“Yes, how can I help you?!” Louis, the gateman who worked at Tonyes’ barked at the stranger who knocked continuously at the gate, getting in between his lunch.
“I-I saw the ad.” The stranger answered in a stutter.
“What ad!” Louis asked impatiently.
“The one which required a gardener. I’m here to apply for that position.” The stranger answered politely.
“Alright. Wait here for a minute.” Louis said, leaving the stranger outside the gate for few minutes, before returning with another uniformed man.
Nawa oo. Is this a military base?! The stranger mused upon seeing another military dressed man arrive.
“Your name?” the uniformed man asked the stranger.
“Adekunle Sir.” The stranger provided.
“Alright, Come on in.”
“I’m lieutenant Farouq by the way. You want to apply as a gardener if I’m correct?”
“Yes Sir.” Kunle replied
“Alright. Just fill this form in the next five minutes. You are required twice a week; mondays and saturdays. Anyways, all the terms are included in that form in your hand. It’s good that you-
Mr Kunle!” Farouq yelled at the soon-to-be gardener who seemed not to listening to him at the moment. He looked to be as though he was in a trance.
“Sir?! Sorry Sir. So-sorry about that.” Kunle stammered at his words as he tore his gaze from who obscured his mind.
“Sorry for yourself! You start tommorrow, and if you really want this job, you better keep your head right! Is that clear?” Farouq said angrily.
Yes Sir” If he ever took the job not seriously, he was now, considering what, or rather who he just saw. The lady was a perfect beauty. He didn’t know her. But he found her interesting already. If she indeed resides here, he was more than ready to start his job soon.
“Good afternoon, I will like to make a call?” Abi said to the young lady who managed the call centre.
“Hello?” Maria picked on first ring.
“Marie baby. It’s me, Abi. H-“
“Oh Abi!” Maria cut her off, her tone mixed with both delight and worry. She continued, in a frenzy, “I’ve been trying to reach you! Oh Abi! a lot has happened, a lot I wish never happened.”
“Wait a minute, please slow down. What are you talking about?” Abi asked. Worry was beginning to set in.
“Look Abi, there is this dude who’s been asking around for your whereabout. It’s a miracle I’m alive right now. What the hell did you do Abi? Cos this man I’m talking about is dead serious about finding you. I mean dead serious!”
“What are you talking about Maria? If this is a joke, please stop it! I don’t like this kyn one at all abeg. Just stop it!” Abi said in a shaky voice, fear was beginning to envelope her.
“Who is joking! I said it’s a miracle I’m alive, you are saying I’m joking. A man is freaking after you. In fact Mr. Udofia is dead!”
“Dead?” Abi couldn’t rap her head around that. “Dead?” She asked again, trying to understand all she had just heard.
“Yes dead Abi, dead! And I’m very sure this man on the hunt for you is responsible. The police came today to deliver the news to Rhexa. They reported his death as homicide, but as of now, no suspect. Look Abi, whoever this man is, is ready to kill anyone just to get to you. I don’t even plan on staying here any longer, I’m definitely relocating. Who knows, he might come back for me.”
“Oh Maria,” Abi was in tears now, as she spoke. “Mr. Udofia is dead because of me. What I’m I going to do?”
“Look Abi, don’t you dare. You are not responsible for his death. This was why I didn’t want to tell you about Mr. Udofia. I mean, this killer is obviously a psychopath. I advice that you stay on the low. Instead of coming outside to make a phone call, just go and get a phone, so you could make calls indoors. I doubt he will ever find you, Lagos is a big place. But still, for your own good, just stay indoors, okay?”
“Yes, thank you, Maria” Abi said in a small voice, tears still spilling from her eyes. She still couldn’t bear the fact that Mr. Udofia was dead, murdered because of her. Her friend’s life was also on the line. All because of her. It’s all my fault he is dead. Oh God!
On this, she would never live with herself.
She is in a body of water, it seemed to look like a sea. She was getting smaller. The wave current of the sea seemed to be too high. She’s struggling with it. Her body is going under now. He is losing her. Oh no no no. She can’t hold on. Now all of her is gone, except her hands which looked to be screaming for a rescue. Then a big wave comes and envelopes that hand. The sea colour changes. Red. Blood. She was gone, she is gone, gone forever. He would never see her again.
Immediately he jolted from the nightmare he has come to embrace as part of his gloomy life for five years now. Therapists tried their best, but no treatment had conquered them. Something was however different about the just concluded nightmare. This time it wasn’t Chidinma drowning, it was Abi.
As much as he was angry with his mother for her crazy scheme, he had concurred nonetheless. It was a needed one. Tosin as a wife?! He couldn’t imagine having a future with her.
“You know I’m right Tonye. If you really want your father to cede those assets to you, you will need a woman by your side. That’s his requirement. I did this for your own good.” His mother had said.
“I can get one for myself!” he had retorted, while his mother just replied with a scoff that spoke volumes. He couldn’t get one for himself. Marraige was yet to enter his life plans. He isn’t ready to settle down, but at the same time, he needed some assets that was conditioned―according to his father―by engagement to a woman.
“You guys fit just fine. I can picture your babies already, they will be sooo cute! You know yourself that Tosin is really beautiful.” His mother had said with so much bliss and smirks, as though she’s really pleased with her handwork.
As much as Tosin looked beautiful, she wasn’t Abi. Tonye found himself comparing the two women. He understood not, why he did, but he did anyway.
He wished he didn’t need the assets so bad. But a man’s got to do what he’s got to do.
Right there, as he signed the document―which attests to his ‘relationship with Tosin―he pondered over a future with his arranged fiancee but found it to be nothing but surreal. The incongruity of it all caused him to make a decision. He would follow through with his mother’s idea, but halfway.
He had a scheme of his own.