Lately, my life seemed to be crumbling down to shambles. Everything was falling apart to the extent where the ongoings in Chinua Achebe’s ‘Things Fall Apart’ seemed like an understatement to me.
Firstly, Angie was murdered by only God knows what psychopath and then my only son Fred was framed for the murder and arrested. As if all this wasn’t enough, I just had to find out that Fred had gone to bed with my late wife and the child she had been carrying had been his. Like seriously? To add more salt to the my wounds, Fred had to be found guilty by the court and sentenced to death. Could life get any better?
To top icing on the cake, Alicia just had to pass out right there in the courtroom.
I rushed towards where she and the Curtis guy were. Alicia lay on Curtis’ laps as Diana sprinkled some water on her(Alicia).
I really hated the guts of the Curtis dude but I had to be close to him today so as to ensure Alicia was alright. Why, I still loved her.
Alicia’s maid Mulenga was frantically telling the people who were hovering over Alicia to disperse and leave space for some fresh air.
“Does the condition seem serious?” I heard myself ask.
Curtis didn’t even bother looking at me. “No. I can feel her recoil, she’ll come to soon. Dee, more water please.”
“I’m on it,” Diana replied and sprinkled more water on Alicia’s face.
The cop Baison had now taken off his jacket and was using it to fan Alicia. Monde and Lubona on the other hand just stood like spectators.
Alicia finally regained consciousness.
“My son,” she croaked. “Tell me he’ll be alright.”
Amidst all this commotion, we hadn’t even noticed Fred being led away. I peered down at Alicia and seeing her in that condition got me so emotional that I rushed out of the courtroom to where my rented car was parked. I kicked one of the rear tires in frustration and cussed out loud, “Shit, shit, shit! Why does my life have to be this f—-d up? Why does that old son of a w—e Webster Habeenzu and his b—h for a daughter Angie always have the last laugh even when they are now six feet under, decaying?!”
Fred’s execution day was scheduled to take place in two days time. But before that, Alicia and I were allowed to pay him a visit at the central police station where he was being kept.
Once in the visiting room, Alicia and I sat beside one another. Her eyes were puffy from all the crying that she had done.
“I believe everything’s gonna be alright.”
“You do realize this is your fault, right?”
I cocked my head to gaze at her. “My fault? Say what now? Exactly how is all this my fault?”
“I can’t believe you even have the nerve to ask. Bob, had you not taken Fred with you to Kenya years back none of this would be happening.”
“And you think blaming me will change things, huh?”
“There, that attitude right there,” Alicia said, pointing a threatening finger at me. “Bob I swear to you if anything happens to Fred I won’t forgive you. I’ll turn the earth upside down if need be but I’ll make sure you pay for ruining not only my life but Fred’s too.”
I swallowed. I had never seen Alicia this angry. I was thinking of what response to give her when the warden brought Fred in, he was in shackles as usual.
As soon as Fred saw his mother and I, he broke down and rushed to hug both of us.
“Easy there,” I rubbed his back. “Your mother and I are here for you.”
“Your father’s right, we are and we’ll always be here for you.”
We all took our seats. The warden didn’t seem to be leaving the room any time soon so it dawned on Alicia and I that we had to talk to Fred in the warden’s presence.
“How come we could never be happy?” Fred asked after he’d wiped his tears. “How come our lives have to be so full of drama? How come I have to die at the age of 18? How come-”
“Sshh,” Alicia cut him short, placing her hand on his. “Some things are just beyond our understanding, Fred.”
“Indeed they’re. I believe you two have come to say farewell?”
Alicia sighed and the tears betrayed her as they kept on flowing. “I don’t want you to think of this conversation as us bidding one another goodbye.”
“Come on, Mother. There’s no need to sugar coat shit so just get on to the farewell part.”
“Fred,” I said. “Watch your language, boy.”
“Dad, if you’re here to chastise me then you might as well just leave.”
“Relax, Fred.” Alicia said. “I- no. Your father and I just want you to know we love you and whatever happens, you’ll always be dear to our hearts.”
“I didn’t kill her, I swear.”
“We know,” Alicia and I said in unison.
Fred’s voice was now choked with emotion. “Then why do I have to pay for someone else’s crimes? Why does life have to be so unfair?”
