Chronicles of the Stranger
Her parents look at the stranger who has now walked past the journalists and is climbing up to the podium where the Elder is still speaking.
There is… there is something about him… yes, something…
The stranger is approaching Elder Senanu.
All eyes are now fixed on him.
Even the Apostle and his wife are staring at him with questioning eyes.
Elder Senanu’s voice trails off as the stranger now stops very near to him.
Your name is Senanu Setorworfia.
His voice carries through the microphone and so everyone hears him.
The journalists are busy recording and taking pictures.
Yes, I am. But please, I’m in the middle of leading the prayers. If you will wait for a while, I’ll speak to you after the prayers, that is if it is me you want to speak to.
The stranger smiles wanly and places a hand on the Elder’s shoulder.
So, your Apostle says Pastor Larbi derived all the miraculous powers he exhibited right here in this church from demons, from Satan, to be precise. Do you also believe that?
There is stunned silence in the church.
The Elder licks his lips apprehensively, and he turns and looks at his Apostle for help.
Apostle Aboah stands up with sudden anger on his face. He walks forward fast even though his wife tries to hold his hand and whisper to him.
He now comes and stands by Elder Senanu’s side.
Listen, sir, we’re in the middle of a sermon, and the prayer session is one of the most important aspects. Kindly allow the Elder to continue. We’ll respond to any query that may be confusing you after the service.
The stranger looks at the man of God briefly.
Oh, actually I’m not confused in the least. On the contrary, I’m quite well elucidated about people that call themselves Christians and their selfish stands. Now, take Elder Senanu here, a man who has been married for almost twenty years without a child. However, it was right here in this church auditorium, roughly three years ago, when Pastor Zac called all childless couples to come forward.
Six childless couples responded. He prayed for them and told them to go home and make love because God has opened the wombs of the women and cleansed the seeds of the men. Six childless couples! Now, they all went home, and the wives, SIX WIVES, all got pregnant that day, and gave birth on the same day! Six wives gave birth to twins, each of them, a boy and girl, ON THE SAME DAY! Six different families, all getting children on the same day! Now, is that true or not?
The silence is electric.
It has shocked everybody present!
Ama Boatemaa clasps her hands in front of her as sheer joy rips through her.
Yes, tell them for me, sir! Remind them saa!
The Apostle’s face is filled with wrath. He takes a step forward again and reaches out to touch the stranger and push him back.
Now, look here, stranger, if-
I tell you this, Apostle Kweku Aboah, and I’ll tell you only once. If you dare lay a hand on me or touch me even slightly, you will be covered with leprosy from head to toe, and you will not be cured until the day you die. You will lose your mind, and you will grovel in the dust like a demented human, and you shall be in so much pain every day that you will pray for death for your pathetic, wretched soul!
He speaks softly, without violence, but the whole room suddenly freezes up, as if a blast of cold wind has passed through, and the windows of the church rattle with a hidden power as the words leave the stranger’s mouth.
It sizzles in the air dangerously, and Apostle Aboah, a survivor, suddenly takes a step backward, knowing deep within him that it is not a mere threat.
Suddenly he is scared, as he has never been scared in his life! Suddenly he knows he is not dealing with any ordinary man.
Sudden tears are now in the eyes of Elder Senanu as he hears the power in the stranger’s voice, a power that only an amazing God can put there.
Everything you said is true, sir.
You and your wife were part of those six childless couples Pastor Larbi prayed for that day, weren’t you?
Yes, sir, we were.
And your wife got pregnant, after twenty years of marriage, and gave birth to twins, a boy and girl! And you went to Pastor Zac Larbi and gave him fifty thousand cedis, but he refused it, and asked you to rather come and give the thanks to God. Is that not so, Elder Sena?
Elder Senanu is now trembling with remorse.
His wife, AFI SETORWORFIA, now gets up and rushes towards the stranger.
She falls down on her knees in front of him and grabs his right leg as terror breaks her face into lines of anguish.
Please, please, please… I beg of you, sir, not my children! Please don’t harm my children!
