The music coming from the club could be heard just few metres away from where Helia stood. The atmosphere was all choking due to the strong smell of both alcohol and cigarette smoke. She covered her nose with her left palm trying to meet up with the security guard. The invitation card Benedicta had given her was still stuck in her jeans pocket. She had a quick glance at her wristwatch to ensure she was right on time. Yes she was.
“Your face doesn’t look familiar. Are you some new girl here? ” He asked just as she showed the card.
“I am no new girl here. I am just here on invitation. Will you let me in or not?” She asked impatiently. The guard teased her silently and opened the door wide. Though she couldn’t make out what he had said due to how low he had mumbled to himself but she definitely knew it wasn’t good. Her hands itched to give him a slap. She hadn’t slapped anyone that week so she doesn’t mind slapping him first. Controlling her anger, she removed her gaze from him toward the club. The man issue wasn’t what was bothering her that moment. She had other stuffs to think about for crying out loud.
“Hey baby girl. You made it at last. I almost thought you threw away that card as soon as I turned my back toward you. I am so happy you’re coming out if your shell” Benedicta told her with a naughty smile on her face just as she approached her. She had lifted her glass of champagne to her lips afterwards.
“I don’t have time for this and you know it. We both know who I came to see” The young spinster nodded in frustration.
“Mr Blackface isn’t here yet. I spoke to him few minutes ago. He will be here in an hour” She confessed still sipping her drink. Helia opened her mouth in shock and banged the counter almost spilling the champagne bottle.
“Benedicta you lied to me! ” She barked out at her in annoyance.
“Chill girl. You don’t have to fall the bottle. I am sorry I lied okay? If I hadn’t done that, you wouldn’t have showed up early”
“You should not have done that. You know well I don’t stand places like this”
“I don’t need to be reminded on that over and over again. I only felt you work too much and you needed a little rest. You need fun girl. You don’t have to drink. Just hang around “
Hello had already made up her mind not to stay. Nothing in this world would make her stay one more second there, not even her best friend. She rose up without saying a word, grabbed her bag and tried heading toward the door but Benedicta caught her hand.
“I know how important that property is to you Helia. I know how much you’ll love to fulfill your mum’s last wish. I know how hard you’re trying to impress your lawyer just to proof you’re responsible but that doesn’t stop you from living your life. Due to this conditions placed on you, you have gotten so boring. You’ve stopped drinking, partying like old times. You’ve stop flirting with men. That’s a miracle I must say because everyone knew you could drink like hell. You were mostly known as a complete drunk. Maybe that was why your mum places this conditions on you” Helia nodded at what her friend had said and sat back down.
“My elder brother is after that property. He won’t be of any good use to it if he gets it. All he would do is squander it and end up back to square one. He can’t even take care of himself talk of handling such a big responsibility. Since my dad died, my mum has been my only support. Her hospital has been of great help to me and my brother. She worked and toiled for years just to erect it. I will just prefer it if I run it myself and try investing in the hospital. The chance of the hospital collapsing is high “
“I understand you friend. We have been friends for long but I will prefer it more if you patiently wait for the lawyer and have some fun meanwhile your mum didn’t place that strict condition on you just to stop you from having fun. She only wanted you to be more responsible. Come on, a cool music is playing. Let’s dance” Benedicta said trying to pull her off the chair she sat. Helia withdrew her hands immediately.
“No. Not at all. I will rather watch you dance ” She replied trying to send her off.
