I almost laughed. Seriously? This guy had the nerve to walk into my hospital room and ask that I come to an agreement about a woman who had almost killed my friend and me…? It sounded ridiculous to me.
“I don’t have anything to discuss with you.” I said, bluntly. I was in no mood for chit-chat.
“The Chief can compensate you for whatever losses incurred, but we are going to have to sweep this incident under the rug.” He said solemnly.
This time I laughed, a dry cynical laugh; then I said. “The only thing I’m going to be sweeping under the rug is you. Now, get the hell out of here before I call security.”
“This is not a fight you can win, Mr Jacob Kojo. Keep that in mind. We will be in touch.” He delivered his last words in a menacing tone before leaving the room.
Had that man just threatened me? I asked myself when I was alone. Chief Odeniran was obviously as messed up as his daughter, how far was he willing to go to keep his daughter’s condition a secret? The man obviously thought he could buy everything with money…well; he was in for a big surprise, ‘cos this was one fight I didn’t intend to lose. Either we settled on my terms, or we didn’t settle at all; Crazy or not, Sonia had put me through enough emotional stress to last a lifetime. Flores’ life was hanging in the balance somewhere in the hospital; and if Chief Odeniran could not understand that this was more than money could buy, then he better have his head checked!
My mum returned with a smile on her face. Good news, I could tell. I decided not to mention the strange visitor that had left a few minutes before. No need getting her worked up.
“So…I was able to pull some strings. A whole lot, I must say. I even had to talk to her mother. Finally, I was able to get you one visit later this evening.” She said.
I almost whooped aloud. Instead, I gave her a hug. “Thank you, Mum.”
“But, you should know…she might not know you’re there. She’s in a coma, like I said. Even her boyfriend stopped visiting when there was no obvious improvement.”
“I just want to see her. It doesn’t matter whether she’s in a coma or not. She’s there because of me. I was careless, that’s why she ended up there.”
“Blaming yourself doesn’t change anything. We just have to pray that God brings her out alive.” My mum said. Trust her to spiritualise everything.
“Meanwhile, I have some more good news.” Her eyes twinkled at me. “The doctor says you can be discharged tomorrow.”
I was ecstatic. Finally, I was getting out of this depressing place called hospital. Yes!
To add to my already happy mood, Oscar and Femi dropped by to visit me. They spent half the time teasing me about my near-heroic effort with Sonia and its outcome. Since it was good-natured ribbing, I had no problem with it.
However we got serious when I told them of the strange visit from one of Chief Odeniran’s men. Femi insisted on getting some of his dad’s goons to ‘send a message’ to Chief Odeniran, while Oscar suggested we go the legal way. I rejected both advices. I had no idea how I wanted to deal with this issue, but I knew that what they suggested wasn’t going to be too effective. Going to court meant spending thousands on over-priced lawyers while the case stretched on for decades. By the time the case was over, I would probably have had great- grandchildren. On the other hand, jungle justice was even more dangerous as it could turn out to be a blood feud which would involve too many people and possibly loss of lives.
“What’s the update on Sonia?” I asked.
“Her dad stopped upping the ante last week. I think he realised that he was fighting a losing battle…I have as much money as he does, so the more he offers the police…I just go ahead and offer double. You owe me ooh! Those police men are so hungry all you have to do is offer a few thousands and they’ll be licking your feet.” Femi said.
“I know I owe you a lot. You have simply blown my mind these past months. I said. “By the way, have you seen Sonia?”
“Men…I can’t believe I wanted to nail that chick at some point. She’s crazy! I saw her last week and I can tell you she ain’t finding it funny. Her cell isn’t exactly The Ritz. They say she keeps acting like she’s on drugs, she talks about suicide and also talks about you. Apparently, she thinks you’re coming to get her soon.” Femi replied.
I sighed, and turned to Oscar who had been quiet this whole time. “Hey, bro. How’s Abbey?” I asked.
“I spoke to her yesterday. They say they need to remove the affected kidney; so, they are preparing her for surgery. We just need to pray it goes well.” He said.
“It will. I assure you. You’re getting married to Abbey this year. Don’t give up.” I said in a bid to comfort him.
He nodded. “I just can’t believe she forgave me after what I did to her.”
“It’s called love, bro. Love forgives. That woman loves you.” I said. It’s amazing how we try to solve others’ problems when ours need looking into. We always have the right words to say to friends in need of them, but we can’t say the right word to ourselves to put our minds at ease.
I told them that I had an appointment to see Flores and they asked if they could come.
“Sorry guys, but no. I had to go through a lot to get this one meeting. I don’t think they’ll let more than one person in to see her. Besides, I need some alone time with her.” I said, hoping they’d understand.
They did. They knew I still blamed myself for what happened to her.
I was in high spirits when my friends left. Believe me, there’s nothing as refreshing as being around friends who love you.
I got ready for my appointment with Flores, I insisted on walking; although the nurses wanted me to use a wheelchair. Come on…I wasn’t an invalid!
They led me to Flores hospital room, she was still in ICU and was the only patient in the room.
I entered the dimly lit room and signalled to the nurse to leave me alone. I made my way to the bed and I could hear machines beeping. I looked down at her; she looked peaceful, like she was just taking a nap. My heart caught in my throat as I looked at my friend; she looked so vulnerable and young…I wanted to hold her.
“I’m sorry, Flores.” I whispered. “I’m sorry I let this happen.”
I knelt down beside her bed, stroking her face. And I said a prayer from the depth of my heart, asking God to heal my Flores. I wanted to see her smile again, hear her laugh and scold me. I wanted to see my Flores again.
“You’re going to be okay, sweetheart. You’ll come back to me.” I had no idea why those words were coming out of my mouth, but they were. And I meant every word of it.
I didn’t notice I was crying until a tear dropped on my arm. Without thinking, I leaned forward and kissed her lightly on the lips. I had never kissed Flores before and I didn’t know why I was doing it then…but it felt right. Oh, it felt so right. This wasn’t a lustful kiss. It was simple and pure; one loved- one to another.
“Please, come back to me.” I said again.
I didn’t know God still answered prayers, till that moment. I was holding her hand with my eyes closed when I heard it. It was barely audible at first, a soft sound. I thought I had imagined it, until I heard it again. Louder this time.
My eyes flew open and I looked at Flores. Her eyes were still shut, but I saw her lips move…