“Dad?” Fred said as he turned to stare at his father.
Bruce was stunned, what in the world was Bisiola doing in his son’s house? He stared at her in confusion.
Bisiola looked at Fred and at Bruce, and then, she looked at Fred again. ‘What was happening?’ She asked herself. ‘How could this happen? Does this mean that she was dating father and son? Was her son, Fred’s brother?’
“Dad, what are you doing here? When mom said she’ll give you my address, I never expected you to visit and at this time of the night too.” Fred said to his father.
Bruce tried to regain his composure, he was clearly baffled at Bisiola’s presence in his son’s house. He couldn’t take his eyes off her.
“I…see…you…have…com…company…” He stammered.
Fred looked at his father and then, at Bisiola, he noticed the awkwardness between the two of them. Suddenly Bisiola flashed a wide and nervous smile and hurried towards Ochuko.
“Hey dear, I’m sorry I couldn’t make it in the afternoon and I’m just showing up now…” She said grabbing hold of Ochuko’s arm. “Come on…see me to my car…okay.” She said breathlessly.
Ochuko stared at Bisiola. She didn’t budge. Was this a stunt or what? She wondered. Or was Bisiola running mad? If she could recall clearly, Bisiola had entered the house breathing fire a few moments ago. Why was she suddenly acting like they were best friends?
“Let’s go…” Bisiola said, pulling Ochuko by the arm.
“Wait…what’s going on here? Bisiola! Where are you taking her to?” Fred asked, shocked at Bisiola’s sudden change in attitude.
“Nothing…I came to see my friend and now, I’m on my way home.” Bisiola said trying to calm her nerves.
Bruce cleared his throat.
“I see this is a bad time, I’ll come back another time.” He said.
“Dad…no, please don’t leave…not yet.” Fred cajoled.
“I’ll be back another time…” His father said and walked away.
As soon as Fred’s father left, Bisiola dropped Ochuko’s arm as though she’d just been scalded. She hurried to the door.
“I have to go…” She said, then addressing both Fred and Ochuko who looked stunned, she said. “This is not the end. You haven’t seen the last of me yet. I will be back!”
She hurried out of the house while Fred and Ochuko stared at each other, wondering what in the world had just happened.
Vuoke sat in a bar and emptied the bottle of whisky on the table in front of him. Some ladies made their way to him with plastic smiles on their faces.
“Want a good time?” They asked sweetly.
“Gerrahheerrree…all ov youuuu…you women are all de same…” He slurred.
They all left just as they came. He picked up his bottle and swung it to his lips but felt nothing. His bottle was empty.
“Damn you! Damn you Ochuko!” He spat and threw the bottle on the ground. It crashed.
The people at the bar stared at him and someone called for security. Vuoke raised his voice and shouted.
“Look at me! I am supposed to be a married man today but what happened? She…she left me! She left a handsome…financially stable, well-educated dude like me. Tell me, will she be able to find anyone else as handsome? Or as rich? Or as well-educated? Do you know what? It’s her…loss! It’s her freaking…freak…” He hiccupped.
Some security men walked to him and escorted him out of the bar. No sooner had they shoved him out, than his friend, Damien rushed to him.
“Vuoke…thank God I found you. Something told me I’d find you here.” He said.
“Leave me…let me go…she left me…she left me for another man…and I swear on my last breath…that…she’ll pay. I will go to jail because of Ochuko. I will kill the man who took her from me and after that, I will kill her.” He swore.
“Calm down…let’s go to your house. Your mother called me, she was frantic…” He said.
Vuoke burst into tears.
“What did I do wrong? Tell me…look me in the eye, Damien…tell me, what did I do wrong? Wasn’t my love enough?” He cried.
“She didn’t deserve you…” His friend said.
Vuoke looked up at him. Damien tried to pull him to his feet.
“Is that true? Tell me, tell me the truth…do you think she doesn’t deserve me?” Vuoke asked with tears in his eyes.
Damien looked at him and sighed.
“Do you want the truth? The real truth?”
“Yes…hit me…” Vuoke hiccupped.
“Ochuko doesn’t deserve someone like you. We all knew you beat her and even though we are your friends, we didn’t talk to you about it or try to stop you. Whenever we hung out at your place and she was there, we saw the bruises. Vuoke, Ochuko stopped loving you with time and all the love she’d ever had for you turned to fear and resentment. You pushed her away from you…” He said.
“Are…you saying…it’s all my fault? Is it wrong of me to correct her once in a while? I corrected her with love…with pure, undiluted…love…” He hiccupped.
