Karma always wins. No exceptions.
I blink as the rain drops land on my face. I am on my back starring into the dark empty sky. My heart beat is irregular. I can hear it. I can feel it laboring beneath my rib cage. I guess I am dying. I deserve it. I want it. I caused it.
A minute ago I was holding on to a lightning rod in a thunderstorm. It was a gamble. I didn’t mind. I loved the rain and the lightning. I had caused so much pain it was time I quit. I should have quit while I was ahead. Some things can be fixed. This wasn’t one of them. I thought I had fixed one. Maybe. I see her in my mind’s eye. She smiles gently. A halo of light around her form. Thankfully there’s no gun and no blood.
Then I see her too. The Achilles heels of my own chosen. Beautiful. Light. Fierce. Frowning. I deserved nothing less. It won’t matter in a few minutes. But I hope she’s happy. She’s a good girl. There’s no saint anywhere. I am the architect of my own downfall.
Karma is an avalanche you didn’t see or feel coming until it hits you.
1.5 years ago.
“I wouldn’t take anything in the world for that monkey on your shoulder.” I could never get rid of Loki. He knows how and when to be a nuisance.
And some of the stuff he says are rather insightful. I had been talking to my own personal demon who seemed to have taken residence immediately I had the last of those dreams* (see Redemption*)
I remain standing. Just staring out to sea. We were at our favorite restaurant. The other 10 “disciples” were inside. I needed a break so I had stepped out. Things are a little better now though. I participate more in the conversations. But now that I was free of the incessant dream, I started to miss certain other things. Things which I had paid very little thought to in the last 5 years or so.
“I suppose you wouldn’t want to share what’s on your mind? You know a problem shared, is a problem halved.”
I scoffed in my mind. The last person I would share something that complicated with was Loki. I could expect it to be the butt of some joke at my expense sooner than later.
I keep staring out to sea. I hope he would “get it” and move off.
But he can be as persistent as a hungry mosquito. You can swat at it as many times as you like. It just circles the room and comes back at you. Since it didn’t look as if he was going to go away, I decided we should go back inside and join the others.
“Welcome back guys. Nothing much happened in your absence except we saved the world from a nuclear cataclysm.” said Dayo.
The problem with Karma is that you can’t tell in what currency she wants repayment, or for how long, or when, or where.
It seems everyone had noticed I was a little bit absent even though I was there with them physically. Because I got a call from Kayode the next day. Kayode was one of the more reserved members of the disciples.
“Hey bro. I noticed you were a little absent yesterday at the dinner. What’s up?”
I guess I needed to talk to someone because I didn’t think twice about it before I blurted out.
“I guess I am just lonely.”
“Wow! With all the beautiful ladies around? What’s up. Even Wura seems to have an eye for you.” He said.
A little back and forth. I had known Wura so long, I am not sure it could go beyond friendship. Besides I thought the fastest way to break up the group would be to get involved with someone in the group and have it go wrong. The fact is that I had been alone all my life, I didn’t even know the first thing about how to get a lady I like to go out with me. He said it’s OK as it takes time to master the art of seduction. I said I wasn’t on the look out to seduce women, just find one that I like. More back and forth and I confessed another quirky detail. I want to hook up with a lady that was the age I would have been if I had been dating at the right time.
“What age is that?” He asked.
“25 or less?”
“Are you crazy?! Why would you want that?”
“Multiple reasons. I learnt the longer you have been on your own, the less pliable you are to actually staying with another person. So in short, a younger lady is probably less fixed in her ways.”
“Is that all?”
“Well. There is biology as well. I read somewhere women should have kids if possible before age 30. Eggs tend to start degrading around then. I think sperm goes the same way a little later.”
“Keep it coming bro.”
“I think that is it. I just want to experience some of those things I had missed out on. You know. The excitement. The adventure. The freshness.”
“Didn’t I say before that you are crazy? Maybe you didn’t hear me. But really, you have lost it.” He screamed down the phone line.
I was getting flustered and a little miffed at him and I guessed he must have sensed it.
