Richard was trying so hard to focus at work but he couldn’t,
the hands of the clock kept ticking and the days moved faster than he wanted it
to and yet, there were no signs of his fiancée. Should he cancel the wedding?
Should he postpone it till Judith was found? These were the cacophony of
thoughts that filled his head when his phone rang. He sighed when he saw the
caller ID, it was his mother.

“Rich, what am I hearing? Judith is missing?”
“Missing? How? Who told you?” He asked wondering who had told his mother the news. Since Judith disappeared, no one had been told that she’s gone missing. Only those who knew about her disappearance were her family, her friend and colleague Ese and the police. The police had advised that no one should let out the news that Judith was missing.
“Don’t talk to me as though I’m stupid! I’m your mother and
I am so disappointed that you didn’t talk to me when this happened.”
“Mom, don’t take it too serious I…”
“What? It is serious Richard! Your wedding is one week away!
One whole week! The whole family are already preparing to storm the city in
style and your wife to-be is missing!”
“Where did you learn of this?”
“Are you blind? Don’t you read the newspapers or watch the
news? Go to the front page of the Tribune, that’s the news on it. Some
television stations reported it this morning and I even received a call from
your uncle Zion, asking if what he saw on the news was true.”
“What? It’s on the news? Who would have leaked it?
Besides, what’s the print and electronic media’s business with this case?”
“Who are you asking Jamb questions? All I know is, I need to
see Judith today or tomorrow or I’m cancelling the wedding or putting it on
hold. Haba! How can she be missing and we’re planning a wedding? Who is the minister going to join together in holy matrimony ehn? You and a cow? Are we stupid?
Are we jungle cats? Don’t we have sense? Look here you silly boy, if your
father were still alive I’m sure he’ll take a stroll to your office and pinch
those ears of yours. How could you keep such information from your family? Why?”
Richard knew better than to argue with his hot-tempered, nasty tongue and drama queen mother.
“Well, I’ll first of all apologise to you for this, it’s all
my fault. I should have told you the truth.”
“Now, that you have lied to me, do you see how angry you
have made me?”
“I’m sorry mom, I’m apologising, I really am.” Richard said.
He could hear his mother’s heavy breathing through the
speaker and he could tell that she was trying to calm down.
“So what’s your excuse? Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Well, Judith and I had a slight quarrel before she left for
Ibadan…”
“What?”
“Shhh…I’m counting on you to not tell anyone about this. I
have a feeling that it’s the quarrel that made her disappear and something
tells me she’s somewhere, sitting the wedding out. I’m guessing she’s waiting
for the wedding day to pass before coming home.”
“God forbid! She can’t do that! No responsible woman will do
that! If she’s angry with you over something, the best thing she can do is
confront you about it and either cancel the wedding or go through with it. I
shudder to think that my future daughter in-law is a shaky baby who runs away
from her problems. If indeed she ran away from you because of a slight quarrel,
what would happen in marriage where secrets are revealed in full glare? That’s
not the kind of woman I want for my son.”
“I’ve heard you mom, besides, it’s just a feeling and it’s not certain yet. Can I hang up the call now? I need to
call Judith’s father and tell him about the news on the papers and television.
I need him to speak to the police inspector, this case isn’t to be publicised.”
“Keep me abreast of the situation. I’ll pray for her safe
return and if she’s been kidnapped, I’ll heap curses on her abductors till they
run mad!”
Richard smiled despite himself, his mother was one hell of a
talker and a spit-fire too.
“Okay mom, I’ll talk to you soon.”
As soon as he hung up, he quickly made a call to Mr. Gregor.
**********
Inspector Brendan was pissed, he glared at the police
officers on his team in anger and asked.
“Who leaked the news of Miss Judith to the press?”
No one answered.
“I know the story is juicy, I know her father is quite rich
and I understand that she was the best graduating student in her class while in
