face. We’d give him the taste of the horror he’d unleashed on poor innocent souls that had been unfortunate enough to encounter him. I was the eyes and ears of my grandfather; although he wasn’t the most educated man––he still possess astonishing ways of making foolproof plans and alibis. We started our plan by firstly letting Abigail know the state of mind of her husband. The record of Cain Martins having been admitted into the psychiatric hospital in 1978 was with us––we made copies of the file and, through my grandfather, were able to place the copies where Abigail would easily come across them, we believed that information about Cain’s mania would help our cause. However, I was interested in knowing the kind of woman Abigail was, so I began tailing her everywhere she went, I knew the time she went out because my father always supplied me first-hand information about her movements; he would call me on phone every time Abigail drove out of the compound. Often more than one time she’d caught me following behind her from her rear-view mirror, but I didn’t mind at all. I knew what she was thinking––she thought I was someone employed by Cain Martins to watch her movements, and I on the other hand, never gave her any benefit of doubt.

Let me come down to the night Cain was killed. It wasn’t really the night we planned to make him pay for his sins. The day before––that was the sixth day of August that year; I had confronted him with the truth. I had written a letter stating the result of his Molest during his days in the secondary school. My grandfather had delivered the letter to him. Foolishly, he believed what my grandfather had told him––that a stranger had demanded to see him when he was not around, and that stranger had dropped a letter for him. He never suspected that his gatekeeper was in the plan to prosecute him. In the letter, I let him know everything, and the fact that he had a son alive somewhere. But the letter was not addressed, instead, it was signed with my mother’s name––Angela. This made on him the effect I had planned, I wanted him to believe that the hen had come home to roost. Cain thought immediately that the letter he’d read was written by the girl he’d raped. He knew not that his victim of that afternoon’s assault was no more.



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MARK OF CAIN by Damex Mrcoded. Episode 17


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Except for the faint ray of sunlight coming through the cracks in the drapes, the room was dark when Richard opened his eyes. Beside him on the bed was Abigail, breathing deeply beside him; her face, her striking, lovely face; angled down on the edge of the pillow, her lips parted, inches from his lips. He kissed her and she reached for him, her eyes still closed. The girl’s nudeness was like a statue carved out through the night. Their bodies exhausted from the night’s rolling in the hay, and Richard’s brain was relaxed by the intensity of it. The encounter of the night before shall not be described in any more explicit detail since this may be read by devout celibates and it isn’t a wish to excite them unnecessarily. Abigail opened her eyes slowly and smiled at him, “How was my love?” she whispered as she rolled on his Unclad body, her gorgeous upper body layer encompassing his face.

“If there’s a heaven beyond that, I don’t have to know it.” Replied Richard sincerely.

It had been two week after the confession and Abigail and Richard had been quite intimate, they had taken their time to change the bed in the bedroom. On that day of the denouement, everybody had departed quietly out of the room. Richard’s father, Barrister Michael Kish had been the first to leave the room, the detective had left, Daniel had, too. Mrs. Philip had returned to where she lived; she was glad that her son had finally found happiness in the pretty lady, and she was partly unhappy that Richard could not reconcile with his father. She was still in love with the ex-robber but didn’t want to disappoint or annoy her son by showing her feeling about the lawyer–she was waiting for the moment Richard would be ready to forgive and accept him, but he never seemed to think about his father for a second.

Three days after the affair, Richard had decided to pack his things and leave the house, since his boss had died he felt he had no more business to do in the building. Abigail came in and found what he was doing.

“Are you leaving, too?” she asked him.

“I don’t have anything to do here anymore, I have to leave.”

“Mr. Chima left yesterday, he said he was going back to his hometown––his wife had just put to bed. He said he won’t be coming back. He just left as fast as a rat deserting a sinking ship. Why is everybody leaving me?” tears had begun to secrete from her eyes.

“I’m sorry, but I also have to leave.”

“Must you go? I thought you said you love me. Is this how you treat people you love? By leaving them?”

“No––you don’t understand. I just met my father and I don’t know how to take it, I don’t know what to do. I need a moment to think.”

“Do you really love me as you have confessed?”

“Abigail, why are you doing this?”

“Answer my question? Do you really love me.”

“Of course, I do.”

“Then don’t go––please, don’t leave me,” she moved closer to him, “Kiss me.”

