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POTHOLES

Chapter Fourteen
Mr. Desmond’s cup was finally filled to the brim as his lawyer’s attempts were inefficacious.

Loveth could not pin point the reason for her husband’s sudden change and became ill at ease. “Could he already know the truth?” She soliloquized as she hastily called Desmond.

“Dee, where are you? I need to see you. Meet me at our usual spot. How long. Alright,” she said and ended the call.

She met with him and raised an alarm about the recent disposition of her husband who she suspected might already know the truth. But Desmond told her to be at ease.

Unknown to her, what she said had gotten him more on the qui vive. “Am I not digging my own grave like this? I know my friend very well. I know what he is capable of when it comes to his woman. The thought of what he did to Caleb in school because of Jane is getting me nervous, and it’s not even up to a percentage of what I have done. God! It’s not my fault. How would I just ignore a babe like Loveth? I have to look for a permanent solution,” he said.

On a bid to conceal the truth, he paid Loveth’s maid an elephantine amount to poison him.

He thought that was all he had to do to conceal the truth, but at the return of Mr. Ade, he became quite uncomfortable with his moves to unravel the death of his friend and hired assassins to get raid of him as well.

But, little did he know that Mr. Ade had helped the leader of the assassins.

Some years ago, the man was swimming in the pool of lack when his pregnant wife was due for delivery. No matter how she travailed, she could not deliver the child herself and needed to have a caesarean section.

There was no one to turn to, and he walked back home confused.

He was so deep in thought that his ears were deaf to the horn of the car behind him. The driver turned out to be Mr. Ade who was going home excitedly the same day he was offered the visa to UK.

He was so moved by the story the man related to him that he quickly drove him back to the hospital and paid the bill, and also gave him extra money.

“How would someone want to end the life of a good man like that? But if I don’t, he will send someone else who will or even eradicate me too so as not to leak the secret. That man looked so desperate. OK, I know what to do. I will make it look so real,” the man concluded.

He smartly got a gun that seems like a normal gun whose bullet will weaken the victim immediately and sleep off for hours as if he had died.

He then arranged with his wife to pick him up after they had left, as well as his doctor who confirmed him dead. Not even his boys knew his plan, they also thought the man was dead, and he gave them their share of the money.

When Mr. Ade woke up, he related the episodes to him. He instructed him to tell his wife to make his death/burial so real, and return to UK immediately, until Mr. Desmond has been prosecuted.

There was no more evidence the judge could ask for, and he was sentenced to death.

Everyone, including Dominion who had followed the case were stupefied, but excited to see the criminal pay for his crime.

Dominion, among the lot had gone through series of dramas, but he refused to be pinned down by his circumstances.

With the help of Divine, he planned his first exhibition. To his consternation, Mr. Ade and his wife came with two of their friends who were lovers of art in UK.

He was still swimming in the pool of excitement when he saw his sisters.

“Wow! I didn’t know you will come,” he said excitingly as they embraced each other. “How would we miss our brother’s exhibition?” Said Gift. “Mummy is here too,” Grace said when he changed his expression and said, “Oh, you came with your mum.” “I mean our mother,” said Gift. “Look, I am really not ready for any drama. I have had enough of dramas in my life, and I don’t want anything to touch the beautiful things that is happening in my life now,” he replied.

“But you have to forgive her,” insisted Gift. “Dear, I didn’t tell you I have anything against her,” he said when Loveth joined them.

“Excuse me,” said Dominion when Gift held his hands. “Please, you have to let go,” she pleaded. “Of what and for what?” He responded sharply and left when he caught the sight of Isabella in her beautiful royal blue gown and smiled as she walked towards him.

“Hello,” she greeted. “You look so…. I am still trying to brain storm for the adjective to use,” he said. “Oh, really, well congratulations,” she said. “Thank you, though I expected it to be packaged with a hug,” he said jokingly. “Oh, alright,” she said.

As she smiled and hugged him, she saw his family. “This facsimile I am seeing, Is that not your mum and sisters?” She asked. “My sisters, but not my mum,” he replied. “Don’t tell me you have not gotten over that. Let go,” she said. “There is nothing to let go of, just forget it,” he replied. “For real,” she said with a questionable expression.

“Bella stop. Let me just focus on this exhibition. You know what it costed us to put this together,” he said. “And you know I don’t intend on distracting you. Just forgive her. Don’t forget what Pastor said on Sunday, forgiving others is liberating yourself,” she said looking into his eyes.

