The Wedding Guest (Part 2)

...Continued from last post...

The first thing that caught my eye was the massive king-sized bed that was at the end of room, by the corner. The sheets were perfectly arranged — it beckoned to me; it took all I had in me not to just flump myself on it without a bath. I came in, locked the door, and was arrested by the spectacular ambience of the room. It bespoke of maximum comfort. I ran my fingers on the surface of the upholstered furniture, my eyes swept to the curtains, golden brown and very expensive from the looks of it. I’ve never seen such luxury.

Dropping my bag on the side stool, I promptly started unpacking when I got a call on my cell phone.

“Barrister Martin?” a woman with a gruff, businesslike voice asked.

“Yes?”

“Chief Peters will see you in twenty minutes in the hotel restaurant.” And then click. Unpacking had to be postponed, you don’t keep the likes of the chief waiting. Hurriedly, I stripped to my underwear and went into the bathroom. I was again amazed at how much luxury this place represented. Don’t get me wrong, I’d been to different hotels, but here…it was top-notch. Switching on the shower, I started bathing, praying to be fast enough for my meeting.

I finished my bath in record five minutes, came out and went into the business of dressing up. My ex-wife, Julia, pointed out many times that the time it took me to dress up was the same as the average woman’s. Even my friends had made similar observations; I just loved looking good, and I took my time at doing so.

Choosing a fine black shirt, I decided to wear it with dark gray slacks, and finally I picked my recently bought corduroy jacket to cap it off. I chose not to wear another pair of shoes, and so wore the one I had come with; it was an Armani, it had to do. Picking up my cell phone, a few change and the hotel keycard, I left the room. Five more minutes left.

Outside, as I hurried towards the elevator, my phone rang. It was Jude. I stood and took the call.

“Jude, you’ve got to have something serious to have called me this time. Make it snappy because I’m already late for — ”

“She attempted suicide.” he cut in, his voice a mask of concern.

“She? Who? Don’t tell me it’s — ”

“Yeah, it’s the same person you’re thinking of. She was being assaulted from all angles. Her husband’s people recently released a statement calling her — and I quote — 'a shameless harlot, who had always wanted her husband dead’. The media had had a field day with a comment like that. Someone even went to her home wanting to have an interview with her,” he informed me, making those hissing sounds he made whenever he was angry, usually at anyone with a press badge.

“The guts of those bastards!”

“Tell me about it. She was found by her son in her bathroom with her wrist cut. Luckily — and a big thumbs up to them — the emergency unit arrived early enough. She’s in intensive care but stable.”

“The poor woman,” I empathized, “Do well to check on her please. And keep me posted. I’m already late for a meeting.”

“Alright. Bye then.” He clicked off. Poor woman, I thought again, as I resumed my walk towards the lift. Granted, what she did was bad, but she need not be crucified. It was her husband that needed crucifixion. Slugging his boss in his sleep was just going overboard with the anger thing. Probably, that was why I had taken up the case. I’d regretted my actions that led to my divorce, but it wasn’t something that I and Julia couldn’t have talked about and survived. It was that damn anger of hers that made her to file for divorce.

Thinking about all these things, I did not notice the girl until we bumped into each other. The headset she was wearing fell on the floor, as well as my phone. She let out a string of profanities, most of them directed at whoever Cass was. Given my mood, I was ready to vent my anger on her, but as I looked her, I was arrested by her beauty.

“I’m terribly sorry sir,” she apologized.

“Uh, it’s alright. It was my fault too. I should have been more focused on where I was going and not let my mind wander.”

With that, we headed into the elevator and went downstairs. Immediately I stepped out of the lift, I spotted Chief Peters; he saw me too and waved. He was sitting at the hotel restaurant with his wife. Turning to the young lady to say my goodbye to her, I discovered that she had already walked off, perhaps to further berate Cass.

As I approached the man who would be my host for the next one week, I was again marveled at how could maintain such a trim, athletic body despite his opulence. In this part of the world, rich men were usually seen with podgy bellies, which signified good living. The medical community had been warning about the high rate of cardiovascular diseases, and linking then to eating excessive food and alcohol consumption; most people didn’t bother, as their mantra was: ‘you only live once’. He shook my hand with vigor and introduced me to his wife, who was sitting quietly. She smiled, but the smile did not reach her eyes. I sensed that something was wrong.

“Martin, my boy! How are you? Hope your trip was OK?” he asked. No one called me `my boy’ anymore, except the sixty-five year old billionaire.

“I’m fine sir, and yes, the trip was great,” I answered, still feeling that his greeting was a tad forced. Turning to his wife, I said, “I hope you are well, Madam?”

“Well, I am. It’s only the problem of —” she replied, as her husband cut in.

“What will you take? Champagne? Vodka? Or just beer?” he invited, as he cast his wife a furtive glance of pure sorrow. What had happened? I wondered? And why call me?

“I think I will go with the champagne,” I said.

“Champagne then.” He clapped his hands and a buxom waiter appeared, he gave the orders and she left. He then said: “I know you must be wondering why I called you when you’ve barely settled in.” I nodded, and he continued, “You see, my son, Ayo, was involved in a scuffle with a young man, and he mistakenly shot the boy.” At this statement, his wife let out an unconscious gasp of horror.

“My God!” I shouted. I was genuinely shocked, this forebode of a disastrous wedding for his daughter. But instead, I inquired, “How did he get a gun? Isn’t he supposed to be in school?”

“Yes, he currently a student. As for the gun, only God knows where he procured it from. He’s still in apparent shock, and won’t talk to anyone.”
“Where is he?” I asked.

“In his room. He only said he would make an appearance at the wedding because of his sister. His sister, Yemi, is distraught.”

“So, what do you need me for?” As he was about to reply, the waiter returned with our drinks, he paused as she poured out the drinks. When she left, he replied.

“I want you to find out if there’s a way we can settle with the boy’s family, and prevent a litigation.” The woman, who until now had stoically listened to the both of us, started crying.

“My only son! He didn’t mean to kill the boy oh! It was just an accident. Mr. Martin, tell me you can save him, tell me, please,” she wailed, drawing the attention of the other people around to our table. The husband quietly told her to get hold of herself.

“Our son will be alright,” he promised.

Not knowing what else to say, I assured her that I would do my best, but I had a sick feeling about all this. I got up, and downing the last drops of my drink, asked for Ayo’s room, and left to see him. I wanted to hear from the horse’s mouth, the full details of the whole fracas. As I was about to get into the elevator to go to room of the boy, I sighted my ex-wife, and she saw me too. Was she omnipresent? The fancy man was nowhere near her. She gave me the iciest look she could muster, and was about to go past me, when I held her arm.

...To be continued...

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