“Seriously?! You are boring” She nagged before rushing off to join the others. Helia heaved a sigh of relief as soon as the lady was gone. She was certainly something else. She stared at her watch and grumbled realizing there was forty five more minutes to go. Was she just going to sit at a place while such time elapsed? As she chose to take a thorough inspection of this uncomfortable environment, Her eyes fell on a handsome figure who gambled with some wild guys at the corner of the bar smiling the whole time. She got a little confused seeing him and stared on having a feeling she had seen him somewhere before. But where? She tried recalling but couldn’t. He threw his last card and laugh maniacally as he hit the jackpot. The other gamblers gave him a despised stare. They nagged under their breaths and reluctantly released the money. His friends came from no where and drew him closely for a group hug singing songs of victory. Their voices went higher and higher disrupting the peace of the club. Helia watched with a frown wondering if they were the only one in the club. They had no respect at all. One of the guy’s friends rudely snatched the money from him greedily but he didn’t react negatively. Prostitutes lingered round them with their usual seductive look greedily eyeing the bundle of money they had. The boys grabbed hold of one not thinking twice having in mind to spent the night with them. The one who had won sneaked out from their mist and approached the counter where Helia sat trying to get away from the prostitutes. He signalled for the bar man and ordered a bottle of rum. She got surprised wondering why on earth he would want to drink something that hot. How was he even going to drink that? If he doesn’t end up leaving for his home using his head and not legs, she would surely ban all rums. Watching him gulp down his third glass, she heard him bulge out loud making her irritated. His eyes was blood shot and his breath stunk. Shook her head at his stupidity and checked her wristwatch one more time praying her lawyer comes in a zip.
“Why are you watching me? ” He asked her just as she grumbles realizing she still had twenty more minute to go. She threw him a stern look and ignored him.
“O! Boy” he exclaimed. “Please bar man get her a shot. I’ll pay” He ordered for bar man taking a sip of his rum. She turned back to him startled.
“Who? ” she wanted to know hoping he wasn’t referring to her.
“The lady beside you ” he joked letting out a laugh. She frowned. “Which other lady is here aside you? Even if there is a lady here aside you, I would prefer ordering you a drink and not her” He sounded so friendly to her. She didn’t like that at all.
“I don’t drink. Sorry” She refused the offer politely. The barman brought the drink anyway and placed it before her. She gave him a cold stare and pushed it off rudely.
“Come on Benedicta, where are you? ” she said in her mind feeling restless now.
“You are one strange lady. Other ladies come to club to drink an waste away time but you come here to act holy. You should be an actress” He drained down his fifth glass at this statement. “But it’s alright. I deal with indoors ladies like you. You should know well how many ladies I have come across. I know them all pretty well. Both the crafty, wise, naive, boring. Come on, I know ways to handle each and everyone of them. You aren’t an exception dear” She rolled her eyes without interest. The guy seemed to be a parrot. He had no shame to say all those things about himself. He was not the guy she wanted to meet anyway. “Anyway, you seem to be a fun girl. I am very sure you’ll make my night. How many shots can you take tonight? I am sure you can’t take up to ten. Girls are so lazy when it comes to stuffs like this “
“You are silly. Who do you think I am anyway? A boredom? I can even take fifteen shots right in front of you. I am very good at drinking ” She finally showed her true colors with a boastful stare. He opened his eyes wide and smirked.
“Let’s make it twenty. If you win, you’ll get twenty dollars” She laughed at his offer.
“I don’t need your money and you can’t tempt me either cause I don’t drink anymore. I don’t also make stupid bets” She snapped at him and stared at her watch wondering what the hell was happening to her. She had almost given in for crying out loud. “There is fifteen more minutes to go”
He lets out a giggle and mumbled something under his breath which sounded like an insult to her. She got annoyed at this.
“What did you just say? ” she asked harshly.
“What did you think I said loser?,” She twisted her nose and gave in finally.
“Alright. I accept your challenge. I will drink seven shots only because I don’t want to get drunk. My lawyer will be here soon” He nodded at her terms.
” Fine but the last shot will be decided by me. No one ever ends this game with a happily ever after” She smirked and asked for a vodka. It was brought toward her immediately. Her eyes rolled back and her heart beat skipped. She was having a second thought about this but her mind was being stubborn. She knew she could do this. It had been a long time since she had last ordered a bottle of alcohol and she had also given up drinking. Drinking this now would be like going back to square one. She sighed and calmed herself knowing she would drink responsibly. She will try as much as possible not to get drunk. She poured out the first glass and threw him a smile before gulping it down. Her throat seemed to have rejected it at first. She coughed out loudly but tried not giving up. She turned toward her best friend and caught sight of her swirling round and round a pole. She went ahead and took the second, then the third, then the fourth. As soon as she took the fifth, her head got drowsy. She got worried and thought of stopping but this strange young man annoying stare prevented her. She knew she couldn’t give up. She got a grip of herself and took the fifth and sixth. The guy smiled and poured out some of his hot rum in a tumbler urging her to drink it all.