Richard frowned, took a step backward and shook his head, “I don’t think that is a good idea, Abigail. The last time I tried it something exploded in my ear.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to do that, I was afraid––I was afraid for you, I didn’t want you to get hurt like Tolu. I love you madly, desperately, Richard, more than any other man on earth. Sometimes I wish I had never met you. I wish I had never fallen in love with you. But I did meet you and I did fall in love with you so madly that I would cut off my right hand for you, if that make any sense as a proof of love. I was afraid if I gave you that chance Cain would find out and he would want to hurt you. Please forgive––”

He held her in his arms, embracing her roughly. He kissed her on the open mouth, pressing until he found her tongue. It was a kiss of heated raw passion. It was filled with so much need, so much emotion, that it poured through her. Until it seemed as if he’d shared his heart, his body and every nuance of himself with her. His mouth was warm and already so familiar. As if his taste was somehow programmed into her DNA. A sensual trigger to make her body soften, her blood race.

She kissed back, really kissed him. Letting their tongues meet. Taking his tongue as if it were hers for the taking. She took everything he was offering her. And everything that he wasn’t––everything.

That was how the relationship began. Now, two weeks later, they were lying in a juxtaposing position on the bed. Their lovemaking had sharpened the way one dose of heroine only increases the addict’s desire for the next.

“Tell me something, Richie.” She said.

“If it is among the few things that I know.”

“How are you going to repair the rift between you and your father?”

He acted surprised, “My father? I didn’t have a father the last time I checked.”

“Oh, Richie, don’t be so ridiculous. Your father is a completely changed man––he’s no more what he was some decades ago. He’s now a respectable lawyer, you should be proud of him.”

“I should be proud of an ex-armed robber?”

“People change, Richie. He’s far better off than Cain, remember? He has lost six wives and two children; do you want him to lose another? He’s had too many dark sides of life. Now, the least you can do is forgive and accept him.”

Richard pondered over her words for some moments before shrugging his shoulders, “Anyway, I’ll have to discuss it with my mum, you don’t expect me to go to him spreading my arms for his embrace. His forgiveness is in my mother’s hand.”

She kissed him, “You’re such a darling.”

“I also have something important to ask of you.”

“Anything for you.” She said, tracing a line on his chest.

“I think we have somebody to show our appreciation.”

“Dan, right?”

“I think we need to show gratitude to that boy.”

“I’ve been thinking so too. What do you think we should do?”

“We should give him what he wants.”

Abigail smiled warmly, “Of course, we should get him into ‘his ‘ The Academy.”

He sighed, “You know what?”


“I’ll love to go to that heaven again.”

“Then let’s go together.”

They rolled the blanket over.

“Oh my God!” Daniel exclaimed, “I can’t believe you guys did this for me. Please tell me I’m in a dream.”

“It’s your dream, Dan,” Abigail said, “You deserve it.”

“I’m short of words, how am I going to thank you?”

“We should be thanking you,” Richard said, “You deserve it, one who saves a life deserve every good thing.”

“I wish I were a part of this family––this new family.”

“You already are,” replied Abigail, “Not all families are related by blood. A person who saves a life is more than a family, he’s an angel.”

Daniel looked at the two sitting in front of him. They’re so wonderful, he thought, this country would be a better place if we had more of them; kind, caring, giving. They also portray the best picture of love.”

“Let’s tell him––” Richard told Abigail, squeezing her hand.

“Dan, there’s something you should also know.” Abigail said, she looked in Richard’s face and smiled before saying it, “Richie and I are ready to plight our troths.”

Daniel stood up, “Wow, congratulations!”

“Thank you.”

“You guys really deserve each other after so much both of you have been through in the hand of that rotting devil, I’m really happy for you.”

“Actually, we are thinking about making you our best man on the engagement, that’s if you mind not.”

“I’ll be honoured,” replied Daniel, “I’ll bring my parents, siblings and Hakeem.”

“Oh, that’ll be splendid, I can’t wait to meet Antonia and Juliet,” said Abigail, giggling.

“I want to meet Silas––you must bring him too,” Richard said.

“But Juliet is a bit loquacious, can you cope with that? She always enjoy the give-and-take of lively repartee.”

“Really,” Abigail said, “That is why I like Julius Agwu.”

“When is the engagement?”

“November first.”

