Barrister Daniels found it hard chalking the situation at hand as a easy case of youthful exuberance – If there was one thing he promised himself when he legally adopted Ife, it was telling himself the truth; he wouldn’t be one of those fathers who failed to notice and keep up with the changing tides of their child’s life: the possibility that those changing tides had now arrived and the painful realization that he might actually be incapable of keeping up with them scared him, and not even Ife’s panic-driven announcement of her National scholarship at The N.D.I.S.T. was enough to quell his fears on the direction their father-daughter relationship was headed to, amongst other many problems.
They’d been standing close to the entrance door all the while the discussion lingered pass necessary. All Ife had at the fore of her thoughts were worries about how Enoch was holding up in her now-prolonged absence, her joy skyrocketed the instant her father’s phone buzzed, even the appearance of rough uneven ridges of worry on his forehead couldn’t do much to faze her; she wanted him off her business, at least for this moment. Whatever the content of the text he just received was, it seemed to do exactly that for her.
“We’ll continue this discussion when I get back,” Barr. Daniels spoke almost incoherently, false traces of worry underlain his words. He moved to leave the house; his footsteps filled with uncertainty – his movement well conflicted.
Ife still stood motionless, and only stepped aside when she regained her senses enough to realize she was the only thing standing in his way. The moment his car was out of sight, she rushed for the medicine cabinet and swerved as much supplies as she could into the bag with her. Her thoughts still bordered the same principles as last night when she made the first-time decision to sleep outside her home, damning her father’s consequences just to to save an innocent man’s life.
Barr. Daniels hurried out through the entrance door of his Law-Firm – The small, yet fast-growing Law Firm slowly building a reputation for itself like no other in this part of the world, a feat many never thought possible especially with the many big-wig firms currently running things in the city of Lagos. Daniels had a good thing going on for him here, and it made him very happy. He walked pass the beautiful Missy, his secretary, who also doubled as the receptionist of the small firm hoping for a near-expansion. He acknowledged her presence with just the wave of a hand. Missy’s attempts to speedily talk him through the programs of the day were greeted with the sound of his office door slammed to ear shot of everyone seated, waiting for his arrival.
Missy gulped her own saliva in meager-shame, re-calibrated her shoulder blade, and put on a fake smile for the two clients waiting for the past thirty minutes.
“What was that text about?” Barr. Daniels asked into the dark-office, to no one in particular. He switched on the light and revealed two men – The older one was seated on his chair, and the other one with a firmer face, stood by his side, back to the door.
“Good morning to you too, Matt.” The older one casually greeted.
Barr. Mathews Daniels seemed to know him well, judging from the way they leisurely conversed; but was uncomfortable, judging from how he maintained a reasonable distance between him and his bodyguard. The initial issue at hand was Barr. Daniels annoyance at the content of the text which was an unapologetic summon, but that gave way the moment he understood the reason for the summon.
“No!” Mathews exclaimed. “I can’t do that.”
“Keep your voice down,” He commanded. He, was called, Elias Brunor. And he advised Barr. Daniels to remain calm else his bodyguard might be forced to take actions. Barr. Daniels was compelled to exchanged glances with the third man in the room who had been silent, and appeared to have no chill.
“The funny thing is that, you’ve got no choice… this is what The Foundation wants, and you’ll find a way to get it done, else you kiss your chances of becoming the Chief Justice of Lagos State this year goodbye,” Elias said and stood to take his leave. His bodyguard stood almost as he did.
Barr. Daniels stopped to think for a while, and quickly turned to Elias, now at the door, “Can’t nothing else be done to him?”
Elias paused and turned to face him. “Nothing… Tamuno must get the death penalty! That is the will of The Foundation,” he responded with a large smile. “If you want to succeed in this chosen line, you must learn to ask fewer questions, and carry out orders as they come,” Elias said, and walked out through the door his bodyguard had just opened.
Barr. Mathews-Daniels didn’t understand why The Foundation would concern itself with a case as frivolous as whether an obviously innocent man lived or died, he couldn’t even fathom how someone could still find it possible to put on a smile, laugh, and even go home to a family when he had just ordered the death of the breadwinner of another family. He found himself temporarily wavering, his conscience troubled him with the thoughts about becoming Chief Justice not equating to sacrificing a human life on the altar of a politics he didn’t understand. Missy’s bell rang which signaled it was time for the next visitor to enter his office.
