Saturday, 16 December 2017

The Brand Of Cain Episode 23

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!”.


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