Remember Fred? I told you all about him a few years back – the old acquaintance who eventually became a lover. Comfortable and laid back, heâ€™s treated our relationship as an open one – no strings attached. But then what strings was I looking for in a confirmed ( bachelor who was not keen on getting married again?
Heâ€™d done it once, had children from the liaison and now lives alone with well-tested hands. His cook could rustle up a gourmet meal at the drop of a hat. His house is always sparkling, thanks to the housekeeper heâ€™d had for years. As for female company, he could have his pick any time he felt like it. With his business taking him all over the world, that happens occasionally and, like the proverbial sailor, he has a dame or two waiting for him in every port!
Iâ€™d tried to wormÂ out the reason why he never bothered about having a permanent relationship out of him, but heâ€™d always parried the question, telling me he would settle down when he was good and ready. When he recently called he was having a quiet dinnerÂ party for about ten people to mark his birthday and wondered if I could attend, I jumped at the offer.
I knew a good time was on the cards. And I wasnâ€™t disappointed. Apart from his cookâ€™s culinary masterpieces, heâ€™d ordered exotic finger-foods from a restaurant and my mouth instantly watered. There were huge peppered snails (With snail-farming on the increase all over the country, it was no surprise) jumbo prawns with fish and meat dishes done in assorted sauces.
Take away! My mind instantly came up with the bright idea! There was no way we could all finish the spread, even if we were holed up in there till the next day. I couldnâ€™t contain the excited thought of warming all the left-overs in the microwave for days!
Drinks freely flowed, the music, solemn but matured and the conversation wasÂ cozy. By the time the last guest left, and I made to look for containersÂ to cart away some food, Fred discreetly steered me to bedroom, instructing the cook to pack plenty of food for madam to take away the next morning. The next morning? Was he nuts? I reminded him I had a job to go to and I would need new change of cloths and make-up.
Was he planning on my leaving at 6.00a.m the next day? â€œHey relax,â€ the laughed mischievously, â€œyou can always go straight to the office from here!â€ With that, he opened a section of his long wardrobe. I gasped. Revealed were a row of female dresses, make-ups, some night wears not forgettingÂ toothbrushes and mini toothpaste. The man was a chronic cassonova!
He was in aÂ really relaxed mood and as we sipped coffee in bed to get some of the alcohol out of our system, he sighed. â€œPenny, for your thoughts,â€ I told him. â€œWould you believe I was actually thinking of my ex-wife?â€ What? At a time like this?
â€œYou reminded me of her in a way? â€œheÂ continued. â€œshe was witty, affectionate and caring,â€ So what else was new? â€œIt was when I started my business all those years back that she introduced me to the pastor of her church.Â Sheâ€™d told me of some strange predictions coming from one of the â€˜prayer warriorsâ€™ about me but I bolked at being dragged to the church for deliverance.â€
In the end, she talked the pastor into visiting the house and the least I could do was listen. He said some prayers, told me to be wary of certain people and predicted my business would grow very rapidly from then on if I intensified prayers.
â€œTo my surprise, some of the predictions came true and my business thrived. My wife even got pregnant again after a couple of years of our trying and I decided to support the church as it was still finding its feet then. I bought it musical instruments, kit band members in uniform and made a few reforms in the church. The more I did, the more my business prospered and the more grateful the pastor was.
He was always eager to pray for my family and I even sent him to a few of my friends who needed spiritual guidance. The church grew in leaps and bo]1ds and I felt proud that I was a contributory factory. When rumours started flying that the pastor was helping himself to some of the attractive members of his â€˜flockâ€™, I kept my cool – it had absolutely nothing to do with me.
But when some members deliberately let it drop that my wife could be one of them, I laughed. How absurd could you be? My wife? And the pastor? What would she want from him that I couldnâ€™t give more? I didnâ€™t even bother to ask her about it. Gossips would fabricate anything to keep the gossip mill going.
â€œA few year later, I had to dash to the house in the middle of the day when I saw the pastorâ€™s car in the drive. Thinking heâ€™d come on one of his praying sessions, I went discreetly to my room, opened the door and found the pastor having full sex with my wife! I was in shock as they both broke a part) startled and mortified. I quietly shut the door, and left-forgetting to pick the vital document Iâ€™d come home for.
I couldnâ€™t go back home either. The pain was that deep it was as if the devil himself had infiltrated my home. I checked into a guest house and asked my driver to help bring some things from the house. I then called my father-in-law to beg him to go and remove his daughter from my house if he didnâ€™t want me to commit murder. Briefly, I told him what happened and the poor man was lost for words.
â€œMy wife finally left the house and promptly travelled abroad. Sheâ€™d been away ever since. With time, I learnt to live with the betrayal- itâ€™s not something a man could forget. She has access to the children who all school abroad and we try to be civil to each other when we meet. The few times Iâ€™d seen her, Iâ€™d wondered what devil could possess a wife who seemingly had everything to sleep with a pastor in her matrimonial bed?!
Iâ€™d since found out it wasnâ€™t even a one-off, that the affair had been going on for years – I was naturally the last to know. In my conceit, Iâ€™d laughed at the rumours as being ludicrous, now, the laugh was on me. Unfortunately, the experience had put me off marriage for good. Who can you really trust? My ex came from a middle class family, is a university graduate and well brought up.
Why would she want to even bring herself down to the level of sleeping with a church pastor in full glare of the congregation?
â€œSome of the church members had come to her defence, accusing the pastor of using supernatural means to sleep with his female members. Well, good luck to him. Iâ€™ve never clamped eyes on him since the incident and Iâ€™ve since learnt that his church is in disarray.
He even sufferedÂ a massive stroke from which he slightly recovered. Death would be too quick a respite for him. The way he now is, he would have plenty on time to regret using the Lordâ€™s name for mischief!â€ The silence that followed this revelation was thick. I was a bit flustered. Why was he telling me this story today of all days? Whatever nookie he might have planned was obviously ruined by his regrets.
I said brightly, trying to talk him out of his pensive mood.Â â€œItâ€™s still your birthday you know, letâ€™s have another drink!â€ Where is the loin chain I gave you? he asked his eyes narrowing. I told him I just moved house and couldnâ€™t quite remember where I put it, but it wasnâ€™t lost. For a minute, he looked as if he didnâ€™t believe me and I stared right back at him.
Poor thing. With the kind of experience he had from his wife of all people, who could he really trust?
Bright and early the next day, I had my bath, helped myself to an expensive suit that was my size, then left:. Fred was his old self again. Thank goodness.
Heâ€™d even managed to make love early in the morning and with a cheery ware that the driver would bring my doggy-bags- in the evening, disappeared to his house. Life really has a way of dolling out misery, I reminisced on my way to work. But then, it also has a way of fortifying you so you could roll with the punches!