The first day of November was a Saturday, and it was a day filled with celebration in the house. The sitting room had been decorated for the engagement. In the middle of the room was a big table; its surface had been covered with sheets, and on display were bottles of wine, trays of food, baskets of fruits, chicken, turkey, glasses, plates, cutlery, platters of bread, dishes, local cuisines, etc. while not exactly groaning, this large table was certainly whimpering softly with the overload of the victuals. Present in the flesh were the fiancé and fiancée, Richard and Abigail, standing closely together at one corner hand-in-hand like Olympic rings. Some of those present in the engagement included almost everybody present on the day of the denouement, also present were the Famous’ family and Hakeem Musa, the free boy was busy trying to stuff his food into almost every available orifice of his body, perhaps not only food, the boy appeared forcing himself into a rapacious consumption of whatever he could find edible. Daniel felt like locking Hakeem in the toilet to prevent others noticing the unpleasant sight of the boy’s vigorous mastication. For the moment, Daniel was in no mood to eat because watching the boy gourmandize had somehow robbed him of an appetite. Also in the room was Detective Lot, who was keeping as far apart from people as possible because he didn’t want to pollute the air with his cigarette smoke, he sat alone at the veranda and was sucking at his stick. The only absent person was the gatekeeper, Mr. Eze Chima, who was in his hometown nursing his ‘new baby boy’. Some few moments later, everybody in the room clustered around Richard and Abigail to salute them with handshakes, hugs, kisses. And shouts of laughter and encouragement when Richard embraced Abigail passionately, bent her backward in a theatrical hug, and pressed his lips to hers.




“May all your trouble be little ones!”

“May twins be your first seeds!”

“Happiness forever!”

“Well done, well done!”

“More celebrations to come!” said Hakeem, with a mouthful of food.

It was a happy union; Richard had recently been reconciled with his father thanks to the detective. His mother had also forgiven the lawyer: Kish had knelt before her with a rose, and rose was Rose’s weakness. She had seen the flower obviously as what it was; a propitiatory offering from the barrister. Later, she had gladly accepted the lawyer’s proposal to marry him––Richard and Abigail had likewise been overwhelmed with happiness when they heard the news. In three months’ time, Daniel Famous would be in the camp of The Football Academy to begin his course and training. But he had yet not tendered his police identity card.

The plate above the entrance of the building which bore the inscription MARTINS CASTLE had been removed, they had considered the name quite a misnomer for that building, the property was not rightfully Cain’s after all. The rightful race which owned the property was believed to have gone extinct, and nobody deserved it better than Abigail and Richard. The couple had actually planned to replace the plate with another which would have KISH HOUSEHOLD imprinted on it––that would of course come after they had been married.

Abigail was sad for a couple of moments; Richard who was once fatherless, now had a father and, both his parents were present. Her own mother had died when she was only twenty-four months old, and her father had also died twenty years later thanks to Cain. Her first ten years after birth, she had carried an adolescent faith that her mother didn’t die but travelled and didn’t come back. She only had some of her mother’s personal belongings: clothes; some photographs only taken days before her disappearance, her eyes intense, yet calm and very peaceful; some books––mostly about domestic tips and rules; and a number of handwriting notes that she could read but not understand the messages contained therein. Aside from her mother’s photographs and a few of her clothes, the rest was of very little interest to a girl approaching her eleventh birthday; a girl still heartbroken and confused, feeling abandoned and almost alone save for her father being there to provide for her and love her; a girl too, who never thought for a moment that her mother might be dead and who prayed everyday to God to protect her mother wherever she was, a girl who carried her mother’s pictures everywhere and who searched the faces of every female stranger she saw––hoping, praying, certain, that one day she would see that familiar face in the pictures, one that would suddenly smile in recognition and throw her arms around her, sweeping her off her feet, and promising never to leave her again. It was until she turned twelve that she knew that her mother really would not be coming back. Even as she grew into a woman, the passage of time did little to ease her pain. And although her father had tried his best to keep her from missing her mother, a part of her had always been lonely, as she immersed herself in her school work and watched in abject loneliness as she saw her classmates’ mothers come to pick them up to take them home. For weekends, holidays, vacation trips, and mid-term breaks. The only memories of her deceased parents were photographs, so she had gotten the best pictures of each of her parents and had enlarged them into frames. She placed each frame of the two pictures in a corner of the large sitting room.

The large room was filled with well-wishers and families to celebrate with Abigail and Richard, there were so many ‘I’ve-been-hearing-so-much-about-you’s’.

“Hi,” Juliet greeted Abigail, “I’ve been hearing so much about you from my brother.”

“I can say the same to you.”

“He’s been telling me different things about you; he said you’re beautiful, kind and intelligent.”

