By Adeola Nissi
Tinuke knocked on the door to her mother�s house. She wondered why the door was not being answered. She had packed up her load with the aim of going directly to Raymond�s house but she had decided to get some real advice from someone that loves her unconditionally � her mother. She had been standing there for more than three minutes and the door didn�t portray the fact that it might be opened. Suddenly, the door opened and she stared at the sleepy face of her mother. She had known that her mother would be at home because she passed by her shop and met the sales girl there.
�Atinuke mi� her mother called, surprised.
�Good evening ma� she knelt halfway, embracing her mum.
�You did not tell me you are coming, come inside�. She entered with her mother following behind.
�Oh� mummy, I am sooo thirsty� she proceeded to the kitchen and pulled out a pack of juice. She returned with a full glass of juice in one hand and the remaining pack of juice in the other.
�What is with the luggage? Where are you going?�
She sat on the chair opposite her mum. �I was going to Ray�s house but I decided to stop by your place�.
Her mother laughed. �The route to his place is different from mine, so get another excuse�.
Tinuke smiled but the smile soon faded out. �Mum, I need your advice. Ray wants to replace me�
�What?� her mum exclaimed. �Don�t joke with something so serious�
�I am not joking mum. For the past few days, I have been calling him but he has refused to pick my calls. I tried using another number but immediately he heard my voice, he hung up. I am tired mum�
Bewildered. �And you did not tell me since�
�I am sorry mum. Do you know the most ridiculous part of all these? The other lady is his maid. Can you believe it? A stupid maid� she hissed.
Mrs Rogers could not believe her ears. �Don�t just fold your arms while your husband is being taken from you; this is not how I ended up in your father�s house�. She almost yelled.
�Then what do I do mum, that is why I came here�.
�Ok� here is what you would do�.�
Sleeping while Luciana is missing was obviously an impossible task for Deolu. He left the room after he had called Caleb. Caleb had told him that the police is out, searching for Fred. The pictures of Fred now graced every corner of the state with the promise of a handsome reward for anyone who leads them to Fred. He hadn�t taken anything since morning and his stomach was beginning to complain but he had no appetite. He sat on the chair in the sitting room with his thoughts scattered. He took out his phone and started going through all the pictures again. His album was filled with pictures of Lucy. You can never get tired of looking at her pictures; the more you look, the more attractive they become. Tears threatened to break free and he quickly blinked them away.
�What is this? My son is getting emotional, right here in my sitting room?�
Deolu looked up and saw his father. He smiled and prostrated before him. At least, he would have his best friend to talk to, he thought.
�Good evening dad.�
�Evening my boy. I don�t need to ask how you are doing because it is obvious that you are not yourself. I would bet my fortune that the problem has to do with a woman� he sat beside his son. �she is a beautiful one� his eyes was fixed on the Deolu�s phone which was displaying Luciana�s picture.
Deolu had heard it said before that men love their mothers more while women love their fathers more. That logic does not apply to him. The love he has for his father is great and even though he still loves his mum; it is not as much as he loves his dad. Though his dad chastises him at times, he is still his closest friend. No problem brought before him can leave the same way it came. Although, in this case, he seriously doubted that anything would happen to his problem today.
“She is a rare gem dad” he responded, dropping the phone on the table.
“I can see that” he looked at Deolu with worry lines on his forehead. “Last time I checked, she was just your friend. Has something changed?”
The question did not quite sound like a question because the answer was very clear.
“That status changes four days ago” it seemed more like an eternity ago.
“Hmmmmm” his father grunted, waiting for him to proceed.
Deolu stood up and started pacing. “But what is that when she is nowhere to be found?”
“What are you saying?”
Deolu exhaled slowly. “Lucy is missing dad”
“What?” He exclaimed. “Are you sure she didn’t travel or… Or run away with someone”.
“No. None of that happened. All her things are in the apartment, including her phone” he exhaled again and proceeded to explain everything to his father: Bewaji’s dream; the empty house; Fred’s disappearance and all the efforts they had put in finding Lucy.
Mr Aremu just stayed there, listening without interrupting his son. When Deolu finally landed, silence prevailed for the next couple of minutes. “What if he is not in Ogun state?”
Deolu raised his eyes to his father.
“Yes. If I killed someone which is impossible, I would flee. If I am running away from the cops, it would be stupid of me to tell someone where I am running off to when information can easily be coerced from that person. The only way I would do that is if the information I am passing is a wrong one.”
