Thursday, 17 May 2018

WEDDING OF MY EX (A ChrisEffe Bliss) Episode 5-6

Chris enters the well-furnished lobby of the Slash Designs building. He enters the lift.
There is already one other person inside. He is GABRIEL BLANKSON, 44 years old.
He is short and squat with a powerful compact body. He is dressed in a smart cream suit. He is Head Designer of Slash Designs. Chris smiles in greeting.
CHRIS
Good morning, Gabby.
GABRIEL
Morning. You didn't get my memo yesterday, did you?
CHRIS
Oh, dear Jesus, forgive me, Gabby! I got it. You wanted to see me at four, right? It slipped right out of my mind. You see Evelyn brought in the Cameroonian figures and needed an immediate analysis. So sorry, Gabby. Can we make it today?
GABRIEL
Today will be fine if you can find some time off your busy schedule, or if our gods release you.
The elevator stops, and the heavy doors ding open. Both men step out unto a well-lit corridor.
Gabriel begins to walk away but Chris reaches out and holds his arm.
CHRIS
Listen, Gabby. It was a genuine mistake on my part. I forgot all about it, and I'm sorry. I've been telling you I personally hate these cold wars between us, and I do my best to be civil, but sometimes you make it so hard for me.
GABRIEL
We are not friends, Chris, and we shall never be friends. Maybe it is through no fault of yours, but I personally think the stink that permeates these halls are not as rosy as some of you may think.
CHRIS
Gabby, chill it. There is no need to start that kind of battle.
GABRIEL
Battle? Get real, Chris. It has been a war all this while. I think it is downright incredible that only your designs are going to be used for the South African shit, forgive my language. Personally I can't congratulate you because that kind of shit sticks in a man's claw. But what can mere humans like us do? Go to South Africa, Chris, but here's one heart which will not miss you.
CHRIS
Give it up, Gabby. So much bitterness bottled up inside you is going to eat you all up. C'mon man, we can ride this together if you'll just allow yourself to defreeze.
Gabriel turns and begins to walk away. He speaks over his shoulder.
GABRIEL
See you around, Chris. And if you can make the time, let's go over the quotes today.
Chris stares after him, shocked. After a moment he turns and walks in the opposite direction.
He walks along a red-carpeted floor towards a glass door marked Evelyn Boampong, CEO.
Chris pushes the office door open and enters. The office is huge and has all the accoutrements of a modern office.
Evelyn Boampong is dressed in a fetching cream skirt suit.
EVELYN
Good morning, Chris. How're you this morning?
Chris takes her hand and shakes it gently.
EVELYN
You don't look so happy, my darling boy. What's the matter? Come, sit down, and tell me what's ailing you.
Chris sighs and sits down on one of the chairs facing the desk.
EVELYN
The first prints of your FURY collection will roll off this evening, Chris. Already the feedback from the factory heads is astounding. You're reaching for the skies with this one, boy.
CHRIS
So soon? Well, that is something!
EVELYN
You did it, Chris. This is what will cut your teeth internationally, and we're all so very happy for you.
CHRIS
Evelyn, there's something you must do for me, please.
EVELYN
Mmhhm? Let's hear it, Chris.
CHRIS
It is about Mr. Rupert Henderson's wedding, Evelyn. I am afraid I can't attend. You just have to find a way to get me out of it!
Evelyn shakes her head at him, alarmed. Her eyes send him a desperate message, and she casts furtive glances at the sitting-room area of the office.
A huge, booming voice speaks, startling Chris. It is the voice of MR. JOHN J. TAMAKLOE.
He is the owner of Slash Designs, and Chairman of the Board. He is 62 years old, tall, slim, elegant and silver-haired.
MR. TAMAKLOE
You're not getting out of anything, Chris. You're going with us. Get that into your thick skull.
Chris swivels round in his seat. Mr. Tamakloe sits up straight. He had been at the sitting-room area, and Chris had not seen him when he had entered.
