Hi, hope your week has gone well. Enjoy the last episode before the final next week.
Happy birthday PJ for tomorrow. Thank you for your support this past couple of years. Have an awesome day. God bless.
Love from us all.
We have short stories and new projects coming up, stay with us. Also, I have a jaw dropping series in the pipeline that I think you will like. Unfortunately, I barely have enough enthusiasm to complete the PTLG series as it is. I dislike moaning but I just have to let it out.
We get thousands of views every week – thank you, thank you. But as much as we love the views and the messages you send me and Oga Dan, it would be lovely to get the comments as well. Thank you so much to those that drop in every week and those that manage it every few weeks, we appreciate.
I know we are all busy. But if we all try to comment every eight weeks or so, we would have hundreds of comments every week, by my maths calculation. (I was mostly away in fiction land during maths period but I’m sure this calculation is right.)
Sorry for moaning. Have a lovely weekend. And thank you to those who leave a comment when they eventually get a chance to read. To those who are thinking of doing it, don’t be shy, we don’t bite.
** *** ***
//One Last Run//
“We are cool,” he told the young man who looked like someone expecting a slap. “Don’t go anywhere near her again. Even if she begs you. Except if she becomes your wife.”
Kanyin slammed the window shut from upstairs. Austin started stuffing Idriss’ things in the back and boot of the Volvo after he instructed him to take them all across the street. Moving into Alhaji’s house was the best of possible options. Going back to London or one of their unoccupied flats would make his wife conclude he did do something wrong.
Austin jumped as he bumped into him. “Sorry sir. I will not go anywhere near Kanyin’s mouth again. Please don’t sack me or…” His gaze fell on his outstretched hand.
He picked up the golf club that had fallen out of his golfing kit and placed it in one of the boxes in the boot. “I’m not going to touch you, Austin.”
“Not even a little bit? Like slap my big head when I’m not looking?”
“Abeg, drop this matter. Abi, you want me to change my mind.”
He waited for Austin to drive the filled-up Volvo to Alhaji’s before trying the door. As he expected, his key did not work.
“Aisha, this is silly. Can you at least let me come in? I just got back.” Rapping on the door with his knuckles, then fists did not lead to the door opening.
“Dada,” he heard Jadesola come to the door eventually. “Is that you, Dada? I want ice ceam.”
“Good,” he said. “Go and get the key my sweet, little mummy. Then put the key through here.” He tapped the metal of the post hole in the middle of the door. “Then I will give you the ice cream I’m holding.”
He felt terrible. His actions were always flawed. With his children, he didn’t like deviating from the perfect father routine he loved to put on.
“Dada, give me ice ceam, first.”
“You definitely took after your mother.”
As he fished out his phone from his pocket, he heard Anu telling Jadesola to come upstairs. “Mummy needs to wash her hair, come play in your bedroom.”
Moments after a few bargaining texts between him and Kanyin, the door opened outwards. She had her sister in her arms and eyed him as if he didn’t just transfer money into her account. As if she didn’t make him promise she could go to Nigeria and he would take her shopping every Saturday before her flight.
“Austin is at Alhaji’s.” He took out a few twenty pound notes from his wallet and passed them to her. “Tell him to take you for something to eat. Your sister wants ice cream.”
His wife was in their bathroom in a towel cleaning the bathtub. She moved into the bedroom and wrapped a dressing gown over the towel without looking at him.
“Darling mi,” he followed her.
“I’m not your darling.”
“Don’t baby me either.”
“This is silly. Why would I go after Refiloe?”
“She picked up your house phone.”
“So it is my house now, is it? I thought it was our house. Our London home.”
“I wouldn’t go with Refiloe. No. I wouldn’t go there because sex is the last thing on my mind at the moment.”
She gawked at him with no words and he started to wonder if he said the opposite of what he thought.
“Baba yi, I’m here.” He heard Ikumapayi call out. “Can I come up?”
