Even If I Don’t Find Peace – Episode 23

By Edwin Lamptey

“What is going on with you and Alberta?”, Raphael interrogated.

“Raphael, I think I have messed up again”, Maxwell started without any hesitation.

“What have you done?”, Raphael asked dreading what Maxwell was going to say next.

“Alberta is pregnant, Raphael”, Maxwell announced.

�Again?�, Raphael questioned

“Alberta is what?”, Raphael asked in a disappointing tone. “Maxwell, how could you get her pregnant again?”, Raphael asked. “What were you thinking?”, Raphael asked. “Does Linda know about this?”, Raphael asked.

“No”, Maxwell answered.

“How can I tell her this?”, Maxwell queried. “I am so confused right now”,  Maxwell started. “Alberta has threatened to inform my parents about her current state if I don’t tell them myself”, Maxwell revealed. “”This is messed up”, Raphael replied. “So what do you intend doing?”, Raphael asked. “I just don’t know what I am going to do now”, Maxwell confessed. “As it stands now, my relationship with Linda is nearing its end should she hear this news”, Maxwell started. “What is even worse is that she asked me if I had slept with Alberta after the birth of our son and I said no”, Maxwell  added. “How can I now go back and tell her that I lied?”, Maxwell queried. “She would stop trusting me and that would be brutal to our relationship”, Maxwell stated. “Alberta just wants to mess me up”, Maxwell complained.

“I don’t see it that way if you asked me”, Raphael stated.

“You could have avoided all of this with a little more self-control”, Raphael started. “Honestly, I think you brought this upon yourself with your own actions and inactions”, Raphael reprimanded. “You know Alberta is nothing but trouble yet you make her wreck your life not only once but as it stands now, she is on her way to wreck your life the second time with the same issue”, Raphael said. “What was going on in your head?”, Raphael asked, sounding more disappointed. “I am sorry”, Maxwell whispered. “Sorry?”, Raphael asked. “You would be more than sorry when all Alberta’s plans finally come into fruition”, Raphael started. “First of all, your parents would be disappointed, Linda would be disappointed and that would be the least of the things she might do, Alberta would frustrate you and you would be frustrated throughout this pregnancy period”, Raphael explained. “Being sorry would be the least of your woes”, Raphael added. “What do you advice I do?”, a now vulnerable-looking Maxwell asked. “I would have to be in this kind of situation to offer you any form of concrete advice”, Raphael joked. “Come on Raphael, stop messing around because this is a serious matter”, Maxwell said. “I need you to be a friend right now and advice me”, Maxwell begged.

“Okay, this is what I think you should do”, Raphael started. “First off, I think it would be an affront for Alberta to get through to your parents with the news of her pregnancy before you do”, Raphael started. “Try and reach them and inform them about it as soon as possible”, Raphael said  as Maxwell nodded simultaneously. “That way, they would know that you are ready to take responsibility for your actions”, Raphael added. “Then, you need to talk to Linda about this”, Raphael continued.

“I don’t think I can do that”, Maxwell responded promptly.

“Sadly Max, I don’t think you have a choice”, Raphael rebutted. “Right now, our best bet would be to tell Linda and hope that she comes to understand”, Raphael continued. “Let me give you this brotherly advice”, Raphael stated. “If you are able to talk to Linda and she decides to walk out on you, please don’t push it by trying to make her understand”, Raphael said. “Just give her time and space to take it all in; if she loves you, she would help you to find a way around this”, Raphael added. “You know you have our support already so that is already in the bag”, Raphael said referring to himself and the other boys and squeezed Maxwell’s shoulders with his arms as if to give him a massage. “Let us stay positive and hope that everything is going to fall in their rightful place”, Raphael said with a firm sense of assurance and solidarity.

“Okay sir, let’s get back to work” Raphael added and both of them joined  the other guys  in their plush office to continue with the day’s activities.

Apparently, after Maxwell’s family’s long-awaited reunion, Maxwell’s parents had moved back into their family house and had been there a couple of weeks already. When Maxwell got home that night, he called his parents, sat them down and decided to open up to them; something he never saw himself doing.

“Mum and Dad, I need to tell you guys something very important”, Maxwell started. Maxwell’s mother was particularly intrigued by the fact that her son was learning to confide in them. “I have messed up again”, Maxwell said. As usual, Maxwell’s mother was the first to react. She sat at the edge of her seat and placed her hands over her lips. “Are they saying you have done something wrong at work?”, Maxwell’s alarmed mother asked. “You know I would not do anything like that”, Maxwell responded and gave his father a look. Maxwell’s father had slouched in his seat and just waited for Maxwell to tell them what the issue was about. He cared less about the prelude or Maxwell’s build up. “Has it got anything to do with that girl you impregnated?”, Maxwell’s father asked.

