Doyin walked towards the restaurant where he had seen Becky, thinking about his fight with Franca the night before. The woman was beginning to annoy him with her continuous desire to get pregnant. Toye wasn’t as wealthy as he but Franca seemed to find his ability to settle down with Annabelle more appealing than all the money and gifts he offer her.
“I want to bear your child,” she had said and he realized that what she really wanted was a part of him, not just his money. She wanted to be connected to him in a way that he wasn’t quite ready for. Doyin needed a break from Franca’s new obsession. As he walked up the stairs that led to the restaurant, he noticed that it was closed, three women sat in front of the place, eating coconuts and laughing.
“Good morning,” he said.
“Good morning officer,” one of them said.
“What’s going on here? Why are you closed for business?”
“Our madam has been arrested.”
“Your colleagues at Thompson station.”
“Did they say why?”
“We were not here, so we do not know.”
Doyin scratched his mustache. “What about the young lady that woks here?”
“She’s not here.”
“Do you know where she is?”
“Is she under arrest too?”
“Woman, I’m the one asking questions.”
“I don’t know where she is.”
“Hmm,” Doyin looked around confused, wondering how he could get any useful information from the women. “If you see her…”
“Yes…?” another woman said.
“Don’t worry, I’ll find her.”
He could hear the women snickering behind him as he walked away. He turned the bend that led back to the Abowu District Police station when he bumped into someone. It was Becky.
She stopped, eyes wide. “Mr. Doyin…”
“Why didn’t you come and see me?” He looked down at her, smiling.
“I was busy.”
“Well now you’re not busy.”
“My boss sent me on an errand.”
“The boss that is in police custody?”
“Why is he sending you on errands?”
“It’s on behalf of his wife… please I need to go now.”
“Where are you going?” he held on to her arm as she walked past him.
“I am in a hurry please.”
“I won’t release you unless you promise to come and see me.”
“I can’t come and see you. I have a lot of things to do.”
“Come and see me and I will take you to your husband.”
Becky stared at him.
“Come and see me and I will take you to your husband,” he said again, as if to reassure her.
“Yes, I will, but you must come and see me first.”
Becky found the door to the restaurant opened. Surprised, she walked into the building, wondering who had opened it when she had closed it. As she walked towards the kitchen she heard familiar voices, and immediately recognized them as the cooks. Sewa had previously given them a key. As she was about to open the door she heard one of the women saying: “I don’t know what is taking so long, he should have paid us by now.”
“Let’s be patient, she was just arrested this morning,” another woman said.
“I don’t trust that man, that’s the truth. Why does he want to destroy Madam so much?” the first woman said.
“That is none of our business.” the third woman said. “Let us concentrate on what we will use the money for so that our lives can get better and we don’t have to live from hand to mouth again.”
“I agree, and that’s why I’m angry that he has not paid us yet.”
“He will pay, we told the police what he told us to tell them about madam, he will pay, I am sure of it,” the second woman said.
“In the meantime, let us take all the food we can from here before we have to leave.”
Becky held her hand to her mouth and dashed out of the restaurant as quickly as she could with the card Sewa had instructed her to get from her small cupboard.
Babatunde pinched his lips with his fingers and shook his head.
“Sewa didn’t want to keep those women, I was the one who persuaded her to give them another chance.”
“What can we do now sir?” Becky asked.
“I don’t think they will believe us if we tell them what you heard. Let me go and talk to Chief Lanleyin,” he looked at the card that Becky had just given to him. “I hope he can help.”
Richard was staring out of the window of his second sitting room. The grass in the garden didn’t look green enough.
“I want our new man, Toye, to follow the boys on tonight’s operation.”
His wife, Hilda paused from her drinking. “Are you sure?”
“Yes, he is ready. We have tested him, he’s clean.”
“Why don’t we wait a little longer?”
She hissed. “So why are you asking me when you have already made up your mind?”
“I wasn’t asking you. I was telling you.”
Chief Lanleyin relaxed in his seat and listened to Babatunde’s plea for help.