Deolu stood with his eyes fixed on his dad. There is always an added advantage when you talk to him. His ways of looking at things are always superb. “I never thought of that… I would search the whole planet if I have to. I must see Lucy and that bas***d would pay.”
“And if the dreams are true, then your girl is in danger. She must still be in Lagos. We need to start a thorough search for her here. Go to every hospital and mor-“
“Don’t even mention it dad” Deolu cut in, alarmed. “She is not dead.”
Bose was perplexed. This is the first time that she would admit her feelings to a man and now, she is feeling like crap. She wondered why she had answered the question. Why hadn’t she lied? It would have been easier for her. She could have easily told him that he was imagining things. Instead of ‘yes’, she could have said ‘no’ and everything would be fine. Why did she make herself look like an opportunist?
Ever since Ray drove out, she had dived into work like her life depended on it, hoping that work would distract her from the past hour but no. Instead, her thoughts increased.
Ray is obviously not in love with her. She had seen it in the way he looked at her, in the way he held her in his arms. He is just someone that is too friendly and down to earth. Anyone would fall in love with him; she only wished that ‘someone’ was not her. How can you cope, knowing that the love you feel cannot be returned?
She contemplated leaving without any goodbyes but had a rethink. She already had more than enough in her savings to sustain herself and start up a small business but how would repay good for evil? Raymond and his family had been good to her; too good actually; and vanishing just like that would be too bad. Who would see to Ray’s meals, chores and other necessities? Even though Ray would not love her like a woman, she was hundred percent sure that she meant more to him than just a mere maid. The heart cannot be controlled so, his not loving her is not his fault.
She heart a knock, coming from the gate and tensed up. She went to the gate and opened it. Tinuke bounced in, almost throwing Bose off balance in the process. She had three bags with her, which she dropped in order to stretch her hands. She picked one of them and made for the house. “Bring those bags inside for me” she ordered. She had noticed the absence of Ray’s car and she smiled internally. ‘Perfect’ she thought.
Bose was bewildered. Things just got worse. “You can’t enter ma’am” she said, blocking her.
“Oh… And why is that? Ray called me this evening, asking me to come over. If I were you, I would choose my words very, very carefully, if I have a job to protect”. With that, she pushed Bose out of the way and marched into the house.
Bose was left standing there, momentarily stunned. So Ray had called her. Is it because of my confession? Perhaps he called her to remind me of my place in this house. All these went through her brain as tears rolled down her cheeks. She wiped her face and proceeded to carry out madam’s orders.
Tinuke lay fully clothed on Ray’s bed with her eyes closed, feeling so tired. She heard the door open and guessed it must be Bose. She opened her eyes as Bose dropped the bags and saw the sober expression on her face. She smiled. She remembered her expression of shock and surprise some minutes ago. ‘I don’t think she knows who she is dealing with’ she thought.
Bose exited the room and Tinuke stood up. She stripped and walked into the bathroom. She allowed the cold water to caress every part of her. After some minutes, she was back in the room. After wiping her body dry, she polished her skin with body lotion. She took out her body spray and applied it on some sensitive spots, keeping it moderate and not too toxic. She had realized over the years that Raymond goes wild with desire whenever he perceives the scent of that spray. She unzipped her box and pulled out a wine coloured gown who stopped just below the butt. She gave a winning smile. God bless experienced mothers!!!
Teju alighted from the bus and entered the street by the junction. She does not have the connections required to pull the police force but she has legs to walk the whole of Lagos if possible, in search of her friend. She had been to six hospitals and she so wanted to visit one more before the day runs out.
She sighted the hospital she was looking for – Hope Hospital. She entered the reception and greeted the nurses there.
“Good evening miss, how can we help you?” One of the nurses asked with a smile.
“Please, I am looking for someone named Luciana Jones. I don’t know if she was admitted here. We have been looking for her for days”.
The nurse looked thoughtful. “No, I don’t think so.” She pulled out their register and checked through with Teju checking with her but found no one with that name. Teju looked dejected as she exited the hospital. She passed by another nurse on her way out who was wondering why she looked so depressed. Teju did not bother look at her, she was too depressed to pay attention to anyone. Something told her to go back but she didn’t. The nurse entered and asked the other nurses what the lady came for and they explained the issue.
“What if it is the lady that was brought here by Mr Raymond?” The nurses looked at each other. She ran out to see if she can catch up with the lady but she was already gone. She exhaled and went back inside.
…To be continued