Sister Lillian… and her sister.
It was Thursday afternoon and I was sitting in my office gloomily going through some documents faxed to me just an hour ago by the manager of my palm oil company in the eastern part of the county.
Three weeks had gone by now and it was almost the end of March, but my life bad only worsened in general.
The business trip had been a total disaster, culminating in the legal seizure of my palm oil company’s largest asset, a huge Oil Palm plantation covering thousands of hectares of fertile land. I had acquired that plantation only a few months ago with part of the bank loans. The bankrupt old chief who sold it to me the ‘traditional way’ had suddenly been killed by armed robbers before the proper legal documents were processed and half his extended family had arisen as potential heirs to the multi-million-naira plantation. All my attempts at peaceful settlements failed and, with the witness to the original transaction suddenly developing one form of memory loss or the other, there were now four different court cases and two injunctions barring my company from the vast plantation, making it impossible to harvest the already ripened annual crop. My hopes of a first palm oil export that year was ruined, millions and millions of naira I couldn’t even afford had gone to waste. I had returned to Lagos five days ago in a black mood to discover that a business associate due to repay a big loan I’d given him long ago had disappeared into thin air and to make matters worse my sister, who in my absence had returned on a brief break from her university, was sporting a battered face courtesy of her worthless boyfriend.
I had stormed the bastard’s house with Ajuna and two military personnel on my payroll, beaten him to a pulp in his own living room and had his sorry ass thrown in jail for a full three days despite the pleas of his family and friends.
The only good news in my life seemed to be coming from Sister Lillian’s house. I hadn’t been to church or to visit her, I hadn’t spoken to her since handing the child over, none had been necessary because between my sister, Mary, Ajuna and Mother Nwachukwu, I was very well-informed. My sister had returned to school yesterday and I was already thinking of visiting Sister Lillian. She had been on my mind a lot lately and it wasn’t because of the child.
The door suddenly opened and, Susan, my secretary entered with a white package in her hands. She came over to my desk and set it down carefully.
“This just came in by special delivery, sir,” she said. “It’s addressed directly to you and marked very urgent, but there’s no return address.”
I picked up the package curiously, nodded to her and she left
It was a neat square box, the size of a new tablet phone casing. My name, my company’s name and my corporate title were printed correctly on it with ‘VERY URGENT’ outlined boldly. There were no official markings on it or return address.
I tore the wrapping off and got the plain white box open. Inside were a single compact disk and a folded sheet of paper. I picked up the paper and unfolded it. Printed in darkened capitals were a phone number and underneath…
‘Call AFTER VIEWING THE VIDEOS ON THE DISK’.
Curiously, I picked up the disk, got it out of its plastic container and inserted it in my laptop to play.
It was a DVD with three labeled video icons on it. I clicked on ‘video one’ and the scene of a bedroom filled the screen. It was an expensively furnished bedroom, a hotel bedroom from the look of it. It was like I was looking through a camera positioned high up in one corner, close to the ceiling, with a perfect coverage of the big room, particularly the large bed.
It was definitely a hidden camera.
A door opened abruptly and a very lovely woman in an expensive designer suit walked in, looking around like she expected to find someone there.
It was my wife… Estella!
She went over to the table and dropped her handbag, then stepped over to the big armchair nearby and picked up one of the clothes lying carelessly there, a man’s shirt. She held the shirt to her face, inhaling the smell of it lovingly! Another door abruptly opened and a well-built man with only a white bathing towel around his middle entered the room, looking like he’d just stepped out of a shower. My blood went cold as I recognized him instantly. He didn’t look at all surprised to see my wife there, in fact, he looked pleased. He said something to Estella and she tossed the shirt carelessly down on the armchair again and cat-walked over to him. Their arms went around each other and they were kissing passionately, hungrily.
The video had no audio, but it had an electronic date and time log at the bottom left part of the screen that said the time was eleven-fifteen in the morning of the twenty-ninth day of December last year, just two weeks after Estella gave birth to our son.
They got naked fast and climbed onto the large bed where my beloved wife proceeded to give the guy’s monster-sized prick a killer blowjob, enjoying every bit of it, worshipping it. She was soon on her back with the man banging her like someone trying to commit mayhem. His monster-sized prick was drilling repeatedly into her like a piston and she took it all with her legs spread wide apart from east to west, holding on tightly to him with her arms, eye closed, a blissful expression on her face. The rougher the man got, the greater her pleasure.
