� Oyinloye Oluwatosin Emmanuel
Dave gently stirred the tea in the cup with the spoon in it, his palm carefully placed under the saucer. He released air from his mouth to blow the hot vapour escaping the cup and proceeded to his living room with it. He dropped the cup with the saucer on the footstool before settling into the sofa beside it.
The alarm sounded. It was twelve PM. He quickly rose to find the remote control and turned on the TV. The news would be on and he didn’t want to miss any of it, he also hoped to hear more about the stir his article was causing. He listened from the sofa where he sat in a relaxed manner and took slow sips from his cup of tea. The news item he expected was the second news item read out, but he was amazed at the new turn of events.
The Inspector General, represented by Agent Tim had debunked the news of the kidnap, adding that the woman was safe and sound. He urged the general public to stay away from unreliable news websites and blogs of hungry bloggers who fabricate cheap news to get traffic. He further stated that the pictures of the registers from the transport service were forged and that the workers there claimed not to have anyone like Mrs George patronize them. A video showing the woman in a happy shape was aired.
Dave dropped the tea cup after finishing it halfway. A worried look appeared on his face. His eyes searched around for his phone and he realized that he had left it in the room. He got up to go into his room and returned two minutes later. There were several missed calls on his phone. He had received different calls from Inspector Dakolo, several other journalists and bloggers who he knew were calling to accuse him of providing a false news item. He dialed back Inspector Dakolo’s number.
‘Dave!’ The call was answered at the first ring.
‘Sir, I woke up to see that you’ve tried to reach me.’
‘Yes, I know that you should know by now that everything has turned around.’
‘Yes, but…’ he paused and stared a bit at the television. ‘I also saw something about a false lead to Kurudu.’
‘Where are you Dave?’
‘In my apartment?’
‘Can you come down to the headquarters?’
‘The Police headquarters?’
‘No, let’s meet elsewhere. I’ll call you back when I’m ready.’
Dave dropped the phone and continued with the remaining content of the tea cup.
‘Can I leave now Inspector?’ Rex was first to talk as he saw the man wheel himself into the room.
‘Yes, I came to tell you that the way is clear,’ the Inspector General replied him. He signalled to the guard behind who had opened the door for him to close it and leave.
Rex let out a breath. His eyes met with the IG’s eyes which were focused on his face but he moved his gaze to at Stainless and made a signal to him with his eyes.
‘Did you get breakfast?’ the Inspector General asked.
‘Yes, I did.’
‘Hmm,’ the man chuckled. He expected Rex to be humble now that he had failed but he could still see the arrogance all over Rex.
‘Do you guys have any useful information?’ Rex asked Chief Rikau. He was already up on his feet and packing his things. ‘I mean the police,’ he clarified on seeing that the man didn’t know what response to give.
‘A guy came earlier claiming to have useful information. He is a member of the National Union of road transport workers from Lagos. He said the lady he drove down to Kurudu from Lagos overnight could be Samantha Osman. Her calls overnight were suspicious and he also heard her calling the police to meet them at Kurudu.’
Rex stopped all he was doing and stared intently at the man. ‘Does he have any information about her whereabouts?’
‘Sadly, he doesn’t. But he said she met with two people at Kurudu and gave them her bags, a man and a lady.’
Rex calculated in his mind the sensibility of the information he was getting. She didn’t show up or take any action throughout the night, could it be because she was in Lagos the day before, just like Henry E.G had said she wasn’t in town. And maybe that was equally the reason she decided to pull the rumour stunt to destroy his plans. But how did she get the pictures of the transport service registers showing the date and Mrs George’s name? He asked himself. She could have only gotten that if she was in Abuja. It began to make more sense. She didn’t take any action neither did she send Cole or anybody else that was working with her to do anything, but she could have sent someone to the motor service to get the register, and that was what they did instead of following Henry to Kurudu to support him. The transport man who showed up at the Police’s claimed Samantha met with two people at Kurudu and gave them bags. Maybe it was that morning they planned to launch an attack on him.
