Milton unleashed war on his people at the NDFP headquarters the moment news about the ruling YDFP front man William Mwanza hit the newsstands. Broken chairs, broken glass, broken computer hardware, and overturned tables littered the floors of the head office.
Every member of the central committee sitting at the table in the conference room was at the edge of his or her seat, ready to take flight in case the wounded Buffalo turned his rage on them. Milton kept pacing around the room, visibly agitated and sweating from the sheer force of having to contain his rage in order to have a productive meeting. Most importantly, there were no more objects left to break.
William Mwanza had done a fast one on them, and Milton hated to be beaten at his own game like that. William’s camp releasing such information on their own gave them the upper hand in controlling how the narrative played out in the media. They knew what such information in the hands of their opponents could do to them. However, Milton was not about to just step aside and accept things as they were. He had to steer the pot and raise the heat on the very things William was trying to cover up.
Milton finally stopped pacing and stood at the head of the table to address his people. The room immediately went glacially quiet. “Kasabo, this is your time to shine,” he said.
“What would you like me to do sir?” Kasabo asked in a shaky voice. She had anticipated Milton playing this hand. After working with the man for three years now, she knew what his next move would be even before he voiced it. It was obvious the ruling party could read him just as easily. The look in his eyes told her that he was up to no good, also a good point to note that that was his default setting. However, this case was special. Milton Kapaso was looking to cause some very serious damage.
“Since you were slumbering while your friends were hard at work protecting the interests of their bosses, now you have thrice the amount of work to do to undo the good fortune they have incurred thanks to all that hard work.” He was pointing at the newspaper lying on the desk in front of him.
Gracing the front page was a picture of William and his son Irvin standing next to each other in a what appeared to be a golf field, each holding a golf club in hand, with Williams hand resting on his son’s shoulder as he intently listened to whatever the young man was saying. It didn’t look like a staged photo. The two men appeared to be in their natural element. Nevertheless, it was obvious the picture had been taken by someone on their side, rather than a paparazzi. It was taken at close range, shot from the front, full profiles that showed the unmistakable startling resemblance in both shape and form between the two generations of men. It was the perfect portrait of a father and son relationship. Milton wanted to throw up.
“I have read the comments online,” Timothy Sichivula said. “There is a good section of the population that isn’t buying the narrative these guys are trying to sell. What we need to do is capitalize on that and make those voices the headlines of tomorrow. People tend to believe whatever they read in print. Soon, they’ll start talking.”
“Looks like we’re on the same page,” Milton said to his favorite minion. And turning to Kasabo, “What exactly are these people saying?”
Having predicted this particular moment, Kasabo opened her folder and started distributing papers around the table, each member passing a sheet to the one sitting next to them.
“I compiled a list of some of the comments,” Kasabo said. “I’ll read out the most recurring ones one by one. We need to know who this baby mama is. I thought Shelly was his childhood sweetheart. When did the two of them date? How come he’s never spoken about her? Why has she come back now? What if she’s just an opportunist looking to become the first Lady? I’ve always been team Swelly.”
“What does that mean?” Milton asked.
Kasabo had to stifle a laugh. “It’s a blend of of the names Will and Shelly sir,” she answered with a labored straight face.
Milton waved a hand at her to continue with the list. “What if this was planned by the YFDP all along?” She read. “Since when have we ever had an unmarried presidential candidate? What if it’s always been their plan, use the rich Shelly lady for her money and contacts, secure the funding, get rid of her, then bring back the love of his life? “
Eunice Mbulo laughed and scoffed at the same time. “Who even writes these ridiculous things?” One reprobative look from Milton was enough to get her to shut her mouth and fold her arms across her chest in the only form of defiance she could outwardly express.
“I think these rich people are trying to take us for fools,” Kasabo continued reading. “The only reason à man can leave a beautiful woman like this Miranda woman is greed. This guy was already rich but he used a heiress to gain political advantage and when he was done, he dumped her. Now we know what all those trips to the States were about. We need to-“
“Enough,” Milton commanded. “I think we all have an idea by now. Frank, what have your people found out about this Miranda woman?”
