Uche stood in his cell, thinking about his predicament. It was over twenty four hours and no one had come for him yet, which was strange. What usually happened in the case that one of them got arrested, was that Richard the boss, would either send someone to rescue them or silence them. He was held in high regard within the gang, so he assumed that there would be no plans of silencing him. Yet he had not been rescued. Either option didn’t bother Uche as much as the silence he perceived from the gang. Why was no one coming? Was he being abandoned?
He overheard desperate voices from the counter and he recognized one of them as that of his mother. Perking his ears up, he tried to pick fragments of the conversation. A long time passed before he saw her in front of his cell, her eyes looked tired and her clothes were brown from dust.
“Uche…” she wailed. “Why?”
He looked away from her and looked behind her to see if there was someone else with her. “Where is the lawyer?”
“What lawyer, are you expecting someone?”
“Are you here alone?”
“I came with your younger brother but they won’t let him in.”
“So you came alone? Where is everybody? Why is no one coming to bail me out?”
“So all of you were collecting my money when everything was alright but the minute you hear that I’m small trouble, no one wants to help me isn’t it?”
“But I am here.”
“You cannot help me, you shouldn’t have bothered.”
“I shouldn’t have bothered? Do you know how long I stood outside the police station before I was let in?”
“Alright I’m sorry, but why didn’t you come with a lawyer? This is not a place to come visiting.”
“I don’t know these things, you know I am illiterate.”
He laughed dryly, “Go to my house and tell my boys…”
“They are not there, everyone has left. The police is there to investigate one thing or another so your people got afraid and left.”
“Did you ask them why they’re not coming to rescue me? Did they speak to Richard…?”
“Uche, let us talk about those who can help. Do you know anyone else who can help you?”
Uche just stared at her.
Becky emptied the dustbin in the incinerator and began to walk back to the hospital staff quarters when she saw Toye waiting for her. She hesitated for a moment before she continued to walk towards him.
“What are you doing here? How did you find me here?”
“I saw you outside the hospital building some days ago.”
“What do you want?” she looked around, and hoped that none of her bosses was watching.
“I just want to talk to you.”
“I don’t have anything to say to you. Please don’t come here again.”
“Becky,” he held her arm. “This is important, I really need to talk to you.”
She looked at his hand on her arm and then shrugged it off. “Talk quickly.”
“Can we meet somewhere…?”
“I will not hurt you.”
“You better say what you want to say now, I am not meeting you anywhere.”
“You are so stubborn,” he muttered. “I am involved in a dangerous case, I don’t know how things might turn out.”
He saw that he had her attention. “Where is the boy, my son… I want to see him.”
“You don’t have a son…”
“Becky this is not the time…”
“He’s somewhere safe.”
“I want to see him.”
“I cannot allow you to see him.”
“Becky, this is not the time to be stubborn.”
“After all you have done, this is not the time for you to come asking for a son that you abandoned since he was a baby.”
He rubbed his head in frustration. “Alright, have it your way. But listen to my warning. In the next few days, something is going to happen. If you see Doyin, I want you to run as fast as possible away from him and never let him get a hold of my son. Do you hear me?”
Becky stared at him, wondering whether or not to believe him.
“I have a little gift for you and him.” He brought out an envelope and handed it to her, it was full of money.
“I can’t accept this, take your money.”
“It is for my son, if you don’t want it.”
“He doesn’t need your blood money, he has had enough troubles in his short life.” She slapped the money on to his chest. “I will avoid Doyin just as I always have, as for your money, we don’t need it. Spend it on your wife and family. Now I have to go.”
“What is it?”
“I am sorry, for everything.”
“Good luck with your life,” she said to him and left him staring after her.
Toye and Doyin sat down at the bar where they had met Annabelle and Franca, taking lazy sips of beer, each caught up in his own thoughts. A noisy highlife band played in the right corner of the bar, and the guests gyrated before them, smiling and moving without a care in the world. Toye stared at them and wished that he could go back to the time in his life when things were uncomplicated, where he wasn’t afraid for his life or the lives of his loved ones.
“You want to dance?” Doyin said to him.
“No.” The former took another sip of his drink.
“I look forward to dancing in the next few days when I am a very rich man, and free from Richard.”
Toye laughed. “You must be naïve if you think that Richard will just let you go and enjoy your money in peace.”
“I know he won’t let me enjoy my money in peace, and that is why I am leaving Abowu, to a place where he won’t think of looking for me.”
