LIFE IS GREY

Episode 7: The Knight

Chinwe
The
Air-conditioner hummed, exhaling delightful chill. Subconsciously, Chinwe drew
the duvet over her neck and mumbled some incoherent jargon. Then the alarm on
her phone sprang to life, screeching like an enraged Banshee.  Or at least that was the effect it had on
her. She swore as she woke with a start, her head banging from last night’s
inebriation-induced hangover. She reached out blindly for her phone and tapped
the Dismiss icon. She wanted to shut
her eyes some more and drift off to fantasia again but she knew her meeting in
the next 2 hour 30 minutes couldn’t wait. The will to get up found her and she
drew the window blinds apart; sunlight flooded the room, forcing her to squint
at nothing in particular. ‘Time to hit
the shower,
’ she persuaded herself.
Fifty
minutes later, she was ready and waiting for her ride from the taxi company.
Her phone rang. It was the taxi driver and he was waiting for her downstairs.
She didn’t bother knocking Ashley’s door; at 9:50am, she’d be at work now.
She
checked the number plate of the Toyota Camry and it matched the details
provided by the app. She got into the cab.
‘Can I start the trip, Madam?’
Tunde, the driver asked.
‘Yes, please.’ 
The
taxi guy asked if she liked James Blunt. Classy and different. And the trip began.
Lagos
traffic happened as expected along Ikorodu road, just after Anthony Bus-Stop.
Chinwe looked at her wrist watch; she still had an hour before the meeting
started. She shut her eyes and silently prayed that the traffic wouldn’t be
significant. Suddenly, the right door of the car swung open and a stranger
jumped in, slamming the door behind him. The moment the door slammed beside
him, the central lock was activated.
A
great sense of foreboding descended on her. 
Something told her this wasn’t a joke. She decided to scream but the
stranger produced a pistol.
‘Shout Madam and you go die before
any sound commot for your mouth,’
He grinned, flaunting
perfectly disproportioned dentition. His eyes were bloodshot like he had just
taken several shots of dry gin.
‘Chair- chairman,’
she stammered. ‘You can take all the cash
in my bag. Please let me go.’
‘Don’t worry,’
he grinned again. ‘I no want your money.’
He turned to the driver in front. ‘Pilot,
wey the thing na.’
‘For dey light?’
Chinwe was terrified but she could sense a little trepidation in the driver’s
voice.
‘Better now now. Police fit go dey
front. Better make she be like say she dey sleep or else na gbege be that.’
‘I no dey like morning parol. We for
just wait for night as usual.’
Sweat
formed on her furrowed forehead and her heart was galloping as if it’d rip out
of her chest. Chinwe knew she was being kidnapped either for ransom or worse
ritual killing. ‘Abeg Oga. Abeg. I go
give una anything una want. I use God beg una.’
‘Shut up!’
The stranger snapped. ‘Pilot, no waste my
time. You know as this particular job be.’
The
driver produced something like a red handkerchief that smelt like death and
handed it to the stranger.
‘Jesus!’ Without
premeditation, Chinwe screamed.
The
stranger barely allowed her to scream as his hand connected with her face. ‘You dey craze. I go shoot you!’
Blood
spurted from her lips. ‘Abeg Oga. Abeg,
don’t shoot,’
Chinwe pleaded.
‘Relax, and I no go shoot. Okay?’
Chinwe
nodded her comprehension.
Without
warning, the stranger put the handkerchief over her nose and everything went
black.
Ashley
Ashley
had woken up with a splitting headache, thanks to the alcohol consumed the
previous night. She still felt a little woozy. She was the one in charge today
as Dotun had an emergency to attend to. Some minutes ago, during the call with
him, he had mandated that she check on Tayo’s health. According to him,
standing by a client experiencing financial challenges was a strong pillar in
the bedrock of a viable business relationship. The only company driver.
She
decided to call Tayo’s secretary as she didn’t want to interrupt him if he was
asleep. The call was picked after the third ring. She was informed that he was
still on admission but should be discharged later in the day. Having nothing on
her calendar for the day, she instructed the driver to get the car ready. 
She
was looking forward to seeing him.
A
strong, healthy voice invited her in when she knocked the door. Although the
bandage was still in place, he looked much better already.
‘You look better,’
She stated.
‘I feel better, too.’
He smiled. ‘You look nice Ash.’
She
beamed back. ‘It’s been ages since anyone
has called me that.’
She took a seat. ‘What
are you still doing here?’
‘Apparently I still require some
monitoring. But the goodnews is that I should be released from this dungeon in
a couple of hours.’
            ‘So
your fiancee is pretty. You must have stepped up your game over the years.’
            Tayo shrugged. ‘We live, we learn, we get better.’ He fixed her a gaze.  ‘So
tell me, any lucky man in your life?’
            ‘Hmmm,
in a no-string attached sort of way.’
            Tayo raised an eye. ‘Interesting. I must say that I didn’t see
that coming.’
            There was an awkward silence for
less than a minute till the door swung open. The doctor was tall, broad
shouldered and good looking. ‘Hello Mr.
Aderanti.’
            ‘Hello
Doc. Am I free to go?’
            ‘As a matter of fact, I don’t see
why not. You have a clean bill of health -’
            ‘Minus the bandage.’
            The doctor laughed. ‘Minus the bandage. Shall we call you a
taxi?’
            ‘That
won’t be necessary,’
Ashley said. She caught Tayo’s brief questioning look
and she reassured him with a smile.
            ‘So
where to, Sir?’
Ashley asked.
            ‘Gbagada.’
Tayo got off the bed.
            ‘Really?’
Ashley said in disbelief. ‘I stay in
Gbagada as well, Phase 2, actually. You?’
            ‘Nice,’
Tayo grinned. ‘Phase 1. Now I can dash
down for breakfast every morning and dinner before heading home. Excuse me,’

