This novel is completely a work of fiction.

The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the authors’ imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Hadassah Louis is a student of Mass Communication Technology and writes as a hobby.

ABOUT THE NOVEL 7 Notes, an Original Novel by Hadassah Louis is only a promotional novel. www.7notesnovel.blogspot.com

Thanks to My Parents, Siblings, Pst. Mary and Shahab.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Her feet carried her as fast as the wind and the sand around her was in turmoil. They were not far behind her and she knew they would catch her and destroy her destiny. A destiny to protect all the innocent from the ravenous dangerous beings that prowled the earth. In her hand she carried a glass-like ball, so clearly blue. Barefooted she ran through a desert and suddenly her delicate foot landed on a dry sharp root and blood flowed. The collectors followed the smell of her blood and became faster in their pursuit. They licked the blood that had mixed with the sand and were assured they would not lose her this time. They were fast catching up behind her. She continued running though was limping because she had hurt her foot. Her hair flowing in the wind behind her, she ran on to complete her mission. Her blood was still sipping in the sand and suddenly the desert behind her disintegrated as though being swallowed up by the earth. A huge jungle appeared before her as though to her rescue, she ran to it. It had grown dark around her but she kept on running even with the trees trying to slow and stop her.

The people on her tail were powerful wicked beings, sorcerers and she was trying to stop them from harming any more people. She was supposed to be a guardian but had lost strength over time. Though her strength was failing she trusted herself to be able to save at least that one last person. No one’s life was going to be destroyed that year just because she had grown weak and had not done her job right. She would not disappoint and she would not let the sorcerers along with their collectors triumph over her. She was struggling as she was stuck in between the raging trees when she glimpsed sight of the young man she was supposed to protect for the year. A new strength enveloped within her and she fought bravely against the sorcerers spells. She was succeeding but all of a sudden the branches overwhelmed her as they were too many. She fought to get to him but just as she was about to close in on him and make him safe the collectors pushed her far back and she fell away, breaking the glass ball in her fall. She screamed in anger, pain and frustration as the boy was engulfed. She disappeared in the mist along with everything else in the vicinity. The sorcerers had won themselves another game to play.

‘You don’t say!’ Anne laughed. ‘You should have seen the look on her face! That expression was priceless,’ Bill gossiped. They laughed hard even banging their fists on the table. They were gossiping about Nancy and how she had reacted when Dave had given her a sunflower alongside a poorly written love letter. ‘Poor Dave! He was just standing there like he’s stupid!’ ‘Ouch, Nancy is a bitch!’ ‘Did you see the love letter? It was all folded up like it was written by a six year old.’ ‘Do you think she will date him?’ ‘Assss if! Nancy is so out of his league!’ ‘Dave is such a loser!’ ‘Yeah, I know!’ Dave said sneaking up from behind them. They looked at each other, embarrassed that they had been caught talking about him. ‘Heyy Dave,’ Bill said, ‘What do you know?’ ‘That am a loser and Nancy is out of my league. I get it but you know I won’t be broke forever!’ ‘As ifff!’

‘Yeah, I would prove it to y’all and more so to Nancy. She will come begging for me! Hi Anne,’ Dave said sitting next to them. ‘Hi,’ she answered. ‘Where is Nancy?’ Anne and Bill shared a secret mocking glance. Anne looked at Dave amazed. ‘Why would you be looking for her?’ she asked. ‘Because I want to see her!’ ‘Does she want to see you?’ ‘She has not yet replied to my letter, I have to know.’ ‘Forget her Dave!’ ‘I can’t, I love her.’ They laughed at him. He saw Nancy walk by outside and ran out fast to meet her. They watched him from the window highly amused as he approached her. ‘Hi Nancy,’ Dave said. She just stared at him blankly as she chewed a gum. ‘Nancy, I was wondering! Could you come with me to the movies?’ ‘What movies? And who is paying?’ ‘Aaah,’ Dave scratched his head. His cheap model phone rang and he searched his pockets frantically for it. Nancy gave him a bored look and feigned a yawn

but Dave did not notice as he was busy looking for his cell phone. He found it and quickly answered before it could stop ringing. ‘Mom? Yes, I’ll be right there!’ he cut the line. ‘Mommy’s boy?!’ Nancy said sarcastically. Getting out her I pad , she walked away from him. ‘What about the movie?’ he called after her. ‘I will pay!’ But she was already gone. ‘No! I don’t have the money to pay!’ he agreed to himself. That was just how broke he was.

‘Mom why did you call me?’ Dave asked his mother angrily. ‘Hey, can’t I even call my son?’ his mother, Drew, complained. ‘It’s embarrassing mom!’ ‘Come on, Dave! Help me with dinner.’ ‘I need a raise.’ His mother stopped what she was doing and looked at him, blinking. ‘What did you say?’ she asked him. ‘Mom, I said I need a raise, as in, more money!’ ‘For what?’ ‘Am in college mom! And look at me, I don’t even have a car.’ ‘Is that supposed to be my fault? You drive mine.’ ‘Well no, but!’ ‘Dave, please get on with dinner.’ Dave grumbled as he assembled the ingredients for preparing dinner. ‘Why do you keep doing that?’ ‘Doing what mom?’ ‘Just that! Grumbling!’

‘If dad was here he would have given me a raise, he would have understood!’ ‘Son, are you really sure of that?’ He shrugged. She was right, he was not sure about that. ‘Where is he? Is he dead?’ ‘No, he’s not,’ Drew laughed. ‘You shall know him soon enough.’ ‘I want to know him now.’ ‘I don’t think you are ready.’ ‘Am 21 mom!’ ‘I know but you are still my baby, get on with dinner please.’ ‘No mom, I am going to look for a job!’ ‘Now? Where?’ ‘At the neighbors.’ ‘At the neighbors?’ she was surprised. ‘Am going to mow their lawn mom and fix their flowers.’ ‘Ok, if they’ll pay you but really, that’s not a job for someone your age.’ ‘Thanks mom! You’re too kind.’ He left the house. He knew he could not do any serious jobs, he was not cut out for that stuff, he thought. The only reason he was working to get money was to impress Nancy otherwise his mother provided all that he needed financially and she was not going to give him extra just to impress a girl.

After doing all his work and earning a few bucks Dave felt restless and decided to take a walk even though he did not know where exactly to go. He pushed the little money he had earned in his pocket and kept his hand there just in case he lost the money. He walked to the park wishing he could meet someone but was short of luck that day. Tired of walking on the bright hot sunny day, he sat at a nearby bench and watched the couples that were strolling by. It was indeed a fine day and Dave laid down, his back on the bench as he opted to watch the sky instead of couples. Dave awakened, he sat up fast as he was surprised he had even fallen asleep. He was not the kind of person that slept in public. Seeing that there was nothing more for him that day, he got up to leave. Hands still in his pockets, he looked back to check, especially check if he had dropped any of his money. He had not but then something drew his eyes attention. He turned to look carefully, then looked left and right and moved back to the park bench. A single stash of fresh green crisp cash in a paper bundle lay on the soft grass just at the foot of the bench. Dave looked around before picking up the money, his eyes glittering he pushed it into his pockets as well. He ran home. In his room, making sure that the door was locked. He sat on his bed and quickly got the greens out of his pocket. He could not believe that this was real. It was like the money had just been meant for him, he was sure the money had not been there when he had first sat at the bench. He did not care who left it there, all

that mattered to him was that it was now his. How he would spoil Nancy, he thought. The bunch did not look too big anyway. It was actually quite slim. He cut the paper off and began to count the money. Each note was a $100 dollar and with each count Dave was perspiring and getting excited. There were 7 notes in all. Dave had picked $700 dollars. He jumped on his bed in such ecstasy. Dave wasted no time, stacked the notes in his pocket and got out from his room. He almost bumped into his mother. He wasted no time and drew a $100 dollar from his pocket to give her. ‘The neighbors gave you this for mowing their lawn?’ his mother asked shocked. ‘Think what you want mom but it’s all yours,’ he said hugging her. ‘Thank you son but what do I do with it?’ ‘Buy some lipstick mom!’ She was pleasantly surprised and smiled. He rushed out. ‘Where are you going?’ she called after him. Dave had already gone out. He had called up Bill to help him spend the money but most especially to help him choose a nice gift for Nancy. Dave told a much excited Bill how he had got the money without leaving out a single detail. ‘So you just picked it up?’ ‘Yeah, what was I supposed to do, no one looked like they wanted it!’

‘You’re the man!’ Bill praised, ‘I was told when you pick money you are supposed to give some to the church or some charity!’ ‘And some to Nancy too!’ Dave added. ‘Well have you?’ ‘Not to Nancy, not to the church and certainly not to a charity.’ ‘What are you waiting for? It’s bad luck not to!’ ‘I was going to, look there’s a beggar!’ Dave pointed. They rushed to a dirty looking man, with long beards and looking, well, looking pretty much as a beggar should look. He was sitted on the floor and staring at nothing in particular. They approached him and towered over him. Dave fidgeted but eventually put his hands in his pockets and withdrew a $100 dollar, he had no change at the time. ‘Man give it to him,’ Bill said looking impatient. The beggar was looking at them, from one young face to the next wondering what business they had with him. Dave handed him a $100 dollar, the beggar snatched it away and gave them the biggest sunshine smile exposing his yellow teeth that allowed putrid breath to escape. Bill and Dave screwed their faces in reaction to the bad smell. ‘Mister, I am not meant to give you a $100 dollars, do you have some change?’ Dave asked stupidly. ‘Yeah men, give us our change?’ Bill added. ‘How much change?’ the beggar asked.

‘That would be $80 dollars, your share is $20 dollars!’ Dave answered. The beggar stood up and pointed a stick at the duo. They moved back in fear, the beggar sure looked angry. ‘Get lost you filthy boys! Don’t you know how to be kind to the poor!’ the beggar shouted. The boys ran away. ‘You are the one that’s filthy! Get a life man, don’t be greedy,’ they shouted as they went hurling even more insults. ‘Now I’ve only got $500 dollars!’ Dave complained. ‘As they say, easy come, easy go.’ Bill told him. ‘You ain’t helping!’ ‘Maybe it would help to invest some of your money in the stock exchange!’ ‘Nah, what do I know about it? Besides I haven’t even taken Nancy to an expensive dinner or bought her a dress.’ ‘Nancy will be your downfall Dave.’ Bill laughed, ‘So what will you do for me and Anne.’ ‘Oxygen for you Bill and Anne, well you can buy her what you want, on me.’ ‘Would a necklace do?’ ‘Anything can do for that Anne but Nancy is all so much, so unpredictable.’ ‘Ohh here we go again!’

Dave had never enjoyed the shopping mall as he did that day. He bought himself and Bill some computer games. He also bought Nancy a beautiful expensive red dress. He had guessed she would look seductive in it and as he thought Nancy was always seductive, guessed she would love the dress, what woman wouldn’t. Bill chose a beautiful expensive necklace with matching earrings for their good friend and gossip partner Anne. They ordered good food and went to see nice places so that at the end of the day Dave was left with roughly about $250 dollars which he planned to finish on a date with Nancy.

Dave could not remember ever being so happy in his life and with not a single worry on his mind. Nancy had miraculously agreed to go on a date with him and he was so excited. He suspected Anne had tipped her off that he had some money, however, only Bill knew where the money had really come from. It remained that way. ‘Dave?’ he mom knocked loudly on his door in the morning. He turned in his sleep. She knocked again, only a bit louder this time. He slowly roused from his sleep. ‘Mom, what is it?’ he asked sheepishly. ‘Wake up! We have something to do today.’ ‘You didn’t tell me about it yesterday!’ ‘It’s because you came back late!’ ‘Go away mom, it’s only 8 o’clock.’ Dave turned and immediately went to sleep. Drew came and looked at her son, she patted him slowly on the back in another attempt to wake him. He did not stir and she thought he was pretending. ‘Dave, wake up, we are going to see your father!’ Dave jumped up as though he was not just from sleep and looked at her wide eyed and mouth agar. ‘What did you say mom?’ ‘You wanted to see him didn’t you?’

‘Yes, ahh yes I did. Are we going to the prisons?’ ‘What for?’ ‘So he’s not in jail then?’ ‘Now you ask me, after all those years. He is in a good place.’ ‘He died? We’re going to the cemetery?’ ‘Is that even a good place?! You must be so sleepy, maybe I will take you to him another time.’ ‘Am awake, am fully awake mom. But why didn’t you tell me yesterday?’ ‘You came in late and anyway, I only confirmed with him today.’ ‘He is alive then?’ Drew just smiled at her son and walked out. He wasted no time getting ready and felt so anxious. His heart was beating wildly and he was perspiring even after having a cool shower. He dressed his best in the suit he had planned to wear when taking Laura out. It was a neat black suit with a matching tie and a white shirt. He left the jacket as he thought it would make him look too formal, too formal to be a son. When he was ready he went out to meet his mom. She eyed him and smiled. She had also dressed especially, he noticed and even applied red lipstick. He smiled back at her. ‘Looking good my son,’ she said. ‘You too mom. Do you think he will like it?’ Dave asked nervously.

‘Your father? Oh yes, he will love it. He has always wanted to meet you. He can’t not like you.’ ‘So you have been talking with him behind my back?’ ‘Not necessarily behind your baack! I just did not think you were ready.’ ‘And this morning I was ready?’ ‘I know if you didn’t see him today, I would have never taken you to him ever.’ ‘Whatever the case mom, you don’t awaken someone to such kind of news! You could have killed me!’

They were both silent as Drew drove her son out to meet his father. It had taken her long enough to gather courage to reveal to him his father’s true identity. She only hoped he would not be too disappointed, both in her or his father. She looked at him; he was staring out the car window lost in thought. Drew looked back at the road and drove as slowly as she could, trying hard to put off the moment. Dave had imagined each and every possible face he could have but still did not know how his father would look. Was he fat or thin, tall or short, nice or mean, he could not figure out. He looked at his mother as she drove at a snail’s pace, he was so anxious and wanted to get this over with but did not want to tell her to drive faster. She was under a lot of pressure, he could tell. He thought of what kind of man his mother would fall in love with. He had no idea because his mother kept her love life so private he wondered if she ever had one. He had heard her one night talking lovingly to someone on the phone, he wondered if it was his dad or another man but never found out. That was how closed up she kept her love life. He guessed the man she could love had to be sweet, kind and loving but then, if his father was sweet, kind and loving would he have left them to fend for themselves and allow him to grow up fatherless? He guessed not even though he was not sure where his mother got all the money she used to raise him from. He knew she had never had a serious or real job. She sometimes worked as a freelancer.

The car came to a halt and Dave came back from his thoughts. He looked around blinking and was surprised that his mom had parked in front of a chapel. It looked old and bleak in its grey color. ‘Aren’t you coming out?’ his mother asked knocking at his window. ‘Oh yeah yeah!’ Dave got out of the car and stretched. It was about 10 in the morning and the sun was fairly hot. Drew was walking to the chapel but Dave was transfixed to the spot. She looked back at her son, shielding her eyes from the sun. ‘Come on!’ she called to him. ‘Mom, what are we doing at a church?’ Dave asked. ‘We have come to ask for forgiveness!’ ‘From who?’ ‘God of course.’ ‘All my life you have not brought me to a church but today you do? Besides, it’s not even a Sunday! Christians go to church on Sundays no?’ ‘Yes they do but this is important!’ ‘Not today mom, I am so anxious to see dad.’ ‘You are calling him dad even before you see him? You will see him eventually.’ ‘Why bring me to church,’ he kept complaining. ‘It’s about time I did!’