“I’m flattered, but don’t believe everything he told you or you’d be disappointed.”

Juliet laughed, “He also said he was in love with you.”

“Juliet!” Daniel interjected, he almost fainted with embarrassment, and he was trying his best not to blush at the same time.

“Give unto me a break, Danny boy,” Juliet said sharply to his brother behind her and faced Abigail again, “Don’t mind my big brother, he’s always unlucky when it comes to choosing a girlfriend. Last year, he met a girl at my friend’s birthday party and can you believe what happened?” Daniel had scuttled away when he realized that his sister was about to launch into one of his past minor contretemps, “The girl came to me asking if my brother was a dumb––he kept stuttering in front of her until the girl walked away in annoyance, that gorgeous girl hadn’t greeted me ever since because of that.”

Abigail could not believe her ears, what this girl was telling her was too humorous not to achieve a laugh-out-loud situation, she looked around for Daniel, he’d simply dissolved in thin air. She faced Juliet and said, “I believe he’s going to meet his own African Queen one of these days.”

“I pray so, I’m still proud of him though, even as he’s a coward when it comes to facing a girl and proclaiming his feelings directly to her without wasting time and making the opportunity slip by him. By the way, he would be attending The Academy very soon and with luck he would be playing for this country.” She continued ranting on until her father came to Abigail’s rescue.

“Julie, I think you’ve said enough for the moment,” Mr. Famous said, he turned to Abigail who was appreciating that respite from Juliet’s loquacious brittle chatter. “Where’s your husband-to-be? I need to talk to both of you.”

Everybody in the room sat down under the plea from Daniel’s father. Daniel’s father faced the couple and began, “I heard about what happened in this house; Daniel told me about everything, it is shocking to know that somebody can be so wicked as to put his own life at risk in order to destroy the next person. I am very proud that my son was able to stop that from happening. This is the first time that I’m glad my son put his own life on the line in order to save another man’s.”

He shifted in his seat, “You see, I was shocked when, five years ago, Daniel told me that he’d gotten himself into the police force. The last thing I ever wanted for my son was wearing black uniform around and putting himself in harm’s way. I wanted him to be a medical doctor because I’ve always wanted to have a doctor in the family. I studied Medicine in school and I was a professional medical doctor, but due to some unfortunate circumstances, I could not become one again. That was actually the reason I wanted one of my children to become a doctor––it’s a profession I cherish so much. I didn’t know that one man’s sugar-coated candy may be another man’s product of defecation. Though, Daniel had always been telling us since his junior years in the high school that he would like to be a footballer, I tried my best to discourage him. I told him that taking football as a profession in this country is one of the hardest goals one can ever dream of achieving, and fame in the world of football is largely ephemeral, but he would not be deterred, I saw the determination in him but I thought as the years pass by he would seek other dreams. In his senior years in the high school he was very good in science subjects––particularly in Biology, so I became positive that he would really decide to study Medicine. I got very furious when, after his high school education, he told me that he wanted to go into a football school. He’d never even for once considered the thought of going for the course I wanted for him, his decision was so much to my chagrin that I ordered him not to go to whatever football school he was talking about.

“I think he was very angry with us too, he thought we didn’t believe in him that he would make it as a professional footballer. He didn’t want to be a doctor and I was trying to force it on him. Because I banned him from pursuing his desired ambition, he decided to get himself recruited in the police force. I was disappointed and afraid when he told me what he’d done, I was scared that he would not live long. I was angry with myself the day I learnt that he was shot. I was sorry I brought it on him, if I had left him alone and had allowed him to choose his own career, he probably wouldn’t have been shot. I went to visit him at the hospital and begged him to resign from the force and go to any school he desired, he merely told me that he would not resign merely because he was shot by a crazy driver. He added that he had always wanted to defend his country and being a policeman seemed to him the easiest way to do that.”
“We were sad and guilty,” said Mrs. Famous; Daniel’s mother made an instant positive impression on Abigail, the woman had compassionate eyes that every child deserved from its mother. Abigail presumed that she must have been very beautiful when she was younger because she was blessed with a voluptuous body; her figure was as unique, universally recognized, and dearly beloved as a Coca-Cola bottle; her face was smooth and round, her chest was protruded with a mountain of bosom that still had the effect of creating a tingle in the brains of almost every man that saw them. She was fully dressed and was so festooned with jewelry that every time she moved she clanked, clinked, chimed and pealed. “His passion is to defend his country all along and we had been trying to kill the dream in him. Though he was not happy being a policeman but he’s always happy and ready to serve humanity. Now, fate has taken him to where he’d needed to be. We wanted a doctor in the family and Juliet is already studying Medicine in the University of Lagos with passionate enthusiasm––and quite soon, we’ll also be having a professional footballer in the family,” she turned to her son, “We’re proud of you.”

