Episode Six here
Seven – Christabel!
I finally managed to quieten the wailing Lola and dragged her to the sofa.
Her eyes were still red-rimmed, her chest was still heaving and her lips were still quivering but she was making visible signs to hold down her sobs. My fear-numbed mind was slowly rising back to life and my grey matter was quickly recovering its thinking ability. A semblance of sane thought was pushing through the foggy mist blocking my reason and pushing forward to the surface and I could now clearly decipher the question groaning deep within me… how?
“Lola, you need to calm down and talk to me.” I took her hand, it was trembling. “Lola, are you listening to me?”
She bobbed her head.
“Okay. Now I need you to tell me what really happened. How did you …” My voice trailed off. I couldn’t call my wife a killer. She can’t have killed Christabel.
I didn’t need to complete my question, Lola already knew what I was trying so hard to say… or not to say. She sniffed and using the hem of her T-shirt blew her nose vigorously.
I did my best not to wince.
Heaving out a hitching breath, she squared her shoulders, cleared her throat and faced me. “It happened just after you left to go watch your football match.” She began in a low hoarse voice.
I knew it!
“All through dinner I’d been unresponsive – angry because of what I’d witnessed earlier – but you hadn’t noticed.” Her voice was mildly accusing as she paused.
Since we had bigger issues at hand than my attempt at infidelity, I wasn’t at all bothered about her accusatory tone.
“Just moments after you’d left, I heard a knock on the door.” Lola continued, clearing her throat again. “I thought it was you – maybe you’d forgotten something.” She paused again to wipe with the other end of her T-shirt the single tear that had slipped through her eye. “But it wasn’t you… it was Christabel.”
“What are you doing here?” Lola demanded angrily eyeing the nervously smiling Chistabel.
“Actually I just saw Mr. Elvis leave the house and I thought this should be a good time to come and explain.”
Lola’s lips curled in disdain, imagine the nerve of the shameless hussy. “To explain what exactly?”
“May I at least come in, Madam Lola?” Christabel asked her voice was a little pleading.
Lola eyed the artificial yellow pawpaw in baby-pink leggings and an off-white big T-shirt from head to toe and back again.
“Madam Lola, what you saw wasn’t exactly what it looked like.” Christabel said maybe realising that she probably won’t be invited inside. “Mr. Elvis and I weren’t really doing anything…”
“Of course you weren’t doing anything.” Lola interrupted stormy eyes spiting fire. “I caught you in time before you could start doing something.” She ran her flickering eyes over her letting out a long hiss.
“Madam Lola, please allow me come inside and explain.” Christabel requested again. “Someone might come into the yard and it won’t be good if they see us exchanging words at…”
Lola cut off the unnecessary speech in that irritating reasonable tone. Imagine, first she wanted to snatch her husband and now she’s here trying to play Miss I-get-sense-pass-you. “Why? Are you afraid that the whole Estate might find out that you are a husband snatcher?” Her hands were fisted on her waist and she was jiggling her feet.
“I’m not a husband snatcher, Madam.” Christabel defended.
“What are you then? A husband kisser?” Lola sneered.
Christabel drew in a calming breath. “And I didn’t kiss your husband either…”
“Yes I wanted to but I didn’t.” Christabel cut her off. “And a person cannot be condemned for a crime they have not yet committed.” She added with a haughty toss of her net-covered head.
“You are a shameless hussy.” Lola clapped her hands in front of her face. “That’s what you are, a shameless hussy.”
“No I’m not. I have a boyfriend and I only came here…”
“So you have a boyfriend and yet you are chasing after my husband? Kai! You are really shameless.”
“Madam Lola, I’ve been respectful to you since I came here…”
Lola interrupted her again. “And since you are here, I just want to warn you to keep your useless hands and mouth,” she pulled her by the mouth, “off my hands.”
Having delivered her warning, she swung around to head back inside. But as she tried to close it, Christabel pushed it open and followed her inside.
“I have never laid hands on your husband, Madam Lola.” She tossed out. “And as for wanting to touch him with my mouth, you should be thankful that a beautiful, sexy lady like me would condescend to kiss that …”
Lola did not allow her to finish before she treated her to a head-snapping slap across the face. “Now get out of my house, useless ashawo!”
The hard slap seemed to knock Christabel down from her high horse and restore some sense into her head because instead of retaliating she was looking remorseful.
“Madam Lola, I am sorry. Seriously, it was just a harmless flirtation…”
“Yes, that’s how you stupid girls go about harmlessly flirting with another woman’s husband and wrecking marriages.”
Lola was so furious, she was pacing the narrow length and breadth of their sitting room. Who did she blame anyway but her weak husband who cannot keep his eyes off harmlessly flirtatious girls.
