Owena’s immediate thought was that this had to be a partner of the man-monster, coming in to help his friend get her. But when the occupant of the car came out and strode over to her window, she strongly doubted this. He was nothing like the previous man. He was well dressed and looked pretty much a regular guy. As a matter of fact, regular was not the word of choice, he was better than regular. Not too tall, pleasant-looking and in all, more wholesome than that beast of a man. Also, the Rolex watch that adorned the wrist of the hand he placed on her window told her he was someone of the same social status as her, or maybe even higher. There was no way he could be affiliated with that other stranger.
She at once opened the car door and jumped out, handbag in one hand, handset and car keys in the other. “You have to get me out of here before that monster gets back,” she said to the newcomer with all the urgency in the world. And when he hesitated, she tugged at his hand as if to physically pull him back to his car.
“But what about your car….?”
His voice was just as pleasant to the senses as his face. Indeed, he had to be an angel sent by the Good Lord to rescue her out of the jaws of that behemoth.
“I don’t care about the car, just get me away from him!” she flung a look at the Honda and almost fainted when she was that the Beast was out of it again and hurrying in their direction. Oh no!
“Come on! He’s coming back!”
The urgency in her voice and the wild, desperate look on her face must have finally gotten across to her rescuer. He hurried back to his car, a white Audi, and in a few seconds they were securely within it.
Owena saw the Beast break into a half-run, easily closing up the gap between the car and himself. “Go on, drive and get us out of here. What are you waiting for?”
The monster got to the car and made a grab for the door-handle at the driver-side, just as the car engine whirred into action. Owena’s saviour reversed the car smoothly before shooting down the highway at a speed that would have made a Diablo jealous. She let out the breath she had been holding, relief oozing out of every pore of her body. That had been so close. Her heart was still beating fast, though. She turned round in the plush, upholstered seat to steal a glance back at the Honda, almost certain she would see it shooting down the road after them.
“What was that all about?” her rescuer was enquiring of her.
“That… that man.” Owena struggled with the words, her plump torso still heaving erratically. “That man is evil. He has a face like… a monster. And he just wouldn’t leave me alone. I-I don’t know what he wanted from me.”
The man looked confused. “But what were you doing back there at a time like this?”
“My car broke down and I was looking for someone to help me out when he came up to me. One look at him and I knew he was an evil person, so I got back into the car and asked him to leave me alone, but he just wouldn’t.”
“Good thing I came along when I did then. One does not need much imagination to guess what a man like that would want from a gorgeous young woman like yourself.” As he said those words, the man’s eyes wandered languorously over Owena’s body, lingering for a moment too long on her buxom bust. But she did not mind, she was used to men giving her such looks.
“So what do you plan on doing now?” was her rescuer’s next question. To which Owena responded:
“Guess I’ll just go home and let them know what happened to me. My mother will take care of having the car towed back.”
Then she told him her address and he offered to drop her there. Owena smiled, she had not expected anything else.
“Thank you, Mister …”
“Dele. The name is Dele. And yours?”
“Owena… an unusual name indeed. What does it mean?”
With a shrug, “I’ve got no idea. It was given to me by my father, whom I never knew.” And before the stranger could ask her any more personal questions, “Excuse me, I need to make a call.”
The call was, of course, to Charles. He picked up on the first ring, as though he had been hanging onto his phone, just waiting for her to call. “Where are you?” his impatient voice cut across the line. “Am at your place and I’ve been waiting for ages. Your mother is worried too.”
“Am sorry for keeping you waiting,” she said petulantly. “But you won’t believe the night I’ve had. The car broke down on the third mainland bridge, then some freak came up to me and tried to abduct me…”
“Are you serious?”
“Dead serious. But I’m safe now, so don’t worry. A Good Samaritan rescued me and I’m on my way back home.”
“But where exactly are you right now?” Charles demanded, his usual overbearing self.
“I don’t know…” Owena looked out the window on the passenger-side, trying to determine what street or area they were driving past, but there was nothing but trees and bushes all around. She turned an astounded gaze on Dele, “Where is this? I don’t recognize this road.”
He met her gaze with a steady, expressionless one of his own. Wordlessly, he lifted a hand with a woollen handkerchief in it and clamped it over her nose, while still maintaining the other hand on the steering wheel.
Owena never got the opportunity to scream. Her phone dropped out of her grip as she struggled to tear the hand away from her face, but as though in a nightmare, her hands proved too lethargic for the task. They moved way too slowly and could only scratch ineffectually at his hand. In a few seconds her strength waned altogether and her hands fell away uselessly as consciousness slipped away from her.
Sergeant Kagbo had never felt more frustrated in his life. He had tried his best to make that girl realize he meant her no harm; that he was actually trying to keep her away from danger. He had even shown her his identity card to make her see that he was a police officer and not whatever his countenance had dredged up in her mind. Yet she’d completely refused to listen.
He knew it was his badly scarred and blotchy face that had scared her like that. She wasn’t the first person that had exhibited such strong negative reaction to his face, but there was nothing he could do about his looks. He had acquired the extensive scars during a fire accident on an operation a couple of years back, but it did not change the fact that he was one of the best cops in Lagos. People just had to learn to look past his features to the helpful, determined cop that lay beneath.
He had been on his usual scout of the bridge when he saw the girl standing by her car, obviously needing help and had stopped, not only to offer her whatever help she needed, but also to warn her about the danger she was exposing herself to.
There had been a lot of cases of people disappearing on the third mainland bridge of recent, and the police department under whose jurisdiction that highway fell had every reason to believe that a gang of kidnappers were responsible. Kagbo was assigned to investigating these disappearances and over time, he had come to learn that the marauders targeted anybody on their own, usually prostitutes, drunks or single occupants of broken down vehicles. What he had no idea of was what they did with them. No abductee ever escaped, no corpse was ever found and no ransom ever requested.
Kagbo had decided to get the girl off the bridge as quickly as possible, but her reaction to his appearance had prevented this.
Frustrated, he had decided to return to his car where his mobile phone laid, plugged to the car charger, in order to call for help from any of his colleagues who happened to be close by and in uniform. But no sooner had he entered the car than that other vehicle came up, and then, she was rushing to it with its driver. He had had an unsettling premonition about the new arrival and had run after them, trying to jerk open the car door to delay them. But he hadn’t been fast enough and they had gotten away from him easily.
No point bothering yourself over something you have no power to change, he told himself at length. There is no reason for you to believe that man is one of the marauders, after all you have no proof of that, just a premonition. Maybe he is the girl’s relative or friend whom she’d called to come pick her.
He stood staring at the Mercedes Benz the girl had left behind for a minute, then slowly walked back to his own car. He hoped she was safe wherever she was now. He really hoped so.