Drew took her son by the hand and he tagged along. Dave looked around, he had never seen this chapel before and was deep in thought all through the drive hence did not know how they had got there. His mother led him inside the empty chapel. They sat at an empty bench and Drew knelt down to pray. Dave looked at his mother like she was weird; he never knew she could pray. She was serious and her eyes tightly shut. Dave wondered if he should do likewise and was halfway down to his knees when a priest dressed in black approached. Dave stood up and stared at the priest and priest stared back at him. Remembering what Bill had told him about giving to the church; he hastily drew out a $100 dollar note and pushed it into the priests’ hand. There was a slight look of surprise on the priests face but it quickly disappeared and went back to being plain again. Feeling awkward he tapped his mother on the shoulder. Getting no response, he tapped harder, he guessed she had not finished praying but for how long should one pray, he did not know. He studied the priest, looking him up and down. The man was not plump like most priests; he was not too thin either like others he had seen. Face clean shaven and an open friendly face. Hand together and head slightly bowed. For Dave there was no other word to describe this man except for one word: humble. His whole look screamed the word. His mother had finally finished praying and stood up. She looked at her son reprimanding. He did not know why she looked at him like that but soon found out.

‘You do not shake someone when they are praying Dave!’ his mother said in a low but angry voice. ‘Sorry mom, I did not know but he was just standing over there like that and it felt awkward so I just gave him some money!’ His mother turned to see who he meant and Dave could see that her eyes grew wide open. She made as if to speak but sat down instead. Dave could not understand his mothers’ reaction. He sat down beside her and looked at her concerned. ‘Dave, why do you act like a six year old?’ she asked him in a low but serious tone. ‘Mom, he was just standing there and not saying anything, what could I do?’ ‘Oh God, he was standing there and not saying anything because I was praying son! It is important to pray in silence.’ ‘So many rules, dos and do nots with this prayer thing!’ Drew stood up and shook the hand of the priest. ‘I am sorry Steven,’ she said to him, ‘I never taught him anything.’ ‘I understand,’ he replied patting her softly on the shoulder. ‘You know this guy?’ Dave was surprised. His mother looked very uncomfortable and was shifting weights with her feet. She looked her son in the eye and he froze, not knowing what was going on or the serious mood he wasn’t used of when it came to his mother. The priest was also silently watching them. ‘Dave,’ Drew said, ‘this man is your father!’

Dave’s heart dropped right to the pit of his stomach and then suddenly he felt like he would vomit it right up. His eyes were wide and his mouth was open with shock. It was a truth so hard to swallow or even sink in. He stared at the priest whom he had now learned was his father. ‘He’s a priest mom?!’ Dave said in a tone between accusation, question and statement. His mother looked down as though ashamed. ‘He was not a priest when I met him, and his name is Steve,’ Drew said in a low tone trying to defend herself. ‘What were you thinking mom?’ ‘Shut up, without him you wouldn’t have been here!’ ‘Hello son!’ the priest named Steve said simply. Dave stared at him like he was a talking machine or something. ‘Hello,’ he said at last finding his voice. ‘It is good to finally meet you son. Your mother always spoke of you; please do not be too hard on her! She was simply doing what was best!’

‘Excuse us,’ Drew told her son. Dave sat down heavily and watched as his mother took the priests hand and led him far enough for Dave not to hear their whispers. ‘I thought we had already talked about this!’ Drew was shouting at Steve though in a whisper. ‘But I still love you! I will stop my vocation to be with you and my son.’ ‘Your son? What kind of a man are you? He is already grown up and no longer needs you especially not after this!’ ‘It is not my fault that I am a priest Drew you know that. I was under a lot of pressure.’ ‘And I was pregnant then, I told you but you wanted to run away from facts!’ ‘Shhh, don’t shout, come on, it wasn’t that bad, I supported you all the time.’ ‘Financially only, where were you when he was asking about you? Spreading out your hands and praying for some God-thirsty people? GOD!’ ‘It’s not like that but please Drew, can we be a family again?’ Steve asked. Drew was confused, she could see the sincerity in his eyes but that very sincerity had fooled her so many times. She really wanted him but as strongly as she wanted him she hated him. He

was her weakness. She looked over to her son who was sitting quietly face down and looked back at Steve. He was waiting for an answer she was not ready to give. Drew cracked her knuckles, she hated that Steve could see through her. Suddenly he grabbed and pushed her to a corner where they could not be seen. She was looking at him quizzically but he knew what he was doing. Steve bent over to kiss her and did slightly brush against her lips. Drew was angered and forcefully pushed him off. ‘What do you think you are doing? This is the house of God!’ she shouted. ‘Shh, don’t shout. I just wanted to prove to you I meant what I said!’ That did not calm Drew’s temper. Dave who must have heard the shouting ran and stood up near them to see. The priest who was his father was bended over his mother, holding her by the shoulder and his face so close to hers. Dave’s eyes went wide with surprise. ‘I love you Drew!’ the priest was saying. Drew pushed him away again. ‘You are sick,’ she shouted, ‘you are an old man Steve but you act like a teenager. You don’t do that.’ ‘Drew I know what I am doing, I have always known, please trust me.’ ‘You are just broke ass that joined the church for cover,’ Drew shouted, ‘well you got covered, covered with bullshit!’

Drew walked away from the priest and grabbing her son by the hand speedily left the church. ‘Mom, what’s going on?’ Dave asked. ‘We are leaving!’ ‘I can see that, ohh nno don’t pull me you’re embarrassing me. I can walk by myself thank you.’ She let go of his hand and Dave managed one last look at the priest before they left the church. Drew drove off speedily as soon as they had gotten into the car. ‘Mom, what happened?’ Dave asked genuinely concerned. Drew was holding tightly to the steering wheel and looked like she was about to cry. She was also speeding and did not answer. ‘Mom, slow down before we get a ticket.’ She listened and slowed down. ‘Mom, I don’t believe what just happened today but I am so sorry! I wish the day could have gone on better for you,’ Dave told her. She did not answer, she was obviously overwhelmed with emotion and tears were running down her face. Dave got a handkerchief and lovingly wiped off his mothers tears, she managed a tiny smile. When they got home, Drew headed straight for her room. Dave wished he could comfort her but he was equally confused. He felt like telling somebody; he knew Bill would listen attentively and Anne was always good on giving advice. He decided he would tell

them the next time he saw them. He had to think this over by himself first. Dave laid himself on the bed, facing the ceiling but really just deep in thoughts. His father was some priest, Dave could not believe it. Were those the kind of men his mother fell in love with, the ones who became priests. He pushed the thought out of his mind. He did not want to know anymore about this man his mother had revealed as his father. Dave fell asleep. His cell phone buzzed him awake. It was Nancy calling; he did not hesitate to answer. ‘Hello? Nancy, I did not expect you to call!’ he answered. ‘You didn’t? Is that why you weren’t picking up my call?’ ‘No not at all, I was asleep. I am sorry.’ ‘Ok!’ ‘Ok.’ Dave did not know why Nancy had called and so was at a loss of words, it did not help that he had just awakened. His mind was blank. There was an awkward silence. ‘Hello?’ It was Nancy. ‘Oh, sorry! Why did you call?’ Dave felt he had to ask. ‘About our date tomorrow,’ she said simply.

Dave was impressed with the location Nancy had chosen for their first date. A date at the beach, how free could that be, Dave thought. At the beach he would not be expected to wear anything fancy, the food came cheaply, the scenery was spectacular and of course, Nancy in a bikini would be the best part of it all. As for transport, he could freely borrow his moms’ car. It was a done deal. Nancy came over to Dave’s house dressed simply in a short skirt and tight sleeveless top that flattered her boobs. She also carried a small bag. Dave was so happy to see her and wanted to make her most comfortable. Nancy looked unimpressed though. He led her to the car and opened the door for her so she could enter. Sitted behind the steering wheel, Dave turned to look at her. She did not look at him. ‘Thanks for coming Nancy, I hope we have a good time!’ Nancy only nodded slightly but still did not look at him, she was busy on her I pad. He wondered why she was ignoring him, arrogance, he guessed but that did not stop him liking her even a bit. Her showing up on this important day for Dave, was enough to make him love her for the rest of his life. He smiled; he knew exactly what would make her snap out of that somber mood. He had studied her long enough to know enough about her. ‘I bought you something,’ Dave said. It had worked, she raised her head a little and threw him a tiny look before pretending as though he had said nothing.

‘You did?’ she asked silently. ‘Yeah, want to see it now?’ ‘Ok!’ He got the red flower patterned box from the back seat and handed it to her. She looked unsure and Dave was certain that if she did not like it, there date would certainly be over and she would probably take the gift with her. She placed it on her laps staring at the box. ‘Well? Won’t you open it?’ ‘Ok!’ She slowly got to opening it and he stared at her with each motion. For a second Dave feared that maybe she actually had a similar dress or worse even the same dress at home. Then he would look like a fool. Nancy opened the box and got out the red dress in it. She looked at it, her face lit up like a lantern. With the look on her face, there was no denying she loved it. It was the brightest smile Nancy had ever given Dave or would ever give him unless of course he gave her another spectacular gift. ‘Do you like it?’ Dave wanted to know. He wanted to hear her say it. ‘I loooooooove it Dave,’ she said just staring at the dress, ‘it is amazing. Why, I should have had this dress for prom night but anyway, I will find some event to wear it.’ Dave certainly hoped the event in which Nancy wore the dress would be with him. He wanted to ask her but decided that he

would ask after their date on the beach. He was certain it would go well, with Nancy in good spirits, nothing could ever go wrong. Dave drove to the beach and they listened to music all the way. Well, Dave had turned the volume very low because Nancy had been babbling about her fantastic life all the way. He could not complain because he had never seen her so animated, he guessed a dress was indeed the secret key to Nancy’s happiness. ‘I was worried you had a similar dress,’ Dave said when they were at a beach and sipping on some juice. ‘Are you serious? I mean this dress is soo expensive, not like I can’t afford it!’ ‘Glad you like it!’ ‘The water looks so good!’ Nancy ran to the water and played with it. This was a heavenly day for Dave. Watching Nancy in a bikini, playing in the water and on an actual date with him. He smiled broadly and joined her in the water. They played like a couple. Later they fed on ice cream, actually too much ice cream as that was all that Nancy wanted. Dave did not complain, he had tasted new types of ice cream that he never would have, he had found out that Nancy’s favorite flavor was chocolate with chips in it and best of all, it came rather cheaply than Dave had expected. This was a good thing, Dave thought. At the end of the day, Dave had saved at least a $100 dollars. He drove home an exhausted but happy man. Dropping Nancy at her place where she lived alone, he walked her to the door.

‘Thank you for spending time with me today!’ ‘Ok,’ was all Nancy said. ‘Well, maybe we could go on another date some time?’ Nancy was hesitant to answer and scratched her head in thought for a second. Dave waited for her response. ‘Ahh, hmm I don’t know,’ she said. ‘What? Didn’t you enjoy our date today?’ ‘It was nice, just too much ice cream, I think I will get sick.’ Dave was surprised, she was the one that was ordering all the ice cream and now she was complaining? He was at a loss of words. ‘Ohhh,’ he said. ‘Goodnight Dave!’ She gave him a fake yawn and entered the house, shutting the door behind her. Dave was hoping she would invite him in for coffee, a kiss or even a peck on the cheek could have been good for him, he thought, but all he got was a yawn and an ‘I don’t know’ from her. The closing of the door in his face did not make him feel better either. He badly wanted to get back the dress he had given her but thought better of it. His day had not been that bad after all, he had enjoyed it until now. He drove home and remembered his father as he parked. He pushed the thought at the back of his mind. It was the least thing he wanted to think about after a nice date with Nancy. He had actually gone on a date with the unreachable Nancy, Dave smiled.

He entered the house and saw his mother. The aroma of good food in the house made Dave hungry, he remembered he had not eaten anything but ice cream the whole day. ‘Any supper for me mom?’ Dave asked throwing himself on the chair. ‘Have I ever kept you hungry?’ ‘No, am just so hungry right now.’ ‘Didn’t you eat anything on your full day date?’ Dave looked at his mother like she was joking. ‘I had ice cream the whole day!’ ‘Wow, what an influential girl, you aren’t really into ice cream.’ ‘I can do anything for that girl, eat ice cream for her and even die for her!’ ‘You don’t say?’ ‘Mom, she is really hot, any guys dream. I had the best date in my life and now am soo exhausted.’ ‘You should rest then.’ ‘Not before dinner!’ ‘It’s in the kitchen.’ ‘Thanks mom.’

Dave had the most restless sleep that night. He was so tired but could not sleep. Thoughts of his day Nancy were mixed up with those his father. He would fall asleep for a short while but awaken for a longer time so much that he wished that morning would just come. His body was aching with weariness. Dave got up and in his sleepy mood poured cold water on himself as well as the pants he wore when he slept convinced that it was easier to sleep when one was cold. Throwing himself all wet on the bed he slept peacefully. The cooling effect had worked. Dave was meeting Bill and Anne in the park. He wanted to tell them all about his date with Nancy and they were anxious to know. He saw that the bench he had found the money was empty and ran for it as though somebody else would take it. There was no one competing for the bench as the park had a few people in the morning. Dave sat up straight on the bench he considered his ‘lucky bench’ but not before peeping down to see if there would be any money like before. As expected, there was nothing. He sat back and waited for his friends to arrive, they were always late. He relaxed. ‘I have been waiting for you a long time,’ a deep voice said to Dave. He turned and saw sitted next to him a burly man in a black suit and wearing dark sunglasses.

‘Who are you? I think you got the wrong guy, I am just here to meet my friends.’ ‘Had you been expecting to find more money here?’ the man asked. Dave swallowed and guilt was written all over his face. ‘Whhaaat money?’ he stammered. ‘Don’t play dumb with me! I don’t have time for games.’ ‘I don’t know what you are talking about!’ ‘Where is my money?’ Dave was fidgeting. He did not know what to say. The man eyed him closely. ‘Whhaat money?’ ‘I said don’t play dumb with me.’ ‘I spent it!’ ‘You spent it?’ The man gave a long laugh that sent shivers down Dave’s spine. ‘You spent it?’ the man asked again, ‘Just as I thought. Well, now I want it back!’ ‘What?’ ‘I said I want it back.’ ‘I don’t have it!’ Dave said shaking, ‘I don’t have it.’ ‘You spent $700 dollars in 3 days Dave?’

Dave was ferociously rubbing his forehead with his hand in distress. He could not think straight and cursed himself for ever coming back to sit there at his ‘lucky bench’ now he did not know what he would call it. ‘How did you know my name?’ ‘Dave is not a hard name to know. Now listen here carefully Dave, unless you want your mom to cry when you disappear.’ Dave swallowed. He was terrified to the bone. ‘You give me back each single $100 dollar note you took from us and you will live.’ ‘What if I don’t have it?’ ‘Then you die.’ ‘When do you want it?’ ‘Right now!’ the man said strongly. ‘I don’t have that kind of money right now.’ ‘Ok.’ ‘Ok?’ Dave was surprised. The man got up and pointed a gun straight at Dave’s head. Dave panicked. ‘I have a $100 dollar, I have a $100 dollar!’ Dave shouted. He fumbled in his pocket and got out the last single $100 dollar note he had. He was very thankful that Nancy had not had him waste it. The man grabbed the $100 dollar and smelt him. He then pocketed it.

‘That $100 dollar has saved your life for a week. Meet me here within the week with the rest!’ The burly man walked away and Dave closed his eyes unbelieving. He had sweated profusely so that his shirt was now sticking to his skin. He breathed deeply and continuously rubbed his eyes, not sure of what had just occurred. It did not take long before Bill and Anne wearing the necklace that had been bought for her arrived on the scene looking very happy. Their happy expressions turned sour when they saw Dave. ‘Dave, why? You look like you’ve just seen a ghost,’ Anne said. ‘Yeah men, what’s up? We’ve been searching all over for you. This must be the lucky bench where you found the money huh,’ Bill said. ‘What money?’ asked Anne. Dave angrily got up and was walking away. They followed him unsure of his mood. ‘What’s wrong man?’ Bill asked. They followed him a long way off until he sat at another bench in the park. They sat beside him. Dave was covering his face with his arms and crying. They did not know how to comfort him, they had never ever seen him like this before. Dave was really distressed. ‘Am dead man!’ Dave cried. ‘What happened?’