“Bro. I can pretend to understand you or I can tell you the truth. I think I know you enough not to whitewash this discussion. First, most of your reasons just don’t have any basis. Second most young women want a young man. So even if you do get one, it must be that you are offering something superlative. Cash-wise, you are just about average. Looks – the same. So to be frank, you should start looking for someone a little older. Yes, they may have had their day in the Sun, but certain things can not be made up for. You just get with the programme and get on with it.”
I wasn’t really ready to let go of my hangups. Unfortunately.
“OK.” I agreed with him.
I thought I wouldn’t go out of my way to look for young women. Not that I have actually approached any. It’s just that I don’t even really think of the older ones. It wasn’t as if I was asking women how old they were, and neither was I looking out for someone still in school or something. I wasn’t even talking to anyone. So where was the problem?
Karma, just like murder, has no statutes of limitation.
Then one day I went to the bank to transact some business. And there in front of the customer care representative was the most stunning lady I had ever laid eyes on. And that’s saying a lot. My heart fluttered as if it would pop out of my chest. I got hot under the collar even in the AC-cooled banking hall. I had completed my business and stepped out. On hindsight I should have just left. But I told myself I had always had an excuse not to approach any lady I found attractive. Isn’t that what a man is supposed to do? Engage?
I found the courage to go back in. But with the crowd around the customer care desk, I couldn’t open my mouth to say anything. So I typed out a question on my phone, said “Hi” (about all I could get out of my constricted throat) and handed her the phone. She read the message and handed back the phone to me. I wasn’t sure what to do next. Then while standing there to the side like a deer caught in the headlights of a car, she beckoned for the phone again and to my pleasant surprise, keyed in her phone number. I walked out of that bank on a cloud of air. Nothing could touch me. It was as if I had won the lottery.
I couldn’t think of anything else throughout the day. And then I had palpitations thinking of what I would say to her if I called her. I could handle a gun better than most. I could use a computer like a pro, I could tell you why your car is guzzling fuel like water, but I couldn’t think of what to say to a lady on the phone. After agonizing about it for two days, I finally got up the courage and made the call. It was short and left me feeling unfulfilled because I thought I had fumbled it: I had been mumbling on the phone. That was the beginning of the end even though I didn’t realize it at the time.
Unfortunately, it didn’t get better for me. But I did manage to secure a first date. Which didn’t go too well either.
But gradually I learnt to call her. Not as regularly as I would like or as frequently as I should but I did try. I would find out later that all that was in store for me was friendship. Nothing more even from that beginning. I had had no chance with her from the beginning.
She had given the signs. It was difficult to get her to go out. But I had chosen to see what I wanted to. That I just needed to persevere. In the meantime life had become brighter and even the disciples commented on it.
“I think Tade has got a girlfriend.” That was Wura. “He’s got stars in his eyes and the way he smiles at his phone is just ridiculous.”
The next second my phone was out of my hand and Loki was hosting it up and laughingly running to the other end of the table. Unfortunately, her picture was my wallpaper.
“Wow!” he said in appreciation. “Darn! She’s hot!!! Is this her? The lady that’s responsible for the change?” he asked.
I looked on in consternation as the phone made its way around the table. There was no point trying to get the phone back. It will get back to me when all the disciples had seen the picture.
“She looks really young though.” Kayode said. Looking at me strangely.
I know what he was thinking. We had had the conversation. But I didn’t go out of my way to seek her out. It was completely by chance. Unfortunately, she was actually quite young. I had been shocked when I learnt how old she was. But I was hooked. I was already day dreaming of how we would be an “item”. It was too late for me. Truth be told, even though I was just a little bothered, I was happy it had been completely by chance. I would still have asked for her number even if she had been much older. She just took my breathe away when she had turned round in her seat at the bank.
“How old is she?” Wura asked.
I knew there was no getting away from this so I just told them straight away.
The cacophony that resulted was almost deafening. Same consensus.
I was crazy and needed my head checked. What did I think I was doing? I was going to get burned. It wasn’t fair to the lady. I was a cradle snatcher. I must have lost my mind. As my friend they needed to give it to me as they saw it. On and on they went. Unfortunately, all that backing me up into a corner just made me take my stand on the issue. I was going to pursue her to the best of my abilities. Not really considerable, but I would try. It had started out as just the physical attraction I felt for her, but after several phone conversations and a few outings, I just couldn’t see myself being with anyone else. I didn’t even think of the age any longer. She was mature beyond her years. In some sense probably even more mature than I was. Which would become obvious much later when it came down to the wire.
