You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, Know when to fold ’em, Know when to walk away, Know when to run… oh yes. As Steve and I walked out of the office, Kenny Rogers` Gambler tune played in my head over and over again. It would take a short break, the tune, but only to allow the words that Madam Anne had spilled out not long ago have its share of fun in my head and then the tune would be back to repeat mode. You surely do remember that not even once had Steve and I been on the losing end. We run the show in Msonobari village. We administered threats and those who were smart enough knew we did not mince our words. Unfortunately Madam Anne was not one of those people.
Here is what was going to happen. If Anne made good her threat, Delilah would surely be shown the door by her mother-in-law. Yes, her mother-in-law was powerful like that. She was the human version of the devil. even her own son, Prof, feared her. And if that were to happen, it meant that the responsibility of taking care of Delilah and her kids would fall on my shoulder. Not that that would have posed a problem to me because like you know, I am the epitome of success in Msonobari, but the logistics were enough to cripple my marriage. And I could not afford that. since she put to bed Tabitha had turned out to be a calm and loving wife and things were better that way.
As you would expect, Steve and I drove to Msonobari bar to drown the thoughts of our imminent failure with alcohol. We barely spoke as we sipped directly from the bottles, ignoring the glasses set before us. Steve shared in my sorrow. Because my sorrow was his. My failure was his. And the only thing Steve hated more than anything else was failure. Failure was a word too weak and negative to be a part of his vocabulary but still, there we were. He loudly set his bottle on the table after drinking his last swallow and said, almost to himself, “She will not win this.”
I chuckled. A dismissive chuckle to his words. He shot me a terrible look before adding, “I mean it. That woman, Anne, has stepped on a live wire.”
“And what do you think we will do? She is ready to go down, if it means dragging us with her.”
He leaned closer to me and said, “Don`t tell me you are giving up.”
“I am not. This was not my fight to begin with so I will back out of it and let Chief handle his problems the best way he knows how.”
“and how will you explain to him your sudden change of mind? I mean, you are not going to tell him about Delilah`s twins, are you?”
I hated to admit it but Steve was right. Up to that moment the secret of me fathering Delilah`s twins on her husband`s behalf was a well kept one. It was even a wonder how Anne got hold of that secret. But still, the last person I wanted that information to reach was my father-in-law, or mother-in-law because then hell would break lose. In spite of his own short comings, Chief, I was sure, would not be able to simply let such info slide by without causing a havoc. It was worse because I was paid to do it.
Steve was still looking at me. “What?” I said in a mumble.
“What excuse are you going to tell bwana chief, your father-in-law, for backing out on your promise.”
I held my beer bottle mid air and said, “Let`s drink for tonight. Tomorrow, we will think of a way to tackle Anne.”
“Excellent!” Steve exclaimed before flagging down the waitress with a heavily endowed behind, making drunk men in that bar even more drunk, and ordered for more beer. We drunk in silence. Okay, not really in silence for as it was the norm, rhumba music coughed from the dusty old speakers stuffed somewhere behind the counter. Plus there were a few murmurs in the bar as the movers and shakers of Msonobari engaged in heart to hearts. A moment later I curled my wrist and looked at the watch, it was a few minutes past 10 and I needed to be on my way. We finished of the remaining bottles, Steve paid for the drinks and we hit the road, dropping him off at his place before heading home.
When I knocked, Tabitha came to open the door dressed in nothing but a pair of tee shirt which covered her knees. I doubted she wore anything beneath it. That is not to say that she was semi naked because she was wearing a big infectious smile over the tee. She eyed me as she leaned against the door frame, her white teeth shining bright than the florescent tube on our living room, hands crossed against her breasts.
“I was beginning to think you will show up late and drunk. But I see you are only drunk.” she did not say it like she was accusing me, more like she was teasing me.
“I am not drunk,” I pulled her in into a hug.
“But you reek of alcohol,” her soft voice brushed through my ears.
“Just a few bottles.”
I tried kissing her but she gently pushed me away, “Not with that terrible breath.”
I followed her in, closing the door behind me. She lazily let herself fall on the couch and I sat beside her, “How was your day?”
“And how is my baby doing? ”
“Oh Natasha was good today, she is sleeping.”
“I suspected so.”
She then looked up at me, her face beaming with admiration. The way she looked at me made me feel like how a gold medal trophy would feel if it had a heart. I threw my hand across her neck and pulled her closer to my chest, “And what is that look for?”
“Come on,” I was pushing for her to say that I was awesome. And she did.
“You know,” she said, “Sometimes back I used to think that whatever happened between you and Delilah would come back to haunt us. Like you would want, out of curiosity and lust, to sleep with her again.”
“Then?” my voice was barely audible. Delilah was not a name I was looking forward to hear at that time.
“But then you have proved with time that you want no one else but me. I love you,” she said. This time she leaned in for the kiss herself. I whispered my I love you back before excusing myself to go take a bath. It was like she was aware of what was happening though I was sure she was not. When I stepped in that bathroom, I had only one resolve, that neither Anne nor her threats would shake me down, she was the one going to bite the dust.