Never in my wildest dreams had I thought I’d lay a finger on Alicia. Why, I loved her like she were the air I breathed. But lately not everything was going as I planned. I found myself hurting my wife more and more each day all because of what? My cowardice. Not that I’m happy to admit I was a coward but who would like to spend 15 years in prison for a crime that they didn’t even root for?
That night after hitting Alicia, I stormed out of the house and got into my car, revved the engine and started driving in circles. I found myself at a liquor shop where I purchased a bottle of Vodka. I wasn’t one to drink but I really needed solace and I sadly had no friend nor sibling to confide in. My father? He was in the village while mum was peacifully resting in her grave.
I had just gotten back into my car with a bottle of Vodka in hand when Angie called. D–n that b—h!
“Yes sexy,” I feigned sweetness as I sat behind the wheel and placed the Vodka on the vacant seat beside me.
“Hey baby boo,” she sounded low. Alicia had really done a number on her. “Have you dealt with that your stupid wife?”
“Yes I have. I promise she won’t bother you again.”
“Oh that’s why I adore you. I’d I’ve rewarded you with some sex but thanks to your wife my body’s sore.”
“The sex can wait,” I irritably said. “But make sure you take perfect care of yourself.”
“And the baby.”
I felt my world come crumbling down on me. Jesus, I was now really deep in the mess I’d entangled myself in.
“The… The baby?”
“Yes, Bob. I’m carrying your child. Hadn’t planned to inform you this way but I guess you still have the right to know.”
“That’s great, take care of my baby and your sweet self then.”
“I will,” said Angie enthusiastically. “By the way, when are you divorcing that package of damaged goods you call your wife?”
I wanted to say, “The only package of goddamned damaged goods here is you, Angie.” but I ended up saying, “Very soon, I promise. I need to hang up now, love you.”
“Love you more. Bring some fruits whenever you plan to drop by my place, will you?”
No sooner had I hang up than I hit the steering wheel in frustration. Oh my, can’t believe I was paying such a heavy price for some crime I committed a year back.
Like a maniac, I drove to the nearest lodge where I booked myself a room and then later locked myself in it. I sat on the cheap bed as I drank from my bottle of Vodka. Tears were now rolling down my cheeks. If only I hadn’t accepted that proposal that fateful day. If only……
It was a bright Thursday morning. I arrived at my office at exactly 07:30 hrs even though I knew work would commence at 9. Anyway, I was a fresher in the taxation law department at a private law firm in town and the salary I was earning wasn’t as much as I’d anticipated so I thought of being hardworking as a way of working my way up to the top pretty fast.
I was perusing through a certain client’s documents when my intercom beeped. It was my secretary Rosemary.
“Mr. Chizinga, there’s a Mr. Mkandawire here to see you. Should I let him in?”
I frowned. I didn’t have any appointment with the man. “Sure.”
A minute later, a fat black man walked in. He was balding and seemed to be in his late forties. I stood to greet him and we shook hands. I then offered him a seat which he pleasantly took.
“I’m Daniel Mkandawire.”
“Nice to meet you,” I nonchalantly replied. “You have no appointment so I think it’s best you cut to the chase.”
“Sure,” the man smiled as he rummaged through his briefcase and produced some files which he dearly held in his hands. “How would you like to make K50,000 in cash and then receive installments of K10, 000 per month for the following 5 months?”
“I beg your pardon?” I leaned closer. “I’m a tax lawyer and there’s no way I’m legally making that much money in such a short space of time. Why do I get the feeling you’re trouble?”
Daniel chuckled. “I might be trouble but trouble’s certainly coming your way if you don’t help me.”
“Are you indirectly threatening me? What if I ordered you to leave my office right now? What would you do, huh Mr. Mkandawire?”
“I’d kidnap your six-year-old son and put a bullet through your two months pregnant wife’s skull.”
I felt bids of sweat form on my forehead. Who was this man and what did he want from me?
“Okay,” I hesitantly said as I forced myself not to panic and scream for security. “Tell me why you’re here.”
“Now you’re talking!” Mr. Mkandawire beamed and threw the files on my desk. “Read those.”
Cautiously, I did as instructed and was flabbergasted upon seeing the contents of the documents in the files.
“This is pure money laundering!” I heard myself gasp in disgust.
Daniel laughed. “I know. Now you being a tax lawyer and all that, I want you to legalize all that shady business so that the government doesn’t investigate me nor crucify me with their abnormal taxations.”