‘Damn it!’ he cursed aloud. He would have waited for her at Kurudu but he never thought she would appear again, there was no way she could have defeated him with her men. He had set up facilities and weapons to ensure her capture. The only thing that could have restrained him was the police which she invited to Kurudu.
‘What Rex? What?’ the Inspector General barked at him, feeling disrespected and ignored.
Rex gave the man a cold stare. ‘Let’s get the hell out of here,’ he said to Stainless.
A delicious aroma was what woke Henry. He found himself sprawled on the floor of the living room. Only Cole was still there with him, sleeping on the sofa but was wide awake. He sat up and yawned. It was afternoon already.
He got up and stretched as he walked. He traced the aroma to the dining room and found Omotara there seated with Tomi and eating. He could see two other plates served, his and Cole’s.
Two hours later, everyone had eaten and had freshened up. Tarasha requested that they had a brief discussion before they all continued with their rests which she knew they may still need to get more of.
She sat at the sofa by the left. Cole sat at the three seater in the middle, Henry at the one seater beside Tomi and Tomi on the one seater facing Tarasha directly. All had their faces turned to Tarasha. The whole place was dead silent.
‘Today, we escaped narrowly. That news saved us. It could be because of carelessness on their part or the hardwork of the journalist even though now he or she would be facing queries as the government have turned his report to a lie. If Rex had been at that place when I came, I would have given him a good fight but he was readier than I was and he had the location set up, he had that advantage. But that’s why I involved the police, to distract him and shake his plan a bit. There was no fight at the end, he probably left it for another day or was ordered to retreat by his sponsors. But we have to tighten up now and get ready for the other day coming. Rex is not our target, we have no business with him but since he’s a barrier, we’ll make plans for him. We’re taking things one after the other but not slowly. Our targets are Vice President and the Inspector General. The strategy to get them is not fully made up yet, in fact not up to twenty percent. But we now have our weak links closed, Rex cannot intimidate anyone using their families anymore, and then we have a new asset.’ Tarasha paused and moved her gaze from one person to the other, she balanced her gaze on Tomi. ‘That asset is you, no one knows about you with us and we can still use your real identity without needing a disguise.’
She looked away from Tomi and stood up. ‘Like I said, we have our weak links closed. We only need to finish up our strategy and I’ll be leaving Abuja again tomorrow for this cause.’ she stopped and began to look at each one’s face one after the other. ‘The most important thing we need to do now is to ensure we don’t create any link for the enemy to come in.’
Location: The Presidential Villa. Aso Rock, Abuja.
Time : 3:32pm
On a large dining table, there were assorted dishes and drinks. Seven men were seated around it. President Emeka sat at the middle, three people including the Vice President at the left and three others at the right. The other five people at the table included elder statesmen and politicians. They dined quietly and exchanged jokes occasionally. There had been a two hours meeting earlier where they discussed several issues affecting the country and decided to wrap up the meeting with lunch.
‘Will you be contesting for President next year?’ one of the men seated at the right asked, looking straight at the Vice President with a serious expression on his face.
The Vice President spilled the drink in his hand as the question met him by surprise. They had all finished eating already.
‘Sorry,’ Chief Elvis Richard apologized as he wiped the table with a napkin. His mind searched for the right answer to give. The truth was that he had the Presidency in mind but had never made his intention known public and wasn’t ready to say it until the last minute.
He looked up after folding the napkin back to shape. All eyes were on him. He cleared his throat. ‘I do really think so sir,’ he finally replied. ‘Yes, I think I would love to continue the good work President Emeka has been doing.’
‘Nice.’ Another man commented. He was the President of the country years ago, now in his old age.
The place was dominated by silence.
The man who had asked the question was Chief Afeez Abdulkadir, a retired politician, stinkingly rich and highly respected in the country. His age could not really be told from his looks but with his experience and how long he had been on the scene, one could guess he was in his eighties or probably early nineties. He still had a strong figure, clear voice and manageable vision. He never contested for the office of the President during his days but he was influential and his say always affected the elections in different states. For several years he had been quiet and living his life peacefully. He never really got close to any President except for Emeka who once worked as the CEO of one of his companies.
