George was on the phone talking to his wife who had left him countless missed calls and messages while he was talking to Evelyn when he heard someone thunder against his door.
“There’s someone at the door honey,” he whispered to his wife, slowly walking into the kitchen to grab something to use to defend himself. “They are hammering at the door as if they want to break it down.”
“Who is it Bashi Nelly? Who could it be at this hour?” The deeply perturbed woman asked. “Call Bashi Davis from the main house and ask them to come and help you.”
George picked a knife and his wife’s heavy pounding stick and walked to the door.
“Ba George!” Doo doo doo, went the thuds against the door. “George open up for me!” And then more doo doo doooo.
“It’s a woman, she keeps calling my name….I think it sounds like Eva” He continued whispering.
“You told me she just left alone in the night what if someone is chasing after her?” His wife’s response came. “Try to confirm if she’s the one and open up. She could be in danger.”
“You are right,” George put the pounding stick down and held his knife out in position. He leaned closer to the door and asked, “Who is it?”
“Who do you think it is George it’s me Evelyn I just left your home for pete’s sake. Open up.” Evelyn yelled.
He immediately recognized her voice now…and her mysterious temper that came out once in a while. He quickly opened the door and she forced herself passed him and stood to wait for him to finish looking the door again.
Panting and sweating, and with her hands resting on her waist, Evelyn waited for George to finish locking the door before raining down on him for delaying to open the door.
“I could have died out there Ba George!” Evelyn complained. “Why did it take you so long to open the door? And is that a knife in your hand? Dear Lord….”
“You were hammering my door like a mad man, what was I supposed to think? That you are an angel sent to me by God? You scared the crap out of me Eva and who’s chasing you anyway?”
“Get me some water,” she was frantically fanning herself with her hands as she turned around to take a seat in the living room. “And I think you were on the phone with someone,” she reminded him, pointing at his hand.
“Dammit,” George cussed and remembered his wife. “I am sure you heard Bana Nelly. It’s only Eva.”
“What’s going on? Is everything okay?” His wife asked.
“I am not so sure,” George admitted. “Let me find out and I will let you know…but aren’t you supposed to be sleeping this time honey?”
His wife laughed softly. “I have been doing nothing but sleeping the whole day and now I have no sleep. Talk to her and let me know once you are done.”
“I will,” he said and ended the call. He went into the kitchen and poured her a glass of water.
“I told you it’s very dangerous out there this late at night,” George was standing over her watching her gulp down the contents of the glass.
“You are draining my blood,” Evelyn said after empting the glass. She handed it over to him and gestured for him to sit on the other sofa.
“Oh,” George realised he was standing too close and went to sit on the sofa opposite her. “Where there people actually chasing you or your imagination just got the better of you?” He was trying to musk his smile.
“Was that your wife?” Evelyn asked.
“Call her back and tell her that I will be spending the night here.”
“What?” He was back up on his feet.
“There is someone out there trying to kill me. I was planning on spending the night at a friend’s place that’s out of town but her house is too big and scary. There is no way I am going to be there alone when someone obviously wants to kill me. Thando carried the keys to her house with her and she will only be back over the weekend so she’s out of the question. Besides, all my stuff is already here. All you need to do is let me talk to your darling wife and I can explain everything to her.”
“Who’s trying to kill you Evelyn?” George asked, growing very concerned at her insistence.
“I wish I knew who it was also Mr George, but it was dark and the headlights were too blinding. I thought I recognized the colour and make of the vehicle but it was a different person behind the wheel.”
“Then who do you think it was?”
“If I tell you, you are just going to think I’m crazy.” She said.
“Why don’t you try me first?” He said.
Evelyn thought about it for a moment. “It was the same car my mother was driving during the day.” She said.
George couldn’t believe it. “Are you sure?”
“See, I told you that you wouldn’t believe me!”
“I know Beatrice is a crazy woman but murder Eva? That’s just too out there.” He sat down again. “But who did you see behind the wheel?”
