Episode 82

The beautiful female nurse takes the thermometer from Chris’ mouth, reads the temperature, and picks up a daily card to record it.
She puts the blue card down, turns, and sees that Chris’ eyes are open, and he is staring at her.
She gives a startled yelp, and takes a step back. She looks at him and then cranes her head forward.
His voice is gruff and sleepy.
The nurse does a double take again, turns and runs from the ward.

A few minutes later the door opens again and Rupert comes in, his face very concerned.
He looks down at Chris, and suddenly a broad smile splits his face.
Can you hear me, Chris?
Chris nods.
Yep, can hear you perfectly, Doc. Where’s Junior?
Rupert goes very still, and his eyes narrows as he looks at Chris.
Junior? Your son? You remember me? You remember Junior?
Yep. Of course I remember you, and I remember you love Eyram, and I remember Effe and I remember everything, okay? Now where is Junior? He was here last night.
Rupert slowly sits down on the edge of the bed. He lifts the blue card and slowly flips through the clipped white sheets on it.
Well, Chris, yes, Junior was here, but this morning we took him to another Ward. You’ve been in a coma for close to three months, Chris.
That long? And is Junior also on admission? What’s wrong with him?
Rupert looks at him critically.
Do you remember what happened?
Of course. The courtroom, the miracle Junior and Effe pulled to save me, Baaba trying to kill Effe and me helping Effe. I even remember the shock of the bullet ripping through me. Yes, I do remember.
Rupert smiles broadly again.
Whew. That’s lovely. The bullet went through your skull and we were scared you might lose your memory so we induced you into a coma for your brain to relax and heal. I still need to carry out a few standard checks, if you don’t mind. And then I’ll be sure you’re okay. Can we begin?
(smilng weakly)
Of course, of course! I just wanna get out of here. You didn’t answer me about Junior. Why is he on admission?
When Rupert stands up and turns his back, his face looks very worried indeed.
Junior has a mild malarial attack, Chris. I have to check you out thoroughly then you can go and see Junior, okay?
Chris nods, but there is a great turmoil going on inside him.

It is late afternoon.
Effe’s phone rings.
She is lying on the bed, and her face is puffy from lack of sleep, fatigue, hunger and weeping.
She stares at the phone with no interest, but when she sees that it is Rupert she quickly picks it up and answers the call.
Hello, Rupe.
Chris is up, Effe. He came out of the coma this morning, but I needed to do a few tests before telling you. He’s okay now. He can go home.
Effe begins to tremble, and then she begins to weep all over again.
Oh, Lord! Thank you, God. Thanks, Rupe. I’ll come over immediately.
There’s something else, Effe.
Her heart misses a beat, and sudden fear grips her.
Don’t scare me, Rupe. What is it?
He’s quiet agitated about Junior. Evidently he didn’t see Junior getting shot. I simply told him Junior was admitted for malaria. Wanted you to tell him.
Effe goes rigid, and for several moments she cannot speak.
Tears of grief suddenly choke her throat.
Oh, my God!
Yes, my dear. I suggest you call your parents.
They’re already here with me, Rupe.
Alright. Great. Call his family too. I’ll inform Eyram. I think he’s going to need the strength of your love. I’ll see you then, Effe.
Thank you very much, Rupe.
She cuts the call, and she curls up in the bed as agonized tears and sorrow grip her again.
A few minutes later her door opens and her parents come inside.
Her mother is holding a tray of food. It is sweet banku and okra stew and goat meat.
Her father is holding a bottle of iced water.
Get up, Ef, my darling. You have to eat something. Starving yourself is not going to solve anything.
Effe bolts upwards and flies into her father’s arms as her tears fall.
Chris is out of the coma, Dad.
Her parents whoop with joy and her mother almost upturns the tray.
She sets it down gently and clamps her hands together with joy.
Oh, thank you Jesus!
You’re right, Mama. I must eat something. Please call the Reverend Bawa for me, would you?
Of course I will. We need to go over now!