Don’t be silly, woman! How can I harm your children, when the Lord our Master Himself suffered children to come to him? Get off the floor this instant and let go my leg before I strike you with something hideous!
Again his voice holds no room for disobedience, and the woman scrambles quickly to her feet, wiping tears from her eyes as she stands beside her husband.
I’m sorry, sir! Very sorry!
You should be, and you should all be ashamed of yourself! Since Pastor Zac Larbi is considered a demon-worshipper, are you going to stand there and tell me the two children he prayed for, and helped you get, are from demons? Is that what you’re saying now, you wretched couple? Are you saying your twins are a gift from Satan?
No, sir! NO, SIR, PLEASE, PLEASE, NO, SIR!
Please. Please forgive us, sir!
And you better stop your blasphemous utterances, because only God, the Almighty, has the power to forgive sins! But listen, this is what you’re going to do. You built a new church building you were going to give to Pastor Larbi as another branch of this church, but because of what happened you have decided with your wife to sell the building.
My God! How did you know that, sir?
I know. You will not sell that building. The Lord of Hosts, the God we serve, wants that building to go to Pastor Larbi to establish a new church. God is going to use it to bring His flock home, do you understand me?
The Elder nods forlornly, so shocked that he can barely utter a word.
Yes, sir! Oh, yes sir!
The stranger turns then and faces the congregation.
He speaks softly.
There was a time King Herod captured James, the brother of John, and had him killed with a sword, and the whole country rejoiced! This pleased the wicked King, and he captured Peter, intending to kill him too. He kept Peter behind four groups of soldiers, and Peter was bound with chains and was sleeping in the middle of two soldiers!
But the Christians gathered and PRAYED for Peter, and the Lord of Hosts sent his angel to Peter! The chains fell off Peter, and the angel led him out, and when they came to the iron gates the gates opened by themselves, and Peter walked free. It all happened because the church prayed! THEY PRAYED FOR PETER! But what do we see here?
Even if Pastor Zac Larbi is a demon-worshipper, this is the time he needs your prayers, not your condemnation! Christians should learn to pray for each other when someone is in trouble! You should stop the gossips, the rumor-mongering, judging others, the condemnation, the hypocrisy, the holier-than-thou attitudes because you’re all nothing without the grace of our Lord God! Pray! PRAY FOR EACH OTHER!
The stranger looks around the church, and no one dares to speak.
Finally, he links his hands behind him again, turns, descends the steps and heads for the entrance of the church.
Elder Senanu, trembling, holds his wife’s hand and they turn and head towards the entrance.
Apostle Aboah is suddenly scared.
Elder Senanu is the biggest financier of church programmes and he gives a lot of money in the church.
Elder? Elder Senanu, where are you going to? It is time to pray for Pastor Zac Larbi, please! That man is right, let’s pray! Come, Elder, please, let’s pray for Zac Larbi! ELDER SENANU, STOP THIS INSTANT, DAMN IT!!
But the Elder does not stop!
Ama Boatemaa and her parents get up too and follow the elder out of the church.
And then, in singles and in twos other people stand up and leave the church, turning deaf ears to the pastor’s screams!
Later, a male journalist flips through the pictures he has taken on his camcorder, and his face suddenly looks alarmed as he flicks the screen continuously.
Oh, no, no, no, no!!
A female friend from another station looks at him with raised eyebrows.
What’s it, my friend?
It is gone! All my pictures and videos of that strange man! They’re all gone!
What? You don’t mean it!
She also sets up her camera and checks.
Her photos and video recordings of the stranger’s dramatic show in the church are all gone!
And soon the news spread.
All the journalists frantically search for their coverage, which they want to be their main headlines.
It is the same.
None of them has the recordings or photos of the stranger.
Somehow, miraculously, every photo and video coverage of that strange man has vanished!
Who was that man? Who the hell was that stranger?
Location: THE AMPONSAH RESIDENCE
Mrs. AKUA AMPONSAH pushes open her daughter’s door.