“You’re really the last person who I want to ask me to do this,” he said. “Why?” She asked wonderingly. “Because you know I will do it,” he responded. “And you will not only do it because I asked for it, but because it is the right thing,” Isabella replied. “But I guess we can leave that till later,” he said. “Yes, but you’ll just give her a sincere hug now and discuss later,” she insisted. “Bella! Alright fine, I’ll do it,” he said and did exactly what she said.

It was truly such an emotional moment that those who really didn’t know his story were wonderstruck, until the time he was invited to give his speech.

“I grew up to have all I needed before I needed them. I enjoyed the love of my family and never understood what pains, disappointment, betrayer and lack felt like. My path was without potholes, and I kept living my father’s dream until what I thought was a nightmare came to my reality.

All I thought was mine, I woke up to find them no more. My father was snatched by the cruel hands of death and I ran into a secret that I still wish I never knew. My certificate failed, and I was left to clear my own path. I must say it was really bushy that I thought I couldn’t create a path through that thick forest, but then I realized there was already a path that divinity had prepared for me, it was just that I was too comfortable to see it.

All you are seeing today is a product of that discovery. Thanks to my friend who stood by me all through, my mentor, my friend and brother who watered this gift, Divine, my mother and sisters and the beautiful gift that God brought my way to heal my wounds, Bella.”

As he said these words, his mother could not hold back the tears that flowed freely down her cheeks.

Than what he imagined, his paintings were not just beautiful, they were inspiring and bought for humongous amounts.

Isabella was about taking her leave when she went to inform him. “I am about leaving. Congratulations once again,” she said. “Oh! Not so fast, there is something I must show you,” said Dominion as he led her to a rather private place where a painting that was covered was hanging.

She became curious and asked, “What?” He unveiled the painting and said, “Well, you know the best way an artist can express himself is his painting.” “Then, don’t you think you should interpret what you have there,” she said pretending as if it was not obvious.

“OK,” he said as he took a deep breath and pointed to the painting. “This is me asking for your heart, this is us walking through the path of life together, and that’s our beautiful home,” he said as he brought out a ring and said, “I love you, please marry me.”

She was quiet for a while and then broke the silence. “I will be honest to you. I am sorry. I only see you as a friend and a brother. I am sorry,” she said and left.

For a while, he stood still, not knowing what to say or do when Gift saw him.

“I have been looking for you. What are you doing here?” She asked when she saw the painting. “Wow! This is nice,” she said admiringly and Dominion carefully put the ring away. “You have a message notification,” she said as she gave him his phone that had been with her.

He collected it reluctantly as if he didn’t care, until he saw who sent the message. He quickly opened it only to see, “I love you too and yes, I will marry you.”

Instantaneously, he left without saying a word to his sister who stood there wondering why he left in a flash.

THE END

POTHOLES

Chapter Thirteen

As Mr. Ade struggled with the cruel hands of death that gripped his breath, a man drove by and saw him. The moment he sighted him, he increased his speed as if he was running a car race.

Her hands were soon overpowering him, but he did not give up the fight for his breath. Soon, a Samaritan woman pulled over as she saw him. At first, she was fidgeting like one who saw her ancestors, but when she realized he was still alive, she was driven by compassion.

She drove at breakneck speed to the nearest hospital and the nurses briskly brought him out when she drove in.

It was a tough wrestle, but death went home with a golden belt. The woman that brought him was so overwhelmed with compassion that she became melodramatic. “No, I am sure he is still alive. Go and check him again, go,” she said pushing the doctor. “Madam, calm down, I would advise that you report this to the police. Simmer down ma,” said the doctor as he assuaged her.

For some time now, Dominion had been going to Luminous Studio, owned by Divine, Isabella’s brother. He was working on a piece when Divine came in. “My talented artist,” he said. “Good day sir,” he responded with a smile as Divine checked out what he was painting. “I am almost reading your mind, but I will wait until you are done,” said Divine. “Really, but you can guess,” responded Dominion. “You know I am not good at guessing. It’s really coming out nice,” he commented.

“Thank you. I thought you said you’re going somewhere,” said Dominion. “Yes, I had to return anon because someone called me to order for a piece from UK, and he will be in Nigeria by weekend,” he said. “Oh! Talking about…. I guess I’ll ask later, now that there is a deadline to beat,” said Dominion. “Go ahead, we can talk while we work,” Divine replied as he settled down to work.

