“The pregnancy was the icing on the cake that Beatrice needed and she grabbed onto it with everything she had.” George narrated.
“It was no secret that Herbert on his own was not a rich man, but with Nora by his side, he was one of the richest men in town at that time. Beatrice was aware of the fact that if she caused the two to divorce, she might gain nothing. It was not clear whether she had come to love Herbert or if she her obsession with revenge had completely taken over her, however, one thing was very clear; she wanted everything that Nora had…she wanted to take everything from her.
“Using her pregnancy, she told Herbert that she would keep the pregnancy a secret if he agreed to be giving her money every month or whenever she asked for it. At first it seemed like such a bright idea for the poor guy. He had already told Nora about his moment of weakness with Beatrice so he could not risk her knowing about the pregnancy because then she would definitely leave him.
“Nora’s relationship with her mother had soured after that fiasco. The daughter blamed the mother for how things had turned out in her marriage and the mother blamed her daughter for being so gullible.”
“And did Herb…I mean my father, did he agree to her plan?” Evelyn asked.
“Of course he did,” George said. “He had no choice, but like the saying goes…nothing that lies under the sun can remain hidden forever.”
* * *
Nora was in the kitchen preparing dinner with her maid when a knock was heard on the door.
“Check who’s there Bamake Joe,” Nora instructed.
The elderly lady slowly opened the door and gasped in shock when she saw who was standing on the other side.
“Who is it?” Nora asked whilst chopping some onions on a board, her face turned away to keep her eyes from watering.
“Madam….I think you should come and see for yourself….” the maid said.
“What?” Nora paused what she was doing and threw a puzzled look at her maid. “Who is it Ba Irene?” a dreary feeling slowly enveloped her upon seeing the woman’s reaction. She put the knife down and slowly walked to the door.
Irene quickly moved to the side to let her boss handle the situation. There was only direction the ensuing conversation was going to take and the weather was stormy over there.
“What are you doing here?” Nora asked her former tenant who was down on her knees on the hard ground with her whole upper body lowered so close to the ground and her hands pressed against the ground.
Beatrice’s mother remained like that for what appeared to be forever, repeating the words “forgive me my daughter, please forgive me,” without raising her head to look at the woman she believed to have offended.
“Do you think that you grovelling before me like this will make everything your daughter did go away?” Nora gibed. “Remove her from these premises Ba Irene before I do something crazy.” She then turned to go back inside.
“I really had no idea she was pregnant Nora,” Melody said to the back of her former landlord.
“She left home six months ago and I only managed to track her down yesterday,” Melody had straightened her back and was now looking at Nora. “I know that I am being shameless to beg you for forgiveness but….”
“Beatrice is pregnant?” Nora was now facing her. “Your daughter is pregnant by my husband? What are you telling me?”
Melody covered her mouth with both her hands. “You didn’t know?” She asked. “Oh my God what have I done? She was pregnant,” she said in a very low voice. “But now she has a baby girl.”
“Are you sure the baby is Herbert’s?” Nora asked, a smile playing on her face. “Let’s face it, your daughter is a whore. That baby could be anyone’s but certainly not my husband. I believed Herbert when he told me that nothing is going on between them. It was a one-time mistake and truth be told, I somehow understood why he would have done something like that.
“I know there’s no excuse for what he did, but, there is no way I was going to let that daughter of yours ruin a very good marriage. Herbert and I might not be perfect, but we love each other. I don’t know what you think you can gain from coming to me like this and telling me all this nonsense but….”
Melody was shaking her head in disagreement. “You are wrong,” she said. “I have no such evil intentions towards you. I treated you like you were my own daughter but as take as much responsibility for my own daughter’s actions. I know that she will never come to you to apologize for what she’s done but no matter who she is, she is still my daughter…and this is the only thing I can do for her.”
“Then you should have taught your daughter well before she turned into such a sex hungry maniac chasing after other people’s men.”
“I know,” was all Melody could say in response.
“You should go. There is no way in hell I am going to believe all this nonsense you are telling me about.”
“I also wish that it was just nonsense,” Melody was looking at the ground as she spoke. “I wish that was the case….but….” she looked up at Nora this time around. “If not for the fact that I found your husband dropping off groceries for her and the baby at her place…a place that he’s renting for them, I would have also never imagined that…that….” Melody stammered, unable to bring herself to say the words again.
“Why are you doing this to me?” Nora beseeched her former tenant. “Why do you have to tell me all these lies?”
Melody’s heart was breaking with her. “I am sorry,” was all the response she could manage. “I am sorry,” she kept repeating.
Melody’s tears were enough to confirm Nora’s worst fears. It would have been easy to ignore or completely disregard the words uttered by Melody had they been delivered by someone else…but this was Melody. No matter who her daughter was, Melody was not such a vindictive or evil person. There was no way she was going to come all the way just to slander Herbert.
That realization caused Nora to finally break down in tears.
Melody had thought that watching her daughter lose her way was the worst pain she could ever go through but on that day, she discovered a whole new kind of pain watching Nora.
Irene went over to her boss and tried to help her up but Nora kept sobbing and sobbing.
