(Continued from The Sorcerer’s Daughter III)
Gertrude paces the room nervously. Is this the end? Did she pay that clown all that money just so he can give her hope and then take it away again? And is what he said about Boniface true? And why hasn’t anyone from the hotel management or security office arrived to help her with the children yet? So many things are running through her mind but she cannot focus on any one of them. When the children start puking blood, she makes up her mind: she will go get help herself. She will take the children-one in each hand-and carry them to their reception. Maybe then they will see the seriousness of the matter. But when she opens the door she is met by three paramedics.
“Good evening madam,” one of them says politely. “We have been informed that you might be in need of medical help.”
“Thank God you are finally here. It’s not me who is unwell, it is my children. Please come on in,” she tells them as she steps aside to let them into the room. The children are now lying on the floor, in their own vomit, writhing in pain. The paramedics immediately swing into action. Two of them put on gloves and pick up the babies while the third shoos Gertrude out of the room.
“We have to rush them to the hospital, please come with us.”
By the time Gertrude manages to lock the door, two paramedics are already racing away with the babies. The third paramedic starts running after them once Gertrude locks the door, and Gertrude doesn’t have to be told to follow. She actually outruns him in pursuit of the other two. The ambulance is waiting, its lights already flashing. Gertrude finds the two paramedics who went ahead already strapping the kids onto the bed and getting the IV running. The third paramedic arrives seconds later and closes the back door of the ambulance and then motions the Gertrude to the front seat. He gets the vehicle moving, and once he gets out of the hotel compound and onto the highway, he switches on the siren.
They are on the highway, weaving through the evening traffic, when Gabriella calls again. This time Gertrude picks. Gertrude enjoys a warm relationship with her mother-in-law, in spite of their contrasting personalities. Gabriella is a proper sanguine: sunny and very talkative. Like most people with a sanguine personality, she does have quick flashes of anger, but they are always short-lived. Gabriella is completely unable to hold grudges. None of her anger episodes have ever been directed at her daughter-in-law, but Gertrude has seen her a few times lashing out at errant employees. Boniface told her that it was the same when they were growing up: they feared their mother’s tongue lashings more than they feared they feared their father’s actual lashes of the cane. But the beauty about those tongue lashings, Boniface explained, was that explosive as they were, they did not last long. If you behaved yourself after the storm had subsided, Gabriella would completely forget the issue and start reminding you again how adorable you are. That is why all her children adore her. The one thing that struck Gertrude is that Gabriella is able to vent her anger without using demeaning or offensive language.
Gertrude’s personality is quite the opposite. She is quiet and reserved. She doesn’t get angry easily, but when she does, it takes a very long time before she can move on. The one thing she has been working on, successfully to some degree, is reducing her capacity to hold grudges. Gertrude keeps a record of sins filed away in a massive ledger at some corner of her brain. Unlike Gabriella, Gertrude hates confrontations, and she avoids them as much as she can. When someone wrongs her, she often doesn’t react. She usually lets it slide, although that wrong is usually tucked away somewhere in her brain. If that person wrongs her again, the second wrong is subconsciously added to the first and so forth. By the time she reacts, she is not usually reacting to a single issue, but to a festering constellation of issues. And that is usually difficult to get over.
In spite of these contrasting personalities, Gabriella and Gertrude have forged a warm relationship which can loosely be called a friendship. That is largely because for her talkative nature, Gabriella is actually sensitive and knows when her daughter-in-law needs space. It also helps that she is not the type of mothers who fawn over their sons and that has helped to enhance respect both ways. On her part, Gertrude has been cordial and even at times vulnerable to her mother-in-law, especially after she discovered that the older woman is someone she can trust.
“Hello Mother,” she says now. “Sorry, Boniface is not near the phone right now.”
The reason she did not pick the call earlier was because under the current circumstances she is not ready for Gabriella’s chirpy tone. But her mother-in-law’s tone is far from chirpy. She is sounding concerned.
“Hello my daughter, are you and the family okay?”
“Why do you ask mother?”
“Because I have this feeling in my heart that I don’t like, and I have decided to call all my children to find out if there is anything you would like me to pray for.”
Gertrude considers this for a microsecond. If she asks her mother-in law to pray for the boys, it will further annoy the Sorcerer. She doesn’t want to risk the wrath of the Sorcerer, because even if Tom and Luke die, she might still appeal to him to help her conceive again.
Boniface comes to his senses just as Zahra is lowering his short. She has already removed the string, which is what Boniface thinks it is, that constitutes the lower part of her bikini and has expertly placed it around her hand. All that time Boniface was hungrily kissing and groping her. When she starts removing his clothes, however, he regains his senses and starts pushing her away.
“We cannot do this,” he says breathlessly, after he has unlocked his lips from hers.
“Why not,” Zahra asks, still keeping the pressure on by stroking his body particularly his groin area.
“Because I am a married man. And even if I weren’t, I wouldn’t go having casual sex with a woman I barely know.”
“My name is Rita, and we obviously have a connection. You need to loosen up and let’s have some fun.”
“It is not going to happen, Rita. I am sorry, but I intend to remain faithful to my wife and my God.”
“Well, then I think you are stupid. Your wife has not been faithful to you. She is leaving you starved and fulfilling her desires and fantasies with another man.”
“You don’t know that. You do not even know her.”
“Of course I know Gertrude. How do you think I know her name? She was messing up with my husband and I decided I would take revenge on both of them by making love to you. They don’t have to know because I know you care about Gertrude, but I will be happy knowing that after she got my man, I also got hers. Just relax and let’s have some fun baby.”
Zahra is still holding him closely, and she is delighted to note that he is still aroused. She only needs to give him a little push and he will be over the ledge again.
“My husband’s name is Gross Adiema, and he is Gertrude’s partner in the firm. You and I actually met a month ago at a party that Gertrude and my husband organised, but I left in a hurry because I found Gross and Gertrude shamelessly kissing in the ladies. I think I saw you talking to an accountant called Joseph as I was leaving.”
Zahra prepared for this encounter thoroughly. She was prepared for some resistance and this was her first back up plan. She knows that Boniface has met Gross’s wife only once, and doesn’t know her well enough to realize that she, Zahra, is not the same woman. She knows that if she is convincing enough with her narrative, he will believe her. Already, the uncertainty on his face means she is getting on to him. She knows that Gross and Gertrude are close, and she in fact knows that he is the man Gertrude tried to get a baby with. So she knows that if she presses the right buttons, Boniface will have doubts about his marriage. Maybe those doubts will be cleared when he talks to his wife later. But they will most likely not be, because Gertrude is actually cheating on him. But all that does not concern Zahra. Her primary concern is to get enough time with him for her father to complete the mission, which should be about now. If she can get him to complete the act of sex, that will be more than enough time for the Sorcerer to kill the boys.
“So you are still with your husband even after he allegedly cheated on you with my wife?” Boniface asks, still gauging her.
“Yes. If I divorce him I am the one who will lose, especially on the business end. But let’s not talk about that right now. Let us enjoy these warm waters.”
She pulls in closer once again and kisses him on the lips, noting with delight that he does not resist. By the time he goes to confront his wife, both of his sons will be dead.
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