CHRIS
Mr. Tamakloe, please, I have very genuine reasons why I can't go to that wedding!
MR. TAMAKLOE
The fact that Rupert's bride-to-be was once your fiancee doesn't mean you can't attend the wedding. Hasn't that relationship been dead for ages now?
EVELYN
(shocked)
What, John? Did you just say Chris and this girl - ah, what's her name - Effe, yes, once dated?
MR. TAMAKLOE
Yes, you heard right. Chris here used to date Effe, Rupert's bride-to-be. They had something thick and fancy going on, from what I heard from Rupert. Chris dumped the girl, and now she's getting married. So what's your beef, boy?
Evelyn Boampong stares first at her boss, then at Chris, lost for words.
CHRIS
Boss, how...
MR. TAMAKLOE
How did I know? Effe told Rupert, and of course he told me.
He gets up and approaches the desk.
MR. TAMAKLOE
Listen, Chris. Life is not as complicated as you young folks want to make it look like, okay? Evidently it didn't work out between you and Effe, though I find that to be a pity. Quite by accident she finds out you're on the invited list, and she told Rupert all about her life with you. It is over, and it is done with. Rupert holds no grudges, and believe me neither does Effe. I don't know what happened, but the dear lady has moved on. So, if that's the reason why you want to bail out, forget it. Unless there's some other reason you want to tell me about.
CHRIS
I guess that's the only reason really, boss.
MR. TAMAKLOE
The South African Minister for Trade will be at the wedding, Chris. Also, the CEO of Black House Creations, the biggest name in African fashion, as you well know, will be there. Rupert has conveniently arranged a meeting between them and Slash Designs, and we will showcase your FURY collection. So you simply can't afford to miss this opportunity. Let me assure you that Effe bears you no grudge, if that's causing the cold feet. She is a remarkable person. She speaks highly of you.
CHRIS
I don't know what that little devil told you, but if there's any grudge bearing, it certainly isn't coming from her!
MR. TAMAKLOE
I don't want to hear what passed under the bridge, my boy. Just be there on Saturday. Eve, I've to go now. I'm meeting the Minister of Tourism. Will catch up with you later.
Evelyn still looks shocked. She speaks softly.
EVELYN
Okay, John. We'll talk later.
Mr. Tamakloe squeezes Chris' shoulder and then he walks out.
Evelyn gets up and goes to the bar. She mixes two drinks and comes back to the desk. She hands a tall glass to Chris.
EVELYN
Here, take this. I think you need it.
Chris takes the drink. His hand is not steady, and it shakes slightly.
EVELYN
I must say this is quite complicated. I can't imagine, by the craziest stretch of the imagination, how your ex ended up with Mr. Henderson. Obviously, you're greatly affected. Believe me, if I had known about this earlier, I could've done something about it. I certainly would've prevented this seemingly ugly situation!
CHRIS
It is crazy, really. But well, there are things we can't control, right? I'll have to get it over and done with.
EVELYN
Four years ago there was a look about you. You were really hurting, and though you never told me anything, I got the distinct impression that your heart was badly broken. Can I safely guess that you were running from this Effe?
CHRIS
Yes. Effe was the reason. I'll tell you this, Boss, this heart that is beating in my chest has never cherished any girl as much as it did Effe. I can tell you too, now, that although it might never beat as hard as it did for any other girl, it is now filled with only the bitterest kind of gall for Effe!
EVELYN
From what I hear about Effe from John, and from the little I've heard from Rupert, I find it very hard to believe that we're talking about the same girl here, Chris.
Chris laughs gently, and then he wags a finger at Evelyn.
CHRIS
That's her devil-given talent, Evelyn. That girl has the looks of an angel, but beneath that cover lurks the most vicious devil you've ever encountered. She makes everybody fall at her feet, fawning and lapping, and then when she bares those fangs, even the luxurious depths of hell does not compare to the torture of her sick soul!
