Barr. Daniels immediately parted his lips from the exquisite mug containing his favorite drink; he put it down on the tray. “Ife!” He called for his daughter with a mild, yet loud voice.
Ife surfaced with a plain face that read, I bear no ill thought over yesterday, but it was faux. “Sir.” She announced her presence.
He silently looked up to her position. He had a lot to say, but couldn’t decide on the order with which to begin. He had to say something, else they’d both keep staring at the other like lost sheep.
“The coffee’s cold… not the way I like it,” He finally spoke.
“The coffee-machine is not working well, Sir!” Ife responded almost immediately.
He looked at her again; this time his gaze was firmer, and more piercing. He had more words for her at the moment; they had agreed to stop the use of Sir for him in place of Daddy; all it took was one major argument in three years, and she had begun reverting on all the progress they’ve already made. He decided against the urge to speak further, because it probably would start an angry outburst and end in a heated argument.He stood to take his leave. He picked up his jacket and briefcase, and headed for the door. He stopped momentarily with his hand on the door-knob and looked back at her to make one more sentence.
“When I get back, we’ll decide what to do. If it’s best you go stay with Aunty Melody, or your Grandma.”
He felt she needed the presence of older women around her, especially at a time like this, to better let her feelings out. Perhaps living with a 42 year old, unmarried man wasn’t the best choice he had made for her.
Ife didn’t say a word, she watched in horror as he left the door. Away from eye shot, she clinched her left-fist and sent it rotating, anti-90°, feet crouched and fist hitting to the floor, the glassware on the shelf beside her. She let out a shout loud enough for the man she called father to hear from across the small street where he sat in his stationary car. On her knees, she thought in silence about what to do. It was paramount she made a decision especially as her father planned on shipping her away to the abode of boring women she wasn’t close to. She wanted adventure, and staying with her nagging Aunt wasn’t going to get her any of it. A bad idea came to her head, she had always felt Barr. Mathews-Daniels was hiding an important detail about her biological father’s death, and that probably was the reason he was sending her away. She knew about his hidden safe, and the secret stash of files he had. The last time she cracked the safe, she couldn’t get herself to open her biological father’s file because she was afraid of what she might find; now, she had nothing more to lose – Barr. Daniels had just declared he didn’t want her as a daughter anymore; he couldn’t be trusted anymore.
Ife hurriedly arose and ran up the stairs to her father’s room. She smiled when the same pattern she used the last time cracked open the safe. Her hands started to shake: she still feared what she might find within the inks of the pages. She summoned the required strength, and pulled out the stack of files, and quickly located the one with her biological father’s initials, J.O.N.
“Girlfriend!” Naomi exclaimed. She hurried up, and quickly wrapped Ife in her embrace at the door. Ife suspected something was wrong: The speed with which the door was answered caused her shock. She could literally smell Naomi’s anxiety off her. Finally, the embrace broke and they both walked further in, side by side, with Ife stealing momentary glances round the house.
“Hey, you!” Enoch said in greeting to Ife the moment both ladies walked into the room.
“Hey!” Ife responded in like tone. They both chuckled. Naomi smiled, she positioned herself seductively by the door-side, with a direct view to Enoch’s bedside; totally obstructed from Ife’s.
Ife pushed forward to check Enoch’s body temperature. She placed her right hand on his neck and was glad to see his fever had improved. “Better than yesterday,” she commented.
“I already said I’m much better now,” Enoch blushed. “Naomi took care of me.”
“I think she took too good care of you,” Ife said. The smile Ife wore began to fade when the real picture of things finally got painted in her subconscious. Her countenance fell: she finally figured out the reason Naomi and Enoch had been acting weird since she arrived. The lazily discarded used-condom by the bed side finally gave them up.
Naomi’s right hand met her rough hair. It also became clearer to Ife why she looked unkempt. Enoch managed to keep a crooked smile as he adjusted himself to sit upright.
“I think you should go,” Ife said to Naomi. While Naomi bought time to delay, Ife thundered. “Now, b****!” She yelled as hard as her voice let her.
Naomi looked at Ife with the expression that announced she didn’t care, and turned towards Enoch to hear his disapproval over Ife’s command. No such words were uttered. She angrily picked her hand-bag, and left when it became certain that no such word was forthcoming.
Ife turned to Enoch, her expression was more of bewilderment now than anger or any of the pesky emotions common to the female folk in times like these.
“You feel good now, right?’
“Are you jealous?” Enoch asked. He seemed to be enjoying the moment.
“I have no reason to be,” Ife snarled.
“But you are.” He let out a little laughter. ” I can’t seem to fully understand you women.” He appeared to be enjoying this: seeing the all-confident Ife at war with her emotions gave him a weird sense of joy and fulfillment.
Ife wanted to say something to her defense, but there was an interruption. At that moment an explosion went off somewhere in the city. The effect of the explosion felt was so great that it almost sent all the glassware falling off their housing-cabinet.
“What is that?” Enoch asked, shocked. The pain from his injury seemed to suddenly resurface, it prevented him from moving, at least to safety.
Ife hurried to put on the TV-set at the other side of the bed. Every station had the same breaking news headline;
‘Major explosion somewhere in Lagos.’
