Sacrilege – Episode 37
© Adeola Nissi
“So, she was with you” Tito exploded suddenly, glaring at Deolu. It was about an hour after they received the shocking call from Laura’s kidnapper and they had successfully moved themselves from the hospital to Deolu’s residence. All along Tito had been in the dark; she had no idea whatsoever that Laura had been with Deolu. Chris seemed totally unaware either because he also stood, gaping at Deolu as he made a statement of how he had known leaving her all alone at the beach was a bad idea. Tito looked about as scary as wonder woman as she advanced towards Deolu like a wolf ready to confront his pack. Deolu wasn’t the least bit scared of her but there was this glint in her eyes which put him on guard. “You took my sister out to the beach at night?” her voice was icy as she stood directly in front of him, returning his stare with double measure of her own.
Deolu didn’t have time for this. Between the devastating news he had heard about Teju and Laura’s kidnap, he couldn’t fathom how he hadn’t died of heart attack because the devil seemed to have his dagger aimed at his heart. “She is my wife” He simply answered. He needed space… God knows he needed silence to hear his thoughts above the deafening roar in his head.
“Your wife, uhn?” Tito snapped, raging. “Then why don’t you tell me how your ‘wife’ ended up leaving the beach all alone at night without you, uhn?” her voice rose with each word that tumbled out of her vocal cords.
Chris was equally puzzled. “Didn’t you know when she left?”
Deolu swallowed, moving away from Tito’s front to resume what he had been doing since they got to his apartment – pacing. “No” he answered, ashamed of the reality of what had happened. He had vowed to protect her and yet, once again, he had failed.
“No?” Tito all but spat out. “And where were you? You left her alone on the beach to go to where? Run into the arms of your bestie whore?”
“Please, calm down Tito” Chris butted in.
“No! I wasn’t with Teju, and don’t call her that” Deolu answered at the same time. Frustration and desperation clawed at his spine, if only Tito would just keep quiet for a moment, maybe he could piece together all the puzzles in his head.
“Oh my God! He is actually defending the tramp” Tito had a dazed smile on her face, staring the distance at Deolu.
“Really guys… really? Laura has been abducted and all you can think of doing is bicker? Seriously? Maybe if you both would calm down for a moment, we can figure out a way forward” Chris snapped, his eyes trained on Tito.
Tito glared back at him. “Well, don’t stare at me” she blurted out. “If your dear friend had done a good job of protecting Laura, there would be nothing to bicker about, would there?” Tito turned with equal measure, moving so she was in Deolu’s line of vision, forcing him to look at her. “Better pray she is fine or you’d have me to deal with; you should know I’m not at good foe”
Deolu watched Tito move around restlessly and ran his two hands over his head. Tito had a right to all the questions she was asking; God knows she had a right to accuse him. He felt like such an idiot. He never should have left her all alone in that lodge, he knew that. Laura was a light sleeper and banking on the hope that she wouldn’t awaken before he arrived was stupid. He had known it and yet he had left her anyways, all in the aim to salvage his wrecked marriage. He had needed explanations, something to work with; he had needed to fix the puzzles that he went ahead to defy the reason of common sense. But now… now that he had all the explanations he needed, Laura was nowhere to be found. All that was happening was totally his fault. It all seemed as though every time he tried to fix the wrecked boat that was his marriage, the more the boat caved in, sinking even further as if drawn by an unforeseen force. The words of the man he had encountered that night as he went jogging came back to his head. He couldn’t fix this on his own… he needed God himself to intervene.
As a semblance of tense silence descended, Chris watched Tito pace restlessly before going to perch on the edge of the sitting room couch, placing her head in her open palms. He felt the almost uncontrollable urge to go to her and ease the tension that rode her shoulders like a stallion. Just hours ago, she heard her father was out of coma and thought he worries were lifted but now this? A fresh reason to worry… He knew she didn’t mean all she said to Deolu, she was just under the influence of fear and excess paranoia. He felt her pain and dilemma. But even as his heart yearned to hold her in his arms, there was a bigger cause to worry than Tito’s feelings right now. They had to find a way to get Laura back and fast before the animal or animals who took her found a reason to defile her or worse, maim her. Restless, Tito surged to her feet again, unable to keep calm and she made for the kitchen, probably to grab something to drink.