“I think you should leave make Beatrice,” the elderly lady said to Melody.
Melody didn’t need further probing. She got up and with a hunched back she slowly walked away.
Later that evening, Herbert arrived home to a barrage of clothes…his clothes, his shoe, his bags and anything else that was his thrown at him by an angry and inconsolable Nora.
“What is going on here?” A clueless Herbert asked his wife and when the only response that came was more stuff being thrown at him, he turned to Irene who had been watching a few feet away. She only shrugged and quickly left them to their privacy.
“Nora,” Herbert walked over to her and tried to touch her but she held her hand in the air to keep him at bay. “Don’t you even dare,” she warned him sternly with her back still to him.
“Honey….” Herbert said imploringly.
“Don’t you honey me,” Nora turned around and lambasted him. “Don’t you even dare,” she roared. “Get your filthy little things you son of a bitch and get the hell out of my house, right now!” she pointed at the door for him.
“At least tell me what’s going on….”
“Are you kidding me? Do you think this is some sort of game? How can you stand there and act like you don’t know what you did? She has your baby Herbert!” The words immediately brought tears to her eyes.
“After everything that we’ve been through Herb,” Nora wept. “You made her pregnant and then set up house with her…how could you? How could you do this to me you ungrateful bastard?” She grabbed a vase from the bedside table and flung it at him.
Herbert managed to dodge in time. He went down on his knees and begged her for forgiveness but Nora refused to have any of it.
“Put the car keys down and get the hell out of my house and let me not see you anywhere near me or my family ever again. We are done Herbert, we are done.” She then walked over to the door and held it wide open for him.
Herbert got up from the floor. “I will leave today…since you are very upset today. I will come back when you calm down….”
“Don’t patronize me,” Nora snapped. “Do you think this is some kind of headache? I should just sleep it off and when I wake up tomorrow it will be gone? Is that it?” She sneered at him. “Just get out of here.”
Herbert did not bother to pick up any of his things that were lying everywhere. Instead, he walked over them on his way out of the house looking like a heavily beaten up man.
Nora closed the door of the bedroom behind and with her back against it, she slowly slid down to the floor and sobbed.
Beatrice was surprised to see Herbert standing at her door so late at night. He had never shown up at her door step willingly before.
She excitedly welcomed him and asked him to come in but Herbert remained where he was.
“You finally got what you wanted. Are you happy now?” he asked her.
“What are you talking about?” Beatrice asked.
“She knows, my wife knows about the baby.”
“What do you mean she knows? Didn’t we agree that you would not tell her….”
“I wasn’t the one that told her!” Herbert shouted. “I thought you did….”
Beatrice was clearly not happy about the unexpected development. “Why would I tell her that?”
“Because that’s exactly the kind of person you are!”
“What?” she said. “You are only useful to me as long as you stay married to her. Without her, you are completely useless, don’t you see that?”
Herbert couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
“I was making way more money keeping silent so why would I ruin that for myself?” Beatrice asked. “Do you think I’m dumb?”
“Clearly you are not,” Herbert said. “You successfully managed to ruin a good solid marriage.”
Beatrice scoffed. “That marriage was already broken even before I came into the picture. I know that putting the blame on me is one way to make yourself feel less guilty but face it Mr Herbert, you slept with me and you liked it. My job as a single woman was to seduce you and your job as a married man was to reject me. I did my part, you failed yours. So tell me now, who is to blame for how things turned out?”
“What was I thinking?” Herbert pursed his lips in derision.
“I am guessing you are here to spend a night since she kicked you out?” Beatrice said. “Little Eva will be so happy to have her daddy sleep with her for the first time. Sometimes it gets noisy and scary for her, what with all those noisy trucks passing by the road. I seriously regret choosing a house in this area. I was so taken in by how huge it is I forgot about the busy road.”
“I guess I must seem crazy to you ah?” Herbert asked, not believing her gall to complain about something like that at that particular time.
Beatrice laughed and said, “a little,” holding two of her fingers together to demonstrate her point, mocking him to her hearts content.
“I don’t give a dame about that child of yours and I know for a fact that you also don’t.” George was saying. “However, I understand that it is my duty as the father to take care of it financially but don’t for a moment harbour delusions of me acting like a father to it.”
“Her name is Evelyn,” Beatrice reminded him. “I might not like her much but she brings me money so show some respect. And I think you should brace yourself,” she said, watching Nora come through her gate. “We have company,” she announced.
Herbert turned and saw Nora walk towards them. She looked like a grenade ready to explode…and explode she did.
“Nora,” Herbert had started to say.
She had reached where they were. “Something told me that you would be coming here.” She said. “I called your mother and she gave me your address,” she said to Beatrice.
“And the mystery has finally been solved,” Beatrice said sarcastically. “To what do I owe the pleasure of your gallant visit Your Majesty?” She curtsied to her.
“My love, what are you doing here?” Herbert turned away from Beatrice and addressed his wife.
“When you say my love,” Beatrice was saying from where she was standing, looking down at the pair of them. “Which one are you referring to?”