I had ostracized myself from the group. They looked at me differently whenever we met. Wura was openly hostile sometimes. I couldn’t help how I felt about the lady. But I wasn’t making much headway there either. I told them we weren’t dating. I was just trying to get her to say yes. They demanded I stop my tomfoolery and stop shaming all of them. What if she says yes, how would it look if we all go out and I bring this “baby” along? I thought they were crazy. She was a fully formed sophisticated young lady that can hold her own in any setting in the society.
Karma is like a spring loaded door you pushed open and forgot about. It’s going to hit you in the face on its return.
I was fighting a battle on two fronts and losing on both. I was fast becoming an outcast to the disciples. A pariah. On the second front, the lady didn’t appear to be moving towards a relationship with me either. I was also too cowardly to push for a decision. And we have very little physical contact other than a warm hug (I wanted it to go on forever) when we met and a second one when we part. It left me feeling completely unsatisfied. I wasn’t too happy either. Yet, I couldn’t take the decision to let her go.
Then one day, she called and gave me the news.
“Tade, I am moving to Amsterdam.”
“Huh?” I was shocked. ”Isn’t that Holland.” Like it would have made any real difference if it had been some other country in Europe.
“Yes.” She replied.
“Why?” I couldn’t think of anything else to ask. I could already see her slipping away and my heart beat wildly in my chest.
“The truth is I had become bored with my current position. I saw an advert for a position in our Amsterdam office and I just applied. I wasn’t really thinking I would get it. But everything then moved so fast. I went through three interviews within the week. Can you believe that? And today I got the offer. I have decided to take it.”
I closed my eyes. And thought of the disciples. Thought of the year I had wasted not either moving away from being just friends or walking away. Then I decided it wasn’t wasted. If I was selfish enough to think only of my own desire, then I didn’t deserve her. I resolved at that moment to support her in any way I could. At the same time, a quote I had seen on someone’s profile on FB came to my mind: “If she’s worth it, you won’t quit. If you quit, you aren’t worthy.”
“Tade, are you there?” she asked.
“Yes. Congrats.” I opened my eyes. “I will miss you of course. When are you to report over there?”
“In a month. But I have to round up here and hand over to my replacement.”
That means I would rarely see her. Long work days and the fact that she lived on the other side of town almost guaranteed that. I realized there was no way I could achieve what I haven’t been able to achieve in one year in a month. I tried though. Got a couple of outings but it was mostly discussions of her plans. I joked I was going to immigrate to Amsterdam as well. But somewhere deep down, the reality was standing by the door of my heart. I hadn’t been considered in that decision to move, which meant there was nothing really there. Not even a little if I was going to be truthful with myself.
But I chose to ignore that sign as well. Just like the ones before.
Karma is like throwing sh*t at a typhoon fan and hoping someone else takes the hit. You can’t get out of the way fast enough even if you tried.
There was finally a conversation the day she left. I had mustered enough courage to ask about “us.” She said it was not a good time. Which was true. The departure lounge was in chaos and it was the last place to have a serious discussion. I ignored that sign as well.
But I wasn’t ready to give up. I know long-distance relationships can work even if we weren’t in one yet. So I kept in contact. Keeping it light hoping it would happen with time.
Nothing did. I ignored that sign as well.
I had told her I was coming over for her birthday. She thought it wasn’t a good idea. But in one of my impulsive moments, I had already bought the ticket before mentioning it to her. I told her the ticket was non-refundable and though she wasn’t happy, she relented.
If there was something there, I shouldn’t have to convince her that I wanted to come over for her birthday. I find out later she was being considerate. So that I don’t spend so much money when there was nothing going on between us. But I was past being considerate and I ignored that sign as well.
And sign after sign after sign. I chose to ignore them all. She tried. she really did.
Karma is in no hurry. It’s like a father watching a son misbehave in public and thinking of the rod waiting at home just inside the front door.
