By: Faith Lucky.
The drive wasn’t really silent as we kept bringing up little chats along the way. We had gone to the place where his car was parked on the night I found him and luckily for us, the car was still there. So, we made use of it.
Rodney dressed a little casual and wore a face cap; hoping he wouldn’t be too easy to recognise. He prayed he wouldn’t run into any of his relatives.
Soon, we got to the not – so – classic eatery and ordered for something delectable to eat.
“I’m sorry about the brunswick stew, Mr Rodney. I’m sorry it had to go to a waste”
I said as I ate from my meal.
I was facing him.
“Oh, that’s okay. But I still think it’d have been better if you had just admitted you weren’t a good cook.” He replied with a little jest.
“But Mr Rodney; you know it wasn’t entirely my fault; right? Fine, the burnt taste was there. But the excess salt you added also affected it. If not for the excess salt, I know it’d have been eatable.”
“And there you’re totally wrong. Without the burnt taste, it’d have been manageable. You ruined it”
I heaved a heavy sigh. It was completely pointless arguing with someone like him.
“By the way, Audrey” he continued after a short silence.
“What’s going on between you and my brother? I’ve noticed he gets so excited over you. He even told me there was a day you almost strangled him because you treated him for dinner.”
Immediately, I coughed and almost poured out food from my mouth.
I lifted my eyes to look at him.
“He…He did?” I asked with a little cringe.
“Well, yes. And the way he had spoken up for you in the contest, I was like…wow’.
He said and I smiled shyly.
“Um…Leo and I are just friends. He’s a very nice fellow”. I remarked. “Hm. So are you trying to say I’m grumpy?”
“Oh, no; Mr Rodney. Don’t get it twisted. Of course you’re a very nice person.
Your mother is so lucky”.
he chuckled and almost laughed.
Hm. When will he ever get to laugh?
“Um…Mr Rodney, is Megan your best friend?” I asked and he shrugged.
“Well, she’s a close friend from childhood. Why asking?” He replied and asked.
“Well, nothing. It seems she really likes you a lot” I said.
“Hm. What makes you say so?”
“You wouldn’t believe what happened. She confronted me the other day in school because I was given a third chance in the contest. She was angry and felt I had an ulterior motif and with the way she had sounded, I think she was ready for a fight”. He shook his head and smiled.
“Well, that’s just Megan for you. She’s always been so troublesome” he said and I laughed.
“By the way, Mr Rodney; will Miss Vanessa really be coming for the next contest?” I asked.
“Yes. Is there a problem?”
“No. It’s just that I really can’t wait. She’s one of my biggest inspirations and it’s going to be an honor getting to meet her”. “What if she doesn’t like you?”
“Huh? Come on Mr Rodney. Stop wishing me badluck”.
And without realising, I used my spoon to hit his hand and he stared at me with surprise.
I gasped when I realised what I just did. I had been too jovial and had forgotten he was Rodney.
“Oh, my God! Um…I’m so sorry Mr Rodney I’m sorry” I stuttered and didn’t know what to do.
He stared at me and let out a light smile and also used his spoon to hit my hand.
We both laughed.
That was the first time I was seeing him laugh. And it was so…cute.
Oh, God! I wish I can see him laugh again. He was so charming when he laughed, but unfortunately he doesn’t do it often. Jocelyn was really doing something to this guy’s life.
“Are you still eating?”:he asked after a while.
He was already through with his own meal.
“Oh, no. I’m filled up” I replied and touched my tummy He brought out his credit card and gave it to me.
“Pay for the food. I’ll be waiting in the car” he told me as he stood up and left.
I took the card and went to the reception, using their Pos for payment.
When I was done, I went outside to the car but couldn’t find Rodney there. Where was he?
I looked around and found him nearby, just standing. But his attention seemed to be concentrated on something else as he kept staring in a particular direction.
I walked over to him and noticed he was staring at two kids playing at a distance. It was a girl and a boy and they ran around, giggling and laughing, so happily.
He was so engrossed in them and his countenance had already changed. His face had become pale and saddened.
I stood beside him and joined him in staring at the kids. I could feel the pains he was going through.
“TodayToday was the day she went missing” he started soberly.
“I was eight; she was seven.
