Vain Gain

Ben, filled with so many regrets, dragged his feet to the door. His index finger worked on his chest, on the  brownish stain on his navy blue robe and wondering why on earth he now lived alone, why his family weren’t there and why everywhere was ghostly quiet in that house, as if he just w oke up to reality.

He had lived without his family for one year, but it always seemed like he lost them yesterday. Its hard to move on. It’s just hard.

He reached for the door handle, stared at it for a while, opened the door a little and peeked into the street.

As he searched for the delivery man with neck turning left right and left, with eyes squinted against sun rays, he saw the group of onlookers gawking at posters leaning on  metal poles.What could it be they were looking at?  He pulled his head back inside the house and peeped through the window at the man hastening towards his door.

‘Mr Oy!’ The man called. ‘Come out here and see this for yourself.’

Ben glared at his robe and ran upstairs, changed into something better and joined the group outside.

He gawked at the posters. What were his photographs doing on them? What the…! He whispered as his eyes sped through the letters.

There, glaring back at him, were his secrets.

Who was out to destroy him? Joy? Janice? They were the only ones he told

Ben hurried up through the tickled readers and yanked the posters off the four tree trunks, and wished someone exploded with  idiocy.

It must be Janice. Joy would never hurt him.

What else did Janice want? She was supposed to move on after destroying his marriage and ruining his life.

Six years ago, Janice was the woman for Ben; the one he wanted from the bottom of his heart to spend the rest of his life with.

And whenever she said amidst laughter ‘One day, you will wake up to my absence’, Ben had always thought it was one of her jokes. She would never leave him.

But she did. When he needed her most.

His asthma had hit hard and he was critically ill at the hospital. She was to take care of him but she did not show up at the hospital and never showed up again. He never saw her until after he got married to Joy. Joy was the pretty nurse who took care of him at the hospital and captured his heart. But Janice would always be prettier and lovelier.

Thats why The day his wife put to bed and was still at the hospital, she stood at the door with tears in her eyes. She was sorry. She could bear seeing him in his condition. It pierced her heart to see him in pain.

Something awakened in him and forced him to reach for her hand and let her in.

Few months later, he returned from work  and saw her at the dinner table silently eating dinner with his family. Instinct told him to run but it was too late.

‘Janice here wants to have a word with you, honey. I’ll leave you both to talk. I’ll join you when you’re done.’

What wife would leave his husband alone with such a pretty woman? But his wife trusted him that much. He stared at her back as she carried baby Fortune on her shoulder and walked into the room without glancing back.

‘!Why are you here?’ He whispered

‘!Ben. I’m pregnant with our baby!’

‘How! Why!’

She got up and walked to the door. He was scared…scared his wife would find out and leave.

His wife walked back to the dinner table and stared into his eyes.

‘Why was she here?’ He heard the question but could not answer, and was relieved when she  did mot say anything further. But he was afraid of what would follow that visit.

A week passed and nothing happened.

Then two weeks later, on Sunday, he was before his computer and his wife in the kitchen when a knock came on the door. He glared at it and hoped it wasn’t what he was thinking.

It was! It was her. With a big  bag laden with God-knows-what.

She left the bag and walked past him into the house.

‘What are you doing?’ He asked. Her hand glided to her shoulder and she whispered into his ears,

‘Our baby needs you.’

‘Janice, listen up, if you know what is good for you, go and do something about that baby! I’m warning you. Stop it! I’m happily married. Dont spoil…’

His wife walked into the sitting room. Glared at them for a while before picking baby who was crying in baby stretcher.

‘What is she doing here…with a travelling bag?’

‘Ask this shameless woman! She is just like every other girl in the street looking for the owner of a child growing in their wombs!’ He said and regretted saying that. For Janice stood up, went to the door and dragged her bag into the second bedroom. They both stared at her without words.

His wife handed him the baby and walked to the door and knocked…was she not  supposed to kick the door open, burst into the room angrily and drag Janice out of the house? Why was she so soft with her.

She opened the door for her. She stared hard at him before closing the door. He did not hear them shouting.. he wished they did. As he  placed his ear at the door and listened, he heard his wife’s sob. What? Then the door snapped open and she picked their girl from him, ran into their room. He rushed after her. He met her sitting in the rock-star with Fortune on her bosom.

‘She’ s pregnant with your child!’ When he did not say anything she said, ‘ You cheated on me with your ex!’

‘Joy, I’m sorry for this. I’ll make sure she left.’

‘Tell that to yourself because I’ve called my sister to pick me up. She will be here any minute.’

‘No, Joy! Honey, you’re my wife. You can’t do this. Fight for your right!’

‘Leave this room, Ben, before I lose my cool! Leave!! This minute!!!’ And he left. Hurried to Janice and dragged her bag out of the house and pushed her out of the house. But Janice was a hard nut to crack.  Before he knew it, his sister-in-law was already there in front of the house. And without a word to him picked Joy, screeched her tires on the driveway and zoomed off.

Joy left him. He did not feel good about it. He couldn’t have. She and Fortune were the  best things that have happened to him.

But when Janice turned into an angel and made him feel greater than he had ever felt, he felt that losing them was sort of blessing. Little did he know that he was being fattened for the slaughter.

They got married…he and Janice after three months.

Two years later, he found out she was having an affair with his boss at the office. It came as a surprise. How did they meet?

It was too much to bear! And he did walk into his boss’s office and punched him in the face for shamelessly admitting to have slept with her even though he was sorry.

Janice was sorry too. But that did not stop him from serving her a divorce letter and didn’t mind when she took their child with her…after all, he needed a paternity test.

In the midst of all the turmoil, he began to feel this wired desire to be all by himself, isolated. This feeling cost him his job and now he was a depressed as hell.

Two weeks later, a knock came on the door. He refuced to open it.

But he jumped to his feet when Joy called his name. His daughter wanted to see him. Ben knelt down and hugged his girl.

‘I’m sorry. I’m so so sorry!’

Florence Ezekafor