Chris walked quietly towards Deolu who was now looking outside the window into the night’s darkness. They had been friends for years, but never had Chris seen Deolu so disillusioned. He had always been so sure, so articulate and calculative… he always seemed to have the right answers to every question; but marriage and life isn’t a game of intelligence. Life could be a place where the wisest get robbed of their wisdom, till they come to accept that having the best players doesn’t guarantee winning a football game.
Chris touched Deolu gently on the shoulder. Deolu didn’t budge as he stared vacantly out the window. “We have to inform the cops”
Not a muscle of Deolu’s body moved. Exhaustion was clearly written on his tired eyes. “We can’t; they specifically warned against that move”
“Of course, they did; that’s what they all say. Who is going to tell them if you do?”
Deolu turned his head sharply, training his eyes on Chris. “The same person who told them where to find Laura in the first place. I am not going to put my wife in danger under the assumptions that they might be bluffing”
“So what? You’d pay the money, just like that?”
Deolu looked out of the window again. “First thing in the morning.”
“Really? And you think they would give you back your wife once you give them the money?” Deolu’s eyes returned to Chris. “Think about it. Whoever is behind this clearly doesn’t know how much you are worth, If you pay up so fast, don’t you think the abductors would realize they can get a lot more and hold her just to extort more money from you?”
Deolu turned his body fully away from the window, giving Chris his maximum attention. His eyes were hard. “So, what are you suggesting? That I leave Laura to suffer God knows what in the hands of those beasts while I stay here and pretend like ten million is too much a sacrifice for her freedom? No! I would give up every penny in my account if that’s what it takes to get her back.” Deolu bellowed, punctuating every word with a downward thump of his fist.
Chris sighed. “Okay, you are right” he said to Deolu but Chris certainly wasn’t going to just sit idly and watch the culprits of this kidnap go scot-free. Deolu was reasoning with his heart now and not his head and he could understand that. The mere fact that he didn’t have swirling emotions right now other than worry told him beyond words that he was over Laura; he wasn’t sure he’d be so composed if Tito was the one captured. Anita’s husband was a very good high-ranking police officer who Chris knew could help. Whether they liked it or not, they needed the intervention of the police and Chris prayed they wouldn’t mess the whole thing up, Deolu would surely never forgive him. “You need to relax” he finally added.
Deolu smiled mirthlessly as he moved away from the window to the chair. “Don’t ask me to do the impossible” he sat and exhaled, rubbing his fingers against his temples. Tito came back into the sitting room.
“Fine, why don’t we pray then” Deolu and Tito stared at Chris. “We are in no position to protect Laura now. We have no idea where she is and the only person who knows where is God; let’s ask for His help. C’mon” Chris held out a hand in Tito’s direction. Tito stood in the distance as her eyes left his to settle on his held out hand. As though drawn by a force, her legs moved in his direction till they were all together. There was something in Chris’ eyes as he stared at her that she had never seen before, something she was scared of… his eyes held a softness that she had never noticed before. Or maybe she was making things up… maybe she was seeing things that weren’t there.
His heat seeped into her as Chris took her hand, his large palm swallowing hers; then Deolu took her other hand. This was about Laura, Tito had to remind herself. And then, joining hands, they closed their eyes and collectively said a prayer for Laura.
Laura staggered after her abductors who dragged her not so gently, holding her at elbow level. She was gagged and blindfolded so she couldn’t tell where they were going or scream for help. They had been moving from one place to another, they couldn’t seem to relax. It’s true that there is no peace for the wicked. Every time her abductors felt uncomfortable or heard funny sounds, they grabbed her and changed location. Her feet felt sore. She had been walking barefooted all through, it was easier than walking in her red heels which were the only thing she had on her and had slipped into as she made for the hospital. Tears burned in her eyes and they fell off her lashes onto the blindfold.
