Ola looked at the man who was lying on the dirty ground and whose eyes and mouth were covered with handkerchiefs and felt so sorry for him. She wondered what he had done to Baba Tee to have been brought to this rundown house to be tortured in this way. She stood there, folded her arms and stared, she was helpless of what to do.
“Hmmmm…arrgghhh…” The man groaned, rolling on the ground.
Ola was pertrified, ‘what if the man was dying?’ She thought. She quickly rushed over to his side and untied the handkerchief around his mouth.
“Help me…” He said in desperation. “Please…help me…”
“I…do you…want water?” She asked.
“I need…need to get out of here.” He said.
Ola looked at him and said nothing, she could see him trying to loosen the ropes used to tie his hands and legs but they were too tight.
“Please…help me, I beg of you…if you help me, I’ll give you whatever you want.” He promised.
Ola knew she was helpless, she really wanted to help the man but she didn’t want to annoy Baba Tee. Suddenly, the door burst open and Baba Tee walked in, he was swinging a bottle of beer in his hand and he looked drunk.
“Whooo…remof de handkerchief from him mouth?” He spat, turning to stare at her with bloodshot eyes.
“It is me.” Ola said meekly.
He grabbed the collar of her shirt and pulled her towards him till she could smell the alcohol in his breath.
“Who give you the right to do dat?”
“Baba Tee…” She started.
“Shut up!” He spat at her. “Don’t mention my name here, or do you want the man to die? If you call my name, then he can trace me when we get the ransom money.”
“I…sorry…I very sorry…” Ola cried.
Baba Tee released her and turned around to regard the man who was still on the floor.
“I ask for small change from ya family…I know you have money and I have warned them to bring the money in three days or you are dead.” Baba Tee threatened.
“Money?” Gbenga’s father asked in shock. “I don’t have any money.”
Baba Tee threw the bottle of beer against the wall and it smashed.
“Nor lie to me ooo…nor lie to me or else. E be like say you nor know say I don dey monitor you since…”
“You’ve been monitioring me?” Gbenga’s father asked in shock.
“Look, I go give you phone very soon so dat you go talk to ya pikin.”
“My son? Please leave my child out of this, he is just sixteen years old and he doesn’t know anything…please…”
“But na him fit help us get de money na. Or you nor want ya freedom? You wan die?” Baba Tee warned.
“Freedom has been bestowed on all humans from the beginning of time and I don’t owe you my freedom. You kidnapped me and it’s against the law.”
Baba Tee threw his head back and laughed.
“I too dey happy say I nor go school. See as you dey use long grammar wey nor make any sense.” Baba Tee spat and turned towards the door.
Ola looked at him, she didn’t know what to say.
“Oya, come make we dey go. Firewood dey for back. I want make you cook food for everybody, thank God say na for village you grow at least you fit cook better food with firewood.” He said to her.
Ola nodded and followed him, she was so scared.
“I don’t understand you, Gbenga.” Chekwube said. “Do you mean that you haven’t seen your dad since yesterday?”
“Oh my God!” Chekwube exclaimed.
Mickey sat there, she didn’t know what to say. Something nagged deep within her and it started with the name, Baba Tee.
‘Does Baba Tee have anything to do with Gbenga’s dad’s disappearance? Why did he have Gbenga and his dad’s picture in his possession? Does this mean that Gbenga is a target too?’ She wondered.
“Mickey…” Chekwube called.
Mickey wasn’t listening, she was thinking hard.
“She seems lost in thought.” Gbenga said, his eyes were sunken and he looked quite ill.
“I think you should get some rest and let your aunt and uncle handle this for you. I am sure that when they get the police involved, your dad will be brought home safe and sound.” Chekwube said to Gbenga.