Ife quickly used her mobile phone to surf the internet. Her hands started to tremble the moment the caption from a reputable E-gossip site caught her attention;
‘Explosion at popular Lagos firm, Lewis Chamber.’
“No!… this can’t be,” she screamed.
“What is it?” Enoch asked with concern. His stitches had come undone again and he had started to bleed again.
Ife stared at his bleeding side in awe for a while, before her lips finally parted to let her hoarded words out.
“My father has a meeting at Lewis Chambers now.”
It took a little talk from Enoch, who was getting weaker with each passing moment to convince Ife to dial her father’s number to confirm or dis-affirm her fears. Ife wouldn’t stop ranting about how she was possessed. Even in the most uneasiest of times she had found a way to rope in religion to the conversation. She claimed to have a demon that wanted her to become a complete orphan in all ramifications.
“Hello my baby girl,” Barr. Daniels greeted.
This was the sweetest, Ife had heard his voice in a long time.
“Daddy!” Ife called out with joy; her pesky emotions came to play here, tears trickled down her cheek. “I thought you were gone.”
“I’m here baby… I’m here,” He responded.
He explained that his scheduled appointment for a possible expansion of his firm through a collaboration with Lewis Chambers’ CEO, Mr. Andrew, was postponed at the last minute; he said he was still driving back to his firm when the explosion went off but that he was in the safety of his office now.
“Don’t worry, Missy is here with me,” Barr. Daniels said. “We’re going to weather this curfew together,” he said and paused. He had begun to feel emotional. It would be about two days before the Government would allow normal movement following the gravity of the explosion and the chaos it has caused the city. He could feel the full force of Ife’s emotions over the phone-line. Who would have known that it’d take Lagos State almost completely burning for he and his Ife to find common ground again.
“Take care of yourself my baby girl,” He finally burst into tears, audible enough for Ife and Enoch to hear his sobs.
The line went dead and Ife slowly pulled the phone away from her ear. She was glad her father was safe: it was funny how she couldn’t think about life without him. Who would have thought it would take a major explosion for her to completely realize they couldn’t live without one another?
“That’s because no matter your quarrel, you’re still family.” Enoch said. His voice brought her back to reality, she suddenly recognized his blood-soaked bandage; it was as though she was seeing it for the first time since the whole day’s problem started with Naomi.
Enoch watched her clean him up for a while before he spoke to break the silence. “Do you like me?” He asked.
Ife smiled. “I don’t,” she said.
“To think that you were actually jealous that I slept with your friend,” Enoch said. He rose up and staggered to the mini-fridge at the other side of his room. “If you want me, I’m all yours,” he said. “All you have to do is ask.”
“I wasn’t jealous,” Ife snapped, though she was enjoying the light exchange of banters.
“Liar!” Enoch called her out bluntly.
“Same way you’re lying about your gun-shot injury,” she rebutted.
Enoch looked at her, his eyes were tighter now and they pierced through Ife’s eyelids; she felt great discomfort through them.
“We all lie. Sometimes, out of necessity,” Ife added.
“What do you think happened to me?” Enoch asked.
“Definitely not a bar fought as you claimed; the gun-wound is too sophisticated for a common bar fight,” Ife replied.
Enoch liked her reply. Further talks made him realize Barr. Daniels was an expert at guns; hunting was one of his hobbies, and Ife had picked up a reasonable knowledge of guns, and the injuries they inflict to the flesh. He was enjoying their uninterrupted time together, yet, he maintained his resolve as before. “I was accidentally shot in a bar-fight at the place where I work,” he repeated.
His phone at the bedside started to ring. Ife gave him the guilty stare as though she realized the universe was as well calling him out for his persistent lies. Ife went for the phone, because she was closer to it, and answered before Enoch could get to her.
“Hello! Hello!” She sounded repeatedly, to no response.
“Put it on speaker, the mouthpiece is bad,” Enoch said. He helped himself to the bed to relax.
“This is The Lagos City, State-Police, calling for Mr. Enoch Mary-Ben.” A husky male voice at the other end spoke. “Are we on to him?”
“You may proceed, Sir,” Enoch replied.
The State Police were calling to request your presence in two days’ time, at the end of the curfew. They didn’t disclose any sensitive detail but requested he come along with his National ID Card, International Passport, or any other means of valid identification.
“What was that?” Ife asked.
“Nothing that should trouble you,” Enoch retorted.
“Talk to me… Have I been taking care of a bad man for the past two days, risking my life and safety for someone not worth it?” Ife asked. Her face appeared swollen.
“No.” Enoch forced himself off the bed and walked out of the room.
Ife sat on the bed now, confused. Her eyes caught her father’s file she came along with, and she remembered all her problems on the home-front and how they outweighed whatever it is Enoch had going for him.
“No!” Ife shouted and burst into tears.
Enoch came rushing as fast as he could. He met Ife on the floor, heavily crying, with the file opened, and lying by her side. He didn’t fully understand what he saw even though he took a peak into the case-file. He tried getting Ife to talk; to no avail either.
“He killed him!… He killed him!… He killed my father!” Ife suddenly burst out, still pouring uncontrollable tears.
“My present father …” she looked up to Enoch’s eyes, and forced sputum down her dry-throat. She forced herself to continue, “… he killed my former father.”