he said before she could respond and sauntered off to the restroom. The sound
of water running and splashing against skin was heard. He reappeared some
minutes later looking more awake and his hair freshly combed.
            He struggled with his shoes and from
the look in his eyes; Ashley could tell that he was in some discomfort. ‘Want some help with that?’
            ‘He
didn’t look up. ‘Thank you, but I have to learn to do this on my own. Unless
you intend to move in with me?’
He looked up with a hint of mischief in his
eyes.
            ‘When
did you become so cocky?’
Ashley smiled.
            He had finally managed to get the
shoes in. ‘When I discovered it suited me
well. All set. Ready when you are.’
            Cockiness did suit him well. And she
admitted to herself that it made him even more appealing. She shook the
progressing thought off her mind. She couldn’t possibly find Tayo attractive
even though he had evolved into so much more. She wondered where his fiancée
was but decided it wasn’t in her place to ask. ‘Let’s go.’
            ‘Welcome
to my modest abode.’
It
was far from modest. Ashley found his living room gorgeous. 3 paintings, Bob
Marley, Sunny Ade and Michael Jackson, hung against each side of the living
room. The walls were painted in a modest cream, perfectly contrasting the 3
dark grey leather sofas that sat on plain chocolate tiles. The television,
decoder and some books sat on a huge triangular designed black shelf; 2 tall
lean speakers sat beside the shelf while the 2 others manned adjacent corners
of the living room. The color combination in the dining room was an inversion
of the living room: walls were grey, the table and 4 chairs were a combo of
chocolate and black, and the tiles were all cream.
‘You have good taste,’
Ashley said, nodding appreciatively.
‘Thank you. Would you like something
to drink?’
She
dropped her purse on one of the sofas. ‘Yeah
-’
Her phone rang. The number was unknown. ‘Excuse me, please.’ She put the receiver in her ear. The voice was
masculine. ‘Yes this is Ashley….. Yes.
She is my roommate…..Jesus! How is she? Where are you?….I will be there right
away.’
  