They were both dying with curiosity and filled with sadness and pity for their friend Dave. He was not the type that cried like this. ‘He wants his money back!’ Dave said after some time. ‘What money?’ ‘Who wants his money?’ ‘I don’t know, I don’t know, he just came to me when I had sat by the bench and pointed a gun at me. I gave him a $100 dollar and he told me I haave a week to return all of it or else he will kill me.’ Dave cried more. ‘But you just picked the money, do they have surveillance cameras in this place?’ Bill asked, ‘how could he know it was you that picked the money unless he had planted it.’ ‘Stop crying Dave, we can help you find the money. How much was it?’ ‘$700 dollars,’ Bill told her. ‘You guys picked up $700 dollars, that is crazy.’ ‘You ain’t helping Anne!’ ‘Sorry Dave, stop crying, we will find the money won’t we Bill?’ ‘Yeah, I mean we could even ask from Nancy, she must have that kind of money to give.’ Anne looked at Bill reprimanding and he stopped talking. ‘Am sorry Dave,’ Bill said, ‘we will find the money.’

‘I mean that guy tried to kill me! He actually pointed a gun at me, I was lucky to have that $100. It’s a miracle Nancy did not have me spend it,’ Dave said. A long time later,Dave’s’ tears had dried up and he looked a little shaken up but alright. His friends were holding his hands to encourage him, Anne had one and Bill the other. ‘Was he really going to kill you?’ Anne asked. ‘I don’t know, perhaps he thought I was lying when I said I did not have the $700 dollars. Now I only need to find the other $600.’ ‘Do you really need to? Just don’t come back to the park,’ Bill suggested. ‘Yeah don’t come back here and be careful. They surely won’t follow you to your room or in a public mall.’ ‘You are right. But this guy could have killed me, he had a gun pointed against my head. I was petrified man.’ ‘He was just threatening. You don’t expect someone to kill in a park in broad daylight unless he’s stupid. What kind of business is that?’ ‘It’s not a business, he did not want more money. It’s really scary.’ ‘Yeah, am shaken too, let’s get out of here before he comes for us.’ ‘Or before we see some more greens and are tempted to pick it,’ Dave joked.

They laughed light heartedly. Dave was glad he had his friends, he was sure he wouldn’t have dealt lightly with this situation without them. ‘Hey guys,’ Dave said as they walked, ‘did I tell you I met my dad?’ ‘You did?’ ‘Yeah, he’s a priest.’ ‘He is?’ Dave laughed and they laughed along with him. ‘I am serious. I should take him to you one day!’ ‘That would be awesome, your mom? How could that happen?’ ‘It was a long time ago, 21 years ago,’ Dave said. ‘That’s an awful long time.’ ‘But it feels like yesterday.’ ‘Weird!’ They all laughed. ‘By the way, ohh how was your date wit Naancy,’ that was Anne. Anne had her own way of saying the name Nancy; she always made it sound super long. ‘It was aweeeesome!’ Dave said. ‘Wow, that means she gave you a kiss at the end right?’ ‘Oh you know Nancy, she’s kinda stingy.’

They all laughed. ‘Did you ask her for another date? What did she say?’ ‘She said she doesn’t know, can you believe her? She didn’t even invite me in for coffee!’ They laughed again. ‘You are right, she’s stingy.’ ‘I felt like taking back the dress I bought her but thought better of it.’ ‘How come?’ ‘She had given an ice cream filled date and you know, not anybody can date Nancy.’ They agreed with him. Nancy was a tough cookie.

The week passed fast and everything went on normally. Dave was without a single worry in his mind and went about the week as usual. He had not talked to his mother about his father and he was sure she was avoiding the topic too. He liked it just as it was; they had postponed the topic to a far uncertain future and it was good since they were both comfortable with that. Dave had forgotten about the threats made by the man at the park and was glad he had not bothered himself much. That man could have just been carrying a toy gun, he laughed to himself. Dave fell into a deep sleep. He dreamt a series of dream but one dream stayed vivid on his mind. It replayed in his head over and over again when he awakened in his dark room. In his dream Dave had seen a lady who looked so pure. She had been running from ferocious beings but in the end she had failed. The glass ball she carried had shattered into many pieces and then he had woken up. Dave thought the dream was weird but did not take it as of any importance. Thirsty, he headed to the kitchen to have something to drink and perhaps have a midnight snack too. He checked the time and saw that it was 04:25am. Maybe an early breakfast would do though he was not particularly hungry. Dave walked sleepily into the kitchen and turned on the lights. Mindlessly, he went over to the fridge and drank from the bottle of milk. It was only when he got some bread to eat that he sat at the table. His eyes grew wide open with horror.

Sitting across the table were three men and one woman, all eyeing him quietly. Dave almost fell back in shock. He dropped the bread from his hands and was mortified. ‘Sit down!’ the lady said. Dave obeyed and like a robot sat down. ‘You have ignored us,’ the lady said simply. Dave looked at the lady, her face was very stern, her hair very black, her stare very deep and yet her voice so calm, almost sweet. She was a tall woman. ‘I haave not, I have not ignored you,’ Dave stammered. ‘Oh yes you have, our friend here came to give you a warning,’ she pointed to the burly man across the table, ‘but you ignored him and practically laughed at him.’ ‘I did not!’ Dave avoided looking at the burly man or anyone else sitted at the table. ‘How did you come into my house?’ ‘That is not important. We just want our money back.’ ‘I don’t have it!’ ‘No you don’t but you are going to find it and return it to us, or else,’ she threatened. ‘Or else what?’ Dave did not want to hear the answer even though he had asked.

‘You will be condemned to slavery and you can only redeem yourself if you give back the money. Death will follow if you fail to comply. You have only today to return the money.’ ‘Why do you do this to me, who are you?’ ‘We are the collectors!’ Dave could not take it anymore, he desperately ran out of the kitchen. They did not even try to stop him. He ran as fast as he could calling to his mother. He ran to her room. ‘Mom, mom,’ he banged against her bedroom door. The door clicked open and Dave pushed it open and ran in, locking the door behind him. Drew looked at her son like he was crazy. Dave turned on the lights and sat on the bed face in his hands. ‘What has got into you?’ Drew asked him. ‘Mom, mom, there are people in the kitchen asking for money!’ Dave was shaking all over. ‘What?’ she was surprised. ‘Mom, I said there are people in the kitchen asking for money.’ ‘You mean thieves?’ she was suddenly alert. ‘Noo, collectors!’ ‘Have you been smoking something Dave?’ ‘Mom, come they are in the kitchen. Come.’

Dave dragged his mother by the hand to the kitchen, she was reluctant. They got to the kitchen and everything was just as it should be. Dave looked,even the bread which he had dropped on the floor was in place and nothing seemed amiss. The lights had even been turned off. ‘No one here Dave!’ ‘Mom, I swear, they were asking for $700 dollars, no $600.’ ‘Is this some new money trick Dave? It’s too early for this.’ ‘Mom, I am telling the truth. Please believe me!’ ‘Talk to me in the morning,’ Drew said going back to her room to sleep. ‘It is morning.’ ‘You must have been dreaming. Goodnight Dave.’ ‘Mooom!’ ‘Did you sell your soul to the devil or something?’

Dave could not go back to sleep. He called Bill who was taking time to pick up. ‘Damn Bill pick up,’ Dave said anxiously. It had rung a few more minutes before a sleepy voice answered the phone. ‘Bill, they came back!’ ‘Are you kidding me man, its only 5, call me later.’ The line went dead. Dave called back and a more alert Bill answered this time. ‘What is it?’ he sounded a little angry. ‘I am sorry but I am desperate, please and don’t hang up on me now.’ ‘What is it? You know am non-functional in the morning.’ ‘Cut the crap Bill, they came back!’ There was silence on the other end. ‘Who came back?’ Bill asked after some time. ‘The guy from the park and many others, they want their money.’ ‘What is wrong with them? It’s only $700 dollars.’ ‘They say they will make me a slave or just kill me.’ ‘Are you sure you it wasn’t just a bad dream?’ ‘They were in my house man, in the kitchen. Am so scared.’

‘Am sorry men, this is all too weird.’ ‘Is that all you can say?’ ‘What can I say? Did your mom see them?’ ‘They disappeared, she doesn’t believe me!’ ‘Fine, meet me in an hour.’ ‘An hour? I can’t stay in this house another minute.’ ‘What man, you want them to follow you and come to my house? No thanks buddy. Let’s meet at the park.’ ‘At the park? Are you crazy?’ ‘Fine, outside my house. Then we will go somewhere else to talk.’ ‘Where will I find the money.’ ‘Don’t worry, I got you covered on that one.’ ‘Thanks man!’

Bill found the money and gave it to Dave fairly easily. ‘No man, I only need a 600,’ Dave told him. ‘No take 7, just in case, I want you back in one piece.’ ‘Thanks man, I can’t believe they are on my case for just $700 dollars. What kind of people are they? And coming into my house like that?’ ‘I don’t know man, they seem to be a big deal. Maybe it was not any kind of money.’

‘I don’t know. I just hope they go away.’ ‘They will,’ Bill assured him. ‘You owe me big man!’ ‘I know. Thanks.’ Dave hurried to the park and went to the bench where he found a couple lovingly making out on it. He was infuriated. ‘Hey, this is my bench!’ Dave shouted to the couple. The couple ignored him and were kissing deeply. Dave tapped the man on the shoulder but he did not stop. So he pulled the lady away from him instead. It was the man’s turn to be angry. He got up and held Dave by the collar. ‘Who do you think you are? This is public property and you had no right to do that. Do you know her?’ Dave shook his head. ‘Why’d you do that then? Do you know her?’ the man asked again. Dave looked at the lady who was standing and staring angrily at him. He looked back at the man who was equally angry. Dave shook his head in denial. ‘I just wanted the bench,’ Dave said, ‘its important!’ A punch met Dave’s face. He fell to the ground, he was not a fighter and he hated anything that involved fighting. He covered his head with his hands to avoid the incoming kicks. Fortunately, a police officer in uniform had been near the scene and came to Dave’s rescue. The couple took flight and an all dirty Dave stood up to meet the officer.

‘Are you ok?’ the officer asked. ‘I am alright, thank you!’ ‘Do you know them? Do you want to file a report?’ ‘No, to both questions. Don’t bother, I agree with what they did.’ ‘You do?’ ‘No, but I am the one at fault, I disturbed them. They were making out but I wanted the bench so interrupted them.’ ‘Why want the bench?’ ‘I am meeting someone,’ Dave said uneasily. ‘Who, your girlfriend?’ Dave only smiled, embarrassed. ‘Am I right?’ the officer asked. ‘Yeah, and she will be here soon,’ Dave said nervously, ‘it wouldn’t be good if she saw me with a police officer. She might jump to conclusions.’ ‘Then how will you explain the dirt on you?’ Dave feigned to think for a minute. ‘Aah I will tell her that I crossed through jungles to get to her!’ The officer laughed. ‘Hope she believes you,’ he was walking away. ‘Thanks officer, you saved my life!’ Dave called after him.

Dave was glad the officer was gone. He wiped his sweaty and dirty palms on his shirt. It had been a close call, that man had been very angry. Dave looked around and saw no one who looked like the burly man, he was getting impatient. He waited a long time and no one showed up. ‘Hey,’ Dave shouted to no one, ‘You told me to be here if I wanted to see you and you don’t show up! Then you’ll want to kill me tomorrow! You’re all sick.’ ‘No we aren’t!’ a voice said beside him. Dave looked and sat there the burly man. ‘Have you brought the money?’ ‘Yeah,’ Dave said. ‘All of it?’ the burly man asked. ‘Yes, I brought 700.’ Dave felt like he was in some dirty business deal and wanted to be done with it as soon as possible. The burly man looked at him through the sunglasses so Dave could not see his eyes nor did he want to. ‘Where is it?’ Dave dug through his pocket and brought out the $700 dollars Bill had lent him and handed them over to the burly man. The man took them and did not even glance at them when he showed a disgruntled look on his face. Dave did not understand. ‘This is not the money,’ the burly man said pushing the money back into Dave’s hands.

Dave was confused. ‘What do you mean this is not the money? I have even given you an extra 100!’ ‘That’s why it is not the money.’ ‘What, you want a 600? That’s fine!’ ‘You certainly do not understand.’ ‘Understand what?’ ‘We want our money, the actual one you picked at the foot of this bench.’ ‘Are you crazy? I spent it all. I don’t know where it is.’ ‘You only have today to find the remaining notes or you will be condemned to slavery and later on death!’ ‘How am I supposed to know what your notes look like?’ ‘You spent it, you must have know they were special! Special because they belonged to us.’ Dave was rubbing his forehead furiously, thinking hard. He stood up angered. ‘This is all just a game to you,’ Dave shouted, ‘You are playing a game on me.’ ‘It is our money, you should have never taken it!’ ‘But I did and now what do you want? You can’t accept any other money?’

The burly man was just silent and Dave was filled with rage. He wanted to attack the burly man that was tormenting him so. He was midway in the air about to throw a punch when he heard a voice. ‘Are you ok son?’ it was the police officer again. Dave immediately composed himself and turned to the officer. ‘Hello officer,’ he said. ‘Well, didn’t your girlfriend show up?’ Dave looked at the bench and was caught by surprise when he saw no one. He was shaking and scratched his head a bit. ‘Aah no, she didn’t, I guess she made a fool of me,’ Dave lied. ‘Sorry Kid!’ ‘It’s ok, I better be going now.’ ‘Good luck next time,’ the officer said. ‘Thank you, I will need it.’ Dave left the scene hurriedly, feeling like he was being watched each step he made. He was frightened, he squeezed the money in his pocket and his spirits fell.

‘These people want to kill me, they are playing some game on me!’ Dave complained bitterly to Anne and Bill. ‘I am sorry Dave,’ Anne said. ‘I don’t want to die!’ Dave was crying once more, he was so afraid. ‘You will not die,’ Bill assured. ‘But those people are everywhere, they can get to me from anywhere.’ ‘Well are you sure?’ Anne asked. ‘What do you mean am I sure? They had come in myyy house! God!’ ‘Shh, we got to come up with a plan.’ ‘Gosh, I am going to die, I am going to die!’ Dave cried. ‘Stop saying that,’ Bill was also close to crying. ‘They are going to kill me, I am going to die, I am so scared. I don’t want to die!’ Dave kept saying. ‘Shut up!’ Anne could not have any more of it. ‘You are going to die only if you say so!’ The boys were silent. Anne was angry at the way they were handling the situation. ‘We will figure something out,’ Anne said.

‘How?’ they both asked. Anne’s face lit up, she smiled. They looked at her hopeful. ‘We will find the money that belongs to them. Didn’t you get a week for giving them a $100 dollar last week?’ Their faces dropped. ‘Yeah I did but where will I find the money I already spent? Go and ask at the mall? As if am crazy!’ There was silence. ‘Dave, did you not say your father was a priest?’ Anne asked ‘Yeah,so what? You want me to go ask forgiveness before I die?’ ‘Noo, that is not the idea,’ she said. ‘Ohh you’re a genius Anne!’ Dave suddenly jumped and kissed Anne. Bill looked at the two puzzled. Dave was very happy. ‘Have I missed something?’ Bill asked. ‘I gave my dad a $100 dollar!’ Dave said jubilantly. ‘Now you call him your dad?’ Anne teased. ‘That is awesome, you have one more week to live,’ Bill celebrated. ‘Kiss me again Dave,’ Anne was saying. ‘Ohh get lost!’ Dave said. He kissed her on the forehead anyway.