“Actually, I still don’t understand the business aspect of this. People say artists end up as beggars who live on the few that appreciates painting. I am burning with curiosity. Is all this a product of other investments or strictly painting?” Asked Dominion.

“Well, I have other investments too, but my major source of income is painting. In fact, the money for my investments came from here. The truth is, there is no gift that is not lucrative. The only thing is, there are some that takes time before bringing any dime. For instance, the moment a fashion designer learns the art, he is likely going to start making money if he is good at it, because clothing is a necessity compared to an artist,” said Divine.

“That’s unvarnished truth,” replied Dominion. “I was initially frustrated with compliments with no penny, until I decided to speak with someone whose satisfaction is in turning a dime to millions. Let me relate some of the things the discussion opened my eyes to that led to my breakthrough with you,” said Divine. “Thank you sir,” he answered.

“Key 1: You must paint in a distinct way, such that when people want a kind of painting, you are the one that comes to their mind.

Key 2: Separate the paintings you do for pleasure from the ones you do for customers. If you want people to buy your works, give them what they want, not what you want.

Key 3: Connect. The people who know you and know how you started out as a painter might never buy your paintings. Sometimes they will only buy it to encourage you, not because they appreciate it. Connect to those who appreciates and patronize what you do.

Key 4: Never disappoint any customer, no matter how minute the piece they demand for. Their satisfaction must be your priority. One satisfied customer can open doors to several customers than you can imagine.

Key 5: Paint as if the only thing you get out of painting is money and as if all you get is pleasure. If you do, you’ll be getting buyers and satisfaction at the same time.

Key 6: Sit and think of a strategy. What works for me might not work for you. You must fashion out how you want to attract lovers of art and go far in this field.

Rule 7: you must keep in touch with the current drift of the art world all over the world. Always be thirsty to learn what’s new about what you do, especially the platforms that others are taking advantage of,” he continued when Dominion’s phone rang and Divine took a breath.

Dominion was all ears that he was unwilling to pick the call. “Go ahead and pick your call,” said Divine.

“Hello, who is speaking? Gift, how are you dear? Why is your line no longer going through? I’ve tried to reach you and your sister. OK. What’s wrong? You don’t sound too good to me. Are you kidding? When? How? Oh my God!” He exclaimed as he ended the call.

“I hope all is well,” said Divine. “Do you recall my dad’s friend that I told you about?” He asked. “Yes,” he responded. “He is dead,” he said. “What!” Responded Divine. “I have to go now,” he said, looking destabilized. “Calm down please,” said Divine. “My sister said he shuffled off his mortal coil three days ago, and they will consign him to the grave today,” he said. “It’s ok. I’ll come with you, just relax please,” he said comfortingly.

It was indeed a stupefying news, especially for his sons and wife who had returned from UK. His wife refused to be consoled, and vowed to unravel who was behind his death.

Sorrow filled the air like a thick perfume as people gathered to bid him adieu and he was laid to rest.

It was as if the spirit of dumbness was everywhere except for the speechless expressions of tears that climbed down the cheeks of many as they comforted her and her sons.

As people were departing, three men came around and asked for Mr. Desmond who was also present at the burial.

“Excuse me sir. Are you Mr. Desmond?” One of them asked as he nodded in response and the man showed him his identity card. “You are under arrest for the murder of Mr. Williams and Mr. Ade.

POTHOLES

Chapter Twelve
Many nights and days have kissed the earth, but there was nothing to prove Mr. Ade’s suspicion. It got to a point that he could no longer stand the darkness that covered the matter, while she carries her curvy shape around town and he orchestrated her arrest again.

But after some time, he could no longer close his eyes of compassion. His friend’s daughters who had put down roots with him kept wailing for their mum’s release, though he did not uncover the truth behind her arrest to them.

He woke up musing and decided to go to the police station that she was.

“I just want to know the truth. I am really not interested in the eye for an eye thing anymore. I don’t mind dropping the case. I think I’ll be at peace with that,” said, Mr. Ade. “Is that so?” Asked the inspector queerly. “I am serious,” he answered. “The truth is, all our attempts to get answers from her proved abortive as she refused to say a thing than what you and I already know,” he explained. “I don’t think I want to go on with this case,” said Ade.