“Women are to be loved and cherished, they are to be protected and not pounded or beaten. Ochuko took a stand and left you…because she was scared. I never expected her to leave you at the altar because I…thought she’d have left you even before you proposed but she hung in there…I think she was waiting for you to change.”
“But…but I have changed…please…call her for me, tell her that I have changed…” Vuoke said, pulling his friend towards him by the collar.
Damien shifted his nose from the stench of alcohol coming from Vuoke’s mouth.
“Please…come with me, let’s go home. Drinking will do you no good.” Damien said.
“Will she come back to me? Can we go and beg her to give me …another chance? I can’t bear to see her with another man, I can’t bear it…”
“No, you don’t!” Vuoke half-screamed. “I own Ochuko! She is mine. No one else’s but mine and I swear…to fight for her.”
“It’s no use, she’d have never dumped you if she hoped for a reconciliation.” His friend said sharply.
“Then I will make sure she hopes to reconcile with me. Don’t you get it? Ochuko is mine! She is mine and mine alone!”
Damien dragged Vuoke to his feet and led him to the car park.
Bisiola sat behind the steering wheel of the car and stared at nothing in particular. She was shocked to her bone marrow. Bruce was Fred’s son? Unbelievable! How did this happen? When? Why did she just find out?
She slowly stepped out of her car and made her way into the house, she got in and headed straight to Emem’s room. Emem was standing over a pair of white shoes and was inspecting them with a smile on her face. As soon as she stepped in, Emem turned to her with a smile.
“Guess what fiancé sent to me through DHL?” She said. “These pristine white shoes! I told him that I’m wearing it for our wedding.”
Bisiola sat on the bed and stared at her friend, tears welled up in her eyes.
“Bisi…what’s wrong?” Emem asked, walking to her. “Were you able to go to Fred’s place? What happened?”
“Emem, it seems that destiny is playing a fast one on me.”
“How? Why do you say that?”
“I found my way to Fred’s house, all thanks to you who contacted the realtor and all but…but…” She burst into tears.
“Tell me, what happened now…” Emem asked shaking her gently.
“I went there intent on tearing that useless tramp but no sooner had I stepped in than Bruce walked in too.”
“Huh? Bruce? What was he doing there?” Emem asked.
“Guess…just take a wild guess.” Bisiola smiled ruefully.
“I can’t guess…my mind is blank…”
“Bruce called Fred son and Fred called Bruce dad.”
Emem’s mouth dropped open.
“They are father and son…” Bisiola cried.
“Are you sure? Let’s not jump into conclusions ooo…you know that some older men love referring to younger men as son, but it doesn’t mean that they are father and son.” Emem said.
“You don’t get it, do you? Fred was telling Bruce that…that he never expected to see him and that…that…when his mother told him his dad was coming…he…he…” She burst into tears again.
“Are you serious? Babe, you gat to run ooo…” Emem said.
Bisiola looked at her sharply.
“Run to where?” She asked.
“Run as far as your legs can carry you.” Emem said.
“Run from what?” Bisiola asked.
“See Jamb and Post Ume question! How can you possibly continue having high hopes for you and Fred when his dad is your lover and you have a child with him?” Emem stated.
“That’s not the point!” Bisiola fired.
“What then, is the point?” Emem asked.
“I don’t know but there must be a way out of this.”
“What way?” Emem asked.
“I have to figure out how to get Fred to understand…that my relationship with Bruce was a mistake…”
“Are you mad?” Emem asked. “What kind of game are you trying to play? We both know that you have been with Bruce for many years now. Where’s the mistake in that?”
“I’m just trying to be wise.”
“Wise or plain stupid!” Emem said. “Listen, Bruce is very possessive of you. Haven’t you thought of what could be running through his mind this very moment? He saw you with his son! Do you know what that means? If I were you, I’ll end this madness with Fred and stick to Bruce because when Fred finds out that you are his father’s lover, he won’t accept you and when Bruce’s secret is out in the open, he might have to end things with you in order to save face and salvage his marriage and family.”
“Don’t jump into conclusions yet. I was sharp enough to cover my tracks. I pretended that Ochuko and I were friends and…”
“Bruce thinks I went there because I’m friends with that tramp.” Bisiola said.
“Okay, that problem is solved for now but what of Fred? Have you thought of what’s going through his mind this very moment? You just said that you changed your attitude towards Ochuko when you saw Bruce. Don’t you think that Fred is smart to realize that you’re hiding something?”
Bisiola looked at her friend, then she groaned.
“Oh, my goodness! I didn’t even think of that. To think that I even threatened them when I was leaving the house, as soon as Bruce left.”
“Has Bruce asked you anything?”
