The Last Smile – Episode 3
By Adeola Nissi
Tinuke stared at Ray who still had the maid in his arms. She hadn’t expected her assumptions to turn out true. Her anger skyrocketed as she saw her assumptions becoming a reality. Her first instinct was to go there and cause a scene; beat the living daylight out of the miserable girl and make Raymond understand that she is not to be messed with. On second thought, she decided otherwise. Ray gazed at her, not leaving Bose who was oblivious to the current changes.
Tinuke advanced towards them, drawing their attention by standing directly in front of them. Bose saw her and the piercing glare she had in her direction and recoiled. She jumped to her feet and stepped out of reach. Tinu faced Ray with a face that Ray thought would not pass for remorse as long as it came from Tinu.
“I am sorry Ray” she started. “I don’t know what is coming over me these days; I think it is due to the pressure my parents are mounting on me. Please forgive me. I would like to do what I am supposed to do by staying beside you now. Please” she bowed her head.
Ray stared at her for a long minute, not knowing what response to give her. Tinuke does not just beg for forgiveness, she only does that when there was something fishy or something at stake. He stood up to his full height before her and swallowed hard. One thing he knew for sure is that this is not the Tinuke he had wanted to spend the rest of his life with. Tinu stood with her head bowed, expecting Ray’s arms to close around her in any minute. She knew he had a soft spot for her, no matter how bad things degenerated.
After he had looked at her to his satisfaction, he stepped out of her reach and marched out of the hospital without uttering a word. Tinuke opened her mouth, not believing what she had just experienced. She stared at his vanishing backside, feeling her pent-up anger return. She saw Bose with the side of her eyes and faced her. Before anyone could do anything, her palm connected with Bose’s cheeks, sending her crashing into a nearby chair. Some of the hospital workers came to intervene but Tinuke stormed out before anyone could do anything.
Mr and Mrs Jones arrived at their daughter’s apartment very early in the morning. They hadn’t slept ever since they started praying and their apprehension hadn’t reduced either. Bewaji knocked anxiously on the door but got no response. She banged and banged until her husband took over, shouting ‘Lucy’ as he knocked. No answers came forth and worry lines displayed on his forehead. The compound housed only two tenants, so he went in search of the other tenant, hoping to get something valid from her.
Sighting her at the back of the house doing the laundry, he went over to her with his wife hurrying to match his quick strides.
“Good morning ma’am” he greeted the young woman who is obviously married. She looked up from her work and greeted back, giving them her attention.
“Please ma, we are looking for our daughter Lucy; she is your neighbor but we can’t find her inside”. Today is Saturday for crying out loud.
The woman looked at them, seeing their worry. “There is no problem. I saw her yesterday night, she entered late but I saw her enter the house. I am sure one of her friends, a guy, visited her last night because he waited for her to arrive for a long time”.
Bewaji’s curiosity arose and she spoke for the first time since they approached the woman. “Who is that guy please?” she asked, hoping it was not what she was thinking.
“Oh, it is Fred. He comes here often. He must be really close to her” she said with a slight smile which vanished when the smile was not returned.
“Can you please describe him?” the woman started giving descriptions and by the time she was through, Bewaji was as white as snow. Her hands were placed on her head in alarm.
“Is everything alright ma” the woman asked. Bewaji ignored her and raced back to her daughter’s door, pounding like a deranged woman. Ken got there and dialed Lucy’s number again. It rang out and listening carefully, he heard the phone ring inside. Bewaji started yelling and Ken did not bother to try stopping her. The neighbor joined them, wondering what the matter was, fearing what the outcome would be. Without much ado, ken kicked the door continuously, till it gave way.
They met an empty bed that looked like no one had slept on it. Lucy’s bag was on the floor and her phone rang out from it. Bewaji was beside herself with rage and worry, crying and squealing. Being the man, Ken took out his phone and searched for a number. His face was bloodshot, desperately wanting to punch someone. After speaking for sometime into the mouthpiece of his phone, he hung up, picked his daughter’s phone, copied a number and dialed with his own phone.
Raymond hurriedly wiped his body with a dry towel and threw on a shirt and a white trouser. He needed to go to the hospital to check on the girl he picked up yesterday. After he stormed out of the hospital, few hours ago; in the midnight to be precise; he returned about an hour after, very sure he would not meet Tinuke there. His prediction was right but he hadn’t been able to predict meeting Bose with a red cheek and tear-stricken face. He felt so bad that he had put her in danger, not thinking of what Tinuke would do to her. Doctor Tunde had emerged and gave them the news that the girl was in a coma and that they needed to wait and see if she would come out alive.
He did not get to see her so he left the hospital with Bose, hoping not to have another encounter with Tinu, because he really needed some sleep. Surprisingly, he did not meet her at home. His relief knew no bounds as he bounced on the bed, dozing off almost immediately he touched the bed.