“You mean the death of your friend does not mean anything to you anymore,” he said. “You more than anyone else know that is not true, but the truth is, the worst has been done. His daughters want their mother back. No matter how much love my wife and I had showed them, all they want is their mum. Their teachers are already complaining that they are psychologically disturbed. If they find out I know about the arrest of their mother, they will treat me the same way Dominion did, and besides, I am scared of what the discovery will be. What if she is, of what use is making her pay for it and making those girls orphans. I’ve thought about everything over again. I could have stopped this, but I didn’t, now I must be sure I will not do something else that I will regret,” said Mr. Ade.

“I don’t deny that I understand what you said, but the truth is, if we gather enough evidence against her, even you will not be able to stop justice from taking its course. No murderer will be spared,” he responded. “I understand you, but I have made up my mind. Those girls will never forgive me if I allow their mother to be prosecuted,” said Ade.

“I suggest you sleep over this again,” said the inspector. “I’ve made up my mind,” he replied affirmatively.

It seems he had made up his mind when he left the inspector’s office, but it was a very tough decision for him.

As he stepped into his car, he looked as though he remembered something and checked his wrist watch. “Goodness, I didn’t realize time has been far spent like this. Gift and Grace will already be waiting for me to pick them in school,” he soliloquized and aptly drove to their school.

On his way, he found a half dead lady who was lying like a clay pigeon on the road. He quickly pulled over and called for people to help. But when no one was forthcoming, he decided to carry her, but as he did, some hoodlums came from no where. As if he was watching a movie, the lady who seem to be helpless jumped from his hands and they jeered at him.

He was still stupefied with the confusing scene when one of them brought out a gun.

His feet starting dancing without beat and he hem and haw as he pleaded with them for mercy, but he directed the gun to his forehead and pulled the trigger.

POTHOLES

Chapter Eleven
Dominion was not only praying, he was blubbering. Daniel entered his apartment with a plate of rice, and was taken aback when he saw him. “When did Uncle Dominion start praying? I’ve never seen him pray before,” Daniel said as he placed the food on his table and left quietly.

Minutes were soon turning to hours but he was still praying. Daniel came again, but still found him on his knees. “Uncle Dominion is still praying. Did Jesus come to this room?” He soliloquized looking around as if he was looking for Jesus somewhere and left.

Some minutes later, he stood up and wiped his tears. He was about to enter the bathroom to take a shower, when his nose called the attention of his eyes to the plate of rice on the table and he smiled.

As he helped Daniel with his assignment, Dan was with bated breath seeing how beautiful the painting was. “Uncle Dominion, I know I will score the highest in my class. Even my Uncle that is an artist cannot paint better than this and many rich men buy his painting,” said Daniel. “Really! Why don’t you go ahead and bring the other assignments,” said Dominion. “I’ll go and bring them,” he said and ran to their apartment.

The darkness was soon covering the day, but unlike every other day he had witnessed after the demise of his father, there was something special about this day. He couldn’t really say what it was, but he felt a sweet sensation deep within.

Though he welcomed the following morning without any dime in his pocket, but the look on his face was as a man who just married a pulchritudinous maiden.

He sang God’s praise like never before as he finished up the cleaning of the house and entered the bathroom to have his bath.

But, when he was about to open the tap, his feet slipped. He struggled to pick his clothes and hobbled outside. “Dan! Dan!” He called.

When Daniel came out and saw how he was looking from afar, he ran like a bat out of hell to him. “Uncle Dominion, your leg. What happened?” He asked shivering as if he saw a ghost. “Dan, please tell your Mom to give me methylated spirit and cotton wool,” he said. “I will call my Aunty,” Dan said and ran to their apartment. “That is not what I said. Did I say anything like Aunt now or his Mom is not around, ” he soliloquized, pricked by the sharp fingers of pain.

Dan reappeared with his mum and a young lady. “What happened?” Daniel’s mum asked compassionately. “I wanted to bath when I lost footing, ” he replied. “Oh, so sorry, let me see,” said the young lady. “Dan, go and bring my black bag,” she said and they led him inside. He still wondered what was in the black bag she instructed Dan to bring, but he only watched and said nothing.

As if Dan’s mom could read his mind, she said, “Dominion, this is my sister, Isabella. She is a nurse,” “Oh, I was wondering. It is nice meeting you, though I would have loved to meet you on a better note,” replied Dominion. “It OK. This will hurt,” she said as she helped him to dress the wound.

