Fiction. That is what they describe it. Life is fiction if you didn’t know. Why do I say that? Our weird and achingly unlike stories, our dissimilar experiences, our unusual and at times too eccentric and unrealistic dreams. They are like fiction on their own, don’t you think? Yes, I myself do think that they are.
I Killed My Groom. Starring Jaime Winston as Natasha Schwartz and Bruce Strings as Brody Colton. That was one of my much loved movies. Released in 2017 by the Waterstone Pictures, a seemingly new and starting movie corporation.
Did I dream to be a celebrity one day, you may wonder? Not at all. All I deeply and sincerely wanted to do was to make clothes that people the world over, not considering culture and religion, would gladly and smugly buy and wear. That was all that mattered in my life. At least for now, that was what by and large mattered.
We arrived to our destination. A nice-looking and sumptuous hotel out of town that was named ‘Kazula’s Brownton.’ It was such a pleasant and very magnificent place. I loved it. There were innumerable interspaced trees and cropped grass carpeting the ground and sweet-smelling flowers and wild animals and things of that natural sort. The place looked more of an animal park than a people-welcoming hotel. I liked it anyway.
As much as I wanted to ask Eman about where it was that we had come here—I mean was this where Alvin stayed in a classy hotel?—I was careful not to, for fear of provoking him. From the look of his face and its expression itself, he seemed like he was in no any feel for chit-chat or just about any form of mumble -gabble. Who cared anyway? I didn’t.
Having parked the car at long last, he faced me and stated, “Follow me please, will you?”
“Sure,” I said, making sure to grab my magazine with me so that I did not have to become lonely and companionless again. Oh yes, even in the presence and company of an individual or an assemblage of people, it is very possible to be relatively lonely and companionless. And even when you have no one around you, you may not be so lonely and stiff-bored to death. I followed Eman in any case. He walked fast but guardedly. That forced me to step up my pace for panic of being left behind. Why were bodyguards the most brutal and aloof people here on Earth, just like the police and soldiers were?
Alvin Morgan. Even before I could come to meet him face to face, I began to picture up how he looked like. Blond or murky haired. Murky haired, I think. With large and striking muscles, like the ones that Alex had? Nay. Billionaires were the kind of people who did no any gymnastic or rigid work and they were typically chubby or lean with not that much vitality and muscle inside them. If the most wealthiest men in this world were determined by their strong point rather than their intelligence and talent and hard work, men like Alvin Morgan—commonplace but somewhat frail and even a little bit feminine (I do not mean to insult here. What I am trying to describe here is their tenderness and overgenerous gentleness instead of being hardheartedly cold-blooded and unfeeling)—would always be the poorest, doomed and ill-starred to be ruled and stamped down on by the wealthiest, the like of Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson and our home but of-late profoundly well-built boxer Francis Galagata.
I frowned to myself. How many days would I have to spend with an overweight and all the time famished and very yielding—maybe nasty—rich man? I imagined what his suite looked like. Cartons and loads of for-grown-ups-specifically cornflakes on every shelf and cabinet, bars and never-ending masses of chocolate, bottles of drinks lying all over the floor…Okay, if he was a dirt-free man rather than a filthy one, then this was how his suite would be like: cigarette-smelling, neat bottles of alcohol on shelves and counter tops and coffee tables, the most up-to-date English tea served in his study, and so on.
I was wrong. Alvin was not any of these things that I expected him to be. He was smartly and impeccably dressed in black, just like Eman was, except that he was in jeans and a shirt and a charming jacket. My God! This man was incredibly and unbelievably too handsome. If I had to decide who was very handsome between him and Alex, I would be totally confused and mystified. Why? None of the two was more handsome than the other. They were both stunning and incredibly gorgeous. The world had very nice-looking men, didn’t it?
