It was two days after the accident, Kene was still in the hospital but he had regained consciousness. He was in high spirits. He woke up to see Victoria’s face beaming with joy. Nachi had visited them at the hospital and wrote a cheque for his commission, though in his wife’s name since he was unconscious at the time. She paid Doublar, September’s loan installment from there straightaway.
Kene gave an ardour thanks to God, as he thought of all these as a miracle. Of course, Victoria knew it was no miracle. Zack had pulled some strings. She had to say a proper thank you to him.
Zack was getting a drink from the fridge in the kitchen when he heard the bell go off. On opening the door, he smiled and stepped aside for Victoria to come in. He shut the door behind him and hugged her tightly. He tried to kiss her but she pulled away. “I’ve missed you so much Vik.” She tried to talk but he continued. “Why are you here, you should know better than coming here?” Zack scolded. Victoria and Zack had succeeded in keeping their affair a secret. They had never met in his home.
Zack continued, “Congratulations, I heard you got promoted to Lecturer II. It’s a shame you didn’t give me the good news yourself.” Victoria looked down and replied. “Zack, we can’t continue like this. There are a lot of single ladies out there. Any of them would be lucky to have you.”
“It is over when I say so. You don’t want to get on my bad books. You can leave now, your husband needs you.” Zack’s voice and face were emotionless.
He opened the door to let her out. “Oh, and don’t even think of resigning from your position as secretary. It’s been rewarding working with you”. The words reeled off his smiling lips as he shut the door.
Victoria was standing in front of Zack’s house, lost in her thoughts. She could see the red hibiscus flowers in her garden from where she was standing. Her house was opposite Zack’s. Their houses were one of the few homes on the avenue without a block fence. Her home and Zack’s were secured with lock chain fences.
She got close to Zack when she became secretary of Bellomo Residents’ Association. It started as an innocent friendship, so her naïve mind had processed it. She thought he was caring and impressively athletic for a sexagenarian: he never missed an opportunity to show-off his strong calves on the Basketball court. He played Basketball every Saturday with Kene and other younger residents of the avenue.
Zack Turaya was overly excited when he found out Victoria was a lecturer of Medical Radiography at the same university his niece, Marilyn was supposed to be a student of. As a rouse to spend more time with Victoria, he played the responsible uncle card: he had asked her about his niece’s academic performance because he cared so much about his only niece. He feigned to be heartbroken when Victoria discovered through painstaking enquiries that Marilyn Turaya was not a student of Radiography nor of her university.
She dedicated time advising him on how his family should handle Marilyn’s case, reassuring him that Marilyn could still make something of her life. It was during one of their conversations that he talked her into convincing Kene to take a loan from Doublar. Little did she know he was a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
All this while she thought the buildings that flagged them on the right and left – No. 28 & No.30 – were pawns in the hands of the devil. But now, she knew the one directly opposite her, No. 23 was the devil’s advocate.