F B -15

FIFTEEN

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“Happy birthday to ya …happy birthday to ya
…happy birthday … ” Blasted from the home
theatre.
Hester alighted the stairs with an inquisitive
smile. She beamed at the decoration pattern
that greeted her eyes.
Some were dancing, some sitting, bobbing
their head and some eating. It happened that
she knew everyone present.
‘Hi our lady.’ Precious said with a smile
holding a glass of wine.
‘I was wondering if I can join. ‘
‘Our lady …our lady. ‘He chided jokingly. ‘Why
can’t you, it’s Dominic’s birthday party! ‘
‘Oh yeah? ‘
‘You don’t know? ‘ He went wide eyed.
Her eyes swept faces until it came in contact
with the guy of the day.
He realized his mistake and immediately came
over. ‘I’m sorry our lady, I can’t comprehend
how it ever slip out of my mind.’
‘So you didn’t invite her? ‘ Precious glared at
him.
‘Please forgive me my lady.’ Dominic ignored
him.
‘Oh I almost forgot! ‘ He took a couple of
steps backward. ‘Our lady do forgive him,
sometimes the fluid in his head becomes
coconut water.’ Having said that, he fled.
Hester beamed.
‘Can I join the party? ‘ Hester asked when he
looked back at her.
‘Yes please. I’ll get you a drink. ‘

Ethel decided to be more of a spectator, he
realized it was one of the best under his roof.
He had never seen everybody so happy and
hearty.
She danced with the birthday guy and a couple
of others, she laughed at jokes, she had caught
him looking at her and they had exchanged a
smile.
She had sang the popular HAPPY BIRTHDAY
SONG in French and Latin and had endeavor to
teach them.
Presently Dominic was giving his voice of
thanks . He thanked her graciously and they
applauded her.
Later she led them all to uniform dance steps
like what you see in Tyler Perry’s movies.
He
wanted to escape but she had made him stand
beside her as they all danced, laughing at one
another.
He never knew so much sparkle abode in her
eyes .
Ethel couldn’t help but wished he had the
power for her to stay that way.
++++
****
He copied from the laptop into the flash glad
that the project was fully taking shape.
The scream came long and piercing.
His pen
dropped that instant as he stood fully alert.
Ethel bolted for the door of his study and ran all
the way to the stairs and through corridors.
He didn’t remember to knock as he opened the
door and saw her.
She was seated on the bed, the blanket
drawned up to her waist. Her head was buried
in her palms, she moved it from side to side
slowly. ‘My God …Oh my God …no …no …
Jesus. ‘ She muttered.
He sensed that she had screamed out of a
nightmare.
‘Hester …Hester.’ He called softly and
approached her.
The table lamp was on.
She exhaled deeply before looking up at him
through. misty eyes. She massaged her neck.
She shook her head from side to side
irregularly. ‘It was so scary …so horrible and
so …so real.’ Her gaze swept around and
settled on him. ‘Did I wake you?’ She tried
clearing her voice.
‘I was in the study. Are you all right? ‘
‘No …I’m not Ethel. ‘ She stood. ‘Can I come
with you? ‘
‘Yes.’ He saw how shaken she was. Was Ola
now chasing her even to her dreams? Her hands has
not left her neck. Was he trying to strangle
her?
Ethel exhaled.
++++
‘I know you’re through Ethel, you don’t have to
keep me company. It’s midnight already and
am sure you have appointment later.
‘I’m worried about you, I could spare an hour.

‘No Ethel I feel better. ‘ She stood as he put
what he had on the table in their proper
order.
‘I will rather you go back to sleep.’
‘I’m never going to sleep at night again. ‘ Her
voice was calm.
He could have laughed but because of her
serious expression, he smiled instead. ‘It will
pass too soon.’
‘Have a splendid night rest and thanks for
tonight .’ She took a glance at the photographs
on the wall. ‘I will be downstairs. ‘
‘Take care.’
She nodded before leaving.
He pondered for a couple of minutes before
leaving the study.
++++
***
‘What is your favorite music? ‘
‘What do you want to do with my favorite
music? ‘ She popped a slice of apple into her
mouth.
Ethel dropped the bottle of yoghurt and picked
a remote control. ‘I want us to dance. ‘
‘Oh no! Wrong timing Ethel.’ She gave him a
faint smile. ‘I’m not in the mood.’ She popped
in another slice.
‘Can we stroll? ‘
She nodded still munching.
He waited for her to finished her apple while
he sipped his yoghurt.
As the days became weeks, he realized she had
meant her statement. She slept in the
afternoon and got busy in the night, a number
of times she had asked for his permission to
use the gym. She had also relieved the cook
who was like a second mum to them all
because before she wakes, breakfast was ready
or half way prepared.
More disturbing to him was that she became
reserved. Everytime he felt color was slowly
draining from her face.
Eventually they strolled out and finally sat by
the pool.
‘I need you to do me a favor. ‘ Ethel looked at
her hopefully.
Her eyes left the flower lawn to look at him.
‘I know it’s kind of huge but I need you to stay
indoor while am away in South Africa. Please
Hester …’
‘Come on already, you don’t have to beg me, I
will gladly do that and I mean it. ‘
‘Spend all the time you want. Can I come with
you to the airport tomorrow? ‘
‘Sure. And what will you like me to bring back
for you? ‘
All the balloons in the country. ‘ She directed
her gaze to the pool.
‘You are kidding me! ‘ He burst into laughter
then he suddenly dawned on her as he
remembered his sister.
++++
***
Down on her knees, she read through the book
of Proverbs chapter 5.
The heard the first gunshot and then the
second.
She jolted to her feet and head for the balcony
adjoining her room.
What she saw made her run back into the
room, pulled out a drawer and fetched out two
guns. She took her car’s keys from her dressing
table and ran out.
By the time she got out, the available men of
the control room had already set to work.
The walls had been lowered automatically as
there was exchange of bullets between the
ruffians that were about 15, surrounding the
premises and Ethelbert men who defended
their boss property.
She drove her car out of the garage to the
back of the house. She parked close to the wall
and climbed onto the roof of her car.
She began shooting with both guns and bending at intervals.
In twenty minutes, some were down with bullet
wounds. The remaining resigned to flee but the
sound of sirens of about five police vehicles
blaring from opposite side of the road stopped
them.
The police men took charge of the situation.
Few minutes later, members of press arrived.
Wale addressed the press while Dominic spoke
to the DPO and wrote a statement.
An ambulance arrived few minutes later and
Wale and Dominic went to police station in
their own car to supervise the torture process.
Hester went back to the house to freshen up
after parking her car back in the garage.
++++

