THE JAILBIRD (Episode 63)

© Aaron A. A


Effe is ushered into the dim interior of the cold room.
The room is divided into five booths.
There are high-backed chairs in front of each booth, and on the little metallic protrusion in front of the booth is a telephone receiver.
The kind-faced policeman who is with Effe walks forward and pu-lls one of the chairs back, and motions to Effe to sit down.

(gently) plea-se have a seat, madam.
Trembling with the depths of her acute distress, Effe sits down.
A glas-s p@rtition allows her to see into the other room.

A door at the far end of the room beyond the p@rtition opens, and Chris comes in.
His hands are handcuffed behind him.
Following him are three hvge policemen.
His handsome face is still a little bit swollen from the de-ep scratches Baaba has inflicted on him.
Effe sees that his scars are indeed very de-ep.
He walks forward slowly and sits down. One of the policemen steps forward and puts a key into a hole in the handcuffs, and unlocks it.
The other two cops are a little bit behind, and their guns are drawn.
Effe and Chris stare at each other.
Effe is in a pain that is as terrible as it is physical, threatening to tear her heart ap@rt.
In his eyes is a look of resignation, a look of defeat, a look of hopelessness.
She fights back her tears, but still she feels a trail of tears sizzling down her cheeks, h0t and filled with the acid pain from her soul.
She picks up the receiver.
He looks at her for a moment, and then he also picks up the receiver at his end.

Did you make love to Baaba?
Chris sees how hurt she is, and for a moment he can ba-rely look at her, but he speaks softly.

Yes, Effe, I did.
Her mouth falls open, and she is instantly consumed with a shattering pain that she cannot control.
When she speaks it is with the voice of a woman hurt beyond the realms of the mind.

I loved you, Chris Bawa. Five years ago, I saw you ma-king love to my friend, my bridesmaid. I had every reason to find myself a man and live my life. For five years I waited, without giving my b©dy to any man. Even when you signed the divorce papers, I still waited, because de-ep down I knew there was only one man for me, and you were that man.
And after five years, you go ahead and make love to Baaba! I was re-ady to forgive everything, to love you, to stay with you, to go throu-gh hell for you. I sacrificed everything to love you, to respect you, to walk hand in hand with you. And what do you do? You did what you do best! You went right ahead and made love to a woman who accused you of r@p£!
I’m hurt! I am jealous! I am in the de-epest pain of my life. You had it all! Our life was complete! Junior fought for you, lived for you, and now you’re going to simply hurt that little boy again, like you’ve hurt me again. Mr. Chris Bawa, oh, Chris! You should just have kicked Baaba out! Now look, you are back again in the arms of trouble! Why, Chris? In the name of our dear Lord, why, Chris, why?
Chris looks at her. He feels her pain, because he is in even more pain.
He has hurt her, yes, but God knows he is hurt more.
Chris wants to ask her, to scream at her, to know if
Junior is indeed the product of some test tube, a son created from reproduction substances from Eyram and that damn Steve!

But he is afraid. He cannot ask because he does not want to know.
Chris is in trouble, yes, but he wants peace. He will not speak.
No one wants him now. Prison will be great. He will have his peace to fight again.
He will live again, but right now he doesn’t want to know, because knowing will st©p his breath, and knowing will break his heart so that he cannot breathe again.

The Public Prosecutor asked me to repres£nt the State in the case, Chris. The Judge, the Jury, the damn country are all against you. You will get a maximum s£ntence, at least not less than twenty-five years, Chris. But give me something to hold on to. I questioned Baaba with a lie detector equipment, and everything she said c@m£ out as the truth.
But I’m asking you now, Chris, give me something to hold on to. Tell me you didn’t r@p£ Baaba, tell me you didn’t use cocaine, tell me she is a liar, and I swear I will drop the case and repres£nt you, because I want you back. Can you tell me that, Chris? Tell me now! Otherwise if I go out of here I’m going to prosecute you, because I can’t have Junior near a father who is a ra-pist, and who uses cocaine.

