Even If I Don’t Find Peace – Episode 14

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By Edwin Lamptey

“So what did you do when you saw her standing at the door?”, Linda interrupted while sitting at the edge of her seat holding Maxwell’s right hand very tightly as if she was watching a horror movie. Maxwell looked at her as if he was upset for being interrupted and asked, “What do you think I did?”. “Tell me Max, tell me!”, Linda said with mixed feelings and a pinch of suspense due to Maxwell’s escapades. “So what I did was…”

Maxwell went back into the room and searched his wardrobe. He found some money and quickly handed it over to Alberta. Alberta looked at the money and shouted, “Is this the same amount you took from my room?”. Maxwell who was by now surprised and shocked altogether said, “The amount I have given you is more than what I took”. “I haven’t asked you to give me your money”, Alberta cut in. “All I want and all I came all this way for is to take the money you took from my room”, Alberta added. So to avoid creating a scene, Maxwell wore his clothes and went downstairs to ask for change so that he could give Alberta the exact amount. It took Maxwell a while but finally, he had several denominations at his luxury. He hurriedly rushed back to his room to give Alberta her money and send her on her way. When he entered the room, Alberta was not there. He quickly rushed to the balcony to see if she was there but Alberta was not on the balcony. He then saw Alberta running toward the taxi station with something that looked like a laptop. Maxwell quickly dashed back into the room to see if his laptop was where he left it before going to bed. To his horror rather than amazement, his laptop was gone. It was then that it dawned on him that Alberta had taken his laptop. Maxwell dashed downstairs with all the sped and energy left in him to stop Alberta but his efforts were a little too late because when he got to the landing of the ground floor, Alberta had already ordered the driver to speed off and she carried Maxwell’s laptop with her. Maxwell could not believe what was happening…

“Did you get the laptop back”?, Linda interrupted again, this time sitting very close to Maxwell on his bed looking intently into his eyes. She could not believe that one person could go through all of the things Maxwell recounted and still live to recount it. She could not tell whether her opinion about his choices in life could make her see him like she did the first time they met. “Linda, there is more so please stop interrupting”, Maxwell said politely.

“So…..”, Maxwell continued…..

Maxwell rushed back into his room, picked his phone and called Alberta, “Alberta, I beg you with the mercies of God, please come back with the laptop”, Maxwell pleaded. “I have all my research information on it and my dissertation is also on it”, Maxwell added. “We would see how you are going to finish school”, Alberta said. Maxwell’s heart missed several beats because he knew what Alberta was capable of. “I am going to sell your laptop, take my portion of the money and send the rest to back to you”, Alberta said. “Alberta please don’t do this”, Maxwell pleaded. “This is my future we are talking about here, in fact it is my life”, Maxwell begged. “Did you for one second also sit down to think that it was my life you were messing with?”, Alberta asked. “If you could not have mercy then but heartlessly threw me under the bus, why and how do you expect me to have mercy on you?”, Alberta fired back. “An eye for an eye, Maxwell”, Alberta added. Maxwell was confused. He knew full well that if not for anything at all, Alberta had always been a woman of her word and she more often than not carried out all her plans….