“He is here to tell you Refiloe was not in London because of me.” He explained as Anu’s glare intensified.
She didn’t bother to change out of her dressing gown. She settled on the bed and had a cushion on her lap when Ikumapayi’s footsteps announced his arrival. The door was open but he knocked.
“Come in,” Idriss said. “Please tell her Refiloe was with you.”
“That’s true, Anu.” Ikumapayi stood in the doorway. “You know your bobo won’t do you like that, nau. I was the one who took Refiloe… to London just to… chill with me.”
“You couldn’t take the woman you live with? The one you love?”
He didn’t like the way she regarded his friend. Disapproving eyes, defiantly held neck. One hand on the cushion, the other hand holding up her chin. Yet, he wanted to praise her. No other woman could make Ikumapayi stammer like he was now doing.
“Well, Hoya wants to talk to you. You’d better head home to her.”
“The thing is…” Ikumapayi put his hands in his pants’ pockets and withdrew them immediately. “What happened between me and Refiloe wasn’t …”
“Any of my business.”
“Nothing happened. And olowo baba here did not even know what we were up to in his house.”
“He has already told me he didn’t cheat.” She raised her voice, holding the cushion to her middle as she rose. “He wouldn’t do it because sex is the last thing on his mind.”
She had hurried into the bathroom and locked the door before he could think of what to say.
“What did I do? Iku, you understand this woman?” He asked in Yoruba.
“Lesson 101, a woman wants to hear you no wan cheat because of her. Not because you no wan do am.”
“Well, she will calm down when she wants to. Come, we have to talk.”
Kanyin dipped a chip in the middle of a dollop of ketch-up and as she carried it to her mouth she struggled not to tell Austin off for following every chip to her mouth. He had polished off his burger and chips, quicker than Jadesola did her ice cream. She now wished they had eaten their meal at the McDonalds he took them to. That she hadn’t let the slight awkward feeling that came over her when he leaned across to get his credit card in the car linger. She wished she hadn’t agreed to get their order as a takeaway and eat it at Alhaji’s house.
“Why does your father let Anu keep this house unoccupied?” Austin did not wait for her to answer. “If she is my wife I will be thinking she wants somewhere to run to whenever we fight.”
“Well, she is not your wife.”
Jadesola who went to sit in front of the TV after finishing her food started clapping as her show’s theme song came on.
“A woman like her no go say yes to someone like me sha.” He started to pack up their food wrappings and leftovers without getting up from the stool.
“There is nothing wrong with you, Austin. You are a kind man. Handsome. Clever.”
“My head will start to swell if you don’t stop.”
“You are. I’m just not into you like right now. The timing is so off.”
“Story of my life.”
“If I hadn’t gone through these last few months, it would have been different.”
“You wouldn’t have been with Emeka if it wasn’t for what happened.”
“He was there for me, Austin.”
“I tried to be there for you. It proved really hard. I didn’t know what to say or how to react. I used to drive home and then struggle to come inside. No one teaches you what to say when something like this happens.”
She didn’t know she could love Emeka even more. It wasn’t easy for him either. But he ignored how he felt to support her. The way her father, Austin and Nkem couldn’t. Although she knew they would have supported her if they knew how to.
“I’m thinking of going back home after my studies,” he said.
“But why? Anu wants to fast track your career at Aspire. Do you really want to start all over again in Nigeria when you have a ready-made job here?”
“Your father and Anu are kind. Especially, your dad, telling me I remind him of when he first moved to this country, giving me money for my family back home. You have been a good friend too.”
“I don’t know if I want to stay around here. Not when I don’t know if we have something.”
“I can’t force it.”
“Even if I give you time?”
Uche watched Anu from the gap between the door and door frame and marvelled at her eloquence as she spoke to her estate agents. She pointed at the presentation board at times, effortlessly recapturing the attention of the men and women sat in front of her whenever her hand went down.
