“Shit,” Chinedu said when the converstion with Habib ended. If his hands were not on the steering wheel, they'd be clenched at this point.
Why now? Now that everything was fine and somewhat dandy. Why now? Now that he was irrevocably hooked on her. Now that he had pledged to love her. Now that he had asked her to marry him. Now that she had accepted. Why?
Poor Iphey. He couldn’t even warn her of the danger that was brewing…Oh God. How he loved her and wanted to protect her. They couldn’t run away. No! he wasn't just going to up and run like some chicken. Run from who? He didn’t even know who they were up against.
That's the question that should be on your mind, Chinedu.
This thing reeked of cat pee. Acidic. Could it be just a gambling debt? Or was there something James wasn’t telling even the EFCC?
He had to do something… and real fast too…
Bob Marley’s Stir it up was playing in the background…Damn. Bob used to help him think straight…and…OH! A Plan began to form in his head.
"Why didn’t I think of that….” Said Chinedu as he dialed a number.
A part of him admonished him...begged him not to call the number...told him to think hard before…it was too late…
“Ehen??” said the voice on the other side, ”who be dis?”
“Ahn ahn! Gbenro, ta lo ji pata re? Who don go vex you today?"
“Tani yii? Who dey talk...who’s this?”
“Ah ah! Tuale!. How you dey na? Na wa o! E don tey oh…”
Chinedu and Gbenro had remained friends. Their friendship had remained a secret. They were never seen together when they did have to meet. Gbenro had come to Chinedu at a low point in his life and so had started their unlikely alliance. Chinedu helped him in cash and Gbenro becaame Chinedu's eyes and ears in the underworld. Just as Alhaji Galadima recruited him for the police, Chinedu began to funnel information from Gbenro to the authorities when necessary. Gbenro knew people who knew people and it was Chinedu who needed Gbenro’s expertise now.
"I need answers and answers I will get by hook or crook." Chinedu thought to himself.
“Gbenro, abeg…Meet me for that place now now...Abeg…E get wetin I want make you help me do…abeg…” Chinedu said.
“Na wa o! Ogbeni. This one wey you don talk abeg like three times so…”
“Wo, dey come, Quick quick!” Chinedu was becoming more agitated now.
“Make I discharge some people. I go dey there sharp sharp!”
“Ok now. See you there. Thank you my brother…”
He had another call to make.
Iphey, Pick up. Pick up...
There was music in the background when he got through.
“Hello…Iphey? Err…are you with James yet?”
“No. I’m still at home,” she said.
“OK. Listen. Call him and tell him you’ll meet him at the Galleria.”
“What? “ There was a tinge of irritation in her voice.
“Look, Iphey, We still are not sure of this guy. He’s your sister’s husband but he’s been away for a while…Remember the circumstances surrounding his disappearance…”
“Look Nedu, you don't know him like I do. Sure I told you the later bits…”
Chinedu was too wired to let her continue. “Trust me Iphey…I’ll come pick you up in about an hour….Please promise you’ll do as I’ve said…”
“You’re talking weird, Nedu, James is still my sister's husband...”
“Please, just do it, ok?”
"Do what exactly?"
"Call James and tell him you'll only see him at the Galleria in an hour."
“Phew! I must “gist” our children o! Kai! This your stubbornness is legendary.” Chinedu was happy she had accepted to do as he wanted.
“Go joo.” Iphey replied.
“See you in an hour honey…”
Ten minutes later, Chinedu was at the assigned place and left the engine running as Gbenro slid into the car.
“Tuale! Ore mi, kilon popping na? You just shari your guy sha…”
“Haba Gbenro! You know everything na…” Chinedu glanced into all the mirrors as he drove of. He had to be sure no one was following them.
“Anyway sha, wetin you dey hurry hurry me make I come do?” His passenger asked.
“Ehen, Gbenro, e get one guy like this wey I want make you tell guys make them torchlight am for me…I wan know who him be…”
“Wetin the guy do? Im dey disturb you? Make I organize boys make them go arrange the guy neat…”
Satisfied that they were not under observation, Chinedu stepped on the accelerator and pulled away. "No. No be like that…the story long small but I will explain quick…See e get one girl…”
“Ha Sinedu! Woman matter…Naa…I no dey that one.”
“Guy, hear wetin I dey talk na! This na my woman o.” They were both silent for a while and then Gbenro nodded.
Chinedu continued, “My girl get one sister when e marry one guy like this…The guy come leave them run…The man come back this year say people wen im owe money dey chase am…the thing be say, the people wey dey chase am come dey think say my girlfriend na the guy partner who hold their money…”
"So wetin come happen. She take the money?"
"Haba now Gbenro, she no take am. She doesn't even know anything."
"OK na...so wetin you want make I do?"
By now, they were parked not too far from where Iphey lived. The engine idled because the air conditioners were on. Chinedu slung his hands over the steering. "Some people wan kidnap my girl be that Gbenro. It fit even happen tonight!"
“Hmmmm…” Gbenro started thoughtfully…
“Which one is hmmmm?” Chinedu said.
"I hear some kidnap rumors sha, na the big Ogas, the ones for Island, na them get that one sha."
Chinedu sat up straight. This must be it, it must be the same people Habib was after, the reason he had picked an interest in James in the first place. The ones who ran gambling rings in Lekki and environs and used low gangs in Ajegunle to do their dirty business. He cursed himself for demanding to be out of the loop. Well it was too late for regrets. Hopefully Gbenro knew the lackeys who would do the actual job and would be able to help foil it.
"Gbenro, I think it is the same deal, what do you know?"
“You get the girl picture? “
“Wetin you wan carry am do?”
“Ogbeni, answer me O jare…”
"E dey my phone sha…" Chinedu began to scroll through his blackberry, “Ok..Ehen this one clear..see am…”
Gbenro took the phone from Chinedu and looked at the picture. His features suddenly registered his shock.
“Na she be this?”
“Yes that's her…Na wetin happen?” Chinedu asked a visibly disturbed Gbenro.
Gbenro, shaking his head vigorously said…“Guy, wahala dey o…”
“What do you mean?” He wa confused now..Very confused…He was convinced that there was no way Gbenro could have met Iphey…Absolutely no way… but Gbenro’s next words put paid to his thoughts…
“Sinedu, this ghel wey you see so, na Dabaru personal project tonight…”
His Nightmare was back.
So that's it for today folks. We have three more chapters to go before we wrap this us so no more votes. Check back on Thursday for the next instalment.
Our contributor is Aeedeeaee, she has contributed before and is a playwright who lives and works in Lagos. She was actually the one that introduced us fully to James. I think it is fitting that she comes in again at this juncture. You can read her other chapters HERE and HERE.