I land in Amsterdam on her birthday. I was tired. I should have taken an earlier flight. I checked in to my hotel, took a shower, and made my way to the club where there was supposed to be a small get together for the birthday. I was the first in the place. I hadn’t been able to contact her on the phone after I got into the country. I kept getting some recorded voice saying something in Dutch. I guess it mean’t the owner was not available and I should leave a message.
I don’t drink much. But short of water, there was nothing much else to be had that was not intoxicating. I looked at the drinks menu and randomly picked out one. An hour later when the birthday party showed up, I was wasted but I didn’t really know it because I was seated in the same location and the drinks kept coming on an empty stomach.
She had her hand around the neck of a chap. I couldn’t see clearly. He wasn’t white and he wasn’t black. I don’t know why that mattered. But I got hot under the collar and I definitely wasn’t thinking properly. I got up, crossed the floor and shoved the guy away from her. He wasn’t going to take it lying down of course and he pushed me back. I went at him like a crazed animal. Some of the other members of the party got hold of me, and I found myself out in the cold night. The last thing I saw was her kneeling down and attending to the guy who turned out to be just a friend. I knew in that split moment when she looked up at me that it was the end. She just shook her head as the door closed behind me.
But my troubles weren’t over. The police had been called and I was hurled off to the station. I spent the night in a cell and was sober enough the following morning when I was arraigned in court.
“Mr Tade. You arrived in the country yesterday from what I can see before me and proceeded to make a nuisance of yourself almost immediately. The gentleman you attacked without reason required several stitches to fix the damage you caused and has a concussion. I am going to fine you and I am sentencing you to a 30-day stay in jail at the expense of the Dutch government. We will then see you off to where you came from in the first instance. I have a good idea to get immigration involved beyond seeing you into a plane after the 30-days, but after going through the facts of the case, including the fact that you were inebriated and no previous issues despite your frequent visits to the country, I have decided to leave things at that.”
“Have you got anything to say for yourself?”
I apologized for the event and expressed my contriteness for the injury I had caused to the fellow without any provocation.
Karma is the sadistic guard on the night shift. Coming round every once in a while to brain you with a truncheon just because of the way you look.
22-days go quickly even without having nothing to do but think. I had been given an early release because she had made an appeal on my behalf with the gentleman I had attacked supporting her. I was saved from more shame and embarrassment because I was whisked straight to the airport. The flight change was effected on my tab. Thirteen hours later, I was back at home. None too worse for wear.
Then the call came in.
“Tade. I am completely disappointed. You came all that way to attack one of my friends?”
I didn’t have anything to say for myself.
“I have been always forthright with you. I told you I had a boyfriend. That wasn’t true. But I wanted to let you down easy. I have never been attracted to you. Every time you tried to get fresh, I had always blocked it. But you chose to ignore all my signs, that’s on you.”
This was where I had a chance to remedy a lost situation. But instead I chose to go on the defensive. To justify my actions. I tried to get rid of the monkey by passing it to her.
“If you had been a little more physical with me. I would have responded. And probably won you over. Do you know how it feels to have bottled up all that feelings for over a year?” I said.
“You know it.” She said. “That I never wanted to get physical with you.” She added.
She had said so before as well. I had had no response to that specific statement. But given the way my mind worked, I guess I had gone over it later. Because this time I responded. “No. Truly I didn’t and that is the truth. I only kissed you once. And you told me the next day you were not comfortable with it. I thought that was just because we were not dating yet. That’s not the same as knowing that you are completely averse to the idea. You probably won’t believe me now. I never for once thought there was no possibility of a romantic relationship. I should not have waited a year and a half before “forcing” the issue. I should have been man enough to ask and take the consequences instead of coasting along hoping things would get serious between us. At my age, I thought it’s obvious I didn’t just want to be your friend, especially since I was hanging out around you, inviting you out, calling you. It may be my inexperience but I don’t believe a man who wants to be just friends would do all that. But I accept now it’s my fault.”
I had started the pursuit on a lie. A lie I had forced her to tell me. In order to let me off gently. A lie I had then chosen to ignore. Maybe if I had asked about the boyfriend later, she might have been forced to tell me the truth. That there was no boyfriend and that she wasn’t attracted to me on a physical level. Maybe I would have called it quits. Or maybe I would just have ignored it all the same and continued to try. But I never asked so I will never know.