Uche had heard Idriss was not at the house anymore. Her friend did not look like a wife waiting for her husband to return. This was one of the reasons she came. To support her. She wanted to apologise also, hoping her sorry would be enough for the hurtful words she fired at her like pellets.
She had been glad to be led straight to the inner office by a young woman at the reception area when she arrived.
It was her father that helped her see that her grief had swallowed her whole. He spoke to her one evening after she verbally lashed out at her mother. The woman started to ask what her plans were about getting married shortly after they left Emeka’s funeral, adding that they would miss him in a dismissive tone.
On the afternoon of her lashing out, she saw Emeka in her dream again. She was holding on to his top. “Let me go,” he kept saying. “Please, Uchenna. Let me go.” The Lagos heat, not the dream woke her up.
And she had gone into the kitchen to get some water when her mother latched on to her favourite topic. “I think you will like Okeoma. His mother is the one with the spirit of anger in our church. I don’t know if you remember her. She still shouts like a loudspeaker, Uche.”
Her silence did not stop her mother. “I hear he is a business man. He is shorter than you and bald. But biko, we are desperate here and it is not his hair that will put a child in your stomach.”
“Leave me alone or I will leave this house tonight.” She had been screaming when her father walked in. He held her, wiped her tears and told her it was okay to be angry. As long as she didn’t let her anger consume her.
“Hi,” Anu came in and dumped a file on her desk. “What are you doing here?”
“I’m really sorry,” Uche walked over to her. “I didn’t mean what I said. I was wrong.”
“You were not wrong where it concerns my chaotic marriage.”
“You love Kanyin. You even love the twins. I don’t know what came over me.”
“I understand, girl.”
Uche hugged Anu. She hugged her back, clasping an arm round her. “This is such a relief.”
“Stop it. I’m not that scary.” She smiled, moved back and looked at her. “You look good. Has Kam seen the new, relaxed you?”
She didn’t answer. Choosing to talk about home instead. How long it took to travel about in Lagos. The price of tomatoes. Her mother’s obsession with getting her a man. The blatant manner she asked if Emeka’s brother had finalised his divorce.
Talking stopped her from thinking about the blonde, curly haired woman she saw coming out of Kam’s house yesterday evening. The tender kiss he placed on the woman’s cheek before she got in her car.
Uche did not wait to be seen. She had kept driving, her rehearsed, I’m–falling-for-you speech hastily forgotten. He had spoken to her about regretting letting go of Flo, the woman he nearly married. It came after she saw a picture of Flo -the blonde haired woman – and Kam at the back of an album. With a sun kissed face, genuine smile and breasts that nearly toppled out of her bikini top, she could see why Kam looked besotted beside her. They were on a beach. Their love for each other as alive as the picturesque view of the beach.
“Shall we do lunch?” Uche asked. “Efe cooked yesterday. Unfortunately her greedy friend came back from God knows where and ate it all.”
Anu’s averted gaze confirmed Refiloe’s claims she spent a night in Idriss’ London home. “I was only with his friend,” Uche had heard her telling Efe. “If you ask me, I will say it’s my way in. I’m not interested in his friend. I had no intention of sleeping with him. I went there for Idriss. He is practically mine these days. His friend hinted he and Anu are not getting on.”
“Do you wanna talk, girl?”
“I have a meeting, Uche.”
“You can cancel or rearrange. Let’s talk about how we are going to run Refiloe out of town.”
“That sounds like a great idea. Let me use the toilet.” Anu smiled but not before she had caught her wince.
“Are you okay?”
Despite nodding, her face contorted as she attempted to grab her bag from her desk. She knocked the bag over spilling its content all over the office floor. Anu dropped to her knees and started picking up the things from her bag.
“What is this?” Uche picked up the bag of sanitary pads that had escaped under the table. She dropped it and rushed over to her friend when she grimaced as she hauled herself up. “You are spotting again, aren’t you?”
“It’s a lot more than that.”
She helped her to her chair. “When did it start? Why didn’t you go to the hospital?”
