A blue Volkswagen Tuareg pulled up in front of the roadside restaurant where we previously were. From where I sat just opposite the restaurant, I had a clear view of the gleaming chrome wheels of the SUV with little splatters of mud here and there. The SUV had tinted windows and seemed to have parked tentatively, ready to move at a moments notice as the engine kept running.

For a moment, I stared at the automobile lost in a brief spell of fantasy where the car was mine and I was just cruising leisurely on a free way without a care in the world. I love anything Volkswagen and this right here is my dream car. I can’t remember when I first fell in love with it but I always believed it would be my next car when I’d made some big bucks…the big bucks I’ve been waiting for the past six years since I graduated. The sound of my mobile phone ringing jolted me out of my reverie. I checked who was calling; it was the number William had called earlier. I handed the phone to him.

“I’m directly opposite the restaurant.” He said into the phone and hung up.

“Its my driver. He’s here now.” He said, handing my phone back to me. I watched in amazement as the Tuareg made a turn and parked in front of the bar. I suddenly realized the story would soon be halted as it was getting late. I needed to know what happened.

“So what happened?” I said hurriedly, dreadfully frightened that he would leave without completing it.

“Just a minute.” He said, turning to face the entrance.

The driver, a tall and lanky middle aged man stepped out of the car and immediately and rushed into the ramshackle wood and zinc work that was our bar.

“Aaah! My oga!!” He exclaimed. He prostrated on the ground in a clumsy way that almost made me burst into laughter. William told him curtly to stand up and the man rose immediately and stood ramrod erect, his previously clean shirt and trouser picking up sufficient dirt.

“Sule! Sule!!” He hailed, smiling.

“My oga!” Sule exclaimed smiling. “Na you be this? God good o! E dey protect e children!”

“Yes o! Indeed.” William replied cheerfully. “Did you do everything I said you should do?” He asked more seriously now.

“Yessar! Everything dey inside motor. I nor tell anybody say na you call me.” He volunteered.

“Good.” William said. He thought for a few seconds before he continued. “Where is my wife?”

“She dey house with your mama. House don full well well sar! Your uncles and aunties dey house. Police commissioner don come house two times and some other politicians dem!”

“Oga Joe don come house since?” He asked again.

“E come the day dem kidnap you but madam drive am comot. E never come since then.” Sule said.

William sat back and pondered for a full minute before he asked.

“You don chop today?”

“Na small bread I chop this morning sar.” Sule replied.

“Take from the money you brought. Go and eat anything you like at that restaurant across. I will call you when I’m ready.” He said. A great smile spread across Sule’s lips as he bowed obsequiously in gratitude and left us.

My heart pounded in anticipation and hope that he wouldn’t leave me with half a story. When he finally continued with the story, it was with great sadness.

“The contents of the folder left me distraught. I read every word in the report voraciously. Shock, denial and eventually anger gripped me ferociously like a vice. I felt my self break into sweat as I ripped open an envelop that contained glossy photographs. Photographs of my Veronica locked in the tight embrace of another man; pushing the man away; engaged in a hot argument with the man…it was all too much for me. I flung the photographs in anger not believing what I saw. How could someone I trusted with my life betray me so?!

The murderous rage that gripped me at that point in time made my hands shake like someone with Parkinson’s. I called my secretary and cancelled my schedule for the day and told her I was not to be disturbed. I sat motionless on my seat, my imagination fueled with the images of the photographs. My thoughts were wild. I imagined every stolen kiss, every stolen hug and more. I had to stay in here to calm down. I felt I would commit a capital offense if I set eyes on Veronica. I knew I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from wringing her neck till her eyes popped out of her skull if I saw her now. As for the man, I was decided that a more dreadful fate awaited him at my hands.

After what was about an hour plus, I decided I needed company. I left the office and told Sule to take me to a good place where I could relax. He drove me to The Anton. It was just 12pm that day so it wasn’t too crowded. I went in and drank myself silly. I felt I needed the courage to face Veronica. Oddly, my mom called me to ask if I was alright. I told her I was, not brave enough to confess what I’d just learned.

I left The Anton close to nine pm after ignoring several calls and text message from Veronica. When I finally got home, she rushed to hug me. I pushed her away so fiercely, she fell to the floor. Her expression was one of unbelievable shock. She just gaped, not believing what had just happened. I’d never displayed any violent tendencies before.

“Why?!” I said, flinging the photographs to her face. She picked up the first photograph and gasped. Her hand flew to her mouth.

“Why?!” I asked again near tears. The scripted questions I’d carefully rehearsed in my head evaporated into thin air. I kept asking why.

