Olise turned the volume up on the radio as he turned down 1st Avenue and drove for home.
Now that Smart was gone and he was alone, he needed a distraction to Ward off his nagging conscience.
Earlier, while Smart had been with him, everything had been so funny. They had laughed and there were mirthless regrets. The humor had long since disappeared; only bitter realization remained.
He pulled into the drive way and parked the family car. He squirmed uneasily in his seat and suddenly felt a queasy reluctance to go inside. Did his parents know, he wondered. Several excuses flashed his mind, excuses which had seemed so valid earlier and now seemed empty and trite.
Whistling quietly in an attempt to put away his own anxiety and appear casual, he strode across the lawn, leaped up the steps and pushed the front door open. His father sat in his easy chair reading the scriptures, something he did early every morning or when he was troubled. Olise glanced at his watch and then at his father, who peered over the top of his reading glasses.
“You are up late”, Olise remarked with a forced smile. “Checking up on me?” His father closed his books and pulled the glasses from his nose and smiled. “How did everything go?” he asked cheerfully. “Hope say you enjoy yourself?”
Olise avoided his father’s eyes, sank onto the couch, and grabbed a magazine. “oh, it was fine,” he answered, flipping through the magazine.
He could feel his father’s gaze upon him, and he sensed warm guilt redden his cheeks. That was what happened when a boy’s father was a Bishop, he thought. Most Bishops seemed to have that uncanny ability to look right inside you and know what secret thought you harbored there. Of course, Olise’s father had been like that even before he was made bishop, but Olise felt it more nowadays, especially tonight.
“How did you like Peace?” Olise shrugged indifferently, trying to avoid an untruth. The thought of telling a lie to his father had always been a repugnant to him, and yet right now he didn’t feel capable of telling the truth. The truth shamed him. He groped for a non committal answer, one that would plunge him into a lie but which would circumvent the truth just enough. “oh, Peace is alright – For a sophomore. she’s not the greatest girl in the world, but she’s well, I don’t know how to describe her. I’m not planning to go out with her again if that’s what you mean.”
“She been call, but you no dey around” his father said simply. It was a statement, yet words hit Olise like a powerful hammer. His stomach knotted, and he felt blood creep up his neck and flood his cheeks.
“weytin she want? ” Olise asked, attempting to sound disinterested.
His father set his scriptures to one side and sat up, his fore arms on his knees and his head and shoulders leaning forward. “she called about an hour after you left. She was wondering where you were.” The room was silent. Olise suddenly wished that evening had been different. “I told her there was no need to worry, that I was sure you would be there soon. I said you might have had a car trouble or that Smart might have been late.” He chuckled. “I think she was worried you might stand her up. I told her not to worry though. I tell her say make she no worry say you no be that kind of a boy.”
“I guess we did have a little trouble”, Olise explained, fidgeting and thumbing rapidly through the magazine and then closing it without having read a single word. “Well, I better get to bed. The welfare project at the stake centre is tomorrow morning, isn’t it? “
Olise stood and stare down the hall to his bedroom.
“Olise-neku” his father called after him.
“did Peace have a good time?”
“how I wan use know? I no ask her nau.”
There was a sharp edge in his voice, one he rarely used with his father, and he didn’t mean to use it then. it just slipped out. “I was just wondering,” his father replied, no rebuke in his voice.” “Girls of nowadays love to go to the movies. They take it so seriously. It would be a shame if they waited for the weekend and didn’t have a good time. I always worry about the girls.”
“well I didn’t ask her”, Olise mumbled. “I guess I’m going to bed.”
Inside his bedroom, Olise sat on the edge of his bed without getting undressed. He grabbed his pillow and flung it angrily across his room. If his father had accused him, he wouldn’t feel so bad now, but he had merely asked, not out of suspicion but out of concern.
to be continued…Cheers