He stood before the door to the private hospital room with trepidation. He hesitated and muttered a short prayer. What lay behind this door, he wondered. He wanted Susan to be okay. Two nurses walked past, giving him side glances. They whispered to themselves and looked back twice as they walked down the long hospital corridor.
He stepped into the room and stopped. Susan lay on the bed sleeping. In spite of the bandage tied around her head she looked beautiful. He stood by her bed side observing her breathing. She opened her eyes. When she saw him, she forced a weak smile. ‘Thank you for coming,’ she said.
‘How are you doing?’ He asked.
‘The doctors say that I will live.’
He didn’t want to pressure her but he had to know what happened to her husband. ‘How is Bassey?’
Susan shut her eyes. When she opened them they were angry. ‘Please don’t ask me about him. He is the reason why I am in this hospital.’
Ogedengbe ignored her. ‘Where is he?’
She was silent for a moment. ‘He is dead,’ she started crying. Ogedengbe stood there not knowing what to tell her.
The maid brought in drinks and set them on the centre table. As soon as she left the room Susan turned to Ogedengbe and kissed him on his lips. Ogedengbe didn’t know how to respond to her.
‘I have wanted to do this for a long time,’ Susan said, kissing him again.
Ogedengbe’s mind was racing. He was in the house of a man who was buried ten days ago. This was supposed to be a condolence visit but it was getting out of hand. He looked into her eyes and unbriddled passion stared back at him. He wanted her, but not here, not now, not like this.
‘Susan, we need to talk,’ he said.
‘Talk about what?’ she reached for him again and kissed him, rubbing her body against him.
He pulled back. ‘Your late husband is barely in the ground and we are doing this. We should have some respect for the dead.’
She held on to him. ‘Is this not what you wanted?’
He thought this was his secret. ‘What do you mean?’ the clergy man asked.
Susan smiled. ‘Stop playing games with me,’ she moved closer to him. ‘I saw desire in your eyes the third time I was in your office. Do you want to deny it?’ she asked
Ogedengbe was silent.
For months he had plotted how to seduce Susan but now that he had her to himself the obsession to possess her fizzled out. With Bassey dead he couldn’t bring himself to touch his widow.
Susan poured herself some whisky, brought out a packet of cigarettes from her bag, lit up and sat down. Ogedengbe stood there watching her. If he was shocked that she smoked, it didn’t show on his face. Susan kept the glass of whisky on a stool beside her and exhaled a cloud of white smoke through her full lips. ‘You wanted me, now you can have me,’ she said.
Ogedengbe regarded her in silence. If someone had told him that Susan was a smoker he wouldn’t have believed it. But here she was blowing smoke in his face.
‘I did this for you,’ she spread her hands.
‘You did what for me?’
‘I fixed my situation so that we could be together.’
Ogedengbe didn’t want to believe what he was hearing. ‘I don’t understand. What do you mean you fixed your situation? The reason I was counselling you was to help you resolve your marital issues.’
Susan laughed. ‘You are so naive. You think you could have helped me with your counselling?’ She sat down and crossed her legs. ‘I didn’t come to you for counselling so that you could fix my marriage. I stopped caring about my marriage and my husband two years ago. There was no way you could change the way I felt about Bassey. I hated him and wanted him out of my life.’
Ogedengbe had a question written on his face. ‘Then why did you ask me to help you fix your marriage?’
‘I wanted someone who would give me an alibi, someone who would defend me in the event that my plan failed.’
Susan crushed the remaining cigarette in an ash tray and stood up. ‘You wanted us to be together but I saw it in your eyes that you wouldn’t do what was necessary to make it happen, so I did it for us. I got rid of Bassey for us.’ She came over to Ogedengbe, and pulled him into an embrace.
Ogedengbe stood there weak at his knees. Susan kissed him. He tasted the nicotine on her lips. She placed her hands on his chest. Her perfume which used to arouse him, nauseated him. His hands hung by his side unable to put them around her.
Susan moved back and regarded him. ‘You don’t seem too happy that I got rid of Bassey.’
Ogedengbe placed his hand on his forehead. The headache had returned. ‘What did you do to him?’ He asked.
‘You want to know what happened? You were such a coward that you couldn’t step forward to get rid of him so I got some men to kill him. They made it look like an accident. From the look of things they did a really good job of it.’
Ogedengbe’s mouth went dry. The taste of nicotine in his mouth nauseated him. He wanted to run out of the apartment and keep on running until he had completely distanced himself from the woman who stood before him.
‘Susan, what have you done?’ He asked the widow of Bassey Akpabio.
Susan’s eyes flared like a lunatic. ‘Stop asking me stupid questions!’ she said. ‘You wanted me. Now you can have me all to yourself.’
Ogedengbe stepped back. ‘I didn’t want to kill your husband…’
Susan cut him short. ‘You didn’t? Tell me, how then did you plan to have me? Were you going to ask Bassey to allow you sleep with his wife? My dear pastor, your eyes raped me each time I was alone with you. It was simply a matter of time before you actualised your fantasy.’
‘I didn’t rape you with my…’ Ogedengbe stammered.
