Evelyn cannot shake off the image of her husband’s dead body from her mind. The skin had turned grayish, and the bullet had made a mess of the left side of his head. She had viewed the body at City Mortuary earlier in the day. A single bullet in the head had killed him instantly. It was fired by Moses, Mum’s bodyguard. Mum. Does that woman even deserve that title? Who could have thought that such a docile and pleasant woman could be so vile and dangerous?
Moses had fired the bullet towards Jean, but it had grazed her shoulder and passed on towards Joseph, entering his skull as he was ducking under a table. He died on the spot. The police, Jean’s back up, arrived shortly after, before Moses and his thugs could do any further damage. Apparently Moses had been released from remand just hours prior. One thug was shot dead in the ensuing shoot out. Another was in critical condition in hospital. But Moses was arrested with only a minor bruise on his leg where a bullet had grazed him.
Jane, James, Jude and Jean had survived the shootout without getting caught in the crossfire. They made the decision not to tell Evelyn about her husband’s affair with the pastor. Jane was not sure that was the right call but what was the point? The man was dead. The woman should be left to mourn her bereavement without the burden of betrayal. Their young son would remember his father as a hero, not a philandering fool. After all, he had died trying to right his wrongs. And besides, he had been coerced into it.
Right now Jane and her companions are in Evelyn’s house, trying to comfort her. But what do you tell a woman whose life has suddenly been turned upside down? Her husband is dead. And it is unlikely that she will go back to work at Fire Restaurant. It is unlikely that the Bishop will want her back, assuming that Fire Ministries will survive the storm that is brewing.
Moses has turned out to be a wimp. He did not even spend his first night in custody before telling on Mum. She was promptly arrested. This morning the magistrate denied her bail. The prosecutor successfully argued that she was alleged to be a dangerous woman who had the ability and resources to interfere with witnesses.
The Bishop had quickly denounced his wife of 18 years. His handsome face had appeared on the TV screens, showing shock and disbelief.
“Can you live with a person for eighteen years and not know them at all?” he had posed, shaking his head.
Such a snake!
But that was before his own house of cards began to tumble. Jean and Jane have already filed sexual harassment claims against the him. They have also formally reported the abortions to the police. The Man of God fought the allegations vigorously. Witch hunt! he yelled. Why were they coming out now? He denied ever knowing carnally, or knowing about her pregnancy. The only problem is that Jane’s baby, unlike Jean’s, is alive in her womb, and a paternity test will easily nail him. The doctor has proved to be a calm warrior. He is not talking.
But the drama is far from over, and journalists are loving it. It has been a slow news season, with no elections or corruption scandals to report. Yesterday another girl filed a report with the police, claiming to have been raped by the Bishop the day before. It seems that while his wife was trying to get Jane’s baby aborted, the Bishop was busy trying to forcibly get another girl pregnant. Yes, she had showered but she had not washed her clothes. Not even her undergarments. She was taken to a medical examiner and a warrant of arrest against the Bishop was issued. But the police cannot not find him. He is on the run.
Then the floodgates opened. About seven girls came out this morning claiming to have been defiled by the clergy man. Rape and sexual harassment reports have been filed. The media is on a frenzy.
Jane sips her coffee and wonders whether Joseph would have come forward and filed a sexual harassment claim against Mum. What would have been his options? Would he have kept the dirty secret to himself to save his marriage, or would he have fought for justice at the risk of losing Evelyn?
Evelyn’s television is on, and a Citizen TV reporter is animatedly reporting the details of the Fire Ministry drama. The journalists are camped at Fire Centre, where an assortment of activists, including women rights activists, are holding a demonstration.
“What will I do now? I cannot afford this house. I am just a cook, although they called me “chef” at Fire Ministry. Why was she even paying us so much money? We could only afford this lifestyle because she was paying us well. But I have no academic credentials to speak of. Neither did Joseph. How could such a kind woman turn out to be so wicked? How will I take care of my son now?” Evelyn asks, tears rolling down her cheeks.
She has always been wicked Evelyn, you just didn’t know. She was kind to you because she was sleeping with your husband. Jane almost speaks out her thoughts, but holds her tongue. Instead, she wraps her arms around the other woman to comfort her, as the men watch helplessly. Tears are welling in Jean’s eyes.
Suddenly, a red Breaking News flash appears on the screen. The Board of Fire Ministries is holding a press conference. The church is shocked by the atrocities that the Bishop and his wife are alleged to have committed, says the Chairman of the Deacon’s Board, Brother Elijah Kimwe. Because of that, the Board is suspending the Bishop and his wife, and the Youth Pastor will be taking over the leadership of the church on an interim basis. The church is willing to negotiate with anyone who was unfairly treated or fired by the Bishop or his wife. It will cater for the funeral expenses for the late Joseph Ebaga. His wife will continue to be an employee of Fire Restaurant, but she is free to take as much time as she wishes to mourn her husband.
“At least you still have a job,” Jane offers.
“I am not going back,” Evelyn says emphatically.
“But how will you survive?”
“I would rather die than go back to work for the same people who killed my husband. Will I be taking the same lift that Joseph and I took every morning? Walk in the same corridors? Besides, we now know how corrupt the Bishop is. He and his wife will bribe their way out of jail, come back and claim that those were persecutions of the enemy, and their tongue-speaking, demon-chasing followers will be shouting Amen!. What will happen to me then?”
“It’s okay Evelyn. Nothing of that nature will happen. Bishop and his wife are going to jail for a long time. God is a God of justice. He will make sure of it,”
“God? The same God that Bishop and his wife have been preaching? Where was He when His servant was raping you and all these other girls? Where was He when they killed my husband?” Evelyn breaks down and starts crying bitterly.
Jane has no answer. She can feel tears stinging her own eyes. The Bishop and his wife have shaken their faith. Jean is sobbing quietly. The men are staring at their empty coffee mugs, fighting back tears.
(Matthew 24: 11-13: Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.)
Image source: https://pixabay.com/en/woman-train-zugabteil-farewell-3478437/