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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

He slept with my wife so my best friend had to die!' (4)



'The worst pain in the world goes beyond the physical. Even further beyond any other emotional pain one can feel. It is the betrayal of a friend' - Heather Brewer

****

The bedroom was softly lit with a single bulb near the bed and I could clearly make out my wife in the arms of the strange man. She seemed to be in the throes of passion. Then he turned, perhaps at a sound from me and the face was revealed.

Jake!

I did not know which was worse- catching my wife in bed with another man or my best friend, that's like a brother to me, screwing my own wife in our matrimonial bed. At that instant great anger and overwhelming rage took hold of me. Looking back at the events of that night, I believe I must have lost my mind. For the next thing I knew, I was attacking Jake with a glass-topped stool by the bedside. Then I heard Grace screaming, saw blood spewing from her lover's head and general chaos...

Later, I found myself sitting in the living-room while Grace was in the bedroom with some neighbours who had been attracted by the noise in our apartment and rushed down to investigate. I could still hear Grace weeping and the neighbours' subdued voices asking questions about what had happened. I was still sitting there when Jake was carried out of the house, probably to hospital. At that point, I was simply too numb, maybe with shock and I was not thinking straight.

It was the following morning I learnt he had died at the hospital from the head injuries. How did I feel at that point when I heard my best friend was dead? And killed by my own hands? Frankly I felt nothing. The reality would hit much later...

Soon after, the police came and I was taken to the station where I was detained. The lawyer, whom my family had got for me, tried to secure bail, but was unsuccessful due to the seriousness of the offence. So, I remained in detention while the case was charged to court.

It was there that Jake's father came to visit me one day. I had not seen him in nearly two years and I could barely recognize him. He had aged so much. His hair was nearly all grey and deep lines were etched on his still handsome face. An air of great loss hung heavy on him. It was understandable. Though he had other sons, Jake, the last born was his favourite whom he doted on greatly.

He looked at me, a mix of emotions- anger, sadness, despair and even pity-discernible in his eyes.
"Why, Ray? I took you like a son. And Jake was like a brother to you. Why did you do it?" he asked.
I was silent for a while before speaking.
"He betrayed me. His crime was unforgivable."

"I know. He did what a man should never do to a friend. But there were other ways of resolving the matter. I could have dealt with it personally, sorted things out..."
"I'm sorry, sir. It's too late now..." I stated quietly. I felt bad seeing him so sad and for the first time after the incident of that night, the reality of what I had done hit me. Jake was dead, my marriage was surely over. 

And so was my life.
  
After he had gone, I sat in my cell and wept. I remembered our school days, how close we were, going everywhere and doing things together. How helpful he was to me after our graduation; even getting me my first job. Was I right to take the life of such a person no matter what he did to me? Did I have a right to take another's life? Who was I to mete out punishment, judgement to him? 

'But I never intended killing him. It just happened,' I told myself. That did not assuage my feelings of regret and sorrow at what I had done and I cried bitterly that night.
 My lawyer worked on that angle for my defence when the case came up in court. He pointed out that the shock at seeing Jake with my wife in bed caused 'temporary insanity'. That since it was not premeditated murder, the court should 'temper justice with mercy'.

 He must have successfully convinced the judge for the charge was reduced from murder to manslaughter. 

I was sentenced to 15 years instead of the life sentence the crime could have attracted.The lawyer told me that if I was lucky, I could be freed in ten years 'for good behaviour.' 
 Ten years. Fifteen years. 
What did it matter? As I was being led into the van that would take me to prison to begin my sentence, all I felt was doom and gloom. As far as I was concerned, my life was over. What kind of life would I be living without my family, without my son Runor? Locked up behind prison walls? 

He was still very young and it hurt me deeply that I would be an absentee father to him for most of his growing up years. What would he think of me when he grows up to learn his father was a murderer, someone who had killed his best friend? 

As for my wife, Grace, I never saw her again after that night I caught her in bed with Jake. She had gone into hiding as soon as Jake died and no one knows where she is. I heard stories that she had travelled out of the country. 
 I don't care. She could go to the ends of the world for all I cared. It was her infidelity that put me in this mess, her uncontollable desires that led her to be sleeping with my best friend. I learnt from neighbours that she had started dating Jake a few months after I left the country on my transfer. She was an unfaithful woman, one that can't be trusted. I had invested my life and love in her and see the way she paid me back!

Thank God she left my son behind. My mother had taken custody of Runor after the incident and I was glad. My family would take good care of him until my release. Perhaps then, I could pick up the pieces of my life and start all over. Please pray for me, dear readers. Thank you.
  

The End!

Names have been changed to protect the identity of the narrator and other individuals in the story.


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