EVELYN
Woah, Chris. Stop scaring me. Rupert is a dear good man, and quite frankly I'm very fond of him, and if you keep on that way about the girl he's going to marry, you're going to drive me really crazy with concern for him. I shudder to think he would be saddled with the type of girl you're describing to me.
CHRIS
Effe Kedem. Nice name, isn't it? She is even a more beautiful person. Seen her before?
EVELYN
Nah. Just the picture on the back of the wedding card. She looks very beautiful.
CHRIS
Beautiful? She's breath-taking. She's so beautiful I used to wonder how God ever decided to make something as perfect as that. I mean, that girl looks at you with those eyes and your heart just flips into your mouth and chokes you. I met her under bizarre circumstances, though.
There was an accident on the Accra-Winneba road, and that's when I had the most regrettable opportunity of meeting that foul devil...
The clock on the wall shows that some minutes have passed. Chris has finished telling Evelyn how he had met Effe.
Tbc
.
Episode 6
Continues..
EVELYN
(looking sadly at Chris).
So Effe hides in your car after the orphanage bus is involved in an accident. You bring her to Accra, and take her to a hotel room. She tells you about a horrible Mr. Afful, the man in charge of the orphanage who supposedly wants to defile her. She pleads with you to call an Auntie Joyce, a woman who has been good to her at the orphanage. Did you call her?
CHRIS
I did. We arranged to meet at Winneba Junction on my way back to Takoradi. It was evident that Mr. Afful had not reported that one girl was missing from the accident. The next day I met Auntie Joyce. She was a fine woman. She told me a terrible tale. She confirmed all that Effe told me. She went on further to say that Mr. Afful had this awful practice of not detailing some of the kids that turn up at the orphanage.
EVELYN
And what exactly do you mean by that?
CHRIS
Well, see, there are a lot of childless couples around, okay? Most of them are filthy rich. So if an abandoned child turns up at the orphanage, and the child is really handsome or beautiful, Mr. Afful does not enter any details about such a child in the official log books. The child's name would not be on any document or recorded anywhere. In other words, the child does not exist. Later, Mr. Afful selects a childless couple from his private list of rich-but-childless couples, and sells the child at a hefty price.
EVELYN
Oh, but that's so horrible!
CHRIS
It is, but it happens. Authorities can't trace such a child whose particulars are not documented.
EVELYN
So Effe was such an inmate? Undocumented?
CHRIS
Exactly. According to Auntie Joyce, Mr. Afful woke up one dawn to find Effe lying in a basket with a slip of paper that had a name on it: Effe Kedem. Only difference was that Mr. Afful saw how beautiful she would be, and decided not to sell her off. So she grew up in the orphanage, and Mr. Afful had begun touching her. Auntie Joyce took her under her wings to protect her. She threatened to tell the authorities about his deeds, and he was obviously trying to work on a transfer for Auntie Joyce when the accident happened.
EVELYN
I see. So evidently, there was nothing to show that Effe was an inmate of the orphanage. Did Mr. Afful think she perished in the accident?
CHRIS
Exactly. So Auntie Joyce begged me to do all I could for the poor girl, you know, give her a clean start. Effe was twenty-two years old, I was twenty-six. I felt sorry for her, so I decided to take her to Takoradi with me.
EVELYN
That was a big decision.
CHRIS
I think I was already in love with her then.
EVELYN
In love with her? I don't get it. Elaine told me once that you and her went way back, since you were teenagers, and there has never been a third party between you. If that's true, how do you tie Effe in?
CHRIS
Elaine's mother and mine are the best of friends, more like sisters; they lived in the same area, attended the same schools, you know, stuff like that. When they grew up it just happened that my mother gave birth to only me, and Elaine is an only child too. The two friends decided to let us marry each other, and thus when we were old enough to understand that crap they let us know that we would eventually be man and wife. It worked out okay, somehow, and we were really close. I even thought I loved Elaine, and everything was moving to its normal conclusion.