Feeling sick to my stomach, I fast-tracked through the video, checking the time log. There were six hours of it, stretching from 11 am to 5 pm. Estella and the man had fun like lovers who knew each other of old, it was marathon sex mostly. The man seemed to know exactly what Estella wanted and did it very well, driving her wild. The Estella in this video was alive and totally wanton, a completely different person from the one I knew, the one I was married to. I needed no further proof that I had been married to a lie for a whole year.
The other two videos were the same – the man always there in the hotel room and Estella always showing up in the morning and then leaving in the evening. This meant that she left home right after I went to the office each morning and returned in the evening just before I did. All three videos, according to the date stamps, were recorded in the last week of December. Estella had given birth to our son early in the second week of that same December.
The red-hot rage boiling within my very soul was checked only by the realization that I was about to be blackmailed big time. I sat quietly fighting to clear my head and think straight.
‘… You weren’t in that marriage with open eyes and that which you thought was happiness was, but a demonic illusion that would have continued till now, except that God brought things to a halt in a very strange way, a certain man from her past whom she liked so much more than any other was brought back into her life and you became a problem. There is a connection between you and this man that is not very clear to me now, but God himself will surely make everything clearly known to you and very soon. They planned to kill you and enjoy your wealth together, but God had his own plans. He saved you and exposed their evil deeds so that they ran away and left you alone. They are together now in a foreign country very far away from here …’
The prophetic words of Prophet Okafor reverberated through my mind, even as the fulfillment stared me in the face. A lot of things suddenly began to fall into place.
The man in that video with Estella was an old acquaintance from my computer fraud days in Abuja. He went by several names, but his real name was Raphael Osondu. He ran a separate internet fraud business of his own, but due to his unique talents, Victor and I sometimes teamed up with him on certain deals. We never trusted him, though, because he was a slippery rat bastard who would cheat his own mother for the right price. Raphael had still been in Abuja when I fled the city three years ago, and I sure as hell didn’t leave him a forwarding address. I had never since contacted him or anyone in Abuja in any way, that part of my life was buried and forgotten, not even Estella knew of it. In November, last year, just a month before Estella put to bed, Raphael had miraculously tracked me down and asked for financial assistance in immigrating to the United States for a fresh legitimate start. The fraud business wasn’t doing so well anymore, he said, too many people had wised up and the risks had become too great. I gave him the money he asked for, fifty thousand dollars was a small price to pay for getting rid of a rat bastard like Raphael for good or so I thought. The bastard was supposed to be in the United States of America as of the end of that month, November. He had even checked out of his hotel and called me from the airport to thank me for everything and say goodbye.
A lot of things were suddenly making sense now. How Raphael had tracked me down in the first place, Estella’s prolonged coldness in bed after childbirth, why she’d left the baby behind and yet stolen every other thing she could from me. She had been sleeping with Raphael right after the birth of our son and had finally run off to be with him. But darling Raphael was too broke to maintain her extravagant lifestyle so she had taken everything from me to ensure they never lacked. They were most likely in the United States of America now. Estella was an American citizen by birth while Raphael had valid immigration papers.
I thought things over a long time, then finally picked up my cell phone and dialed the number on the paper.
It was answered immediately.
“Have you watched the videos?” asked a hard, male voice curtly.
“Yes, who is this please?”
“You can call me Mr. Blue. I have more videos like the ones you just saw and believe me some are much worse. If you don’t want these videos sent to your friends and family or posted all over the internet, you need to get thirty million naira in cash ready very quickly.”
“Thirty million?” I repeated aghast.
“Thirty million, and you have five days to get it. Keep the police out of this or your wife’s naked pictures will start popping up all around, do you understand?”
“Look, can’t we –”
“Do you understand?” said the voice harshly.
“Yes, I understand perfectly.”
The line went dead.
I tossed the phone down on the desk in blind rage.
“God damn this world to hell!” I raged. “Thirty million for a blue film! Where in hell am I supposed to get that kind of money, eh, like I’m not deep enough in trouble?”
I got to my feet and started pacing as I tried to control my emotions and think straight.
It didn’t work at all.
“God…! God!!…. Gooood!!!” the suppressed screams erupted directly from my heart and my hands tore at my head as the rage broke forth.
My eyes fell on the artificial palm tree in an expensive large vase in the corner and I was at it in a flash. I snatched it up, tree and all, and hurled it across the room with all my strength.
The vase exploded against the far wall with a terrible crash and the pieces hit the tiled floor with another terrible sound.