“Oh. I am used to the fact that you always have a justification for why things didn’t work the way you want. You should just man up and accept there are things you can’t change. You will be rejected over and over again so get used to the idea. Stop making people that are in control of their lives feel like villains. Stop the pity party. Take control of your life!”
That hurt. Like hell. But she was right on so many levels. Didn’t make it any easier.
But I was grasping at straws in my desperation to hold on to her. I tried the self-pity tack by unloading a sob-story about my past unto her. Thus putting her on the spot. Even I am surprised at the story I came up with. But I must believe most of it, otherwise it wouldn’t have come out so easily. I have never said half of what I told her even to my closest family members or friends. It just took me deeper into the rabbit hole. I definitely said more than I should have at my lowest point. And mentioned my attraction to younger women and the reason as well. I didn’t know why I mentioned that. I just thought I could tell her everything without holding back. Despite the fact that it did not matter anymore ever since I met her. Because I had stopped looking for anyone else (young or not). I was whining and I couldn’t see it at the time. All I wanted was for her to just say yes no matter what it took. It just made me look spineless instead. I should have kept my mouth shut and quit while I was “ahead.” That’s the difference between knowledge and wisdom.
“Stop chasing younger ladies. They want excitement and adventure. Something you can’t provide. You will just get burned. And even if they agree, they are likely to have a younger man out there attending to their needs. Just an advice. But it’s up to you to take it or not.”
I didn’t want her to “generalize”. To me it wasn’t about young ladies. I didn’t want young ladies. I wanted her. But I was going uphill dragging an impossible load. She had made up her mind. I was this troll that refuses to wake up and smell the roses. To face the facts.
I didn’t ask her out because of her age even if that satisfied my preference as well. She’s deep; confident; doesn’t take sh*t and knows what she wants. Part of the attraction. Which was working against me at the moment. She takes her decisions and sees them through: unlike me.
The fact that I had pushed her to talk to me like that means whatever little feeling that might have been there was totally gone. After all, I am sure she had her pick of who to hang out with on those occasions she went out with me. She probably looked at me as less than a man now. Notwithstanding my past. I could see the other lady in my mind’s eye. She smiled sadly at me. I was torn between dwelling on the past in which I had taken a life and the present in which I was hopelessly lost. I thought I had buried that ghost but it keeps rising. I could tell we had crossed that bridge. Not all the efforts in the world could uncross it. The pain in my chest was physical and I could not get away from it. Love wasn’t supposed to hurt this much. I had not been in a relationship with her or anyone else, so how could it hurt so much. I had set myself up by ignoring all the signs.
There was nothing to do but apologize. Again.
I guess I was never in control of the relationship (or lack of it) between us. I had hoped. I had daydreamed. I had fantasized. I had just been there as often as I could. Thinking it would happen.
“Sorry. Truly. Bisola.” I said.
“I will try very very hard not to bring it up again. I hope some day you will find it OK to talk to me again” Trying to make the best of a situation that had gone south: far south due to my inability to take responsibility for my words and actions.
“I don’t mind talking to you. Not just on this sensitive subject. Ever again.”
I tried to get her to see that it wasn’t just the initial physical attraction that was driving me any more. That I really did fall in love with her. But it was too late. Maybe even from the beginning.
The monkey cackled like crazy and said “pu**y whipped!”
I tried to shush it, but it just screamed louder. When it got excited, it got heavier and my shoulders slumped lower. It was good that she was on the other end of a phone line.
“All you are missing is a tail.” It said, “Obviously not like my prehensile tail which is ever so useful.”
“What you are missing is a whipped dog’s tail. The kind you can put between your legs as you run away.”
I tried to ignore the monkey. But it always got in the last word: “Agbaaya*” it said.
I had started listening to the audio of the “Mastering the Seven Decisions that determine personal success” that same night. The audio of the book by Andy Andrews. It was hard going. I couldn’t think for the thoughts going through my head. And the monkey refused to be silenced as well.
Trying to see if I could fix this person that I was. (She thought it was too late for me). This person that was less than a man. That didn’t take responsibility. This person she wasn’t attracted to with good reason. This person that didn’t own his actions or his words. That couldn’t keep a conversation going without uncomfortable lapses into silence. That had an annoying laughter that came up without reason.