Young, wealthy, and stress-free, Alvin lounged down on a long white couch in the solitude of his suite, staring at the door with graceful and big-like fingers that were stroking his chin and moustache in that gorgeous and appealing manner. His skin was dark pale—a sign that he was a genuine white South African by ethnicity. Wait. Of course yes, he didn’t look Afrikaner-like. He looked English or British but not American like. How was I in no doubt that he had been born down there south of Africa and not up here in Zambia? I don’t know. I just guessed things.
With large icy blue eyes and twisted and curled ash blond hair—not very long nevertheless—Alvin was such an ideal and magnetic male visage that any common eye would ogle and marvel at. What made him exceedingly handsome? Well, maybe the piece of information that he was a billionaire. Damn me. Isn’t that what you call gold-digging?
“Sophia Solochi?” Alvin held as he stood up to walk over to me and Eman. Just his approach was as much as was necessary to make me relatively uneasy and out of breath like I had seen something ghostlike and heavenly-bodied.
“Yes, I am Sophia, Mr. Morgan,” I replied apprehensively and timidly. Where was this coming from? Hadn’t I been audacious and unafraid a while ago? And now I was this scared and trembling. Well, Alvin was not just any commonplace human being. Yes, he was human and not undying. But his farthest societal height and position made him very dissimilar than a nobody me. I was a nobody. While he was a somebody. For sure.
My God. He started to ogle me as well. “Don’t call me by that name—Mr. Morgan. You are free to address me by my first name. I am simply Alvin.”
“Alright, Alvin.” Uhmnn…I was still not that comfortable and at ease addressing him by his first name. Mr. Morgan was much better, wasn’t it? I thought so.
“Sophia, you are welcome. This is my suite. I have been here for two nights or so. And I plan to leave tonight. We will both be going to my house located deep in the forest.”
The both of us? I mean just the two of us? And was it even a very good thing to do? Eman had to come with us. I wanted it that way. Anyway, I was not the one making rules here, or was I? No, I was not. Definitely not.
Phew. I sighed to myself, doing my best to not move my gaze away from Alvin. The way he looked at me made me feel a bit panicky and embarrassed. It was like I would do something brainless and make myself seem irrational and dumb in his eyes. I presume I was not so, right?
“I hope that Eman introduced himself to you, did he?”
“Yes, he did. It was the first thing he did upon arriving home.”
“Good. That was civil and kind of him. He is Eman Katongo. My personal bodyguard.”
“I know his name. But I didn’t know that he was your personal bodyguard.”
“Well now you know, don’t you? I have many special guards. Most of them working for me on a shift basis. Eman here is my top bodyguard. He is the head and chief of all my guards.”
“Okay. So how many guards do you have?”
Damn me! How could I be so careless and unintelligent? Didn’t I think that I was becoming too inquisitive and prying into Alvin’s not-public matters? Who cared if he had just one bodyguard or a legion of them? Damn you, Sophia. Mind your tongue, will you?
“I have many guards, Sophia. I can’t tell you the exact number.”
“Sorry. It was just careless and unthinking of me to ask that. That is quite personal and private.”
The worst image I could ever show to Alvin was that I was this snoopy and nosy, which I was not. Nosy people make better spies in case you didn’t know. This world is so full of them that our governments wouldn’t run short of its Intelligence personnel. No, it wouldn’t. The bad side? Meddlesome people can be disloyal even to themselves. Trusting them is selling yourself out.
“Would you like tea or what type of drink, Sophia?”
“Ivy,” Alvin called out, snapping his fingers momentarily. She came to view straight away from the room next to ours. My, my. What was she? A maid or what?
Upon taking her stand before him, compliant and silent, she bowed her head in that cooperative and reverential manner. “Yes, sir.”
“Give the lady what she has requested for,” Alvin instructed.
She moved away quickly. Without asking me what I had called upon for? Wait a minute. Had she heard everything that I had said? I mean my voice was so low and barely perceptible for her to pick up what I had mentioned from that other side. Maybe she had heard. Possibly not.