“It was a man. I couldn’t see his face clearly but I could tell it was a man. I had looked straight through the windshield right before I moved to get out of the way and for a second I saw his face…but I am not sure if I was imagining things or not. I was extremely scared. I thought I was going to die.”
“So the vehicle came straight at you deliberately or it was like an accident. Maybe the driver didn’t see you….”
“He saw me alright George,” she replied. “That’s the one thing I am sure of. He saw me and then turned his vehicle to face me directly and then he came at me at such speed I thought I was gone. Why would my own mother hire someone to get rid of me?”
“Let’s not jump to conclusions yet Eva. It might not have anything to do with her. What does she have to gain by killing you?”
Evelyn threw him a condescending look. “She has everything to gain from my death,” she said. “Now that Grandma Melody is not here, she must think that I will force myself into her perfect little life. You said that no one knows about her past isn’t it?”
“Yeah, I think so.” But George didn’t sound convincing. “After Herbert’s death, Beatrice had left town and only she knows where she had been. She came back a completely changed woman; she had changed her name and her looks and she was married to the richest man in the country.”
“Who is her husband?” Evelyn asked.
“His name is Shadreck Mwangala. He left Zambia for Nigeria at the age of fourteen and rumours are that over the years he had managed to set himself up with the right contacts. By the time he was twenty, he had become friends with some very prominent business people in Nigeria. He had established himself as an oil lord and after making billions; he came back to Zambia and invested most of his money here. He’s built schools, malls, and houses all over the place.”
“I heard that he is way older than her…. how old is he?”
“He should be in his sixties now. He was a widow when he married her. He first lost his children in a traffic accident in New York when his underage and heavily drunk son went behind the wheel and rammed into an oncoming vehicle on the highway. The accident killed both twins…his children were twins, and also another boy they had been partying with. Three months later, his wife died from depression and four months later, he married Beatrice who was pregnant with his child.”
“Wow, that’s very sad. So Moola and Mark are his only children?”
“Yes, and this time around he is obsessed with his family and not his business…well, if I am to be precise, he’s made his family his first priority and his business his second but the opposite is the case for Beatrice. She is actively involved in all of her husband’s businesses and she makes sure everyone feels her weight wherever she goes.”
“So he also doesn’t know about her past? Or that she has another child?”
“I couldn’t answer that with much confidence. I mean, he might not know or he might know but chose to keep the fact a secret. All I know is that he is very crazy about his trophy wife and he shows her off every opportunity he gets even if she is in her forties now.”
“George,” Evelyn looked up at George with a weary expression on her face. “What is he is the one who sent someone after me?”
“What?” The taxi driver asked in disbelief.
“I mean, if he loves her that much…and he is such a powerful man….what if getting rid of someone trying to make the life of his trophy wife hell is one way of expressing his love for her?”
“You really know how to write fiction with your mind Eva, I will give you that. But I know for a fact that he couldn’t have been the one after you tonight.”
“Why do you sound so sure? And why do you know so much about those guys anyway?”
“Because that cab I drive belongs to them,” he revealed. “The company that owns those taxis is his…and Beatrice is unfortunately my boss.”
“Does she know you know so much about her?” Evelyn asked.
George laughed. “Of course not. She would fire me straight away if she discovered I knew any of the things I know. Do you remember that time I took you and Grandma Melody to that former workplace of hers?”
Of course I remember that day. How can I ever forget?”
“I had not joined her husband’s company at that time. I was operating a private taxi. Even though I remember her from that day, she completely forgot about seeing me in that car park. She really pays no attention whatsoever to people she feels are beneath her and that, that I feel would eventually be her undoing.”
“What do you mean by that?” Evelyn asked.
“She has brushed people the wrong way all these years…one day someone might snap and give her a taste of her own medicine.”
Evelyn was studying George’s face closely. “I hope you re not talking about yourself George,” she said, still searching his face.