‘Is everything alright?’
Tayo asked as soon as the phone call was over.
‘My roommate and friend was
kidnapped,’
she said absentmindedly.
‘Jesus. Is she alright?’
‘I hope so. She’s in the hospital. I
need to go now.’
            ‘Can
I accompany you?’
            Ashley looked at him with concern. ‘You’ve just been discharged. You should
rest.’
            ‘I
am fine. Besides, some fresh air would do me some good. We must leave now.
There’s no time to waste.’
            Ashley was grateful that he
insisted. ‘Thank you, Tayo.’
            Chinwe looked vulnerable on the
hospital bed as she slept. Ashley’s heart went out for her.
            ‘She’ll
be fine,’
the female doctor in white scrubs comforted. ‘She was in shock when she arrived here so we sedated her. The effects
of the sedation should wear off in an hour or so.’
            ‘Thank
you, Doctor.’
            Then it occurred to Ashley that
someone had brought her here. ‘How did
she get here?’
            ‘The
gentleman had to get to the police station to give his statement. The station
is a few streets from here so he should be back soon… Thank God he was at the
right place at the right time. She is incredibly lucky.’
            Ashley’s eyes never left her. She
knew how it felt to be helpless. She was angry and overcomed with compassion.
She felt an arm wrap around her shoulder. It was Tayo. He didn’t say anything
but the look in his eyes was that of understanding. She smiled at him before
her gaze returned to Ashley.
            ‘I
need to prepare for a surgery now. I’ll check back once I’m done,’
the
doctor pronounced.
            ‘Thank
you, Doctor.’
            The door to her room creaked when
someone opened it slowly. If Ashley was allowed to comment, he was dark, tall
and handsome. The eyes of the stranger darted protectively towards Chinwe on
the bed first before scanning the other occupants of the room. ‘Good afternoon -’
            ‘Tom?
Tayo interjected
            ‘TY?’
The stranger’s eye beamed as he strutted over to Tayo and the two hugged
cheerfully.
            ‘What
are you doing here?’
            ‘I happened to be friends with her
roommate,’

Tayo replied.
            ‘No
way! Small world, indeed.’
            He turned to Ashley. ‘This is Ashley,’ he said with a beaming
smile.
            ‘A
pleasure meeting you. Ash -’
            Chinwe stirred. ‘Where am I?’
            Ashley’s hand closed over hers. ‘You are in the hospital, Chinwe?’
            Then realization dawned on Chinwe
and she started to sob.
            Ashley’s hands patted her
affectionately. ‘You are fine dear. You
are safe now.’
            Chinwe sobbed as the events played
back and as grateful realization dawned that she was fortunate to be in one
piece. Ashley and Thomas consoled. Tayo dropped in phrases of hope
intermittently.
They
were like that for another forty minutes.
            ‘Thomas,’
Chinwe finally said; ‘How did you find
me?’
            Thomas recounted his experience: ‘I needed to get some groceries from Cheap
Buy, a local supermarket so I decided to take a stroll. As I walked along the
pavement by Palmgroove, I noticed you in a car stuck in unmoving traffic. You
were asleep, your head lolled at an awkward angle. The man beside you was
engaged in a discussion with the driver; based on their body language, they
looked like they knew each other. I could tell that something wasn’t right. I
thought about engaging them directly but decided they could be armed. It would
be the last resort if help wasn’t close by. I scanned the area and,
fortunately, noticed a car with three soldiers in it. They were two cars
behind. I walked up to them and explained the situation to them. They sprung to
action immediately. The kidnappers were apprehended and you were brought to
this hospital.’
            Tears rolling down her eyelids,
Chinwe reached for Thomas’ hand and squeezed affectionately. He had saved her
life. ‘Thank you, Thomas.’

Kreate
is a budding Nigerian writer with a flair for fiction. Writing for him
began sometime in secondary school where he dabbled in poetry and plays.
He has authored two self-published short novels.
He is a banker and lives in Surulere.

Oluwole Olusanya
Oluwole Olusanya is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of one of the fastest-growing lifestyle and entertainment website in the country. He is a banker, writer, blogger, public affairs analyst and a tax consultant. He anchors Trending Topics on SHEFFA where he shares his thoughts and opinions on trending issues. He is currently studying for a Master’s Degree in Business Administration at the University of South Wales, Wales, United Kingdom. He has diplomas in Banking and Finance, Investigative Journalism, Creative Writing, and Linguistics from Lagos State Polytechnic, Isolo, Lagos, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland and The Open University, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom.