I wondered why Laura would come to see me especially without Mabel.
I should have known Frank would never knock if he were the one at the door. Laura had an urgent demeanor and she went straight to the point.
“I am sure you are wondering why I am here. We need to do something about Mabel. I don’t trust Sam and his brother,” she said.
“Woah easy Laura! What are you talking about?”
“Stop pretending you don’t understand what I am trying to say. Those people are going to hurt her. I am still feeling guilty about the Tiempre saga and I will feel worse if those people hurt her.”
“So how do you know about all these?”
“I was eavesdropping when you came to warn her about Sam and…”
“They are my cousins. I know what they can do.”
“Who are your cousins?”
“Sam and Abbey.”
“How come no one knows about this? Are you not supposed to be best buddies?”
“Yes we are but we have not spoken to each other for some years. I and Sam used to be tight but something happened. ”
“What happened?” I asked.
“Ok I need to tell you the story: when I was about 14 years old, my father died and his brother – Sam’s father came to our house the day after my father died to tell my mom that she has to leave the house my father built in Lagos before he died.
“He said she can have the house if she marries him. My mother said none of that would happen over her dead body. Her sister-my aunt also rose to her defense. He swore at them and left. The following night, some robbers came to the house and they killed my mom when she said there was no money in the house. As soon as it was daybreak, my aunt and I left Lagos. My aunt said she did not want to lose me too. We left with the papers to the house.
“That was how I started living with her family here in Ibadan. That family is no good. I never saw anyone of them until last year when I stumbled on Sam somewhere in school. He tried to rekindle old times saying his father was all wind, he didn’t send the robbers that killed my mom yadda yadda. I didn’t believe it.”
“I am sorry about your family but why are you telling me?”
“Don’t you get it? They will kill her if we don’t do something.”
“Laura, I am not a policeman. Go to the police.”
“Oh come on. You know how stupid policemen in this country can be. Oops I forgot your father is a policeman too. He isn’t stupid. But no policeman will believe me or lift a hand to help nail those criminals.”
“How did u know about my father?”
“Oh come on. He is the new Inspector-General of police. That is not news.”
“I know that but how do you know he is my father? We are not even on speaking terms right now.”
“That’s my little secret. What matters is that those criminals are caught before they hurt Mabel. If you don’t want to talk to your dear daddy, maybe Frank can talk to his father to help with his military connections,” Laura said with a glint in her eyes.
I couldn’t help but admire her though her ideas about ‘helping’ Mabel would be hare brained.
Just then, Frank opened the door and came in.
“Good evening, guys,” he said as he looked appreciatively at Laura.
“Frank, we were just talking about you,” she said.
“Oh,” he replied.
“She wants us to save Mabel from getting killed by the almighty Sam and his deranged brother because I have the police at my beck and call and you have the military in your pocket! Mabel doesn’t even care about her life. Why should we care?” I exclaimed.
“Really? Oh come on Laura,” Frank said.
“Abeg spare me,” I said.
“But I also think that if Tony had been fast, we will not even be talking about anyone named Sam. Boy, you slow,” Frank said mischievously.
“Hey what’s my own oh?” I asked.
“If you had been a man and told Mabel that you love her long before Sam came into the picture, she would have been yours and Sam would not even have been a topic for discussion. But no, what did you do? You waited and waited and did not speak up until strong and dangerous Sam came.
“Then you say: ‘Mabel I love you and the guy you are considering is a murderer.’ When she refused to believe you, you are now complaining,” he said.
“That’s true”, Laura chipped in, “the girl loves you but you didn’t show interest and maybe she subconsciously wanted to make you jealous.”
Before I could say anything, my next door neighbor, Malik came in. I was sure he came to ask for salt or to gossip. He is one of the most shameless people I have ever known.
” Hi guys,” he said without waiting for an answer.
He was carrying a bowl and went straight to my cupboard to pick up my pot.
“Na wa o! You no even fit say excuse,” I accused.
“Sorry. Excuse,” he replied.
I was exasperated. Oh whatever, I thought, his roommate does worse things.
After heaping some Jollof rice from the pot into his bowl, he started leaving.
Then he paused at the door as if he remembered something.
“Tony, I am sorry about Mabel,” he said with an unusually sober look. My blood froze.
Sam drove on towards the Interstate expressway out of Ibadan.
“Where are you taking me?” I asked.
“You will know when we get there,” he replied.
I remembered my phone. How could I have forgotten that it was in my jeans’ back pocket? If I could just send a text to someone, I thought,I will be able to get help. I discreetly took it out and that was when the stupid phone rang.
“Give it to me,” he commanded.
I had to give it to him.
I felt my hopes slipping away. Then I felt it coming back when I sighted a police checkpoint. I hoped and prayed they would be of help.
The car had to stop when it got to the checkpoint. Three policemen were manning the post which consisted of two crudely cut logs set uprightly on each side of the road.
“What do you have for us?” one of them asked when Sam rolled down his window.
He smiled and slipped two N100 notes into the policeman’s hands.
“Thank you sir. Take care of your madam oh,” he said to Sam.
I tried to signal to the guy by mouthing “help” and looking pointedly at him with tears in my eyes.
“What is wrong with your madam? She is crying oh,” the policeman asked.
“She just lost her brother and she is angry with everyone,” Sam replied.
“Please sir he has a gun. Help me,” I pleaded with the policeman.
“Sorry oga. Take care of your madam very well oh before she runs mad,” he said to Sam.
“I will do that,” he assured the policeman.
Just then, one of the other policemen came over and said: “My brother, anything for us too?”
Sam gave him some money too and they let him go. Just like that. The police couldn’t even help me.
I felt my hopes slipping away. Again.