Dawn to Dusk: 24 hours on crossroads – Episode 4

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This entry is part 5 of 24 in the series Dawn to Dusk

When his arranged marriage went haywire, James has to juggle from being a father to his eleven months old son, keeping his job, finding love in the strangest place, maintaining a balance and peace between his family and that of his in-laws, who are lost in the battle of power and authority.

EPISODE IV

Catherine looked into Helen’s eyes. She could read her mind. She knew she did wrong. But Helen’s sarcastic tactic of scolding her, rubbing her fault to her face, was disrespectful. She would have shunned her; but since they were trying to establish a cordial relationship, she decided to confide in her and get some relief from the guilt that has burdened her since James’ marriage started to collapse.

 

It all started six years earlier when Osakwe’s company witnessed a chronic and rapid setback. Osakwe, James’ father, had a shipping company, which started crumbling after a ban was placed on the importation of rice and some other foodstuff – his specialisation. He approached a friend, Nnadi, Queen’s father, a year later and explained everything. He also requested for a loan to return to business, for most of his goods were confiscated by the Nigerian Customs Authority. Nnadi suggested a change in his line of business, an idea Osakwe also considered his only option, but he needed capital for any form of business venture. Luckily for him, his friend had a well conceived plan. He gave him a five million Naira loan to start another business. Osakwe ventured into Interior Decorations, specialising in home and office furniture. His new business grew into a household name, courtesy of Nnadi’s populous influence. Two years later, James notified his parents of his intention to settle down. His father met with his fiancée and approved of their union. He returned on that fateful day, after meeting Nnadi with an order for James to disengage from his fiancée claiming to have he found a more suitable wife for him in person of Nnadi’s first daughter, Queen.

 

“I didn’t know he was forced,” Helen interjected angrily. “I thought it was a mere match-making. You both practically forced him into marrying a lady he didn’t love,” she bluntly affirmed. “What then are you saying? You caused everything!”

Catherine felt really guilty over what Helen said. She never realised or thought that she, who was trying to build her son an empire, was indirectly ruining his life. “Not all that glitters is gold,” she muttered, heartbroken.

“You didn’t just realise that, did you? That adage has been for ages. And you of all people should know that. I just wish I could see your husband and tell him how disappointed I am in him for trading his son’s happiness for a business relationship. And you, you just sat and did nothing. Now he has lost his job, and God forbids any bad thing happening to his son, all because you both wanted to maintain your business relationship with – what is that his name again?”

Helen was angry, not because of Catherine’s mistake, but because of the effect of that mistake on James; her crush. She picked up the bucket, the mop and the broken glass packed in a trash can and left the living room through the front door.

Catherine sat on the couch, weeping profusely. She prayed for the survival of her grandson more than that of her daughter-in-law. She had called to tell her husband about Queen’s misbehavior, shown on the way she jolted them up with a knock, but not to the part where Junior was badly wounded and was rushed to the hospital. Osakwe was disoriented and disappointed to hear about the bad side of his daughter in-law. He was just about to call Queen when Catherine called back to alert him of the latest development. He became devastated.

Helen walked in after disposing the broken glasses as Catherine was ending the phone conversation with her husband.

“Was that James? How are they? Has he gotten to the hospital?” she asked all at once.

“That wasn’t James!” Catherine muttered. “That was my husband.”

Without word, Helen picked up her phone and dialled James’ number. The phone rang on the dining table. She became troubled. She picked her bag, James’s phone and rushed out not telling Catherine where she was going to. She hoped James had gone to the hospital she knew; where Junior was immunized. She was about boarding a taxi when Catherine called on James’ phone. She picked up and told her the name of the hospital and quickly dropped the call.

“Bright Stone Hospital,” she told the taxi driver who sped off instantly, having read the urgency in her voice.

