Mickey and Chekwube ate lunch together during break time in silence, for the very first time, they were silently appreciating the friendship they offered each other. Suddenly Mickey spat.
“What is wrong with these students? Why do they keep glancing our way?”
Chekwube almost laughed, she had seen the way their school mates had stared at them and she could tell that they were puzzled over the new friendship between Mickey and herself.
“If you stare at us again, I will punch someone in the face!” Mickey shouted in warning at no one in particular.
“Stop it Mickey.” She said.
“Stop being a bully.” Chekwube stressed.
“Why are they staring at us as though we’re aliens?” Mickey asked sounding upset.
“That reminds me, why isn’t Gbenga in school today? Is he ill?”
“I really have no idea. Do you know that he didn’t come to school yesterday as well?” Mickey said.
“Are you serious? Do you think he’s alright?”
Mickey shrugged, then her mind went to the picture she’d found in her house and she shuddered.
“I have his phone number but I don’t have a phone.” Chekuwbe said.
“I have a phone.” Mickey said.
“Can we call him after school?” Chekwube asked.
“Sure…” Mickey said.
Chekwube nodded and continued eating while Mickey growled at students who couldn’t stop staring at the unlikely pair of friends.
Gbenga refused to eat anything, he was distraught. His father had disappeared since yesterday and it was almost noon and there was no word from him.
“Where are you, dad? I know that I disappointed you and I’m sorry, I promise not to do it anymore.” He cried as he lay on his bed.
There was a small knock at the door and Jermia walked in with a tray of food.
“I brought you some food Gbenga, please eat something.”
“I am not hungry.” He replied. “Is my uncle Seyi, here yet?” He asked, speaking of his father’s brother.
“Not yet, when you called him, he said he was out of Lagos so I guess he must be on his way.”
“Ibadan is just two hours from Lagos and I called him about four hours ago.” Gbenga cried. “Where is he at this time that I need him most?”
Jermia placed the tray of food on the stool beside his bed and sat on the bed.
“I know how you feel…”
“No, you don’t.” Gbenga gritted. “This is all your fault.”
Jermia was shocked at his words, her heart skipped a beat as she was scared that he might know something.
“Why…why do you say that?” She stammered.
“If you hadn’t convinced me to go against my dad, this wouldn’t have happened. I could tell that my father was ashamed of me and I am sure that’s why he’s not home yet.”
Jermia breathed easily.
“That’s not true, besides, we only went out to have harmless fun. I don’t think your dad is angry with you about that.”
“Yes, he is and he is very disappointed too. My dad and I might not seem to be very close but we have a kind of bond. He trusts me and I could tell that after he found out that I’d gone to the party, he didn’t trust me anymore.”
“Gbengs, don’t say that…” Jermia started.
The door burst open and Bunmi rushed in.
“I knew it! Something told me that it was a kidnap and I was right.” She said. “Gbenga, someone just called Justina and he claims to have your dad.”
Gbenga shot off the bed in panic.
“Yes…yes…a man just called asking for ransom…he said he wants twenty million naira within three days or your dad’s dead.”
Jermia paced the grounds of the house in worry, the family doctor had been called and he was with Gbenga. According to him, Gbenga’s pressure was very high.
“This is wrong, this is so wrong…” Jermia said to herself as she paced the large compound of the house.
She was still pacing and talking to herself when Bunmi walked up to her.
“I am a genius right? I can’t believe that everyone fell for my stunts. If I were an evil woman, I’d have turned this into a profession. It will definitely pay more than working at that crappy salon in Brazil.” Bunmi said, suddenly bearing close resemblance to Cruella de Vale.
Jermia didn’t speak.
“What is wrong with you?” Bunmi asked.
“Nothing…I’m just worried.”
“Worried? About what?” Bunmi asked.
“Are you seriously kidding me? Gbenga collapsed right in front of you and he is with the doctor as we speak. Why aren’t you concerned for him? Isn’t he your child?”
“I know he collapsed but he’s going to be fine. It’s normal, in the circumstances.”
“Are you for real? No reasonable mother enjoys watching her child suffer.”
“Did I say I enjoy watching him suffer? All he needs to do is take the reins in his hands and look for how to get the twenty million naira that I need, then, his father will be released.”
“You are playing with fire, Bunmi. What do you think would be your son’s reaction when he finds out that you have a hand in this?”
“My son will never find out.” Bunmi spat. “The exchange will go on smoothly and no one will be hurt.”
“Your son will be scarred for this. Did you see the look in his eyes? This experience will change him.”
“Yea, it will make him stronger.” Bunmi said with a shrug.
The gates opened and a car drove into the compound, Bunmi snickered when she saw the people seated at the front seat of the car.
“My oh my! Seyi and Adunni are here. Let the war begin.” She giggled.
Chekwube stood in the sitting room of auntie Lizzie’s house with Mickey standing beside her.
“Are you sure it’s wise to go to his house? What if he travelled briefly? Why don’t you wait till tomorrow? If he doesn’t show up at school, you can both visit him at home.” Auntie Lizzie said.
“Please ma, let us go to his house. I know his house address and it’s not really far. If we take a bus, it’s just fifty naira per head.” Mickey said. “Something tells me that all is not well. Gbenga is a caring friend and if any of us were in his shoes right now, he’ll do the same.”
Auntie Lizzie sighed.
“After the events of the past two days, I really don’t want to let Chekwube out of my sight just yet besides, Nosike intends to go to the police station today to report the case of Broda Stanley to the authorities and at some point, they will have to ask Chekwube to come in to give her statement.”
“Okay then, perhaps I will go on my own.” Mickey said.
Chekwube didn’t look too happy.
“Have you called his phone?” Auntie Lizzie asked.
“Yes, countless times but he hasn’t been answering.” Chekwube said.
Auntie Lizzie looked at her wristwatch and sighed.
“Okay, it’s twenty minutes past three pm. I need you girls to come back by five pm and once you get there, give me a call.”
“Thank you auntie…thank you.” Chekwube said, relieved that she could finally go and see her friend.”
“Wait, I’ll give you girls transport fare. Mickey, please take care of Chekwube, you know she doesn’t know her way around Lagos.”
“Yes ma…thank you ma.” Mickey said in gratitude.
As soon as auntie Lizzie gave them a two hundred naira note for transport, they both rushed out of the house.
To be continued….