“It’s life,” I feigned toughness. “Sometimes it’s fair, sometimes it’s not.”
For the next few minutes, Fred, Alicia and I forgot about our son being executed two days from now and we instead talked about some of the happy memories that we’d created when we were a small happy family.
I sat in my apartment that evening with a bottle of Scotch in one hand. My life was a total mess and the least on my worry list was the fact that I had no job. But a job could wait cause I had enough money in my bank account to cater for my needs for the next three years or so.
The biggest problem on my list was the thought of Fred being killed two days from today. WTF? I wasn’t going to sit back with my arms crossed across my chest and watch my keen get murdered for a crime he didn’t commit, was I?
How did I know he wasn’t guilty? Because he was my son and I knew him like the back of my hand and so there was no way someone could convince me Fred had killed Angie. Even if Jesus Christ were to descend from heaven and tell me Fred was the murderer, I’d have a hard time believing him.
That night, I didn’t sleep a wink as I kept on tossing and turning, thinking about how to save my son from this sticky situation he was in.
A day past and now only a day was left before the execution. Let me not even get started on how much tears Alicia was shedding back at home. I had paid her a visit earlier today and the Curtis dude and I had tried our utmost best to console her but no, she just had to cry, cry and cry. I didn’t blame her though. After all, she’d had two miscarriages whilst I was married to her and if she lost Fred too, that would surely shatter her.
From Alicia’s, I went to Manda Hill to grab some necessities. It was while heading to my car with shopping bags in both hands that I ran into Daniel Mkandawire. Does the name ring a bell?
Let me refresh your memory a bit if it doesn’t. Daniel Mkandawire was the mafia guy who had blackmailed me years back and it was thanks to him that all this was happening.
“If it isn’t my very own boy, Bobby Chizinga!”
“Hello, Daniel. It’s nice to see you again but I’m quite busy so I’ll just trot along. Have a nice day by the way.”
“Easy boy,” Daniel held me by my elbow and led me to a vacant table where he literally shoved me to a seat. He sat down too. “My friend Webster’s no more.”
“I know, I was even at his funeral.” I wasn’t in the least way interested in talking to Daniel. “I also heard he was poisoned. Let me guess, you are behind his death.”
“Ouch,” he chuckled. “I’m not but I know who is. You wanna know?”
“I’m not falling for your tricks this time you sneaky bastard.”
“Yeah, right! I’ll tell you anyway. It’s his lovely daughter Lubona.”
My mouth went ajar.
“Yoh, close that before flies rush in,” Daniel mocked. “Believe me you his daughter killed Webster. Why she did it, I still don’t know but she did kill him. Rumour has it she might have even murdered her sister.”
“Why are you telling me all this?”
Daniel leaned forward. “Because I owe you one for saving my ass twelve years ago. Bob, I’m not your enemy and I know the pain of losing a son so there’s no way I’m wishing that on anyone, not even my nemesis. If you don’t believe me then I suggest you go over to Lubona’s house and ask her how her Dad died. I’m sure her facial expressions will tell you all that you need to know.”
“So, how exactly did father in-law die?” I asked Lubona. It was night time and I was over at her place. Daniel’s words had really gotten to me so yeah, here I was.
“He was poisoned, Bob. I thought you knew this by now.”
“Sure. What I don’t get is how he was poisoned and why anyone would kill a man as kind hearted as your father had been. All this seems kinda absurd, doesn’t it?”
“Yeah,” Lubona was shifting uncomfortably in her seat. “But Dad’s dead, Bob. Why do we have to talk about this right now?”
I shrugged. “I’m sorry for being insensitive. I must have guessed this is a sensitive issue for you. After all, he was your father.”
She forced a smile. “Apology accepted. But I do miss him, I sure do.”
Once I was outside her house, I gave Alicia a call.
“Bob,” she picked up after a few rings. “What want you?”
“Alicia, I know who the real murderer is. Finally our Fred can be saved.”
“Bob, tell me you aren’t joking cause if you’re then drop it cause this is really a sick joke that you pulling.”
“I’m not joking. The real murderer is-”
I was cut short by a blow on the back of my head. I turned and the floodlights outside Lubona’s house illuminated an angry Lubona with a huge log in her possession. Before I could react, she hit me a couple of times and I blacked out.