Yaa Pomaa is lying on the bed in her beautiful night gown.
She is lying on her stomach, a laptop in front of her as she chats with her friends.
She looks up when the door opens and smiles at her mother.
There’s a call for you, dear, on the main line.
Yaa Pomaa turns over.
She is a very beautiful girl indeed, as sweet as the morning dew, and as lovely as the Garden of Eden.
Who is it, Mom? Is it Ato?
(shaking her head)
Just pick the call, dear.
Yaa Pomaa puckers her lips with mock annoyance and reaches for the receiver.
Just then her father appears behind her mother, his face filled with reproach as he looks at his wife.
Yaa Pomaa lifts the receiver.
The voice at the other end of the phone is gentle, hurt and shattered.
Yaa. Is this how you treat me? You’ve never bothered to visit me in more than a year since my arrest, and you refuse to pick my calls. Why, Yaa? What have I done to you to deserve this?
Yaa Pomaa gasps, and looks at her mother with sudden accusing eyes filled with anger.
Zac! Why are you doing this to me? I’ve removed our engagement ring and given it back to Apostle Aboah, together with all the other items you presented! My parents have sent them back to Apostle Aboah, Zac! Please, stop pestering me! It is over between us!
Oh, Yaa! So you also believe me capable of these terrible crimes? So you never even loved me just a little bit?
Stop it, Zac, please! You don’t expect me to stay engaged to a man who raped five women, killed them, cut off their heads and ate their hearts, do you? Can you just imagine the trauma my family and I went through, Zac? Please, I beg of you, stop calling me! I’ve now accepted Ato’s proposal, and we’re going to get married. Please, stay away from me. The little time you have left, you should use it to pray to God to forgive you!
Ato? Ato Quaicoe? You’re going to marry the boy who made you pregnant once and refused to accept responsibility, forcing you to abort the baby and almost dying in the process? Is that the boy you’re going to marry now?
Stop judging me, Zac! He has changed! His parents came to see mine! His father is also one of the richest men in the church and Apostle Aboah has already blessed the union! It is over, Zac. I’m sorry, but it’s over between you and me!
Yaa! How can you treat me this way? Please, my love, don’t do this to me! Don’t break my heart in this most painful moment, in this darkest hour of my life!
Yaw Pomaa’s father, KWADWO BOSOMFI AMPONSAH, walks forward, takes the receiver from her hand, and slams it down on the phone.
Yaa Pomaa is weeping now.
Her father sits on the bed and takes her in his arms
It is okay, my love, it is okay. Everything is going to be fine!
His wife watches them for a while and shakes her head.
Kwadwo, are you sure we’re doing the right thing?
Her husband looks angrily at her.
What’s wrong with you, Akua? Why did you let her speak to that evil boy? I’m warning you for the very last time, Akua, don’t ever let that evil man near our daughter again!
None of you were in church yesterday evening, Kwadwo! I keep telling you there was a stranger there, a very terrible man who shut down the Apostle and almost cursed him! That man spoke like an angel, Yaa, and he says Zac might be innocent!
Innocent my ass! Innocent? That boy is a devil, and by this time tomorrow he will be dead! Yaa is going to marry Ato, and that is the end of the matter!
Open your eyes, Kwadwo! Is it because Ato’s parents are rich? He’s bad for your daughter, Kwadwo! He’s a womanizer, a smoker, a liar, irresponsible, and a woman-beater and heaven know what else!
You know it is true, dear! I’m just trying to help!
Well, you’re not helping! I’m your daughter, so please support what I want! Zac is a murderer, and will be dead by tomorrow! Just support me, Mom, that is all I’m asking!
(shaking her head slowly)
If you had been in church last evening and heard that stranger, you wouldn’t be saying this! I only pray for you, and hope for the best for you. It is my hope that your dreams come true, Yaa, and I hope you don’t live to regret this day, both of you.
She turns and leaves the room.
Yaa Pomaa weeps, and her enraged father consoles her.
Location: GRAND CASTLE PRISON
The door of the small VISITORS’ ROOM 1 opens.