George laughed. “Hell no. I have a very beautiful wife and two beautiful children to take care of. I cannot risk doing something so stupid. If anything, you are the one that appears to be more likely to do something like that….”
Evelyn busted out laughing. “I think you are wasting your talents working as a Taxi driver Mr George. You should have joined the police force.”
“No ways, I don’t have the stomach for such kind of works and besides, I think I make more money than they do.”
They both laughed.
But George was now looking at the twenty-four old surreptitiously. She had deliberately avoided answering his question directly and yet her response was so strong it gave him a conclusive answer.
“What are you planning on doing about your mother?” He finally asked her.
After a moment of hesitation, she answered, “I am not sure. At first I was planning on completely staying out of her way since she made it so clear she doesn’t recognize me as her daughter but after what happened tonight…I have a number of ideas on what to do but I can’t seem to settle on one. I am so bitter and conflicted…I keep asking myself, what would Grandma Melody do? And I keep letting her down with whatever answer I come up with.”
“Care to share some of those ideas with me?” He asked.
“No,” Evelyn quickly replied. “You should call your wife now,” she said. “I think she is waiting for your call.”
“Oh yeah” George said and got up from the chair. “Let me take this in there,” he pointed towards his bedroom. “I’ll be right back.”
* * *
The following Sunday afternoon, Moola and Kelvin’s bridal party of six was gathered together with the soon to be bride and groom under the largest of the four gazebo’s set up on the expansive beautiful lawn behind the Mwangala’s residence.
“I think today we danced longer than we ever did before,” said thirty-five year old James who was Kelvin’s best friend and best man. He looked at his watch and then took out a henker from his pocket to wipe at his sweat.
“I think so too,” his dancing partner chipped in as well. Twenty-three year old Cassandra had been best friend’s with Moola since preschool. The two of them went to the same schools, including universities. “Can you lend me that James?” She was pointing at the handkerchief in his hands.
“What?” James was not the only one taken aback by her strange request. “I just used this thing, it’s dirty.”
Everyone else was looking at her strangely. It was no secret that the twenty-three year old had a long time crush on the thirty-five year old. Despite knowing he was married, Cassandra never missed an opportunity to get more intimate with the handsome looking Engineer.
When she had heard that James had finally agreed to be on the line-up despite his busy schedule, Cassandra had celebrated and thanked the stars for the opportunity to be within close proximity to the man that acted like she never even existed. She had vowed to make him notice her during the four months of rehearsals and she had religiously committed herself to that task.
“Do you think I care about how dirty it is right now?” The beautiful maid of honour asked.
“Here, use this,” a visibly upset twenty-eight year old Anastasia handed her a soft pad from her powder case. Being close friends with James’ wife, Anna felt it was her duty to protect her friend’s husband in her absence and she never missed a chance to put the thwart university student in her place every time she tried something.
Had it not been for the fact that Cassandra was taller than her, Anastasia could have insisted more on being James’ partner and instead of her.
“Don’t you know it’s impolite for a woman to use a married man’s hanker?” Anna scolded the young lady. “You have layers of foundation and make-up on your face. What do you think he’s wife will think if she sees your face all over her man’s personal towel?”
“You need to chill Anna, you’ve started with your whining again,” Cassie said. “I didn’t ask to sleep with him, I merely asked him for a piece of cloth eish.” She got up from her chair. “Am going inside to grab some fresh juice. This one here has turned hot.” She said and left the group.
“I will help her mix it up and carry it here,” Moola said and ran after her friend.
“You should also tell her off to stop chasing after you so shamelessly,” Anna rained down on James once the two girls were gone.
“I think he always tell her off,” Kelvin defended his buddy.
“We all know how shameless Cassie is,” William too chipped in.
“She is not shameless,” the sixteen year old Mark defended his crush. “She is just cool and outspoken. You People are too old to understand her.”
“And you are too young to be crushing on a twenty-three old lady,” Cassandra remarked. “You should try paying a little more attention to your fifteen year old partner Emily here,” she was pointing at the blushing teenager sitting next to Mark.