“Yes please”, Maxwell responded.

“What about her?”, Maxwell’s mother asked when she realized what the topic of discussion they were going to have was going to be about. “Is she giving you pressure to come and marry her or something?”, Maxwell’s mother asked.

“No”, Maxwell added.

“Better, because that would be over my dead body”, Maxwell’s mother fired out. “Young man, just get on with it and stop stalling!” Maxwell’s father yelled. “I think I have impregnated her again”, Maxwell finally managed to let out after his father’s warning. Maxwell’s parents froze when Maxwell’s last words reached their ears. Maxwell’s mother looked at Maxwell like a strange creature with awe. Maxwell’s words did not appear real to her because they were too strange to be true. Maxwell’s father sat upright in the chair and as the man of the house, he had to do the interrogation. He appeared calm and collected all the time and ever since Maxwell knew him as his father. He knew his father to be someone who talked less and often left their upbringing to their mother; his wife.

“You think you have impregnated her again?”, Maxwell’s father asked as Maxwell’s mother sat in the exact position she was in when Maxwell broke the news; still speechless and looking on in disappointment. In times like this, Maxwell searched the face of his mother for her to give him some solace but this night was not his night. His mother had the most apt expression of pain, anger and disappointment written all over her face and Maxwell knew that he had done the unthinkable again.

“Answer my question young man!”, Maxwell’s father exclaimed with a firmer tone of voice than he spoke with earlier. “Is she pregnant and if she is, are you responsible for that pregnancy?”, Maxwell’s father queried. Maxwell looked  up at his dad and nodded his head sheepishly. “Speak!”, Maxwell’s father yelled. “She told me she was pregnant and that I was responsible”, Maxwell fumbled in his response. “I just can’t believe that you would do the very thing I least expected you to do again”, Maxwell’s father started. “I knew you to have grown wiser after her first pregnancy so what business do you have getting her pregnant again?”, Maxwell’s father quizzed. “You should have known better”, Maxwell’s father added. “You see the look on your mother’s face?”, Maxwell’s father asked, prompting Maxwell to look in his mother’s direction. “There is no telling how disappointed and embarrassed she is right now”, Maxwell’s father said.

“Maxwell how could you?”, were Maxwell’s mother’s first words after she was starting to recover from her self-imposed state of shock and disappointment. Maxwell’s only consolation lay in the fact that this time round, she did not throw a fit and she was not crying too when he broke the news to them.

“Maxwell, the last time I spoke to you on this matter, you made it quite clear that you did not intend marrying this young lady in question”, Maxwell’s father started. “So between the period we spoke and now, what happened?”, Maxwell’s father asked. “Did she seduce you to sleep with her or you got drunk and as a matter of fact got carried away?”, Maxwell’s father queried. Maxwell’s mother just sat down in her seat, now also slouching and had cupped her lips with her hand. “You have made it clear to us that you want to settle with this particular young lady so your mother and I would make plans to go and see her parents so that we see the way forward”, Maxwell’s father announced. “I believe they would definitely not buy our idea of not marrying their daughter when she is having not only one but two of your children”, Maxwell’s father continued. “I am very disappointed in you and I don’t think even you little sister would act so naively”, Maxwell’s mother said. “I would not speak lowly of her but I can vouch with my life that she would act more wisely in this matter and this is not to say that she doesn’t know any better”, Maxwell’s mother added. “I think your father is right, we would go and visit Alberta’s parents and fix a date to clear this whole thing up”, Maxwell’s mother added.

“Mum and dad, there is something else I’d like to say”, Maxwell said as he trembled in his seat looking for pity.

“What more do you have to say?”, Maxwell’s mother barked.

“I am involved with someone else and honestly, I don’t want to marry Alberta”, Maxwell revealed. “You should have thought about the repercussions of your actions when you went about flaunting your manhood”, Maxwell’s father said. “This is not how we brought you up”, Maxwell’s father said. “I wonder where you picked up all this strange behaviour”, Maxwell’s father added. “As it stands now, you’d have to call off that relationship because it cannot stand the test of time with all this excess baggage of yours”, Maxwell’s father said. “Dad, I love this other girl so much and she knows that I already have a child with Alberta”, Maxwell said in his defense. “But does she know Alberta is carrying your second child”, Maxwell’s father asked.

There was a long silence.

