MAGICAL MONDAYS WITH KREATE
Episode 7: The Knight
The Air-conditioner hummed, exhaling a 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 on Ashley’s door; at 9:50 am, 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.
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 wristwatch; 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 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 was 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 on 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. 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 the 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 lookup. ‘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 were 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 overcame 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 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
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 -’
‘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’s 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. Read more interesting pieces at KREATEATALE