“Let us sit, shall we?” Alvin offered.
I agreed and we sat down on the stretched white couch where he had been of late sitting alone. Who-o-wie! What a day this was! Sitted here before one of the continent’s most moneyed men? I was dreaming. Seriously. A reverie I did not want ever to get pleasure from.
Once we were sitted, Alvin looked at me, benevolently and fervently. “So Sophia, what do you do in life? Are you still in high school, college, or maybe you are working some standard job? Tell me about yourself and your interests.”
“I finished high school two years ago and I am now about to enter college. University that is.”
“How old were you when you completed high school?”
“Sixteen. Now I am eighteen years old. Two years older than then.”
“Okay. Which university is this that you want to go to?”
“Oh. I know it. I have got a friend there. I hardly ever do visit him but we are always in touch by one means or another. So have you applied there already or what?”
“I already have. I am just waiting to hear back from them. I also applied at other colleges but it is Brownton that I more often than not want to attend.”
“Why it of all the colleges here? I hear that they are more than sixteen of them operating and running.”
“I want to do Fashion and Designing and Brownton is the only institute offering that course.”
“I get it. That course is also relatively new in our country. By the way, my company is looking for a model to do an advertisement for our newest brand, Stanley Morgan Merveilleux. It is our newest and very sweetest brand of wine. Not alcohol actually. Wouldn’t you want to be that model we will feature on our latest brand.”
“I am not a model, Mr. Morgan. Sorry, I mean Alvin. I am a clothes designer and nothing more than that.”
“That doesn’t matter. You can still be part of the deal and design your very own clothes for the advertisement. Of course, you will have to dress in them for the advert itself. We will first launch the wine in France and South Africa and the United States, and if it does well there, it will be available all the world over. The reason it has a French name. Merveilleux. Or wonderful in English.”
What? The tycoon was asking me to strike a pose in an advertisement for his latest variety of wine. And did I have to turn that down? Definitely not. I would move heaven and earth and even kill to get that kind of transaction. By kill, I don’t mean to say that I would even be capable of murder or contract killing. Satanic ones much more just to achieve fame and riches. I would do just about anything within the limits of my sanity to reach that soaring height that Alvin was lifting me to. God bless him for that. He was offering me a chance and opportunity to showcase to the world the skill and invention with which I could make our clothes comparatively comfortable things to always be in.
“Well, Alvin, to be plain honest with you, I am so flattered and grateful in relation to this wonderful opportunity that you are offering me. Yes, I agree to be part and parcel of that advert that you want me to involve myself in.”
“Fine. I will have you sign up for the contract tomorrow morning. The pay will be relatively good as well. It is good money in other words. So you don’t have to worry about anything at all.”
I didn’t care about the money. All that really mattered was me standing there before the posh and high-technological camera in my very own designed clothes and posing this manner and that other—just like I would be told to do—and then captcha! I would be all over the billboards and magazines and newspapers and television and maybe even in radio adverts. Who-o-wie! That would be so great and amazing. Showcasing what I could devise with my own hands and sewing machine to the world at large. Kuddos!
Ivy returned two minutes later with a glass of juice laid on a stainless steel tray. When she asked if Alvin would like to have anything, he turned down her proposal and dismissed her. Off she went, with Eman following her, to leave me and this greatly fine-looking man on our own. I felt like I had come to seventh heaven. Alvin was just fun and amusement to hang about with.
It was now night. All dark and lightless. I slept on the couch before the very broad and gigantic wall—all untainted glass—from where I could unmistakably and straightforwardly see outside with just one easy and unproblematic stare. Whew! Alvin stood before me in the face of the see-through glass wall and he was talking with someone on the phone in Afrikaans. Hmnnn. Was he connected to South Africa or what? It seemed he was talking to a woman with a deep but exceptionally mild voice, almost like a man’s. Chantal was her name. I heard him say it out several times. Chantal van Merowe. Was she Afrikaner? Most likely.
When he was over and finished with her, he flapped close his cell and rounded over to me, smiling happily. “That was Chantal van Merowe. My special aide. She will organize a team of guards to come here and take us to my in-depths forest-located home in a little bit while. Get yourself ready please.”
“I in all probability will.”
I stood up from the couch and went to review my luggage. It was safe and secure, with Eman keeping a close and wary eye on it. By the time I returned back to the living room, I found it swarmed and guarded with Alvin’s just-arrived security men. They were all dressed in black with IDs preset on their immaculate jackets on the site of their chests. They were seven men altogether. All wary and constantly staring about.
Alvin talked with one of them temporarily and then swerved sharply to announce to me, “We are taking our leave right now. There is no need to be worried and afraid of anything.”
“Would you do me an act of kindness, Alvin. I’d like to talk to Kris right now. Please.”
He looked a bit cheerless and bothered. I trusted that nothing bad had happened to her. No, not to my dear and adorable mother. No.
“Did anything dire happen to her?”
“No. She is okay. I talked with her a moment ago. She has already left your home.”
I breathed out. I hoped that that was the actual truth and not a mere lie to make me feel better about her. I trusted so.
“Can I call her? Kris I mean?”
“You cannot now,” Alvin counseled, “You will call her when we arrive were we are going. You agree to that?”
“No problem,” I said submissively.
He smiled ironically and benevolently. “Thank you for being compliant, Sophia. We may now leave if you don’t mind.”
Alvin drove me in his car. Two cars were behind us and two were ahead of us. All black and posh-looking. Hmnnn. This man was living like a president, right? It was what it seemed. His was a very-far-above -the-ground and extremely good quality life. I wondered what it must be like to be born in his shoes and grow with an ocean of material goods just for you to bask and stir in liberally and joyfully till the day that you will breathe your last. Life was great for Alvin, wasn’t it? It most probably was.
“How long will this drive be?” I asked him tenderly, hoping that he would not find my approach provoking and disturbing. Wouldn’t he? I trusted so.
“Just an hour. We will then go to a helicopter airstrip. Or a heliport in other words. We need a helicopter to make it to our destination.”
“I didn’t know,” I expressed serenely. “How far is it really? Is it not possible for us to make it there by an ordinary car?”
“It is. But that will take an additional two more hours if we are that fast even. The road is this curved and turned repeatedly. A helicopter is amazingly quick and instantaneous. What? Do you want us to go there by car?”
“Not really. A helicopter will be all right. By the way, I haven’t boarded one in the complete course of my life so far. It will be my utmost thrill and delight to be aboard one today.”
Alvin looked at me, surprised and confound, but then not that actually astounded and dumbfound. What could he expect from an underprivileged someone like me? To continually and every day be aboard lavish and marvelous-built helicopters? Well, that was not the case. The only helicopter I had was that pricey car that Kris had bought me. Nothing else.
“Are you married?” I asked Alvin to break our bizarre silence. Damn me for it! It was such an inappropriate question to ask, wasn’t it? Oh yes, it sure was. At that premature age of his, though being youthful and very wealthy, nothing could hold him back from taking as many wives as he felt like. Despite the fact that the bible forbade that type of practice. Solomon had was it about a thousand wives and a supplementary seven hundred concubines or girlfriends in other words? Alvin most likely had five hundred wives and a couple hundred more girlfriends. How the hell in the world was a man supposed to uphold and balance faultlessly fine that weighty kind of relationships? Hmnnn. Men and their not so steadiness.
“I am not married, Sophia,” Alvin replied self-assuredly and evenly. Hmnnn. He sounded so pleased and conceited about it. What was he waiting for to walk down that damn aisle? I mean he had all the funds and time and everything in the world to offer and make available to his gorgeous wife. Maybe he was still searching for his right fit. Perhaps. Either case, he must have had a girlfriend then.