“One of many,” Mathews smiled to himself as his first client of the day entered.
“You say?” The client asked.
“Not you, Tamuno. I was only talking to myself,” Mathews said with a smile, obviously fake. His eye twitched, and so did his conscience, again.
Ife returned from the bathroom with a fresh bowl of water to resume dampening Enoch’s body to reduce his fever. She was becoming slightly frustrated because of his continued resolve to not visit the hospital for proper treatment for the gun-shot wound, or to call someone for additional help.
She slammed the towel into the bowl, causing water to splash on the both of them.
Enoch slightly chuckled.
“What’s funny?” Ife asked, even though she already knew the answer. She too had begun to giggle. Blame it on hormones, stress, or lack of good sleep but she couldn’t really fathom why she had the mood swing.
“A bar fight,” Enoch said. He raised up his eyes to catch a glimpse of Ife’s puzzled face staring down back at him as he laid his head on her laps.
“Did what?” She interjected.
“I got injured in a bar fight,” Enoch explained. He sounded as one who experience difficulty in speaking: summoning a great deal of energy for short sentences.
Ife remembered. She recalled Enoch worked at a popular Night club in Lagos: one of the most prestigious actually. She knew this like most others in the estate – through the company’s T-shirt he wore almost every weekday to work. She also flashed through one of her popular thoughts then; she used to think him the most well paid bartender (or whatever he did at the Night-club) she had ever come across, to be able to afford the rent of their Housing estate, and his decent, 2013 Honda Accord car. Yet, all these didn’t matter to her when he came calling six month ago for an opportunity to sweep her off her feet.
“You remember, right?” Enoch asked.
Ife immediately understood the kind of bait he was trying to set, he was cajoling her into reflecting on all the many things she’d have gained should she have been more receptive to his advances the past months, instead of consoling herself with stalking him every morning from her window.
“I didn’t regret saying No to you then, and I won’t start now,” she tried to sound confident.
Enoch laughed. He wanted to say something, but his laughter persisted. It finally subsided, but the unexpected knock at the door caused him to leap into a frenzy. He forced himself off her laps, much to her surprise.
“Who did you call?” He asked with a stern voice.
“My friend, Naomi,” Ife replied casually, and walked to open the door. Enoch watched with rapt attention as the door came open, and was relieved when he saw it was just one person as Ife said.
“Where is he?” Naomi whispered.
“Upstairs,” Ife answered.
“Where is he?” Ife asked back.
“Outside,” Naomi responded.
“Take good care of him,” Ife said and looked up to see Enoch staring back at her in pains, clinging to the safety of the staircases’ railings, she gave him a nod and walked out, to his surprise.
“It’s just the two of us,” Naomi smiled seductively, and made her way for his position.
“This is the same as yesterday, young lady!” Barr. Daniels, shouted.
Ife tried to explain: she’d been studying with Naomi for her scholarship qualification exam. She tried to apologize just as she resolved to do when he returned from work, but things were getting far heated that anticipated for even the meekest of person to keep a calm head. She had to lash back.
“You don’t get to be frustrated…You don’t get to shout at me… You don’t get to tell me what to do… you’re not my biological father.” Regrettable words flew from her parted lips.
Mathews watched in silence as Ife pushed the door aside and walked up the stairs.
Naomi had been watching from the window upstairs Enoch’s home. She had a worried look on her face which was quickly replaced with a smirk the moment Ife pushed away from her father, into the house.
‘That’s my girl,’ Naomi remarked.
Her attention was drawn to Enoch’s cry for help, she hurried off to attend to his need(s).
“You respond faster than your friend,” Enoch teased. A part of his stitched bullet-wound had opened, and he was bleeding again.
Naomi couldn’t control help herself from thinking different things, she’d always found Enoch incredibly sexy and irresistible every time she’d seen him through Ife’s window; and here she was, with one of the objects of her desires; she wasn’t going to let a little blood take away the only opportunity she might have in her lifetime to get down with him.
“You have a fever,” Naomi observed as she sensually caressed him. Her hand lingered around the area of the bleeding wound. She was glad to notice his fever didn’t affect the function of his most important body-part at this time.