“Jesss!” he groaned. “Sorry,” they said comfortingly. After she had finished dressing the wound for him, she gave him some pain reliever to take and said, “use that and take time to rest.” “I will. Thank you so much,” he replied. “You’re welcome. Saving lives is my satisfaction,” she answered with a smile. “I can see that. I thought you would say, it’s your job,” said Dominion when Dan’s mom interrupted their conversation.

“Sorry to interrupt you two. I want to finish what I am cooking,” she said. “That’s Ok MA. Thank you so much,” said Dominion. “You’re welcome,” she replied and left with Dan.

As if the pain had vanished, they started conversing like they had known each other for so long.

“Like seriously, the way you said it with so much passion makes it obvious that you enjoy what you do, ” said Dominion. “You can say that again. You know there is this incomprehensible satisfaction I have within, anytime I treat someone. I can’t imagine doing something else,” she said.

“You are lucky to have find what you love doing, and nobody stopped you,” said Dominion. “Who told you so? My dad wanted me to study law, but I couldn’t cope in the art class. It was when my performance became alarming that my school counsellor had to speak with him and he allowed me cross to the science class,” she explained.

“Wow! What a coincidence. But I was not as lucky as you are. There was no one to mediate for me. I had to study a course I had zero interest in because my dad wanted me to be a business tycoon like him,” he explained. “Really!” She responded. “Yes, funny enough, when I tried setting up a business after my service year, it amounted to nothing. In fact, I ended up spending the money,” he explained. “But, now you can go for your dreams. I don’t think it’s too late. By the way, what will you have rather studied?” She asked.

“Fine Art. I had always loved drawing and painting and admire one when I see it, but my dad told me artists end up as beggars and it is the business men who can afford to buy their paintings and hang them in their mansions,” he said.

“What! That is not true. I have a brother that is doing great in that field. Though he started small, and we all have to start somewhere, but he is now making it big. If that’s what you love, you better go for it fast. Nothing feels so good like being paid for doing what you love,” she said.

“You’re absolutely right. I guess I will do that,” said Dominion. “I don’t know, if you don’t mind, I can hook you up with my brother,” she said. “That will be nice. Thank you so much. I just met you few minutes ago and you’ve already done so much,” he said. “It’s nothing, it’s my pleasure. I think it’s better you rest now, I’ll see you around,” she said, while he tried to stand, but he felt a sharp pain on his legs. “No, don’t stress yourself, take care of yourself,” she said. “Thank you once again,” he said with a charming smile hanging on his cheeks as she left.

POTHOLES

Chapter Ten
The deep sore in his heart spurred uncontrollable tears that gushed out of his eyes like an opened tap. As if life kicked a ball he could not kick, nor run away from to him, he was faced with several ‘fill in the gap papers’ that he couldn’t find answers to.

Dominion lodged into a hotel and kissed the bed to cop some z’s for a while. He woke up seeking for answers, “What do I do? I need money than ever before for my final project. Where do I get all that from?” He later picked up his phone and checked his account statement.

“I guess I will have to learn to scrape by on this. Dad, as if you know you’ll be leaving me soon, thanks for this. Wherever you are now, I want you to know that I miss you and I will always dote on your memories in my heart,” he soliloquized.

Some minutes later, his mentor called. “Good day sir, who told you that? Sir, did he tell you what happened, I mean everything. Ok, but I can’t stay there any longer. No, I don’t want to stay with him. I know your door is opened sir. This recent episodes has really taught me so much. I will drop by before I leave for school. Thank you sir,” he responded as the call ended.

It was like a very long scary nightmare that he desperately wanted to wake up from, but it’s becoming too long to be a nightmare.

He had heard of accounts going red, but had never tasted such until now. Though his mum credited his account, but he rebuffed it and sent it back to her account. Every single attempt of his mother and Desmond to seek his forgiveness, he kicked it back to their faces.

It was only Dr. Emmanuel that he ever gave room to come close, but when Dr. Emmanuel knew he was really not his brother’s child, he stopped checking or sending him any money as he was disgusted with the behavior of Loveth.

Soon, he ran out of cash when he was doing his final clearance and he picked up a part-time job that offered him a ridiculous money. It wasn’t as if it was that ridiculous, but it was equivalent to what used to be his monthly recharge card allowance.

Little did he know it was the beginning of his struggles.

The one year compulsory National Youth Service Corp for graduates ended so fast, and he had learnt how to live on the monthly peanut they were given, but his hope to get a job immediately after the service year was dashed.

Nothing seemed to be working for him, as money refused to alight at his doorstep. Having cut all contacts with his family, he was so iron-jawed that he didn’t seek for their help.