“I don’t think they can save it.”
“Girl, you shouldn’t be here.”
“I’m busy here.”
“I’m taking you to the hospital right now. I will carry you if I have to.”
“Okay, I will come. Just don’t tell my husband what’s going on.”
Uche narrowed her eyes at her.
“The dates didn’t add up before. Yesterday, I found my old diary and now I’m sure that this baby is ours.”
“Oh, girl. This is good news. Come on, let’s get you down to the hospital. They will do a scan and check you over.”
“I think the baby is gone.” She shook her head. “I’m fine, darling. I’m okay. People go through worse every day. You and Kanyin have been through worse. I will survive this. Just promise you won’t tell Idriss it’s his. He is already so angry with Emeka’s death and all.”
Ikumapayi was waiting for him at the bar when Idriss arrived at Lenky’s. The bar maid, a short brunette with neck tattoos shot him a quick smile despite being busy with the group in front of her.
“Wassup,” Ikumapayi greeted. “Why you no dey fast?”
“What about you?”
“I’m not a muslim. My grandpa was the Muslim. Just because I no enter church since nineteen gbogboro does not mean I don forget say my Christian name be Bartholomew.”
“Apostle Batho, I hear you.” he picked up the bottle next to the half finished one and took a sip from it. “I got it by the way. It’s in my boot. I know say you are not interested.”
“No. Not interested in facing Bayo.” He lowered his voice to a whisper. “Hoya is pregnant, Idriss. I don’t want to end up six feet under. Next time Bayo calls, just tell the police.”
“So they will arrest him and send him to an easy jail? Does Emeka’s killer deserve to be in a jail where they serve them three square meals and let them watch cable TV?”
“This case is hot. Police are watching him. They will know it is you if anything happens to him. You go do time in prison. Shey, you think Anu and your children deserve to be visiting you in prison?”
“So, I’m supposed to tell Kam and his clueless colleagues he is ringing me? What if they arrest him and release him tomorrow because they don’t have enough evidence? You know they won’t lock up a murderer in this country unless he is holding a blood stained knife and standing by the body.”
“If they arrest him, you won’t have to worry about Kanyin. Isn’t that why he is demanding you bring him money?”
“Yes. He says he will send his friends to Kanyinsola if I don’t bring him the money. He will call me tonight to tell me where to meet him. I guess the idiot wan leave the country. He has no idea I’m hell bent on avenging my friend.”
“What is this bobo talking about, nau? You think Bayo will be waiting for you with his chest out to take the bullet? He will be armed.” Ikumapayi slapped the bar table. “You are not the kolo guy I used to know. You won’t go through with it. Wifey and your children have calmed you down. Bayo on the other hand is crazier than crazy. He will butcher you. And even if you miraculously get him first, what happens when the police come knocking on your door?”
“You don go soft. What did Hoya give you chop? As for me, the Mushin boy in me still dey alive o…”
“And Hoya wants Anu to be there on the big day o. You know all I know about babies is that they drink milk. I don’t even know if na goat milk abi donkey milk they drink.”
“What?” Idriss turned round when a familiar voice said hi. He realised why Ikumapayi started to talk about baby milk. Kam had just walked in.
Kam seemed pleased to see them. They invited him to join them at a table. He felt he was wrong to have blamed him for Emeka’s death when no one but Bayo was liable. Several drinks downed later on, whilst Ikumapayi was outside making a second phone call, Kam started to talk about him and Uche.
“I don’t know what Uche wants.”
“Women are like that. Even my Jade is a diva already.”
“My ex is back. She was the one that got away. I neglected her because of work and she walked. Now she is in town, single and she wants to settle down. She wants what I want right now.”
“Boy. I thought you were crazy about Uche?”
“Yeah. A bit tough because I don’t know if she wants me. I don’t even think she herself knows what she wants.”
Ikumapayi came back in. “What are you two ladies gossiping about?”