Franklin shifted nervously in his seat. His people had not discovered any mind blowing information about the woman. His spy at the Minister’s house Jonathan Kamwi had not come up with anything concrete. He said he thought Mwanza suspected him of being a spy. That was not good. His contact at the Information organization had also hit a brick wall. This Miranda woman was not an easy woman to decipher. If anything, the press release from William’s team had more information about her than what his mate had been able to uncover. But, there was no way he was going to tell his boss that.
“We found out that she’s a neurosurgeon,” Franklin read from a file on his iPad. “She runs a very popular private practice with three other partners called Hygeia Victoria Hospital in Carlifornia. She is setting up a branch right here in Zambia right as we speak. That means she’s looking to stay in the country. She’s thirty-seven years old….which means she had her son when she was only 18 years old.”
“Is there anything there that we haven’t already read online and in the papers today?” Robby Mwanangombe asked.
Francis quickly scrolled through the opened document until he found something he could use. “The papers don’t say how the two met. It just says they fell in love when they were young. Turns out, Miranda’s mother was a maid at the mayor’s mansion. Naturally, the mayor’s family couldn’t accept the relationship between the two. According to the former servants of the late mayor, William’s father threatened to disown him and his mother if he didn’t give up his relationship. Rumor has it that that’s how he ended up married to his now ex-wife.”
“That’s exactly the sort of information we need,” Milton said. “So let’s focus on how ruthless our loverboy was when he dumped his poor sweetheart to be with a woman of his class. Zero in on the lies they told about his relationship with Shelly. Why did they lie and say the two were childhood sweethearts? This boy claims he’s not after money, but these stories are telling us something different. If we can show the world just how greedy and selfish he truly is, then we would have done the country a favor. So find out everything you can about what happened during that period in the past, and whatever you find, make sure the public knows exactly who the villain is, William Mwanza.
“Also find out some dirt on this woman, anything we can use to paint her as not first Lady material. She went to the States at such a young age. She was poor. How did she do it? How did she survive there all alone, and pregnant? How did she make her money? Who was she sleeping with? I want everything on my desk before midnight today. We need to own the headlines for tomorrow before people can get comfortable with the sugar-coated stories they’ve been fed.”
Once the meeting was over and Milton had dismissed everyone, Joshua, Dorothy, and Eunice gathered in the car park for a short confabulation. “Where’s Kasabo?” Eunice asked.
“She’s in her office, working on the reports for tomorrow,” Joshua said.
“So is this what this party has been reduced to, running up and down like wild rats digging up dirt on our opponents?” Dorothy complained. “If we don’t do anything now, this will go on forever. Everyone thinks this is the last year for the fool but I heard that he’s not planning on giving up the position till he dies.”
“Where did you hear that from?” Joshua asked.
“I’m in the praise team with one of Timmie’s whores,” Dorothy said. “She said that while he was drunk, he told her that everyone in the party is a fool if they think Milton will surrender just like that if he lost. He said that this is his party, and the only time he will retire as head is after he finishes serving his two terms at state house. Right now they’re only acting as if this is his last to keep people from talking.”
“That son of a bitch,” Eunice cussed. “I knew he was upto no good. We should have just listened to the Bowen team whey they approached you about standing,” she said to Dorothy. “Now it’s way too late in the game to do anything. This fool doesn’t have the nation’s interests at heart. He’s just trying to prove a point to Mwanza. There is more to this than just plot one. For years he has been fighting a lone war with the rich people in this country, as if he had a point to prove to them.”
“He has an inferiority complex that one,” Joshua said. “Isn’t that why he divorced his devoted wife to marry a woman young enough to be his daughter? He cares too much about what people think of him, that’s why he keeps chasing his rival like a headless chicken.”
“You can take the man out of the jungle, but not the jungle out of the man,” Eunice said. “Whether we like it or not, Mwanza has bagged this election already.”
