(Continued from The Beta Man II)
“Is this what you are usually doing behind my back?” Alicia demands. She looks more shocked than angry. She probably would never have expected Fredrick to have the guts to cheat on her.
“Look Alicia, it is not what you think,” Fredrick says gently, trying to placate her. “This is all a misunderstanding and I can explain.”
“There is nothing to explain, Fredrick. I caught you cheating in broad daylight, and I swear I will make you pay. You cannot humiliate me like this. Give me the car keys.”
“I said give me the car keys!” she snaps, her voice rising considerably. Other diners at the restaurant as well as waiters have turned to watch the unfolding drama. “You cannot be using a car that I bought and which I fuel to entertain other women.”
Fredrick hates confrontations, so he extracts the car key from his bunch of keys and hands it to her.
“Give me your house keys as well.”
“I want your house keys as well. You are not coming back to my house.”
Fredrick extracts his house keys and hands them to her. His bunch is now reduced to his office keys and the keys to his staff quarters house, which he has never used.
“I am not done with you Fredrick. By the time I am done, you will know that you have messed with the very wrong person.”
She turns to the man she had come with, who has been standing behind her all this while.
“Let’s get out of this place, Chris. I have lost my appetite.”
After they leave, Fredrick turns back to Becky, and realises that tears are running down her cheeks.
“I am so sorry Fred,” she says amidst tears. “I always seem to bring you trouble. Please forgive me.”
“It is not your fault, Becky. I am the one who married trouble. In fact, I am the one who brings you trouble.”
Becky takes out her handkerchief, wipes away her tears and then blows her nose.
“So what are you going to do?”
“Where to live, for instance.”
Fredrick laughs nervously and decides to crack a joke.
“Foxes have holes, but the son of man…”
“Get serious, Fred. You told me earlier that you are always broke after paying for your kids’ education. That means you cannot rent a decent house, isn’t?”
“In a nutshell, yes. But I don’t have to rent a house, at least for now, because I have my staff house at the school. The problem is that I don’t even have money to furnish it.”
“I will loan you a few coins so that at least you can get a bed and a cheap sofa. I am sure you will get back on your feet.”
“Thank you Becky.”
Their food is brought by a waiter who looks embarrassed on their behalf.
“Can you get your clothes from your house before Alicia burns them?” Becky asks after the waiter has left..
“I hadn’t thought about that. I don’t want to set my foot there just in case I bump into Alicia, but I can ask the housekeeper to pack them up for me into suit cases. I will send a rider to collect them.”
“Your housekeeper has access to your bedroom?”
“Yes, she is the one who cleans it daily. But the clothes are not even there. We have a separate dressing room where all our clothes, shoes and Alicia’s make up paraphernalia are kept.”
“Sorry I asked. I had forgotten that you are rich,” Becky says laughing. “You don’t hang your clothes on nails on the bedroom wall like the rest of us.”
“Stop exaggerating,” he replies. “Most decent houses like the one you live in have wardrobes. And about us being rich, it is Alicia who is rich not me. Right now I don’t even have a wall with nails to hang my clothes on.”
He calls Sussana, the housekeeper and instructs her to pack all his clothes and shoes in suitcases and hand them over to a rider who would come for them. The rider is called Patrick, and Sussana knows him well. Fredrick calls Patrick and tells him to take the suitcases to the staff quarters of St. Monica then call him from there.
“Are you really going to separate from Alicia?” Becky asks.
“You and others have begged me to do it for years. Shouldn’t you be happy for me?”
“Of course I am happy for you Fred. But I am also worried for you. I am wondering whether you are ready to leave her, or you just think you don’t have an option.”
“I have been kicked out, Becky. It doesn’t matter whether I am ready or not.”
“It matters Fred. I don’t think Alicia is ready to let you go. She just wants to punish you severely in order to completely destroy your ego, and then she will take you back. By then you will be her slave. So the question is, as you leave physically, are you also leaving her mentally or will you go back running to her when she extends an olive branch? More importantly, are you ready for the cup of suffering that is surely coming?”
Fredrick chews a piece chicken thigh slowly as she contemplates that question.
“I was a caged bird, Becky. But Alicia has now given me my freedom. I would be stupid to go back to the cage. Besides, this is a beautiful time to end the marriage.”
“My two children are now adults, so I will not have to fight about custody with Alicia. They can make their own decisions.”
“Wait, I thought they are teenagers?”
Becky has never met Fredrick’s children, even though Fredrick talks about them from time to time.
“Yes, they are. But they are in their late teens. Reynold is turning twenty in November, while Hamilton is turning eighteen in December.”
