Carol was watching a movie from her video deck player when she heard a knock on the door. The visitor stood there with a large suitcase, bright eyes, grinning ear to ear but the smile faded as soon as she saw Carol like she expected to see someone else.
“Sorry, is this not Madam Ruby’s house?” The visitor asked, seemingly confused.
“No sorry you are lost, this is my home and I don’t know any Ruby.” Carol replied as she watched the lady look around desperately then she broke into tears.
“Hey, hey, hey, don’t cry. Please come in.” Carol said, observing her unexpected guest who wore a beautiful pair of heels, an expensive looking jeans trouser and a loose chiffon blouse, high cost too, no make up but a nice Afro wig. She looked chic.
“Here have a glass of water. What’s wrong?” Carol asked, concerned. The guest wiped her tears and gulped the glass of water hastily then explained that she had come from abroad. She had planned to surprise her aunty, Ruby but she seemed to have forgotten where she lived. Carole sympathised with the lady. She welcomed her to stay until she found her way to Ruby’s. She showed her the guest room. The guest was very grateful.
“By the way, I am Carol.”
“Pleasure to meet you Carol. I am Peris. You are so kind to let me stay at your place. I wonder what I would have done with the dusk approaching.” She smiled sweetly.
“No. You seem like a good person and it would be evil of me to let you, a fellow woman to roam around helplessly. ” Carol said, then she saw her guest staring at the landline phone.
“Can I make a call?” Peris asked. Carol nodded generously and moved away to provide some privacy but far enough to eavesdrop the guest’s conversation. One has to be on the look out , she thought.
“Yes. Is J in the room?…Please let me speak to him…Oh, Hi brother…Yes I arrived well, thank you.You will not believe this…I think I forgot where Aunty Ruby used to stay. No, I didn’t tell you I was visiting her…. I wanted to surprise her…What?….No!…Why didn’t anybody tell me?…I can’t believe this…Why?…How could this happen?” Peris broke into another pool of tears. Carol rushed to her crying guest.
Apparently, Madam Ruby was a former househelp of Peris’s family. Whenever she visited the country, Ruby would host her but she had now moved to the village and later died.
“Why did nobody tell me of Ruby’s demise?” Peris sobbed.
“I am so sorry for your loss.”
The next morning, Carol went to the guest room, to check on her guest. Then she saw the open handbag, a pile of notes were neatly arranged in the many pockets of the handbag. Damn, rich girl!
“Oh, did I oversleep?” Peris said dizzily. Carol was startled by the sudden wake of her guest. Together they made breakfast and to Carol’s surprise, they had a lot in common; they shared the same favorite colour, had a similar taste for movies and they both really loved peanut butter .
“Sometimes I lick it on my finger after dipping it from its container!” Peris said remembering the line her father wrote in his letter to her I love the way you lick peanut butter from your finger, you look so adorable.
“Oh my God, I do so too! See, we are like twins!”
And they had a few more laughs until Peris sighed sadly.
“Why are you suddenly sad?”
“Well, now that aunty is no more to host me and I obviously cannot leave here forever, I need to go and look for a good hotel to stay as I wait for my brother’s ordination day.”
Carol dared to ask for more explanation but Peris had no problem laying out her plans to Carol. She was like an open book. She told her that her brother had been training to be a priest and his ordination day would happen in a few months.
“I live with my parents in Canada. I came here to witness my brother’s ordination which will happen in a few months. Meanwhile I will spend time with him before he gets fully absorbed into the priesthood life.”
“Oh, and may I ask why the rest of the family members did not come too?” Carol asked then saw the sudden change of Peris’ mood.
“My bro was supposed to inherit our vast family business but his only interest in life has been to be a priest. My parents were devastated and they vowed not to support him if he continued to pursue that dream. We moved there when my bro was thirteen and I was eleven after my parents won a green card, but my brother’s heart is here, he yearns to serve here as a priest.” Peris told Carol who keenly listened.
“I feel for your parents. ” Carol said and the two sipped from their glasses of juice, lost in their own thoughts. That priest must be a damn fool, how does one say no to money? Carol thought. I am such a convincing liar. I will pursue acting after this. Peris thought.
“You know what, you don’t have to book a hotel. You can stay here for as long as you wish.”
“Really?” Peris exhilaratedly asked. Carol nodded and her guest hugged her thankfully.