Susan interjected. ‘You did. Even a blind man could see how your eyes roamed over my body like a child holding a birthday gift. You wanted me. I only helped to facilitate what you wanted to do in your heart. Now you don’t have to fantasise about having me any more. Here I am darling, I am all yours,’ she spread her arms to him.
Ogedengbe took a step backwards and regarded her with dread. This woman was his desire, what he yearned for, planned for. He did all he could to get her to be with him, but now that he had her, he realised he had been deceived by his wicked heart. He had been deceived to think Susan could satisfy the longing in his heart. That longing could only be satisfied by God. Someone said be careful what you wish for because you may get it. He wished for Susan, he got her and she has turned out to be a murderer.
His eyes darted between the door and Susan like a trapped animal seeking a way of escape. Susan stood before him, her eyes teasing, daring him. He had never hated anyone as he hated the evil creature who stood before him.
Ogedengbe shook his head in disbelief. ‘You have committed a heinous crime before God and man. Bassey did not deserve to die,’ he said. ‘You killed an innocent man.’
The scales fell from his eyes and he saw her for who she really was; he saw the madness in her eyes; he saw the wickedness which her beauty had camouflaged and kept hidden from him. He saw the way she had manipulated him with her sexuality and beauty. He thought he was chasing her but she had been the one hunting him all along.
‘I am leaving,’ He said.
Susan stood in his way. ‘Don’t you want me anymore?’ The murderess asked him.
He was silent.
‘You are such a coward,’ she hit him on the chest with the palm of her hand. ‘I did all this for you and you cannot even thank me?’
‘This is not what I wanted,’ Ogedengbe said.
Susan regarded him with contempt. ‘You wanted me but you don’t want to take the responsibility for having me? Don’t you understand that desire comes with a price?’
Ogedengbe shoved her out of his way. ‘I am not ready to pay that price.’ He hurried towards the door.
‘Don’t even try to contact the police,’ Susan warned.
Ogedengbe kept walking.
‘I will tell them it was all your idea,’ she threatened. ‘I will tell them that you wanted me so much that you sent an assassin to murder my husband.’
Ogedengbe reached the door and stood before it undecided.
‘Do you want to know the truth?’ Susan continued talking behind him. ‘It was your associate, pastor Joseph Odewunmi who helped me with my plans.’ Ogedengbe’s hand froze on the door handle. He felt like a man trapped in a burning building with no way of escape. Sweat broke out on his forehead and a nerve started twitching on his face. He turned around and faced the murderess. ‘What did you say?’ He shook his head like a man who woke up with a hangover, trying to clear his head from the insanity which was unfolding before him.
Susan smiled. ‘I have to hand it to you pastor Ogedengbe, you are a strong man. I never suspected that you had it in you. I kept coming at you from different directions but you refused to touch me. Maybe it was an act of piety or cowardice, I cannot tell which it was but you didn’t touch me. You resisted me. You rejected me,’ Susan spat out the words with distaste. She moved closer to the stunned pastor. ‘You acted like you were better than me and rejected me. Initially I was angry that you wasted my time but I saw opportunity in your associate pastor who wasn’t so…holy,’ she said with derision. ‘He wanted to be friends with a beautiful woman and I gave him the opportunity. I turned him to putty in my hands. He said that he wanted me more than anything else in the world. Those were the words he whispered to me when he made love to me,’ the temptress confessed.
As Ogedengbe listened to her his face became clouded with rage. It felt like a Japanese sumo wrestling match was taking place in his head. ‘You slept with pastor Joseph?’he asked in disbelief. Susan ignored his question and poured more whisky into her glass. She went over to where he stood by the door. ‘Why are you so shocked? With my body and my money it was easy to seduce him. He promised to do anything for me. Absolutely anything. He was my slave, doing my bidding at my pleasure. And you may do well to check your church accounts because my dear pastor Joseph tried to please me by buying me expensive gifts which I am quite sure he couldn’t afford on his church salary.’ She drank some of the brown liquid in the glass. ‘So, while you were busy fantasising about having me, pastor Joseph was sleeping with me,’
‘No! Ogedengbe punched the door and he immediately regretted his action. The skin on his right hand was broken and blood dripped on the tiles. As he watched the blood drip from his hand to the floor, it came to Ogedengbe how this would end. It would end in blood, in his blood. The pursuit of desires that originate from the flesh came with collateral damage. There was no way to avoid the consequences of his evil desires.
‘You are bleeding.’ Susan reached out to touch his hand. ‘Let me help you with that.’ He snatched his hand away from her like a child who touched the hot plate on a stove. ‘Don’t touch me,’ he said.
Susan saw the determination on his face and realised there was nothing she could to stop him from leaving. ‘You know you cannot tell anyone about this. If you do, we will both go down for it. I will tell them you made me do it.’
The clergy man ignored her, opened the door with his left hand and stood in the doorway. She walked over to him. ‘Let’s keep this between us,’ she said.
He regarded her in bitter silence. She didn’t have to tell him that. It had always been between them. She was his secret desire and now she would be his secret pain. He didn’t want to think about the consequences of his indiscretion. He wondered if there was still any hope of forgiveness for him with God. As she stood there it dawned on him that she wasn’t worth the trouble he had been through. He turned away from her without saying goodbye.
‘See you soon,’ Susan whispered as he hurried to his car.