“I thought as much”, Maxwell’s father said. “You know full well that this revelation would surely end whatever thing you have going on with her so why not spare that innocent lady this whole mess and misery by calling your relationship with her off?”, Maxwell’s father debated. “I have said what I think needs to be said and that is final”, Maxwell’s father added. “But come to think of it, why did you decide to tell us about Alberta’s pregnancy this time round?”, Maxwell’s father enquired. Maxwell sat in the chair with his palms sweating profusely and tried to give his father an answer to his question. “She threatened to come by the house tomorrow to tell you about it if I didn’t tell you myself so I thought it wise to inform you guys as a way of showing you some respect before you heard it from anyone else”, Maxwell answered. “You think a marriage with someone like this can last?” “Someone who can threaten and coerce you to do stuff like this”, Maxwell’s father asked and shook his head in disbelief. “You have brought this upon yourself and it is my prayer that we don’t also regret the actions we are about to take”, Maxwell’s father said….

Nancy had been looking for Linda all over the place. She speculated that she might not be living far off from Maxwell’s house. She knew the news of Alberta’s pregnancy was going to shatter Linda’s love for Maxwell and give her the chance to meander her way through to Maxwell’s loving arms one more time even though she knew he was saddled with so many problems. Nancy had called Maxwell earlier to inform him that she wanted them to shift their date to an earlier time but Maxwell did not answer his phone. Nancy had combed the entire neighborhood the whole of the afternoon and when she realized she was not going to have any luck at finding Linda, she decided to use the opportunity to pay Maxwell another visit. She asked the taxi driver to take her to Maxwell’s house after she had given him directions to the house

Before the driver could park in front of Maxwell’s house, Nancy saw Linda making her way to Maxwell’s house. Nancy quickly prompted the driver to stop and she jumped out of the taxi.

“Hello”, Nancy saluted

Linda turned at the greeting to look at who was talking.

“Oh hi”, Linda responded when she recognized Nancy.

“You are Nancy right?”, Linda queried.

“Yes I am”, Nancy responded.

“We met in a somewhat embarrassing moment and I can’t seem to forget about it”, Linda said in a coy manner. “Oh never mind, I have experienced those moments myself one too many times”, Nancy assured Linda. “So there is nothing to be embarrassed about”, Nancy continued trying to warm her way up Linda’s social circle.

“What brings you here anyways?”, Linda asked. “I was actually on my way to see you to discuss something with you”, Nancy started.

“Really?”, Linda asked.

“Yes”, Nancy replied

“No offence though, but I wonder what the two of us can talk about since we barely know each other”, Linda started. “That is what you’d think but after you hear what I am about to say, you would wish you knew me earlier”, Nancy said in her defence. “What is it about?”, Linda asked curiously. “I think Maxwell and Alberta want to take you for a fool”, Nancy said bluntly. “I beg your pardon”, Linda who appeared taken aback by Nancy’s revelation said. “You heard me right!”, Nancy reiterated. “I said I suspect that Maxwell and Alberta are up to something”, Nancy restated. “So why are you telling me this?”, Linda asked. Before Nancy could answer the question, Linda rained more questions on her. “What is your basis for making this assumption?” “Do you have any proof?” “Why are you so interested in Maxwell’s past if you don’t have any ulterior motive for his future?”, Linda asked all at once. Nancy dug her hand into her purse to show Linda the proof she was talking about but before she could unlock the phone, Linda fired off like a machine gun. “Honestly, the first time I saw you, you appeared to be a very likeable person and I thought we could get along despite our unfortunate first meeting but my inkling is giving me the impression that you would be bad company if I allow you any more audience”, Linda said. “Thank you for watching out for me or whatever thing you think you aim to achieve by running to me to tell me about Maxwell and Alberta”, Linda continued. “We are way past that episode so thank you for the heads up but I think I have to take my leave now and so should you”, Linda added.

Nancy was dumbfounded by Linda’s reaction. “At least here me out, do your own investigations before you draw your conclusions”, Nancy fought back looking somewhat embarrassed. “For your information, Alberta is carrying Maxwell’s second child”, Nancy blurted out.

Linda’s mind cast back to some months ago when she met Alberta coming out of Maxwell’s room.

There was a long uneasy silence.

“And for your information, I don’t care whether she is carrying his fourth, fifth or even eighth baby”, Linda said. “Both of you can go to hell and rot there for all I care!”, Linda said and asked Nancy to leave. Nancy, who was very surprised and at the same time disappointed left in the taxi that brought her.