‘Thank you so much Anne. I was afraid I was going to die today or be a slave!’ ‘Slave of what?’ ‘Them I guess. They never told.’ ‘What are we waiting for, let’s go,’ Anne urged. ‘Can we use your car Bill?’ Dave asked. ‘Of course!’ ‘You guys are the best!’ Dave did his best to remember the way to the chapel where his mother had introduced his father to him. After some wrong turns they finally found the chapel. Dave jumped out as soon as the car stopped and rushed in, his friends after him. He entered the chapel, it was empty but for a maid who was cleaning. Dave paused not knowing where to look. He approached her. ‘Hello,’ he said awkwardly. The lady did not look up. She was about her work and had an apron over her maid suit. He went closer to her. ‘Excuse me miss,’ Dave said, ‘Can I have a word?’ The lady stopped and looked at him rather impatiently. ‘I am looking for a priest named Steve. Is he around?’ Dave asked her. She shook her head.

‘Well do you know where we can find him? It’s important,’ Anne said. ‘Yeah, please ma’am.’ ‘I do not know him,’ she answered simply and went about her work. ‘Please, I am desperate,’ Dave begged her, ‘Have you no information of where I can find him right now?’ The lady ignored them completely. ‘Are you new here?’ Anne asked. No response. They left angry. ‘What do we do now?’ Bill asked. ‘My mom should know. I will ask her. Let’s hurry!’ They sped along to Dave’s house. When they got there, they ran into the house. ‘Mom, mom?’ Dave called desperately. ‘What? She’s not home?’ Anne asked. Dave was ahead searching all the rooms in the house. He came back in a sweat to meet his friends. ‘She’s not home!’ Dave sat down faint-hearted. Face in arms and possibly crying silently. His friends towered over him, trying to comfort him. ‘Well call her. Time is running out.’

Dave got out his cell phone to call his mother. He was shaking and could not talk properly when she answered so Anne grabbed the phone from him to speak to his mother. ‘Hello? Well, Dave needs to see you now,’ Anne said. ‘Is anything wrong?’ Drew sounded concerned. ‘Not exactly but-’ ‘It’s ok,’ Drew said, ‘I am outside, will talk to you soon.’ The line went dead. ‘She is coming,’ Anne assured Dave. There was silence. Bill was red-eyed and holding Dave in comfort. Anne was the only one who was composed. Drew came in and was highly concerned when she saw her son crying. She ran to hug him and he hugged her back. ‘What is wrong dear?’ Drew asked her son. Overwhelmed with emotion, Dave could not speak. ‘What happened?’ she asked his friends. They too were silent. ‘Dave tell her,’ Anne prompted. Dave sat down and composed himself. ‘Mom, I want to see dad!’ was all he said. ‘Why?’ she was surprised. ‘I want to talk to him!’

‘But why? Is that why you are crying?’ ‘Mom, it’s a long story.’ ‘Well tell me!’ ‘I will explain when I come back. I did not find him at the chapel, where else can I find him?’ ‘So you already searched him out? Why didn’t you tell me?’ ‘There’s no time mom, just tell me. I know you know where I can find him.’ ‘Not until you tell me what it is you want to speak to him about.’ ‘Mom, please.’ ‘Don’t even try. You have been acting strangely since morning. What are you hiding from me?’ Drew shouted. ‘Calm down mom, there is nothing we are hiding.’ ‘Ohh,’ Drew laughed a mock laughter, ‘it is money that you wanted huh? You want to go ask your father for money?’ ‘No mom no!’ ‘I will give you the money you wanted. How much was it? What do you even want to do with it so desperately, buy drugs?’ she shouted. Anne and Bill were scared at how Dave’s mother was reacting. They did not move an inch and listened to every word. Dying and wishing they had not been witness to this heated argument or was it heated shouting. Dave was now angry.

‘Mom, ok enough!’ he shouted at her, ‘I don’t want drugs and I don’t want to see dad to ask for money. There are some psychos out there who are trying to kill me unless I return to them the money I picked.’ ‘What money?’ ‘The $100 dollar note I gave you, yeah it belongs to them and now they want it back or else they will kill me.’ ‘I can give you the money.’ ‘That is not the point mom,’ Dave was still shouting, ‘they want the exact notes, the exact ones!’ ‘What?’ Drew was speechless, ‘tell them to come to me, I will talk to them.’ ‘You can’t talk to them, they are not normal people, they come and disappear. They are haunting me mom.’ Mother and son hugged. ‘Now why do you want to see your father?’ ‘I gave him a $100 dollar note, they will allow me to live one more week if I give it to them. God, I hope he kept it safe! Mom?’ ‘Yes dear.’ ‘Do you still have the $100 dollar I gave to you?’ ‘Aah no son, I put it in the bank and later bought some lipstick. I am sorry!’ ‘It’s ok.’ She hugged him more tightly, so afraid of losing him.

Drew had given her son clear directions of getting to his father’s place. It was not too difficult since he lived right behind the church. She had wanted badly to come with them but was afraid her history with his father would intervene and frustrate everyone which was the least thing she wanted. Dave kept pressuring Bill to drive faster. ‘This is the speed limit Dave, if I go faster we could get stopped. We don’t want that to happen now, do we?’ A silence followed. Anxiety was rising as it was already twilight. Bill parked in front of the church which was locked. They got out of the car and ran as fast as they could behind the church where they saw a small house. It was easy to spot in the rising darkness because the lights in the house were turned on. Dave was the one who knocked at the door. He knocked all too softly but someone opened it. It was the priest, still in his dark clothes. He smiled lightly. ‘Hello son.’ ‘Hello father.’ He led them in and served them coffee with some cookies when they had settled. He seemed in no hurry to ask them why they had come as though they were frequent visitors. Dave was not eating and his father noticed. ‘Aren’t you eating any cookies Dave?’ Steve the priest asked.

Caught unaware, Dave took a cookie and ate it robotically. Steve was looking from one young face to the next. They all looked uneasy and he was sure they felt so. ‘I was not expecting you,’ Steve said, ‘these must be your friends Dave.’ Dave only nodded. He did not know what to say, he looked to Anne for help but she only stared back, so did Bill. ‘Father, you have a nice little home,’ Anne said in the awkward silence. ‘Why, thank you. You are a most charming lady.’ Anne smiled. ‘We came to ask a favor,’ Anne said. Steve looked surprised. ‘A favor you say, what can’t I do for my sons friends? Tell me.’ ‘We are asking for the offering box, that is where you put money right?’ All the others looked at her like she was crazy, all except the priest who did not seem surprised at all. He nodded at her. ‘I will be back in a minute or so.’ The priest glided out the room like a ghost. Bill and Dave stared at her mouth open. ‘What?’ Anne asked, ‘You did not look like you will say anything for the next century.’ ‘You were so blunt!’ Dave said.

‘Hmm, these cookies are good,’ that was Bill. ‘I had to be blunt, we are desperate, you are desperate and yes Bill, they are delicious. I wonder if he has some more.’ ‘Do you think he put the money in the offering box?’ Dave asked concerned. ‘Of course, where else could he put it? In his pocket? I doubt it, he doesn’t look like a man who would steal from the Lord!’ ‘Steal from the Lord?’ Bill asked. ‘How will we find that single $100 dollar note in the offering box?’ Dave was still concerned. ‘Relax, do you see many people coming around here? This place is like a dead town, I can bet that $100 will be the only money in the whole damn box!’ Anne chuckled. There was an unwelcomed silence. Everyone fell silent and deep into their own thoughts. The priest glided back into the room carrying a fairly big box, it seemed heavy too. He put it down before them and getting a small key from his pocket opened it. He sat down tired from carrying the box. ‘Now Kids,’ Steve said, ‘it is not custom to open this box before the end of a fortnight.’ ‘We are sorry,’ Dave said. ‘It’s ok son.’ Dave always shuddered when he heard this man call him son. He pushed open the lid of the box and was surprised at what he saw. Contrary to what Anne had assured him, the box was full.

Different notes of money and various bulky envelopes. All their eyes were bulged in surprise. ‘Where did all this money come from?’ Anne asked surprised. ‘The house of God is never empty of good things,’ Steve said. ‘Money is a good thing?’ Bill asked. ‘Yes but the love of it isn’t!’ Anne tilted the box so that all the money and envelopes fell out. ‘But no one comes here!’ Anne said. ‘Just because you don’t come here my child, does not mean everyone else doesn’t,’ he told her. She nodded, greatly humbled. She then looked at Dave who was just staring. ‘Hey Dave, get what you wanted!’ she shouted at him. Dave looked as though he had just been snapped out of a trance. With the help of his friends he began to separate the monies and pushing away the envelopes. They were quite a number of $100 dollar notes and Anne held the pile in her hands. ‘Put back the rest,’ she ordered her two friends. They did so and then looked at her as though waiting for further instructions. ‘Dave,’ she told him, ‘pick out yours.’ ‘The newer ones. No defects!’ he told her.

It was easy to do that as many of the $100 dollar notes in Anne’s hand were crumpled up and looked old. They were left with only five $100 dollar notes to pick from and Dave was not certain which one to pick. The priest cleared his throat as for attention. They had forgotten about him throughout the process and now looked at him wide eyed as though caught stealing. ‘Sorry to interfere,’ Steve said in a calm voice, ‘would you have enough confidence in me to tell me what it is that you are searching for?’ All the stares now turned to Dave. He swallowed. ‘Aah, a $100 dollar note,’ he said in a low voice. ‘No need to be ashamed son, is there any particular note that you might be keen on?’ The stares went back to the priest. He talked as though he knew what they wanted. ‘Well,’ Dave swallowed again, ‘it’s the note that I gave to you when I was here with my mom.’ The priest laughed lightly. ‘You did not give it to me, you just pushed it in my hands!’ he laughed. ‘It is the same thing isn’t it?’ ‘If you insist. But why do you want it?’ ‘It is a private matter,’ Dave said defensive. ‘I am your father I ought to know!’

‘You have never been my father!’ Dave shouted, ‘Where is the money?’ ‘How am I supposed to know when I pushed it inside the offering box? It must be one of the ones in your friends’ hands there.’ ‘Then I am afraid we will have to take it all!’ Dave said. Anne and Bill looked from father to son and back. There was a slight resemblance but it could easily be missed. The conversation was heating up and Dave looked ready to leave so they also stood up. They were walking towards the door with the five $100 dollar notes when the priest spoke behind them. ‘It was nice of you to visit,’ Steve said then warned, ‘but beware of stealing from the Lords house.’ ‘We are not stealing and we will bring the change,’ Dave shouted. They were almost out the door. ‘Those people are not to be toyed with,’ the priest shouted back, ‘you can’t just bring five dollar notes, rub it on their faces and ask them which one is theirs!’ Dave and his friends stopped right in their tracks. They turned and looked at the priest, shock written all over their faces and mouths agar. ‘How do you know about this?’ Dave shouted angrily. ‘What? Am I not entitled to know?’ Dave was angrily walking back to the priest who was his father and stood nose to nose looking him in the eye. ‘Did mom tell you this?’ Dave asked seething.

‘I wish she had,’ Steve said softly. ‘Then who did?’ Dave shouted. ‘There is so much you don’t know son,’ Steve told him. Dave sat down and cried. ‘What is the matter?’ Steve asked. ‘I did not want you to know this, it’s embarrassing!’ ‘No its not, it is quite natural, but some people use our natural instincts to harm us. You picking the money was not wrong, even I could have done it.’ ‘Is every money on the road bad?’ Dave asked calming down. ‘No, that one was just planted for the sake of their own pleasure. It’s something they do yearly to torment the unlucky individual.’ ‘Why did it have to be me?’ ‘Your guardian must have failed, I am so sorry son.’ ‘How do you know all this?’ Anne asked. Bill and Anne also took their seat and were fully engrossed in the conversation. ‘It is a study I specialized in, in my study of the faith.’ ‘Are there such things in the Bible?’ Anne was surprised. ‘The Bible is deeper than what you think, only those whose eyes are opened can see,’ Steve told her. ‘What is going to happen to Dave?’ Bill asked.

‘He should give back the money to the collectors as agreed or they will keep their word and punish him terribly.’ Dave shuddered. He did not know what to think, the whole prospect of it was scary for him, someone was actually assuring him these people were real and that person was his father. ‘I do not have any of their money,’ Dave panicked. ‘Do not worry,’ Steve soothed his son, ‘I kept the $100 dollar note you gave to me.’ Dave threw his arms around his father. ‘Thanks!’ ‘Did you know it was planted?’ Anne asked. ‘No I did not. I only kept it because it was the first gift from my son,’ Steve said. ‘Though he did not give it as such.’ Dave looked ashamed. The priest strolled out of the room and came back with a little Bible. He opened it and there was a $100 dollar which he placed in his son’s hands. ‘It won’t be enough,’ Dave complained. ‘It will be enough for today, for this week,’ Steve assured him. ‘How would you know?’ ‘Because they are not interested in the money, they just want to torment you. They knew you would spend it. What a cheap game!’ ‘That would mean they are watching me!’ ‘Yes but not all the time, you are safe here for now but you must go fast and give it to them before they seek you out themselves.’

‘Where do I take it?’ ‘Where you first collected the money, don’t you know?’ ‘Alright! Will they let me off for another week?’ ‘Yes they will, I promise you, now go!’ ‘I am scared.’ ‘Be of courage son, go before they seek you out. It is important they do not know this place!’ Dave took to leave and his friends made to follow but the priest stopped them. ‘Noo,’ he said, ‘this is something Dave must do alone. He is the only player in the game and involving others would be dangerously fatal!’ Dave left alone and was shaking in fear by the time he got to the car. He could not drive properly as every shadow scared him. The park was always well lit and Dave walked carefully till he got to the bench. This time the burly man was already sitted. He had his dark sunglasses on even though it was night. ‘I was getting impatient,’ the man said as soon as Dave was earshot. ‘I am sorry,’ Dave apologized trying hard not to offend the man. ‘Did you bring the money?’ ‘I brought aaa $100, it’s yours am sure,’ Dave stammered. Dave handed the burly man the $100 dollar note. The burly man smelt it, he seemed satisfied and pocketed it.

‘Do I get another week of life?’ ‘You may but don’t think it’s for free. If you keep us waiting too long, we will start to take your priceless toys as well!’ ‘What? Why?’ ‘Get out of here before I get angry!’ The burly man snarled and Dave took to his feet, not even sparing a moment to look back just in case the man would change his mind. He had not understood what the burly man had said neither did he wish to. He pushed it to the back of his mind.

It was not long after Dave had returned to his father’s house than his mother called him on his cell phone. ‘Baby, am worried about you,’ she said sounding sick with worry. ‘It’s ok mom, I am with dad.’ ‘You are? Well, how is he?’ ‘Fine, mom please I know you don’t want to but can you come?’ ‘Why?’ she sounded uncertain. ‘Dad knows all about my problem, he had studied it and knows how to help me, I think. And I don’t want you in the house alone.’ ‘Ok.’ ‘Thanks mom.’ Drew soon arrived. She was happy to see her son and gave him a warm hug. She had also brought for him a jersey in case he was cold. They all sat in the priests living and were silent and the priest gave Drew some coffee and cookies. It was obvious to everyone else that Steve and Drew were trying hard to avoid each other’s gaze and that made everyone very uneasy. ‘Sooo,’ Anne said breaking the silence, ‘Father, is there any other way besides paying back the money that Dave can redeem himself?’ Everyone looked at the priest and held their breaths in anticipation.