I guess I was still hoping I could “get with” her in future. That’s a bad reason to seek to fix myself. She wasn’t going to wait around for the “new” and improved me. But if that will provide the drive to do so, to be a better man, to be a man, I would use it like my life depended on it.
Karma crosses a bridge, and burns it to the ground. There is no going back.
I was lost. I had lost my job in my absence. It was a small world and I found a disengagement letter waiting for me at home. My services were no longer needed. I was dejected. I was depressed. I was despondent.
I had become very active in the “One Good Meal” charity program. Giving my time as well as my money. It was supported by the Catholic Church as well. I had come across an elderly priest who sounded familiar. Initially I couldn’t place him. But he had become quite friendly. One day, he had said “Bless you my son” and then everything clicked for me. I was sure he was the one that had heard my confession a year earlier at the basilica. I couldn’t bring myself to ask, but I guess with his experience, he could tell what I was thinking. He had nodded solemnly in confirmation. That strained the relationship a little for a couple of weeks. He was a physical man. Rolling up his sleeves to serve food and wash plates just like the rest of us. It didn’t take long before the discomfort from knowing what I knew he knows evaporated.
Karma takes no prisoners
A few weeks later, he had caught me off guard by asking what was on my mind. I had hesitated. But he had a way of putting everyone at ease. He had suggested we take a walk as the work was almost over for the day.
“What’s on your mind my son?” He had asked when we were alone.
I hesitated again. There were two things. The odd dream, and then there was the plain raw open wound which hurts like hell. I chose to go with the dream.
“I had a strange dream two nights in a row some days ago. And that was it. Not again. Just those two nights. There is a girl.”
“Isn’t there always?” His compassionate smile just put me further at ease to go on.
I told him briefly about Bisola.
“You cradle snatcher!” He laughed. “You know you were probably setting yourself up for a heartbreak. Sometimes it works, so there are exceptions to the rule. It was up to you to have set her free. She probably did like you. But ultimately you were insistent and you provided a good time. Sometimes. No one turns down a good time. Unless they really do not like the person at all. You also said she did try to feel something for you, but that didn’t work?” He said.
“Maybe. But I was willing to take the chance. It wasn’t like I was seeking young girls all over the place right? I did have a picture in my mind. And I thought heaven had smiled on me when I met her by chance. For the year or two, I didn’t talk to anyone else, young or otherwise. I literally didn’t even see them. She was always on my mind.”
“But that’s not what’s on your mind.”
“No. Even though she’s always there somewhere. Which is strange in itself because we never dated. Not for want of trying on my part. But I guess she really didn’t find me attractive in that way.”
He didn’t say anything so I continued.
The intensity of my thoughts of her had cooled a little. But then in the dream, I had come upon a girl sleeping on the road. It was like a village road, you know. Not tarred. Cultivated fields on either side. I had stared at her for a bit. She looked so peaceful in her sleep, and I thought she looked familiar. Then I had reached out to wake her up.
I had to pull back as she came up with such a burst of energy. She had whirled round me so quickly and then stood looking at me suspiciously. At that moment I could have sworn she was Bisola’s twin. Not identical twin, but close enough.
I had asked her why she was sleeping on the road. She had retorted that she liked it and it was none of my business. I told her it was dangerous as carts use the road and she might get trampled. I asked where she was from but she couldn’t give an answer and I suspected she didn’t know. I offered her a place to stay for the night in the village and told her I was going home to eat dinner.
She perked up a little and followed me at a distance.
In the way of dreams, the houses in the village were modern even though everything else appeared rural.
I could tell later that she had stayed for several days.
And somewhere along the line, things had changed and we had become extremely “familiar”.
I hesitated again. I didn’t know if I could safely go on. I was a little embarrassed as well. He sensed the hesitation and prompted me to go on.
“Well, I had found myself lying down next to her. No hanky panky. Full dressed. But we were face to face, very close, completely at ease, and talking as if there was something between us you know. Then the issue of sex had come up. I told her I had next to no experience. She had laughed at me and called me an “Old man.”
Then she got up and was gone in a flash. She returned with a book and tossed it on the bed.