When Nancy left, Linda changed her mind and also went straight home but she couldn’t help but ponder on the day she saw Alberta and Maxwell together…

Three days after Linda’s encounter with Nancy, she decided to finally pay Maxwell a visit. The two of them had been chatting over the phone but Maxwell could still not find the courage to confront Linda with his situation.

Linda visited Maxwell when he had closed from work.

“Hi sweetheart, I missed you very much these past few days”, Maxwell said when Linda entered his room. Linda walked up to Maxwell and planted a kiss on his cheek even though Maxwell would have loved one on the lip. “Can I have your phone?”, Linda asked politely. “Excuse me?”, Maxwell asked. “I said can I have a look at your mobile phone?”, Linda rephrased her request. Maxwell was taken unaware by Linda’s demand but he gave in and handed over his phone to her. She unlocked the phone after Maxwell had given her his unlock code and she placed the phone in ‘silent’ mode and placed the phone on her lap.

“Maxwell, we need to talk”, Linda said.

“What do you want to talk about?”, Maxwell said as he simultaneously swallowed some saliva to wet his instantly dried up throat.

“Is Alberta carrying your baby?”, Linda asked

“Baby, you know I love you so much and I would not hide anything from you”, Maxwell started.

“Max, answer the question!”, Linda exclaimed.

“I don’t know how this happened but yes, Alberta claims she is carrying my baby”, Maxwell answered promptly.

“Again”, Linda conveniently added

“It is not what you think, Linda, Maxwell started.

“Don’t even start!”, Linda screamed. “So when were you going to tell me that you were making a fool out of me?”, Linda asked, with tears starting to roll down her cheeks.

“Linda please don’t cry”, Maxwell begged. “Just hear me  out first”, Maxwell pleaded.

“It’s enough!”, I have heard you loud and clear and I just cannot hear you out again”, Linda started. “All this while I gave you the benefit of the doubt because I knew you would never do anything to hurt my feelings but I was wrong”, Linda said. “Three days ago, when Nancy told me this, I stood and defended you as if my life depended on it”, Linda revealed. “I made her look like a fool and rubbished her claims all in the name of the love I had for you”, Linda continued. “If we had made a wager, I would be at the losing end”, Linda said. “I thought I could do this and I thought you could trust me enough to confide in me but you didn’t and the thought of it kills me inside”, Linda continued.

“It is not like that”, Maxwell said.

“Maxwell, I remember I asked you if you had been with Alberta after the birth of your son and you said no”, Linda recollected and recounted. “So how come you are now proudly accepting responsibility for her pregnancy if you guys have not made love?”, Linda questioned.

“You are such a bloody liar!”, Linda screamed. “I feel so stupid right now”, Linda added

“Don’t worry about it because I have already made up my mind and this time, I am not going to change my mind”, Linda started. “I think we should call this thing we have for each other off and go our separate ways”, Linda announced. I want you to have all the time to concentrate on your new family”, Linda added. “Just forget about me and thank you for the lesson you have taught me these past few months that I have known you”, Linda added and got up to leave. “Your parents are in the hall and I don’t want to create a scene so don’t try to stop me”, Linda warned as she made her way to the door. When she got to the door, she turned and said, “I think you and Alberta deserve each other; a bunch of liars and schemers”. “I wish you luck in life and good-bye”, Linda added and shut the door gently behind her.

Weeks had passed after Maxwell’s new expos� and Linda was still not answering Maxwell’s calls. Maxwell called Alberta to find out why she told Nancy she was pregnant and she recounted how she had engaged in a banter of words with Nancy over the picture of her son. Maxwell got a clear picture and also confronted Nancy for being a snitch. Maxwell blocked Nancy’s calls and messages after he had warned her to stay clear off him. Maxwell called Alberta and asked her to also stay away from him till she had finally put to bed.

He was going to supply all she needed.

Maxwell was at work one morning when he received a phone call from a strange number.

“Hello”, a feminine voice said.

�Hello, my name is Maxwell may I know whom I am speaking with?�, Maxwell asked politely.

�Hello Maxwell, my name is Bernice,  a friend of Alberta�, the voice at the other end revealed her identity.

�Okay, how may I help you?�, Maxwell queried.

�What has Alberta put you up to?�, Maxwell added. �Alberta is pregnant�, Bernice revealed.

�Ha-ha�, Maxwell laughed.  �Please tell me something I don’t know�, Maxwell said sarcastically.

�It may sound funny to you but even though Alberta has told you that she is pregnant,  the baby she is carrying is not yours�, Bernice revealed.

…To be continued


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