“Madam Lola, we have been neighbours for some months now.” For reasons best known to her, Christabel was still making an effort to explain in spite of Lola’s obvious disinterest and fury. “I’m not a troublemaker. I’m sorry about what nearly happened between Mr. Elvis and I. I admit it was very wrong. But I have a boyfriend, a man I’m hoping to marry and …”
“You are hoping to marry him but you are still practicing kitchen romance with my husband, eh?” Lola snarled, swinging round to grab Christabel by her T-shirt and shaking her.
Christabel shook off her hand and backed off towards the TV. “Madam Lola, please you are taking this thing too far. After all nothing really happened…”
“So I should wait for something to happen before, abi?” Lola blazed. “I should wait for you to seduce and snatch my husband…”
Loosing her cool, Christabel raised her voice too, eyes flashing arrogantly. “For the last time I wasn’t trying to seduce your husband because if I were you won’t still be in this house…”
Lola, seeing red at that petulant rejoinder, flung out her hand and struck her hard across the face. The blow cause Christabel to jerk back, she lost her balance and went backward towards the floor, her head knocked against the TV stand as she went down.
Lola stared in dismay at the crumpled figure on the floor. The rage and anger had suddenly flown out of her. “Christabel.” She called hesitantly.
When there was no response, the hesitation turned quickly into fear. She squatted beside the still body, stretching forward a shaky hand she tentatively touched the body, poked it and then shook it – no response. Panicked now, she bent over until her head was on Christabel’s chest – no sound of heartbeat. She could only hear her own loud thudding heartbeat.
Eyes wild with fear, she lifted Christabel by the shoulders and inspected the back of her head – no blood.
No blood… yet no heartbeat… ah! She had just killed somebody o.
“And what did you do with the body?” I asked when she stopped.
“I checked again and again for heartbeat but she wasn’t breathing.” The tears were back in her eyes and coursing down her cheeks. “I shook her, hit her, even slapped her on the face – still no movement.”
“And? What did you then do with the body?” Hot blood was pumping to my head and I was doing my best to remain sane.
“I now managed to drag up her body and pulled her to the washing room. That’s where I left her body.”
“Her body is inside here in the house?”
“Yes o.” Lola cried starting to shake again.
I didn’t care about her shaking, I was more concerned with the wild quakes quivering inside of me. “You mean we’ve been living in this house with a dead body since Friday night?”
Lola moaned. “Yes o. And I think her ghost is beginning to haunt me. I don’t think what I did worked.” She wailed.
I stared at her, my heartbeats were doing a somersault inside my chest. “What did you do again?”
Lola wiped her face with her T-shirt. “You know how they say that if you don’t want a dead person to haunt you from the grave, you should bound them tightly?” I didn’t respond, I couldn’t. “Well, that Friday night after you’ve slept off, I went back to the washing room and tied her body up.”
I stared open-mouthed at Lola. I didn’t know which was more shocking – that my wife was indeed a killer or that a whole lot had been going on in my house and I was completely clueless. One thing was certain though, I was scared shitless, not only was the Police surely coming back for us but worse still I’ve been living with a ghost in the house.
“But I don’t think it worked.” Lola continued staring wildly at me. “Because yesterday evening after the Detective left and we’d eaten and gone to bed, I got up and went towards the room, wondering how I could carry out her body but I had to run back…” She paused and blew her nose.
“Why?” I literary screamed.
“Because I heard sounds… ghostlike sounds… like ooohhhhhh.” She mimicked the sound.
An involuntary shudder washed over me.
“But since you now know, you can help me carry out her body.” Lola grabbed hold of my hands.
“What?” I cried out shaking off her hand. “You want me to carry a dead body?”
“We have to carry it out, Elvis. We can’t leave her here to decay and start smelling.”
Her eyes were pleading piteously with me. But I’ve never touched a dead body before in my life. And I didn’t want my first experience to be the body of a woman murdered by my wife. But yet, we couldn’t very well leave the body inside the house, could we? Or maybe we should abandon everything and run away?
“Elvis, let’s go do it now before the Detective returns.” Lola was already on her feet and she was pulling me up too.
“But where are we going to dump her body?” I asked desperately following her through the kitchen door into the corridor that led down past our rooms and down to a kind of basement room we used as a washing room and alternative store room.
Our steps involuntarily slowed down as we reached the four flight of stairs and as we went down the stairs, Lola gripped my hand harder. I didn’t ask her to loosen her blood-seizing hold because I needed the courage-giving hold too.
Gingerly, after being nudged by Lola, I pushed open the door and rightly enough the ‘ooohhhing’ sound flowed through the slightly ajar door. Mustering all the courage inside of me, I pushed door and it opened wide enough for us to see into the room.
Amid a rumple of clothes and other odd items, Christabel was tied to an old, broken-down table-top refrigerator with a rope… and she wasn’t dead.
She was weakly moving her head, her eyes were striving to flutter open and she was moaning.
“Christabel!” I exclaimed.
Episode Eight here