With the help of his mentor and his friend, Rolland, he got an apartment, but he couldn’t keep depending on them.

He woke up one morning to realize there was nothing to feed his stomach with. “I can’t keep going on like this. God, are you not somewhere? Please I need you now. This is too much for me,” he said with a flood of speechless tears.

He became so hungry and started checking the house desperately as if, food hid itself somewhere, when he found a painting that he made when he was very young and smiled.

Like his mom, he had always been attracted to art works and was the overall best student in fine art when he was in primary school, but his dad insisted that he studied Business Administration.

He was so carried away as the painting reminded him of the past that he didn’t realize when his neighbor’s little boy entered his apartment.

“Uncle Dominion,” he called. “Dan boy, I didn’t know when you entered,” said Dominion “What are you looking at?” Asked Daniel as he dropped the cookies in his hands and looked at the painting admirably.

“Dan, why didn’t you go to school?” Dominion asked. “Don’t you know that we are on mid-term break,” he replied. “Oh! It slipped from my memory,” replied Dominion. “Uncle, take cookies” he said. “You know cookies is for boys,” said Dominion with a smile. “Un-c-le, you said so,” he replied, still staring at the painting. “Uncle Dominion, who painted this?” Asked Daniel. “I did, when I was very little like you,” Dominion replied.

“Wow! So you know how to paint. Uncle please, I have a painting project that my teacher gave us, but I don’t like painting, I even want to give my Uncle who paints very well, but he doesn’t have time,” said Daniel.

“Ok, I will help you later in the day,” said Dominion. “Is it after you have taken breakfast?” He asked, but Dominion was reluctant to answer. “Uncle, answer me. I want to do it fast because I have other assignments too. Will you help me?” asked Daniel. “Yes I will,” Dominion answered.

“Uncle Dominion, I will tell my mother to add your food to what she is cooking so that we can eat together and do the work fast. Or, are you cooking something already?” He asked, but didn’t wait for his response when he ran into his kitchen and came back.

“You’re not cooking anything, I will tell her now,” he said as Dominion tried to stop him, but before he could complete a sentence, he had entered their apartment.

“Do we call this an answered prayer or what? Daniel is so funny. God, just in case you can hear me, then you should know I really need help. I didn’t think I will ever need you. I had always had all I wanted, but now, I need you desperately now,” he soliloquized.

As if it suddenly occurred to him that there is a God somewhere, he knelt, praying in tears as the reminiscences of his ordeals had a firm grip on him.

POTHOLES

Chapter Nine
“What! What are trying to say?” Asked Dominion who was dumbfounded with what seem like a movie that Mr. Ade narrated to him. “Son, I don’t think your mother is unspotted in this matter. You have to allow me crack this nut,” said Mr. Ade. “There is a part you are not clarifying sir. Is he my father?” Asked Dominion tensely. “I am not saying….” Mr. Ade replied, battling with words when Dominion cuts in. “Please, I need you to tell me the truth. I deserve to know the truth,” said Dominion. “I am sorry, he is not,” Mr. Ade replied faintly. “What! Are you saying that animal is my father? I will never accept him as my father,” said Dominion affirmatively.

Mr. Ade moved closer to him and tapped him warmly, “Son, you have to simmer down,” he said.

“Now I understand, but please, no matter how villainous she is, she is still my mother. Please, just get her out of there, but I will not stop you from investigating the matter,” said Dominion. “Alright son, if you insist, I will get her out of there,” he said as he cuddled Dominion who was soaked in tears.

Mr. Ade did not only fulfil his promise to Dominion, he fulfilled it on the same day and she was granted bail.

As if he buried the matter, it died down, but he only made it seem so, investigation was still going on unobtrusively.

On Loveth’s return, she became uneasy as the move of Mr. Ade has validated that he actually knows something, but she couldn’t really tell the extent to which he knows. But, she acted as if she had no skeleton in her cupboard.

“I just don’t know what exactly came over your dad’s friend. It is understandable that he was shocked with the sudden demise of his friend, but how could he think I killed him. It’s really so ridiculous son,” she said teary-eyed. Dominion was so disgusted with her sight, but he held his peace.

“Son, are you not going to say anything?” She asked. “Is there something you want me to say?” He asked. “Son, I understand you have not gotten over your father’s death…” she said when he cuts in. “My father,” he said, giving a funny expression. She suddenly lost her composure with his response, “Jesus! Does he know already? But how?” She thought.