“I didn’t see him when I left Fred’s house.”
“Oh Bisiola, I warned you, didn’t I? I warned you about this relationship of yours with Fred.”
“But I love Fred! Can’t you get that into that thick skull of yours?”
“How many men marry the woman who’s their father’s mistress and who has a child for their father? Come to think of it, if you actually end up with Fred, what explanations will you give your son? ‘Oh, Zed darling, your step-dad’s father is actually your dad and your siblings’ grandfather is your dad and your step-dad is also your brother.’ Don’t complicate things for yourself!”
“Isn’t that what I’m trying to avoid?” Bisiola fired.
“Then, stay away from Fred. It’s that simple!”
“And let that useless woman take him away from me? Never!” Bisiola swore. “Over my dead body!”
“Bisiola, you are at a big risk. If Bruce finds out that you have something with his son, he might end your relationship with him. Remember that all your properties are in your son’s name and that Bruce is in charge of all your son’s assets until he’s twenty-one and that’s a long time from now.”
“Don’t remind me! I need to think.” Bisiola said getting up from the bed.
“Think of what?”
Bisiola turned to face Emem with a firm look of determination on her face.
“I need to think of how to turn Fred against his father!”
Emem stared at her friend in shock.
“That is the only way to get him to myself and make Bruce’s hold over me, disappear. I need to play the part of the victim to Fred!” Bisiola said.
Emem didn’t know what to say, it was confirmed. Her friend had finally gone mad.
Ochuko watched Fred brood, the event that unfolded right here in the sitting room a few hours ago, left little to the imagination. She didn’t need a soothsayer to tell her that Fred’s father and Bisiola knew each other and that Bisiola’s stunt had been to cover up something that she didn’t want Fred’s father to know.
Ochuko walked up to Fred with a glass of water and placed it beside him on the stool.
“Drink this…” She said.
He looked at her and smiled in thanks.
“Do you want company or should I leave you be?” She asked.
“You’ve been through a lot today…I wonder how you hold up.” He said.
“I ran away from my fiancé…” She said. “And I landed in my boss’s house. I guess my next plan is to take over the world.”
“Point of correction, you ran away from a man who was never meant for you and you ended up in your friend’s house. We are friends, Ochuko and not just boss and employee.” He said.
“So, if we are friends, can I ask what’s on your mind?” She asked.
He tapped the space beside him on the sofa and she sat.
“Something fishy is going on…I can smell it.” He said.
“Don’t jump into conclusions.” Ochuko said.
“I’m not stupid. You know, I’ve always wondered how Bisiola has so much, she has a restaurant, a very expensive car and house, in fact, she lives a lavish lifestyle. I have asked about her family and she’s not introduced me to one, not one! Her friend Emem is a simple woman and I can’t place a finger on where her wealth comes from. Even though she has a restaurant, it’s not really brimming with customers. Something tells me that she’s dating someone rich and he’s sponsoring her lifestyle…”
“Are you doubting your father’s loyalty to your mother?”
“Did you see the way she suddenly changed her attitude as soon as she saw him? I could see the fear in her eyes. She paled as though she’d seen a ghost and then she rushed to you and instantly became your friend.”
“I suggest that you don’t jump into conclusions.” She said.
“Why shouldn’t I? I mean…”
“Hey…why don’t you get some sleep? It’s been a very long day. I am sure Bisiola had reasons for what she did earlier.”
“You don’t know Bisiola. I have studied her all these while and she never backs down from a fight, she’s hot-tempered, she’s very intense and she’s so set in her ways. If she came here with the intention of fighting you, which she clearly came to do, then, nothing would have stopped her, even if an angel came down from heaven.”
“Don’t think the worst of her…c’mon, it’s bedtime…go to sleep…okay.” She said.
“Thank you so much for being here.” He said to her.
“I didn’t plan it…destiny brought me to your doorstep.” She said jokingly.
He looked at her and smiled, he was truly happy whenever he was with her.
“Goodnight Ochuks, see you in the morning.”
“Sleep tight.” She said and left the sitting room.
As soon as she left, Fred stood up from the sofa and picked up the remote control to turn off the television. Just as he turned off the lights, something struck him. It was a memory of some sort. Zed, Bisiola’s son’s face flashed through his eyes and he slightly staggered backwards. He had always wondered why that boy looked so achingly familiar and now he knew. The boy looked so much like his elder brother, Daniel, when he was still a boy and everyone said that Daniel resembled their father. Fred closed his eyes in pain as Zed’s image tormented him. His chin, his eyes, his nose and even his smile.
At that moment, Fred knew without asking that Zed was his father’s son.
To be continued…