The Brand of Cain

By Larry Sun

Episode 3–
She stepped on the brake of her vehicle when she saw the sign board of the restaurant; she switched off the ignition and got out of the car. She was about to cross the road to the other side when she noticed a young man with a hard face staring at her suspiciously. She ignored him and crossed the road.
To her utter astonishment, she saw her purse as she got there, and all her things were intact, not even a kobo was taken out of the money. The lady joyfully made her way back to her car, and as she was about to climb into the vehicle, the young man presently staring came towards her.
“Is that purse you’re clutching your property?” asked Richard.
“Yes, I came here to retrieve it.”
The voice is unmistakable. It’s that same gentle voice, the voice was very soft and sonorous, it might have been a little girl’s voice but not quite.
“Then you’re the arrogant woman who spoke with me on the phone.”
“Are you the man who found it?”
He felt he should feed her a piece of his mind, “Who are you to speak to me in such a manner? You think I give a rooster waste about your things?” his voice was cool but it carried a tone of irritation.
The lady looked at him. The man is angry, really pissed off.
“I’m sorry. Please forgive me.” she said solemnly.
Richard studied her, she was a beautiful woman in any setting; tall and slim with fine bones which defined a regal face that matched her bearing, and her face was soft and unlined. Her nose, ears and mouth had been created with a stunning sense of proportion. She had high-set breasts and very beautiful supple legs; he had seen her movement when she crossed the road, an unsteady grace in every step, an unconscious and sinuous rolling of the hips that could take any man’s breath away, she had carried herself with a confidence found only in women well able to defend themselves. And she was dressed in a small collarless shirt and a black skirt which outlined the sexy shapes of her lower body. This skirt was worn just above the knees in a season when most of the girls wore them just below the edges of their panties. A gold chain with teardrop pendant laid smugly in her cleavage and her dangling earrings were a primitive creation of stones and beads.
“Apology accepted, but always devote more care to your things; you may not be so lucky next time.” Richard said, after getting his eyes off her lithe body.
“Handsome and kind young men like you are as rare as hens’ teeth these days.”
Richard was not amused. “Thank you for the compliment. I have to be going now.” He turned to go.
Richard stopped and turned. “Can I help you?” he asked.
“You look so mean. Don’t you smile?”
“Let me risk repeating myself—Can I help you?”
“Um—actually, my name’s Abby Martins. Can I know yours?”
Richard frowned, “Abby? What does that mean?”
She smiled, evidently at her success in confusing the stranger, “Abigail.” Her smile alone could melt the average man’s ear-wax, but Richard’s ear-wax was not melting.
“Nice meeting you, Abigail.”
“You haven’t told me your own name.”
“I am Richard Philip.”
“Richie,” she smiled, “What a rich name you’ve got.”
“Must you shorten every name you come across?”
She laughed.” You don’t mind being called Richie, do you?”
Richard shrugged, “Anyway, I should be on my way.”
“Oh–it’s been nice knowing you, handsome. See you.” she waved and mounted her iron steed—a black Lexus. Richard watched as she drove away.
He continued thinking about her as he turned to go home, there was no doubt that she was a very beautiful girl and probably a good company. She also possessed the effervescent personality of one of those ladies often seen presenting TV game shows. She might likewise be one of those spoilt rich politicians’ daughters who didn’t know what suffering really meant. Yet, Richard longed to meet the nubile young woman again. He only knew her name; he did not have her address—not even her phone number. Seeing her again was akin to one out of every fifty million chances of winning the Lagos State Lotto jackpot.
Not knowing what fate would deal him, Richard shrugged, giving up the hope of ever seeing Abigail again. What neither the two knew was the fact that where both of them had met now, another man and a woman had met there twenty-three years earlier, and that meeting had shaped the lives of these two younger people into what they could never have imagined. It was far back in the eleventh month of 1986.
He didn’t even know his own name any longer. All he could remember was his former profession—he was a medical doctor, he therefore named himself ‘Doctor’—because he had become slightly insane after what had happened to him. He was coming home that night when he found his house on fire; everything had been burnt to almost ashes. Then he’d thereafter attempted a suicide which was unsuccessful. He had no home of his own any longer, he lived here and there, and people avoided him on the streets. Every night since 1981 when his house was destroyed by an inferno, he would go to the land his house once stood and he would cry until the energy to cry anymore would desert him. For five years the Doctor cried unashamedly every day until tears would no longer secrete from the crevices of his eyes. He stopped going to the land when another building was erected on it and another family had occupied it. The land became another person’s because he’d sold it. He never looked as if he owned a cowrie; his clothes were always stained and shabby and invariably too tight for him. His shirt was always grubby. He ate anything he saw, feeding himself on the money he had in the bank. His reasoning faculty had been disengaged from that catastrophe that befell him. What little capacity that he had left for rational thoughts had been consumed by the raging inferno of that fateful night.
The sun was shinning brightly from the horizon, but it was emitting no high temperature. It was about past four in the afternoon and the sun was already losing its intense energy, and everybody was grateful for that. Every week, Doctor would go to the community bank to withdraw some money for himself anytime he’d exhausted the cash with him. He’d even been told at the bank that his name was Ebenezer, but he only always remembered the name for five minutes before forgetting it again.
He came out of the bank that afternoon pocketing the money he’d just withdrawn. What he was thinking about at the moment was to go to the cheapest restaurant he could find and eat something. After accomplishing that, he would then think about where he could spend the night. There were always the churches and mosques to sleep in. So, spending the night posed no real threat to him. He looked up at the other side of the road and saw the woman who changed his life. She was carrying a baby on her back. There was a general hospital on the other side of that road, directly facing the bank. The woman was coming out of the medical centre. He stood rooted on his spot and continued looking at the beautiful young woman. For that whole moment, his psychological systems began functioning as a normal man’s should, it seemed as if his sadness had evaporated from seeing this strange woman, because, for the first time in five years, what Ebenezer forgot was not his own name but his problems. As a matter of fact, he remembered his own name. It wasn’t just her look that triggered his consciousness; there was something more about her—something he couldn’t define or understand, but he wanted to know her—he had to.
Hope you enjoyed this week’s episode. Catch the next episode next week Monday, make it a date.

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