“Why the sudden silence? Are you not going to talk? At least I am old enough to know who my real father is.”

At that point, it was written all over Loveth that she wished the earth would open its mouth and hide her, but her wish didn’t come true. “Oh! You think I don’t know,” he continued giving a dangerous smile. “ When will you introduce me to my real father?” He asked.

When she heard that, she took a breather and then responded, “I thought you will reject him.” “Why will I when his blood flows in my vein. Please mom, I want to know my father,” he pleaded, though his interest was to get to the root of the matter.

Just about then, a guest entered the house. “Good day,” he greeted. Dominion was stunned to see who it was, as his mother who was abashed pointed to him and said, “he is the one. I am sorry, I didn’t want to betray George and I didn’t know how to face him, so I made him believe the pregnancy was his,” she explained, but Desmond couldn’t really understand what she was saying.

“I guess I came at the wrong time,” said Desmond. As he was about to leave, Loveth said, “He is your son. The day you raped me, I conceived.”

“What are you saying? Oh! So he already knows. But let’s put the records straight, I didn’t rape you. You also enjoyed it. Don’t give your son that angelic look you deceived your husband with over the years. I am not gullible like him,” he said.

“How dare you say such a thing. We were desperate for a job, and you took advantage of us,” she said as he cuts in. “That is not true, you enjoyed it and you came for more,” he said bluntly. “What! That is not true, I had no choice,” she said sobbing, when Dominion who had been watching their drama laughed hysterically and said, “I don’t know how a man will rape a woman over and over again and even take her to UK to rape her.”

“Look boy, I was wrong, but she wasn’t right either. I took advantage of their situation, but she didn’t stop me either. The first time was well planned and she fell into my trap, but I thought she was going to hit me bad. I was even scared of what my friend was capable of when he finds out, but when she returned as if nothing happened the following day, I knew she didn’t say a word, though I had threatened her. But I didn’t think she was that gullible. Is it my fault that I wanted more? Besides, I rewarded you for it. You and I know that, whatever your husband became was all because of me. But, you never told me you were pregnant for me. No wonder I was always drawn to you,” he said as he moved towards Dominion and wanted to touch him.

“Don’t even lay that your stinky hands on me,” he said sharply. “Even if they were gullible according to you, shouldn’t you have just let him live. You already have his woman, yet, that was not enough for you,” said Dominion.

“Look, I might be wrong, but I have nothing to do with his death. I cannot even kill a cockroach, not to talk of a human being,” said Desmond when Dominion cuts in, “I can see that. Can you imagine a man who kept sleeping with a man’s wife claming to be incapable of killing him. Do I look gullible to you? And you,” he continued as he turned to his mom. “You are not worthy to be my mother. I hate you more than I have ever loved you. I assure you, life will make you pay for this,” he said and walked away, but they went after him pleading.

“Son, I swear, if she had told me, I would have raised you as my own. I will give you everything. All the comfort of life that you can ever think of. I never knew I had a child when I had been crying to God for a child all these years,” he said almost weeping.

“I will never accept you as my father. My father died some months ago and I will always honour and cherish the memories of his love and care, not a man without a conscience like you. Go and die with your money,” he said, pushed him off his path and left.

As he was leaving, Mr. Ade drove into the compound, but Dominion didn’t wait for him to drop from the car and left, though he called him.

Mr. Ade quickly entered the car and blocked him on the way. “I don’t want to have anything to do with you or anyone of you bunch of betrayers,” said Dominion angrily, but Mr. Ade was shocked.

“Why did you say that to me?” He asked curiously. “Oh! So you think your friend will be dead now if you didn’t keep quiet about it,” said Dominion. “It wasn’t that I didn’t want to say anything. I didn’t want to hurt my friend. I even had to consult a counsellor in UK, and that was why I purposely came to Nigeria when I realized his life might be in danger. I never knew I’ll come home to meet his corpse,” he explained.

“It doesn’t matter, I have made up my mind. I am leaving,” said Dominion. “To where? You can come to stay with me. I am still in the country and I am thinking of you joining us in UK. I’ve already spoken to my wife.

“Is that an attempt to clear your conscience? Look, if there is anyone you are thinking of taking with you, it should be the true seeds of your son, my sisters, not me,” he said. “As far as I am concerned, you are the first seed of my friend, and he never loved you less…” he said when Dominion cuts in.