Mark made a disgusted face. “Ewww, she is like my cousin for crying out loud.” He protested.
“The key word there is like,” William stated. “Hers and your parents might be close but the two of you aren’t related. Isn’t that right Kelvin? Kelvin?” William nudged his friend.
Kelvin was forced out of his reverie. “Yes, you are right.” He said, looking very confused.
Everyone around the table laughed.
“Do you even know what you are agreeing to?” James asked. “You’ve been zoning in and out of consciousness from the time we came here. “Have you started having cold feet?”
They were all looking at him anxiously waiting for his response.
“What cold feet are you talking about?” Kelvin rubbed his eyes with her hands.
“You look like you haven’t slept in days.” William observed. “Is everything alright with you?”
“You guys just think too much,” Kelvin dismissed his friend’s suspicions. “I am just tired from work and my mother is going through one of her episodes so….”
“Oh no,” James said. “That can’t be good.”
“What episodes?” Mark asked his future brother in-law.
“You are too young to understand,” James replied.
“You guys are boring,” the sixteen year old got up as well. “I’m leaving now to do something more fun with kids my age. We are done for today, right?”
“Yes Mark, you can go.” Kelvin said and Mark immediately ran off towards the house.
Inside the house, Moola and Cassie sat in the kitchen to chat.
“You should really try to control yourself in front of Anastasia,” Moola said and placed a glass of red wine in front of her friend after filling it all the way to the top. “I know you need that much after that episode outside,” she laughed.
“No wonder you are my best friend,” Cassie said and gulped down everything at once while her friend gaped at her in disbelief.
“Some more,” she pushed her glass in front of Moola and she filled it up again.
“Why you insist on pursuing him when you know very well that he’s a married man?” Moola asked her friend.
“Because I can’t believe he is in-love with such a woman. Where did he even find a woman like that? She is fat, short and ugly. A good looking guy like that deserves someone as hot as me, not her.”
“Haven’t you heard,” Moola was saying. “Love is a very strange thing. I think that he s genuinely in-love with her. There are just men that are attracted to big women like that…maybe James is one of those.”
Wait a minute,” Cassie laid her glass back down. “Are you telling me that you are now on her side because you are going to be a wife soon? What is this, some form of loyalty amongst wives?”
Moola laughed. “Of course not. I don’t mind you chasing after James because I also happen not to like his wife. She is such an old woman’s attitude. Did I tell you about that time I met her at Kelvin mum’s place and she called me to the side to ask me to wear a wrapper on top of my skirt because it was too short?” She made inverted commas in the air. “Ati I shouldn’t dress so indecently when visiting my in-laws, imagine.”
“That chick has some nerve atase,” Cassie cussed. “I hope you put her in her place! No wonder she and Anna are best friends, they are both so naggy and old fashioned.”
“I didn’t have to do or say anything,” Moola informed her friend. “I told you before that I have the coolest mother in-law ever. She candidly informed the alangizi-wannabe that she didn’t mind at all. That she liked me to be as comfortable as possible when visiting her and to act like I always do in front of my own mother.”
“Did she really mean that?”
“I think she did. She was wearing very tight skinny jeans and a cropped top that day.” Moola laughed. “I really mean it when I tell you that she is the coolest.
“I wish my future mother in-law would just be as cool,” Cassie said. “What do you know about James’ mother?”
They both busted out in laughter.
Back under the gazebo, Kelvin was still being grilled by his friends.
“Did it finally occur to you that marrying a twenty-two year old when you are thirty chakuti is not such a good idea?” James asked his buddy.
Kelvin threw him a disgruntled look. “I thought you said 22 was the ripe age?”
“I was trying to make you feel better since you seemed to be having doubts about the date of the wedding. If you don’t get married soon, Twaambo might just ask me to stop hanging out with you because she hates your fiance’s little circle of friends. You can ask Anna here. But if you make her your wife, then she will have no choice but to stop nagging me.”
“Are you insane?” William asked.