A second after, the door flew open and my secretary burst in.
“GET OUT!!!” I screamed.
She fled, closing the door again.
My temper suddenly began to cool and I went to sit down again in my chair, slamming the lid of the laptop closed so as not to see the offensive abomination on the screen.
Minutes later, I was toying with my letter opener, an ornamented spring blade knife with a six-inch steel blade, thinking of creative ways to murder Estelle with it, when my cell phone rang.
It was Sister Lillian, her first call ever. I took it at once.
“Hello,” I said, forcing my voice to appear normal.
“Good afternoon, sir.”
“Afternoon, what is wrong?”
A hesitant silence.
“The child just had a small fall, it’s nothing serious really, but I just wanted you to know.”
I was sitting bolt upright. “What sort of a fall?”
“He fell from the sofa to the floor. There’s a small bruise on his forehead, nothing more. I have already treated it and he’s fine.”
“I’ll be there shortly,” I said curtly and cut the line.
I got the DVD out of my laptop first and put it away in a locked drawer. Getting to my feet, I dropped the ornamented knife and my phone into the pockets of my business suit, picked up the car keys and walked out of the office.
Ajuna was away on an errand so I drove myself. It was two in the afternoon and traffic was fair, still, it took me nearly an hour to make it to Sister Lillian’s place. At my knock, she answered the door right away, looking lovely as ever, but I wasn’t in the mood for any woman.
“Welcome, sir.” she greeted as I walked in past her.
I stopped in the balcony. “Where is he?”
“He’s asleep in his cradle,” she said, pointing at the open doorway to the room.
I walked on into the room. The two cradles were still in place beside the big bed, I walked across the room to them.
My son was asleep alright, but the piece of cotton wool and plaster above his right eye looked hideously big like it was covering a huge wound.
Sister Lillian was suddenly there beside me. “The wound is nothing serious, I took care of it well.”
I stood perfectly still and unmoving, staring down at my son. The hot rage rose swiftly within me and surged through my body.
“There is nothing to worry about.” she continued. “It’s just – Ow!”
My movement had been swift as I wheeled and slapped her hard across the face. The force of it knocked her sideways and she staggered backward away from me, clutching her face with a shocked look on it.
“All you bitches are the same!” I snarled. “Devilish and full of vile tricks. The more beautiful nature makes you the viler. Once a man lets you people into his life, you find ways to destroy him. Tell me how a child that cannot even walk yet just manages to fall so badly it almost damages his eye.”
“He fell while he was sleeping on the sofa,” she replied, looking deeply hurt, still clutching at her face.
“When I gave him to you, did I not warn you several times to be careful with him?” I yelled furiously. “If you had been there watching over him carefully like I paid you to, would he have fallen?”
“Please, it couldn’t be helped.” she pleaded backing further away from me into the confined space between the big bed and the wall. “It was an accident.”
“Oh, now it’s an accident?” I blazed. “I’m going to teach you a lesson today. A good beating is what you bitches are good for.”
I started to take off my jacket and she suddenly leaped onto the bed, running for the open door. Reacting swiftly, I ran around the bed to intercept her.
She wasn’t so fast; she was too big and grateful for that. She jumped off the bed, landed heavily on her two feet and started running blindly for the door. I beat her to it easily and she skidded to a halt several feet from me and backed away quickly, fearfully.
I pushed the door closed and turned the key in the lock. Turning back to her, I stopped short and stared.
“Please.” she pleaded desperately. “I’m telling you the truth. It was an unfortunate accident, but the wound is nothing, it will heal without a mark.”
She seemed to have been wearing a close-fitting brown blouse and a long wrapper, but the wrapper had fallen to the floor now to reveal a knee-length dress that clung smoothly to the rich perfect curves of her body. Her long legs were very shapely and straight, knees beautifully rounded. Her impressive build and sheer opulence of figure, the sensual beauty and perfection of it all, it was awesome!
Now aware of the way I was staring at her body, she bent down quickly, snatched up the wrapper lying on the floor close to the bed and rewrapped it quickly around her body. Her every movement was still infinitely graceful and sexy despite her terrified mood.
All the violent rage in me was swiftly turning into violent lust.
“Take it off,” I said quietly.
“What?” she asked in surprise.
“Take that wrapper off, now!”
She recoiled sharply, fearfully, at my harsh tone and undid the wrapper at once, letting it fall to the floor.
“Take the dress off,” I said.
Her fearful look turned to shocked disbelief. “What?”