EVELYN
And then you met Effe.
CHRIS
(with a sad smile)
Yes, until I met Effe. I sent her to Takoradi. I knew this nice woman who was a caterer. She and her husband had been childless for a long time. As soon as I got to Takoradi I took Effe to her. Mrs. Ivy Opoku. She was so thrilled. She warmed to Effe immediately, and I was glad I was able to give her some happiness.
Chris is quiet for a few seconds. He drinks more wine.
CHRIS
Mr. Opoku, her husband, was also very happy. Mrs. Opoku made Effe the center of her life, and began teaching her the craft of catering. Luckily, Effe had had decent education, to a level, at the orphanage, and she fitted in superbly.
Chris breaks off. There is great pain on his face. He grimaces, and drains his cup with one gulp, and then he begins to twirl the stem of the glass in his hand.
EVELYN
Chris, we can do this another time.
CHRIS
This is the first time I'm trying to speak about this to anybody, Boss. Elaine knows a part of the story, my best friend knows a part, my own mother knows a part, but nobody has really been told why I broke off with Effe finally.
He rubs his forehead in a distracted way.
CHRIS
Maybe I have kept it all bottled up for too long. Maybe it is time to talk about this festering sore that has kept company with my heart all these years. But you know something funny? I still can't bring myself to talk about her, not now. You'll have to excuse me, Eve darling. Maybe, after the wedding, I'll tell you about my doomed life with that devil.
Chris stands up. He walks to the bar and carefully rinses out his glass and sets it down gently.
He walks out of the office and closes it behind him without looking at Evelyn.
Evelyn stays in her chair. She stares at the shut door. She speaks softly.
EVELYN
Poor boy.
(she shakes her head sadly.)
Out in the corridor Chris walks briskly towards his office. His mobile phone rings. He puts it to his right ear.
CHRIS
Hello, Angel.
ELAINE
My dearest darling. How're you doing?
CHRIS
I can barely hear you. Where are you?
ELAINE
On my way to the airport, love. Remember the symposium I told you about? The date was moved forward, and we're attending it today. For obvious reasons I forgot to tell you about it last night.
CHRIS
I see. And when do I expect you back?
ELAINE
Oh, darling, don't sound that way. You know I'll miss you too. It is just for today. I'll see you tomorrow night.
CHRIS
Alright, then, but do take care, okay? You know how precious you are to me.
ELAINE
Oh, darling, I adore you too. Got to go now. I'll call you when I get to Kumasi, okay? Bye baby.
Chris, clips the phone back into its carrier, and resumes walking.
Almost immediately the phone rings again. He sighs and unclips it again as he opens his office door.
He glances at the screen and smiles. He puts the phone to his ear.
CHRIS
Hello, Stoneman.
STEVE
Shelve it, man! What the hell happened yesterday? My phone went off, I tried to reach you again, but the call wasn't going through. I sent a text message, but you haven't gotten back to me yet.
CHRIS
Yeah, man, saw your text and meant to get back to you but the whole situation has taken over me, you know, blown me overboard.
STEVE
And what's this damn stuff you were telling me about Effe? Was it for real, or were you just shitting me?
CHRIS
Wish it were just a dream, man. But everything I told you is the truth. I just tried to back out of that wedding, but my reasons didn't wash with my boss.
STEVE
I just can't wrap my mind around this, Bawa boy. Say, I need to hear the whole bundle of hell! Why don't you bring Elaine to the usual joint tonight? Zac is getting a few friends together. We'll all be there. He was complaining the other time about not seeing you around for a spell.
CHRIS
Well, I think I might just take you up on that. Actually, Elaine just called me. She'll be out of town for a day, and right now I don't really cherish being alone. Alright then, paddy. I will see you at The Joint when I close from here.
STEVE
Right, my boy. See you then.
CHRIS
Chill, bro.
To be continued..

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