“I hadn’t realised that the law allows us to be adults while we are still teenagers. But I am still confused. I thought you told me that both of them are in high school?”
“They are, but they are not doing our 8-4-4 curriculum. Reynold is his final year, what would be considered form six. His brother is in what would be form four.”
“How can you have adult sons when you are so young though?”
“I am forty four, Becky. That is hardly young. I got married at twenty three, and the children came in quick succession. You are thirty four yourself and your kids are nine. How old do you think they will be when you are forty four?”
Becky has twin children, a boy and a girl. She got them when she was in the university. She often says that the most trying period of her life was that period when she was pregnant and for a few years after she gave birth. The father of the children accused her of cheating and refused to acknowledge the children. He had been her boyfriend since they were in first year. Her parents, both of them staunch evangelical Christians, disowned her. She had completed her undergraduate studies with first class honors, and had earned a scholarship to pursue her masters. Her parents, both teachers, used to pay her rent because post graduate students were not accommodated in the university hostels. They also used to send her money for her upkeep. But after she got pregnant they stopped supporting her.
Fortunately, she found a job as a BOM teacher and started supporting herself even though the pay was little. But at least she was able to continue paying rent for the bedsitter she was living in, was able to put food on the table and was able to save a little for baby clothes and maternity expenses. Somehow she completed her thesis even under these circumstances, and graduated two weeks before she gave birth. She lost her teaching job when she gave birth, and for a couple of months she had a rough time fending for herself and her newborn twins.
Then she discovered online writing and things got a little better. She was able to rent a one bedroom house in a cheap neighborhood, and was able to find a girl called Daisy who accepted to help her with the baby for three thousand five hundred shillings a month. Daisy used to sleep on a mattress in the sitting room. Daisy was God-sent because to afford the life they were leading Becky had to put punishing hours on her computer. That girl stayed with Becky even after she was hired by TSC and posted to St. Monica, and Becky increased her pay because she could now afford it. Three years ago Becky took her to a polytechnic and she did a dressmaking course. Becky bought her a sewing machine, rented a stall for her and bought her several rolls of cloth to start her off. Becky and almost all the female teachers at St. Monica are her customers. Her business is doing well. Becky’s current house assistant is Daisy’s younger sister.
“I have always wondered how you afford your kids’ fees,” she tells Fredrick. “My kids are in ordinary schools and I am always feeling the pressure of school fees. I wonder how you manage to pay for the kids to go through international schools.”
“I take loans and even more loans. I have a three acre tea farm that I inherited from my uncle who died childless. Alicia doesn’t know anything about it, but I do get considerable income from there and I channel it through a farmer’s Sacco. Then of course there is the teacher’s Sacco. The two Saccos loan me money that I use to pay for the kid’s education. But that is also how I am forty four without any savings or assets, other than the inherited farm and my Sacco shares. The car, the house, and everything I “own” actually belong to Alicia. I am really praying that Reynold gets a full scholarship to a top university abroad, because then I will be left with only Hamilton to fend for.”
“What will happen if he doesn’t get a scholarship?”
“He will go to a private university here and I will continue paying through the nose. USIU is where their mother went, and I suspect that is where she and her family will want him to go.”
“I thought you and Alicia met at the university? Were you in USIU?”
“We met at an inter-university event. I was in the University of Nairobi and she was in USIU.”
As they are talking, Fredrick’s phone rings. It is Patrick informing him that he has already placed the suitcases on the porch of Fredrick’s staff house.
“Thanks Patrick. Now come to Harold’s Grove and pick me.”
As they get ready to leave, Fredrick wants to pay for their meal but Becky insists on paying.
As Patrick pulls out of the restaurant’s parking lot, with both Fredrick and Becky as pillion passengers, a black double-cabin pick up also pulls out. They do not pay it any attention because there is nothing out of the ordinary about a car pulling out of the parking lot. What they do not notice is that the vehicle does not have number plates.
When they get to the highway, which is fairly deserted, the pickup accelerates towards the Patrick’s motorcycle. It doesn’t indicate that it wants to overtake, and that worries Patrick a little. But Patrick is not worried too much, because Kenyan drivers are notorious for their disregard of traffic rules. The guy might just overtake without indicating. Still, Patrick eases the motorcycle out of the tarmac and onto the pedestrian pathway to allow the pickup to pass.
Except that it doesn’t.
The pick-up swerves out of the highway at top speed and smashes into the motorcycle, sending Patrick and his two passengers flying into different directions. The pickup gets back onto the highway without stopping and speeds away.
Image by Franz P. Sauerteig from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/photos/motorcycle-accident-road-traffic-1041070/
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