(Continued from Henpecked III)
“Cess! There is someone coming,” Mercy whispers in panic.
Cess quickly withdraws the syringe and returns it to her pocket. It is still full of the unused anesthesia. Mercy covers her mother-in-law’s hands with a blanket so that whoever is coming doesn’t see the tiny stream of blood trickling on her arm, where the syringe has been withdrawn. By the time a large man pulls aside the curtain, Mercy is sitting on the edge of the bed, stroking Tabitha’s cheeks, while Cess is standing on the other side of the bed, looking lovingly at her ‘aunt’.
“Who are you?” the man growls. The name tag pinned to his white lab coat identifies him as Dr. J. Oduor.
“We are Ms. Tabitha’s nieces.”
“These are not visiting hours.”
“We are sorry sir. But as we explained to the nurse, we are on a connecting flight from the US to Australia. We decided to pop by and see her before our next flight which is scheduled for six in the morning.”
The doctor scowls at the nurse, who is standing a step behind him looking very frightened.
“And who gave you permission to draw the curtains around the bed?”
“We thought we should have some privacy as we talk to her.”
“She is asleep.”
“We wanted to wake her up. She will be really happy when she sees us.”
Cess is a smooth liar, but it is obvious that the doctor is not convinced.
“The only thing that makes your aunt happy right now is relief from pain. We have put her to sleep so that she can escape the pain for a little bit and at least get some rest. If you are really interested in her happiness, go back to the US or Australia or wherever and come back with money for her surgery. But for now get out of my ward,” the doctor growls and then turns to the nurse. “And you will have a lot of explaining to do in the morning.”
Mercy and Cess hurry out of the ward, and it takes a lot of self-control on their part not to run. They force smiles as they thank the two guards on their way out, trying to look as though everything is in order. It is only when they are back on the road, exiting the town and cruising towards Kenyatta Road that they relax a bit.
“Mission failed,” Mercy says morosely.
“Maybe, but you can look at the brighter side of things.”
“What brighter side?”
“First, we were not caught. Can you imagine what would have happened if that doctor had come silently and found us injecting the old hag with the aesthesia? We would be at Gatundu Police Station as we speak.”
“I don’t even want to imagine. Our husbands would divorce us.”
“I doubt it. These men are fools. They would do everything to get us out of the cells. But talking of husbands, at least now we know that yours was not with his mother. He is definitely impregnating another woman as we speak.”
“I really don’t know what to do, Cess.”
“Make his life hell. Tomorrow when he comes home make sure he knows that you are aware he was with his mistress tonight. Threaten to divorce him. Blackmail and manipulate him until he toes the line. My husband had a mistress a few years back. The way I dealt with him, these days even if a naked girl jumps at him he will run like Joseph in the Bible.”
“Thank you, girlfriend. That is precisely what I will do.”
Michael wakes up at 7 am. It is the latest he has woken up in a long time. He normally wakes up at 5 am every single day including week days. The latest he has woken up in the last ten years is 6 am. But instead of being panicky, he is feeling rather refreshed and relaxed. He slept in his mother’s guest bedroom. Tabitha’s wooden house is surprisingly comfy, in spite of its simplicity. It is a beautiful little house. The bed he slept in was narrow, probably 4×6, but it was more comfortable than the 6×6 he shares with his manipulative wife. Maybe it is all psychological, but the thing is, today he has woken up relaxed and in a good mood. There is no Mercy to ruin his day with sarcastic remarks or cold treatment. Last night she tried to call him so many times that he switched off his phone.
Michael gets out of bed and goes to his mother’s tiny bathroom. Last night Veronica gave him a clean towel that she says she spares for her guests, and a new toothbrush. Peter offered him one of his shirts, a tie and a clean pair of socks, and he accepted. They are about the same size, so the clothes will fit. He will have to recycle the suit though, but that is not a big deal. He will do without a vest; as for the boxer, he will apply an old trick he used as a bachelor. He will wash it, squeeze it with a towel and dry it with an iron box. Then it will be good enough to wear.