the university but I do not understand why classified information is leaked to
members of the press! How much did they offer? One hundred thousand? Two
hundred?” He shouted.
No one answered, they all stood there, staring at him like
zombies.
“Listen to me guys, one of you have just placed that family
under unnecessary stress. Do you know what this means? The girl’s kidnappers
could panic and finish her off. If they think that no one suspects a possible kidnap, they might actually keep her alive but now that the news is out, she
could be as good as dead.”
The men looked at their feet and still don’t respond.
“Get out of my sight all of you! Get out!”
The men leave while inspector Brendan sits on his chair and
buries his face in his palms.
 Judith’s father storms into his office, with
a police officer in tow. Inspector Brendan looks up to see who’s entered his
office.
“Mr. Gregor…” He says in greeting.
“Keep your greeting to yourself, Mr. Brendan. I was just
harassed in my office by some annoying reporters who felt they had the right to
ask questions of my daughter’s whereabouts.”
“I’m sorry, I…”
“Keep your sorry to yourself. No one knew of her possible
kidnap, not even her bosses at work. The only people who know of this are her
family members and the police.”
“I accept the blame, I believe one of my men could have
spoken to the press and I’m doing my best to fish out that man.”
“Listen to me inspector Brendan. This investigation of yours
have gone on for too long and I don’t see it going anywhere. My daughter is
still missing and there’s no trace as to where she could be. You and your team
have done absolutely nothing but drag my family name into the hands of the
press.”
Inspector Brendan opens his mouth to speak but Mr. Gregor
had stormed out of the office in anger.
“This is not good!” Brendan said burying his face in his
palms again. He raised up his head and said. “I need to get back to that
transport park and I need a copy of that manifest. I must know if Judith
arrived at her destination.” He pulls open his drawer and retrieves a zip-locked bag which contains the earring he had found in the driver’s wagon and Judith’s
picture. “I also need her family to identify the earring.” He said as he held
the earring in one hand and the picture in the other. 
Suddenly, he noticed
something, he didn’t need to ask her family to identify the earring after all
as Judith wore the same earring in the picture he held.
**********
Madam Zeena forced a laugh as she spoke over the phone with
her friend.
“Of course the wedding is still on. The press have got
it all wrong, my daughter is fine. Oh yes, I look forward to seeing you at the
wedding.” She said and hung up.
As soon as she ended the call, she wiped the tears from her
eyes.
“Yew lieed!” An accusing voice said to her from behind.
“Get out Nancy, I’m not in the mood.”
“I tewed de powliceee de trueth.”
“What truth are you talking about?”
“Wee beeth knoew it’s Dakotee dat planneed dees. Seence thee
queestenoneen, shee’s desepered.”
“Shut up Nancy! Dakota can never do such a thing and we both
know it so get back to the kitchen and prepare dinner.”
“Yew lieed to yer freendz det de weddeen eez steel
heapening.”
“Yes the wedding still holds whether anyone likes it or not!
My daughter will be back soon.”
“Dakotee caused deez. She heates her seeesters!”
“That’s not true! Dakota loves her sisters, you’re just a bitter woman who wants to cause dispute in my family.”
“Dakotee eez basterd.”
Madam Zeena shot up from her chair and screamed at Nancy.
“Will you shut up Nancy? How dare you call my child a
bastard?”
“Yew breet her here ween shee wes a smeel cheld. Yewr
husbeend hed no cheese bet tew accept heer.”
“Get out of here Nancy! Get out! I don’t want to hear you
repeat this again. Do you hear me?”
“I tewd de powlicee end dey weel find Dakotee end lock her
eup!” Nancy said and stormed off.
“Nancy! How dare you Nancy? How dare you? What did you say to the police? Nancy!” Madam Zeena shouted and suddenly burst into tears. “Judith where are you? Please come back home,
your wedding is in a week and I can’t keep lying to people. Please!”
*************
Judith was lying weakly on some papers which she had spread out on
the wet ground, she had used some newspapers as a cover for her body and as she
forced herself to sleep, her stomach growled in hunger.

To be continued tomorrow.

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