Gregg returns in Season 02 of this gripping series! Missed any episode in Season 01? Catch up right here.
“The third time was the first time I killed a human being. It was another girl from my class at school that I took a liking to. I wrote love letters to her like we all did then and she giggled as she read them in the company of her friends. We walked around school together during lunch breaks and said things I don’t remember anymore, things that seemed to matter then. I invited her over to my house on a Saturday that mother and father were on the campaign train of a would-be Senator of our local constituency. Tony was out with the boys. She had to lie to her parents that she was visiting a female friend. I killed her because she struggled and fought and overpowered me severally. She made for the door on two occasions and started to scream as much as her voice let her. But I was quick to reach for her mouth every time and trap her shouts in her throat. I still remember how it felt to punch her soft belly so hard till she recoiled. Her tears would have soaked my hands if they were fabric. I tore off her clothes and had a pillow over her head. I pressed hard on the pillow when I was done. She had lost the will to fight at that time and the rest of her strength found expression in her legs, they shook, then became still. I did not panic. I locked the house and went in search of my brothers and the boys. When I explained that a fish was cold at home they hissed and grumbled like people do when they are faced with a chore they are unwilling to do not because it was hard or dangerous but because despite their expertise at it they were not in the mood to do it. Tony asked who she was and if anyone knew she was visiting. I said her friends at school must have known because she would never visit a boy until they had giggled about it in their gossipy circles. Tony said I had to leave and go play football in a neighbourhood 30 minutes away. That would be my alibi if I needed one. When investigations started over her disappearance, her friends mentioned that she planned to visit me that morning, but they did not say it accusingly. They said it to me in pity. “She was coming to your house,” as though I had suffered a terrible loss and should take solace in the fact that she was all about me till the end. And to the authorities they said “she was going to Gregg’s house. She liked him.” I complimented the story with tears and it was in a broken voice that I replied the question: ‘where were you that morning?” “I went to play ball at Tenth Zone. I did not know she was coming to my house. I would have gone to meet her at the roundabout.” That was the third. Tony and the boys scolded me and taught me to use Tony’s special vegetable to knock the fishes out.”
Keysa slid the note across the table to Frank and watched his every reaction as he read it. Perhaps he wrote it but feared to follow through. Perhaps he was scared Gregg would leave him if he found out he said something to someone. So despite the surprise on his face and the seeming strangeness of the letter to him as he read, she could not tell if it was all pretend. And even though it was someone else playing pranks, she thought, she saw in Frank a desire for it to be true.
Frank looked up at her “I have no idea about this. Someone is being mischievous”.
“Someone that might know about you and Gregg?”
“There is no me and Gregg! Please I don’t want any trouble.”
“I understand your fears. But I think I am in a position to help.”
“There is nothing to help with Keysa. This is all strange to me, trust me”
But they were having this conversation nonetheless. Frank apparently had some interest. Why else would he sit there in orange pants, lilac blazer and blue bow tie, glowing in rainbow colours? The jury was decided on Frank, you only had to see him to find him guilty as charged. Even his eyebrows looked deliberately arranged and he retouched his lips with a lip balm after lunch.
The process of our formation as humans requires that we are our yesterdays. The people we interact with, from whom we learn language, eating habits, work ethic determine how we do those things and a host of others today. I told this to Gregg. I told him that a child raised by cats would grow to lick itself by the second, leap on high walls and rip off the heads of rats. To be doomed is to be raised badly. Often, what has been done cannot be undone.
“I will forever be a rapist?”
I was silent at first. My answer will not be a quick, re-assuring “absolutely not.” I should not speak falsehood to smoothen his feelings.
“When was the last time?” I asked.
“I told you already, I don’t want to say.”
“I respect that but it stands in the way of our progress”
“I am not a rapist anymore” Gregg rose from the couch and walked to the mirror. He stood in front of it and told himself “You are not a rapist Gregg. You were but you are no longer a rapist.”
I clapped long and hard. He stood there and said it over and over again to himself. I heard his voice break. I left my seat and went to him. He was crying now.
“I am not a rapist anymore” he said to me.
It was a long embrace and he cried.
“Who would play such a prank?”
“This is totally bizarre. Some people never outgrow secondary school.” Frank did not realize that it did not help that he stretched the “totally” and crossed his legs in anger as he completed his statement. His alertness was also suspect; the glow of interest and excitement that escaped his eyes. Perhaps he thought he was showing genuine concern. All Keysa could see was naked desire.
“Do you like Gregg though?”
The smile forced its way through and lightened Frank’s face, showing his teeth briefly before he got a hold, concealed it again and looked away from Keysa.
“I know it’s an awkward thing to admit. It should help that I am not being critical.”
“Well, what’s not to like?” Frank replied.
They laughed as hard as the awkwardness in the air allowed.
“This is such a strange conversation. We don’t even talk that much and now this?” Frank had let his guard down completely now. He rolled his eyes. He stylized his words and threw his hands around.
“I honestly know nothing about this. Someone must be playing games. There are many sad people around here who would not mind their business. I go through a lot here.”
“Really? Tell me about it.”
“It’s the usual name calling and all. Oh well, this is me!”
“Are you happy the way you are? No offense intended but I think it must be hard to have to deal with all of this. Even in the States that we all know is a more liberal society, it is hard. I had friends like you there and they were having it tough too. My friend Alfred committed suicide when his mother would not speak to him because he introduced her to his male lover. I imagine what it must be like being here. Can you tell this to your mother?”
“Of course not!” Frank said and then laughed. Keysa was surprised that he would laugh. She was half expecting him to be at the verge of tears.
“It is hard Keysa. But oh well, we get by. Now about Gregg, what’s the story? Do you think he is like me?” he re-crossed his legs as he said this.
“Well, I know he does not talk about ladies. He is not dating and never talks about it. He rather avoids the subject. Just maybe he is like you.”
“Will you ask him?”
Keysa burst out laughing. She heard the pleading tone in his voice.
…the story continues
Live by Design.