“Baby, I can explain…” She began in tears.

“Don’t ‘baby’ me! Explain your yourself!” My voice was loud and thunderous. It didn’t sound like mine. I felt like there was some invincible obstacle in my throat that choked my voice.

She continued to cry and whimper like a child. I wanted to pick her up and hug her; tell her I loved her and it all didn’t matter but I couldn’t. I hated to see her cry but another part of me felt pleasure in seeing her cry. She deserved to cry her eyes out for hurting me so.

“I’m so sorry Willie!” She cried out. “It was a mistake!!” The tears flowed freely from her eyes, ruining her make-up. It was then that I noticed what she wore the expensive and black dinner dress I bought her two days ago. We were actually supposed to go out for a dinner tonight. I’d only remembered now. Probably the reason she called my phone nearly fifty times.

I skirted her and sat on the single sofa. She crawled on her knees and gripped my trousers.

“Baby please, forgive me! I was foolish and confused…” She wailed and her voice choked with sobs. “I love you…please forgive me…it was a mistake…I’d already stopped seeing him…”

I felt pain as I watched her grovel at my feet in her gown. Her beautiful face had become a mask of undone make up as her tears and sweat displaced the previously even lay of her mascara. I couldn’t bear to look at her.

“After all I did for you…I stayed true to you. I gave you everything…” I said, my chest heaving and my voice breaking. “How could you?” A tear drop escaped my eye. I wiped it off immediately. It was a sign of weakness that I now blamed for causing this misfortune to befall me. I was too tender, too gentle. I had to toughen up.

“I have no excuse…please just forgive me.” She wept and wept. She hugged my feet, resting her head against my knees, pleading with her eyes and tears. I looked at her with disdain. I shrugged her off my feet, gently this time. She let me go, her sobs increasing. Without another word, I went upstairs to our bed room and shut the door, locking it from inside. I sat on the bed, my head feeling giddy from all the alcohol I had consumed earlier on. She knocked on the door continuously, pleading begging and wailing. I ignored her, shedding a few quiet tears of my own and finally succumbing to an alcohol-induced sleep.

I awoke the next morning with a crushing headache. I splashed water on my face and stared at my face in the mirror. My beards had begun to come out but I didn’t feel like shaving. I was feeling awfully depressed and felt it even more when I remembered everything that happened the previous day. I had to leave the house to clear my head. I changed my shirt to a white shirt.

It was a friday. The friday of 27th January. The alarm clock on the bedside mantle read 8:22. I opened the door and found her curled up next to the door like a fetus in her dinner gown, her hair tousled and face, an absolute mess. She seemed to have fallen asleep after a phone call. My curiosity piqued so I picked her phone up to see who she called. It was Joe. My anger soared again.

I left her there knowing what I was going to do. She woke up as I descended the stairs and screamed my name. I stopped and turned to look at her one more time. She was still on her knees, her tears starting afresh. I shook my head in disgust and left the house. I never believed that last view of her would haunt my thoughts while in captivity. Sule had just washed the third of the six cars in the compound. I took the keys of the Benz M-Class and told him not to bother, that I would drive myself.

I drove out of the compound with no destination in my mind. I just wanted to drive and think. I was still on my street. It wasn’t as busy as it usually was on week days. The road was clear except for two cars that seemed stationary a little further down the street. I didn’t think much about the two cars that had illegally parked on the drive way in front of me, obstructing my passage.

The two men, whom I presumed to be the owners of the cars, a green Toyota Forerunner SUV and a white Benz C300, were engaged in a heated argument and it looked like it was about to graduate into fisticuffs. I slowed down, thinking how foolish these two men were to obstruct the drive way. I honked and honked but they paid me no mind, their argument seeming to intensify as they gripped each others shirts. I hurriedly alighted from my vehicle, suspecting nothing.

“Guys, guys, you don’t have to fight while you cars are obstructing the way.” I called as I got closer.

When I got within two feet of them, two other men jumped out from the Benz and headed towards me. They couldn’t have been more than 27 years old but they were well built. They both wore tight t-shirts, their muscles rippling and jeans. By the way they moved, I deduced their intentions weren’t good. I halted my movement, surprised. The two guys who were fighting suddenly stopped fighting and followed them. I realized too late that it was a set-up!

They were upon me in seconds and I had begun to run back to my car when I felt something heavy and metallic connect with my skull. There was a spark of bright light. I saw tiny dancing lights as I fell to the ground. The dancing lights disappeared and a peaceful blackness enveloped me before I hit the ground.

Malcolm.

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