“That’s true,” her pal Dorothy agreed.
“And you know what’s even sadder about this whole thing?” Eunice said. “This party won’t give room to a woman or someone younger to rise. They already have someone in their sights, Mwanangombe. Our only chance for next year is to convince the Bowen team to back us up completely so that the rest of the central committee come on board. RM is a people’s favorite, so if it goes to the vote, Dorothy won’t survive.”
“My only reservation with the Bowen team is that they have their own agenda,” Joshua said. “Before they approached you, they approached me as the youth representative.”
“I heard about that,” Dorothy said. “Don’t you regret turning them down? I mean, every funder always comes with an agenda. They don’t just offer their support because they have a heart for the people or any of that nonsense. It’s business for them. We all know what the Bowen team is pushing for. However, when I weigh that against what’s already happening on the ground, I think it’s a little sacrifice to make, don’t you think?”
Before Joshua or Eunice could reply, they were joined by Timmie. A smug look on his face as he looked from one to the other. “Be careful where you choose to have your teteAtete, ladies and gentleman,” he looked at Joshua as he said the last part. “These walls have ears.”
Eunice cackled loudly. “It’s pronounced tête-à-tête Timmie, and it’s something that happens between two people, not three.”
“As long as you know what I mean,” Timothy said dismissively.
“What do you want Timmie?” Joshua asked.
“The day I need something from you Joshua, is the day I’ll put a gun to my head and end that miserable life.”
Joshua laughed. “Those are the words I’m constantly itching to hear from your wife, but she’s always begging for one thing or another. Perhaps if you were not spreading your time so thinly between all those cheap whores you surround yourself with, your wife wouldn’t be begging other men for a little tlc.” The moment the last word came out of his mouth, Timothy had landed a hard punch on Joshua’s cheek, sending the young man straight to the ground. Before he could do any more harm, the two ladies got between the men and tried to keep them apart before they were joined by other onlookers.
William had just finished his 3pm meeting when his secretary Amber knocked on his office door. “Yes Amber,” William said without taking his eyes off the brochure in his hands left for him by the Director of the Lusaka Trust for Vulnerable Children who had just left his office.
“Sir, I know you said that we should block all calls from the Yvette woman, but she’s been calling the office all day using different numbers. She says she won’t stop until you talk to her. She even threatened to go to Ms. Kamanga and ‘put her in her place’,” she quoted the words in the air. The woman is relentless. She’s crazy.”
William dropped the brochure on the desk and looked up at her. “And you’re telling me this because…?” William asked with a bored but irritated expression on his face.
“I’m sorry sir, I just thought you needed to know…just in case she does what she’s threatening to do. She did the same with your wife sir, remember?”
“Ex wife Amber, ex,” William said, massaging the sides of his head to wade off the burning migraine. “Don’t worry about Miranda,” he said. “Perhaps talking to her is exactly what she needs to get her head on straight. How long till my next appointment? I feel like clocking out right now. This has been one very long day.”
“You have the last one with the permanent secretary at quarter past four.”
“Fine, bring me some Advil please,” he said.
“Yes sir.” Amber started heading out but she lingered at the door, clearly fighting an inside battle. “What is it?” William asked.
Smiling nervously, the thirty year old secretary faced her boss again. “Why don’t you just tell her husband about it? That way he will put a stop to it and she won’t bother you again.” She said the words so fast as if afraid her mind might change if she spoke slowly. When she was done, she shut her eyes and waited for the onslaught.
Watching the whole scene unravel before him, William couldn’t help but laugh. Amber opened her eyes to check if she had not imagined it. “I’m not going to do any such thing,” he answered the puzzled expression on her face, his voice laced with laughter. “Just keep recording the calls when they come, then block the numbers. She’ll get tired eventually and give up.”
“But sir, she’s been doing this for three years now,” Amber said.
“I really don’t have time for this right now,” William said in a stern voice. “Get me that Advil.”