His sleep was short-lived. He had a nightmare where a girl was jerking, on the verge of death. Unable to get anymore sleep that he already got, he surfed the net till dawn.
Ray shut his bedroom door behind him. He heard the sound of dishes in the kitchen and perceived a mouth watering aroma that made his stomach groan, and without telling his legs what to do, he was in the kitchen.
“Good morning Bose”
Bose turned back and smiled. “Good morning sir” she greeted, half kneeling.
“I would have said I am in a hurry to arrive the hospital if the aroma hadn’t been so tempting”
Bose laughed. “Since I could not get any real sleep, I decided to cook early”.
Thank God I am not the only one, Raymond thought. “Good. I would just sit here and eat”. He sat on the chair in the kitchen as Bose served his food. “Serve yours too because we are eating together”. Bose paused for some seconds to look at him, before following his instructions.
Ray stuffed his mouth with fried eggs and plantain, savoring its taste as he watched Bose. She was seated opposite him, gazing at her food like it was a specimen for practical experiment.
“Is something wrong Bose?”
Bose smiled internally. She had been expecting that question; at least it would make things easier for her. She looked up. “I am sorry to say this sir. I think marrying Madam would be a bad idea”.
Ray’s hand froze. He looked at Bose who stared back at him. He was not surprised that she was being blunt and risking her job by over-stepping her bounds; he was rather surprised that she was wise enough to voice the obvious.
“I know that” he simply said
Her eyes snapped. “Then why do you want to marry her?” she could not believe the possibility of someone walking consciously into the lake of fire.
“You don’t understand”
“Then enlighten me”
Raymond smiled, and then laughed. “Enlighten. I never knew you had gone that far in your English classes. Wow”
Even though Bose did not want to digress, she smiled. “I am trying”
“You have improved tremendously. As for the other issue, it is private and I am working on it. Thanks for the concern. I need to rush off. Don’t let anyone in, I repeat, anyone”.
“Sir, you need a gateman” she said.
“Noted. I really do” he picked his car keys and headed for the hospital.
Deolu roamed his sitting room in tense strides. His phone was held tight in his hand as he roamed the entire office. The not-too-large room was tastefully furnished, depicting the financial status of its bearer. Deolu hadn’t been able to reach Lucy. He had dialed her number endlessly ever since they departed last night but it had rang and rang without any answer. When he dropped her off, he had promised to call immediately he got home but when he called, there was no answer.
Last night had been the most perfect day of his life. He had asked her out on a dinner date and she had accepted. It had been so perfect. For over two years that they had been friends, he decided to do what he had been postponing for a very long time, for fear of losing her friendship . The undying love he felt for Lucy kept burning in him, and each passing day he spent, keeping the feeling locked inside made it exceedingly difficult to hide. The jealousy he feels when she is around other guys upsets him because he had never been one to fuss over a girl. It had taken him days to decide if he was actually going to ask her out.
She had arrived right on time, looking like a goddess. Her fair, almost white skin, glowed, increasing his desire to touch her. The deep whine top and the white three-quarter trouser accentuated her figure perfectly, making him go speechless. Her dark brown hair bounced as she moved towards him, making it obvious that she had just visited the salon.
The dinner had gone perfectly, with laughter on their faces. Then, with his heart in his mouth, he bared his heart to her and surprisingly, she accepted. His joy knew no bounds as he kissed her; something he had been hoping to do for a long time. He dropped her off after spending a long time with her. Ever since then, he hadn’t been able to reach her. He sat down forcefully feeling sweats of perspiration on his forehead, even though the air conditioner was at its peak.
He was waiting for dawn in order not to exaggerate the situation; especially if she is fine. Immediately the day became bright, he took his car keys and phone, locking the door behind him.
Fred put his clothes in his bag in a rush. He had drunk himself to stupor the previous night and woke up with a splitting headache. Not giving his blurry eyes the chance to slow him down, he washed his face and packed some clothes. He knew that the Lucy’s neighbor saw him yesterday and going to jail would be a reality if he didn’t act fast. Being so close to Lucy, everyone knows him, especially her neighbor and best friend, ‘Tola’. Once she is found missing, he would be a suspect.
He packed his luggage, making sure he took all his documents, passports and all. He dismantled his phone, took out his Sim card and broke it. He stepped out and sighted one of his neighbor friends. He lives in a compound with about six tenants, with guys being the majority.
“Guy, how far now” he greeted.
“I dey o. Where you dey go now?” Chika asked on sighting the traveling bag.
“My brother, I wan quick reach Ogun State. E get person wey sick wey I wan see for there” he said in a hurry.
Chika looked from the bag to Fred’s face. “Ok o”.
Fred rushed out of the compound, took a bike to a popular garage. There were several busses lined up there and conductors were shouting their lives out. He heard someone calling Abuja, and moved there. After putting his bag in the trunk of the bus, he entered the bus and waited for it to be filled up.
…To be continued
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