I took a few quick steps forward and the ornamented spring blade knife was suddenly in my hand, steel blade pointing towards her.
“Okay, okay,” She cried fearfully, holding up her hands quickly and shrinking back in terror until the back of her legs came up against the bed. “Please wait, wait, I will do what you want, please.”
I stopped as she reached quickly behind her back to undo the zipper of the dress. She pulled it off her upper body, worked it over her large hips and backside, down her big thighs and let it fall to her feet. Clad only in white bra and panties, she stood perfectly still before me, slightly turned away to one side, not looking at me.
My manhood had hardened to the point of pain and I began to salivate.
“Take off everything,” I said huskily.
She turned to look directly at me then, and there was a very strange expression on her face. A remarkable transformation seemed to have come over her and she was strangely calm, too calm.
“Are you sure this is what you really want?” she asked quietly.
“Take them off, now!” I snarled.
She calmly reached behind her and undid the bra, her big breasts bounced out as she took it off and tossed it aside. She took off the panties and tossed it aside too, then, completely naked, stood facing me fully, making no attempt to cover her body.
Her body was very full, fresh and firm, incredibly perfect with a delicious abundance of everything, breasts, hips buttocks, and thighs, all so very shapely and super curvy.
The desire raging in me suddenly became unbearable.
I waved the knife. “You will lie down on the bed and I will do whatever it is I want to do. You won’t give me any trouble or you will regret it, you hear me?”
She looked at me coolly. “I’m not going to give you any trouble, but are you really sure this is what you want?”
“Stop asking me that god damn question!” I snarled. “Lie down on the damn bed, now!”
Calmly, she moved to obey. She sat down gracefully on the edge of the bed and lifted her legs together up onto it. She lay back with her head on the pillow, closed her eyes, put her arms at her sides and kept her legs together. She lay perfectly still like a lamb resigned to the terrible fate of being sacrificed and all I felt was intense excitement and power.
I put the knife back in my pocket and started tearing off my suit fast, my eyes never leaving her body. I tossed my jacket carelessly onto the sofa, my shirt sleeves and tie followed. I kicked off my shoes fast, got rid of my trousers and pants. Clad only in stockings with a powerful throbbing erection, I went over to the bed and climbed on top of her. I got in-between her legs without any resistance and forced my manhood into her.
She was remarkably tight and dry and I wasn’t gentle. Eyes still closed and head turned away to one side, her face contorted in pain and her hands clawed at the bed, but she made no sound or resisted at all as I thrust deeply and repeatedly into her.
I hadn’t had sex in months and the sensation and pleasure I was experiencing now were so intense that I soon lost control. I started going at her like crazy, quick, powerful deep thrusts, again, again and again until I reached a powerful climax and collapsed on top of her, completely drained.
She could have killed me in that helpless moment but did nothing. She lay unmoving underneath me and as the life came back into my eyes, I realized that she was crying quietly. I pushed myself up on my arms at once to look down at her.
There was blood on her mouth and angry red marks on the side of her face where I had hit her. Complete realization of what I had done suddenly hit me and at that very moment, a baby’s sharp cry split the air wide open.
My eyes flew to the other cradle.
It was her daughter!
Sister Lillian suddenly started to cry loudly and I panicked. I scrambled off her and that bed like they were on fire and she turned away, pulling the sheets over her naked body and curling into a fetal ball. Her body shook violently with huge heartbroken sobs that tore at my brain.
I rushed to put on my clothes. My hands shook badly and my fingers were too clumsy, but I managed to quickly get dressed.
‘God, I had to get out of here!’ I thought desperately as the cries of mother and child got louder in my head. I took out the new stack of one thousand naira bills in my jacket pocket and dropped it on the low coffee table then hurried to get my son from his cradle.
A handy basket like baby carrier was close by the cradles so I took it. I transferred my sleeping son carefully from his cradle into the carrier and covered him well with his blanket. Picking the carrier up carefully, I hurried across the room to the door, got it quickly unlocked and slipped out, closing it quietly behind me again. I crossed the balcony and let myself out the front door, went quickly down the stairs, through the deserted compound and out to my jeep. I put the carrier in the back seat of the Murano Jeep, strapped it down carefully with the seat belt and closed the door. I went around quickly to get in behind the wheels, started the engine and drove off fast.
Driving very carefully, it took me about an hour to get home and Mr. Moses was waiting with a troubled look. He greeted me respectfully as soon as I got out of the Murano Jeep.
“What is it?” I asked already beginning to worry.