“If you are thinking of how to get raid of the millstone on your head, you better get to the root of his death, and make the murderers pay for it,” Dominion said and left.

No matter how much he pleaded with him, he refused to be stopped.

POTHOLES

Chapter Eight

It has been three months since Loveth started the job. When she was returning from work, she dropped at George’s place with a rather questionable look, but George had not returned from work. He had picked up a teaching job in a secondary school, though they were paying him peanut.

She was dog-tired that she landed on his bed and slept lickety-split. It was George who woke her up when he returned from work.

“When did you return,” she asked fighting with the hand of sleep that still had a strong grip on her. “A little while ago. I didn’t want to wake you, but your Mom called you. I told her you are here, but what got me curious was she asked if you have told me something,” he said.

She sat up and seemed rather reluctant to talk. “What is it?” He asked. “Honey, ehmm, you know I love you,” she said. “Of course I know,” he answered affirmatively. “I am really sorry. I know this is the last thing you want to hear right now, but…”she said but paused as if she was not sure of saying the next word.

“You’re getting me flustered, please talk,” he said. She took a deep breath and said, “Ok, I am…” and took a breather again, but eventually summoned courage, “I am pregnant,” she said.

He was quiet for a while but thereafter said, “Is that why you are looking worried?” He asked. “Y-e-sss,” she replied faintly. “I know you are still trying to put things together and I really want you to marry me because you want to, not for any pregnancy,” she said.

“Though I am not earning much, but at least we will take a step at a time. I guess you have told your Mom, but does your Dad know about this?” He asked. “Not yet, she said I should let you know first,” she replied. “We are no longer kids, I guess it’s time we get married,” he concluded.

It wasn’t long that they had their traditional wedding. They welcomed their first gift, Dominion, about seven months after and were showered with many gifts, especially from Mr. Desmond who had been very munificent to them.

Some years later, tables turned for the couple, and George started his own business that eventually enrolled him in the league of top-drawer business men in Lagos.

At a point, he asked his wife to resign and join him in his business, but she hesitated and told him to wait till Mr. Desmond can get a stand-in.

At that time, she was already his personal assistant and they travelled several times together. On an occasion, they had travelled to UK where they ran into Ade, George’s friend.

At the outset, he saw them in a restaurant, but was stupefied with the way they conversed.

This aroused his curiosity and he kept a close track of them until he sighted the hotel they lodged in.

He was taken aback when he discovered that they had lodged in the same room. He decided to unravel the puzzles and lodged in the same hotel, but unknown to him, they were also on their way out when they ran into each other.

“Just drop my hands slowly,” Loveth quietly told Desmond as she sighted him. “Is it Ade I am seeing?” Desmond asked. “Do you know him too?” Asked Loveth. “Yes, we went to the same school together with your husband,” he replied. “Oh! That’s true,”

Like an actor, Ade perfectly acted the role of a pretender and he spuriously said, “Wow! Tell me I am not dreaming! So you are in this country and you didn’t even care to check on me.” “I am so sorry, I didn’t know your apartment will be anywhere close to this place,” replied Loveth. “But I do not even know you’re now in UK,” said Desmond as they embraced each other.

“I learnt my friend is controlling millions now. By the way, Desmond, thank you, George told me all the favours you did for him,” said Ade. “It’s nothing,” he said. “Why don’t we get some drinks and sit to talk,” said Desmond as they left.

Mr. Ade lost his placidity and decided to hire a private investigator in Nigeria to get to the underpin of the matter.

As nothing can stay hidden under the sun forever, the receptionist who also had to do the same thing to secure the job revealed to the investigator that the hotel he invited her over to on the pretense of having a meeting was the same one he invited Loveth to a week after she got the job. Mr. Desmond eventually terminated her appointment when she got married and refused to keep up with the game.

While Mr. Ade was battling with the truth that stared at him, it occurred to him that George had raised an issue with him that he discarded few weeks to their wedding.

“Now that I think about it, George had actually told me he cannot figure out how she got pregnant knowing well that they don’t have unprotected sex. But.. could it be, no, it is not possible.” Ade soliloquized, but he refused to leave any stone unturned.

He had to travel down to Nigeria and made his friend do a test with his kids that he gave them the impression was a check up.

The result got him perplexed that he didn’t know what to do. Without saying ciao to his friend, he picked the next available flight back to UK and never returned until he decided to return to fix the mess, only to return back to meet George’s ghost.