“And we’re sorry for all we made you go through,” said father to son.

Mrs. Famous turned to Abigail, “You’ve made a proud family out of ours, thank you so much. You’re our savior and we’re indebted to you. You helped in making his dream come true, I didn’t know until now that we still have kind-hearted people in this country of cons today.”

Abigail smiled, “We have many kind people in this country, it’s just that there’re some rotten fish in the net. Still, there are some clouds with silver linings and a lot of apples don’t have worms in them. I met Richard when I lost my phone and money, naturally in this country, you rarely get back your things when they get lost, but Richard found my things and returned them without a pin missing. That was my first taste of humanity after my father’s death. Before Richard, my father was the only kind-hearted person I had ever known, and he had always told me to never hesitate to help a fellow if I can. When Daniel was telling us about his dream, it was like my father was speaking in his head. I knew I had to help him but I didn’t know how to go about it, it was Richie who gave the idea of getting him into The Academy, since that is one place he had wanted to go in order to achieve his dream. So, you have Richie to thank, and also my father anyway.”

Daniel’s father said, “How I wish your father were alive so that I could thank him personally and tell him that he had raised a wonderful daughter.”

“You can thank him still,” Abigail smiled warmly; “I believe he’s with us here in spirit. I can feel him smiling with us.”

She pointed to the pictures of her parents, “That is my father there smiling beside my mother,” she laughed, “Isn’t he cute?”

All eyes shifted to the two photographs at the corner of the room. The image on the photograph leaning on the left hand side of the wall was of a middle-aged good looking man, his hair was cut low and clean shaven. He was smiling broadly as though a comedian was his photographer. The other photograph portrayed the image of a fairly complexioned woman. Everybody in the room would have decided it was Abigail in the picture if not for the thin black tribal marks which appeared on each of the woman’s cheeks.

Mrs. Famous looked at the picture and smiled. How alike a child and her mother can look, she thought. She looked briefly at the man’s picture before shifting her gaze back to the woman’s. Then something struck her, she had a strong feeling of recognition; she turned her face to look at the man, she got up suddenly from her seat and moved closer to the smiling man’s picture to be sure of who she was seeing.

Mrs. Famous screamed like a banshee.

Everybody was startled by her sudden shriek; all eyes left the pictures and were concentrated on her. She was gazing wide-eyed at the picture of Abigail’s father with amazement and horror. Then she spun around suddenly to face Abigail who was looking at her with a completely bemused expression.

“Don’t tell me the man in that picture is Samson Oliver,” she said to Abigail.

Abigail became more surprised and afraid, “Yes, that’s his name. You know him?”

“Oh my Jesus!” she whispered. She covered her face in her palms and rocked her body convulsively, she continued that way for some minutes and everybody was wondering what had gone wrong with her.

When Mrs. Famous raised her face to look at Abigail her face was damp with perspiration, and tears had begun to wash off the make-up liners around the edges of her eyes.

“Miss Oliver,” she said softly, a little bit louder than a whisper, “Daniel is your blood brother!”.

Again, jaws were dropped in surprise. Some of those seated were looking at each other expecting someone to stand up and declare that what they had just heard was nothing but a cooked-up joke to pull their emotions, but it was no joke. It was another good day for aghastness in the Martins’ manse.

Daniel who was utterly astounded by the news turned his look to his father. The older man, he noticed, was anything but surprised, he looked calm and unperturbed. His father knew already.

“It’s true, son,” said Ebenezer Famous, “Sam Oliver was your father–biologically.”

“You know this already, papa?”

“Yes, what difference does it make? You’re my son, Sam Oliver was at least your father in the medical sense. We wanted to tell you when you turned twenty-one but we later decided against it. Why should we tell you that I’m not your father when your real father was nowhere to be found?”

“No, I don’t believe this,” argued Abigail, “It can’t be true, I’m the only child of my father.”

“It’s the truth,” Mrs. Famous said slowly. She reached in her handbag and extracted a photograph which she gave to Abigail, “Look at that, I take it with me everywhere I go. That’s the only thing that reminds me of him.”