“I guess I have to call the seminary again and update my bro. Mind if I use the telephone again? To show how thankful I am, this month I will foot all the bills, shopping, telephone, electricity , name them all.” Peris said and Carol gestured her to use the telephone as she laughed at her new friend’s generosity. Jackpot! Carol thought to herself.
As days passed, Carol’s affection for Peris grew stronger. It was as if she had known Peris her whole life. They clicked so well. Carol felt she could share her secrets with Peris and they would remain safe with her. Peris also had a non-judgemental attitude that Carol liked.
They were watching a movie one evening, when Peris broached an interesting topic.
“This movie makes dating married men look so bad. I mean, if a man comes to you, who’s to blame, right? Personally, I would date a married man, they know how to take care of a girl.” She said and Carol burst into an excited laughter then revealed something to Peris, which months to come, she would really regret, but it would be too late.
“You know, I once dated a married man.” She said licking her lips naughtily.
“Really? Details! Please?” Peris asked enthusiastically.
“I don’t even remember his name but he worked as a government clerk. He was head over heels in love with me and I took advantage of his weak heart, I milked him dry. I even heard later that he died. Hmmm…silly old idiot.” Carol said sneering at the memory. Peris swallowed a huge gulp of juice painfully.
“You mean you did not even have an ounce of love for him?” She managed to ask forcing a smile.
“Eeish! No way, the old man was as dirty as a garbage bin…Pthoo! He was so sweaty! Then, he had an obsession of writing love letters. At first I wrote back then I noticed he was running broke, I dumped him like a used pad.”
“Is that so?” Peris asked, beads of sweat breaking from her forehead. Carol did not notice the change in her friend’s mood. She continued narrating about the man who had loved her to death.
“Then the sex was just awful! He had such a huge pot belly that when he laid on top of me it would….” Carol was surprised by the sudden interruption of Peris who had choked on the juice she was sipping.
“Ok…ok (cough, cough) That’s enough for now!” Peris said as she ran to her room leaving Carol laughing hysterically at her friend’s laughable incident.
Two days later, after a call to her brother, Peris announced to Carol that he was coming over to see her.
“What? A priest is coming to my house?” Carol exclaimed. Peris had told her of the brother’s devoutly religious strict demeanor. She wondered whether he would approve of their friendship. There was something about the clergy that Carol feared.
The day approached fast and when it did, both ladies had their hearts beating fast and when they finally heard the knock, the hearts almost stopped. Peris managed to go open the door. Carol straightened her skirt nervously.
“Big brother!” Peris screamt as the siblings embraced. Carol watched him apprehensively. He was averagely built, resembling his sister but for the eyes.
Carol thought the eyes resembled someone she knew but she could not really put her finger on who he resembled. She dismissed the thought and watched the two share sibling love.
“I missed you! See how you have changed. Ain’t you having enough to eat at the seminary?”
“Man must not live on bread alone sister but by the word of God.” He said in the deepest authoritative tone.
“Ok. Ok. Enough of the preaching already. Come in and say hi to my new best friend, the kindest hostess. Bro, meet Carol. Carol, my elder brother, Jude.”
Carol almost made a bow at the man of God. “Pleased to meet you Father Jude.”
Jude smiled. “No, I am yet to be confirmed. Call me Jude for now, or J. ”
“Ok. Intros done . Welcome in J. Let me make you some tea. Do you still like the tea leaves conc? ” Peris asked her brother . He replied in the affirmative as she disappeared into the kitchen.
The two in the living room shared an awkward silence that was even made worse by the announcement from Peris that she had to rush to the shop to get more sugar.
“So, Carol, such a big house for a young lady, you must earn a lot from your job.”
“Mmm. This house is actually a gift from someone. I am in my last year in campus.” Carol said. Jude nodded as he looked around.
Carol watched him over the magazine as he scrutinised the house then set her eyes on her. He seemed to study her from her hair to her blouse down to her toes. Carol was sure he did not like her from the way he scowled at her. He had already judged her. Break the silence Carol, say something, or he might see through all your sins and start praying for your atonement. Carol thought nervously.
“So, Peris has told me a lot about you?”
He chuckled. “Really? I hope it’s all good.” He said and that opened a conversation of various topics. He isn’t that bad after all. Carol thought .I could just strangle you now and be done with, you devil! Jude thought to himself as he laughed hard at a joke she had made.
“What did you give my brother Carol?” Peris barged in unexpectedly.
“What? Why?” Carol asked, puzzled.
“My brother rarely laughs as hard as he is doing so now. I can hear him hundreds of metres away.” Peris said.
