A Thorn in Her Life
By Olatunbosun Adetula (Nigeria)
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The sun cast a long shadow across the garden. Bath stood by the window and watched as the small birds ate the ripe pawpaw inside the compound. Later they flew to the fence and ate the flowers that climbed the garden wall and spread it tentacles all over the wall. Bath saw his small dog Timmy running after the bird. The little dog made small weak cries and ran after them.
Bath had no time for any girl, for his mind was on Maria. While Bath thought about Maria his cell phone rang; he picked it up and discovered that the call was from one of his girlfriends, so he quickly switched it off. He heard a cacophony of laugher on top of the staircase. Looking up, he saw his father and his lover Gina coming down from the staircase to meet him inside the living room.
Mr. Benson loved Gina more than any woman in his life. Bath dropped his cell phone on the center table as the two lovers got to him. His father’s face was pitched and drawn with excitement. Mr. Benson went to the bar and brought two bottle of wine, uncorked the bottle and let the wine spray onto his face. He took three glass cups, gave one to Gina and another one to Bath and he took the last one. Bath was confused; he didn’t know what caused his father’s excitement.
“I am so happy! Come ride a horse inside me, for you will not fall!” Mr. Benson shouted as he held Gina in the hand and they both danced around the room.
“Dad, what is the air?” Bath asked as he looked at his father and Gina.
“Look Bath, Gina is pregnant for me,” Mr. Benson said and sang an old familiar song.
“I am so happy for you Dad. This calls for a big celebration,” Bath said and shook his father’s hand.
Mr. Benson smiled and kissed Gina on the lips several times. Later Gina went upstairs and came down with her bag by her side. Mr. Benson stood up and went to meet her.
“Look Bath, we want to catch in on the fine weather and go out for celebration,” Mr. Benson said and touched Gina on the cheek.
“So where are you going, Dad?”
“We are going to the Victoria Hotel; next week we travel to South Africa.”
“I am happy for you. Gina, I wish you a successful delivery,” Bath said and looked into Gina’s face.
“Thank you very much, Bath.” Gina said and embraced her lover.
“Let’s go, my love,” Mr. Benson said. He held her hands and they both left the living room.
Bath went to the window and watched them as they went to the car. He went to the bar and tried Maria’s phone number. It rang but she refused to pick it up, so he breathed deeply and made an attempt to leave the living room. Suddenly the bell rang and Bruno came into the living room. Bath was surprised.
“Bruno, how are you?”
“I am fine and cool,” Bruno said
Bruno came to meet him at the bar. Later they went and sat down in the living room.
“How is business, Bruno?” Bath said and called the maid to bring a glass cup for Bruno.
“Business is moving very fine,” Bruno said as the maid poured wine into the cup.
“Thank you, Jenny,” Bath said as the maid left.
“You look tired, Bath.”
“Yes, we worked all day yesterday at the office and I came home late.”
Bruno was Bath’s classmate at the University. When his parents died in an accident, his life turned around for the worst. When he left the University, Bruno couldn’t secure a job and was jobless and hard up until Bath came to his rescue and lent him a large sum of money to start a business. As his business grew Bruno refused to pay back the money he had borrowed and Bath found it difficult to collect the money because they only had a gentlemen’s agreement.
“How is your wife’s health?”
“She is okay. She had a broken nose and the doctors are treating her at the hospital.”
“I wish her quick recovery.”
“Thank you very much, Bath.”
There was a minute’s silence between them. Finally Bath broke the silence and spoke.
“Bruno I don’t like what you are doing to me. You promised to pay the money last month but you reneged.”
“My debtors have refused to pay the money they owe. Immediately they pay, I will lodge the money into your bank account.”
“When will they pay?” Bath said and lit a cigarette.
“I am looking at December.”
“December is too ridiculous, Bruno.”
“You really need to exercise patience. I cannot pay before then.”
“Okay, I will patiently wait for you. Remember, five million dollars is not small money.”
“Yeah, right, I know.”
Bath stood up and saw his father’s cat making a dash for the fish he kept in the dining room. He drove the cat away. When he came back into the living room, he went to the window and saw the gardener trimming the flowers inside the compound.
“Don’t trim it, Kali,” Bath shouted from the window.
“Okay sir, I won’t touch it again, sir.,” Kali said and went into trimming other flowers.
Bath came back to his seat and sat down; Bruno looked at him and spoke.
“There is something in the air, Bath,” Bruno said and watched his face.
“What is in the air Bruno?” Bath asked.
“Did you remember my friend Steve?” Bruno said and Bath racked his brain trying to remember who Steven was.
“Yeah, that estate agent. I remember him.”
“He wants to sell his mansion at Epe.”
“That place is too far.”
“It is three hour’s drive to Victoria Island.”
“What happened to him?”
“Steve ran into some debts.”
“How much is the mansion?”
“Ten million bucks. I would have loved to buy it but I am really hard up,” Bruno said and Bath thought for some minutes.
“Okay, I will like to see the building next week,” Bath said as Bruno stood up.
“Give me a call; I will take you there without cost.”
“I will give you a call. Let me see you off then.,” Bath said and they left the living room.
