The pains in my joints disappeared. My closing eyes whined open. My mouth agape as I rushed towards Hope. “What did you do?” I held her trembling hands.
She turned to me. Her eyes filled with anger- anger fuelled by the agonising memories of what she has passed through in Idima’s hand. Then the dagger slipped from her hand, and the bloody edge dropped on Idima fidgeting body- he became still. Four gun shots were heard and Idima’s four friends froze to death.
“Ken!” I bent over, shielding g Hope with my body. “Ken, stop it! Stop it!”
“You are making noise.” He wiped the handle of his shotgun and filed it back into his long black coat. He kicked the last body and started towards me.
I could think of was the dead bodies around me and Hope. “You shouldn’t have done that.”
“Now there is no witness to what happened here tonight. Unless you planned on visiting your newly found love in prison.”
I stared at Hope. She was terrified. Her eyes were filled with blood, rage and hatred for whatever it was going on in his mind. I took her hands and for the first time, considered what Ken said to be true. Idima’s friend would have gone to report and that would see Hope behind the tall and scary walls of prison- our yet unborn relationship aborted few hours to delivery.
“Look at me.” I pulled his head and stared into her eyes. “Everything will be fine okay, trust me.”
She nodded, trying to show me how much she believed me. But her emotion betrayed her even before she nodded. She looked at Idima’s body as Ken’s friend drag it to the bush.
“Don’t look at him.” I pulled his face away. “He was a cancer on your skin and now it has been removed.”
“We need to move.” Ken tapped me. “This is a crime scene now and whoever is seen around it would be held responsible. Let’s go.”
Although I was battered, the fear of death around me gave me the straight to help Hope to the car. We entered the car and one of the guys drove off.
The ride was a silent one. Hope was shivering with her head on my shoulders, whimpering in fear. At interval, I would steal glances at Ken. I just could not believe what happened that night. I tried to find the explanation I needed on my own- the right and convincing explanation of how Ken was not a cultist. I ignored the truth before me: the gun, the orders which the four boys obeyed like he was their godfather, and worst, the expertise with which he wielded that gun, killing four people before I could call his name. I ignored those, hoping for something else, something that could explain in a more responsible way why and how he found himself in that situation. Our eyes met. I withdrew. He scoffed. I glanced at him again and our eyes met. My mouth whined. I wanted to ask him to at least tell me what was going on, but something in my mouth stole my voice.
“Don’t even say it.” He shook his head. “All you need now is a good rest and to take care of that beauty resting on your laps.”
I stared at him for some time, then at Hope who has dozed off. I sighed. Whatever it was, time would reveal it. I pushed myself back in a gentle manner, careful not to wake the love of my life. I rested my head on the backrest. With my eyes fixed on the roof of the car, I got lost in the oblivion of thoughts.
The screeching of the car in front of our lodge recalled me back from my daydreaming. I alighted and lifted Hope upstairs ignoring the inquisitive stares of Frank and Eric. I took her to my bedroom, laid her on the bed and covered her with a blanket. I stood for a while, watching her sleep. Her expression was void of any worry or pain, just peace. I smiled and stepped out of the room.
“You are bleeding.” Eric started towards me.
“I know. I am going in to bandage the wounds. I just want to tell you that the room is off for tonight.”
“I already brought out my pillow and blanket”
I looked over his shoulder and saw the pillow and blanket careful placed on the couch. I nodded and turned to leave. Then I stopped and turned at them.
“Is Ken a…”
The door opened and Ken walked in. The long black coat was gone. His fierce looks disappeared and his calm and innocent expression returned. I could swear he was not the one shooting humans like they were flies a few minutes ago.
“You should be resting Thony.” he said and headed towards his room.
I was amazed. For some second I stopped looking for a different answer. He was a cultist. That was the only thing n my head- the only thing the circumstantial evidence could prove. I sighed and made for the room. It was his secret, a secret that saved my life tonight. So whenever he was ready to talk about it, I would be ready. I locked the door and walked into the bathroom- the only place I got to shed my emotion with no one watching.
Dawn came rather too early for me. The pounding knock on the door jolted me up. I fluttered my eyes and looked beside me. Hope was not there. Sleep evacuated from my eyes and my body became agile. I jerked up from the bed and looked around the room, she was not there.
No one answered. I rushed to the bathroom. As I was about pushing the door open, it opened from the inside. I inhaled and withdrew.
“You look tensed. What’s the matter?”
“Nothing” I smiled. I was not ready to tell her of the mini heart attack I suffered because I thought she has been kidnapped.
The knock came again and I rushed to the door. It was Frank.
“What is it?” I opened the door ajar.
“Breakfast is ready.”
“We will be out soon.”
He nodded and left.
“Is that Frank? He is your roommate?” Hope asked.
“Yes, do you know him?”
“He used to date my friend till she found him with two prostitutes in that motel behind Evening Market.”
“Two what?” I scoffed and shook my head. “Trust me, he is not the one. It must be…”
“I saw his face. He is the one. How can I forget the face of someone that broke my friend’s heart?”
“Frank goes to a brothel?” Jesus Christ!”
“Why do you sound so surprised?”
“Frank is the angel of this house, after me though.”
She smiled. “Well, Lucifer was once an angel before he fell.”
I scoffed again. I remember that break up like it was yesterday. Frank did not tell us about the break up till we saw Uju in school and asked why she stopped visiting. Then she blew us off with the news. We asked Frank and he said nothing meaningful. I sighed. So this was what really happened. With the whole sermon he dished out for Ken and Eric, and the way he avoided me like a plague when I told him of my sexuality, who could have believed he would be found in such situation. “Who is that man without a secret?” I sighed, then looked at her and smiled. “Does he know you?”
“Of course he does. He comes to the house often. They really loved each other, I don’t just…”
“We are going for breakfast. And we are eating at the same table. Do me a favour and stare right into his eyes any chance you get.”
“Why would I do that?”
“I want to see him droll at his guilt.”
“You are crazy.” she smiled.
“I know, now let’s go.” I made for the door and then halted at her call.
“No! Do not talk about yesterday.” I walked back to her, took her hands in mine and looked into her eyes. “Talk about today, me and you. I love you and with you here, nothing else matters.”
“I never thought this day would come. But I am glad, irrespective of all that happened that it did come. I have always loved you Thony, and I will always love you.”
I pecked her. She smiled. “Now let’s go have our breakfast. Remember what you need to do.”
The meal of fried egg, tea and bread were served. We eat in silence, except for the clanking sound of frank’s spoon on his cup. He has been doing it for some time and whenever I looked up, he would be staring at Hope.
“Do you two know each other?” I asked.
“Me?” Frank jolted, pushing his cup down. “Oh God!”
“It’s okay, we still have tea.” I chuckled. Then turned at Hope and whispered. “Now enjoy your meal.”
She smiled and took a long gulp.
I was about eating my last bread when Eric rushed down the sitting room and returned with an envelope. He passed it to me. I dropped the bread and collected it.
“It came in last night.”
I opened it amidst their peering. It was a letter- a long letter from Amanda. Then that word I never wanted to hear from her flashed before me. I scoffed. With one hand I folded the paper and threw it under the table.
“Who is that?” Ken asked.
I glanced at Hope- she was engrossed in her meal. I smiled at her; she smiled back and continued her meal.
…one episode more before the season finale. stay with me!