Jude laughed shyly at his sister’s comment . “People change sister, we haven’t met for quiet some time, remember?” He remarked.
The three had their chats over cups of tea for hours until Jude rose to leave.
“Mmmmmm!” Peris frowned. “Already? Ok. Let me walk you out.” She said and the two left as Carol watched through the window. They conversed a bit then embraced for a long minute and finally parted.
When Peris came back, she had a puzzled look on her face.
“Whaaat?” Carol asked.
“I don’t want to conclude anything but I find it baffling that J seems to be fond of you. He has always been incurious about girls.” Peris said softly, thinking deeply then shrugged her shoulders. “Maybe it’s the seminary changing him, making him more sociable.” She said and paused then met Carol’s eyes and said,
“But, what if he fell in love with you, dropped the priestly dream and decided to settle with you. I can imagine my parents’ joy. Gosh! I would be so happy! You guys would be millionaires.” Then she sighed, “But that’s a long shot.” She paused for her words to sink in then added, “Anyhu! What are we watching today?”
Peris sat herself comfortably in the sofa and stared at the television then threw a quick glimpse at Carol who had already started building castles in the air. She is falling for the bait, yes!
Carol saw it clearly in her mind. The word millionaire resonated in her mind. She imagined owning properties in a foreign state. She imagined parking state-of-the-art vehicles near a mansionette she would call hers. She imagined driving along the Canadian streets with the windows all lowered.
Carol loved affluence. She had pursued it in all possible ways including trapping men with her seductive prowess. She had managed to make men fall helplessly in love with her, from lecturers to civil servants, married men, single and even engaged men. A priest? This would be a tough one.
He came to Carol’s house again a week later and stayed the whole day. The three played games, poker then scrabble. Afterwards they watched a movie until it was time for Jude to leave.
“This is serious Carol!” Peris said as soon as she came back from escorting her brother out of the house.
“What is wrong Peris?” Carol asked but her friend’s next statement forced her to hide a smile struggling to form on her face.
“My brother really likes you. He asked me whether other men come here to see us. I wasn’t born yesterday to know that he was inquiring whether you have a boyfriend.”
Carol shrugged indifferently. This girl underestimates how magnetic I am. Huh, she has no idea that I make men cry at my feet.
That night, each of them felt delighted at the direction their schemes were unfolding.
Days later, Peris left to shop for some shoes. Carol was left alone, studying. Then a knock on the door. It was Jude. He asked to see his sister but she was not there . He took Carol’s offer to wait up for his sister. He smiled. She smiled.
That was the first of many days in future when Jude would come to see his sister and conveniently, Peris would be gone leaving Carol to host her brother.
When there was no more denying that there was strong chemistry going on between the two, Jude decided it was time to advance on the game plan. He held her hand and looked into her eyes.
“Carol, I am about to make the biggest leap of my life. Soon I will be a priest. However, lately, I have been feeling like I need more time to think about it.”
“So, why are you telling me all these?”
He looked away as if scared then rubbed his hands together and then rubbed his face as if anxious, stammered a few words as if he was looking for the right words to say.
“Carol, I want you to help me. Every time I am around you I feel happy, contented and in peace. Like I want to stay with you forever. Tell me whether there is any chance of me and you being together. I give you one week to pray and think about it. When I come back, please be ready with the answer.” He stood to leave, “But please, don’t tell Peris about this.”
Carol kicked and punched the air in intense pleasure when the door behind him shut. Pray? She laughed at the thought. She already had the answer but she would impatiently wait for the one week.
The fool fell for my seductive snares…. This time, Carol, you outdid yourself. Soon they will be addressing you as Mrs Millionaire!
She said to herself and cacchinated so hard that her ribs ached.
Some metres away, a man met his sister in a hotel. They ordered some soda.
“Did she say yes?”
“No. I gave her time to pray about it.”
She muffled her mouth to avoid spewing the soda from her mouth as she let out an uncontrollable chuckle . “I love the way you are doing it. She totally believes you are a trainee priest.”
“She has no idea what awaits her but the fool thinks she is so smart. By the time we are done with her, she will be falling unconscious every time the name Marupe is mentioned.” Jude said in his dangerous low tone.
“Please J, let’s hurry on the plan, the money is starting to run out and if she finds out that we are not as wealthy as we have made her believe, our goose is cooked.” Peris warned.
“Don’t worry sister. The next moves will be made swiftly but ruthlessly and finally successfully. “
“Let’s drink to that!”
TO BE CONTINUED.