It was a mini-sized sepia photograph. It portrayed the images of young Mrs. Famous with Sam Oliver. Just like most old-fashioned love-displaying photographs, the beautiful Ada Bright was sitting on the thigh of Samson Oliver; they were both grinning from ears to ears as though they had just won a jackpot.

Abigail was stunned. It’s true! Her hands holding the photograph were no steadier than a pawpaw leaf in a breeze. My father really dated Mrs. Famous! My father’s Daniel’s father too!

“But––but he didn’t tell me I have a brother, why?”

“I know he didn’t,” said Mrs. Famous, “He couldn’t even tell you.”
“Are you saying my father kept this as a secret from me––even till he died?”

Mrs. Famous paused, “He couldn’t tell you because he didn’t know that he had another child.”

“What!” Abigail stood up from her seat.

“Sit down, I’ll explain everything.”

Abigail sat back in her seat, but she was still appalled at what she had just heard. “What happened?” she asked solemnly.

Daniel’s mother took a deep breath and began her narration.

“I met Sam in 1984,” she began, “I met him in a night club, that was the mistake I made; you don’t choose your life partner in a night club. I fell in love with Sam almost immediately I saw him, he was a very handsome man––even more handsome than in that photograph. We started a relationship after the third day of knowing each other. But something went horribly wrong, I knew Sam truly loved me but I was very disappointed and sad the day I found out that he had a daughter. Truly, he wanted to explain why I met a little girl with him but I didn’t give him that chance. I would have understood better if he had told me from the beginning of our relationship that he had a child. I loved him very much and I would gladly have accepted it without blinking an eye if he had not kept it a secret from me.

“That day, before I found out about his secret I wanted to tell him that I was pregnant for him. I was not used to getting disappointed, so I walked out on him without sharing the news.”

“My God!” whispered Abigail.

“I was waiting at home for your father to come and apologize but he didn’t. It was the cruelest thing I have ever experienced. After waiting for him for about three months and didn’t see him, I decided to go and see him myself. On getting to where he lived, I met another occupant, a Hausa man, who told me that Sam had left the house about three months before him. Fear gripped my heart, I rushed to where he worked and I was told that he was one of those whose appointments were terminated because of the company’s period of retrenchment. The company had sustained a serious misfortune due to the inter-religious clash of that period, so they had to cut expenses by quitting some of the staff members therein. Your father was among the unfortunate workers. I fainted when I heard the news.

“I was already four months pregnant and I could not find the man responsible, terminating the pregnancy was not even an option––it was a risk I could not afford to take. I didn’t know any family of Sam’s, even his only friend was one of those unlucky employees. I couldn’t do anything but pray; everyday, I prayed that Sam would one day knock on the door and stand on the threshold with flowers in his hand apologizing––but it never came to pass. I gave birth to a baby boy five months later and named him Daniel.” She looked pathetically at Abigail, “Miss, your father was a very wicked human being––he took advantage of my love for him.”

The last sentence stung Abigail and she shivered, “No, my father was the kindest man I’ve ever known. I can’t believe he did such a ghastly thing. But I’m sorry, Mrs. Famous, please forgive my father. He’s dead now; please forgive him for my sake.” She started crying.

“Oh, my baby,” Ada Famous said, standing up to hold her, “Please don’t cry, I’ve forgiven your father a long time ago. It’s okay, stop crying.”

Abigail sniffled amid the sob several times before she could speak, “It’s–it’s just that I don’t want to lose you, I don’t want to lose another mother. I’ve lost too many people in my life. I lost my mother when I was barely able to walk; she died in a motor accident. I don’t remember anything because I grew up under my father’s care, the only memories of my mother are photographs. When I was still a kid my father had always told me that my mother didn’t die but went to a place where she became my guarding angel. One night, on the eve of my twelfth birthday, my father told me that it was time I knew the truth about my mother. He said that she lost her life in a car crash, he told me that we used to live here in Lagos till he was transferred to work in Plateau State––that was actually before my mother’s death. He would travel to Jos every Monday morning and return to Lagos on Fridays to spend the weekend with my mother and me. So, when my mother died, he had to take me with him to Jos. My mother died on July 18, 1984, and I moved with my dad to Jos a week after her death. We finally retuned to Lagos in June of 1985 because there was an attack by the Muslims of that area and my dad, with some others of his neighbours, had to run for their lives.”

