Abowu District Episode 43
Toye read the file he had picked from Philomena’s bag. It was a log of all the activities of his gang. Uche liked to keep records of what had come in and how much profit he could expect. He sat at the table in his office and began to make a copy of the log in order to return it back to Philomena.
He had barely been home since his argument with Annabelle. It seemed that the argument had given him an opportunity to express his dissatisfaction with her and his infatuation with Becky. Toye was confused; he wanted to be with both women for different reasons. He shook his head and tried to concentrate on what he was doing. He was almost done with the log when he heard some noise at the front desk. He stuffed the log and the copy into his shirt and pretended to be engrossed in a newspaper.
Doyin walked into the office and stared at him.
“What are you doing here?”
“Why are you here so early in the morning?”
“Is that a crime?” he asked, looking up from the newspaper in his hands.
“You don’t normally come in this early.”
“What can I say? Things are not how they used to be with Annabelle.”
“So you are here this morning because of marital problems?”
“Isn’t it enough?”
Doyin looked at him and sat down. “Since you are here let me just tell you, the boss wants you to join us on the next job.”
Toye’s ears perked up. “Where is it?”
“I don’t know yet. I’ll confirm the location to you, but it’s big, a very big deal. In fact,” he leaned closer, “After this job, I’m done. I’m resigning from the force and starting my own business.”
Toye was surprised. “That big?”
“Yes, that big. You should count it a privilege that the boss wants you.”
Becky sat in the lounge of Patrick’s Children’s Hospital and watched as Yomi Makanjuola walked towards her, his stethoscope hanging awkwardly on his neck. He looked tired, and it was only nine in the morning.
He sat beside her and smiled tiredly. “Good morning. I’m glad you came.”
They talked about her getting an education and getting another job, but Becky was worried about appearing ungrateful to Sewa who had given her a reason to still be in Abowu.
“But how long will you owe her? You have your own life to live.”
She sighed. “I don’t know…”
“You’re young, this is the time for you to go back to school, get a degree, get a good job, and take care of your son. Women are becoming better educated.”
“I don’t have the money to go to school.”
“Use what you have, I will give you the rest.”
“Why are you being kind to me?”
“I don’t know, maybe it’s because I believe in you.”
An awkward silence passed between them.
“Continue with your boss, but let us continue to search for another job, one that is not time consuming. We’ll take it from there.”
Becky sighed. “Alright, I will think about it. Right now, can you check on my son?”
Becky was on her way back to the restaurant when she heard a familiar voice.
“How long are you going to run away from me?”
It was Doyin. She turned to face him.
“What do you want?”
“I’ve told you what I want. Why are you pretending as if you don’t want me?”
“I don’t want you, I don’t want anybody. All of you are the same.”
“Not all of us. Look, I’m about to be very rich. You need a man who can take care of you and I can do that. Give me a chance to change your story.”
“I don’t need you to change my story. I don’t need you. You are as evil as your friend.”
Doyin’s face darkened. “What will your boss say about you getting back with Toye then?”
“I am not with Toye.”
“I will tell her about that night. Who do you think she will believe? You or me? I am a powerful man and I can get whatever I want. It is better for you to accept my proposal before I force you to. Come and see me at this hotel this weekend.” He handed her a note and smiled.
Later that week, Florence was dozing off when two of Uche’s boys walked into her office.
“Mr OkafarOkafor wants to see you.”
“I don’t have a meeting with him.”
“He asked us to escort you.”
She looked at them doubtfully. “I can come on my own, I don’t need an escort.”
“Madam, please respect yourself and come with us. He is waiting.”
Florence was afraid but she tried not to show it. “Alright, give me a few minutes.”
While they waited for her in the car, she wrote a note to Sewa and discreetly slipped it to one of her staff who she told to take it to Sewa’s restaurant immediately. She folded her hands and said a silent prayer as she sat in between the men and the car sped down the road.
Uche was sipping from his glass of wine as Philomena got dressed. He looked at her with distaste and gulped down some wine to suppress his sudden nausea.
“I don’t know why I bother with you, you disgust me.”
Philomena stilled, her heart had been doing flip-flops over the fact that her husband was watching her getting dressed. It had been a while since he watched her. To hear his spiteful words sent chills down her spine. She said nothing and tied her scarf, her meeting at the wharf was in an hour. she had decided that she would go out more and make more money than Florence was making. Uche had given her a challenge that she decided to rise up to.
She sat at the vanity table and began to apply her powder while Uche kept talking.
“Your whole body is hairy and big, like a gorilla’s.”
“Whatever made me look at you twice? I must have been under a spell.”
His speech was slurred, evidence off the amount of wine he’d drunk.
This is why I don’t touch you anymore. Making love to you is like making love to a gorilla. No beauty whatsoeoverwhatsoever.”
Philomena’s heart iced over and her face hardened as she listened to him. There was an avalanche of offences running through her mind and her resentment for him built.
The door suddenly opened and Uche’s two men half-pushed Florence in.
“Ah, she’s here.”
florenceFlorence looked from Uche to Philomenahiloeman. “What is going on here?”
ucheUche waved the men away. “BeautfiulBeautiful woman, I told my boiys here to bring you over for a meeting.”
“A meeting in your bedroom?”
“Yes, is there anything wrong with that?”
Philomenapileman applied her red lipstick and put on her necklace. She got her handsbag off the nail in the wwallwall and put it on her shoulder.
The woman said nothing and left them alone in the room. Florence looked at Uche.
“What kind of meeting is this?”
Uche got up from the bed and walked towards her. “You are very beautiful.”
He tried to touch her face but she slapped his hand away.
“What do you think you’re doing? I’m a married woman.”
Uche laughed and rubbed his palms together. “I like it when a woman is fierce.”
“You told your men to bring me here so that you can touch my face? If this is what you called me here for, you must be out of your mind.”
Uche grabbed her arm as she made to walk out on him and pushed her on to the bed.
“What are you doing?” Florence shot up and tried to get out of the bed but Uche pushed her right back on it. Her heart started to pound and sweat broke out on her forehead.
“Mr Okafor, what are you trying to do? This is your matrimonial bed, your wife is outside the door.
“I gave you several chances to come on your own but you were being coy. Did you think that I would do all those things for you without expecting anything back?”
“I didn’t ask you for anything. You did it all on your own.”
“So why did you keep your own share of the money? I don’t invest in vain.”
Philomena could hear Florence’s raised voice and Uche’s flirtatious tone. She walked into the kitchen and poured out a bottle of wine.
Florence adjusted her blouse and steeled her mind to face her husband and children. She’d spent the last two hours explaining how it was that Uche had sent for her. The police Sewa had been able to bring to her rescue had not believed her. They thought she was a cheating wife and nothing she said made sense to them. Sewa had told her to ignore them and find a way of cutting off her ties to Philomena and her husband.
She knocked the door and waited for the first excited child to open it. Her mind replayed Sewa’s timely entrance into the room and the fleeting look of judgement on her face when she shot up from the bed.
The door opened with her husband behind it.
“Good evening,” she murmured as she tried to push past him.
“So you have finally bitten off more than you can chew. You thought you could dine with the devil and eat your food in peace, but you became his meal. Your friend was here, Philomena, she told me everything.” He looked at her with disdain and hissed. “You repel me. You can go back to him, you’re not welcome here anymore.”
“In the house I paid for?”
He smiled and stepped out of the house. “I knew you would say that. I’ll leave the place for you.”
She sat on the couch for some minutes before she realized that the house was quiet. She moved around the house and saw that the children were nowhere to be found and their things were gone.
Florence ran to all the places she thought they could be but her husband had suddenly vanished, along with her children.