‘Well, the easiest path is giving them back their money, the alternative however is too complex and almost fatal,’ Steve told them. ‘What do you mean?’ ‘You mean there’s another way?’ Anne asked. ‘I am not telling you of it, Dave just find the money and they will be off your tail easy.’ ‘But I spent the money, I know I there’s no way I can get it back!’ Dave complained. ‘You just have to find it,’ Steve told his son. ‘There is no other way.’ ‘I thought you just said there was another way,’ Drew said angrily. ‘There is but I won’t let him use it.’ ‘Why not?’ ‘It’s too risky.’ ‘Too risky? You mean you won’t take a risk for my son?’ ‘He’s my son too and I too know what is best for him!’ ‘You know what’s best for him? You barely even know him. The only thing you know about him is his stupid last name!’ Drew screamed. ‘I only did what was best for us!’ the priest shouted. ‘You’re just a selfish, immature imbecile!’

‘You have no right to tell me that! I have helped you throughout his life and don’t even act like I was never there. You always came to me for advice when you needed it!’ ‘Advice? You call what you gave to me advice? Bullshit! You have not changed Steve and someone like you is not needed in the church or anywhere else, not even as a father!’ ‘Watch your mouth Drew!’ The row between the parents was having a negative toll on Dave, he felt very angry. ‘SHUT UP!’ Dave shouted angrily. There was silence, the parents were embarrassed. Dave calmed down. ‘Just tell us the other option and we will decide if we want to take the risk or not,’ Dave said softly. ‘Fine, I will show you!’ Steve said. The priest left the room and after some time returned carrying broken fragments of blue glass on a tray. Everyone eyed him curious. ‘What is that?’ Bill asked. The priest placed the tray on the table and everyone leaned in for a closer look. ‘These are the fragments that could be used to revive your guardian, they were secretly brought to my door. She is the only one that can help you fight off the collectors.’ ‘You mean like calling the dead,’ Bill said, ‘no way, man.’

‘Who are the collectors?’ Drew asked quietly. ‘They are the sorcerers aides who take pleasure in tormenting the lives of normal people.’ ‘And who are guardians?’ Anne asked. ‘It is complicated, they are not ordinary people in the mid-life whose destiny is to protect normal people here on earth.’ ‘Mid-life? Angels?’ ‘Not angels. There are certain people specially chosen to work as guardians in the mid-life. They do not work on complex matters as angels do but rather try to prevent the sorcerers from causing any problems like these.’ ‘You know too much.’ ‘As I said I studied it.’ ‘It’s too much stuff, sounds surreal except it has happened to our Dave.’ There was silence, everyone was deep in thought. ‘Did you mean Dave’s possible guardian had failed?’ Anne asked. ‘It is so!’ Steve agreed. ‘And the alternative is to revive her?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘How?’ ‘It is complicated.’ ‘Tell us please.’

‘Well you have to reconstruct the pieces of glass into the ball it once was. And then you have to retrace your guardians’ footsteps and try to revive her but it will not be easy as the sorcerers will be on your tail.’ ‘How would I retrace her steps? Don’t I have to be dead to do that?’ ‘The ball would lead you to retrace the steps. It is really complicated and I can’t tell you more.’ ‘Why not?’ ‘I did not master all that I studied to be honest so I do not know everything. Only theoretically, I have never actually practiced any of it.’ ‘Ohh!’ ‘Dave, you just have to find the remaining 5 notes.’ ‘I will do my best but I have little hope. What will they do to me if I fail?’ ‘You may work as their slave and be a collector. And if you are not efficient, you get killed and if you are lucky they will simply leave you desolate.’ Dave thought about the burly man and wondered if he too had been an ordinary man like he was.

Dave was keen on finding all the $100 dollar notes he had spent. Early the next day he and Bill ventured in search of the notes. Anne had not shown up explaining that she was tired and would join them later. ‘So where do we start?’ Dave asked Bill. ‘I don’t know, Anne gave me her necklace so we could return it.’ ‘I really wish things hadn’t turned out this way.’ ‘But they did, life is crazy!’ ‘And am going crazy with it. Oh, the place we bought Anne’s necklace is the same one in which we bought Nancy’s dress right?’ ‘Yeah why?’ ‘Well, I know they won’t give me the money unless I return the goods.’ ‘And so?’ Bill asked. ‘Nancy would have to return the dress, I regretted giving it to her in the first place.’ Bill laughed. ‘Now you say it.’

Dave and Bill went to Nancy’s house and knocked at her door. A very sleepy Nancy came to the door and looked at them puzzled. She was wearing flowery pajamas. ‘Hi Nancy,’ Dave was melting. ‘What is it? It’s so early,’ Nancy asked Dave. She turned a blind eye to Bill. ‘I came to ask a favor,’ it was hard for Dave to say. ‘Couldn’t it wait Dave?’ ‘I am sorry I awoke you.’ ‘It’s fine, what is it?’ ‘Well, I need you to.. uhh,’ Dave was stammering. ‘Need me to what?’ Nancy looked impatient. ‘Uh, the dress I gave you.’ ‘Yes?’ ‘Well, Nancy I am sorry.’ Nancy was listening attentively hands crossed over her chest. Dave was clearly having a hard time. ‘Hmmm, ok let me put it simply. I want the dress back!’ ‘What dress?’ ‘The red dress I gave you as a gift!’ ‘I thought it was a gift.’ ‘It was but I have to return it to the store for a refund!’

‘What, return my dress? You are not returning my dress.’ ‘But I have to.’ ‘You will not return understand? Because I won’t give it back.’ The door slammed in their faces. Bill and Dave stood there numb. ‘Sorry Dave, this is a lost case, she is keeping the dress.’ ‘You don’t have to rub it in!’ ‘Let’s go to the mall and try our luck.’ ‘I sure need that luck. This Nancy is insane.’ ‘Did you really expect her to return the dress? You’re crazy man.’ Dave and Bill returned to the shopping mall where they had purchased the necklace. It proved difficult to find the right shop they were looking for but after a while they did. A young salesman was looking bored at the counter, they approached him. Dave did not want to say anything even with Bill poking at him. ‘Hey man, we bought something here and want to return it,’ Bill said. ‘Exchange only,’ the salesman said bluntly. ‘No we want our cash back.’ The young man looked at them as though even more bored by the conversation. ‘Exchange only, what did you purchase?’ Dave showed him the necklace. ‘That’s ours alright,’ the sales man admitted, ‘is it broken?’

‘No, we just made a wrong purchase,’ Dave said. ‘Then make the right purchase now,’ he suggested. ‘No we want the money back,’ Bill said. ‘Is this a scam or something?’ ‘This is pointless man,’ Dave said to Bill. ‘Can you listen to yourself Dave? We need the money back!’ ‘Can you take your conversation outside?’ the salesman asked. ‘Please man, do you have the cash we used to buy this necklace about a week or so ago?’ ‘Are you crazy?’ ‘No, please we need the money we used to purchase this necklace!’ ‘You guys are beginning to frighten me so am calling the cops,’ the salesman threatened. ‘Why?’ ‘Leave or am calling the cops?’ ‘Its fine, we are leaving.’ Dave dragged Bill out by the hand. ‘What do you think you’re doing?’ Bill asked him. ‘He would have certainly called security on us! And I don’t think he has the money.’ ‘How would you know?’

‘Money circulates Bill, we all know that and it was too long ago, anyway. He wasn’t even the guy who sold us the necklace.’ ‘Are you giving up now?’ ‘Is it possible for someone to give up on their life?’ ‘Well then what? Should we go rob the bank to find your notes, even then you would even recognize that single $100 dollar.’ ‘You ain’t helping me here.’ ‘You wanna do it your dad’s way?’ ‘Too complicated and he doesn’t even know how to go about it.’ ‘What now?’ ‘Let’s seek out that beggar and see if he still has the $100 dollar note.’ ‘I doubt it!’ ‘Please don’t say that!’ ‘What will you do if he doesn’t have it?’ ‘Then I die!’ Dave was looking gloomy and his shoulders were drooped. They met Anne on their way out. ‘What happened?’ she asked. ‘Don’t ask,’ Bill told her. He handed back to her the necklace she had returned. ‘I can imagine Nancy did not want to return her dress,’ Anne said.

They laughed bleakly about it. They walked to where Dave and Bill had seen the beggar and were alarmed to see he was not there. Their faces were screwed with bitterness. ‘What is wrong?’ Anne asked. ‘He is not where he should be,’ they complained. ‘Who said beggars don’t have homes, we have to search him out,’ Anne encouraged. ‘Where do we start?’ ‘Where do you expect a beggars home to be?’ ‘In the gutter?’ ‘Right.’ ‘He must have already screwed my money by now!’ Dave said bitterly. ‘Do not lose heart Dave, at least not now or here!’ They went to the gutters and it was dark in their even if it was daylight. The putrid smell of urine, dead rats and poverty hit them in the face. The smell was so terrible that they covered their mouths with their shirts. No one minded their presence as most of the beggars kept to themselves. They searched from one beggar to the next. The beggar they were looking for was fast asleep in a corner when they found him. ‘Should we wake him?’ Dave asked. ‘Shouldn’t we?’

‘Won’t he be mad.’ ‘Does it matter?’ ‘No it doesn’t.’ They looked at each other. ‘Well who will wake him?’ Anne asked. ‘You?’ Dave said. ‘I won’t, I don’t want to touch him.’ ‘That’s rude to say.’ ‘I am sorry but he’s so filthy, you wake him.’ ‘No,’ Dave refused. They turned to look at Bill. ‘Don’t look at me, I ain’t the one being haunted by some sorcerers for money.’ ‘No need to be mean man!’ ‘Sorry.’ ‘Someone wake him ok, I can’t stay here all day, I’ll faint.’ Dave used his feet to try and rouse the sleeping man to no avail. The bottles nearby proclaimed that he might have been drinking heavily. Dave felt light headed and his hope dropped by a milestone. This beggar had probably wasted all his money on drinks. Anne ran out, her friends followed. She was throwing up on the floor when they caught up with her. ‘Anne, are you ok?’

‘Do I look ok?’ Anne asked lamely and threw up some more. Anne then stood up though a little bent and hands on her stomach. ‘What is wrong Anne?’ ‘I just want to get out of here fast.’ ‘You should go home.’ ‘I just need fresh air, please.’ Anne sat by the roadside. ‘I am ok here,’ she said, ‘go back and finish your business. That place is nauseating. Please be fast about it.’ ‘Are you sure you will be fine here?’ Bill was concerned. ‘Don’t worry about me, it’s Dave who could be dead by next week!’ ‘Thanks Anne,’ Dave said. ‘Ohh will you hurry?’ Dave and Bill returned to the beggar. This time they did not delay shaking him awake. ‘What do you want?’ the beggar was angry. ‘We want to talk to you,’ Dave said. ‘I don’t want to talk to you,’ he shouted at them. ‘Fine, just give me back the $100 dollar note I gave you.’ ‘What?’ the beggar looked puzzled.

‘Give me back my money,’ Dave shouted. ‘I spent it, who are you anyway?’ Dave’s heart dropped, he began to walk away. ‘Wait!’ the beggar called, ‘I have your money, treat me to a fine lunch first!’ ‘How should we believe you?’ Bill asked. The beggar waved to them a $100 dollar note which he obtained from his pocket. Dave could not resist but smile, he wanted to grab the money. ‘Not before my lunch!’ the beggar smiled too. They walked away from the gutter with the beggar in their company. Anne had looked at them surprised but had not said a word in protest. On their way they received a billion stares. The beggar was indeed a public attraction. They took him to a fast food restaurant where he ordered all the food he could see. The trio watched him eat as well as the rest of the restaurant. He wolfed down the whole table of food. Anne looked like she would throw up again and they were when glad she did not. After he had finished his food, the beggar looked at them smiling. ‘Are you sure I shouldn’t have contributed the $100 dollar to buying this food?’ They only looked at him disgusted. ‘Give me the money,’ Dave seethed. ‘What money?’

‘The $100 dollar note!’ The beggar laughed. The trio looked angry. ‘I will give it to you but first I need a bath and some new clothes.’ ‘Are you crazy?’ Anne asked. ‘Hey, am not talking to you girl!’ the beggar said. ‘Don’t talk to my friends like that,’ Dave told him. ‘Don’t you want your money back?’ ‘I do.’ ‘Then I talk the way I want.’ ‘You won’t be mean to my friends, they paid for your meal you know.’ ‘Fine, I’ll be nice but I still want my fresh clean bath in a nice bathroom.’ ‘Anne, Bill, know any public bathrooms?’ Dave asked. ‘Yeah sure, they are almost everywhere.’ ‘How sure are we he won’t slip us and run away?’ They talked as though he was not there. ‘I don’t know!’ ‘We’ll stand guard at the door.’ ‘A public bathroom, that is ok and cheap.’ ‘Yes, I think I know one near here.’

The beggar cleared his throat. They looked at him. ‘I must have forgotten to mention, I don’t want a public bathroom, I’ve had enough of those already. I had in mind, well, a nice home bathroom, cozy you know. Maybe at your house.’ They stared at him bewilded by his request. ‘Don’t look at me like that, am not asking too much!’ he said. ‘Who do you think you are, making orders like that?’ Dave asked angry. ‘You want your $100 dollar or not?’ Dave was at a loss and his friends looked at him with pity. ‘Its fine,’ Anne said, ‘he can have a bath at my place.’ ‘Thanks so much Anne.’ ‘Ah no, I want your place little boy,’ the beggar pointed at Dave. ‘Why?’ ‘Let’s just say, I like how you look. You look kinder than her,’ he laughed. The friends looked at each other confused. ‘What?’ the beggar asked laughing, ‘you act like you still live with your mom.’ ‘Actually I still live with my mom and I see nothing wrong with that.’ The beggar laughed more loudly and they got plenty more stares from the other tables in the restaurant. The restaurant owners did

not like their new customer, it showed on their faces. They had probably just kept him there because he had given them much profit by ordering food that could have been eaten by dozens of people. ‘I am sure your mom won’t mind having a friend over for a shower and if am lucky dinner. On the way, you can get me a shaving stick and toothbrush too,’ he smiled exposing his yellow teeth. Dave was entirely speechless and did not say a word. ‘Shall we get going then, am getting bored here unless of course you want me to order another round and invite friends too!’ That got them moving. Dave seemed so weak with frustration and said nothing all the way to his home, neither did his friends. The beggar was the only one talking all the way as though trying his best to taunt Dave who remained unresponsive. They got to his place and entered the house. The shocked written on Drew’s face when she saw them was priceless. She looked to Dave for an explanation but got none. Dave simply led the beggar to the bathroom. Anne and Bill sat in the living room with Drew. She looked at them, shock still registered on her face. ‘Where is that thing from?’ Drew asked slowly. ‘Well,’ Anne tried hard to explain, ‘hmm, he is.. ahh.’ ‘Who is that thief you’ve brought into my house.’ ‘Ma’am calm down, he is the beggar and he has a $100 dollar note that Dave gave to him. He made us do all kinds of favors to give us back the money.’

‘What kind of favors?’ ‘We only bought him food really,’ Bill said. ‘It was a lot of food Bill.’ ‘Did he give my son the money?’ ‘He wanted to take a shower first in your house and have fresh clothes.’ ‘That man is crazy, thank you very much but he is not spending another minute in my house. He may even be playing with you guys.’ ‘He showed us the note,’ Bill said. ‘He is giving that note right now and leaving my house. What a fool, taking advantage of kids!’ Drew had speedily disappeared through a door. Bill and Anne watched her go. That beggar would sure be in trouble, they thought. Drew rushed to the bathroom, angry at how this beggar was manipulating her son into doing him favors. She found Dave standing guard at the bathroom door. ‘And what do you think you are doing?’ Drew asked angrily. ‘Making sure he does not steal any soap,’ Dave said unconcerned. ‘You bring a stranger into our house and now you want to make sure he doesn’t steal any soap, what has gotten into you?’ ‘He has the $100 dollar I need to live another week. I think my last week on earth,’ Dave said sadly.