“The place you had found me the other night was where it happened. We were just spending some time together,then some armed men came after us. We started running but she slipped and fell off the cliff. I tried to be of help, but couldn’t. My Jocelyn was in front of me, pleading for help, and I couldn’t do anything to save her. Right in front of my very eyes, she fell off. Right in front of my very eyes, I watched her go down the cliff. I lost her.
“I jumped off the cliff as well, not knowing what to do. I thought I could catch her.
But that was the last time I got to see her.
“She was so adorable, the most beautiful girl I knew back then. She always called me Romeo and I called her Juliet.
“We had so many plans. As little as we were back then, we had crazy ideas. She always said she wanted our kids to look like me because I was too cute. We also planned on spending our honeymoon in Spain. She was so much fun to be with and I was ready to burn down a house just to spend as little as a minute with her.” He paused and sighed, releasing a little sniffle.
“She means the world to me” he continued more ruefully.
“And I see everyday as a miracle that I get to live with her. But I don’t know how much longer that miracle can last. I don’t know how much longer I’d be able to endure the pains.
“You know, there’s just one thing I’m holding onto. The only thing that’s keeping me alive is the fact that her body is still missing. If her body had been found at that time and she was confirmed really dead, I’d have died at the spot
“The only thing that’s keeping me alive till this very time Is her missing body. But I’m not so sure how long I can hold on anymore because it’s killing me slowly.” There was so much agony in his voice and a tear rolled down my cheek. I quickly wiped it off, hoping he didn’t see it.
I didn’t even know what to say. I was out of words.
I made a silent cough, trying not to sound tearful.
“Im so sorry Mr Rodney”:I said fraily.
“But…I still think you shouldn’t give up easily. I’m pretty sure if you were destined to be with Jocelyn, you two will get reunited”.
“That’s what I keep saying to myself” he resumed talking.
“For the past nineteen years, those are the same words I keep saying to myself repeatedly. But where’s she? What happened to her?
“It’s been nineteen years already, but there’s been no word from her. If she were still alive, then where could she be? How’s she doing? Who…Who’s she with? How does she even look like? And how come she hasn’t returned to me? Doesn’t she remember me? Or doesn’t she love me anymore? Or is she in any form of danger?” He paused and sighed again.
“Sometimes, I feel it’s Impossible she’s alive. And I feel like falling off the cliff again without being saved because I don’t want to live without her.”
Just then, two young women came upto where the kids were and the children jumped into their hands, still laughing.
“Here you are. We’ve been looking all over for you” one of the women who held the girl said as she tickled her on her tummy.
“Mummy, I defeated Bryan in a game and he wanted to beat me because of it” the little girl said, still in her mother’s arms.
“It’s a lie. You cheated” the little boy said and they continued that way as their parents took them away.
Rodney kept staring at them until they walked into a corner and couldn’t be seen any more. The pains flashed in with a double force.
“Watching Jocelyn fall off that cliff in front of my very eyes, is the biggest pain I’ve ever had to feel. And that’s the pain that’s been stabbing me slowly till this
very moment. It’s killing me and…I don’t know how much longer I can endure it” he said conclusively and started walking away; headed for the car. I hesitated a little so I could stop the tears that filled my eyes.
After that, I followed him behind and we got into the car.
This time around, the drive was very silent and it was a brooding one.
Rodney was even smoking and didn’t mind the fact that I was coughing because of it.
I felt so much pity for him and felt sad at the way he had also become sad. I knew he was going through pains and I wanted to be of help. I wish I could relieve him of his pains even If it was just a bit.
Still driving, the car suddenly screeched to a halt; having a breakdown. Rodney tried restarting the ignition but couldn’t. He tried again with more force this time around, but it remained the same and he hit his two hands on the sterling in anger.
I was startled.
“Um…Mr Rodney, maybe we should check the engines” I told him as I opened my own side of the door to step out.
The litted cigarette in his hand was almost burnt out. So he lit another and stuck it in his mouth before following me out of the car.
He opened the engines and a light smoke came out of it.
He brought out water from the car and poured a little quantity in and started touching some wires.
I watched him as he did everything with impatience. He was so bittered.
He closed the engine and went back into the car and tried turning it on but it didn’t. He came out of the car again and kicked the tyres. He itched his hair and smoked deeply from his cigarette.
I suddenly became so scared. I’ve never seen this part of him before…