“You’re leaving Abowu too?” he smiled and thought of Florence who he was told had left Abowu two days ago. It occurred to him that he could leave Abowu too but unlike Doyin, he had unwittingly introduced members of the gang to his family. And then Toye realized that even if he was successful with putting the gang behind bars, he couldn’t say for a certainty that he and his family would be safe. It seemed that he was doomed either way.
“You look gloomy,” Doyin said, “Do you think you might die?”
Toye smiled. “Maybe, I don’t know, anyone can die.”
It was then that Toye began to think of the idea of dying, for only his death would be enough to pay for the betrayal of the gang.
“Come back to me,” Annabelle said. “You’re the only family I have, so please don’t die.”
Toye smiled tiredly. “I will try, but I want you to stay safe and that’s why you should remain in this hotel. Keep your ears on the ground and do not trust anyone.”
“Toye why are you talking like this, you’re scaring me. Isn’t this operation like the others?”
“No, it isn’t. It’s the biggest one we’ve done.”
She looked deep into his eyes. “Are you going to double-cross your gang?”
“How can you ask me such a thing? Do I look like a traitor?”
“Please don’t do it if that’s what you’re thinking, you would put your daughter and I in danger.”
“I am not a traitor and please don’t ask me that question again. This is why I’ve stopped talking to you. Now you’re accusing me…”
“I’m not accusing you…”
“Then what are you saying?”
“I know you Toye. You’ve changed, you’ve become secretive, you’re carrying files around…”
“You want to know the truth?”
He sighed. “The truth is that I’m falling in love with Becky again. I’m not a traitor, I am just a man in love with a young woman who doesn’t want me anymore.”
Toye figured that some of the truth was better than her grasping the magnitude of what he was going to do. She needed to be distracted.
“Becky, that dirty girl?”
“She’s no longer a dirty girl, she’s transformed. You wouldn’t believe it.” He wore his shirt. “We can talk about this when I get back, I didn’t want to tell you about it but you called me a traitor, so…”
Annabelle sat slowly on the bed and stared at her rings.
Toye was in the truck along with the other members of the gang and hoped that Bala had prepared an adequate backup as planned. They were a few miles from the spot where they intended to waylay the consignment. According to the information they had received, there would be about four trucks accompanied by policemen who had been hired to guard them. Toye scratched his stubble and thought of Richard who was in the vehicle ahead of him. He hoped that all would go well and that he wouldn’t escape, because if he did, he knew that the man would stop at nothing to exact revenge.
The vehicle slowed to a stop and the men got down, created a roadblock and assumed their positions in the bush.
Time passed and soon, some of the men around him began to nod off to sleep in the cool night breeze. Suddenly, headlights flooded the road before them, the consignment had arrived. Toye tightened his grip on the gun and waited.
The first truck stopped before the roadblock, two policemen got down to take it out of the way. They were immediately gunned down. Seeing what had happened, the police escort began to fire into the bush as the gang returned fire and began to move closer to the truck. In no time, they took control over the consignment and began to journey towards the predetermined safehouse.
The men jubilated over their success, when they encountered another roadblock, shortly after they turned of the expressway. The trucks stopped as they pondered what this could be.
A voice called out from the bush. “This is the Abowu District Police, you are surrounded and all under arrest. Alight from the vehicles slowly and with your hands up in the air and you will not be harmed. Any attempt to escape will be met with violent force.”
Richard’s men alighted from the trucks and cocked their guns. Doyin recognized the voice and so did Toye who was surprised to hear Bala in charge of the command. He had failed to realize that the old man wouldn’t miss the opportunity of the greatest arrest in his entire career.
“How did Bala know our location?” Doyin asked Toye.
“How am I supposed to know that? I am as surprised as you are. Did he tell you that he was planning a raid?”
“Stop pretending. There’s no way he could have known about this place unless you told him.”
The other gang members stared at Toye icily.
“I did not tell him anything. After all this time, Doyin, you think I am a traitor?”
“Then you tell me how he discovered this place, you’re the only new person here.”
“And so? Why can’t it be you…?”
“Can you both just shut up!” Richard snapped.
Again Bala called out the order for them to surrender themselves.
“We will not surrender,” Richard yelled to his men. “We will take these ones out, just as we took the other ones out.”
Toye couldn’t warn them about the number of men there were or their determination to see them arrested, the war began with the first shot from Richard who yelled again. “Let’s get these bastards!”
Toye and Doyin managed to hide under the trucks in the midst of the gunbattle.
“You did this, I know it.” Doyin said. “There’s no way you’re getting out of this alive. Richard will skin you. I bring you into the gang and this is how you repay me.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“You’re so ungrateful! I curse the day I met you.”
Just as Toye was about to respond, a bullet came into their hiding place and hit one of them.