Eyram’s phone rings several times.
She is on the porch drinking a cold orange juice.
It is Rupert, and she refuses to pick the call.
She does not feel like speaking to him.
She keeps staring at the Boys’ Quarters.
It has been empty for three months now.
Chris is still in the coma, and she misses him very much today, and it is making her sad.
Her WhatsApp message tone beeps, and the sound is the special one she has for Rupert.
She picks her phone and opens the message.
Her heart leaps.
She calls him immediately.
He answers.
I’m sorry, Rupe.
No, you’re not. Of course you hear Chris is up, so suddenly you wanna speak to me.You ignored my calls.
Rupe, please, don’t be like that. I said I’m sorry. Thanks, I’m coming over.
Alright. I told Effe.
Eyram freezes, and she is instantly angry.
Jeez! Why, Rupe? You were supposed to inform me first. We’re doctors, and it’s our case! I need to check him out first.
(angrily, hurt)
Oh, come off it, Eyram! Stop deluding yourself! What case? I’ve taken him through all the phases, so don’t fret over that. You just can’t get over your stupid infatuation with your own brother-in-law! Well, he’s Effe’s husband, and she deserved to know first. Goodbye.
He cuts the call.
Eyram seethes with a fury she cannot control.
The scathing and horrible explosion of jealousy in her heart both scares and exhilarates her.
She shakes herself out of it, goes inside and changes quickly.
It will take longer for Effe to get to the hospital.
That means Eyram can see Chris first, and have a talk with him first.
She flies into her car, and speeds the short distance from her bungalow to the hospital.

Eyram enters the ward.
She sees Rupert sitting on the bed and writing a prescription for one of the nurses.
He looks up and sees her, and there is no welcoming smile on his face.
He sees that for the very first in months she is wearing a dress, one of his favourites.
It is a sky-blue short dress that accentuates her figure.
She has put on make-up too, and left her hair short, and she is looking so radiant that it sends shafts of pain through Rupert’s heart as his jealousy hit red-hot zones.
She looks around furtively, and then she comes into the room fully.
The nurse takes the prescription from Rupert and leaves quickly.
Eyram comes and sits beside him.
Rupe. I’m here now. Where’s Chris?
Rupert runs a hand down his face and tries to keep the pain from his face as he speaks.
He’s in the bathroom. He’s taking a bath and dressing up.
She looks disappointed instantly, and tries to smile bravely.
Oh, I see.
He cannot keep up with the charade any longer.
He turns to her and takes her hands in his, and he speaks earnestly.
My goodness, Eyram. You’re hurting me for real. When are you going to put me out of my misery? I’ve loved you for a long time, in a way I’ll never love any girl ever again. I just want to spend the rest of my life making you happy. When are you going to stop this silly obsession with your sister’s husband and give me the chance to love you?
She looks at him, and there is genuine regret on her face, and fear, and a hopelessness that tears his heart apart.

Oh, Rupe! You’re absolutely correct! I know I’m being such a stupid little girl, and that if I lose you I’m going to spend the rest of my life regretting it! But my heart says another thing, and refuses to listen to my mind. I’m so confused, Rupert.
Your heart? You love him with your heart and love me with your mind? Really, Eyram! That’s painful. Well, just want you to know that I’ve decided to go back to South Africa next month. I’ll be gone for good.
She looks at him with sudden fear, and she grips his hands tightly.
No, Rupe! Please don’t do that, I beg of you! Just give me a little bit more time to get this confusion out of my system, please.
He gets to his feet and looks at her sadly.
He speaks gently.
I’ve taken my decision, Eyram. I leave in a month. You do whatever you have to do.
He looks up suddenly as the door opens, and people begin to troop in.
Effe is looking ravishing in a black dress, and her hair is short too.
With her are her parents, and then there are the four Bawa family members.
As they troop into the room and greet Rupert and Eyram, the bathroom door opens slowly and Chris enters the room.

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