Jessica felt so dizzy but she was grateful to be alive. Her chest hurt badly and she felt as though she was about to faint. She staggered towards the door and pushing the key, she turned it in the lock. The door opened and she made her way into the house and headed towards the bedrooms. She pushed open the door to the first bedroom and saw no one, so she made her way to the second bedroom and saw a very scared Junior under the sheets.

“Do…do you remember…me?” She whispered as she suddenly felt numbness in her legs.

Junior stared at her in surprise, if he could talk, he would have asked who let her in. His dad had threatened him to stay silent and play his games and had left the house with his mom, locking the doors behind them. Junior had thought he was all alone at home with the monsters under his bed till he heard the door unlock and soon, footsteps and now, his mother’s friend stood before his bed, looking weak and fragile.

“Come…come…with me…” She whispered. “We…we have to go…now…”

Junior watched her sway and fall face down on his bed, he inched away from her and stared. He got off his bed and poked her with his finger, she didn’t move. He quickly ran out of his bedroom and pushing the door to the house open, he ran out of the house and hurried upstairs to his neighbour’s flat. He banged at the door.

“Who is it?” A voice asked.

He banged again.

“Who is it? Can’t you respond?” The voice asked again but he couldn’t hear.

Junior had seen his mother knock at doors whenever they paid any of her friends a visit.

“Who is it?” Another voice asked from within.

“I don’t know ma. I keep asking, but there’s no answer.” The voice answered.

The door opened and a woman stared at him, she was shocked to see her neighbour’s very quiet son at her doorstep.

“My darling, are you okay?” She asked, not knowing that Junior couldn’t hear her.

Junior looked at her and didn’t speak.

“Where is your mom?” The neighbour asked.

Junior kept staring at her, wondering how he would communicate with her.

“Open the door, Rachel.” The woman said to the young girl at the door with her. “Let me take the young boy back to his flat. I’m sure he missed his way.”

“Madam, are you sure about this? Robbers have been known to use tactics like this for operations.” The girl warned.

“Even if there are robbers involved, he is a little boy and he is alone.” The woman said. “Open the door.”

The girl opened the door and the woman walked out of her house and held out her hand to Junior. He placed his hand in hers and they made their way towards the flat he shared with his mother.

“Tell me, what’s your name?” She asked.

Junior didn’t respond.

*********

“Something tells me that you have a hand in Jessica’s disappearance. What did you do to her body? Where did you keep the body?” Zach shouted as he drove home like a madman.

“I swear, I didn’t see her…I don’t know what happened.” Queen said shakily.

“You know what this means for you, don’t you? You are going to lose Junior! I will do everything in my power to fight for custody of my child. I swear to you.”

“You won’t take him away from me!” Queen screamed at him. “I am his mother and heaven can testify that I have been the only one there for him since he was born. You, on the other hand, think of him as nothing but an imbecile.”

“Shut up! Just pray that we find Jessica’s body when we get home or I swear that you will be in deep trouble.”

“How can I be in trouble? Did I kill her?”

“The way you’re speaking to me shows that you have a hand in this and I promise you that if you try anything stupid with me, I will destroy you!”

Queen sighed and looked out through the window.

*********

As Jessica lay on Junior’s bed, her mind flashed back to an hour ago when she’d woken up inside the booth of the car.

The air was stuffy and warm, the whole place was dark and she felt so dizzy and in pain. Jessica opened her eyes in difficulty and stared into the darkness.

“Where…where am I?” She whispered. “Oh God! Where am I?”

She tried to sit up but it was as though something was hovering above her head.

“Am I in a coffin?” She asked.

She raised her hands and began to hit the roof of the place she was confined.

Queen had just walked out towards the car when she heard the noise coming from the booth. She was shocked. She inched towards the booth of the car and heard a knock as well as a muffled scream. She quickly rushed to the driver’s seat, pulled up the booth handle and opened the booth, then she hurried back to the booth of the car.