“Do you know what?” Gbenga said. “We never value people till we lose them. All my life, he’s been the only family I’ve ever had. He pays my school fees, takes care of me and makes sure that I have everything I need. He’s not a perfect man but he is a good father and the perfect one for me. I wish I could tell him…him…how much…he means to me and how sorry I am for…for drinking and partying…” Gbenga said with tears in his eyes.
“Don’t worry Gbenga, you will tell him to his face when you see him.” Chekwube said, patting his hand reassuringly. “Wait a minute, did you say partying and drinking? When did you do all that.” Chekwube asked.
“Two nights ago.” Gbenga said. “Jermia took me partying and daddy was disappointed.”
“Who is Jermia?” Chekwube asked.
“She’s my mom’s step-daughter.” Gbenga replied.
“Your mom has a step-daughter?” Mickey asked, finally jolting out of her thoughts.
“Wait, have you come back to us? You seemed to be in another world a few minutes ago.” Chekwube said to her.
“Oh, sorry…I was just thinking of something.” Mickey said. “Tell me, Gbenga, what’s the story about your mom?”
“She left when I was still little but came back some weeks ago and wanted to make up for lost time. She’s been staying here until recently, my dad didn’t want her here anymore and sent her out.”
“Serious? That must be complicated.” Chekwube said.
“More than you know.” Gbenga said. “Thank you so much guys for being a form of distraction for me. Having you here means a lot.”
“Don’t worry Gbenga, we will get to the root of your dad’s disappearance, I promise.” Mickey said.
“We?” Chekwube asked, shocked. “When did we become detectives?”
“I mean that we will help with any useful information.”
“What do you mean by that? This is a kidnap and only the police can help. There’s no way that we can help the investigation because we didn’t see Gbenga’s dad before the kidnap and we don’t really know him well.” Chekwube said.
They were suddenly interrupted by Bunmi.
“Gbenga darling, you need to come quickly and call your dad’s lawyer. We need to get the money for his release from the bank and you are his next of kin.” She said, sounding impatient.
Gbenga’s shoulders fell.
“Stand up, come on!” His mother ordered. “Do you want your dad to die?”
“I will be with you shortly, mom.” Gbenga said.
Bunmi glared at the girls.
“Girls, it’s getting late and you have to go. We are very busy right now and this is not the time to receive guests.”
Mickey and Chekwube were stunned by Gbenga’s mother’s manner of approach.
“Come on, Mickey, let’s go.” Chekwube said, standing from her chair.
“Do you have to speak to them like that? They are my friends.” Gbenga said hotly.
“They should be sensitive to know that this is not the time for courtesy calls. Your dad is missing and we need to get him back.”
“Why are you sounding like you care so much about him when it’s obvious that you don’t.” Gbenga fired.
“Gbenga! I am just trying to help.”
“Help? You are rushing me mom? My dad has been kidnapped and I am devastated. One thing I don’t need is, you ordering me around.”
“What is all this Gbenga? Where did the attitude spring up from?” His mother questioned.
“Do you know what mom, I am going to walk my friends to the gate then I am going to go to my room and think about this. I am definitely not in a hurry to dry up my dad’s account for some greedy criminals who can’t work for themselves but take pride in trying to take what belongs to others.” Gbenga said, then turning to regard Mickey and Chekwube, he said. “Let’s go…”
Bunmi watched her son leave, she was furious.
Jermia desperately wanted to go back to Brazil, Bunmi’s plans were driving her crazy and she didn’t think she’d be able to keep the truth bottled inside for much longer. She was not a bad person and she felt truly sorry for Gbenga. She hadn’t realized that he would be the most affected by his dad’s disappearance and to be truthful, she really liked him. She walked over to the bedroom where Bunmi was and opened the door without knocking.
“Yes, that’s exactly what I want you to do. Torture him and make sure that his son hears it over the phone. He is reluctant to release the money and I can’t wait any longer. Do it fast and call us back in fifteen minutes.” Bunmi was saying over the phone.
Jermia stood there listening, she felt sick to her stomach.
To be continued….