The odd silence began again. I hated it. What? Had something tied his tongue? Alvin’s of course? I made a face and stared besides me out the window. The trees were racing and whizzing at lethal pace away from us.
Alvin put on some piece of music. Yes. That was much better than both of us being quiet and mute inside here. Much, much better and preferable. I did not recognize the artiste who was singing. Whoever he was, his voice was magnificently sweet and his songs and lyrics made perfect and total sense. From time to time, he would sing as deafeningly and quietly as he could and then conclude his song only to start all over again and carol into our ears with a dissimilar song. This had to be an album of him indeed. Probably.
“Who is he?” I asked Alvin, peeking at him hurriedly and momentarily than I intended to.
“Eugene Ludwig. He is an older and well-known artiste. Haven’t you heard about him?”
“No, I haven’t.”
Alex. It had been a little while since I thought and even mused about him. Oh yes, I was missing him intensely. He hadn’t called or texted or e-mailed or been in any form of contact with me for hours repetitive. Wait a minute. Couldn’t he already have replaced me with someone else? I mean, men, you cannot really and honestly have faith in them. Men are something else.
We at last made it to the heliport. Mukonto Heliport that is. It was extensive-spaced, airy, and surrounded with a sky-scraping and electrified-looking fence. Oh yes, one could without problems see the helicopters where they were stationed and sited. This was my first time ever seeing a heliport! And I was going to ride a real copter itself. Who-o-ow! Unbelievable, wasn’t it? Kris had bragged to me about how pleasurable and enjoyable it was to be ensconced down in a helicopter and now I was going to have something brilliant and cool to brag to her as well. Oh yes, I would!
“Finally we have arrived,” Alvin expressed out, shutting off the ear-splitting music about us.
I smiled readily. Remember, this had been a dream I did not ever want to paint the town red in. Anyway, how was I supposed to run away from it? My worst dread was that I would wake up to realize that I had landed myself in a chaos and disarray far terrible and devastating and grievous than when Germany and its buddies appallingly lost the Second World War back there in 1944. It didn’t matter for now.
I could not believe it as Alvin and I walked to the helicopter. All glass and gorgeous-looking and en-ravishing. I wanted to touch and run my hand easily and coolly over it. I didn’t. Maybe if there was no one to watch and observe me I would do that without any second thought. Mayhap. Who-o-wie! When was this dream going to finish? When precisely?
Once we were sitted, with four of his men boarding with us and the remainder staying off farther down there at the heliport just for this while to watch us take off into the air, I grinned gleefully but temporarily for fear of Alvin or his men noticing how exaggeratedly I was walking in the air in very far-above-the-ground spirits. It would look like mine and Kris’ was a very deprived and in need household that could not refuse without any rational thinking to bask into any goodly privilege that may arise up before us. You know what? Once these verily wealthy people discover that you have an unquenchable want and longing for their riches, they will make use of it to enchain and misuse you. Money is the up-to-date instrument of slavery. It is a novel form of slavery even.
The forest beneath was shadowy and ray-less. So dim that all that I could see and distinguish was the mere form and features of lofty and giant tress. Not all trees were elevated and gargantuan in dimension though. Some were lean and slight-bodied. I stared at them as they moved before my eyes, progressively and brilliantly. Wow. What a pleasant and likable visage this was from high above here.
While the copter stirred and journeyed in the boundless sky, its blades rotating and gyrating with a considerably deafening sound that was reduced all thanks to the pair of headset that we were wearing on, Alvin placed a wary hand on my shoulder and stroked it frivolously and charily. Oh my! There was a breathtaking and out-of-this-world feel to his touch and stroke. I guessed not that he was starting to fall in love with me, or was he?
His forest house was greatly stunning and oversize. It was a bungalow in other words. Not two-storied or three-storied or any of the like. My! It was all glass and concrete and wooden merged. The blend of these three was done adequately and aptly. It was like paradise. Electrified and so hushed and inaccessible from the rest of the world.