Mr. Moses was a serious-minded man of forty-five in whom I had complete confidence, even respect. He never bothered me unless it was absolutely important.
“It is Mary, sir,” he said.
“What about her?”
“I beg you to take things easy with her.” he pleaded. “She came back early today from Sister Lillian’s place and has been crying badly since then. I asked her what happened and she said she made a mistake with the baby at Sister Lillian’s place and he fell down and wounded and –”
“She said what?” I asked in shocked disbelief.
“She said the baby fall down by mistake and got a little wound on his head,” said Mr. Moses and actually tapped the spot above his right eye.
“Mary went to Sister Lillian’s place today?” I asked incredulously.
“She goes there every day, Ajuna takes her.”
“Ajuna didn’t take her anywhere today, I sent him somewhere else.”
“She took public transport.”
I stared at him.
“What time did she come back here today?” I asked finally.
“Around two o’clock this afternoon.”
“And she said it was her fault the child fell and wounded?”
“Sir, the way she explained it to me, it wasn’t her fault at all, but an unfortunate accident. She says the wound is very small and the child is fine. I called Sister Lillian myself and confirmed it. She treated the wound herself and the child is well, but Mary is afraid of what you will do when you find out. I beg you, sir, please, take things easy with her.”
I stared up to heaven and down to earth again. There was only one way to get to the bottom of this mess.
I walked around the jeep to the rear offside door and got it open. The child was awake now, looking so peaceful and healthy. He started to cry as I carefully lifted off one end of the plaster holding down the big white cotton wool on his forehead to reveal a small flesh wound. It was a minor wound alright but had been dressed with the utmost care to keep out infection and yet allow aeration for quick healing. I should never have hurt Sister Lillian or taken the child from her.
The bitterness of guilt and regret filled my heart.
I replaced the plaster carefully and turned to Mr. Moses.
“Where is Mary?” I asked.
“In her room. Should I go and call her?”
“No, stay here and watch the child,” I said and walked off.
Mary’s room was downstairs in the main house and the door was closed. I opened it and walked in without knocking to find her sitting on the bed, hugging a pillow. She scrambled off the bed quickly to her knees on the floor, wringing her hands in terror. Her eyes were red and swollen like she had been crying a long time.
Mary was a very poor distant relative who had been best friends with my youngest sister since childhood. They were roughly the same age, early twenties, and being orphans now without much by way of other relatives, behaved a lot like real sisters. Mary was just above average height, robust-bodied, light-skinned and good-looking. In character, she was smart, very respectful, cheerful, gentle, honest and very hardworking indeed, which was why she was running the domestic affairs of my house and not rotting somewhere in the village. Mary and my sister had become terrified of me lately and with good reason too, I thought remorsefully, my moods had been terrible.
I stayed put by the door and kept my manner calm so as not to scare her more.
“You were at Lillian’s place today when the child got hurt,” I said. It was more a statement.
“Yes, Dede.” she nodded jerkily.
Dede was the special name used by younger people to respectfully address all older males in my native Igbo language. It translated roughly into something like father, sire or uncle.
“Tell me exactly what happened, leave nothing out.”
“Yes, Dede, I was…. I was sitting on the sofa and Uchechi was sleeping on it near me. I felt thirsty and went to the kitchen to drink water. It was then that he rolled over and fell on the floor.”
“Where was Lillian at that time?”
“She was in the bathroom bathing, but she rushed out immediately he started crying. She treated the wound and said it was small and he was okay then she phoned you. When you… when you said you were coming immediately, I became afraid so Aunty Lillian told me to go home that she would talk to you about everything.”
“Why didn’t you call me and tell me about it yourself?”
“I was… I was too afraid… and… and Aunty Lillian… she said I should leave everything to her that it was her responsibility and she would take care of it. She said she would talk to you herself about it.”
“She told you it was her responsibility?” I asked. “She used those very words?”
“Yes, Dede.” a quick, firm nod.
I suddenly realized exactly what had happened. Lillian had covered for her and in so doing, willingly taken the full force of my anger. A deep sadness filled my heart.
“Get up,” I said to Mary very quietly.
She obeyed at once, but still looked scared.
“Since that child’s mother abandoned him you have been the mother that took care of him day and night, even in my absence. Put away your fear, learn from your mistakes, but never ever allow anything, not even my anger, stop you from continuing with the good work you are doing in this house. Do you understand me?”
“Yes, Dede,” she said, calming down now. She cleaned the tears away with her hands as she curtsied deeply to me with deep respect.