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“Maxwell I can’t take this anymore, I feel like I am going to explode”, Linda cut in again the third time. “I just can’t take it anymore so please take me out of my misery”, Linda pleaded. “Okay”, Maxwell started. “I called Nancy and told her about it, she in turn called my sister and reported the issue to my mother”, Maxwell recounted. “Hold on”, Linda cut in. “How did Nancy get your sister’s number?”, Linda asked. Maxwell changed his position and sat in the swivel chair that was in his room and sat down properly, crossed his legs and placed his hands on his laps as of he was granting Linda an interview and responded, “Well, she wanted to acquaint herself with my sister and I could not refuse”. “Okay, you can continue”, Linda ordered. Eventually, my mum got involved and apparently, Alberta had hoarded the laptop in her room so my mum went pleading and Alberta promised to give out the laptop on one condition”, Maxwell said. “And what was her condition?”, Linda asked. “Her condition was that I come over for the laptop personally”, Maxwell said. “So what did you do”?, Linda asked. I was peeved, Nancy was equally peeved for many reasons but I had little choice because all my efforts of trying to finish my dissertation would be in vain should any damage come to the laptop so I obeyed her terms”, Maxwell said. “So what happened when you met her?”, Linda eagerly asked. “Well, nothing really happened because I wanted the act to be quickly dealt with”, Maxwell said. “So when we met, I paid little attention to what she said because she was crying amidst talking but I felt nothing but bitter scorn and cold hatred for her but eventually, I got the laptop back in one piece and went back to school”, Maxwell added. “Nancy refused to talk to me for weeks and I was very sad because I loved her so much and I was prepared to do anything to get her back”, Maxwell said. “I see”, Linda responded in a tone that was all well too familiar to Maxwell. “So you managed to get the love of your life back?”, Linda enquired. “Yes I was and those periods were unarguably the best days of my life”, Maxwell added, with a smile on his face. “But I guess things were not meant to be”, Maxwell continued…

After all the fuss had died down, Maxwell was almost through with his dissertation and was just one more hurdle away from calling himself a graduate. During one of his crunch meetings with his dissertation’s supervisor, who was giving him a run for his money, Maxwell received a call from a strange number and politely excused himself to answer the call. “Maxwell, this is Alberta”, the voice on the other side of the line said when Maxwell answered the phone. “I am pregnant and you are responsible for it”, Alberta added….

“Come on, Maxwell not again but how could you?”, Linda cut in….

Maxwell continued…..

“What is all this, Albie?”, Maxwell asked. “Why do you do this to me all the time?”, Maxwell asked. “That is a silly question to ask”, Alberta fired back. “You did this to yourself”, Alberta added. “Think about what I have told you and call me back to tell me what you intend to do”, Alberta said. “One more thing, I am not going to risk my life for you or anyone so please, termination should be the last thing on your mind”, Alberta added and hang up the phone. Maxwell was confused but he managed to compose himself and marched back into his supervisor’s office. Maxwell concluded the meeting with his supervisor and left for his hostel. Most of his mates including his roommates had all gone ahead home because they had finished their dissertations before Maxwell owing to ‘Alberta’s hold-up’. Maxwell called Alberta and asked her to stay put because he was going to soon come home so they could solve their problems. Maxwell was highly confident that he was possibly not the father of Alberta’s supposed pregnancy. He actually made it the least of his worries. Soon, Maxwell submitted a finished dissertation to his supervisor after staying on for one full month after all his colleagues had finished and submitted theirs. The school was almost empty with very little activity when Maxwell finally made his way to the bus terminal to board a bus that was going to take him back home. Even though he had dreamed about this day several times; the day he was going to be able to say, “I came, I saw and I conquered”, the feeling he had in those dreams were far sweeter and better than how he felt in reality. Flashbacks of his escapades filled his mind as he journeyed on out of his campus. He was overwhelmed by the feeling of indifference; a feeling which should not be juxtaposed to his accomplishments in the school  but it so happened that his love choices left him little to desire about. When he boarded the bus, the wind that gushed into the bus from where he sat close to the window forced him to close his eyes and for the first time in a long while, Maxwell fell asleep like a little baby. When he finally woke up, he was just two stops away from his stop point. He quickly looked around and saw that the bus which was full of people who chatted and made noise was almost empty with the rest of the passengers sparsely separated. He accounted for all his luggage when he alighted and signalled for the driver to move on when he went over his check list marking his luggage against the little piece of paper he had in his hand. “I made it”, Maxwell said to himself as he stood by the ear of the road trying to get a taxi to carry himself and his luggage home. When he finally arrived at his gate, his mother and sister were waiting for him at the entrance of the house to welcome their first graduate back home. There was a short merry-making ceremony held for Maxwell and after he had eaten to his fill, he asked to be excused and like anyone could guess, dashed to Alberta’s house to ascertain the truth about the matter concerning her pregnancy.

