The Bleeding Son (2)
Chapter Two: The Morning After
Michael opened his eyes, and shut them immediately. The light of the sun streaming through the window seemed to send a million daggers into his eyes and re-activate the headache…which was far better than the migraine that had decimated his skull for days on end. Nonetheless, the headache was quite bad. Cautiously, he opened his eyes again and slowly sat up. It was not a dream, after all. He had done it. As memories of the previous day coursed through his mind, the tears quickly followed. God, he thought, I actually did it. How could this have happened, he thought to himself. Now, she was well and truly gone leaving him all alone. He had never felt so alone in his life – and all the chaos, all the madness, all the pain, all of it had start with a simple online chat.
He had met her a month ago, randomly, as these things tend to play out. Work was over, but he had stayed back to cool off after the craziness that was his daily work routine. As Chief Strategy Officer of a medium-sized IT firm, he was always immersed in numbers and charts and endless meetings and review sessions and… It just had no end. Home was no better either. His baby was all grown now, walking around the house, grabbing at things, putting things in her mouth, poking fingers into dark warm places like electric sockets and underneath door hinges, while he shuttled between trying to finish some work on his personal laptop, keep an eye on her at the same time as he waited for the arrival of his wife, Linda. His work was hectic, but he was able to get home for about 7pm on a regular day. Linda, on the other hand, was the Head of E-Business in the nation’s leading bank. Basically, getting home at 10pm was normal even now that she was pregnant.
That evening, he had gone on Facebook to kill time briefly before heading for home. After checking out a few status messages and watching a few videos, he was about to log off when a message had popped up.
“Hi”. The name was Ola, though like many Facebook ‘friends’ he had no idea who this person was.
“Hi”, he responded, before going on to check the profile of this Ola person. Ola turned out to be female.
“I don’t normally do this, but I feel like talking to someone I don’t really know”.
Well, whoever this Ola person was, she could actually write properly and punctuate, which was fast becoming a rarity in Facebook chats.
“Ok…” he didn’t know what to say, but by the next line, he sat up straight.
“If a woman says, I want to kill my hubby, and then I am going to kill myself, what would you advise?”
He paused for a while, taken aback, then thought, heck, this is Facebook and random people…
“Michael, if that woman said she was going to do it tonight, what would you say?”
What the hell is this, Michael thought.
“Michael, what if that woman was talking to you right now?”
“Ola, whoever you are, I don’t really know you, and I don’t know what you’re going through. However, I know that killing anyone or killing yourself is not the answer. It is criminal and the repercussions are horrible.”
“I will be killing myself afterwards. My husband and I have no children and after the initial crocodile tears from society, everyone will move on. People are dying right now and the world has not stopped spinning. Or has it, Mike?”
“No, it has not, but…” he was groping at straws now. Why was it so hard to find the right words just when you needed them, “but there is an afterlife to deal with, Ola.”
Fact was, he didn’t know what to say.
“You don’t know what to say, right?”
Well, there you go, Michael thought to himself. The options were to leave her to God and hope to heaven she didn’t kill herself and her husband, if there was any truth to the story. Maybe what had convinced him were her pictures, several pictures of her and a guy with wedding bands, smiling like teenagers who had stumbled on a secret entrance to a candy factory.
“Ola, can I call you?”
There was a pause. For no reason, alarm bells went off in his head, but he could not put a finger on why. Somewhere, deep down, something in him was regretting his last statement, but it was too late now.
“I’m sorry. This is so strange, even for me, but here’s my number”.
He picked up his phone, stared at it for what seemed like eternity, then let out a deep sigh, and crossed the line, some mental line in his mind. He dialled the number. The phone rang thrice and just when he thought there would be no answer, the call connected, but there was just silence.
“Hello.” There was a pause. “Can I call you Mike?” The voice was business-like, but there was a soft husky quality to it.
“Yeah, sure. So tell me, Ola, what is the matter? Is this some sort of joke or are you actually planning to, er, you know, kill yourself and your hubby? I mean, you guys look great in the pictures and…”
“Mike,” she cut in, “I loved my husband, but there is nothing left anymore. I have decided I am tired of late nights at work just to stay away from the beating and abuse. I have decided I am tired of the lies and infidelity. I have decided I am tired of the endless insults from my in-laws because my man will not stand up for me. And yet, I am stuck because I cannot divorce him. I would rather die than divorce, but in my head, the marriage is over.”