After a very successful meeting with William’s PR guru Mara, Miranda was in high spirits as she drove to her next appointment. She had liked the woman, clearly William was good at picking his staff. She was very intelligent, astute, quick on her feet, and very attractive. She was exactly William’s type but Miranda doubted if the thought had even crossed the minds of the two. For starters, she didn’t think her ex was the type to fraternize with people on his payroll. And Ms. Bwalya certainly appeared to be on the adventurous side of life. William ways preferred treading on the safe side of life. For Mara, a relationship with a man of such a character, especially one in the public eye would only crumple her style.
Miranda had no doubt her family was in safe hands media-wise. Family. The word had just crept on her mind just like that. Since when did we become a family? She wondered, blinking so profusely as if the act itself would erase the thought from her mind. Just because she still had residue feelings for her ex or that they shared a child didn’t mean they were a family. Besides, she wasn’t about to let herself be guided by fleeting feelings. That’s what they were, fleeting. Her body and mind were just reacting to the shock of seeing him again after so long. Who could blame her? William was a very attractive man.
It had taken everything in her not to run into his strong arms and broad chest the moment she had laid eyes on him in his office. She had to keep reminding herself of the hurt and betrayal just to hold steady to her senses. She was not going to allow him to hurt her again after all this while. Once beaten, twice shy. William was William. He might have grown wiser, bolder, and even courageous over the years, but he was still William at heart; the man who had kept her a well-hidden secret for fear of judgement from his rich family and their like-minded friends. The same man who enjoyed and exploited the abandunt love of a smitten girl willing to sacrifice her life for him while he did nothing to assure her of his love.
But she was not that little girl anymore.
She was no longer suffering from a savior syndrome. This William didn’t need saving, and even if he did, she would not put on her armor for him. This William would not be driving her to a point of desperation, forcing her to put her pride and dignity aside to save him from a world he didn’t want to be rescued from. This William had his life all figured out. He didn’t need her. And she didn’t need him. All they had to do was focus on equal-parenting and living their lives independent of each other. She could do it. She had done most of it all these years and she had managed just fine. As long as she kept her fickle treacherous heart in check, all would be well.
You got this Miranda. You can do this.
Ten minutes to her next location, Miranda’s phone rang through the car’s speakers. She looked at the caller ID before answering. It was Chipo Hangala, her high school best friend. The two had neither spoken nor seen each other in the last twenty years. Miranda knew William and his mother would be looking at her to get to her. And so she had kept herself in check everytime the need to check on her best friend came. The best she could do was secretly follow her activities on social media to check on how she was doing.
“I’m almost there woman, calm yourself down,” she said, smiling.
“Well forgive me for being so anxious doctor. I’ve been waiting for twenty whole years for you! You are so wicked Miranda Kamanga.” Chipo’s voice filled Miranda’s car.
Miranda laughed. “Start counting and I’ll be there before you even reach one thousand.”
“One thousand!? “
Miranda laughed some more before cutting the line.
Miranda had been so consumed with the call that she had not seen the white jeep tailing her too close for comfort until it rammed into her. Startled, she checked her rear view mirror and noticed right away that the ‘accident’ had not just been an accident. The determined look on the driver’s face told her that she was about to be hit again. Fortunately, before the demented woman could drive into her, Miranda swerved to the side of the deserted Chongwe road. The crazy driver did the same, parking her car right behind her.
Miranda stayed behind the wheel, watching through the mirror before deciding the next course of action. She couldn’t risk stepping out without knowing whether the woman was armed or not. She was only a few months old in town and she had somehow already made enemies. Great. Just great. Thank you William Mwanza. Thank you very much.
Miranda reached into her bag and grabbed her small taser. She slid it into the pocket of her blazer whilst keeping watch in the mirror. The woman had opened her door. Miranda waited. One foot out and the woman was out of her vehicle. Miranda couldn’t make out much of her face but her body language said she was young, maybe mid twenties or so. She was wearing a cap that covered much of her forehead and she had these huge sunglasses on.