Kelvin too was asking the same question with his face.
“I also think that you guys are rushing it,” said Anastasia. “Moola is way too young…and childish if I am being honest. I think you could have waited till she turned twenty-four or something.”
“I don’t think she’s childish per se,” Emily chipped in. “I think that she is more of a spoiled brat than a childish person.”
“Sweetie,” Anna reached out to place her hand over the teenager’s. “At our age, those two things are synonymous.”
“Her age is the least of my worries so you guys should just give up,” Kelvin told his friends. “I have never been sure of anything in my life than the decision I made to marry Madam Beatrice’s special daughter.” There was so much conviction in his voice and in his eyes as he looked towards Moola’s house.
* * *
George dropped off Evelyn at her new residence in Hansworth on a Sunday evening.
“You can go Ba George,” she told him when he tried to carry her biggest suitcase inside. “The door is right there and I am a very strong woman,” she chuckled. “I am grateful already that you brought me all the here for free. Thando should be inside waiting for me. I will just call her to help me get the rest of the stuff inside. Get back to work now.”
“Are you sure?” George asked.
Just then, Evelyn’s phone rang.
“Yes I am sure George, now go,” she pushed him towards the car. “I need to take this.”
“Okay, I’m going now. Take care of yourself and call me if you need any help.”
“I know, thanks. Hi Sibu,” she waved to George and answered her phone.
“Hi Eva? Did you manage to shift?” Sibusiswe asked from the other end of the line.
“I did,” Evelyn replied. “Thank you so much for letting me crash at your friend’s place. I am very sorry for imposing on you like this…it’s just that…I was too scared to sleep alone in that huge mansion of yours.”
Sibu chuckled. “I know you have very good reasons for changing your mind and I can’t wait to hear about all of them when I come back. Sibeso called me crying saying she wishes you didn’t leave. I heard you were very good with the kids.”
Evelyn smiled. “Those kids are such fun!” she said. “I have always wanted siblings but…. Anyway, when are you coming back? A lot of clients have been asking for you at the office. Some of them refuse to be handled by anyone else. They insist on waiting for you to return.”
Sibu was laughing. “Tell them to wait, I am still enjoying my vacation with my husband to the max. I gotto go now sweetie, Ted’s coming. I ran back inside to make this call and now I think he’s noticed my absence.”
“Thank you so much Sibu and please greet him for me. You are both terribly missed over here. Take care, bye.”
“Who were you talking to?”
Evelyn turned to find her friend Thando standing by the small gate watching her with her arms crossed over her chest.
“That was my boss, Mrs Zulu,” Evelyn informed her friend. “How long have you been standing there?”
“I heard voices and so I came out to check. The driver left without helping you to get your stuff inside?” The twenty-nine year old asked.
“It was George who dropped me off. I felt bad making him carry the things inside after giving me a free ride. He offered to help but I turned him down.”
“That’s the problem with you my friend,” Thando moved closer to help with the bags. “Let’s carry the small things inside the fence first and then come back to carry the big one together.”
“You and your boss are really close ah? You even address her by her first name.” Thando asked as they moved back and forth.
“Only when we are not at work. She treats me like I’m her little sister. She said I remind her a lot about her. She never told me what she meant but ever since she gave me the job as her secretary despite not being fully qualified, she’s been very kind to me.”
“I wonder how she would react if she heard that your best friend has a huge crush on her ex-husband.”
“I don’t think it would matter to her. She’s very happily married now and her ex can date whoever he likes. She is not the kind of person to concern herself with his activities. Apart from their son, there have no other business together.”
“I feel tired just looking at this bag,” Thando said as the two of them starred down at the giant bag before them. “You should have really let George help you with this one.”
“I know, foolish me.” Evelyn said. “Stand there, let me check the road if there are any guys passing by that can help us.”
Evelyn stood by the room and looked from left to right for signs of anybody that could help. She spotted a few men slashing some grass in front of the house a number of blocks away from them. There was no way for them to hear her all the way even if she called out.