Why had she left the beach so late at night, knowing she didn’t have her car with her and Deolu wasn’t there to take her? She should have just stayed there till morning and not get herself and everyone into any more trouble. But she had done otherwise… she had let her emotions overrule her sense of better judgement. But how wouldn’t she have done what she did? She had just received the best news, one she had been waiting and praying for… a news she thought she would never receive, she couldn’t have sat back to stare into the space of an empty bedroom till morning. Deolu was nowhere to be found and Tito was in the hospital needing moral support, she couldn’t just sit on her butt doing nothing… but now, as she was being bragged along by her abductors, she wished she had done exactly that.
Her head ached as she thought of how everyone would react when they realized she had been kidnapped. They had too much to worry about to add this to the list. And what of Deolu? Had he been abducted too? Tears dripped out of her eyes as she bit into the gag, the ropes anchoring her fists together tore at her tender flesh. There was the sound of rattling of keys, then a door opened and she was dragged inside. She struggled and the hand holding her left elbow tightened painfully. “Hey, stop that” his deep smoky voice commanded in a deathly low tone right before he hurled her across the room. Laura’s legs scraped the ground as she stumbled and fell.
“Stop” Laura faintly heard the other man say above the banging in her head. “She asked us not to hurt her”
“I don’t give a damn what she said… this woman don almost put hole for inside my leg. If she try anything, I go wash am… I no send o”
The door opened and closed behind his departing footsteps. Laura swallowed. She needed the blindfold and the gag off, it was beginning to choke her and she tried for a few deep breaths. She felt a presence and knew the other man was still with her. She stayed at alert but she also felt this other man wasn’t as dangerous as the other one. He had been gentler with her all through. The two masked men had accosted her just as she left the beach lodge; she hadn’t even made it to the road yet. It was like they had known she was there all along, they probably would have barged into the lodge to grab her if she hadn’t come out herself. She had tried to get away and had stomped her heel hard on the feet of one of them. It had won her a momentary freedom but just as she fled back towards the lodge, discarding her heels in order to run faster, strong arms of the other masked guy had grabbed her. He had shielded her from the other guy’s enraged outbursts, preventing him from hitting her. Now, she was a little glad it was the other guy she had dealt with.
She felt her companion draw closer and she shrank out of fright. Truly, there is nothing scarier than losing your sight. If only she wasn’t blindfolded… she froze as warm fingers touched her face. She held her breath, staying perfectly still. Then, just like an answered prayer, the blindfold came off. Laura blinked. At first, she thought she had gone blind because all she saw was darkness. Then, she blinked and her eyes regulated. Her captor was still masked but his hand was gentle. Behind the mask, the eyeballs she made out weren’t that of a man who should be in this line of business. She wondered what had moved him into doing this. Of course, only Laura would find good in a kidnapper.
“Promise not to scream if I take off your gag?” he asked.
Laura nodded. He seemed uncertain but he took his hand to her mouth and took off the gag. Laura gasped. Her mouth was dry and her tongue felt glued to the base of her mouth. Her abductor stood abruptly and made for the door. “Please…” she croaked out. “Please, you have to let me go… please” she pleaded. He paused at the door. “Do you have my husband also? I have to look for him. My sister is with my dads in the hospital and she would be worried sick. I would give you any amount you want but just… please, let me go. Please…”
The guy’s hand seemed to linger on the doorknob. For a moment there, she thought he would turn around but her heart shattered when he opened the door and went out, closing and locking it behind him. Laura closed her eyes, tears coming to her eyes as she thought of a way out of this. Something they had said during their exchange stuck to her head. The person behind this was a woman?! She had a sickening feeling about this!
Margaret paced nervously. Her tummy was heaving, it was like she would throw up any minute. She stared at her phone again. Was something wrong? Has something gone wrong somewhere? She rubbed her sweaty palms against her skirt and her eyes lingered on her sleeping child. All for her, she had chanted this in her head for over a million times now but she still wash close to believing it.
Her phone rang, making her jump. She picked up immediately she saw the caller. “Oh, thank God, I thought something has gone wrong… do you have her?…”
To be continued