“We were talking about his on again, off again, on again relationship with our Uche.”
“Is she not letting you use your handcuffs on her?” Ikumapayi grinned, placed his phone on the table and sat down. “Don’t worry. She didn’t let Emeka hold her hand for ten years when they got together. The man nearly forgot how to use his you-know-what. So that doesn’t mean she is not crazy about you.”
Kam had a couple of drinks before getting a taxi home. Every time, Idriss tried to suggest going home, Ikumapayi flicked his fingers and called the bar maid over.
“Why are you trying to get me drunk?” He asked Ikumapayi who had picked up his phone again. “What’s going on? Who has been ringing and texting you all evening?”
“It is just Uche. No big wahala. Ma worry bobo yi.”
“Says the baba of all dogs. I’m a learner compared to you. A small puppy.”
“So are you trying to go there with Uche?”
“No. Face your drink. None of your business what I’m doing.”
“Hey, look up. Kam don come back.” He snatched the phone from him when he looked out through the window. Pinning his hands to the table with one hand, he tapped on the message icon and then on Uche’s last message.
Sorry, I missed your call. She is fine now. You can break the news to him now and bring him to the hospital. She doesn’t want him knowing the baby is his like we discussed.
“Start talking,” Idriss snapped.
“Darling, are you still angry?”
She was sitting up on the hospital bed, in a long, loose hospital gown next to him. He wanted to hold on to the hand she placed in his when she asked if they could try for another baby soon. He would have, if Bayo’s face did not keep popping up in his mind.
“We can try as soon as I’m ready.” She shifted really close and although she spoke quietly, her words came with determined confidence. “There was a woman here earlier, she said she has had four miscarriages. So, ours is not so bad. We have the girls and the twins. There is nothing to be sad about.”
“How about your status? Have they done any tests to see you are still negative?”
“I had some tests a few weeks ago, which came back fine. They have done another test today too. We just have to continue to be careful.”
“Yes o,” Ikumapayi interrupted. “How come your soldiers keep swimming through strong barrier, egbon. Abi, you need me to show you how to strap on protection?”
He would have frowned if Uche hadn’t been giggling too, pointing tactfully at the bunch of bananas on the small hospital table beside the bed.
“Stop making fun of my husband,” Anu chuckled. “No one knows what they are doing like him.”
“Ah, he is an expert,” Ikumapayi said. “We all know that.”
“I love us,” she whispered, placing her other hand over his.
He knew she was conveying more with those three words. She had asked whilst their friends were outside earlier if they could go for marriage counselling. When he said yes, she had suggested they go on holiday together first. Somewhere exclusive and quiet. He could go for his runs, she would get some rest. And when he said she deserved to rest for all he had put her through, she simply said, “I love us.”
She asked, also, if they could communicate more. Not telling him about how she was feeling after her father’s death led to their drifting apart. Her gaze held his as she begged him to talk to her more.
Now, he wasn’t sure he could tell her about the gun in the boot of his car. About Bayo’s calls. The anger heating up his face, stirring him from the inside. The rage pushing him to go and meet Bayo. If it wasn’t for Bayo, Anu would not have been too stressed. Their baby would have lived.
“Excuse me,” he kissed his wife’s forehead. “I need to make a phone call. Back in a sec.”
“Don’t be long.”
“I won’t be.”
He paced down the corridor. He went back without making any calls.
At the door, he saw his wife stretching on the bed, her hands on her stomach. She reassured Uche who rubbed her shoulder between her questions enquiring if her pain had increased.
“Should I get the doctor?” Ikumapayi asked.
“No, I’m fine.” His wife dabbed on a small smile. “It is normal, don’t worry.”
Idriss headed back down the corridor. Checking his phone, he grinned. Bayo had sent him the name of the park where he wanted him to bring the twenty thousand pounds he asked for.
His wife and children would understand if he ended up in jail. Not now. Perhaps someday. Emeka’s parents would definitely understand.
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