His mother hugged him. She later sat on the floor and waited for the beggar to finish his bath. He sat next to her, they were tired of waiting. ‘What is taking him so long?’ Drew asked standing up. ‘He’s shaving mom, for once after a thousand years.’ ‘He’s gonna need a scissors to cut off that beard I saw. Let me check on your friends.’ Drew got up and went to join Anne and Bill. She served them some food as they were hungry. It was a long while later when Dave showed up with the beggar, everyone was wide eyed with surprise when they saw him. The beggar was clean and had changed into a pair of Dave’s clean clothes and shoes. His face, cleanly shaven revealed how handsome he was and his wet hair tied in a knot emphasized that beauty. They could not take their eyes off his good physique either. ‘Helloooo family,’ he said seeing their surprised looks. ‘Can I seat? Am so tired.’ ‘Ohh sure!’ that was Drew. He sat down and looked more of a gentleman than a beggar. He must have been in his early or mid-thirties. He captivated all their attention with each movement he made and every word he spoke. Drew realized this and forced herself to seriousness. ‘Have you given my son back his $100 dollar note?’ she asked. ‘I will!’

‘You will? Give it to him now!’ ‘No ma’am but I will later.’ ‘What more do you want? Hasn’t he given you enough favors?’ ‘He has only done himself a favor actually.’ ‘What favor? Don’t waste our time.’ ‘You should hear me out,’ the beggar looked at Dave, ‘my name is Bris.’

They were all curious at what Bris had to say. This transformed beggar was drawing great attention to himself mainly because of how handsome he was and also as they were itching to hear what he had to say. ‘My name is Bris and I know how you can defeat the collectors.’ ‘How do you know about them?’ Dave asked astonished. ‘I smelt the note and I knew you would come back for it. I recognized it immediately.’ ‘How is that possible?’ Drew asked. ‘Because I once was a collector.’ Heavy sighs of surprise went across the room. ‘Do not be too surprised, I only lived in desolation as a beggar because I blundered on my job and they kicked me out! I can help you Dave and you have helped me.’ ‘How have I helped you?’ ‘You gave me a hope. If you hadn’t come to me I would have thought my life was over but now I am sure I am not yet rejected. They never leave anyone alive but they spared me and then you came along.’ ‘How long have you lived as a beggar?’ ‘The last five years, it was a taunting time. I have never been so low and besides, I was not a beggar.’ ‘No?’

‘I was just homeless. My family thinks me long dead and I have never bothered them again because I have done so much evil as a collector and changed so much too.’ ‘Why, didn’t you even try to connect with them?’ Anne asked. ‘I do not deserve a good life after the things I did, I am still angry about it. They did not even recognize me when I showed myself to them. It’s unfortunate but it’s too late.’ They looked at him, all saddened by his tale. ‘What will they do to me if all fails?’ Dave wanted to know. ‘It’s too horrible. It’s torture to be their slave, they will make you do the most horrific things. Killing is not even the worst thing they could make you do. You destroy lives, sometimes they will make you leave people with nothing and am not talking only about property, no arms, no legs, no eyes, nothing. I don’t want to talk about it and the guardians would torment you too as a collector for all your wrong deeds.’ Bris looked like he would cry and they were all silent. ‘We know someone who knows about these collectors and guardians,’ Dave said. ‘Really?’ Bris was genuinely surprised. ‘Yes.’ ‘That is so rare. Only people from the mid-life and collectors would know of our existence. Who knows about us?’ ‘My father!’ Bris was finding it hard to believe.

‘He is a mere man?’ he asked. ‘He’s a priest.’ ‘I want to meet him.’ ‘Why?’ Drew asked. ‘He and I may have things to talk about.’

Drew drove Bris and her son to see Steve that night, she had insisted his friends go home to rest. Drew did not tell Steve they were coming and so knocked at his door when they arrived. The priest did not waste time opening the door. Steve’s face lit up when he saw Drew but suddenly dropped when he saw the stranger with her. ‘Steve,’ Bris said. ‘Bris,’ Steve said coldly. Mother and son were surprised the two knew each other at all. ‘What is he doing here?’ Steve asked Drew. ‘He can help us,’ Drew said. ‘Well do you know him?’ ‘No but, it is a miracle we met him, you see, he had been one of the people Dave had given money when he thought he was a beggar.’ ‘He is a collector Drew, what do you think you are doing with him?’ Steve shouted. ‘No Steve, he survived, they let him go,’ Drew defended Bris. ‘They do not let anyone survive damnit! He is planted, they are playing you.’ ‘He is not, even you said they let some survive,’ Drew shouted.

‘I lied Ok, no one survives especially not the likes of him. He is the worst of them all.’ ‘Well then, will you keep us standing outside like this?’ ‘That beast is not entering my house, understand that Drew? Dave enter fast before this man sucks the life out of you.’ Dave obeyed and entered the house. Steve standing at the door was blocking the adults from entering. ‘But he has the $100 dollar note I need dad,’ Dave said. ‘Give my son his money!’ Dave ordered Bris. Bris got the $100 dollar note from his pocket and handed it to Steve. ‘Steve, don’t be like this.’ ‘I don’t trust him, neither should you Drew.’ ‘But he is our only hope, Dave doesn’t have much time.’ ‘And this man is wasting the little time you have with your son Drew.’ ‘God, Bris speak for yourself,’ Drew told him. ‘She has a point Steve,’ Bris said for the first time, ‘I may not like you, you may not like me but we do this for your son!’ ‘Steve, please listen to him for the sake of Dave,’ Drew pleaded. ‘You are already in love with him, aren’t you?’ ‘Steeeeve.’ ‘How weak you are!’

‘You are just jealous that someone could actually like me.’ ‘Am not listening to this.’ ‘Steve this is not about us, it’s about Dave.’ But Steve had already shut the door in her face. ‘Let it go, he will come around,’ Bris said walking away. ‘But where are you going?’ ‘To the car, aren’t you coming?’ ‘Ok.’ They sat in the dark car not speaking. Bris had sat at the driver’s seat. ‘What do I do now?’ Drew asked, almost to herself. ‘I understand him he will come around,’ Bris assured her. ‘Am still so confused.’ Bris drove out of the church area. ‘Where are we going?’ ‘You have to clear your thoughts, we will go to the beach.’ ‘At this hour? Its late.’ ‘That is what will make it better, maybe we can even watch the sunrise, it just renews your strength, doesn’t it?’ ‘Well, I don’t know, I have never done that.’ ‘Steve never took you? I thought that’s what all lovers do.’

‘Steve was different.’ They got to the beach, it was a well lit area and they sat near the water so they could let it tickle their feet. They had taken off their shoes. Bris had an arm around Drew and she leaned in so that her head was on his chest. He played with her hair. It was a bright moonlit night and a few lovers were scattered over the beach. Drew was finally getting the passion she had been denied for so long. She was not sure whether the warmth she felt with Bris but all she knew is that she was slowly falling head over heels in love with him. She could not believe he was the same disgusting beggar she had seen him as before. He was her handsome prince and she wondered if he liked her, she thought so. ‘I think I am falling for you Bris,’ Drew purred softly. ‘Why?’ he whispered in her ear. ‘I don’t know.’ He brought her head close to his and gave her a long soft kiss. Drew relished each moment of it. ‘Drew,’ Bris asked, ‘how did you meet Steve?’ Drew was uncomfortable with the question especially that it was Bris asking it. ‘I met him at school,’ she said simply. ‘And you had a son with him?’ ‘Yeah, people always view me as crazy or naughty when I tell them that my sons father is a priest. The truth is I had a relationship with him before he became a priest.’

‘Steve is a priest? Since when?’ ‘For the past 21 years since my son Dave was born.’ ‘Steve is no priest,’ Bris said. ‘Yeah, I know his behavior doesn’t seem to fit into the priest box. Where did you meet him anyway?’ ‘No, that is not what I meant.’ ‘What then, did you mean?’ ‘I just never knew him as a priest.’ ‘Where did you know him then?’ ‘It had been revealed to Steve he would be a guardian so he even started training with the mid-lifers on attaining his destiny to go to the mid-life but he did something wrong and was sent away. He must have joined the church as a hideout as he had lost his destiny because he hadn’t been pure.’ ‘He never told me that.’ ‘How could he. He and I met when he was in his internship. We had been rivals. He was not happy when he saw me because I knew all the secrets about him that he never wanted you to know.’ ‘Why would he do that?’ ‘He couldn’t have or maybe he just didn’t trust you enough.’ ‘But he said he loved me and only joined priesthood because he felt he had a calling.’ ‘That was just a lie. He left you for nothing Drew. He left you because he was in self pity and denial. He couldn’t come to terms

and move on. Steve was and still is a failure. More so because he left a precious jewel like you.’ ‘I cannot believe he would do that to me.’ ‘He is a coward. He doesn’t deserve your love and you deserve someone who will love you so much better.’ Bris then showered Drew with kisses all over. She could not resist his touch and longed for him. She kissed him back and it was a passionate night on the beach for the duo. The first rays of the sun awoke them. Drew had slept in the arms of Bris, he was already awake when she roused from her sleep and he kissed her deeply. ‘Thank you,’ Bris said. ‘For what?’ ‘For trusting me to hold you throughout the night!’ Drew smiled brightly. Her face red as she was blushing. They watched the sun rise together as though they had known each other for years.

Dave looked at his father lean back at the door as though regretting ever shutting it. He was confused. ‘Why did you do that?’ Dave asked Steve. ‘That man is dangerous!’ ‘But mom is with him, if you really want her to be safe, you should have let them both in.’ ‘I am sorry.’ ‘Couldn’t you have at least listened to what he had to say?’ ‘No, he only came here to make a mock of me.’ ‘A mock of you? Am going with my mom!’ Dave pushed his father out of the way and went outside. He searched everywhere for her and seeing the car was not there knew she had left. Having no other way to return home, he went back into his father’s house. Steve’s eyes were red with emotion when Dave returned. ‘You say that man is dangerous but you let mom go with him, I won’t forgive you if anything happens to mom!’ ‘She will be fine, she is happy.’ Steve served his son some supper and gave him his bedroom to sleep. ‘Where will you sleep?’ Dave asked him. ‘The couch will be fine for me. I do not sleep much anyway.’

‘If at any time you get uncomfortable, you can come and sleep on the bed. I don’t mind.’ ‘Thank you son. I am glad you are here.’ ‘Goodnight.’ Steve left the room and Dave thought long and hard, he realized he had not even created a bucket list. He thought of Nancy and wondered if she should be on it too. He smiled and his thoughts drowned him into a most welcome sleep. Dave awoke in the middle of the night short of breath. He was scared and looked around the room, everything was in order. He had just choked himself on the pillow and was relieved. A light shone in the hallway and Dave was alerted. For a moment he had forgotten he was not at home. Dave walked out of the bedroom and on to the living room where he saw his father working painstakingly slowly on the glass fragments, trying to assemble them. He had managed to glue together a small curve. It looked almost magical and Dave could only imagine how it looked when it had been whole. ‘Dad.’ Steve shook with fear as he had been suddenly alerted. He turned to look at Dave. ‘Aaah son, I am sorry I am just so used to being alone I forgot I had a guest.’ ‘Am I just a guest to you?’ Dave asked sitting down. ‘You are more than a guest, you are my son. Forgive me, I had no better way of putting it.’

‘Would you call me your son in public? Considering that you are a priest.’ ‘Yes I would. I cannot deny you.’ ‘Of course you wouldn’t because a father calls everyone son and everyone calls you father.’ ‘If that’s the way you want to put it but know I will never deny you nor have I ever. Ask your mother.’ ‘She ain’t here. Why did you abandon mom and me for priesthood?’ ‘It was a difficult decision I had to make, I wanted to be around and feed you but I don’t think you will understand. It’s too deep.’ ‘Is it? What are you doing with those fragments of glass?’ ‘I am trying to assemble them.’ ‘With glue?’ ‘It’s much better than cello-tape.’ They laughed. ‘Dad I have no hope of finding the rest of the notes. I am assuming next week will be my last. What do you think I should do before then?’ ‘I am sorry that your hope is failing son but I have worked endlessly all night trying to find a solution for you.’ ‘Even if you don’t trust Bris, with the experience he has I know he has more knowledge on how to get me to my guardian.’ ‘Even so, I do not trust his intentions.’

‘Why not, I was just fortunate to have given him a note when I thought he was a beggar, just as I was fortunate to have given one to you too.’ ‘You cannot be over fortunate son, one is good and the other is evil. Your guardian had been strong to even leave you with a choice.’ ‘And you are supposed to be the good one?’ ‘I am hoping so.’ ‘Why should the good one always be the one that’s ignorant and the bad one have all the access needed?’ ‘Life is hard to understand.’ ‘And why should one turn out to be your father and the other just a beggar, homeless on the street?’ ‘I cannot explain that son.’ ‘Wow,’ Dave’s eyes glowed. Dave was looking at the nearly completed glass ball. His father had been working as they talked and only one last piece remained to be put in place. ‘It’s beautiful, isn’t it?’ ‘Yes dad, it is.’ ‘I would have not done it if it weren’t for you being here tonight. I had always been scared to practice what I knew but with you here I had the motivation.’ ‘Thanks dad.’

‘Now put in the last piece.’ ‘You do it, am afraid I will spoil it all.’ ‘Don’t be afraid, it will only work for you if you do it.’ Dave slowly got the last piece and placed it in its place. The ball glowed a pure blue color. Dave’s heart melted at its beauty and he picked it up in his hands. It gave him a new electric energy and he closed his eyes. A lady flashed before his eyes running. He wanted to follow her but then he saw the sorcerers on her tail. He was overwhelmed with fear at the sight of them and dropped the glass ball so that it shattered again but this time to bigger pieces. Dave opened his eyes disappointed. ‘I am sorry dad,’ he said looking at the broken glass on the floor. ‘What happened son?’ ‘I was with her, I was with my guardian but then I got so scared I dropped the ball. I am so sorry.’ Dave covered his face in shame and disappointment. Steve patted him on the back. ‘It is nothing to feel bad about, this is something new. I will study more on it to know what is to be done.’ ‘What had happened to me, did you notice anything at the time?’ ‘No, you had just closed your eyes. I did not know anything was happening.’ ‘Ohh.’

‘It’s a good sign, your guardian was strong.’ ‘Why do you think she failed?’ ‘Everyone fails at some point.’ ‘But why did she have to fail on me?’ ‘Perhaps your destiny is great and only by her failing can you realize it. I am sorry son, I cannot give you a definite answer.’ ‘Are the sorcerers and collectors watching me now?’ ‘Yes, more so I think because the ball had been revived which gives hope for a guardians’ revival.’ ‘I sincerely wish this hadn’t happened to me.’ ‘I understand but take it as it comes.’ ‘I will do my best.’

Dave was sitting in his room, thinking about how short his life would be. He was feeling very sorry for himself as he had high aspirations he was yet to accomplish in his young life. The door opened and Dave looked. Just walked into his room was the woman who had threatened him a fortnight ago with her men. He looked at her horrified. She looked very at ease, as though in her own home. ‘What do you want from me?’ Dave asked. ‘We just want what belongs to us Dave.’ ‘But I have been giving it.’ ‘We never said we wanted it in installments.’ ‘But as long as I return your notes, that should be all that matters not so?’ ‘No, that is not all. Unless you give us the whole package we will pick up our game and go to a whole new level. Let’s make this a little more exciting.’ ‘What do you mean?’ ‘Watch and learn.’ ‘You can’t do this, here I have your $100 dollar, take it.’ She laughed. ‘I am not a collector Dave!’

