Gbenga walked into the sitting room alone, his aunt was seated on the sofa staring helplessly at nothing in particular. She looked so distraught as her eyes were red with tears. His uncle was speaking to a relative over the phone. Gbenga walked up to his aunt and spoke to her.
“I have to quickly go to school to write a test.”
“A test?” She asked, wiping her eyes with the back of her palms. “Surely your school will understand that you have to miss the test because of the issue with your dad.”
“I thought so too but I realized that the test is really important. I promise not to be long.” He said.
His uncle got off the phone and walked up to Gbenga.
“What is going on?” He asked.
“Gbenga says he has a test at school.” His aunt sniffed.
His uncle sighed and nodded.
“You can go but I need you to understand that we need to call the police. I am your dad’s brother and I love him so much.” He said.
“Can we wait for a while?” Gbenga asked.
“Wait? Why?” His uncle asked.
“I need to get to school urgently. Let’s stall the kidnappers and pretend that we are still trying to get the money. If they call again, tell them that we will get the money to them in two days.”
“Do you have a plan?” His uncle asked inquisitively.
“No uncle…I don’t. I just feel that going to school will help me clear my head. I will be back as soon as the test is over and I’ll make a final decision on whether to call the police or not.”
“Okay…I’ll tell Soji to take you to school.”
“Don’t worry, my friends and I will find our way.” He said.
“Speaking of your friends, where are they?” His uncle asked.
“They are upstairs but they’ll be down soon.” Gbenga said.
“Okay…” His uncle said with a curt nod.
Gbenga nodded and hurried upstairs.
Bunmi was applying her newest coat of nail polish when Gbenga walked in. As soon as he saw what she was doing, he felt hurt. He thought his mother shared in his pain but it was obvious that she didn’t. She quickly stopped coating her nails when he walked in and hurried to him.
“Darling…my darling boy…have you heard any news?” She asked.
“Not yet. I just came to inform you that I’m going to school.”
“School? What for?” Bunmi exclaimed.
“I have a test to write.”
“A test? Your dad is in the hands of murderers! You need to be here so that we can help him get out.”
“When I get back, I’ll speak to my uncle…”
“Gbenga, I don’t think you know how wicked these kidnappers can be. I suggest that you stay home and call your father’s accountant and lawyer so that you can get the money to set your dad free.”
“I am not doing that!” Gbenga said angrily.
His mother was taken aback.
“Why are you yelling at me? I am only trying to help.” She said.
“Trying to help? I don’t see you helping especially as you are painting your nails instead of thinking of how we can get him out.”
Bunmi looked offended.
“Look here boy, I am doing my best to get you out of this situation. You’d better get the money to get your dad out of that hell-hole or carry his death on your conscience for the rest of your life.” She spat. She had a malicious look in her eyes.
Gbenga’s mouth stood open for seconds, he couldn’t believe his mother had spoken to him in such way.
“I’m sorry baby…” She said quickly, when she realized herself. She reached out to hug him but he moved away.
“I’m going to school now.” He said and left the room.
Bunmi kicked the stool hard in frustration and yelped as it hurt her foot. She hopped on one foot in agony. Jermia stepped out of the bathroom and stared at her.
“What are you staring at? Get out of here if you can’t make yourself useful.” Bunmi screamed at her.
Jermia looked at Bunmi and pitied her. The woman was so pathetic that she was determined to make money out of her son’s misfortune.
“Why are you still standing there? Get me some ice or get out.”
“I have something to tell you.” Jermia said.
Bunmi stopped hopping and stared at her.
“What is it?” She asked.
Mickey walked beside Gbenga and Chekwube in silence. She felt quite sad. Chekwube, sensing her pain, walked up to her and placed a reassuring hand on her shoulders.
“Do you know what, Mickey? You are the only friend I’ve ever had who has a good heart. Everyone is scared of your tough exterior but in reality, you have a heart of gold.”
Mickey nodded and kept walking.
“I know you feel sad about your brother but it’s the right thing to do.” Chekwube said.
Gbenga turned back to look towards the direction of his house to see if anyone was following them. Satisfied that no one was, he said.
“Can we call your sister now?”
“Not yet…we have to get to auntie Lizzie’s house first.” Chekwube said.
“I am impatient. I want us to call her now.” Gbenga said.
“Chekwube and I are in our school uniforms.” Mickey informed. “We can’t parade the streets and make phone calls or someone might scold us for not being in school or worse, one of our teachers could take this route and see us.”
“You’re right.” Gbenga said. “How do we get to auntie Lizzie’s place?”
“We take a bus.” Mickey said.
“A what?” Gbenga said.
“Why do you sound so surprised? How did we get to your house?” Mickey asked.
“Hey guys…calm down…we’re not going to argue.” Chekwube said. “Gbenga, we will take a bus.”