“You don’t mind having some of my hot whisky do you? ” he had asked pushing it toward her. Her eyes were already shutting and her vision git blurry. Her head was spinning. She began seeing things that weren’t even real. Grabbing hold of the tumbler with shaky hands, she tried gulping it down her throat but someone grabbed it from her immediately coming to her rescue.
“Helia, what have you done? Don’t you realize what you have caused now? You can lose your inheritance due to this stupid mistake of yours. The lawyer will be here any minute”
“I am not drunk. Let me have the last shot and win. Please ” she pleaded trying to grab hold of the glass cup but Benedicta spilled it contents purposely.
“you have ruined yourself. We have to get you out of here before he comes. We can’t let him see you like this” she suggested helping her up but the lady was so dead drunk to stand properly that she’d slumped before they moved an inch.
She wasn’t really sure of how she felt that next morning but she’d feel her hand banging so hard as if someone was trying to escape from her skull. She let out a cry of pain and sat up opening her eyes slowly. Looking round her, she caught sight of her room furniture all round her. The room looked so familiar. Her family portrait was hung on for wall adjacent to the bed. Her memory got clearer now. She was actually in her own room. Slipping her legs in her slippers, she walked down the stairs and caught sight of Benedicta setting the table for breakfast.
“You weren’t well so I decided to make you something to eat” She explained knowing she would ask anyway.
“It’s okay. My head is hurting so terribly and I feel so much pain all over. What happened? ” she asked sitting one of of the dining chairs massaging her temple.
“You got drunk yesterday night” Her eyes lit with surprise.
“And unfortunately you lost it. Sorry Helia. It’s over now” Her friend had informed her in a low tone with her words mixed with emotions. Helia felt tears flow down her eyes and she sat slowly on the staircase
“No! This can’t be”
FIVE MONTHS AGO
A young woman in her fifties drove into a compound which was surrounded by a small afforestation cutting it from other homes. The area was cold and silent. Only the sound of her engine could be heard that late afternoon. As soon as she alighted, she walked into her building and dropped her car keys.
“Hello mum. You came early today” Her son has said jogging down the stairs.
“Yeah! I have to leave for Lara’s baby shower and as well as check on Helia. Is she upstairs? ” He hissed.
“That’s the last place she will be. She is out clubbing with her friends, getting high and smooching men. That’s what she loves. I also think she is hanging out with that Jamaican guy… “
“You just shut up! I beg you just shut up! ” His mother urges with an angry look. Sweat sprinkled down her forehead. Why Helia again? What is she needs from her? Drowning in her sorrow, she eyed her phone which was already ringing non stop.
“Hello” she greeted with a dull tone.
“Hi Miss Kim. Actually the baby shower has almost began. Where are you? ” She asked impatiently.
“I am on my way. Sorry” she apologized politely.
“No need to apologize. I just wanted to ensure everything is fine”
“Everything is alright” The line went dead. Dropping it in her bag, she felt her head ache and her brain vibrate. She sat with her eyes tightly shut trying to calm herself down. She felt just as if her head was about to explode that moment. She felt herself half dead already. The pain she felt was unbearable.
“Mum are you okay? ” Chris asked with concern.
“Yes. Yes. I am fine”
“Helia, how many more bottles will you drink? You’re gonna go crazy you know ” Benedicta warned feeling worried for her.
“Come on girl, let me drink. That’s the only thing I get to do anyway” she explained opening another bottle of China.
“Hold on! Isn’t that Sterlyn with Deborah? ” Her second friend Maddy had asked staring at a tall young you grinding a lady. Helia frowned at their sight and chose to ignore.
“Yes it’s them. We have both broken up anyway since he refused to but a condom ” She explained.
“O! That’s lame. Why will you break up with such a handsome guy just because he refused to get a condom? ” Maddy asked with shock.
“You see how stupid you are Maddy. He wanted to get me pregnant lady. You think I am that naive? “
“I know you aren’t naive but why will you dump a guy as handsome as he is? Don’t you know how many ladies are yearning to have him? “
“That’s one of the reasons I hate him. I don’t want a lady’s guy” She took a sip of her drink. “I am actually thinking of taking a break from men. I don’t want a guy in my life right now. I am not ready to fall sick. If I fall in love with a guy and try all I can to keep him, I might end up getting myself in trouble or have you forgotten Florencia who got Aids just because she refused to stay away from that tout?”
“No I haven’t. I am sure she has learnt her lesson” Helia nodded.
“Yeah she had but unfortunately the hard way” She replied pouring out her drink again. .
“About your mother, I thought she wanted you to spend time learning more about her business. Why do you spend all your time clubbing rather than helping her? She entrusted this responsibility to you” Helia hissed.
“That’s shit. I am not ready to take over anyone’s business. I am not even interested in running anyone’s business. I want my own business. I want my own company. That fascinates me more”
“The hospital is your mum’s hard work. She has been running for years”
“Yes I know but can’t Chris do it? He is a guy anyway and men do it better. I am not interested in running any business for now. I want to just party man!!!! I want to be free like a bird! I want to have fun and feel useful to myself. I prefer it this way”
“O! Please drop this topic already. If you want me to do this then I will but after five years time or more. She can handle the business by herself for now not that she will die tomorrow” She told her friend stubbornly before catching sight of a wealthy looking guy approaching her. She smirked and pecked him lightly on the cheek before walking off with him. Benedicta and Maddy watched on.
There was a huge bang on the living room door just as the family settled down for dinner. Mrs Kim weakly asked her son to start his meal and approached the door. She had been taking her medications and eating on diet as instructed to her by the doctor but her health was getting no better. She felt herself die slowly everyday. She knew her end was near that was why she did all she could to bring the family together and ensure all would be fine when she’s gone but Helia kept making things difficult for her. She wasn’t even sure if to call her prodigal son responsible. Her two matured children showed no sign of responsibility at all or interest in whatever she does. This baffled her a lot. Since she discovered she had cancer. She tried introducing Helia to her employees and had also tried making her realize how important it was for her to run her hospital when she was gone but how wrong she was. The young lady can’t do it. She had no interest at all. Anyway back to the door, she slid it open and there was the spilt brat drunk as usual waving at her like child with a big grin.
“Good evening mommy. I am back home” She announced her arrival still looking unnecessarily happy.
“Helia! ” Her mum roared out causing her heart to leap a bit. “Where have you been? “
“Well I… I… I… went to hang out with my friends and…and… and….afterwards… I… I… I…came home and… and… and… my mum won’t let me in”
“I am so disappointed in you. I don’t blame you anyway. I blame myself. I gave you just too much freedom. My mum warned me against pampering you two but I never listened. I trusted my kids so much. I never knew I would be the cause of your ruin”
“Huh… Mum, I understand what you mean but you shouldn’t see me as an irresponsible person. That’s not right at all. I am very responsible mother. Very responsible. Really” They both exchanged a long stare. Chris threw into his mouth a peanut before rushing upstairs tired of the family drama.
“Alright. Let me agree with the fact that you’re responsible. Tomorrow my administrator will be coming to show you some few things. No partying. No getting drunk. Nothing except work” Her mum instructed.
“O! Come on mother. I don’t want to work. I don’t want to… ” she declined walking with a wobbly pace into the house.
“You will definitely realize the relevance of this soon dear. I promise”
The next day stacked with a lots of files, Helia was instructed by the administrator to make out the amount of bills owed by the hospital for the government according to the memorandum. Due to her intelligence she got it easily but her heart wasn’t actually in the work. She wasn’t even paying full attention. While hallowing in self pity, she got a message from Benedicta telling her the rich guy she had made out with the previous had come around asking for her. This baffled her.
“Helia I will like you to go through this files. The hospital have been in debt for years and we have contacted these few banks for some loan just to cover up the debt. We have successfully paid part of it but not all. According to these documents, you should be able to know who we’re in debt with and those we aren’t so as not to be cheated later in future by fraudsters” Her mum explained. Helia only nodded.
“Yeah I understand but i will prefer you keep it. I don’t want them” she confessed lazily.
“I can’t keep them Helia. These should… “
“Why do you keep arguing mum? You’re acting as if you will die tomorrow. Don’t worry, handle the business for now. All will be fine” She said rudely to her mum before picking up her cellphone. “I am going out with Benedicta today “
She turned toward her mum and day her acting a little bit strange. Blood began oozing out of her nose. This got her nervous.