‘Then who are you and why do you do this to me! How do you know me?’ Just then Bris ran into the room and she disappeared in thin air. He was looking out of breath and staring at a very scared Dave. ‘Gin was here, wasn’t she?’ ‘Who is Gin?’ ‘Maybe not but I was sure I had breathed her,’ Bris took to leave the room. ‘Wait, some lady was here, she didn’t say her name.’ ‘What did she want?’ ‘She came to threaten me, they want all the notes.’ ‘That is Gin alright, did she give a deadline?’ ‘No, she only told me to watch and learn.’ Bris was thinking deeply and Dave could see that. ‘What will she do to me?’ ‘We’ll just have to wait.’ Bris left the room as abruptly as he had arrived. Drew later came in, looking distressed. ‘Bris told me,’ she said. ‘I am so scared mom, she was saying like she meant it mom and she did not even take the $100 dollar.’ ‘What did she say then?’

‘That she wants to make things more exciting.’ ‘I am sorry son.’ ‘Can’t Bris help me mom?’ ‘I don’t know but I am sure he will when he can. He had sensed her presence and had come to you.’ ‘He was really one of them then? I hope he is not planted.’ ‘Don’t say that! You have been listening to your fathers poison!’ ‘Sorry mom. I think I better go see Anne and Bill now.’ ‘Can’t you do that tomorrow? I am scared for you. Don’t leave.’ ‘They refresh me mom. Sitting here makes me feel trapped. I promise I will be safe. They can’t possibly visit me twice in one day.’ ‘Ok as you wish. Be safe.’ ‘Yes moom, I know! Mom?’ ‘What is it?’ ‘Nothing.’ Dave had wanted to ask her why Bris was staying with them and not sleeping in the spare bedroom but thought better of it. His mother was so in love, she must have figured it unnecessary to even ask his permission. He did not want her to think about it now as he was sure she was happy, she looked so happy since she saw Bris, well not the first time. Bris, on the other hand did not tell Dave anything either. He felt bad about that, Bris should have at least asked for permission.

‘Tell me!’ Drew insisted. ‘I wanted to say I love you mom.’ ‘Ohh, you know I love you too.’ She hugged him.

Nancy looked at herself in the mirror, admiring how her new dress flattered her body shape. She loved the dress so much but it was unfortunate Dave was the one who had to give it to her, she thought. Her date today, the college hunk Sean would be fabulous, she thought laughing. Maybe he might even give her a kiss or ask her for another date. What dress would she wear then, she frowned. No other dress was as pretty as this one. The doorbell rang and Nancy was quick to answer it. Sean looked as handsome as he could be. She gave him the widest red lipped smile she could. He pecked her on the cheek and handed her a rose. ‘Thank you so much Sean.’ ‘Only the best for you baby!’ ‘Ohh, where are we going tonight?’ ‘On our date.’ ‘I know but what location?’ ‘At the club. We will waste ourselves in this night.’ Nancy frowned when she heard the club. She had expected an exclusive dinner date with Sean and the club was the least place

to have that and to make matters worse, Nancys dress was not the type one wore to a club unless of course, it was a very expensive one. Nancy knew that Sean would not take her to an expensive club just from how he had dressed, simple in a shirt and jeans. On the plus side she was with Sean and that was enough to make her happy. There was a lot of dancing at the club and Nancy was having a good time even though she was not a party type of girl. All she did was for Sean and she was glad he seemed to be enjoying her company. Tired from their dancing they chose a nice hidden spot in the corner but were not alone. Sean had made friends from nowhere and their table was full. Sean’s new friends had also brought their own company with them and Nancy felt so out of place. The music was loud and Sean could not hear a word she said. The bottles started coming. Sean had found new company in the beer and was having one bottle after the next. Nancy barely drank as she knew that Sean would be of no help to her if she became drunk as he was already too drunk but kept on drinking as were all his new friends. Nancy was soon totally ignored. Angrily Nancy went out. Her dress was stained by beers and cigarettes she had not drank or smoked. She was furious and did not know what to do. The music sounding afar off in the background as she walked looking for a cab to take her home. Having no luck she wondered if she had any friend who would be kind enough to come and give her a ride home. She had many friends but knew that none of them would agree, they would probably tell her to wait for a cab or make a mockery of her failed date with Sean. She thought of someone who would

not judge her but would be happy to do whatever she wanted, Dave was his name. She called him and he picked up the phone after a few rings. ‘Hello Dave.’ ‘Hello Nancy?’ Dave sounded surprised. ‘Hey Dave, you sound surprised. Are you alone?’ ‘Am with my friends. Why?’ ‘Ohh nothing, just heard noise, that’s all.’ ‘Why did you call?’ ‘Geez Dave, don’t be so blunt.’ ‘Sorry,’ he sounded sorry too. ‘It’s ok. Anyway, I called to say I will return your dress.’ ‘You will? Why?’ ‘Just thought about it so-’ ‘Forget about what I said about the dress you can keep it.’ ‘Why, don’t you want to return it? If you don’t I do.’ ‘So you can get another one?’ ‘Isn’t that the point? That is not why I called though.’ ‘What is it then?’ ‘I-’

Nancy had been saying something when she screamed in horror. Dave’s heart pounded terribly. His stomach crunched as his mind raced, beads of sweat appearing on his forehead. ‘Nancy what’s wrong? Nancy? Hello Nancy?’ The line went dead. Nancy smiled at the prospect of getting a new dress, perhaps Dave was not a bad catch after all. She wanted to tell him to come and pick her up from the club. She knew he drove his mother’s car but he could take a cab if he could not drive it then. She wondered if he would have money to pay for the cab but knew there was no harm in asking. He no doubtedly could cross an ocean for her and she knew it. Nancy was still talking on the phone to Dave when she saw a burly man looking at her through his sunglasses. She screamed and as he grabbed her, she dropped her cell phone. She was struggling against the burly man but in vain, he was too strong. She screamed more but then he slapped her hard across the face, she fell on the ground and slipped out of consciousness with one last look at him. Dave was frantic. He did not know what to think and neither did his friends. ‘We should go check on her,’ Bill suggested. ‘It could have just been a spider,’ Anne said, ‘you know how girls can get and mm, boys too.’ ‘She is not picking up!’ Dave said after calling her for the hundredth time.

‘I think we should check on her.’ They rushed to the car and Bill drove to Nancy’s place where they found that the door was locked. ‘Look, a window is open,’ Anne suggested. They got in through the window after making sure no one was around to see them. They felt as though they were breaking in when they actually were. They turned on the lights in the house and everything seemed in order except Nancy was not there. They took this chance to explore her house and soon forgot about Nancy’s scream. Going through the fridge, they took some food and ate it and then moved to her boring living room, nothing to see there. They went on to her bedroom, laughed about her underwear and made witty comments about her place. Dave checked her wardrobe to see if the red dress was there. He only saw the box and no dress. ‘Hey guys, I can’t find the dress.’ ‘The red dress?’ ‘Maybe she wore it to wherever she went.’ ‘Or she was returning it to me.’ ‘Yeah, or maybe she keeps it in a secret place.’ ‘Like where?’ ‘Under the bed?’ ‘This bed does not have an under the bed. It’s stuck to the floor.’ ‘I am still worried about her screams.’

‘And she will probably scream at us if she finds us here,’ Anne reminded. They left the house in the same way as they had entered. They could not think of any place Nancy could possibly go so did not bother to go looking for her. They were not even sure if she was in trouble and Knowing Nancy knew she would scold and diss them for searching her out when she was not in trouble. Dave and his friends went home and slept with a clear conscience.

The bright sunlight awoke Dave from his sleep. He was hungry and wanted to eat something. He was going to the kitchen when he saw his mother and Bris making out on the couch in the living room. He stood and watched them for a few minutes before retracing his steps unnoticed to his room. He did not want to think about what he saw but for some reason he felt bad that his mother was having a romantic relationship with Bris. He did not understand why he felt so, perhaps it was because of the circumstances in which he had met Bris or that they had not known him long enough for her to jump into a relationship with him. Dave did not care what his thoughts said as he believed he should be happy for her because this was the first relationship he had ever seen his mother involved in. The others she had had before had all been well hidden. Dave thought that perhaps he should grow up and find his own place to live in order not to interfere in his mother’s life but what was the point when he could die any day next week or be condemned to slavery. He covered his head with a pillow not wanting to think about it anymore. Now he knew the kind of men his mother fell in love with. He found it difficult to put them in a category he could describe, unusual was the easiest word that came to mind. He fell asleep once more. A persistent knock on the door awoke him. ‘What do you want?’ Dave shouted.

Bris entered. ‘Are you ok?’ ‘Am fine. Are you?’ ‘Yeah, I need to ask you something.’ Dave felt the conversation about Bris and his mother coming on. He was glad Bris had taken a first step towards discussing the matter. ‘What is it?’ ‘Are all your friends alright?’ Dave sat up on his bed, this was definitely not a conversation about Bris and his mother. Dave felt disappointed. ‘They are fine.’ ‘Well are you sure?’ ‘Why? Did something happen?’ ‘No, I just wanted to know because I know how the sorcerers and collectors are. I just wanted to be sure.’ ‘Why?’ ‘Because they never really expect you to return the money you see. So they kinda try to make your life difficult by using your friends or family but since am here, I am protecting your mom and you.’ ‘Talking about mom, how exactly are you protecting her? By sleeping with her?’

Dave saw a slight flash of hostility in Bris’ eyes but it disappeared quickly. Bris smiled. ‘Your mother and I are adults. We know what we are doing.’ ‘And you can’t tell me about it? Hey, am an adult too.’ ‘It’s none of your business Dave, can’t you just be happy for your moms happiness. And what if I tell you she wants another child.’ ‘Shut up!’ Dave shouted. ‘See why I say it’s a private matter. Do not worry, I will take care of her.’ Bris took to leave the room. ‘Wait!’ Dave said, ‘I have a friend but I don’t know if anything has happened to her ok.’ ‘Where does she live?’ Drew drove them to Nancy’s place. When Dave checked he saw it was just the way he and his friends had left it last night. He began to worry. He explained her call to the adults and they listened attentively. ‘We checked on her last night and it seems she hasn’t returned.’ ‘And she won’t if we don’t do anything about it,’ Bris said. ‘What should we do?’ ‘We have to revive Daves guardian in order to summon the sorcerers that took her. There’s no other way. It’s all just a game for them, they play with people’s lives.’

‘Maybe I can sit at the park to return the $100 dollar and ask the collector about it.’ ‘No,’ Bris objected, ‘that’s insanity. You don’t know them, they don’t compromise and they will kill you if you try. I assure you, your friend is in a lot of trouble right now.’ ‘But we can’t revive his guardian. Steve does not know how,’ Drew said. ‘We can and he knows a way how,’ Dave said. Drew was surprised. Bris smiled widely and Dave could not understand why. It was not long after when they were speeding to Steve’s place. The church was open and they were a few people in it. They got out. Drew was about to go directly to the house when Bris stopped her. ‘Why? You don’t want to go?’ she asked him. ‘No, he’s in the church not at home,’ Steve told her. ‘How would you know that?’ Dave asked. ‘The church is open, isn’t it obvious? Common sense?’ They went into the church and found that he was right. Drew approached Steve cautiously. He was at the front of the church on his knees and bent down in his priestly garments praying. She did likewise. ‘Drew,’ he said her name ever so softly. Drew looked up from her kneeling position and then stood up. Steve was studying her face so closely that she was embarrassed.

‘I know what you want!’ Steve told her. ‘And am not going to do it.’ ‘You have to hear us out.’ ‘Hear you out? Not when I know you are sleeping with that guy.’ ‘Can’t you shut up. You think you know all about me.’ ‘Don’t I?’ ‘You don’t.’ Bris and Dave approached the duo. ‘Steve,’ that was Bris, ‘I think maybe we should take this discussion outside.’ ‘What for, let’s do this right before the Lord so that he can judge.’ ‘It’s better to discuss such matters out of the public eye.’ ‘What matters?’ ‘Matters like you are not really a priest!’ Steve threw Bris a punch but Bris looked unaffected by it. Dave was surprised at both what he had heard and seen. A little blood was streaming out of Bris’ mouth. ‘Was that your best?’ Bris teased. ‘Get out of here!’ Steve shouted at them. The few people in the church were quietly watching the scene unfold. ‘This is not about you and me, or Drew, it’s about your son Steve.’ ‘You know nothing about me or my son.’

‘I know enough to be a better father to him than you.’ Steve threw another punch and this time Bris did not let it go. Heads locked, they were fighting but Steve was at a disadvantage. He had a smaller body compared to Bris and sure enough, soon he was flying in mid-air halfway across the chapel. It was Drew’s turn to scream. Dave stood stupefied. All the spectators held their breath. It was a hard landing for Steve. Bris for a moment felt some kind of victory but then became awashed with false shame when he saw that everyone was looking. ‘What do you think you are doing?’ Drew shouted. ‘I am sorry!’ Bris apologized. Steve could not get up as he felt so much pain in his back. Dave ran over and bent down over his father. He did not know what to do. ‘Are you ok?’ Dave asked his father. ‘I don’t know, my back hurts.’ Bris approached them. Dave gave him a defensive eye kind of look. Bris bent down next to them. Drew was breathing heavily, hands crossed over her chest, she felt so close to crying. ‘Excuse us Dave,’ Bris said. ‘Am not going anywhere,’ Dave insisted. ‘Fine, then help me carry him to the house.’ ‘Don’t touch me,’ Steve said to Bris.

‘Well you can’t stay there forever? I am sorry ok so let me carry you to the house,’ he said. ‘Forget it Bris!’ Bris went over to the now crying Drew and embraced whilst whispering something into her ear. She was listening silently to what he was saying and nodding her head occasionally. Dave had helped his father up and they were limping out of the church as son supported father to walk. Drew and Bris followed behind them until they finally got into the house. They also went to the bedroom were Steve was placed on the bed by his son. There was an awkward silence in the house as no one wanted to talk to the other. Drew busied herself with getting rub-on cream to ease the pain in Steve’s back. Drew came to him and he painfully took off his robe so that he only remained with underpants. He lay on his stomach on the bed. Drew rubbed the soothing cream on his back and massaged Steve’s back in such a gentle way. Bris stared at her angrily, she did not want to look at him. Dave looked at no one in particular. When she had finished, she left to sit in another room. Bris followed her after throwing Steve a dirty glance, Dave saw it and frowned. Bris definitely did not care. Dave wondered if this was really the power women had over men. Steve got dressed again. ‘How do you feel?’ Dave asked. ‘Well, I can move by myself now. She did a good job.’ ‘Dad, I am desperate.’ ‘Why?’

‘They have my friend.’ ‘Who?’ ‘Bris said the sorcerers do.’ ‘Bris?’ ‘She is missing dad, and he says that we can only have her back by summoning the sorcerers who can only be summoned if my guardian is revived.’ ‘I knew that Bris had something evil on him.’ ‘What do you mean? I need my friend back.’ ‘I understand son. It’s just that I don’t trust Bris, I know him too well to trust him.’ ‘I thought you just studied this. How do you know him so well?’ ‘It’s deeper than you think. You will know in time.’ ‘What happens to my friend?’ ‘I will help you.’ A wave of relief washed over Dave, he really wished Nancy would be safe. He could not imagine what those sorcerers were capable of doing or how Nancy could ever forgive him when she found out who had caused it. He then thought that maybe he was overreacting and Nancy was safe living normally somewhere maybe visiting her parents at that moment he did not know what to think or believe. ‘Thanks dad.’