****
‘The heart of man is desperately wicked, who
can know it.’ Ethel sipped water. ‘Who could
have thought Mallam Mustapha Hussein could
go ahead to attack me, in my own home. I will
use him as an example to others. Contesting
for the president is now all about how well you
run your opponent down.
The cook and the oldest at the table sighed.
Hester chewed and dabbed her mouth.
Having finished their meal, many dropped
their cutleries.
Ethel waited for all to finish eating before he
continued. ‘I want to thank you all for
upholding the integrity of this building in my
absence. I watched the video recording and
saw the part you all played. Shall we all rise
please. ‘ He stood
They rose.
‘This is a standing ovation, a mark of honor of
what our lady did. Let’s make it complete and
put our hands together for me.
They applaud her with smiles on every lips.
Hester lowered her eyes.
‘Thank you.’ She said when silence returned.
‘Momma Kate, please round up this celebration
with prayer. ‘ Ethel directed to the cook.
+++
***
She inserted the earpiece and continued
strolling.
‘Hello? ‘
‘Hello Sweetheart …’
Hester ended the call spontaneously.
‘Oh my God. ‘ She took deep breaths to steady
herself.
++++
***
Hester was lying on the bed, her arms around
her teddy bear . She stared into space blankly.
For the second time, the brass knocker
sounded.
She sat up. ‘Come in the door is open. ‘
He opened the door and step past it. ‘Hope I
didn’t interrupt your sleep. ‘
‘No Ethel come in and sit.’ She looked up at
him and noticed he was grinning. ‘What’s up? ‘
‘Your birthday was three days ago.’ He
maintained his smile.
‘Three days ago? ‘ She was confused. ‘what is
today’s date? ‘
‘Twentieth. ‘
She remembered without an effort. ‘Yeah. ‘ She
returned without enthusiasm.
‘Five days ago was Victoria birthday and that
made me remember yours. You should have
told me.’ Ethel eyes didn’t leave her face.
‘I couldn’t have told you something I didn’t
even remember. ‘ Hester returned flatly and
looked away.
Ethel smiled. ‘You deserved to be celebrated
darling. You’re a conqueror. ‘
Hester shook her head.
Ethel was unperturbed. ‘Happy birthday in
arears my lady. ‘
‘Thanks. ‘ She gave him a faint smile.
‘Excuse me.’ He turned to leave but an
afterthought, he looked in her direction. ‘Hess
could you please close your eyes. ‘ He hoped
she wouldn’t object.
Hester closed her eyes.
Hester closed her eyes.
Ethel went out and noiselessly move out some
things in the room. ‘You can open your eyes
now. ‘
He watched her in anticipation.
Her mouth became agape at the sight before
her.
He saw her face lighten up, saw her beamed
and saw her brows creased in uncertainty as
she approached the object before her .
Hester chuckled at the illumination the object
gave her bedroom.
She looked up at the stand at the balloon
barrage. A Stand with raised bubbling balloons
of all the colors you can think of.
She picked the pack of chocolate and examined
it and the bouquet of flowers. She closed her
briefly and exhaled.
‘Happy Birthday Hester .’
She dropped them on her bed and placed both
hands on her cheeks brimming with
excitement. ‘Thank you so much.’ She laughed.
‘Thank you.’
He saw her face glow and she looked so young.
‘I love balloons, I have always loved balloons
as far back as I was a child. The combination is
heavenly and the design is the best I’ve ever
seen in all my sights.’ She glanced at the
bouquet of flowers. ‘This is special, it is
beautiful …contains some of my favorite
collection. Same for the chocolate. ‘ Her gaze
settled on him. ‘You really did investigate deep
into my world. ‘ She laughed her sweet
sounding mesmerizing laughter. ‘Heaven knows
I can entrust you with my biography if you
don’t know all of it already. ‘
‘And heaven can also testify that a superstar
has never felt better than the way I do now.’
She covered the distance between them and
threw her arms around him. ‘God bless you
and reward you greatly for everything you’ve
done for me.’ She kissed him on both cheeks.
‘I am happy when you’re happy. ‘
‘I pray all your dreams come true and you
become the president of this great country. ‘
‘Amen. ‘ He claimed before chuckling.
She left his embrace to touch the balloons.
When she turned he was looking at her. ‘What
will you like me to do for you? ‘
‘I was considering your dress and I think it’s
good to go. Complete it with a shoe and purse,
I’m taking you out for a special lunch… ‘
She began to shake her head.
‘and a karaoke in which we will sing all of your
favorite songs. ‘
‘Ethel please …you will only kill with
excitement besides …’
‘Hess, I give you five minutes. I will be
downstairs. ‘ He returned firmly.
++++

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