“Why do you think I can help? Your wife didn’t even come to see me when I asked her to.”
“It is because of her past experiences, she was a bit scared of coming to your office even though she was happy about the opportunity.”
“What past experiences?”
Babatunde told him of what had happened with Mr. Olasehinde.
“I know people in the Ministry of Works, what is the name of the person who did this to her?”
“His name is Olasehinde.”
He sat up. “Olasehinde? It better not be the same person I’m thinking about. Olasheinde? That is my daughter’s husband. Do you know how he looks like?”
“No sir. Only my wife does.”
“This is what I can do. I will call my lawyer, and he will go to the police station with you and listen to all that your help heard. He should get her out before the end of the day.”
“Yes sir, thank you sir.” Babatunde prostrated before the older man.
Becky was home with Sewa’s children and her son when Teju, Sewa’s daughter came rushing into the kitchen where she was preparing to make dinner.
“Bolutife’s body is hot. I think he is sick.”
Becky ran past her to the sitting room where the boy was crying softly, his body as hot as if he had clung to a pot on fire. She picked him up and took off his clothes, wondering what had caused this sudden occurrence.
“Let me take him to the pharmacy. Stay here with your siblings and don’t misbehave.”
Running to the pharmacy with the child on her back she hoped that she would find help.
“This child needs to go to a hospital,” the pharmacist said.
And so she ran again to the hospital where the child was immediately admitted and attended to. When his temperature had slightly reduced, one of the nurses called her aside and told her to reach out to her husband quickly.
“He has left me. I don’t know where he is now.”
The nurse looked at her doubtfully. “So who do you stay with?”
“My boss, but she is in police custody and her husband is running helter skelter, trying to get her released.”
“So how are you going to pay your bills? You need to get the money, otherwise your baby will be here for some time.”
“I don’t have any money.”
“That is not our concern. Look, I called you apart because I didn’t want others to say it in a harsh manner. Find a way to get this money on time.”
“I don’t know anyone and I can’t leave him alone here.”
“I don’t know what you can do but find someone who can give you the money,” the nurse said and left her.
Babatunde walked into the house weary and close to tears. His wife was still in the cell because the police were too tired to go and arrest the three cooks and the man who had allegedly put them up to the set-up. Tomorrow they had said, when they had the daylight to work. He blamed himself, first for encouraging Sewa to do the business and then for asking her to give the cooks another chance.
When Teju told him of what had happened to Becky’s son, he lay back on the chair, thinking of going out to seek her- and promptly dozed off.
Toye was irritated at the last minute decision of the boss to include him on the operation but he masked his feelings. He would do everything he needed to do to make sure that he won the trust of everyone in the group, so that when he struck them they wouldn’t see him coming. Annabelle had been asleep when they had come for him and he’d had to leave a small note telling her where he had gone.
His body ached as he rode in the back of the truck with another man who was staring into the darkness. The night was cold and he felt the dryness of harmattan on his skin.
“Where are we going?” he asked the man.
“There’s a new textile depot at Alafia.”
That was all that needed to be said. Toye wanted to ask why they were going to Alafia again but he knew that not only was there was no point asking such a question, it would make him look suspicious.
The truck slowed to a stop at the back of a warehouse that looked newly painted. The men got down and Jay whispered instructions to them. Toye was to man the gate, he felt sidelined, but again, he kept his thoughts to himself.
The driver got down and pointed down at his trousers. He wanted to ease himself in the bushes. From the corner of his eyes, he saw a lone figure heading towards the truck and pursed his lips to whistle when he saw that it was a female. He walked away from the truck, towards the end of the building and stuck himself behind a kiosk. As the figure approached, he grabbed her, clamped his hand on her mouth and put the gun on her neck.
“What are you doing here?”
It was a young woman, and she shook as he stared at her. There was something familiar about her.
Becky stared at the man holding her captive, stunned by his voice. She knew the voice. The man slowly removed his hand from her mouth.
“Becky?” he said.
“Yes, it’s me. Toye.”