Elvis Richards also greatly feared and respected the man. He had gotten the opportunity of working with the man closely during his career in the security force and he knew how secretly powerful this man was, especially in the northern region where he was from and which was the most populated region of the country. He knew how the man’s opinion could affect his chances of being the President.
‘Have you ever made your intentions know to anyone?’ Chief Abdulkadir asked.
‘Not until now sir. We’ve been so busy with the progress activities in the nation that I hardly have time to think about this or talk about next year elections.’
Chief Abdulkadir licked his lips gently. He picked a glass of water and drank a little. ‘I was just thinking about the recent security issues, the assassinations and the attempt, the trial on your life. Could they be political? Could it be that someone sees you as a potential candidate and a threat to him?’
There was silence for a couple of seconds.
‘But I never mentioned this out, I hardly even had time to think about it.’ Elvis Richards said in a thoughtful tone.
‘You don’t need to say anything about it, people are watching you and they know your potentials.’ Chief Abdulkadir said.
President Emeka comes in, ‘But sir, in recent times. We have not really had any case of political assassinations. Our elections have been an example to other African countries and the world.’
‘Yes, your excellency.’ Chief Abdulkadir courtesied. ‘There has not been any case of political assassination recently, it doesn’t mean there were no intentions. And you see, since the outside world began to term our country as developed or close to being developed and our security and military became tight, it’s difficult for an attempt to be made. And you’ll agree with me that the recent assassinations were well strategized and must have been heavily paid for.’
Everyone on the table nodded thoughtfully in agreement with his words.
‘We need to watch it carefully. I think we need to beef up security as the elections draws nearer. Several people have come out to state their intentions to contest and we need to prevent a case where there would be bloodshed.’
‘Hmm… Thank you sir for bringing this up,’ President Emeka smiled thoughtfully.
Cole smiled at the image of man formed in the mirror. He had just had a shave, so his beards and the hair on his head were neater. He had chosen for the date a black jean jacket, a blue v-necked top underneath and a black shredded jean trousers. He decided to maintain his normal ‘bad boy’ look instead of trying to impress by dressing like a gentleman.
He sat at the edge of the bed and slipped on his sneakers. His phone began to ring as he fixed the lace, Patricia was calling. He left the lace and reached for his phone by the pillow side.
‘I just wanted to find out if you are through from work,’ he said into the phone. He knew she was calling back because she had seen his missed call.
‘Yes, I am. I was trying to get a cab when you called then.’
‘So, where are you? Should I come and pick you there?’
‘No, don’t bother. I’m at home already. I just need a few minutes to change my dress.’
‘Okay, I’ll be at your estate gate in twenty minutes.’
He sat back at the edge of the bed after cutting the call. He finished up with his shoe lace quickly and proceeded to the door with the car key. The door flung open as he got there, narrowly missing his face.
‘Tomi, hey! You should knock,’ Cole shot her a cold look.
She ignored him and sized him up from head to toe with her eyes. ‘Where are you going to?’ she asked with a dominating tone of a mum questioning her son. She moved a step back and placed her hand on her waist.
‘When did I become accountable to you?’
She stared at him silently for a moment. She then blinked and let out a breath. ‘Why have you been avoiding me?’
‘Avoiding you?’ he gave her a side look. ‘To my knowledge, we see and work together everyday, how can I avoid you?’
‘You know what I’m talking about Cole,’ she eyed him wickedly.
‘Don’t you get tired?’ he asked raising his brow. ‘Well, you can see I was on my way out before you showed up.’
He pulled the door handle to close it as he stepped out. She gave way.
‘So, the boss travelled today and you’re going clubbing again tonight?’ she turned and watched as he walked away.
‘It’s none of your business. The boss never stops me from clubbing even when she’s around.’
He walked on without turning to give her another look.
Location : Fadel Cool Creamery, Asokoro
35 minutes later.
‘Wow! I never knew this place was this beautiful,’ Patricia exclaimed, looking around the place admiringly.
‘I’m glad you like it,’ he smiled as he saw the ecstacy in her eyes.
She stopped looking around and turned back to meet his smiling face, he kept his gaze on her face without blinking.
‘What?’ she asked with a laugh. He wouldn’t stop staring at her.
‘Damn it! I can’t contain your beauty,’ Victor let out with a long breath. Her beauty that night was truly different. It had taken him great effort to take his eyes off her and focus on the road while driving to the place.
He had gotten to the estate gate before her and stood outside his car to wait for her arrival. He was stunned when she showed up at the gate. She was putting on a perfectly fitted cream coloured gown with flowery design all over, it stopped slightly above her knees. Her makeup was noticeable but modest and perfect for her face. He also noticed she had changed her hairstyle into a longer one. She was totally different from the kind of girls he was used to. The girls he hanged out with were always either sluttishly dressed or like gangsters. This was totally different and it had a different effect on him.
‘Come on, would you stop saying that. You’ve said it so many times today already,’ she chuckled with her response.
The attendant arrived with a tray containing two cups of cold refined milk and snacks.
‘Well, I tried to reach you yesterday. Your number was switched off all through.’ she said after the attendant left.
‘Oh, yes. It was, I had a problem with my phone.’ Victor lied. ‘You were the first person I called after fixing it this morning.’
He had turned on the phone at Kurudu on Tarasha’s order (to turn off everything that could be used to trace them) and forgot to turn on it after they got to the base. When he finally remembered at night, he decided to secure the IMEI of the phone before using it again. He secured it that night, making it and anything used with it untraceable.
‘That was around six am, how did you finish fixing it at that time?’ she asked.
‘Ermm… I have good knowledge of phones, so I did it myself, that morning. No need for repairers.’ he said with a proud smile.
‘Wow! So you’re handy too?’
‘Yes, I learnt that at a very young age.’
‘Oh well, it’s good.’
They stopped taking for a brief moment and engaged themselves with the milk. The sweetness of the milk could be seen in the smiles on their faces after taking the first spoon each.
‘It’s actually my first time of coming here too, I only dropped by once to get a cup of milk for my sister.’ Victor confessed.
‘Your sister must have taste for good things,’ Patricia put in. ‘Did her husband or hubby use to bring her here?’
‘I can’t tell, I don’t know where she does her dates. She isn’t married yet,’ Victor said.
‘What about you?’
He smiled at her. ‘Are you asking if I’m married?’
‘Of course, I’m not.’ he said, raising up his fingers to show the absence of a ring. ‘You thought I could be married?’
‘What about your girlfriend?’ she ignored his question.
‘Girlfriend? I don’t have a girlfriend.’
‘Oh! Your ex, what happened with her?’ Patricia asked.
He paused a bit and stared at her. She could see the uneasiness on his face.
‘Oh! Sorry I asked that,’ she apologized.
‘It’s nothing, I really never had an ex.’
‘Huh?’ she shone her eyes widely at him.
He felt a bit embarrassed. He had only loved once in his lifetime, in his first year at the university and never really dated the girl. He didn’t know how to tell her he never had a girlfriend but only bed partners.
‘You never had a girlfriend, are you a monk?’
He laughed loudly and relaxed his back, shaking his spoon playfully in his hand. ‘It’s not like that. I had one in school but…’ he struggled to find words to form a lie.
‘She broke your heart?’
‘No, things didn’t just work out.’
‘And then, how many years now? You locked your heart?’
He leaned forward and placed his spoon into the cup. He put his elbows on the table and rested his chin in his palms. ‘I didn’t, it got locked by itself.’
‘Then open it,’ she said nonchalantly as she took a spoonful of iced milk.
‘You opened it already,’ he said calmly, looking thinly into her eyes. She didn’t seem to hear the last thing he said. ‘I’m in love with you Pat,’ he said, in a voice loud enough for people at the neighboring tables to hear.
…to be continued