“Let’s take a taxi.” He said.
“If you have the money to pay, please do…” Chekwube said.
An empty taxi drove past and Gbenga halted it, he spoke to the driver and soon they all got in.
Twenty minutes later, they were in Auntie Lizzie’s house. She was there too and she informed them that she’d spoken to her friend who’s a police officer.
“Let’s call Chekwube’s sister now.” Gbenga pressed.
Mickey took out her phone and stared at it for the longest time. This was the hardest thing she was ever going to do. She had already lost one brother and losing another was going to be so hard on her mother and on her too. ‘He’s not going to die, Mickey. He will just go to jail if indeed he had a hand in Gbenga’s father’s disappearance.’ She reassured herself.
“Mickey…are you ready?” Auntie Lizzie asked.
Mickey wiped the tears from her eyes with the back of her palm and nodded.
“Yes…yes…I am.” She said with a hoarse voice.
“Do you want to take a deep breath?” Auntie Lizzie asked.
“Remember our plan guys.” Auntie Lizzie said to Mickey and Chekwube. “Don’t let them suspect that we are on to something.”
Mickey nodded again and this time, she dialled the number. She placed it on speaker mode.
“Hello.” She said when the phone was answered.
“Mickey…wetin happen?” Baba Tee’s gruff voice came through.
“Hey bro.” She greeted.
“Wetin you want?” He asked.
“I am with Chekwube, Ola’s sister and she wants to talk to her.”
“Tell am say, Ola dey busy.” He answered.
“Ola’s mother is in Lagos ooo…and she’s here with her father. They are in Chekwube’s aunt’s house and they want to see Ola. Ola’s mama dey sick sef.” She lied.
There was a pause on the line then Gbenga called out.
They heard footsteps, then Ola’s voice came through.
“Hello…” She half-whispered.
“Olanma…” Chekwube called, inching close to the phone. “It’s me.”
“Chekwube.” Ola said.
“Where are you? Mama and papa are here and they want to see you. Mama is very ill and auntie Lizzie paid for her treatement at the clinic here in Lagos. She wants to see you…” Chekwube said speaking their native language.
“Eh?” Ola starts crying loudly.
“Calm down…mama just wants to see you.” Chekwube said.
“Mama will die because of me…she will die because of what I have done.” Ola cried.
“No, that’s not true…just come and see her and everything will be fine.” Chekwube pressed.
“Hei! I hope Baba Tee can let me come.”
“Where are you? Are you far away?” Chekwube asked in their native tongue.
“Yes…” Ola answered.
“Tell me where you are.” She pressed.
“I can’t…Chekwube…I can’t…” Ola said in tears. “All I know is that I am very afraid.”
“What are you afraid of?” Chekwube asked. “Is it because of mama?”
“Chekwube, I should have stayed where I was ooo…I just put myself in trouble here.” Ola cried louder speaking fluently in their native tongue.
“Can you come back quickly? Mama wants to see you.” Chekwube said.
They suddenly heard Baba Tee’s voice on the line.
“Chekwube…” He called. “Na wetin happen?”
“My mama wan see Ola, she sick nor be small.” Chekwube lied.
“We dey far.” He said.
“Okay, unless you want make my mama die and Ola nor go see am.” Chekwube finished.
There was a short pause.
“Okay…I go find how to send her to see ya mama but I nor want make she remain for dia. I go send my friend to carry am come back to me after she don see ya mama.” Baba Tee warned.
“No problem…thank you.” Chekwube said.
“Mickey.” Baba Tee called.
“Yes…” She answered.
“Tell momsy say no shakes, I dey do some kain work and I go return soon. I want make we pack comot from that compound. Hopefully, if this my business work, we go find better place to stay.”
“Okay…I go tell am.” Mickey said and ended the call.
Auntie Lizzie smiled at the two girls and nodded in triumph. Gbenga sat there, he had more hope than he’d ever had since the news of his father’s kidnap reached him.
Ola looked at Baba Tee in fear, after the beating he gave the man he’d tied and locked up in the other room, she was afraid of him.
“I go send Dusty to go with you. You go jejely go see ya mama and after dat, you go jejely come back. You hia me so?” Baba Tee informed.
“Yes…yes…” Ola said in fear.
“If you open mouth talk de thing wey you see for hia, ya own don finish ooo…I dey warn you ooo.”
Ola shook her head in fear.
“Oya, go prepare to go Lagos with Dusty.” He said.
She nodded and hurried out of the house to the back where she’d spread some of her clothes. She ran out so fast that she didn’t notice a fairly large stone on the ground. She tripped on the stone and fell hard to the ground.
When she struggled to her feet, she felt something warm on her legs. It was blood.
To be continued tomorrow…