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When Maxwell got there, Alberta had also managed to get a bottle of wine to celebrate Maxwell’s accomplishments. Maxwell poured himself a glass and held it in his hand. Earlier, he informed Nancy that he was on his way home and that he was going to call her. Nancy had waited several hours and Maxwell’s call was not coming so she decided to call Maxwell. Maxwell’s phone was on a table and it happened that Alberta was the first to see the name that appeared on Maxwell’s phone. Immediately, both Maxwell and Alberta made a dash for the phone. Amidst the struggles, the call dropped. In a matter of minutes, there was another call and this time, it was from Maxwell’s mother. Alberta still did not want to let go of the phone, “Albie stop this so I can answer the phone”, Maxwell said, trying to catch his breath. “I wont allow you answer a call from that girl in my house”, Alberta said. Unknown to Maxwell and Alberta, one of them had unknowingly answered the call from Maxwell’s mother amidst the altercation and she heard every word they were saying. “Maxwell, why can’t you just leave this girl and come and be with me?”, Alberta enquired. “Is she better than me in anyway?”, Alberta asked. “If you care to know, she is better than you in a lot of ways”, Maxwell fired back. “How can you sleep with both of us and claim you are better than any of us?”, Alberta asked. “Max, you are the worst kind of human being if you treat me this way”, Alberta added. “I won’t stand here and be party to all your nagging and jealousy”, Maxwell said and made for the door. Alberta pushed him aside and got to the door first and locked it. Maxwell snatched his phone from Alberta and placed it in his pocket, it was only then that the call from his mother dropped. “Move out of the way”, Maxwell warned and started walking toward the door. Alberta braced herself against the door to deny Maxwell passage. Maxwell held Alberta by her blouse and tried to yank her from her position. Alberta stood her ground and grounded her feet and weight in such a way as to make it difficult for Maxwell to push her away. Maxwell yanked her again and still, Alberta remained immovable. Alberta reached for Maxwell’s phone from his pocket but Maxwell quickly held her in a choking position with his right hand and Alberta was now gasping for air. The two of them struggled and when Alberta realized that Maxwell’s chokehold was getting her to the point of passing out, she bit Maxwell on the arm so hard that Maxwell let out a shrieking cry and instantly let go of Alberta. When Alberta stood upright and took in tons of fresh air to fill her weakened breathing, Maxwell felt the spot where Alberta bit with his other hand and it was swollen red and if he had not let go sooner rather than later, she would have managed to bite off that part of his arm. Out of reflex, Maxwell rushed towards Alberta and punched her in the face with a clinched fist. Alberta fell to the floor instantly and covered that portion of her eye with her hand. Maxwell quickly made for the door, unlocked it and quickly rushed out. After walking a little way away from Alberta’s door, Alberta was not coming out after Maxwell and he got alarmed. He rushed back to the door, left it wide ajar and stepped back onto the room. Alberta was still on the floor and all she was saying was, “My eye!, My eye!, My eye!”. Maxwell approached her and put his hand on her shoulder, “Alberta, are you okay?”, Maxwell asked in a trembling voice. When Alberta lifted her head to look at Maxwell, blood was oozing down the hand with which she had used to cup her eye. The blood was not stopping and Maxwell instantly knew he had done something terrible. Maxwell quickly sat on the floor and put Alberta’s head on his chest. “Oh my God, what have I done?”, Maxwell said. He picked Alberta up and placed her in a chair and went in search of first aid. He got a sachet of water and a dirty blouse from Alberta’s laundry. He quickly rushed back and asked Alberta to let him have a look at what he had done. As he slowly lifted Alberta’s hand, she said, “Look at what you have done to me just because of the love I have for you”. “I am going to be deformed because of you, Maxwell”, Alberta added while Maxwell slowly took her hand into his and pressed it tightly.

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…To be continued

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