The room has a small table and just two metallic chairs bolted to the floor. There is a chair on each side of the metallic table.
Zac Larbi is led inside by two armed prison officials.
As usual his hands are handcuffed, and his feet chained.
He is wearing the white uniform of prisoners with black stars in them.
He looks up and sees AMA BOATEMAA sitting on one of the chairs looking at him silently with tears falling down her eyes.
Across the room is a tall bearded gentleman leaning against the wall with his arms folded across his chest.
The moment Zac sees AMA BOATEMAA tears come to his eyes, and his legs buckle for a moment.
Ama! Oh, no, no, no! I can’t take this! Please, please, take me back! I can’t face her, please!
AMA BOATEMAA, traumatized, gets out of the chair and rushes at Pastor Zac Larbi, but one of the armed guards moves forward and prevents her from embracing the prisoner, his face grim.
You can’t touch the prisoner, miss. Sit down. You have just ten minutes.
AMA BOATEMAA turns a tortured face towards the bearded stranger leaning against the wall.
The man says nothing, just watches them.
Saddened, AMA BOATEMAA walks back to the chair and sits down.
Zac is staring fixedly at the stranger with a slight frown, and with very bright eyes.
One of the guards pushes Zac into the chair, and then he walks towards the metal door and raps on it.
There is the sound of the door being locked from the outside.
The guards stand on each side of the door with their guns held at the ready across their chests.
The stranger then moves from the wall and stretches his hand, and suddenly the heads of both guards drop to their chests, although they are still standing and holding their guns.
And then both of them begin to snore gently.
They are asleep.
AMA BOATEMAA and Zac look at each other, stunned.
The stranger waves his hand again, and the chains and handcuffs around Zac’s hands and ankles fall away silently.
Zac is free.
They both look at the stranger with absolute awe.
He nods once.
You can hug him now, Ama, if you still want to, that is.
The girl makes a strangled sob in her throat, and stands up.
Zac also stands, and the two of them move around the table, and are soon clasped in the fiercest of embraces, whispering endearments as they weep heartbreakingly.
Oh, Zacky, Zacky, Zacky!! You will kill me, Zacky!!
I wronged you, Ama! I hurt you! You shouldn’t be here! Oh, I’m so ashamed! Curse on the day I turned away from your love, Ama! Curse be the day I allowed them to confuse me, to deceive me with those fake visions of Yaa Pomaa and me! Forgive me, Ama, my love!
Their hug is fierce, their love great, their emotions strong.
Ama Boatemaa winds her arms around Zac’s neck, and she draws his head down.
Nothing to forgive, my love! In the end, our love reigned. I hear Yaa is going to marry that crazy Ato!
Yes, she told me. I spoke to her on the phone this morning. I still erroneously believed she and I were meant to be together, but seeing you here, after all the pain I gave you, proves to me that you, and not Yaa, is my true partner in the vineyard of our Lord. Ama, my only true love! Forgive me, Ama Boatemaa! I love only you.
Their lips come dangerously close together.
You two better behave yourselves. The spirit of the Living God is in our presence, and you better show some respect before I struck you down!
Both of them look at him, and even though they are still crying, funny smiles split their faces.
Oh, sir, please! He could be gone tomorrow. At least, let me kiss him once!
Yes, please, just once, before I die, let me feel the kiss of true love.
The law of the Lord knows no compromises, fools! Sin is sin, and you better kill that fornicating spirit rearing up between you before I strike you down with incurable leprosy! Enough! Sit down now.
The two of them part reluctantly and sit down on the metallic chairs.
They hold hands.
Zac cannot take his eyes off the stranger.
He is awed.
I had a dream last night. I was fasting and I was praying and my soul was down, and I fell asleep, and I saw you, and I knew my God has sent someone to come and comfort me.
Good. You speak true vision. But frankly, I don’t know in which direction the Lord is leading me. I’ll ask a question, and if you lie the spirit of the Living God we serve will strike you dead right this instant!