She said she had gone to the local bookstore. I commented that it was late for that as it was dark outside. She just laughed and say she had her ways.
I flipped open the book over and it was the “K. S.”
I have never actually held a physical copy before. But I had come across it on the Internet. I had quickly moved on to avoid awakening desires I could not satisfy since I wasn’t married and sorry to say, I had no partner either.
She had got back on the bed, and just smiled at me.
That was that. Because the next minute, we were laughing and running through the fields like small children. She had a tattoo on her side I couldn’t quite make out. I was still calling to her to slow down so I could see the tattoo properly when I woke up.
An eye for an eye makes Karma’s day.
We walked on in silence.
The he laughed a little.
I looked at him questioningly.
“Would you believe me if I said I have read the book?” he said.
“Yes I have. It’s not encouraged by the church for obvious reasons. But for people who have the fortification, it’s not discouraged either. It allows us to be more conversant and also be able to empathize better with the people if we know what’s out there. Not just the spiritual. That just breeds narrow-minded tyrants.”
“I am one of what we “adherents” choose to call the progressives within the church. I support the idea of allowing priests to marry for example. Enforcing such a principle is un-natural. Not everyone can be like Apostle Paul or myself if I can be allowed to be so modest. Of course certain elements within the church think we are just heretics.”
“But back to your dream. You say she looked very much like Bisola, but you are sure it wasn’t her?”
“Yes I am sure. There was just something slightly different. That wary look when she first saw me was the same, the intensity of something inside that you could feel was there as well. But still there was something different. Strange enough I don’t remember calling her any name in the dream.”
“OK. That might make sense, since in your mind she wasn’t Bisola. I am not an interpreter of dreams. But I could suggest that at some subconscious level, the dream was a projection of your latent desire for the real Bisola which you have suppressed.” He said.
“No. No. Father.” Even I realized I had said that so quickly and defensively. “Em. Nothing like that. I had only imagined kissing her.”
He just started laughing.
“I don’t doubt you my son.” But his laughter said otherwise.
“I said “latent” so even you might not have been aware of the depths of what you harbor towards her or where you had hoped things would go.” He said.
“Another alternative though,” He continued. “Is that you will meet this lady that resembles her so much in real life.”
“Would you like that?” He asked.
I paused and stood still for a moment. For some unknown reason, it felt like I was betraying her by considering this other alternative. Which was crazy in itself given that she’s probably with someone else and we were never an item.
“Hmmn. I guess so.” I said. Not too enthused about the idea. But felt my pulse quicken a little. But I knew she had no twin.
“Of course, it could be Bisola in the dream. Your subconscious mind was just making up for the fact that she’s beyond your grasp by introducing those subtle differences.” He said.
“Have you accepted responsibility fully for everything that happened?” he asked.
“I think I have. I would like to apologize to her though. But then it would seem I am waking up a ghost she would rather consign to the past. Yet, I can’t get it out of my mind.” I said.
“Apologizing is good. But maybe you should give it some time. I suspect you are just looking for an excuse to open a line of communication with her that’s emotional on some level. You shouldn’t do that to her. Or to yourself for that matter.” He said.
Karma can watch you struggle all the way to the top of Everest then trip you up on the very last step. That’s how she rolls, and it’s a long way down.
It wasn’t working. The self-help stuff. She was right. Maybe it was too late for this old dog to learn new tricks. But I didn’t give up. I couldn’t it. Yet reality was slipping away from my grasp. Replaced by the cheap stuff I picked up at the corner shop. I couldn’t even remember the name on the bottle. The higher the alcohol content the better.
I stopped going to church and stopped showing up at any of the charities I was committed to. I stayed at home in the dark, drinking. The phone rang incessantly but I ignored it.
The priest had come around. He had knocked on the door. Called out my name. I heard one of the neighbor say he didn’t think I was home. I hear something scrabbling on the other side of the door. A short note appeared in due course. It said he was concerned about me and they had missed me in church and at the charity. I should get back to him so he knows everything is OK with me.