The following week, Bath went to Epe and saw the building. It was very large and very close to the Atlantic Ocean. The place was serene and quiet and there were just a few people in the city. Security was high and the people were friendly.
X X X X
Paul was happy. His face was pinched and drawn with excitement when Ruth stepped into his office at Lagoon hospital, and he was surprised to see her protruded belly as they exchanged pleasantries inside the office. Later Paul cleared his desk. He called Maria and told her he wouldn’t come to pick her at the office as he had promises earlier because he had a visitor.
When Paul and Ruth got outside and walked toward the parking lot, Paul suggested that they should go to a restaurant.
“Let us go to a good and cosy restaurant, somewhere around here,” Paul said and fumbled with the door of the car.
“I don’t like going to a restaurant,” Ruth said and Paul told her to keep the basket at the back of the car.
“Okay, let’s go my house then.”
“That is better Paul,” Ruth said and Paul looked into her eyes.
“I thought you like cosy things,” Paul said.
“That was before. I have changed and, moreover, I am heavily pregnant.”
“That is better. You have really changed,” Paul said as he tuned the ignition and drove to his house.
“Paul, I have been thinking of coming to visit you but I always think you won’t be around,” Ruth said as Paul changed gears.
“I am always busy, but you can still call me.”
“My mind didn’t go there at all, I was so desirous of seeing you,” Ruth said and Paul looked at her.
“So who is the right man?” Paul said and touched her belly.
“Tony my boyfriend, the one I told you about the last time you came to my house.”
“That guy finally hooked you.”
“Yeah, he won at last.”
They continued to talk till they got to Paul’s house, where Paul went to open the gate and drove inside. When he opened the front door and they stepped into the living room, Ruth was flabbergasted. The living room was cosy and exotic with a beautiful sofa. An antique table stood in the centre of the room and many beautiful portraits and pictures adorned the wall.
Maria looked all over the room as Paul went into the kitchen and brought cans of Coca-Cola for her. When Paul went into the bedroom, Maria saw a picture of a young and beautiful lady on the wall, she stood up and went to pick up the picture and she looked at it.
Paul saw her as she carried the picture and he came to meet her. She turned back and saw Paul at her back.
“Who is the girl in the picture?” Ruth asked.
“That is my fiancé,” Paul said.
“She is very beautiful,” Ruth said and went to sit down without hanging the picture back on the wall.
“Did you know her?” Paul said.
“No, I don’t know her at all.”
“You seem to like her. Her name is Maria.”
“A beautiful name for a beautiful girl; she is calm and beautiful.”
“I love her so much,” Paul said and opened the cans of Coke. He gave one to Ruth and he sipped the other.
Paul looked at the basket on the table, stood up and went to the table. He rummaged through the basket and looked into Ruth’s face.
“Curiosity kills the cat.” Ruth said and smiled.
“So what do you have in this basket?”
“They are apples,” Ruth said and Paul went to sit down.
“Are they for your boyfriend?”
“No, I brought them for you,” Ruth said. She could see excitement on Paul’s face.
“I love apples,” Paul said and removed the covering on the basket, taking a bite from one of the apples. Maria watched him and he smiled.
“The apples are fresh,” Ruth said.
“Thank you very much, Ruth,” Paul said and danced toward the deep freezer besides the dining table. He opened it and put all the apples inside and came back to meet Ruth in the living room after taking a second apple.
When he ate the second apple he felt drowsy. Ruth waited for thirty minutes after Paul fell on the chair. When she stood up and touched his arm she discovered that he had fallen into a deep sleep.
“Paul, I am going home,” she said and took her bag on the table, but Paul didn’t answer her.
Ruth took the empty cans of Coca- Cola and put them inside the basket; she opened the front door and left the house. As she sat within the taxi, her guilt tormented her. One hour later she got to Tony’s house and went into the room and cried. Tony saw her on the bed, brought out his handkerchief and wiped the tears from her face. Later she stopped crying; Tony brought out his cell phone and called Bath.
“The deed has been done sir. He is resting with his friend in the mortuary,” Tony said with a mischievous grin.
“Tony, I am grateful. I will give you a call later in the day,” Bath said and cut the phone.
Tony cleaned Ruth’s face and rubbed his tummy with his hand. He went downstairs and prepared a meal for her, whistling as he went downstairs with a plate of noodles.
In the evening Jingo went to the supermarket to purchase some products. Then he saw Tony and wanted to tell him that the product he gave him was not arsenic but a sleeping chemical that had no effect on health but just makes someone sleep. Jingo called Tony’s name as he opened the car door but Tony didn’t hear his voice. Jingo tried to run but much as he tried he discovered that his body was too heavy and old. He hollered to the people along the road to help him stop Tony, but they didn’t mind him. He tried to run along the road, but it was greasy for it had just rained cat and dog. Jingo fell down and bruisesd his kneels.
Tony didn’t see Jingo as he drove away, so Jingo lay helplessly on the road. He was in a deep pain, in anger and frustration. He compressed his lips so tightly that they almost went white as the pain reared its ugly head and penetrated deeply into the fabric of his soul. He would have called Tony on phone but some randy boys had stolen his phone a few hours before, so Jingo stood up gently and hopped down the road.