When I leave here, and you’re prosecuted, I’m going to take Steve and marry him. I don’t love him. I’ll never love him, but he loves me, and maybe that is enough. I’m going to do my best to forget you, Chris. But don’t do this to me! plea-se, for the love of God, Chris, tell me you’re innocent. Tell me you didn’t do it! Tell me Baaba framed you, and I’ll stay with you. Go on, tell me that, Chris! plea-se, plea-se pleeeeeaaase tell me that! Give me something, anything, Chris-Love!!! Tell me you’re innocent!
Chris looks at her, and slowly he drops his head, so that she does not see the tears in his eyes.

What’s the use, Effe, what’s the use? Maybe you and I are just not meant to be together.
He is trembling as he slowly puts the receiver down and stands up.
He begins to walk away.
Effe screams his name again and again, but he does not turn.
The policemen put the handcuffs on him again, and they march him out of the room.
Effe, weeping uncontrollably, flees from the room.

Effe is a broken woman.
She hurls her handbag at her car as her tears throttle her.
One of the car’s windows shatters. Effe knows she is losing her mind. The pain is too much, too acute, too murderous.
She f0rç£s herself to breathe, to st©p herself from going mad.

It is over Chris. Finally. Forever. I’m going to move on from here. Goodbye, Chris. Goodbye, forever.
When Effe turns into the driveway to her father’s East Legon house, she is not surprised to see the entrance to the house lined with so many reporters.
They have set up their equipment and vehicles and are loitering around with some ma-king live transmissions.
She drives forward slowly, and suddenly they swarm around her car like ants drawn to sugar.
She st©ps behind the hvge silvery gates of her father’s house, and instead of b!owing her horn for the gate man to open the gates, she st©ps the car and gets out.
Immediately c@m£ra flashes almost blind her, and microphones are thrû-st into her face by vociferous and hungry press people.
She looks at them pas-sively, impas-sively, and ignores their questions.
She does not move, and she does not utter a word until it dawns on them that they cannot pressurize her into doing their bidding.
Slowly the noise dies down, and a few minutes later there is total silence.

It is a bad period for my family, and the family of Mr. Chris Bawa. What he has done will be proven or otherwise in court. Yes, I’ve accepted the Public Prosecutor’s offer to lead the prosecution against my ex-husband, and I’m going to do it to the best of my capabilities. The case goes to trial in a week, so if you will excuse me, I have a lot of work to do. Thank you.
They throw a barrage of questions at her, but she steps throu-gh the smaller gate, and it is shut behind her by the anxious gate man.

Effe is dizzy. Her heart is pounding, and for a moment she feels the ground spinning, but she girds up her hatches and walks unsteadily towards the main entrance.
The door opens and Steve, dressed in jeans and a batakari, comes out to meet her.
Trembling, she falls into his arms, and he holds her close and murmurs into her ears.

Sorry, my love. It’s okay. Everything is going to be just fine.
After a moment she steps back from him and smiles br@vely.

Let’s go inside, Steve. I have an announcement to make.
As they walk to the door Steve gives a secret smile. He has never been this happy.
Steve knows that everything is just going to be alright. He has won. Chris Bawa is gone… forever.
Effe finds her parents and Eyram and Junior in the living-room.
Junior races to her, and she can see from the look on his face that he has cried a lot, and that he is in great agony. She goes on her knees and hvgs him ti-ghtly.
He breaks into tears immediately, and she f0rç£s herself to accept the pain of her son, and pray to God to give her the strength to go throu-gh the ha-rd minutes she has to face right now.

Mommyyyy! The police took Daddyyyy! I want Daddyyyy! I want to see Daddyyy! plea-se plea-se plea-se I really really really want to see Daddyyyyyy!!!
Effe puts him away gently from her and looks de-ep into his eyes, and she fights back her own tears as her heart beats with such pain for him.

Listen, Junior, your Daddy did something really bad-


(sharply) Listen to me! He did something really bad! I’m very sorry, my son, for your pain. I wish I can take it away, but I can’t. I’m so sorry you have to go throu-gh this, but your Daddy is going back to jail, my son, and you have-


(shouting) Goddamn it, Junior! Shut up and listen-

But Junior wrenches himself free from her and runs screaming into the rooms.
Eyram runs after him.
Effe gets up, breathing ha-rd , her face torn with the depths of her pain.

It’s okay, my dear. plea-se, take it easy. I knew that brute was going to break your heart again.
Effe moves to stand beside Steve, and she puts her hand in his and looks forlornly at her parents.