 

James drove faster than an ambulance all the way to the hospital. He was lucky that the frustrating early morning traffic of Lagos seemed to know that his only son needed free passage to get urgent medical treatment. With tears in his eyes he felt his son’s pulse every few seconds. The thought of losing him was more tormenting than that of losing his job. He was miles away from the house when he remembered that neither Helen nor his mother was with him. He checked his pocket and discovered his wallet was not with him. He guessed he must have left it in the room when he went in to change his shirt.He searched for his phone to call Helen, but was devastated to discover that it was not with him also. He got really apprehensive of what the hospital would demand and how he was going to get the doctors to treat his son before the payment. Turning back would be foolish. Junior might end up dying on the way, so he headed straight to the hospital, hoping his doctor friend would be on duty, else he would have to use his car as collateral if the doctors insisted on payment first.

 

“He fell trying to mount a cracked glass stool,” he told the doctor, while Junior was being wheeled into the theatre by some smart nurses dressed in white fitted dresses, placing caps of same colour, askew on their nicely plaited hairs. He watched and paced back and forth on the hallway helplessly as the doctor disappeared with the nurses into the theater. After a while the doctor reappeared.

“We have stopped the bleeding; but we can only extract the glass stuck inside his tummy through surgery,” Doctor Lawrence told James, adjusting his roughly placed stethoscope.

“Well, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and do it,” James replied.

“No, Mr. James, you have to make some advanced payment. This is not my hospital. I can’t just…”

“Look, I rushed out of the house; I didn’t know my wallet wasn’t with me. Just do it, I will rush home and get the money.”

“I am sorry I can’t, Mr. James. It doesn’t work that way.”

“Where is Doctor Charles?” James asked, looking at both sides of the quiet hallway.

“He stepped out. But he is not a surgeon, and the surgery needs to be done as soon as possible,” Doctor Lawrence advised, adjusting his stethoscope again.

“Fine! Take my car,” James said handing the doctor the car keys. “Take it and do the surgery. Just save my son’s life. When I return with the money, I will have it back.”

Doctor Lawrence looked at him and saw a father who was desperate to save his dying son. He felt for him, but his job remained on top of his compassion-inclined to-do list. He stretched his hand, “I hope you understand that…”

“Take the damn keys and save my son,” James cut in. “Please!” he whispered, strongly.

Doctor Lawrence collected the keys, handed it to the security man who was pacing the hallway in pretence for vigilance. He asked him to drive the car to the doctors’ parking lot. The security man left but quickly returned.

“There is a woman shivering in the car doctor,” he announced.

James sighed; he had taken Junior out forgetting that Queen was in the car.

“That would be my wife,” he said. “Just take her out of the car, revive her but not before the surgery,” he instructed.

Doctor Lawrence paused and looked at him in disappointment, wondering why he would forget his also sick wife and took only his son, but since he has no say in his decisions, he summoned two nurses to help bring Queen out of the car, while the security man drove the car away.

After some time, which seemed to James like eternity, the security man returned and handed the car keys to the doctor.

“Alright Mr. James, I will just proceed with the surgery,” Lawrence said.

“Don’t let my son die, please,” James said coldly, yet with concern.

Doctor Lawrence nodded and left.

James leaned on the wall. He brushed down, squatting in abject devastation. He closed his eyes, praying for the survival of his son.

After a long while, Helen appeared on the hallway from the reception area.

“What is happening, James? Where is Junior? How is he?” she queried, jolting James up.

“He is in the theater, for a surgery,” James sighed.

“Surgery? Oh my God!” she muttered and sat down beside him.

Series Navigation<< Dawn to Dusk: 24 hours on crossroads – Episode 3Dawn to Dusk: 24 hours on crossroads – Episode 5 >>

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E.C Micheals

E.C Michael, a graduate of Theater Arts, is a passionate writer who believes that stories should blend with education so as to help correct social vices in the world. His watchword is edutainment. He writes screenplays, novels, short stories and essays. When not writing, he is blogging or watching Game of Thrones and Designated Survivor.

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