“That means––that means it was not his fault,” lamented Mrs. Famous, “He sent his friend to me a week after I walked out on him. His friend reported that he needed to see me urgently that I should come, but I refused going. I wanted him to come and apologize. It was my fault, I should have gone to hear what he had to say but I didn’t. Everything was my fault, he didn’t know that I was pregnant––I spoilt everything with my own anger. He really loved me and he wanted to explain everything but I didn’t listen to him. Oh my God!” she held her head in both hands.

Ebenezer famous put his arm around his wife’s shoulder, comforting her.

“It’s okay, dear,” he said, “Everything that happened was in the past, you don’t have to grieve anymore. Nobody can change the course of fate.”

Daniel spoke, “So, Mrs. Martins is my sister,” he could not find the next word to say. He didn’t know if he should be glad or ashamed of himself. This was a woman with whom he had been madly enamoured and would have done anything to marry if not for the age gap. That woman was her own elder sister. Funny––very funny, and crazy.

“She’s your sister,” his father said, “And we’re your parents. You’re my son, nobody can take you from me––not even you.”

Daniel gave a very faint smile and said, “What else do I have the right to know and haven’t been told?”

“Nothing,” answered his mother, “Nothing more.”

“But there is,” persisted Daniel, “How did you meet my father?”

“I’ve explained, I met him in a night club.”

“I mean how did you meet my father sitting beside you now? Tell me, I want to know.”

His parents smiled. “Let me answer that.” Mr. Famous told his wife.

“We all have some sad stories to tell,” he began, too. “Mine occurred in 1981. I was once a married man before meeting Ada. I had a wife and a son, I was quite comfortable as a medical doctor and had my own house in a city of the suburb of Lagos––Apapa. It happened in April, I was returning from the office that night when suddenly in front of me, my house was razed by fire, and because of the many gas cylinders that we had in our house, the raze became a blast. The first blast shook the street so much that I felt its impact under my feet, and a bright rain of the fire shattered the upstairs windowpanes. The second blast shuddered the entire structure and blew out the melting glass of the windows. The third blast followed, not as loud and sharp as the first two but even more profoundly destructive, as if Satan was having a bout of sneeze in Hell. In my sight, the house seemed to swell, then twist, then shrink, and in an instant was engulfed in flames from end to end, flames seething and leaping so wildly that people even far away had to take some steps backward––not even the biblical three men from Babylon would want to take a swim in the blaze. I could not even save them––my wife and eight years old kid were cremated alive. My life sucked rotten donkey eggs thereafter. My credentials, my son, my wife––everything gone. When the rescue team came about an hour later, they found only the charred fragments of their bodies. The next thing I knew––I was diving head-on into the ocean below the Third Mainland Bridge. It would have been over––a brief struggle perhaps, and then oblivion––the end of a misused, useless, unprofitable life if not for the intervention of some fishermen who had nothing serious to do but to catch human beings instead of fish. Then I woke up lying ridiculously in a hospital bed with a broken shoulder, and thinking the prospect of being hauled up in a court for trying to take my own life. But I was discharged after spending two weeks in the general hospital without being convicted. Maybe attempted suicide was no longer a crime, I didn’t know.

“I cursed myself, cursed the people who rescued me from drowning, cursed the doctor who treated me. It was my life, wasn’t it? And if I had succeeded in the job they would have buried me piously as of unsound mind.

“It would have been the truth anyway, I was truly of unsound mind indeed. I wasn’t sane, my sanity had been burnt up in the conflagration. So, to commit suicide was the most logical and sensible thing a man in my position could do. I could not kill myself again because I have always known that after surviving one suicide attempt, you don’t try it again. But, regardless of suicidal thoughts, I became slightly mad. Research have stated that an average person has five minutes of madness everyday, but in my case, I had hours of madness everyday. I ate my shoes, slapped myself, wetted my pants, laughed without seeing anything funny. And most of all; I cried a lot. I cried for no real cause; I wept unashamedly at weddings, at anniversary celebrations, at birthday parties, at political rallies, at street fights, on Christmas and New Years’ Eves and the First of Octobers. I knew all the secrets of tears; how to use them to purge myself of grief, pain, disappointment, stress. I knew exactly how tears were manufactured, stored and dispensed. It is generally known that a mad man is always unconscious of every crazy thing he does. No, it is not true that the insane thought themselves sane; frequently the mad knew themselves to be mad. Either they were unable to fight their afflictions, or had no desire to. I was aware of every stupid thing I did, I knew they were abnormal things but I couldn’t stop myself. There seemed to be something in my head that kept jerking it spontaneously and uncontrollably. I was like a man who knew he was in a dream but could not wake up.