“Ola, I am not a marriage counsellor or some sort of expert, but I do know that there are always ways to resolve these things. Why don’t you try something unusual, like show up unannounced at his work place with a gift, just to…”
“My husband is not working at the moment. A part of him really hates the fact that he has to depend on me. My job does not let me get home on time, and when I get home late, I get a beating”
“Wow. That’s tough. Why don’t you, er, you know, work out something with your boss to allow you get home earlier.”
“I have tried but it is a bit difficult at this time because we are coming close to the end of a financial year, and I am the Head of Strategy, so we…”
“Oh, really. I am actually into Strategy for my company as well”
“That’s nice. What a coincidence! Now, I bet you understand what I mean, especially when you have to handle concerns for a fairly large firm. I work with Blu-IT”
“No way!” Michael exclaimed, “I work with IT-Corps. Gee, you guys are our fiercest competition.
Your head office is just down the road from ours, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is. Interesting”
“Well… what can I say?”
There was a pause, and then she said
“I know this might be asking a bit too much, but can I see you, Mike?”
“Er,” more alarm bells went off in his head again.
“I mean right now.” She said quietly. “I can be at yours in two minutes or we can meet at Grubz.
There’s just so much I want to get off my chest and…” her voice trailed off.
This was all happening quite quickly, but for some reason, he could not put his thoughts together.
“Please, I just need someone to talk to, have one more last decent conversation before I put it all behind me….for good.”
That had been a month ago, but the events of last night would not be forgotten for a long time. He groggily got up, trying to block out the memories of what had happened at that fateful meeting as he walked slowly into the next room. Linda was gone, that much was certain, and all he had in the world was the person he cared for more than life itself. The headache pounded at his temple and for a split second, waves of nausea and vertigo almost knocked him off his feet, but he walked on toward the crib, towards his little girl.
She looked so peaceful as she slept, dreaming of things he would never know about. He had always been fascinated by the peace that shrouded her anytime she slept, the locks on her beautiful hair, the rosy pallor of her cheeks, which seemed a bit dull this morning, the gentle sound of her breathing, her chest rising and falling softly as it was not doing today.
As it was not doing today? He frowned and leaned over to touch her – and then froze as it dawned on him that was her cheeks were cold to the touch.
“Hilda! Hilda!!” he cried, and gathered her up in his arms. No, not now, now today, he thought. This could NOT be happening. He shook her gently, then laid her down and pushed gently a few times against her chest.
“Hilda, my love, please! Hilda! I beg you! Hilda!” Then he was calling 911 and screaming at the top of his lungs, pleading with whoever was on the end of the line. I stood with Moriel, watching the scene unfold, unable to do anything about the grief that was playing out before me. Then the ambulance came, and the attendants rushed out, and the equipments were put in place, and the body was placed on a stretcher, and the stethoscope emerged and the doctor listened for a heartbeat and examined the child. It was at that point that the doctor sadly took one look at Michael, walked over to him, and without a word, put a hand across his shoulder…and it was at that moment the man finally broke as the coin finally dropped.
His only child, his daughter was dead… Gone.
The rest of us had watched her go about 6 hours ago, and had known that in this instance, there would be no miracle to bring her back. The sheet was pulled over the remains of the little girl and Vlad, the masseur who had worked on this poor man for most of the night, stood behind him now and did what he could do to soothe his soul. Yet, I knew that what he needed the most at this time was the love that would come from another who loved him, another who would stand strong with him – but at the moment, there was no one.
And just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, with shaky hands, Mike finally got his hands on the phone, dialled a number and we all heard him say:
“Ola…hi, it’s me.” Another sob wracked his being, before he spoke again. “I need you…”
Moriel, Vlad and I looked up almost at the same time, as a vile presence could suddenly be sensed not far away from where we stood. And there he was, one of the chief strategist of our Enemy, Azazel, standing on a rooftop, not far from where we were, observing the scene unfold before him.
Then he took one look at Michael, threw back his head and laughed – and then disappeared from our sight.