Ash fell on Namdi's lap, the lit cigar somehow still between his lips. A snowy storm of black and gray, near perfect match to the hair the older man sported. He could no longer taste the flavours, his senses deadened. A phantom pain pushing all else aside. Motion in front of him left him holding his breath, unsure what more he would be subjected to but knowing fully he had little left in him.
Each step Mr. Shagari took brought him closer to a visibly shaken Namdi. With disdain, a card dropped from his hand to join the ash on Namdi's lap.
"Here's a number to a specialist. I shouldn't have to wait any longer to be a grandfather because you are barely a man."
With those parting words, Mr. Shagari walked out the glass door. Alone in the fully illuminated balcony, Namdi let out the breath he had been too afraid to release. In the light, his weak state was fully evident. Taking the cigar out of his mouth, he flung it as hard as he could into the sky. Balling his hand into a fist, he began to beat his chest. Over and over he struck, the thumps growing louder, the pain more biting. Teeth clenching from the torment, he stopped.
Getting up from the wicker chair, Namdi's legs did not visibly shake. He took the small victory. To the floor fell the ash that previously resided on his lap. Wanting to brush away the evidence, he spied the card. His lips curled into a sneer when he picked it up. Not bothering to look at the information, he stuck it into his pocket. Turning, he walked to the glass door but did not slide it open. Hand on the handle, his eyes closed. There he remained, his thoughts his own. When his lids finally fluttered open, his breathing had evened out his mind tranquil. With a firm hold he slid the door open, making his way straight to the dining room.
Stepping into the dinning room, there was no surprise when Namdi looked to his left and saw Mr. Shagari seated at the head of the rectangular table. Behind him were frosted windows reaching from floor to ceiling. The table could seat six comfortably. Currently, only four chairs surrounded the mahogany table on which a vase of rare orchids was the sole ornament. Pristine white walls held nothing but a single painting, a bitter red dripped on a parchment that matched the longer width of the table. From the ceiling a chandelier hung, a marriage of iron and glass wrought in a style long discarded.
Leisurely, Namdi made his way to the chair on the right of the door. Behind him a cabinet stood, blending easily with the walls. He was determined not to be blindsided again. Across from each other they sat, no love lost between them. None spoke as they waited. Namdi turned to the painting, wishing to look at anything but his father-in-law. He stared in awe at how the red came alive, half expecting it to continue its drip right off the painting and onto the walls.
The dining room door opened and an apron-free Zainab walked in with her hands full. On her heels was Mrs. Shagari with a bottle of wine in one hand and a decanter in the other. Quickly, Namdi left his seat, taking the wine and decanter from her.
"Let me take care of this while you take your seat."
"You are too good to me."
With wine and decanter in hand, Namdi headed for the kitchen. Behind him Mrs. Shagari made her way to her seat, her path taking her past her husband.
Mr. Shagari spoke while taking his wife's hand in his; words that reached Zainab's ears as she made her way back to the kitchen. In the kitchen, she ran into Namdi working the wine opener.
"I don't get you and my dad."
"This is about your mum, isn't it?"
"How can the two of you be so blind. The woman is evil!"
"Your mum is sweet. She has treated me with nothing but kindness."
"I could shatter your world right now but you are lucky I love you. Dad said a replacement Mercedes will arrive in a few days."
Namdi looked up from the wine he was pouring, a frown on his face.
"Zainab, I don't remember asking you to meet your dad concerning this."
"It's no big deal, he was happy to do it. He was also the one who took care of the wreck. Till it arrives, I'll be your beautiful chauffeur. Emmm... Namdi, the wine is pouring on the floor."
With a sigh, Namdi corrected the pour; finishing up before walking to the pantry to grab a mop and paper towels. Decanter in one hand, Namdi joined the waiting Zainab, and together, they made their way back to the dining room. Zainab reached out a free hand to open the dining room door. She didn't get far, Namdi grabbing her arm in a vice like grip. Shocked, she turned only for her to see Namdi with a finger on his lips. Puzzled, she bit back the harsh words she was about to unleash. Quickly, Namdi cupped his hand behind his ear and pointed to the door. It was then Zainab noticed she could faintly hear a heated argument.
Continued on next page...
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