(forcing a smile)
He’s done treating me like this, Mom. I’ve accepted to lead the prosecution against him. It shouldn’t be a long trial. As soon as the trial is over, I’m going to marry Steve.

(clasping hands to her bosom) At last, my darling. You should’ve done it a long time ago. I’m very happy. I’ll be your support. I’m solidly behind you.
Ken Kedem steps forward. He looks suddenly old, and he looks at his daughter with a mixture of compas-sion and repressed dismay.

(softly) First rule, my princess. A man is innocent until proven guilty. I love you, and I’ll always support your decisions, but I think that in the midst of all this, with the pain in your heart, you’re ma-king some really rash decisions. Are you seriously going to lead the prosecution against Chris? That’s absolutely unethical, and I don’t know why Judge Annor Ossom is allowing it. Can you really live with your conscience afterwards, knowing you s£nt your son’s father to jail?

(indignantly) Leave her be, Ken!

(coldly) He’s a beast, Dad, a real beast! And yes, I’m going to s£nd him to prison if it’s the last thing I ever do!
Eyram has returned to the room, and she had heard what Effe just said.
She walks forward and stands in front of her sister.
She looks at Effe’s intertwined hands with Steve, and she shakes her head, her eyes mean.

I’m not surprised, Effe. Not surprised at all. It has always been like this, hasn’t it? You’ve never really ever believed the man you married, and you’ve never ever trusted him! You keep ma-king the same mistakes, believing others over the one person you claim you love. I think you should have your head examined. You are pretty messed up or un-der some crazy spell or curse or something very awful.
Effe takes a step towards her sister, and her wounded eyes are like daggers.

You stay out of this, Rammy. You know what that beast did! Rammy, you, of all people should know that I forgave him, and gave him a chance. First it was Elaine, now Baaba, who will it be next? When will he st©p? Maybe, next time it will be you, or even Mom! Don’t you dare judge me, Rammy, because you know nothing of the pain I’m going throu-gh here!

Pain? Do you think you know pain? Believe me, you know nothing about pain! You should know, the first thing you should know, is that you have to trust your man, at all times. Tell me, dear sister, have you been to see Chris? Have you bothered to ask him what went wrong?
Effe angrily reaches into her handbag, brings out the lie-detector printout and hurls it at Eyram’s face.

I’m coming from the police station, and yes, I spoke to him. That’s a printout of the lie-detector session I had with Baaba! Everything, EVERYTHING, she said is the truth! I asked Chris to deny it, so that I’ll drop the case and repres£nt him, but he just stood up and left because he’s guilty! Why bother about Chris’ lies? He is sick, Rammy! He’s a damn per-vert! And I’m not going to take any more of his bull$h!t! Just go to the hospital and see what he did to that poor girl!

(angrily) What about what she did to him? That girl was all over him, throwing herself at him, slee-ping with him! Do you know she spent the night with him some time ago ma-king love?

Yes, yes, I do! Even when he c@m£ back and I’m all torn up with guilt and worrying over him, he was busy slee-ping around with her and how many other girls? He had a relationsh!pwith Elaine before he met me. Do you know that? And yet, years later, when he wanted to make love to Elaine and she refused, what did he do?
He R@p£d her, and I witnessed it! Chris sle-pt with Baaba and so he thought he could have her any day and anytime he wished, and when she said no, again what did he do? He R@p£d her, Rammy! Don’t you stand there and give me that s£ntimental cra-p about Chris Bawa!

(shaking her head)
You never listened to anything I told you the other time, did you? Let me repeat it, my dearest, dumb,
Effe Kedem. Chris Bawa has no reason ever to r@p£ any girl!

(in a fierce angry whisper)
And why the hell not?

Because, dear sister, your husband can have any woman he wants!
Ken Kedem puts a hand on Eyram’s arm to draw her back.

That’s enough, you two! Break it up this instant!
Effe is staring at Eyram.
She is stunned, and she can ba-rely breathe.
She feels cold all over, and goose bu-mps stand out on her arms as she looks at Eyram with absolute shock.
Effe tries to speak, but the words does  not come out. She is so dazed by the truth that she begins to tremble.
Finally, she speaks in a hoarse whisper.

My dear Lord, Rammy! You love him, don’t you?

To be continued

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