(Continued from Betraying the Sister Code)
Rick recovers quickly and runs away. He is in shock. First, he has seen his father naked. That is traumatizing enough. Second, he has seen his father sleeping with a woman that is not his mother. As if that is not enough, that woman is the mother of his best friend.
He goes down to the lobby of the hotel and sits on a sofa at a corner to watch television. He is looking at the television, but he is not really seeing. His mind is racing. Should he tell his mother? Should he tell Kyle? What will his mother do if he tells her? Will she believe him? Are his parents going to divorce?
But he is more disillusioned by another issue. For the seventeen years of his life, his father has been his idol. The paragon of virtue. His father taught him integrity. He taught him honesty. He taught him many lessons in life. How many of those were real? How long has he been cheating on his (Rick’s) mother?
Richard rises to follow his son then quickly remembers that he is naked. He grabs his pair of trousers and slides them over his body. Then he takes a shirt and wears it.
“You know chasing the boy is pointless, don’t you?” Christy asks. She has slid under the covers, leaving only her head uncovered. Richard does not respond. He continues dressing quickly, then leaves the room.
He goes up the stairs quickly into the boys’ room. Once at the door, he pauses. What exactly does he want to tell Rick? Perhaps that he is sorry and that it won’t happen again? That he shouldn’t tell his mother?
The thought that Dot will know he has cheated on her almost paralyzes him with fear. Their marriage has been solid for eighteen years. They have raised three fine children and have invested together. They were looking forward to spending their old age together. In the eighteen years he has been married, no woman has really tempted him. But that was largely because he has kept his boundaries with women very distinct. He has always kept other women at an arms-length.
Which is where he failed today when he allowed Christy to kiss him. He should have stopped her from coming closer to him. She would have been embarrassed of course, but that would be her problem. But he did not stop her. He allowed her to breach the invincible line and not only sit on his lap, but also kiss him. Then he kissed her back. He took it up from there and led her to his room. Now he is in trouble because he has cheated on his wife, and his son has witnessed it. And he is even in bigger trouble because he wants to sleep with her again, and at the back of his mind he knows he will. At least while they are still in Rome because it might be difficult to do so when they get back to Kenya, although his mind is already trying to work out possible scenarios where he can meet her for sex without his wife or her husband getting suspicious.
The thought of Dot jolts him back to the present. He knocks softly on the door of the boys’ room. There is no response. He knocks again, this time more loudly. There is movement inside, someone getting out of bed. Kyle appears at the door.
“Is Rick in there?”
“No, he said he is coming to see you,” Kyle replies, confused.
“He came then came back here. But I forgot to tell him something. But it is okay, I will tell him tomorrow. You go back to sleep, I will see you boys tomorrow.”
Richard wonders where Rick could be. He must still be within the hotel. Surely he did not venture out in this foreign city? He walks down to the hotel lobby and sees him sitting on a sofa, watching television. He walks up to him and sits down on a nearby sofa.
“Rick, son,” he says tentatively. Rick does not move a muscle.
Richard pauses. He has always had a good relationship with his son. They have been close. But he knows Rick is even closer to his mother.
“I have made a mistake, and I am sorry. I hope as a man, because you are a man now, you can understand how these things hap…”
“You are the one who taught me that being a man is not an excuse for bad behavior. That a real man is the one who knows how to control his emotions to protect his family,”
“Yes. son. I have failed to follow my own advise, and I deeply regret it. But know we need to protect our family and your mother. Your mother and Kyle don’t have to know anything. I promise it won’t happen again. Please son, do not hurt your mother by telling her…”
“I am not going to be your accomplice. If mum gets hurt, it’s on you, not me. I am not the one who slept with her best friend. I have always respected you dad. Now I don’t know what to think of you,” he says, then rises and quickly heads for the stairs.
I have always respected you dad. Now I don’t know what to think of you.
Those last words cut Richard like a hot knife. He stays on the sofa for a long time, tears rolling down his cheeks. All along he thought he is risking losing his wife. Never did he think he would lose his son. Until now.
He rises and walks back to his room. Christy is under the covers. He should send her back to her room. But first, he needs to know if Rick has told Dot. So he picks up his phone and calls his wife. She answers with her usual chirpy voice. She doesn’t know. He glances at the figure of a woman on his bed and guilt cuts up his chest and stomach for a moment.
After hanging up, he walks to the bed, determined to send Christy back to her room. He uncovers her to wake her up. She is still in her birthday suit, and she is not asleep. She looks at him with dreamy eyes and smiles. He instantly knows that she is going nowhere.
Christy spends all the nights in Richard’s room. A routine has been established. She takes dinner with Kyle, after which they go to her room and talk for about an hour. Rick takes dinner with the other kids, while Richard joins the teachers. Kyle has severally mentioned to his mother that Rick is acting strange, but she has brushed it aside with, “he will come around”.
When Kyle goes to sleep, Christy sneaks to Richard’s room, which is on a separate floor from the others.
Rick keeps to himself for the rest of the week. He talks very little, which is strange because he is a bubbly sanguine. Kyle tries to ask what the problem is but he hits a stone wall, and eventually leaves him alone. Rick especially avoids his father. If they meet on a corridor he turns and walks another way.
He plays with an intensity that no one, not even Kyle, has seen before. They have won every game since they came, and not because the Italian kids are not good. Oh, they are better than any competition back at home. But Rick has become a monster on the court. A machine. You could almost say he is playing angrily.
By the time they catch a flight back to Nairobi, Italian coaches and managers are drooling over him.
Dot notices the change in her son almost as soon as he steps out of the plane. She hugs him tightly.
“What’s up with you, my boy?”
“I am fine ma,” he says, trying to smile. But she becomes even more convinced that something is wrong. But she doesn’t press. He will tell her at his own time. He always does.
She hugs her husband tightly then gives him a deep kiss. She doesn’t notice her son looking on with disgust.
It comes out rather unexpectedly, a month later. Richard has already assumed he is off the hook, although Rick is still withdrawn and not his usual bubbly self. Rick is fighting with his parents. He has been offered a scholarship by an Italian University in Rome. He can study whatever course he wants, provided he plays tennis for them.
Rick wants to go as soon as he does his KCSE later in the year. His parents want him to go to an American University, perhaps Havard or Princeton. But he would have to wait for his KCSE results to be released then go through a lengthy application process, with admission not guaranteed.
“Just be patient. We will get you to a better university in the US. Don’t you want to stay with mommy a little more before you leave the country?” Dot asks tenderly.
Rick hesitates, his heart softening. But then Richard ruins the moment, trying to assert his parental authority.
“You are under 18, son. You need our guidance,”
“I don’t need your guidance,” Rick retorts rudely.
“Rick you can’t talk to your father like that. What is wrong with you?” Dot asks, shocked. What happened to her sweet son? What happened to him while in Rome?
Rick does not apologize. He and his father glare at each other.
“You are going nowhere until I say so,” Richard says authoritatively.
Rick smiles sarcastically.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to go to Rome dad? Kyle has gotten the same scholarship. You and Ma Kyle can take us then you can be having sex every night the way you did last month. Or you think I don’t know she used to come to your room even after I caught you the first time? I was always on the stairs, watching your door. Hoping she wouldn’t come. Hoping that even if she came, you would turn her away. But every day you opened the door and let her in. You cheated on mum, then lied to me that it was a one time mistake. Wait, have you told mum that you were sleeping with her best friend when we were in Rome?”
Dot gasps and holds on to a chair for support.