Rodney was so sad that he did not go down for lunch that day. He did not want to see anyone. Thankfully, his mother brought him some food. She asked him what was wrong but he refused to answer which made his mother think it was something to do with Rodrigo. Sara swore she would teach him a lesson despite Rodney’s pleas for her not to do anything. Rodney was already considered weak. If his mother got involved, they would make fun of him for running to mommy.
“Mum, promise that you won’t say or do anything. I really don’t want any drama.”
“I’m not going to let this people treat you like dirt, Rodney. Alberto is your father, and you have as much right as his other children to be here. Just because they lived here all their lives doesn’t mean they’re better than you. I want you to know that.”
“Mum, I’m tired of you interfering in my affairs. I’m 18 now, okay? Just let me sort out my issues for once. You should stop treating me like a child so I can grow up.”
His mother’s lips parted and she left the room without another word. Rodney did not like being rude to her but it was the only way to get himself heard.
When he left the room in the late afternoon, he found out that the family was preparing for an evening party. The garden at the back of the mansion was being decorated, chairs arranged, tents erected, and a music system was being set up.
Rodney stood at the kitchen door and watched the staff prepare the venue. A short girl wearing a long black dress walked up to him. “Haven’t seen you around.” She said.
“Who are you?” Rodney asked with little interest.
“Kara, the chef’s assistant. Wait, are you one of Alberto’s illegiti- sorry children.”
Illegitimate. That was what she wanted to say. Rodney hated that word with a passion. He may not have been born under a union but he didn’t think any child deserve to be called illegitimate. It sounded a lot like unwanted. It made him feel unwanted. Why did people feel the need to punish children for the mistakes of their parents?
“Rodney,” he said.
She smiled. “Nice to meet you. I’m happy to see a new handsome face around here.”
Heat rushed into Rodney’s face, and he was sure he blushed at the compliment. Since he arrived at that house, he had got mostly insults and was refreshed by the compliment. It felt good.
Rodney and Kara made small talk until she was called back into the tents. “See you later,” she said before flipping her hair and running off.
Rodney started walking, studying the compound. He tried not to make it too obvious but he was trying to look for a possible escape route. During the party, people would be disorganised and he wanted to use that to his advantage.
However by the end of his tour, he realised that the only place one could use was one of the gates. The smaller one at the back was bolted. He had to find a way of leaving through the gate which meant timing the busiest time, when most of the guests were arriving.
He decided to go inside and inform his mother. Even before reaching the foyer, he could hear yelling in her voice and he knew already that she was fighting. She could never be quiet while fighting.
His mother and Liliana were tearing each other apart like savages and Rodrigo’s friends were watching and cheering them on. Lyra was screaming ‘don’t kill my mommy’ but no one seemed to be paying attention.
“Mum, stop it.”
They ignored him so he went and used all his strength to pull his mother away. Rodrigo’s friends booed before walking back to the living room.
“Mum, what are you doing?”
“Putting that woman in her place,” his mother said. “I’ll not let anyone disrespect me in this house. I was forced to come here, so I might as well be treated well for the rest of my stay.”
“Let’s go upstairs. We need to talk about something.”
In the room, Rodney told his mother about the plans he had. His mother agreed to the plans and they parted ways to get ready, setting the plan in motion. Rodney went to look out through the window. He pulled the curtains to the side and looked out. The men standing in guard had nearly doubled. Clearly Alberto did not trust anyone, especially the guests that were starting to arrive.
Rodney watched as three perfectly beautiful women sauntered around. They were wearing short black dresses. As they walked, they met one of Rodrigo’s friends who hugged all of them, making them look mildly uncomfortable. The man did not seem to care. Rodney knew that in the drug business, women were seen as merely objects to be used either for sexual gratification or drug transportation.
Women were passed around like merchandise, some abused or killed if they dared to protest. That was one more reason for him to hate it. He wanted nothing of his father’s dirty money since it involved making other people miserable.
Evening soon came and Rodney dressed up in one of the suits that had been made by the designer and sent to him. When he looked at himself in the mirror, he saw a totally different person. He was still scrawny but in the expensive suit, he looked great. He didn’t look like the street rat he had always been. He had combed his hair back and applied expensive lotion to his face that gave it some glow. Having eaten well in the past few days, his face had lost its usual pallor.
The stress and frown marks were gone from his face and his eyes were sharper than usual. He didn’t see a boy, but a man. Weak, but a man nevertheless. Rodney left the mirror with newfound confidence, putting his hand in his pocket and marching out of the room like a great man. He found his mother in the foyer and they went to stand by the window, looking outside.
The gate was not yet crowded. Guests were still arriving one by one and the guards were very alert. As they watched, Rodney’s heart sank because he realised that it was nearly impossible to escape. He began to feel trapped, anxiety and dread filling his heart and mind.
But as time went on, the gate and parking lot became crowded and the world became darker. Rodney finally saw the possibility of an escape and kept brushing back his hair with his hand in anticipation. He couldn’t believe that it was actually going to happen.
“It’s either now or never,” his mother said.
To create some diversion, they went outside and first headed to the party venue. A few minutes later, they walked back to the gate which had become fairly crowded due to the people checking in. The guards had become less obvious and fewer, probably because they didn’t want to scare away guests.
Rodney and his mother who were both wearing black saw a chance and walked through the gate. Rodney held his breath as they crossed to the outside world. They strode fast, not daring to look behind. When they were far enough, they started running like a horde of zombies were after them.
Rodney didn’t care about how he felt, he ran in the speed of lighting, flying down the road. He was surprised at the agility of his mother who had removed her heels and was running like her life depended on it. Rodney was totally impressed and wished he would be that strong in his late thirties as well.
Suddenly, Rodney noticed a black car coming down the road, slowly, the men in it putting their heads out. “Shit,” he said. “Let’s branch from here.”
They took a small secondary road away from the main one. All the houses had gates so they could not run into any.
“Let’s find the narrowest road,” his mother said.
Rodney nodded as they continued.
He froze when he heard the sound of a gunshot. Looking back, he saw the car approaching from behind, now moving faster. A man on the passenger seat had his torso out, holding a gun which was pointing at the mother and son duo.
“I can’t go on anymore,” his mother said before collapsing to the ground.
Rodney stopped and went to his mother. He began to shake her body, telling her to get up. He felt her pulse and realised she was still breathing.
The car stopped and two men stepped out.
“You thought you could escape, huh?” Andrew said, walking towards Andrew. “You are the most pathetic boy I have ever seen.”
At that point even Rodney thought Andrew was right.
He was a pathetic boy who couldn’t save himself, or anyone else.