The queen cursed in anger. How dare they? If they thought their foolish little conspiracy would work, they had another thing coming. She would show them why she was called the queen of the coast!
“Hey, girl.” Lola greeted cheerfully as she entered with Halima. They were carrying shopping bags.
The queen stopped fuming and turned on the sweetest smile as she faced them. “Hi, how far now? What are you doing here?”
“We’re here to eat fish.” Lola replied.
The queen’s smile wavered a little. “What?”
“Don’t worry. We already bought the fish. It’s how to prepare it is the wahala. You that like eating fish, you will prepare it. I don’t know how to cook point and kill. Do you?” Lola asked Halima.
“For where?” Halima replied and continued to the queen. “Anyway, we also brought wine. So we’ll drink some while you’re cooking point and kill. The remaining ones, we will wash down when you’re done.”
They proceeded to drop the fish in the sink.
“Ta-da!” Lola said dramatically.
The queen stared at the fish, horrified. “What is this?”
“Ah- ahn, are you blind? It’s fish na.” Lola replied playfully like she was talking to a retarded person.
“You can’t keep it here.”
“Because I said you can’t keep it here.”
For the first time, Lola and Halima actually looked at her, puzzled.
“Ify, why are you behaving like this?” Lola asked. “Were you not the one who said we should stop eating meat and eat fish because it is healthier? Ehen, now we want to eat fish like you.”
“Yes, it’s true I said that. But now, I don’t want to eat fish either. I am focusing on vegetables. You know, I am getting married. So I need to watch my weight.”
Lola rolled her eyes. “Hello, fish is a very healthy alternative to meat if you’re watching your weight.”
“Well, I’m not eating it and I don’t want to see it. Take it out of here.” The queen replied firmly.
“Ify, are you okay?” Halima asked, concerned.
“No, I’m not!” The queen flared up. “What you people just did is an invasion of privacy.”
The girls gasped in surprise.
“Invasion of privacy? Excuse me, if you have suddenly forgotten, we do this all the time. We’ve cooked like this before in my house and Halima’s house. And even here. It’s a normal thing for us. So what’s your problem?” Lola shot back.
“My problem is I’m trying to cut off some things in my life now I’m about to get married!” The queen replied, heatedly.
The girls stared at her, shocked.
“Are you saying that you’ll cut us off when you get married?” Halima asked in quiet disbelief.
“No, I’m… you know what? Yes, I am. You guys are so annoying. I don’t know how I put up with you all these years. It has to stop.”
She didn’t have to use her supernatural powers to sense how hurt they were at what she just said. It was palpable and she didn’t care.
“Now if you will excuse me, I am very busy. Take this nonsense out of my house.” She said.
Lola took the fish to pack it into the shopping bag. Then she turned back to her.
“You know what, Ify? Fuck you.” She shoved the fish in the queen’s face.
The queen’s scream rent the air. “TAKE THAT THING AWAY FROM ME!”
“Jesus!” Lola jumped back, shocked. They watched as the queen covered her face with her hands and staggered all over the place screaming like she was in great pain. Agnes quickly ran into the kitchen.
“I don’t know o, Auntie? We quarreled and I showed her this fish and she started screaming.” Lola replied, shaking. Halima shook along with her. They were both frightened. Ify was going bonkers in front of them.
“Good.” Johnson remarked happily, back at Beatrice’ frontage. “But first things first.”
“What?” Ify asked, curious.
“We send her a message.” He replied and suddenly threw water on her face.
The queen screamed harder making the ladies almost jump out of their already frazzled skins. They helplessly watched as she staggered and covered her face moaning loudly in pain.
“Ify what is it?” Agnes gingerly approached and touched her.
“DON’T TOUCH ME! GET OUT! ALL OF YOU! GET OUT!” The queen yelled at them. They ran out of the kitchen. The queen staggered to the counter, pressing her hand on it for support. Red spots dotted her face like an allergic reaction. She took deep heavy breaths as her eyes turned fiery green.
“Oh my God. My face.” Ify yelped.
“Trust me, you’re not feeling anything compared to what she is feeling right now.” Johnson said calmly.
“What is this?” Ify asked, wiping her face in disgust.
“Not just any kind of fish. It weakens her somehow.”
“That’s it? I love to eat fish. It’s very easy to get fish water. If I had known that was all it took to get my life back, I could have kukuma poured it on her since.”
“It’s not that simple.” Johnson said, slightly amused.
“Wait, how do you know so much about this queen?” Beatrice asked suspiciously.
Johnson suddenly looked uncomfortable. “Let’s just say I have had some very unpleasant experiences with her.”
“And they are…” She prompted.
“I don’t think you want to hear it.”
“Oh, I want to.”
Johnson hesitated. “You remember Sharon?”
“She wasn’t an ordinary person. She was a maiden of the queen and her job was to lure vulnerable men to her mistress. I met Sharon at the bank where I worked at the time. We went out to lunch and one thing led to another–”
“You started an affair.” Beatrice concluded.
Johnson nodded, shamefaced. “She told me about the queen’s generosity to those that serve her. But I could only partake of it if I would leave my family and follow her.”
“So you abandoned us because of wealth?” Beatrice asked bitterly.
“You have to understand that at the time, I was merely a contract staff at the bank. I could be dismissed at any time with no benefits. I had a wife who earned way more than I did and could take very good care of our daughter without my help. It made me feel useless to my family.”
“Really?” Beatrice sneered.
“That was why I left.” Johnson continued. “For a while, I had everything I wanted- I thought I wanted. But they didn’t really make me happy. I felt trapped because the queen controlled my life through Sharon. I was a puppet in her hands. If she asked me to jump, I would jump. If she asked me to stand, I would stand. I would do anything she asked of me. I hated all of it. So, I began to rebel against her. Of course, she found out and decided to teach me a bitter lesson. Sharon disappeared and I lost everything. No money, no job, no family, no friends. She took everything and everyone that was dear to me. That was three years ago–”
“She killed Nene.” Beatrice said with a horrifying understanding.
The whole place went eerily silent. Johnson’s stricken face told her she was right. Beatrice gripped the rail for support as her eyes clouded.
“Three years ago, you said. Nene died three years ago. Your queen killed my daughter.”
“She’s not my–”
“She killed my baby because of you, Johnson.”
“I am sorry.” Johnson said, his face full of regret.
“It’s too late now. Your sorry isn’t going to bring her back.” Beatrice said accusingly. She couldn’t bear to look at him anymore. She left.
Ify couldn’t stop the accusation that showed in her face as she looked at Johnson. Johnson couldn’t meet her gaze.
“I am sorry.”
“I’m not the one you should apologize to.”
“She’s not going to forgive me, is she?”
“I don’t know. You really really messed her up. I don’t know if I would ever forgive you if I were in her shoes.” Ify replied candidly.
Johnson nodded in understanding. “I wish I could turn back the hands of time. I made a very terrible mistake that cost me everything. And I am going to live with it for the rest of my life.”
“But you, my dear, are very different.” He continued as he finally looked at Ify. “Unlike me, you owe nothing to the queen. You have justice on your side. You have a good, kind and pure spirit. All you need are tools to defeat her and I can help you with that. Please let me do this for you, at least to thank you for what you have done for me…”
“If you can help me, I’ll be most grateful to you.” Ify said earnestly.
Johnson smiled gratefully. “Don’t worry. I’m going to help you get your life back. I swear it with my life.”
To be continued…
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