The woman was dressed in a blue Versace tracksuit that accentuated every curve on her petite frame. She looked like those women who had pictures of themselves on Instagram in every outfit they owned. She was righteously well-styled. Her white Versace trainers matched with her cap as well as the sides of her glasses. The blazing red lipstick on her lips said this woman was not dressed for the gym, unless she was the type that worked out in make-up. By all accounts she appeared sane and beautiful. But who knew what went on in people’s heads anyway.
Without shutting her door, the woman approached Miranda’s car. Three minutes had gone by and no other vehicle had passed. Miranda checked for any sign of a weapon on the woman before deciding whether to open the window or step out of the car for the ensuing conversation. Her hands were empty, but Miranda couldn’t be sure about the pockets. Either way, the odds seemed to be in her favor. She was at least eight times bigger than the woman, she had a weapon in her pocket, and she was a 4th degree black belt taekwondo instructor. What could possibly go wrong?
A gun you fool. Miranda chastised herself before rolling down her window.
“Get out,” the tiny woman commanded. Miranda had to give it to her. The woman was either brave or astronomically stupid. She suspected the latter.
“I don’t think so,” Miranda calmly replied.
The woman tried to yank the door open but discovered it was locked. “Get out of the car or I will break every window!” She shrieked.
Miranda laughed. “Go ahead,” she said, sitting back to watch what the crazy woman would do next. To her surprise, the woman went in front of the car, picked up a large stone and smashed it through Miranda’s windshield. Miranda used her arms for cover, fortunately, the stone had hit the passenger’s side. By the time Miranda was sitting up, the woman was back at the side of her door. “Get out of this car before you see my full-on crazy you opportunistic whore!”
The good news is, there’s no gun. Unless of course she’s trying to save on bullets by using stones. Miranda thought before opening the door and stepping out.
The petite woman had clearly not been expecting a six foot …no, a 6 foot 4 in heels giant to step out of the vehicle.
“You are…you are…”
Miranda had a bemused look on her face as she watched the woman stutter away. Whatever happened to all that bravado seconds ago? “Who are you?” Miranda asked.
“My name is Yvette,” the tiny woman said.
Yvette? Miranda rembered reading the name somewhere but she couldn’t place exactly where.
“Yvette, are you looking to fight me?” Miranda nonchalantly asked, her arms folded across her chest and her head tipped to the side, observing the woman from an angled vantage point.
“That was the plan, but I didn’t expect you to be this big,” Yvette said, shamelessly.
Miranda laughed. “I don’t think I’m that big ma’am,” she said. “I think you just happen to be rather way too…petite.” She was looking at the top of the woman’s head as she stressed the word. “So what do you propose we do now?”
This was not going anything like Yvette had imagined. She was completely at a loss, but there was no way she was going to cower in front of this woman. “William is mine. Stay away from him.”
Of course, William. Surprise surprise.
“Ok.” Miranda said.
“What?” Yvette was completely thrown off guard. She had been expecting a fight. Why was this woman making it so easy? Did she think she was stupid? “Are you patronizing me right now?”
“No ma’am, I’m just responding to your demand.” There was no trace of sarcasm in Miranda’s voice. She somehow even managed to maintain a straight face.
” I am not your mum, stop calling me that!” Yvette said.
“Are we done here?” Miranda asked. “I’m getting late for an appointment.”
“Aren’t you the least bit curious about who I am?” Yvette asked.
“No,” Miranda answered simply. “However, I will need your address to send the bill for the damages you’ve caused.” She motioned her head towards the car.
“You think you’re all that, huh ?” Yvette had her hands resting on her hips and she kept tapping one foot on the ground, her head moving in sync with the rhythmic motion of her foot.
When no response came from the shockingly disinterested Miranda, Yvette went off on a tirade about who she was and what sort of special relationship she shared with William.
Finally, Miranda remembered where she had read the woman’s name.
Well now, this was definitely interesting.