“I have seen some guys working over there,” she shouted back to her friend. “Give me three to five minutes, I will get them.”
“Okay, you better hurry up or you will find me sitting on it. What did you even out in there, a human?”
Evelyn laughed and went after the men.
She had just walked a short distance when she saw a car approach in the opposite direction. Thinking about her near death experience with a car last time, she moved as far away from the small road as possible and waited for the driver to pass.
But instead of the car driving past her, it stopped when it reached where she was. Evelyn was in flight mode when the driver rolled down his window and out came Kelvin’s head.
“You,” she said to him, immediately willing her racing heart to calm down. There was no more danger.
“What are you doing here?” he asked her.
“I could ask you the same thing,” she said.
“I came to drop off Moola’s friend. She’s a student at Unza and she’s renting a place over there.” He pointed in the direction he was coming from. “We had rehearsals today so….”
“Oh, I see. You go on ahead then,” she said, quickly dismissing him. She didn’t want to get mixed up in anything related to her mother.
“You didn’t tell me why you are here,” he said. “You also live here? Are you a student?”
“You are always asking me questions every chance you get. Are you naturally a curious person or I just happen to bring out the curiosity in you?”
“You know, it wasn’t such a complicated question. But your response is making everything complicated.”
“I am going to ask those guys digging over there to help me move some things into the house. I just moved in with a friend.”
“See, that wasn’t so difficult, was it?”
“Don’t patronize me,” she retorted. “I’m going….”
“Wait,” Kelvin stopped her. “I am a man too, I am sure I can help. Get in,” he opened the door for her from inside.
“No, I don’t need your help. Thank you for offering but….”
“But you won’t accept my help because I am somehow related to the mother that rejected you?”
Evelyn didn’t know what to say. She had been caught red-handed.
“I am right!” Kelvin said. “Fine, I guess I will just pay for my mother in-law’s sins today.” He put on a depressed face.
Evelyn sighed and gave up. She walked to the opened door and got in. “The house is over there,” she pointed ahead. “Where there’s that tree,” she said.
“Buckle up!” Kelvin said enthusiastically and started the engine.
Unbeknownst to the both of them, they had an audience behind them.
The moment Evelyn got into the car and kelvin started off, Cassie appeared from behind the hedge she was hiding and placed a call to her best friend.
“You won’t believe what I just saw,” the third year student said to her friend.
“I just saw Kelvin pick up some girl and he just dropped her off at her place.”
“What are you talking about Cassie? Where are you even? I thought Kelvin was dropping you off?”
“Yes, he dropped me off home but then he left. I came out to ask one of the guys working outside here to get me some talk time because I forgot to buy on the way here and there I saw Kelvin. He stopped to chat up this girl. She’s tall and slim like that. I couldn’t hear what they were talking about but it appeared Kelvin was talking her into accepting a ride with him. And now they are both coming out of his vehicle in front of her house.”
“Maybe she’s just a friend, why are you so worked up?”
“I know these crazy bitches from Unza honey, they don’t play when they see a good man. If she can play hard to get with a looker like Kelvin then she’s definitely a very dangerous girl. I am going to spy on them right….wait, he just came out alone. He’s getting in his car and leaving.”
“See, I told you, she’s probably just an acquaintance. I trust Kelvin with my life. He is crazy about me. I mean, what normal man wouldn’t?” She chuckled. “I am not scared of any competition out there. I am a force to be reckoned with baby, have you already forgotten?”
The two girls laughed.
“But just to be safe, you should go and check her out.” Moola instructed. “It’s better to cut off the weeds before they make the plants thin.”
“I’m on it,” Cassandra said.
“That’s my girl!”
Kelvin was just about to join the high way on Great East road after coming from Hansworth when his phone rang.
Dearest Mother, he could see the caller id from where his phone was resting on the other seat.
Kelvin picked up his phone and muted it. He turned up the volume on his radio and with a staid expression on his face; he got onto the highway and drove off.