I am spiraling out of control. I knew it. But I couldn’t stop it. I was back to where I started from. I woke up one day and discovered that I didn’t have enough money to maintain the haze of booze I kept myself drugged with to prevent me from thinking. I needed money. With no way to find it. I thought of “One eye” but he had been dead a long time. He was always good for a couple of hundreds. I knew one of the bars he frequented. The word on the street was that you could pick up a job there. I had always avoided the place. But I was desperate. I cleaned up as best I could and made my way there. Looking half human for the first time in several weeks. I still felt the tinge from the several cuts I had inflicted on my face while trying to shave with a blunt razor. It was the only one I had in the house.
Karma’s got a direct line to each person. We dial her number by our actions. It may take a while for her to show up, but you can bet your future on it, she will.
I had walked up to the barman and told him matter of fact that I needed a job. I had done jobs for “One Eye” back in the day. He asked me a couple questions. I knew he was sounding me out, but I think I passed. He had told me to go sit in the corner. Nothing happened that first day. But I had come back the next day. Nodded at the barman and taken the same position. And the next and the next. By this time I was fully sober. I had no money for drinks and instead I had eaten a proper meal for the first time in days.
“You the guy looking for a job?” The man was standing over me.
He looked me over. “Have you done any before?”
He looked me over some more.
“Not a lot of money, but if you want it, it’s yours. Only one issue. You must use a specific gun. Comes with the package. Keep your prints off. Goes without saying. You interested?”
“Can you talk or are you dumb?” he asked.
“I can.” I said. That seems to pacify him.
“Come around tomorrow. You will see me parked down the street it a dark little ford number. A little beaten up.”
I spent the night up. I couldn’t sleep. I needed the job. My rent was almost due. And now that I had stopped drinking, I needed money for food as well.
He was waiting the next day. I slid into the passenger seat.
He had several pictures out on his laps on top of a big envelope. “The job pays only 10. Five now and five after. Here’s the gun. All the details you need are in the envelope. Make sure the gun will be found. You do not know me but I know you. I also know where you live. And I know there is a girl.”
I should shoot him right there with his own gun. For the threat. I don’t care much for myself. But the girl was out of bounds. I needed the cash. As long as I do the job, she was in no danger. Besides, I didn’t think he knew she was far away. Which is a good thing. I intend to keep it that way.
“Just come sit in the bar when the job is done. Make sure the bar man sees you. Then you can leave. You will get the balance the next day.”
I had sold my soul to the devil and I had come much cheaper this time. That night she came again. With the gun and the blood. And a storm at her back. I woke up and stayed awake till the morning. I was afraid to go to sleep and I was afraid of the task before me. It seemed relatively easy. Her car will be sabotaged. It will break down on some lonely road that was part of her itinerary. Why did I draw a woman the second time.
I was waiting when her car sputtered to a stop.
I approached the driver side door with the gun out. She screamed. I should have killed her then. Then she started crying. “I have a husband and three kids. Please don’t kill me.”
Almost word for word what she had said so long ago. I couldn’t get myself to pull the trigger. I dropped the gun and ran. I must have ran for at least 30 minutes. I wasn’t sure where I was but I could hear the sound of traffic close by as I tried to catch my breath.
I make it all the way home. I knew they would come for me once word got out that I botched the job. I think I dropped the gun on purpose. She would not have been safe otherwise. There must be a reason why they wanted the gun left at the scene. I had left it but had not killed the subject. I hope that would help.
It was raining cats and dogs outside. I like the thunderstorm. I walk out into the rain. There is a lightning rod by the inn on the next street. If that didn’t work, there is always a knife to the wrist or the throat. But the thought of going out sizzling appealed to me. I needed to be punished here and in the next world wherever that is.
I think I won this round. I am going out in my own way. Wouldn’t they be pissed when they found out I was dead? That drew a smile or a grimace from me. I suspected they will have more urgent matters to attend to, like the police closing in on them. I am looking up at the dark sky. The closely cropped grass needling my back. My heart seems to stutter but not stop completely. I hear the sound of sirens in the distance. I hope I am gone before they arrive. That’s if they are coming for me. I had only one regret. I never got to see her tattoo. I wondered what it looked like against that light skin as the darkness closed in on me.
I guess I will never know.
Karma always wins. No exceptions.
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Note: (May 19, 2015, 9:22am). I have had this in my draft folder for over 9 months. I have been tempted to delete it several times, but I guess my ego got the upper hand.