Queen didn’t know whether to be relieved or alarmed because staring at her with wide open eyes was Jessica.

“Jess…my God…” Queen whispered.

“What happened? Why am I locked in here?” Jessica asked.

Queen helped her out of the booth quickly.

“Shhh…Zach…it’s Zach…he wanted to dump your body somewhere…we thought you were dead.” She said as she shut the lid of the booth and pulled her by the arm to the other staircase.

When they were both under the stairs, Queen said quickly.

“You must go to the police…now…you must tell them that Zach is a murderer and he tried to have you killed.”

“My head is so foggy…my chest hurts…my back…I don’t remember anything…” Jessica cried.

“Here are the spare keys to the house, I was going to give them to the gateman to help check up on Junior from time to time but now that you’re here, please take it.”

Jessica took the keys from Queen, she felt a bit dizzy.

“You are lucky to be alive and well…” Queen said. “I have to go back to the car or Zach will suspect that something’s wrong. Here’s my phone…I saved your sister’s number in the contacts list. Please call her and tell her everything and please…I beg of you…please help me get my…son out of our house…please…I don’t want Zach to take him away from me…please.” Queen cried and hurried out towards the car.

Jessica moaned in pain and the alarmed neighbour stared at Jessica’s frame on the bed in Junior’s room.

“Is this what you’re trying to tell me? That your mother passed out?” The neighbour asked in a panic.

Junior didn’t speak, he stood beside the bed and stared at Jessica’s frame.

“Wait here, I’ll go get help. We have to take her to the hospital.” The neighbour said and hurried out of the room.

Junior stared at his mother’s friend, he felt really sad for her. Something told him that all was not well.

******

Ella’s phone rang and she jumped. She saw that the caller had no ID so she answered, quite sad that it wasn’t her husband.

“Hello…”

“Auntie Ella, na me.” Lola said into the phone.

“You who?”

“Lolade.”

“Lola, why are you calling me at this time of the night?”

“I know wia ya husband dey.” Lola said.

Ella paused.

“I just want show you wetin I dey tell you all dese while ma.” Lola said.

“Where is he?” Ella asked.

“Shebi you know Ariobeke street.”

“Yes, I know the street.” Ella said.

“E get one bar wey dey dia, na for opposite the transformer for dat place. Na dia e dey.” Lola said.

Ella paused for a bit.

“I am on my way.” She said and hung up.

Ella made her way out of her street and headed towards the street that Lola had told her about.

******

Jacob stroked the hair of the lady who was seated on his lap, he kissed her neck and caressed her body with his palms.

“Let us go somewhere private…” He breathed into her ear.

“Shebi you don marry? I nor want make ya wife come catch us for hotel ooo. Make we go back of bar.” She said invitingly.

“Are we going…to have privacy there?” Jacob hiccupped.

“Yes na.” She responded.

Jacob chuckled happily and taking her hand, he staggered to the back of the bar, throwing a salute to the barman while he made his way.

******

Ella arrived at the bar, to her surprise, it was quite empty and there were no signs of her husband. She saw the barman who was wiping the tables.

“Sir…good evening, I am looking for someone.” She said.

“Who are you looking for?” He asked.

“A young man, his name is Jacob.” She said.

The barman looked at her and a hint of recognition crossed his features.

“Jacob?”

“Yes sir…I need to know if he’s been here.”

“Well…” The barman shrugged.

Ella opened her purse and fished for some notes which she handed to the barman who smiled at her and pointed to the back. Ella nodded and headed towards the direction the barman had pointed.

“I saw him go that way.” He said.

The back of the bar was dark, save for a small light coming from a light bulb, she took small steps into the open space and peeped. She wanted to call Jacob’s name but decided against it. She suddenly spotted him bending over something by the wall. She could recognise his shirt and the shape of his head. She took another step forward but stopped when she heard a woman’s moans. Her heart skipped a beat when she saw Jacob and his companion lift up their heads for air.

Her world seemed to crumble.