I jerked my thumb at the door. “I brought the child home. He’s outside with Mr. Moses and he’s crying. Go to him.”
I turned and walked out, leaving the door open.
I went straight upstairs to my bedroom and closed the door. Emptying my pockets on the dressing table before taking off my clothes, I realized my wallet was gone, my white handkerchief and even the spring blade knife too. As I stood frozen, staring at my reflection in the side mirrors, I realized that my tie was gone too, and so was the heavy gold ring on my forefinger. There was only one place they could all be, I thought in horror. The one place I had torn off my clothes carelessly to rape an innocent woman, and then put them back on hastily without checking a thing.
The strength suddenly drained out of my body and I staggered over to the armchair and collapsed into it dejectedly.
“God almighty, what have I done?” I moaned in despair. “I rape and brutalize an innocent woman then leave her enough evidence to send me to prison for a long time. I hadn’t even used a damn condom!”
I sat there thinking a long time. Things had to change. I had to change and watch my temper carefully before things got out of hand, that’s if they weren’t there already.
I got my cell phone and dialed Lillian’s number.
It rang and rang then disconnected. At my second try, the line was cut after just two rings and the phone switched off.
I put my phone aside and thought some more. My mind went to the blackmailers and my head began to ache.
I took off my clothes, took a good dose of my headache and sleeping tablets, then went to lie down on the bed.
Sleep came fast.
For two days, I stayed home expecting swift reprisals from Sister Lillian, but nothing happened.
On the evening of the second day, Saturday, I was sitting in the living room, watching a satellite TV program when Ajuna showed up with a large brown envelope package.
“Boss, Sister Lillian said to give this to you,” he said in a very normal tone of voice.
Scarcely able to believe my eyes or ears, I stared suspiciously at the neat envelope, making no move to touch it, lest I die before my time of Calabar witchcraft vengeance.
“What’s in it?” I asked.
Ajuna looked surprised. “I don’t know, boss, it’s sealed. She said they were the things you forgot at her place the day before yesterday and expected them back.”
“Things I forgot at her place and expected back? She used those words exactly?” I asked in astonishment.
“Yes, boss. That’s what she told me.”
A great feeling of unease suddenly gripped me.
“What took you to her place?” I asked.
He held up the package. “She called me this morning to come and pick this up for you so I went there this afternoon.”
I studied him carefully.
“How did she seem to you when you saw her?”
“She was fine.”
“She didn’t seem upset to you?”
“No, boss.” he shook his head. “She was fine.”
“She didn’t tell you anything?”
“Anything like what?” he asked.
“Anything at all out of the ordinary.”
He shook his head, looking puzzled. “No, boss.”
He was telling the truth.
“Was there anyone with her when you got there?”
“No, she was alone as always.”
“How was her mood exactly?”
He thought a moment. “A bit too quiet, but fine. She even gave me something to eat.”
I was shocked. “She gave you food to eat?”
“Yes, boss, I eat there all the time. Is there a problem?”
“No, forget about it. Just put that down and go.” I pointed at the low glass-topped table in the middle of the living room.
I watched him carefully as he obeyed and left. He didn’t look at all like he’d been poisoned and I knew all the symptoms well enough from firsthand experience.
Alone now, I stared at the envelope and different thoughts filled my mind, but the curiosity was overwhelming. I finally got up, went over and picked it up, tore the top off and emptied the contents onto the table.
I stared in disbelief at the items.
They were all there, my wallet, the gold ring, even the knife and the stack of money I had deliberately left behind as compensation of sorts. The handkerchief and tie were there too; they had been washed, ironed and folded neatly. I picked up my wallet and checked it, all my credit cards, identification cards and the five hundred dollars in a side slot was there too. There was a folded white sheet of paper sticking out conspicuously among the items on the table. I picked it up and unfolded it. Written in excellent handwriting with blue ink were the words…
Not every woman is a ruthless betrayer like your wife. Mistakes do happen and accidents do occur, but we forgive because it is the godly thing to do even when the offense is clearly unforgivable.
I forgive you and pray God makes things better for you.
God bless you.
Relief washed over me even as terrible guilt gored at my soul. I felt like a man drowning in his own piss.
I got my phone at once and put a call to Lillian, but it kept ringing until disconnection. I tried a second time, but the line was cut at the third ring and she switched off her phone.
Later, after a lot of deep thinking, I made one more phone call.
A brief one and it was to another woman… Leona Holman.