The Setup 3

My resolve was weakening. My insides burning with conflicting emotions. I could feel the angel of death looming above me, waiting to collect. I did not want to die, not because I loved to be alive, although that was a small part of the reason, but because my death meant the death of the ones I loved.

“Where do you want the bullet, asshole?” I heard Tony speak. “Through your brain or through your heart?” He was smiling ridiculously.

The sadistic swine! I would not allow him the satisfaction of unsettling me. “I thought Rose was your girl, the way she and Chama were eyeing each other said otherwise, my bad.”

Tony hit me across the face with the butt of his gun. He then began a verbal assault that almost caused my ears to bleed. The man certainly had a talent with insults. They were the most creative, derogative, slanderous and sardonic words I have ever heard.

Satisfied with himself, the moment I was dreading was about to come to fruition. He pulled the safety of the gun and coolly placed his hand on the trigger. I closed my eyes and imagined my family. If I was to die, the last image I wanted to see was them, and not this biological waste of a human being. I also did one other thing—I prayed.

BANG! BANG!

I felt my heart stop with fear. I was expecting pain, death and possibly angels to carry me off to heaven. None of that happened—no pain, no death, no angels and no heaven.

I slowly pried my eyes open, with great hardship.

There was Tony, lying dead on the floor with two bullet holes through his head. I looked up at the shooter, what I saw was unbelievable.

Tony’s angel of death was Rose.

She came to me, smiled and untied me from the chair. The first thing I did was attack her throat with my big hands.

“Hey, Mark, relax I just saved your life.” She was only barely able to breathe. I did not want to hear what she said, neither did I want to believe what she said, all I wanted was to kill her.

I let her go. It was not easy; the temptation to kill was great.

“Why?” I barked. “Why did you just do that?”

“I don’t have time for explanations, all I can say is that you’re the first good man I have met in a long time.”

“What?” I said, bemused. “That is a load of crap. And why did this revelation of me being a good person only dawn on you now? Why not on the day you seduced me?”

She exhaled in irritation. “Take this to Charles Mahimba, it clears you for the murder of his son.”

“Why…you…how…thank…doesn’t make any sense…mad…dream.”

“Look, you have less than six hours to get to Ndola, before the plane leaves, if you don’t get there in time your family is dead.”

Those words had a magical effect on me. I took the parcel she gave me.

“Now, your car is outside, here are the keys. I need to dispose of this body.” I grabbed the keys, said thank you and I was out there like a lightning bolt.

I got into the car, started it and I was on my way.

I was in Ndola within four hours, cruising like a maniac. I had two hours to spare; I would get the parcel to Charles and see my family again. For the first time since the whole ordeal, I began to relax.

My mind quickly turned to Rose, what was she playing at now? Delivering this parcel would incriminate her too. It was then I thought maybe I was heading into another trap, maybe the evidence in the parcel was stuff that would paint me as the bad guy. I decided the best thing to do was to stop the car and check the parcel; after all, I had time to spare.

Just as I was about to apply the brakes, I heard gunshots.

BANG!! BANG!! BANG!! BANG!! BANG!!

My face flustered, and I broke into cold sweats; someone was shooting at me. Was it Rose? Chama? Charles Mahimba?

The answer to the questions did not matter, what mattered was my life. I began to swerve the car from right to left so that I could not make myself such an easy target. The bullets were eating through my car relentlessly. It was unbelievable.

“Damn!!!” I shouted so loud I nearly tore my voice box. A bullet had lodged itself into my back, bringing with it the most excruciating pain.

A young boy appeared out of nowhere onto the road. I tried to avoid him and my car went off the road. It overturned several times. I stopped counting at four and drifted off into black nothingness.

۞

When I came to, the smell of disinfectant and antiseptic greeted my nose. I opened my eyes and, there I was in a hospital.

My vision was blurring, but as soon as I set my sights on the man standing next to me, it shot up to 20/20.

There, seated beside my hospital bed was Head of the Zambian ‘Mafia’, Charles Mahimba.

“Welcome back, Mr. Jere.”

I nearly jumped out of the bed. “I didn’t kill your son. Where is my family?”

“Calm down and shut up, Mr. Jere.” There was something about his demeanor that commanded both attention and submissiveness.

“I had my doubts about your involvement in my son’s death and the parcel my men found on you confirmed my suspicions.”

“Those were your men shooting at me?”

“Yes they were, I thought it was Rose driving,” he said. “You see, I had a GPS tracking device planted on the car at the funeral. My men have been following it ever since. When I heard the car was in Ndola, I thought the woman was out for my blood. I ordered my men to apprehend her.”

“What do you mean she was out for your blood?”

“Well,” he began, “Two years ago, Rose had been engaged to a prominent South African actor when she met my son. Infatuation infected Thomas the moment he met Rose. That infatuation quickly turned into obsession. Rose loved her fiancé with all her heart and thus never gave into Thomas’ advances.

Thomas could not take no for an answer and the more she denied him, the stronger his obsessive desire grew until he had the man Rose loved murdered. Rose was devastated. The police had no leads but she knew who had killed her husband. Thomas thought this was the opportune time to go in because he knew how fragile and emotional women got. He hoped that Rose would cave in. She, however, did not. She went away to London for a few months to get her head straightened out.

Around the same time, her half-sister, Mary, was working for Chama Chisembula as his secretary. Chama and a close friend of his were embezzling money from a partner firm. Mary had found out about it and had planned on going to the authorities with the information. Chama organized a hit man to take her and her husband out. When the hit man failed on his first attempt, Mary sent the incriminating evidence to her sister Rose and a letter saying that in the case of her death she should give the information to the police.

Soon after, Mary and her husband were killed.

With a burning rage, Rose decided it was time for payback. It was time to avenge the people that were cruelly taken away from her. Therefore, she came back to Zambia and formed a fraudulent relationship with my son. Then on their trip to Italy, she sought the help of a talented master at forgery to create a fake Picasso painting and had Tony purchase it.

After that, she persuaded my son to write a will. Chama as the family lawyer was called in to have a look at the will and the various goods mentioned in it. It was then that Chama had a first look at the painting, and he was hooked. Rose then began her flirtatious seduction with Chama so that he could fall for her, and oh, he did.

“So, you’re telling me Rose orchestrated this whole thing. That the painting was not worth 5 billion dollars?”

“No, it was not,” he said “The woman played everyone; it was all a web of lies. She told me everything in the letter that was in the parcel. Furthermore, my men just informed me she was seen crossing the border to Zimbabwe about three hours ago and after that got on a plane from there to somewhere in Europe. Oh, yes, she managed to get a hold of all the money that was in Chama’s six bank accounts in four countries. A total of about three million dollars. My men also found Chama dead with seven bullet holes in Lusaka”

“What?!”

“Yes, and surprisingly enough, she deposited a million in your account, I think as a form of penance.”

I took the news with mixed emotions.

“So, what happens next?” I said my mind thinking about my family.

Charles stood up and looked at me with his regal face. “I will continue my hunt for the manipulative bitch that took two of my sons from me, and you should reunite with your family.” He then left.

My heart raced, could this be. I heard my daughter’s voice call out to me. She ran to me, behind her, looking poignantly graceful and beautiful, was my wife.

“Hey, you,” I said to my daughter. I looked at my wife. There was so much I wanted to say so many apologies, so many flowery speeches about what she meant to me and more apologies.

The only thing I managed to say was “I love you”

She walked up to me and stroked my hand.

“I love you too.”

 

▪۞▪

 

Luka Mwango

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