*******

Queen and Zach walked into the compound and headed to their flat. Zach brought out the keys to open the door of the flat but it was already open.

“Who opened the door?” Zach asked with fear in his voice.

“I…have no idea.” Queen said quickly, hoping that Jessica had been able to make it out safe with her son.

They both walked into the house.

“Junior!” Queen called as she made her way to her son’s bedroom.

The door to the bedroom was open but there was no sign of Junior or Jessica. She sighed in relief. Zach walked into the room and stood behind her.

“Where is Junior?” He asked, his voice sounded like steel.

“I don’t know…” Queen said without turning around.

“You planned it all…didn’t you? Tell me the truth, dammit! You planned it all. You are trying to pay me back for lying to you and getting married to Jessica behind your back.”

There was no use denying the truth anymore, she was very sure that Jessica had taken her son away from the house and she felt so relieved.

“Yes, I planned it all.” Queen said. “I had Jessica take him away. If you aren’t smart enough to leave now, policemen will be here to take you away.”

“What charges do you have against me?” Zach asked. “I didn’t do anything. Like you just mentioned, Jessica is alive…”

Queen spun around to regard him.

“You did something terrible to her, you wanted her dead.” Queen fired. “You dragged me with you to dispose of her body.”

“That’s not true dear, I didn’t do anything to her. On the contrary, when I answered the door and she saw me, she collapsed. I only panicked when I saw her fall and rushed into the house to see if I could get something to revive her before you came out and saw her lying on the ground.”

“That…that’s not…not true.” Queen said. “You harmed her and you’re going to jail for it.”

“Tell the truth, Queen, you want me in jail for being a polygamist. You are angry that I married another woman when I was already married to you but what did you expect? You were so clingy with your family and you didn’t want to start a life far away from your family.”

“Don’t put the blame on me, Zach, you married another woman because you were influenced by your father who never had one woman by his side and also because you were not satisfied with me.”

“Hahahaa…keep lying to yourself. How do you think I survived cold nights? How do you think I pulled through life as a married bachelor? I was married, yes, but my wife refused to relocate and join me in Lagos. She was stuck in Calabar because she wanted to be close to her family.”

Queen began to cry.

“This is all your fault Queen! It has and will always be your fault that I married another woman. Would I have been able to pull it off if we were living together like a family? Of course not! But you paved the way for me and I went ahead and had someone who valued me enough to stand by me and she is none other than Jessica.”

Queen looked at him with tears in her eyes, her shoulders shook as she cried.

“I might never be able to understand your motive behind marrying two women but I am done with this sham of a marriage. I am leaving you and I am taking my son with me.” Queen cried.

“That’s never going to happen!” Zach shouted. “Once this is all over, we will all sit like mature adults and discuss on how to keep our family together.”

“You must be mad! I will never be a part of a polygamous marriage.”

“Oh, shut up! Our grandparents and ancestors had numerous wives. I won’t be the first to have more than one wife.”

“You should be ashamed of yourself.” Queen flung. “At least our ancestors didn’t lie to their wives or go behind their backs to marry other women.”

“I don’t see where you’re going with any of this. You’d better realise that I will never go to prison.” Zach flung.

“Jessica is already at the station, she is making a statement against you right now and that alone will make it impossible for you to get my son. Get it into that thick skull of yours Zach, I am going to leave you.”

They heard a voice inside the house.

“Hello…hello…is anyone here? I am your neighbour…”

Zach and Queen looked at each other for a split second and rushed out of the bedroom. They saw their neighbour standing in their sitting room, she was with Junior.

“Hello, my name is Lucy and I came to tell you that your son led me here to show me a young woman in his bedroom, I initially thought that the woman was you.” She said to Queen. “But later I realised that she wasn’t. She was unconscious but I have taken her to the hospital. When the gateman told me that you have returned, I had to rush here with your son so that you don’t get worried about him.”

Queen stared at her neighbour in dismay while Zach smiled in response. It could only mean that Jessica hadn’t reported Zach to the police as she should have.

 

To be continued….

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