Breakfast is tea and bread, although he suspects that the bread was bought because of him. Maybe his sister thinks he can’t eat left over food in the morning as they used to do as kids. He saw one of Veronica’s children coming from the shop with two loaves of bread while he was coming out of the shower. The boy is a spitting image of his father, so there was no mistaking who he was. Michael feels guilty that he has never interacted with his sister’s children all these years. He used to play with the older ones when they were young, but after he settled in his own marriage Mercy crowded them out, as she did everybody else in his life. Veronica has four children: David, the first born, is twenty four years old; Tabitha, who is named after her maternal grandmother, is twenty two; Grace is twenty and Emmanuel, the young man who went to buy bread, is eighteen. Veronica is only two years older than her brother, but she got married young. Actually, by the time she did secretarial studies at a college in Thika, she was already married to Peter. It is Peter who paid her college fees.
“Your children are all grown now. Look at Emmanuel!” Michael says as they take breakfast. Peter smiles.
“Yes, they are all grown now. David is a manager at a restaurant in Thika. He even has a wife and a child.”
“You are kidding me! So he is done with school?”
“Well yes, he graduated last year with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. Grace and Tabitha are the ones at the University. Tabitha is doing her last semester and should be graduating at the end of this year and Emmanuel should be joining around the same time. Vero and I have about four years of paying school fees; maybe five or six if Emmanuel pursues engineering or medicine, and then we are done.”
After breakfast Michael thanks them and then leaves. He asks his secretary to reschedule all his morning appointments because he has more urgent things to attend to. The first thing he does is to write the letter asking his employer to channel his salary to the Sacco. He takes it to the Principal Secretary who approves it, and then has it taken to treasury. Within an hour, he has managed to successfully change his bank account details. Then he goes to the Sacco and changes the PIN of his Sacco ATM card. Mercy will no longer have access to his salary.
“Where did you spend the night?” Mercy asks belligerently when Michael gets home in the evening.
“In my mother’s house.”
“Rubbish! Isn’t your mother admitted in hospital?”
“Yes she is. But the last time I checked, people don’t get admitted with their houses.”
“Don’t talk to me like that!”
“Then stop asking stupid questions.”
Mercy is surprised because it is rare for Michael to talk back. His sudden self-confidence reinforces her belief that he has another woman in his life. Michael goes to the kitchen to fix himself a cup of coffee, and she follows. The children are away in school and the house managers have retired to their bedrooms.
“Listen to me Michael. I swear if you are cheating on me I will teach you a lesson you will never forget.”
“I am getting tired of your little threats, Mercy. I will never cheat on you. But if you continue nagging me I will kick you out of my house and then divorce you.”
“You wouldn’t dare,” Mercy suddenly shouts, horrified. “After all I have done for you…”
“What exactly have you done for me Mercy? Tell me, I am listening.”
“If it weren’t for me you wouldn’t be the man you are today.”
“That is true. If I were still a bachelor, or if had a better woman by my side, I would be a far better man. I would have helped my mother more; I would still be having my childhood friends whom you pushed out of my life. I would also be a far richer man because I would have been investing instead of having my money spent on extravagancies.”
“Are you accusing me of being extravagant?”
“Yes. I am poorer, both socially and financially, because of you.”
“I brought up your children! I did the housework!”
“Are saying that by breastfeeding your children you were doing me a favor? You are their mother. And what housework are you talking about? Ever since the children were born we have always had two house helps, who I pay, and who you treat like slaves. They do all the work in this house. And just so you know, I changed my bank accounts today. My salary will not be channeled through the joint account any longer. From now on you will be using your YouTube money to do your personal things.”
“I will not stomach this kind of insult!”
“Do your worst,” Michael says calmly. He has finished stirring sugar in his coffee so he turns around to return to the sitting room. He does not see it coming. Mercy takes a knife from the rack and stabs him in the belly.
(This is the last free subchapter of the story. I you want to find out what happened to Michael, please follow the instructions below to purchase your copy of the novella)
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