“I regained my sanity when I met Ada, she was coming out of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital with a baby on her back. She had probably taken the child to get treated, when I looked at her I knew that life was not treating her well. At least, we had something in common, so I approached her.”

He smiled, “I won’t tell you anything more concerning that, but that was actually how we became very close and got married. As you were growing older, you were looking exactly like Ola, my son who got burnt; you had the same look and character with him. I believed God returned my family to me; you and your mother are the family. God blessed me with three more wonderful children. You all mean so much to me, I never got my wealth and profession back but I have my family and I’ve never been so sad again.

Antonia, the girl with the quiet attitude spoke, “I guess the family has increased, we now have a big sister––someone who can scold Daniel as he does us.”

“You can say that again, Tonia,” said Juliet happily, “I’ve always wanted to have an elder sister.” She hugged Abigail, “You’re welcome to the family.”

Tears welled down Mrs. Famous’ face, “So, Sam is really dead. Oh God! Sam––Sam.” She hugged Abigail again. “I’m sorry, my baby. I shouldn’t have left your father, I should have stayed with him, and we would have taken care of you together. But I didn’t do that, I left him––I left you––oh, I’m sorry. Please forgive me––forgive me.”

“It’s okay,” said Abigail, “It’s okay, mum. I love you mum, I love you.” They held onto each other like that for a while.

Abigail was shedding tears again. You rarely laugh when you’re too happy, she thought as she held her new mother tight, when happiness comes beyond your control; colourless, salty liquid secretes from the deep crevices of your eyes. Abigail was happy. She remembered when her father had died, she had been lonely then; there was nobody she could call a family. Now she had a soul mate, a brother, sisters, parents, future in-laws. Family surrounded her and she knew that she would never be lonely again.

Mrs. Famous released Abigail and asked, “How did Sam die?”

“He was very sick, suffering from a sever case of emphysema caused from smoking too many cigarettes.”

“But Sam was never a smoker. He doesn’t smoke, I know him. In fact, he despised smokers.”

“My father was one great smoker I had ever known. I grew up to know him as a smoker, I can’t remember a day he never smoked.”

“That’s impossible!”

Abigail looked at her new mother and nodded her head. “I think I now know why he became a smoker. My father had always told me before his death that he had loved only three women deeply in this world––myself and my mother, he didn’t tell me the third woman. When I asked he only told me that I didn’t need to know, he said I would never understand. I decided that the third person was his own mother who had died long before I was born. Now I know, the third woman wasn’t his mother––it’s you!”


“My father was a teetotaler; he never drank because he saw anything alcoholic as poison–he only smoked. I know better now, he was smoking due to the depression of losing two of the people he loved the most.”

“My God!” mused Mrs. Famous, “Cigarettes killed him.”

“No, cigarettes almost killed him. He was killed by Cain.”

“Jesus Christ!”

“The irony there is that Cain killed my father and my father’s son killed him–quid pro quo.”

There was a short moment of silence as if they were paying respect to the lost soul.

“All right, enough of broodings,” Ebenezer bellowed, “Now all I want to hear is the popping of corks! Daniel, will you do the honours?”

Daniel went to the table, lifted the bottle of champagne, removed the foil from the neck of the bottle and began to untwist the wire that caged the cork, then he poured everybody a glass of the non-alcoholic wine, the only sound which could be heard was the music the wine was making as it was being poured in each glass. He also poured one for himself.

“A toast,” he said, raising his own glass of wine, “A royal toast. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Abigail, of whom I have the honour of being her brother. And Richard, my-my future brother-in-law.”

People clapped.

“To Abigail and Richard,” Daniel continued, “Long may they live!”

“Long may they live!” came the answering roar, and glasses were drained, including those of Abigail’s and Richard’s.

“Dear friends, dear relatives,” Richard caroled, “drink deep from the nuptial cups and give us your blessings all. I beg of you, eat, drink and make merry. For a union as this was made in heaven, and tickets to witness the wild revelry of the real wedding will go on sale shortly. It is, regrettably, a limited engagement this gathering is.”

There was laughter, a splattering of applause as Richard clasped Abigail again and kissed lips, cheeks, eyes, hair, and whatever additional morsels came within reach.

Even in the midst of the merriment, no one had the remotest idea of the extraordinary sequence of events which was to unfold itself in the future to come, as the needle of destiny stitched a mysterious maze in the affairs of men and shuttled on and on.