‘I do this for you only, please be brave. I shouldn’t be helping you as am not your guardian but your guardian trusted me with these pieces so-’ ‘I will be strong dad, I don’t care if I die, I just want my friend to be safe.’ ‘Let’s get over with this as soon as we can.’ Dave was as anxious as his father as they knew they were taking a risk that had never been taken before. They knew they had to do it fast to guarantee Nancy’s safety. Dave was scared but did not care if he died as long as Nancy was safe. Steve brought the shattered glass pieces on a tray and presented them to Dave. Steve closed the bedroom door; he did not want Bris to interrupt this fragile exercise. Dave trembled with fear as he got each piece of the broken glass and began to assemble them. Surprisingly, he did not need any glue as the pieces magically stuck together. Steve watched amazed as his son worked. He was hopeful. Bris banged the door open, closely followed by Drew who was holding him tightly by the arm. Dave so engrossed in what he was doing did not flinch or even notice them. Steve was angry at the interruption which he knew was inevitable as Bris had been or was a sorcerer. ‘Hungry?’ Steve asked Bris coldly. ‘Why didn’t you call me?’ Bris asked. ‘And who are you?’ ‘You should have at least called me,’ Drew said.

‘I don’t want to listen to either of you.’ A light began to shine from the glass ball that was being assembled. They all kept quiet, paying much attention to the miracle happening before their eyes. They marveled at the beautiful sight and the amazing blue lights coming from the ball. Dave was working steadily, assembling each piece and unaware of his environment. At last, Dave got to the final piece; everyone held their breath for the moment. The whole room seemed to transform before their eyes as the glass ball became a whole again. He held it in his hands and so much energy went through his body. He was a few feet in the air. Dave saw a sandy desert ahead of him. He remembered the words his dad had told him that in order to revive his guardian he had to follow her steps. A maiden with long hair sweeping in the wind ran past him that her hair brushed for a long moment against his face. He could breathe her, hear her weak heartbeat, and feel her conviction, her feet though sore making soft sounds against the sand. She was running desperately, he did not know why and followed her, running in her footsteps. He tried to catch up with her but she was too swift. Suddenly he turned and his heart gave an awful jolt. Sorcerers and gross beings were on a fast pursuit against her, against him. He ran for his life. He could see the thirst for evil in their eyes. Their will to do evil so strong, almost overpowering but Dave could not give up and ran fast after his guardian. The sorcerers were heavy on his tail enjoying a chase they felt they could win.

Ahead, Dave saw his guardian had slowed down as she was limping, he could see blood on the soil. He stopped for the briefest moment but she turned and looked at him with desperation etched all over her delicate face. He picked up speed but then his foot landed on a dry sharp root. His blood flowed and Dave felt so scared. He panicked, his guardian threw him an assuring glance from ahead. The evil hungry sorcerers from behind kept him going whenever he felt faint. The sand disintegrated behind Dave and a huge jungle appeared ahead of him. He entered it hoping the sorcerers had disappeared along with the desert. The jungle around him grew pitch black but the glass ball glowed a beautiful blue and brought a beautiful light around him. He walked on hoping he would see his guardian. The trees around him began to go haywire, trying to restrict him and make him drop the glass ball. He struggled against them. A soft touch over his shoulder made him turn. He saw her face; eyes so pure, she was glowing and smiled the sweetest smile he had ever seen. He felt bewitched by her. The trees were no longer interfering. It was a magical moment and then she extended her hands wide to receive the glass ball. He was looking in her dazzling eyes and his heart melted from her beauty. He stretched his hands to grant her the ball. Just as she was about to get it from him, a hand pulled him back so hard that he fell to the ground on his back so as to avoid shattering the glass ball. A strong energy overrode him and went and slew the one he had thought was his guardian. He screamed no, but then saw the one

he had thought to be his guardian turn into a hideous being. The fight was fierce and it was taking place right above him. Blood spelt on him and Dave turned to cover his face and the ball from any harm and from seeing any more disturbing sights. His heart was racing wildly and he was sweating profusely. He could hear the terrible fighting above him and tried to cover his ears to block it all out. Then came a silence so deep it hurt his ears, he let go of the glass ball to cut off the silence. Dave thought he was going crazy. He opened his eyes and saw the beautiful maiden he had seen before. He was scared at first but then she smiled. She had the glass ball in her hands and her pure smile assured him that she was his rightful guardian. The sorcerer had just taken her form to fool him. Breathing deeply, he dusted himself and stood up to face her, she was tall. He then looked around and saw that he was now in his father’s bedroom. His father had joy registered all over his face, his mother looked dazzled and Bris looked bored. Dave turned to his guardian and she looked at him smiling. Bris spoiled the moment. ‘Hey summon the sorcerers, they have something that belongs to us,’ Bris said. The guardian eyed Bris with an amused expression. ‘Is that why you revived me? Anyhow, the sorcerers will bring to you whatever it is that they owe you in due time.’

‘Can you help save my life from the collectors, sorcerers, whatever they are?’ Dave begged her. ‘I was meant to do that a long time ago and forgive me for having failed you before. I shan’t fail you twice.’ ‘Thank you.’ The guardian turned to Steve, his face was down as though in shame. ‘It is good to see you again Steve,’ she said. Steve only nodded and Bris made a disgusted look on his face. Dave and Drew were surprised that the guardian knew Steve at all. ‘Past the formalities ok, call up the sorcerers now.’ ‘Is it because you want to meet with your old love Bris? You have done a good deed for a bad cause,’ she told him. Bris was at a loss of words. Everyone looked at him but could not understand what had just been said. Neither looked ready to explain either. ‘They have my friend Nancy,’ Dave told his guardian. ‘I know, she may live.’ ‘May?’ ‘It’s just a card they will use to get to you but do not be afraid for I will lead you.’ ‘Will you summon them?’

‘No need, they already breathed us the moment you assembled the glass ball. They will come and fight us, we have to go meet them.’ ‘Fight?’ asked a much shaken Drew. ‘Yes. Bris, your loyalties will be tested,’ she threatened Bris. Everyone understood what she meant but for Drew and his mother. Bris stared at her daring. Soon Steve drove them in his car heading to the barren land. That place was more than a barren land, it was a place of great bloodshed. A kind of bloodshed that did not happen regularly.

The sorcerers felt a revival and were greatly alerted. Gin and her entourage travelled to the dry greatly parched land to meet with the revived guardian. She was greatly angered at what had happened as she had not seen it coming. They angrily roamed across the barren land; the revived had not yet arrived. They spotted the car approaching in the distance, speedily they hovered in the air. Eager for a challenge, eager for blood to spill. They hovered around the car, trying to push it off track. Steve with the use of forethought avoided many deadly instances. Gin was getting more enraged and excited all at the same time. With force she pushed the car so that it went spinning on the ground numerous times. The guardian hugged Dave and his mother in a way of protection. She created a space around them so they could not get hurt. Bris, once a collector and Steve, once trained to be a guardian familiar with the circumstances jumped out of the window and fought off the sorcerers in the best way they could. Bris and Steve fought side by side like brothers would. The car spinned until it exploded into flames. Dave and his mother could have died had it not been for the guardian. It was a deadly ground they had come upon. The sorcerers were numerous and they were only a handful. Dave and Drew were filled with so much fear. The guardian stood above them in a way as to protect them. She had the glowing glass ball in her hand. Gin saw the revived guardian and with full force flew to her with intentions only to destroy.

Bris saw Gin and his heart melted with the love he had felt for her and still did. He had sacrificed the sorcery world because of his love for her. When he saw her he could not resist but call her name. When she heard him call her name, she stopped in mid-air and saw Bris in all his beauty. In eagerness she wasted no time going down to meet him. The guardian no longer on her mind. Bris and Gin shared a long deep kiss and everyone in the vicinity stopped their fighting to watch the love scene. Drew’s heart gave one big jolt and she fell to the ground weakened by the sight she saw. They were so in love, the way he held her face and the way she wrapped her hands around him. Drew was greatly embarrassed. Steve looked at her in pity. She hid her face as she cried. Dave could not believe his eyes; the sorcerer that tormented him was kissing the Bris that had promised was on his side. His spirits fell and then he became angry seeing his mother cry like that. Angrily Dave ran to where they were kissing endlessly and pushed Bris away from Gin. It was a great spectacle for the sorcerers and they were enjoying it. ‘I thought you loved my mother,’ Dave shouted. ‘Your mother is a bitch!’ ‘How dare you say that!’ Dave was punching Bris but it was looking vague because Bris was strong and obviously felt no pain. Tired of the fussing, Bris pushed Dave away. His parents ran to him to check if he was ok. Bris and Gin separated as the guardian came on the scene. She

went and stood over the crying Drew, Dave seemed fine. Steve stared angrily at Bris but Bris was unmoved. ‘You have someone that belongs to us,’ the guardian said to Gin. ‘And we are not giving her back!’ Gin spat. ‘Where is she?’ ‘No need to know if you aren’t having her anyway.’ ‘We want her back.’ ‘Then there’s got to be a ransom.’ ‘How much do you want?’ Dave asked shaking. Gin and the sorcerers laughed ever so loudly. Dave did not know what he had said that was so amusing. The burly man brought Nancy to the scene. Her mouth sealed, eyes blinded by a cloth and hands and feet tied. She looked beat up. ‘Nancy!’ Dave called. She was wearing the very same red dress he had bought her. He felt so bad when he saw her. The burly man tossed Nancy so that she fell on the ground, she let out a small moan of pain. Dave then saw that she was a strong girl; he could not imagine what she had gone through. He wanted to go hold her but the guardian stopped him. ‘Leave this to me,’ she said. ‘But she’s my friend.’ Dave was crying. ‘I know, just calm down, I got this covered,’ she assured him.

Dave held back the urge to go and comfort Nancy. He could not bear that she had gone through such torture because of him. ‘I will give Nancy to you,’ Gin said, ‘And Dave, around here we don’t care about cash, it’s a blood spelt for a blood spelt. ’ Dave swallowed. The guardian looked at him saddened by the truth Gin had told. He looked at her expecting she would object and seeing the sadness in her eyes knew that was the only way. ‘A ransom for Nancy Dave. Blood for blood, tear for tear, ash for ash but joy for pain. So Dave who shall it be?’ Dave was sweating and did not know what to do or say. All attention was on him. Bris then whispered something in his ear but Dave did not look too happy at what he heard. His guardian stepped forward. ‘I shall take his place,’ she said. They were all surprised. ‘A guardian sacrificing for a mere mortal? Wow, but what can I do with you really? I want a decision from Dave and he chooses who he will trade for poor Nancy and it should not be some guardian!’ The sorcerers laughed, relishing each moment of the show. Dave felt under so much pressure. ‘I shall give Bris,’ Dave said to Gin. Everyone was surprised. The sorcerers speculated among themselves. They had already dealt with Bris before; he had been one of them until he unlawfully had an affair with Gin which had caused his expulsion. She had had him spared from death. Everyone waited for her decision as she was now the master

sorcerer after succeeding her father. They thought her a little more careless than her father had been but they liked her still for her daringness. ‘Bris?’ Gin asked as though to be sure. Dave nodded. Bris looked unaffected. She smiled briefly at the thought of having her old lover back in her company. It would be nice but not so good as he might want to control her kingdom of sorcerers in her place. She was unsure but she could not deny the warmth around her heart which she had felt when she had seen him. ‘I am disappointed in you Dave,’ Gin said, ‘you are a coward. I had expected you to sacrifice yourself. How unromantic of you.’ Gin then gestured with her hand and Nancy was thrown over to Dave, he held her tight. He could breath her fear. He cried as he hugged her saying he was very sorry. Nancy was not saying anything but tears were running down her eyes. He loosened her but she kept her eyes closed and did not move. She must have been really terrified. Bris brought himself over to Gin, she smiled as she felt his face. He felt hers too. They were looking deep into each other’s eyes and then they kissed passionately once more for a long time. Gin felt the love overwhelm her and she knew Bris would be her downfall, she loved him so much she could do anything for him. He was her only weakness. ‘Bris, it’s good to have you back. I love you.’ ‘I love you too.’

He kissed her again and slowly withdrawing a knife from her robe, she got it and with both hands stabbed Bris in the back. He moaned softly from the pain and then he fell down dead. She bent down over him and cried ever so loudly that the grounds below them began to shake with terror. Dark clouds gathered over them. Thunder bolts rolled, lightening flashed and the thunder was terrifying. Everyone fled the scene and Gin was left alone on the barren land, with her hands stained in the blood of the man she loved. He dead in her arms and she crying tears of blood.

Drew heard the doorbell ring, it was still early in the morning. She went to the door and opened it. A large bouquet of flowers met her eyes. The large bouquet hid the man’s face. He wore a neat pair of sneakers, jeans and a nice shirt. She received the flowers and almost dropped them when she saw his face. It was Steve, he smiled at her. She was speechless and just let him in. He entered her living room and seemed comfortable much to Drew’s discomfiture. She sat opposite him and looked at him blankly. ‘Hi Drew.’ ‘Steve, why are you here? And why aren’t you in your priestly robes.’ ‘I am free now.’ ‘Free to do what?’ ‘Free to love you.’ ‘How and anyway, am not sure I am ready for love. You lied to me, you had abandoned me just because you were ashamed you had failed to be a guardian and went to hide your shame as though you were a priest but were not.’ ‘So you know I was not really a priest? Who told you all this? Bris?’ She nodded, ashamed of hearing the name Bris. ‘Well, it is true I had failed.’

‘So it is true what he told me?’ ‘Yes, but he did not tell you the whole truth.’ ‘What is the whole truth then? Why did you leave me to raise Dave alone?’ ‘I never wanted to but the sorcerers were after my life and if I had lived with you they could have attacked you and killed you. I had to keep you a secret but could not when Dave got involved.’ ‘Ohh, why did you not tell me?’ ‘I did not want you to live as a prisoner like me, who was hiding from my past. Only a few are called to be guardians in the mid-life and I failed my calling.’ ‘How did you fail?’ Drew was curious. ‘You really want to know?’ She nodded. ‘As a guardian I was supposed to keep myself pure in this life by undergoing a deep meditation. I was great and undertook internship where I was able to ward off evils, the likes of Bris. I was very good but one day I failed.’ ‘You just failed?’ ‘I fell in love with the most beautiful woman on earth. I fell in love with you. It was forbidden but you were a destiny worth sacrifice.’ Drew could feel her face get hot. She looked down trying to avoid eye contact. She was rubbing her hands together in anxiety.

‘I thought I had lost my destiny,’ Steve said, ‘but in losing it, I found that I found a new destiny, to help save my sons life.’ ‘Thank you,’ Drew said. He drew closer to her and kissed her lips. She missed him all of a sudden and kissed him back deeply. She was happy and he was even happier.

Dave dramatically explained the event to his friends Anne and Bill for the hundredth time. They were still so engrossed in the story, glad he was alive and not believing what had transpired at the ‘barren land’. ‘Wow, that could even be a computer game man,’ Bill said. ‘I am glad you are safe. Honestly I never thought you would make it!’ ‘But you were the one who was so confident Anne.’ ‘Moral support is always important even when there is no hope, you know.’ ‘Thanks anyway.’ A very bubbly Nancy passed them by. Hands full with shopping bags. ‘Heyy Nancy,’ Dave said. She stared at him blankly then a knowing look came on her face.

‘Ohh you still want your dress? Trust me it’s out of shape, I don’t know how it got like that. Must have been a hell of a drunken night.’ ‘No I don’t want the dress.’ ‘Good!’ She walked away before he could say any more. Skipping like a child as she went and exaggerating her hair movements. Bill and Anne were flat with laughter. Thanks to Dave’s guardian Nancy could not remember anything about the events that had happened to her. She had also been well healed hence had much energy. He watched her go, she was still the same Nancy he knew before. He wondered if he still loved her as much, oh yes he was crazy about her as much as she was not crazy about him. Perhaps he should buy her another dress but thought better of it. He joined his friend laughing, laughing at the way they were laughing. Life was good.

THE END!
WATCH OUT FOR THE SEQUEL OF 7 NOTES THE COLLECTOR; Hadassah Louis Introduces

7NOTES

the haunted