I was caught between a rock and hard place. “What makes you think I’d be willing to put both my career and freedom in jeopardy by helping you, a total stranger?”
“Am I to think you’re willing to jeopardize the lives of your family?” Daniel Mkandawire stood and straightened his tie then got his files. He dropped his business card on my desk. “There, you can reach me on that line. A dear friend of mine recommended you to me so please don’t disappoint. I’m giving you exactly a week to give me a response. See you soon, attorney at law.” and he was gone.
I didn’t get an ounce of sleep for the next three days. I’d toss and turn in bed and whenever Alicia asked what was wrong with me, I’d tell her it was just stress.
“You work way too hard, Bob. Give your mind time to relax,” she’d urge and cuddle me.
On the fifth day after my meeting with Mr. Mkandawire, Alicia consumed food which contained some harmful substance and ended up miscarrying. I received a phone from Daniel whilst at the office the following day.
“My condolences for the loss of your unborn baby. I’m still waiting for my response though.” he mocked me.
And then I knew the man was really trouble so I later gave him a call and gave in to his demands. “On one condition though.” I told him.
“That you leave my family alone.”
“You have my word.”
And that’s how I helped Daniel Mkandawire not knowing I was literally digging my own grave.
Alicia noticed how much money I was spending on spoiling her and Fred rotten but when she asked where I was getting the money from, I had lied. “It’s a bonus for my working hard.” and she bought the story because she trusted me with her life.
A few months later, I received a visit from Webster Habeenzu who was a lecturer at CBU. Mr. Habeenzu was also my wife’s friend’s Lubona’s father so I wondered what he was doing at my office and there, he was there to blackmail me too.
“My youngest daughter Angie’s leading a reckless life,” he had began.
All I said was, “So I hear.”
“Don’t you think settling down would do her good. As in, getting married and all that?”
“I think it’d do her more than good.”
“Great. Wouldn’t you make a perfect husband for her?”
I almost chocked on the coffee that I’d been sipping. “Excuse me?”
“You heard me right the first time, Bob. I’d like you to marry Angie.”
I couldn’t help but chuckle. “You’re bluffing, right?”
“Do I look like I’m joking?”
“But I’m sure you’re well aware I’m a married man with a son.”
“Of course I am. That’s why there’s always divorce. You divorce Alicia and marry my Angie, plain and simple.”
I was now laughing out loud. “No offense but are you high on something, Mr. Habeenzu?”
“I’ll definitely be high on whiskey after suing your and my friend Daniel Mkandawire’s sorry asses for money laundering.”
A lump developed in my throat. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Of course you do,” he said with a smirk on his face. “You know d–n too well what in the name of God I’m talking about. Now if you value your freedom, you’ll divorce Alicia, marry my daughter and leave Zambia. You can take your son if your like, I honestly don’t mind. And Bob, it’s nothing personal. It’s just that you seem like the perfect candidate for my daughter. I’m really sorry I’m destroying your life while am at securing a future for my Angie.”
I buried my head in my palms and when I glanced up, I scornfully said, “May you rot in hell for this you sick old bastard!”
And that’s how my life changed. I started going out with Angie without her knowing her dad had planned all this and Alicia had to pay the price for practically doing nothing wrong to me as I now ended up ill treating her. The sad part was that she wasn’t even willing to divorce me. She loved me that much. But was my love for her that strong?
I woke up with a terrible hangover that Sunday morning. That too in a lodge. As I took a bath, I recalled what I’d done to Alicia the previous night and remorse engulfed me.
Upon arriving home, I found Alicia’s sister Lisa tending to her(Alicia’s) wounds.
“Hey, mulamu(brother in law),” Lisa greeted in a calm tone.
I played rude by not responding but just clicked my tongue and headed straight to my room. I ran into Fred in the hallway.
“Don’t you champ me,” his voice was stern. “You’re a bad man, daddy. I hate you!” he stormed off to his room and locked himself in.
When I got into mine and Alicia’s room, I dumped my fully dressed body on the bed.
Should I just come clean with Alicia? I thought. But what if it’s too late now that Angie’s expecting my child? And what if I also end up being sentenced to 15 years in prison? No, I can’t risk that.
Now I diverted my thoughts to how terrible Alicia’s face had looked back in the living room. I couldn’t believe I was the one who’d done that too her.
And did Lisa just greet me after I’d hit her sister that bad? Holy crap, just how kind were these people? And why on earth couldn’t Alicia grant me the divorce so that we could once and for all get this over with?