I sucked in a mouthful of air and then went on to clamber my way out of the copter that had parked on a plain of infinite green grass, all endless and in good physical shape. Wow. What a day this was to me! While I was struggling my way out of my seat and the open helicopter itself, Alvin reached over to me and held me steadfastly and warmly, smiling even, and he pulled me down to lodge my feet properly and suitably. I smiled back at him, indebted and delighted.
“Thanks, Alvin, for your kind help,” I stated to him.
His eyes unstirred from mine. “It is my joy to be of relief to you, Sophia.”
He showed me the room he had prepared for me. Together with Chantal van Merowe. Hmnnn. So she was here and not in…South Africa. It was a shocker on my part. Chantal was honey-blond and green-eyed and fair-skinned and normal-heighted with glasses that were worn to without blemish go well with her black suit. She was kind and welcoming towards me nonetheless. I liked her behavior and conduct. We could be best friends even though I was just eighteen while she must in all probability have been in her mid-thirties or so.
“Like I made known to you, Chantal is my special aide,” Alvin let out to me. “If you feel that you need anything from her, you are at no cost to call her to your aid and service. For the meantime, she will be working both. My special aide and the housekeeper on the other hand.”
I simply smiled indulgently, making sure that I reserved eye contact with Chantal herself. She smiled back contentedly and humanely. I was starting to like her. A lot more indeed. Crap, not in that queer way. That is now what I imply here.
“So for the start, Miss Solochi,” Chantal began, “I have arranged everything here like you would need it. If you have a fondness for coffee or chocolate, you can say it now so that I make sure it is delivered to you in good time before you drop off to bed. What do you say?”
“I would like chocolate please.”
“Okay. I will have it hot and ready in no more than ten minutes. I will be right back. Excuse me please.” At that, Chantal went away, bowing down her head courteously to both me and Alvin. Her high heels clanked on the floor piercingly as she went away.
Alvin revolved over to me then, beaming and grinning merrily. His charming sight dazzled and overpowered me. “I guess that you won’t need me for anything now, right?”
“I am thankful for everything you are doing for me now. To be sincere with you, I don’t know how to exactly settle you up. I just don’t know how to do that.”
“There is no need for you to pay me off me with anything, Sophia. Nothing at all.”
“You are such a kind-hearted man, Alvin.”
“And you are such an endearing young lady, Sophia. You are in many ways alike to my sister, Adelaide. I have for all eternity loved her so very much. Something tells me that that grand love and care I hold for her in my heart is in a little while to be yours as well.”
I didn’t frankly know what to say to that. I stayed totally quiet as Alvin walked over to me and placed a tender hand on my cheek, stroking and caressing it nonchalantly and without restraint. My eyes shut at that instant, tears slipping out freely. Damn me! I was crying. Of course, I was supposed to. Why did I even permit him to touch me when I knew that it was Alex alone whom my heart and secretive world was predestined to go halves with. Why did I suffer this man to do all this to me without staying him off away? Why?
When I opened my eyes, he was gone, departed, nowhere to be seen. I hadn’t seen him disappear or stroll away from me. Damn me for my silliness and unbounded gentleness! Damn me for everything! I fell down on my just-now comfy bed and mopped away the tears that I had on my face. Chantal didn’t have to come across me crying. No, it would make it seem like Alvin had done something terrible to hurt and wound me when I alone was to blame for everything that had freshly happened.
I swallowed the hurting truth into my stomach. There was no Alex, no Kris, no anyone I loved to the very core. All about me were alien but sociable people. When was I going back home? I missed my old life. This latest one, it was bothering and unsettling me.
To my surprise and glee, Chantal returned just in time carrying a mug of hot chocolate in her hand. She handed it over to me, smiling genially, “Here you are, Sophia.”