THE JAILBIRD// 22
EYRAM'S RESIDENCE - MORNING
Eyram knocks on the door and hears his deep voice from inside.
She turns the handle and goes in.
She is dressed for the office, and she walks briskly into the kitchen.
He is sitting at the plastic table with a mug of black coffee in front of him. She smells and notices the toasts on a plate on the table.
She pulls out a chair and sits down, and then she reaches for a toast and bites into it.
She chews with her eyes closed, and when she opens her eyes she looks at the toast with mild surprise on her face.
What did you make the filling with, CB? This is too good!
He takes a sip of his coffee and puts the mug down.
I thought you would like it. I packed some breakfast for you. There, on the cabinet.
It has the same toast, the same filling?
He laughs gently at that.
She gets up and takes the pack from the cabinet. She stops by his side, and her hips are quite near his face.
Listen, Chris. This Saturday is the GojuFist match between Mike Crankson and his former trainer and promoter, Wailer Vroom. I have three tickets. Would you want to go?
Yes, I would like that very much. Thank you.
Done then. Now I need to run. See you later, CB. And thanks for the breakfast.
She moves past him. He reaches out and catches her wrist.
She stops and looks down at him, moving closer to him.
Thank you, Eyram, for everything.
He lets go of her wrist. She stays there a moment longer, still looking at him.
Quite suddenly she reaches out and rubs his right cheek gently, and then she turns and hurriedly leaves the kitchen.
He sighs deeply, and reaches for his coffee.
EFFE'S RESIDENCE - MORNING
Effe sighs and looks at Junior as she tries to hold down her impatience.
Junior is dressed in sneakers, jeans and T-shirt. He has a blue Ben 10 cap on his head.
Effe is holding his bag and his lunch pack.
(striving to be calm)
My prince, you told me you would go to Granddad's place. You promised them, and they're expecting you!
Junior does not look at her. His shoulders are slumped, and he looks very unhappy indeed.
(in a tiny voice)
I know, Mama. I'm sorry. I just want to be with Daddy.
(with a huge sigh)
But Daddy does not know you want to be with him today. Maybe he has other plans. Grandma wanted take your measurements and knit a nice pullover for you. They would be heartbroken.
Junior looks up at her then, and she sees tears glittering in his eyes, and his lips tremble.
But Mama, I've been with Grandparents for a long time. Daddy just came home. Ireally really really want to be with him, please, just for a teeny weeny bitty time, please?
Effe is getting impatient.
She has a court case that morning, but she would also be going around with Steve to look at a house he has been wanting to purchase for some time now.
She has therefore asked Steve to come and pick her up and send her to court.
She would submit her summaries and go with him to look at the house.
Now Steve is waiting outside. If she goes and drop Junior at his father's place Chris will see her with Steve, and somehow Effe isn't too keen on that.
She shakes her head.
What is happening to her now?
She has kept the fact that Chris has signed the divorce papers from Steve. Of course she is going to marry Steve, and Chris knows it, so why is she now getting cold feet about Chris seeing her with Steve?
Okay, Iron Boy, call your Daddy. If he wants to be with you, I'll take you over.
She leaves the living-room and waits anxiously outside, and a moment later he comes bundling out, his air of gloom gone, his face brilliant and full of unbridled joy ...and she knows that she has lost.
Yippity yappity yoooo! Daddy is home! We're going to the beach on his motorbike!
Effe scowls with frustration.
When they go outside they see Steve leaning against his amazing red Buick four-runner.
He comes forward, hugs Effe, and brushes his lips on hers.
Effe looks at him earnestly.
Sorry, honey, but Junior wants to be with Chris. Is it okay with you if we drop him off at Eyram's?
Steve looks startled.
Chris is staying with Eyram? Since when?
Oh, I thought I told you. He's been there for about four days now. She offered him her Boys Quarters.
I'll be damned! Eyram? Wow. Guy's a lucky man. Always being handed out freebies. Eyram better watch out, though. That boy is slick.
Effe stiffens and frowns.
Please. That's a gross thought, and a most distasteful remark. I was married to Chris, remember? Eyram wouldn't ever dream of a thing like that.
Maybe she wouldn't. But Chris would. You forget he has a history? With him, until he met you, there was nothing too taboo for him. Did I ever mention to you that when we were in school he was dating a mother and her daughter? red prom dress
Steve laughs again and opens the back door for Junior.
Effe gets into the front passenger seat, and she is quiet as they drive the short distance to Eyram's place.
She is remembering that hug she has seen Eyram and Chris share at the police station.
She shakes herself out of her thoughts. She tell herself she is being just silly. Neither Chris nor Eyram would ever dream of doing that.
At least she trusts her sister. Chris has raped Elaine, Effe's best friend and bridesmaid, yes, but can he ever make a pass at her own sister?
When they arrive at Eyram's place Chris is already outside, sitting astride the motorbike.
He is wearing black three-quarter shorts and a red polo shirt. His feet are encased in white Air Jordan’s.
Steve parks near him, and in a flash Junior is out, running to his father and embracing him tightly.
Chris lifts Junior unto the bike and puts a helmet on his head.
Both Steve and Effe get out.
Chris. I'll come and pick him up around four o'clock. Hope it's okay with you.
She notices that his smile dies as he looks up at her, and that on his face is that look again, that look of sheer fury, almost loathing.
This is about the second or third time he has looked at her like that, and it is beginning to worry her.
It is as if he hates her, almost as if he detests her.
But that is crazy, she thinks. If anything, she rather should hate and detest him for all the pains and humiliation he has given her.
Why then is she feeling so disconcerted? Why is his evident dislike beginning to affect her so?
Steve walks towards them and extends his hand.
Howdy, Chris? Sorry, old boy, our first meeting was sick. Guess I jumped the gun a little. How're you, buddy?
Chris ignores Steve's hand.
Steve drops his hand, and the laughter disappears from his face, and his jaw works tightly.
I see. So it's like that, huh?
It's like that, man.
Jeez, man! You going to do this to Effe? You had your chance with her, and you fucked it up! Surely you understand that? Why-
Steve! Please! It's okay.
Steve glares angrily at Chris for a moment longer, and then he turns and walks angrily back to his car.
Effe hesitates a moment. Chris has tightened the helmet on Junior's head, and he kicks the stand of the bike free.
Bye, Mama. See you later.
You guys have fun.
Chris does not speak. He turns the ignition and the engine kicks into life.
Much against her will Effe steps forward abruptly and places her hand on his wrist.
She notices his instant cringe, and she sees the fury in the depths of his eyes. Junior is looking up at his father, and quickly he reaches up and puts a small hand on his father’s arm.
Chris looks at his son, and slowly the harsh lines of his face relaxes.
Daddy, don't hate Mommy, okay?
His little voice startles them, and they look into each other's eyes.
I didn't mean it to be like this, Chris. You're not making it easy for me. Please, don't let us pull Junior in different directions, please.
For a moment she sees a vulnerability in the chink of his armour.
She sees the glimpse of the little boy in there fighting against the pain, and she feels a sudden uncontrollable urge to put her arms around him.
But the feeling passes quickly as he turns the motorbike around and speeds away.