Kayinsola was on her knees, wiping blood and tears off her face.
“What did you say you did to my baby?” T.J asked, standing over her.
“I… T.J please let me expl…”
T.J. slapped her across the cheeks again and Kayinsola screamed. Rotimi was shaking with fury but he didn’t see what he could do. Damola was still asleep in his arms.
“Get up!” T.J ordered Kayinsola as she slowly rose to her knees. “Tell me again what you did with my baby.”
“Please…” Kayinsola cried weakly, blood dripping from her mouth and nose, she raised her hands up entreatingly. “Just let me…”
This time around T.J punched her shoulders, face, and neck all the while screaming obscenities at her. Rotimi’s eyes filled with tears, he had never felt so helpless. Damola who had woken up because of his mother’s screams was now crying:
Rotimi was afraid to talk because he feared what T.J might do to Damola. Eventually, T.J got up and took a swig from his beer can.
“I’m going to ask you one more time, what did you do with my baby?”
“I…” Kayinsola began.
“He’s your son!” Rotimi suddenly said.
Kayinsola and T.J both looked at Rotimi.
“Yes, he’s your son. Look Baby,” he said to Kayinsola. “The plan is not working.” He turned to face T.J again. “He’s yours. We assumed… we assumed that if we insisted that he was mine, you would just let us go…”
“Y’all thought I was stupid uhn?” he slapped Kayinsola’s cheeks. “I know my child when I see him.” He wiped the sweat from his face and looked oddly at Kayinsola. “I’ve ruined your face. Go and wash off all that filth, you remember the bathroom don’t you?” he snickered.
Kayinsola dragged herself to her knees and looked up at Rotimi and her crying son. The sight broke her heart much more than what she had just suffered from T.J. she saw pity and anguish in Rotimi’s eyes and she wondered what would happen to them after this ordeal. Slowly, she pulled herself to her feet and found her way to the bathroom.
T.J snatched the crying child from Rotimi and began to toss him up.
“I’m bringing in another container in two weeks. When I sell those goods… Augusta, when I sell those goods you will know that your husband is a man indeed.”
“So in the meantime what are you?” Augusta asked irritably. Normal Jeffrey was annoying enough, drunk Jeffrey was intolerable.
“Still a man.” Jeffrey staggered slightly.
“I brought you here to get more clients but you have embarrassed me throughout today…”
“How?” Jeffrey asked innocently.
“Eating as if you’ve never seen food before and drinking like a fish.”
“Augusta that’s not fair. If I didn’t eat now, you will say I am too shy…”
“Please! Just get inside the car.” Augusta snatched the car keys from him and walked to the driver’s side.
“Are you going to drive? Augusta…”
“You think I’m going to let you drive in this state?”
“What is wrong with me?”
Augusta shook her head contemptuously and got into the car. Jeffrey knocked on her window. “Augusta come out and let me drive, I’m alright.”
“Jeffrey, get inside this car now!”
“I’m your husband, you can’t tell me what to do.”
“Not when my life is involved, you think I’m going to let you drive me into a ditch?”
“Augusta, come down.” Jeffrey said dully.
“Jeffrey, get inside the car or I will get you in myself.”
A few passersby were already watching the exchange and Augusta was even more embarrassed. She got down from the car, grabbed Jeffrey’s arms and forced him towards the passenger’s side. Jeffrey struggled with her but he was weak from the alcohol. As they struggled, Jeffrey suddenly threw up on his wife’s chest and they both stilled. Augusta was horrified and furious, she looked at the filth on her nice peach colored lace.
“Oh Augusta!” Jeffrey looked at her blouse and suddenly start laughing. The passersby were also laughing, some pitied her and shook their heads at Jeffrey.
Augusta was not amused, she pushed him into the car, got in and drove off.
Damola was frightened by what T.J was doing and he cried all the more. He didn’t like being tossed up several times.
“Daddy! Daddy!” the boy cried, wondering who the strange man was and why his father was not doing anything.
“Shut up! I’m your daddy. Shut up! Shut up!” T.J started to shake the boy when he didn’t stop crying, the gun still in his hand.
Rotimi was terrified, the man before him was really crazy. The gun could go off any minute and his son was in his hands. “Please, just let me hold him.” Rotimi begged.
“Shut up!” T.J yelled, shaking Damola who was now screaming.
Rotimi began to cry. What could he do?
Kayinsola looked at her bloody face in the mirror and thought about her situation. Had she really been free from T.J these three years only to be at his mercy again? When would enough be enough? As she contemplated this she heard her son screaming in fright.
What could she do? Nothing.
After she had cleaned up her face, she saw T.J’s aftershave spray and grabbed it.
“What took you so long?” T.J snapped at her.
“Come here and feed my son.”
Kayinsola looked at him queerly wondering what he was talking about.
“There’s no food here…” Kayinsola looked around nervously.
“What about your breast? Take him and feed him!”
Kayinsola carried the anxious boy. “He has stopped breastfeeding! He’s two years old.”
“How dare you argue with me?”
She sat adjacent to her husband and wondered where to begin. She had no more milk to feed Damola who was clinging to her and crying softly.
“Feed him! Or should I come over and motivate you?” T.J moved menacingly towards Kayinsola.
All of a sudden Rotimi stretched out his legs and T.J fell, face flat. Furiously he scrambled up, thinking first of his gun which had flown out of his hands. As he did, Kayinsola sprayed the aftershave in his face and he screamed.
Rotimi dived for the gun and without hesitation slammed it across T.J’s face. He swooped on him and pinned him down with his knee. Having gained control, Rotimi began to punch T.J on the neck, head and shoulders.
“Stop it!” Kayinsola yelled, rising to her feet. “Rotimi! Stop it, let’s go! Rotimi!”
A darkness came over Rotimi as he continued to hit T.J.
“Stop it! Do you want to kill him?” Kayinsola screamed.
Rotimi froze at Kayinsola’s last words, realizing what he was about to do. “Get something we can use to tie him up.”
Kayinsola dashed into the house and promptly came back with a rope she had found. The same he had used to tie up Mrs Thomas.
Later in the night, as Leke took off his clothes after a long day of celebration he noticed that Titi was sitting still on the sofa.
“Hey, are you okay?”
“I want to know what business you have with that man… Jeffrey…”
“Is that why you’re looking so morose…”
“That boutique was well stocked. How much did you give him?”
Leke hesitated. “Just a few hundred thousand naira.”
“Look.” Leke sat down. “The guy got laid off and I felt sorry for him. He has four children! Do you know that when I called him he had no savings? I had to do something about it.”
Titi looked at her husband and felt proud of him. He was a good man with a good heart.