I’ve never been one to lie to the spirit of God, sir. All my life, I’ve asked God to do as He sees fit. That is why I’m of good cheer today, because the strife I’m going through is not even remotely close to what Job went through. And I know my God will not suffer me to go through a strife I can’t cope with. Please, sir, ask your question.
Did you kill those women?
As God is my witness, I’ve never laid eyes on the women before.
The stranger sighs, looking puzzled and sad for a moment.
Then what happened? It means that whilst you were asleep at Camp Golgotha, with no one in your room except yourself, someone who looked exactly like you was creeping around the dark committing these atrocious crimes!
Or someone dressed like me.
No. That cannot be possible. No mask will be that perfect. The person walked like you, talked like you, dressed like you… in fact, he was you in every detail. And yet, I perceive you were never born a twin! How can this riddle be resolved?
Then I have no idea who he is, sir. I’m at peace, though. May the will of God be done in my life. If I live, I’ll live for the Lord, and if I die tomorrow, I’ll die in the Lord. That is all my soul needs.
I’m at my wit’s end. I don’t know what to do next, but yes, the Will of the Lord will be done, and I will be shown a way. Now, if you don’t mind, we have to go because time is of the utmost essence now. You two can continue later, when you are set free, Zac.
Zac jumps to his feet, and there is the jingle of chains, and he looks, alarmed, and sees that once again the handcuffs are around his wrists, and the chains are around his feet, miraculously.
That is so awesome, sir! Maybe, one day, God will consider me fit too, and fill me with such anointing as you have. I don’t suppose you’re going to tell me your name, are you? In the dream I had, your face kept changing, and I couldn’t see it clearly. It seemed to me that God sent someone to help me, but I wouldn’t know that person’s name.
My name is of no import to you now, Zac Larbi. I’ll leave now.
He snaps his fingers, and the guards open their eyes, and one immediately glances at his watch.
Ten minutes are up! Visiting is over!
Zac and Ama Boatemaa smile at each other, and he raises her hand to his lips.
Keep praying, my love. Maybe all is not lost.
I’ll be waiting for you outside, my love. We have the rest of our lives together.
The two doors on each side of the room open simultaneously.
Zac is taken through one, and the visitors leave through the other.
Once outside, they sit in the stranger’s plush car and he drives away in silence.
Ama Boatemaa suddenly reaches out and places her hand on that of the stranger as it lies on the steering wheel.
What ails you now, miss?
Thank you, sir. Thank you very much!
(glancing at her)
Thank the good Lord, not me. Unless you want-
I beg you, I don’t want any leprosy from head to toe. I thank God very much.
That’s more like it, damsel.
Damsel. DAMSEL? Who uses damsel nowadays?
Location: CENTRAL POLICE STATION
All the necessary documentation for the execution of Pastor Zac Larbi have been obtained and duly signed.
At the Central Police Station, the Member of Parliament, the Chief Executive Officer of the Metropolis, Judge Atinga Awedaga and Chief Inspector Kwabena Bediako are putting final touches to some of the documentation.
They are in a small conference room.
The room is plush and air-conditioned.
There is a knock, and a Sergeant walks in with unease written all over his face.
The people in the room are sitting around a rectangular glass-topped table.
CHIEF INSPECTOR BEDIAKO
Yes, Sergeant, what can we do for you?
Erm, there’s a man outside, sir, saying it is urgent he sees you. He says it is about the Zac Larbi case.
CHIEF INSPECTOR BEDIAKO
And this man gave his name as?
He wouldn’t say, sir. He only-
And that is when the door opens again and the tall stranger enters.
He is wearing dark-blue trousers with a white shirt and matching tie, and he has a white hat on his head and brown sunglasses.
His face is covered with a lot of hair: side-burns, beard, moustache.
He walks forward without any hesitation, and there is something about his demeanour that brooks no argument.
He stops and regards the four people in the room.
You people should postpone the execution because you’re about to kill an innocent man.
The people around the table look at each other with varying expressions of anger, irritation, and mirth on their faces.
MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT
And who might you be, sir? And who gave you the authority to come in here with your nonsense?
The stranger turns his attention to him.
I’m not subject to your authority, sir, or any authority under the sun.
DISTRICT CHIEF EXECUTIVE
Another nutcase. A self-styled evangelist, no doubt, living in the woods.
Chief Inspector, would you please get this clown out of here?
You will listen to what I have to tell you. If you go ahead with this execution, the wrath of God will be on you, because the blood you’re about to spill is innocent blood, and the human life you’re about to end is God’s anointed vessel.
MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT
Will you cut out that crap, you mad bastard? Arrest this man, Bediako!
How can he arrest me, when he can’t even get out of his chair?
All of them begin to speak at once, with varying degrees of anger.
Chief Inspector Kwabena Bediako puts his hand on the glass-topped table to leverage himself up, but he finds out suddenly that he cannot stand up.
He tries again and again, but it seems his body is suddenly glued, and although he can move his hand and legs, he cannot leverage himself up! He simply cannot get out of his chair!
The others are staring at him with anger at first, and then all of them try to stand up, and they find out that they also cannot move out of their chairs.
After several attempts to stand up and failing to do so, they turn stunned and scared eyes on the stranger, whose face is impassive and whose eyes had a glint of fury in them.
MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT
A fucking magician, are you? No wonder you’re dealing with the same demonic powers that evil Pastor deals in!
There’s no evil power that can be capable of rendering all of you powerless to move. You watch your words, mister. You’re slowly stroking my ire, and believe me, you won’t like it one bit if I get angry at you for ridiculing the ways of the Lord. Like I’m saying, you should postpone the execution. It shouldn’t happen tomorrow.
CHIEF INSPECTOR BEDIAKO
And why? WHY?? You’re being abstract and absolutely nonsensical! If you have some evidence, Mister, give it, and stop trying to scare us with your supernatural powers!
You seem like a fair man, Mr. Bediako. Has it occurred to you, watching all the videos of the killer, that he used his right hand dominantly, whilst Pastor Zac Larbi is left-handed?
Is that all the evidence you have? He could’ve have used his right hand deliberately, and that is exactly what he did.
The stranger turns his gaze on him, and his face is not nice at that moment at all.
I watched you in the courtroom, Mr. Awedega. I’ve had the compulsion ever since, and the urge, to do something to hurt you because, of a truth, you did fill me with ire in that courtroom with your blatant disregard for the human characteristic called truth. If I had had my way, you would’ve suffered a most tragic malady in that courtroom.
As it is, my ire is severely stoked, and my control is stretched to the utmost. I’ll give you a modicum of advice, though. It will be in your best interest not to utter any word further, otherwise, I will call the wrath of the Almighty on you, and believe me, Mr. Judge, you won’t find the judgement I give you savoury in the least!
He speaks with such passion, with such authority, and with such malice, that it finally communicates to the people in the room that indeed, the stranger is somebody they do not want to cross.
There is a sudden coldness in the room, and a palpable danger, and many a throat goes dry.
Judge Awedega seems to shrink further into his seat, and on his face is palpable fear.
CHIEF INSPECTOR BEDIAKO
You don’t really believe you can just walk in here and tell us to stay the execution for a day, and we follow like lame sheep, do you? No, Mister, you need to give us something more, otherwise, the execution will go on. That is the law of this country. A competent court of law and the Appeals Court both found him guilty!
This is the law! And the Bible even stipulates that what belongs to Caesar should go to Caesar! So give us something more, otherwise your threats will not avail to anything!
The stranger looks at the policeman and nods.
Like I said, you’re a fair man. The crimes levelled against Pastor Zac Larbi were in truth committed by his doppelganger. Tomorrow, you’ll execute Pastor Zac Larbi in the morning, six a.m. By seven a.m. the doppelganger will commit the same crime at the same point. If you delay the execution by even one hour, you will catch the doppelganger in the act.
The stranger turns then and leaves the room.
To Be Continued…
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