Nora was looking from Beatrice to her husband with such repugnance on her face. “You disgust me you two! And I thought that we would finally get what we’ve always wanted. I was going to tell you tonight during dinner that I am two months pregnant. I had no idea I was going to be raising this child all by myself.” And she turned and started running back the way she had come.
“I hope I will be in the audience when the day of your reckoning comes,” Herbert said to Beatrice before running after his wife.
“I will make sure to keep a seat for you next to me in hell!” Beatrice shouted to his back. “I need the best company I can get over there.” She added for her own benefit.
Outside the gate, Herbert found Nora getting into her car. He tried holding the door open so she wouldn’t close it and drive away but Nora quickly fastened her seat belt and started the engine of her Datsun. In her fit of rage, she pushed her foot hard against the accelerator and propelled her small car onto the road with such force she had no chance of bringing it under control in time.
The car rammed head on into the oncoming truck carrying building blocks, it’s hood immediately attaching itself to the hood of the giant truck.
Before Herbert could register what had just happened, he listened in horror to the sound of screeching tires and metal hitting against metal.
“Nora!!!!” Herbert shouted from the side of the road as he starred in horror at the shattered glass on the ground, the broken windshield and his eyes instinctively went to the unconscious woman trapped behind her seatbelt, the blood on her face dripping down onto her laps.
The seatbelt kept Nora from being tossed over the now non-existing windscreen. Her limp body was hanging forward and being pushed back and forth from the impact of the truck driver’s struggle to bring his huge vehicle to a stop.
And when it finally came to a stop, Herbert rushed to check on his wife.
He struggled to get the door open and taking advantage of the broken window, he reached inside to feel his wife’s pulse whilst crying out her name.
Beatrice came running out of her gate and found Herbert wailing on top of his voice as he held the limp body of Nora in his against his over the broken window.
Beatrice stood back and watched the scene before her in absolute terror.
* * *
“What happened to Nora?” Evelyn mirrored her mother’s look of terror as she waited for George’s response.
“Did she make it?” She probed the silent George further.
“She didn’t,” George finally revealed.
Evelyn brought both her hands to her mouth.
“Nora died on impact,” George continued. “She didn’t stand a chance. Her death took its toll on Herbert your father. Nora’s family went after him for blood and they finally got what they wanted when Herbert hang himself in his and Nora’s bedroom a few hours after she was buried.”
“What happened to my mother?” Evelyn asked.
“The day after Nora’s accident, Beatrice took you to your father’s house…but there were a lot of people gathered there for the funeral. Her intention was to dump you there and leave since she no longer had ah…she didn’t ah….” George stammered.
“She no longer had any use for me,” Evelyn finished for him.
“You have to understand Evelyn,” George tried to explain. “In as much as Herbert felt responsible for his marriage failing and his wife death, he also held your mother equally responsible. It was very cruel for Beatrice to show up at the funeral house with you like that. Nora’s whole family was there and so where Herbert’s. She was kicked out like a dog and Herbert did not mince words with her.”
“So I guess that’s how I ended up with my grandmother….” Evelyn said. “Now I understand why she would have tears in her eyes whenever she looked at me.”
“Your grandmother was a very kind woman,” George said. “Very strong and God-fearing. Beatrice was her Achilles heel. After the death of her abusive husband, Melody wanted to give her daughter some freedom because they had lived in such fear for a very long time. Unfortunately, with freedom comes responsibilities and Beatrice was too young to shoulder that kind of freedom and responsibility. That’s why Grandma Melody always blamed herself for her daughter’s behaviour.”
Evelyn was leaving George’s house later that night looking like she was carrying the weight of the house over her shoulders. She stood outside the house and checked if there were any taxi’s passing by but the dark street was deathly quiet.
Looking from left to right at the long dark street, Evelyn immediately regretted turning down George’s offer for a ride. She had had no idea how late it was or how dark outside was.
She shouldn’t go back inside to say she had changed her mind. Because George’s house was not alone in the premises, who knew what prying eyes were watching ready to send reports to his wife. She couldn’t risk causing such a misunderstanding in his marriage.
Her mother had already committed enough sin to taint all future generations of her offspring.
Mustering some courage, she folded her arms over her chest and started walking, hoping to find a cab ahead since buses had stopped operating two hours before.
She had been walking for close to ten minutes when the street suddenly lit up from behind. She turned and spotted a vehicle coming in the distance.
Looking very hopeful, she stopped and waited anxiously for it to get closer. She moved slightly into the road and held put her hand to hail at the driver to stop.
Evelyn was almost smiling when she saw the car slowing down but no sooner had it slowed down than she heard the tires screech against the hard ground and the car came at her at such speed it would have wiped her off the face of the earth had she not jumped out of the way in time.
Fearing that the crazy driver might back into her, Evelyn forced herself on her feet and instead watched the vehicle disappear into the night at record breaking speed.
“Don’t I know that vehicle?” Evelyn asked herself.
“Oh my God,” she brought her shaking hands to her mouth and shaking like a leaf in morbid fear as the memory of where she had last seen the vehicle came to mind.
“Oh my god,” Evelyn repeated, slowly backing away towards where she had come from.
When the vehicle had completely disappeared from sight, Evelyn turned around and ran as fast as she could back to George’s house.