I walked into the bedroom with the folded clothes in my arms. Mabel was sprawled on the floor, she was foaming at the mouth. I dropped the clothes on the drawer and ran to her side. I checked her pulse, I wasn’t sure if it was faint or not.
” Tade! Tade!” I screamed, running out of the room.
He ran upstairs, meeting me halfway.
” What is it?”
” Mabel! Mabel!” I shouted.” There’s something wrong with her.”
We both ran back into the bedroom. He checked her pulse before scooping her into his arms.
” What did you do to her?” He asked.
” Nothing. I did nothing to her”
He carried her out of the room. I mopped up the spilled spittle on the floor, afterwards I paced up and down worriedly. I couldn’t help feeling sorry for Mabel. I was about to start lunch when I heard the sound of Tade’s car.
” Funmi,” Tade said, bursting into the house.
” Tade, how’s she?” I asked,walking out to meet him.
He took my hand and led me back into the kitchen.
“You are such a smart girl Funmi. That was a smart move you made.” He said.
“I don’t know what you are talking about.” I replied.
” Some poisonous substance was found in Mabel’s system.” He replied.
I gasped. ” Oh my God!”
” We are free! She’s finally out of our way. Tell me, how did you do it?” He asked, suddenly friendly.
“Do what? Poison her? I did not!”
” I did not too! so who did?” He asked, ” Baby, tell me the truth. You threatened to take her out of the way and now she’s been poisoned.”
” Is she dead?” I asked hopefully.
“Hopefully by night fall. Did you poison her food or water?” He asked.
“Why are you asking?” I replied.
“We have to get our stories straight.” He said.”We would both be the prime suspects.”
“I did not poison her! I did nothing to her”I said.
“I have missed you so much Funmi, I’d like to marry you as soon as Mabel is gone.” He said, ” It was so hard for me to keep pretending that I hate what we did.”
” Really?” I asked happily.
” Yes. But we have to be honest with each other. I know you poisoned Mabel, I want to hear you admit it.”
” I did not poison her!” I shouted.
Tade brought out his cell phone and dialed a number. ” Hello, you may come in”
I stared at him, wondering what was going on. I heard the main door open and two policemen entered the kitchen. I backed away until my back was painfully pressed against the cool kitchen sink. Did he set me up?
“Officers, she has refused to confess. This is the young lady who poisoned my wife.”
” I did not poison her!” I cried out, ” Tade, how could you do this to me?”
” Miss, you are under arrest. You have the right to remain silent” The older officer said, walking towards me. He held out a shiny handcuff.
” Please…..please…..I did not poison her. I swear to God. Tade please tell them I am innocent. ”
The cold hard cuff was slapped on my wrists and the officers led me out of the house.
Bad news truly spread like a wild fire.The news of Funmi poisoning her boss had spread all over the place. Her mother stopped coming to church and her father could no longer stand on the altar to preach. I tried to reach Funmi but her phone was answered by a man, Tade I guess. He informed me that Funmi was locked up.
I felt so sorry for her and I felt disloyal for believing what I heard about her because she had advised me to poison Uche’s mother. I wondered why Funmi would poison Mabel who had been so good to her. Funmi was a kind hearted person and she wouldn’t even hurt a fly, why did she do it? My mother once said, she was almost perfect.
Was she being unjustly accused of a crime she did not commit? Should I travel to Ghana to see her? I pondered all these things all the way to Sly’s office. His secretary, a beautiful woman in her fifties welcomed me with a warm smile before ushering me into his office.
” Cherie,” Sly said, standing up.
” Hey” I replied, sitting down.
” You look tired. What’s the 411?”
” My friend is in trouble”
Sly sat down immediately. ” Your friend? What kind of trouble?”
” She’s been locked up ”
” Why? How long has she been locked up?”
” I don’t know how long and I don’t know if she’s guilty of the crime she’s been accused of.”
” Funmi?” He asked. I had mentioned her name once to him.
” Yea. She supposedly poisoned her boss.”
He whistled.” What do you think?”
” I don’t know”
” What’s your gut telling you?” He asked.
I sighed, feeling disloyal to her.” I think she’s guilty”
” That’s it then. I can’t represent her but I can offer one or two advice. Have you gone to see her?”
” She’s in Ghana”
” Oh right! Ghana…” He trailed off, suddenly gloomy.
” You have something against the country or the people?” I asked.
” Nah.” He replied. ” I have to be in court by 12. Pm, want to see me in action?”
” Yea.” I replied, surprised at the invitation.
“Cool. A young woman was wrongly charged of murdering her husband. His family loathes her and they are quiet influential. They want to see her hang.”He said.
” Oh that’s terrible. Did she do it?”
“I wouldn’t be representing her if I wasn’t sure of her innocence.” He replied.
Watching him in court made me realize he was a natural. At a point the Judge had to remove his glasses and wiped away the sweat gathering on his thick brows. He adjourned the case but I knew in my bones that the case was already won. We had gone to lunch afterwards and I was surprised that Sly seemed so calm. I kept wondering if he ever lost his cool.
” Spend the night.” He said, breaking into my train of thought.
” There are six bedrooms. You don’t have to share mine” he said. ” By the way, do you know that I do wonders with my hands? I could massage your worries away.”
I laughed.” I believe you Sly,”
” So you staying?”
” Yea, I guess. But I’m not making dinner”
” Fair enough.” He agreed. He filled two glasses with wine.” Let’s celebrate to our victory today.”
I accepted the glass from him. I clicked it against his, silently admiring his confidence.” You deserve it Shark”
He laughed. ” Thank you Miss Dupe.”
I called my mother to inform her that I would be spending the night at a friend’s. He gave me the room beside his, his reason was he would be able to hear me if I so much as sneezed. I had a hard time sleeping, I kept thinking of Funmi all alone in a dark cell in another country. Was she being fed? Was she being tortured to confess? I decided to go see her in Ghana. Suddenly I heard a low growling sound, my ears pricked up. I sat up and pulled on the slippers Sly borrowed me. I heard his cries and I ran out of the room.
I pushed open his door. The room was illuminated by the moonlight streaming in through the window. Sly was thrashing on the bed, his long legs kicking the sheets off his lower body. I switched on the bedside lamp and I reached out my hands to touch him but he suddenly grabbed my hand, twisting it painfully.
” Sly, Sly…..it’s me. You were having a bad dream.”
He pulled me to himself, hugging me to his hard sweaty chest.I touched his bare back reassuringly. He scooted back and I got into the bed. I held him in my arms while he trembled. This was the part of him he had tried so hard to shield from the world. He was so vulnerable at the moment and my heart went out to him.He had fears too, he sometimes doubted himself and he needs a shoulder to lean on for a change, I thought.
” Shhh… It’s okay. It was just a dream baby.” The endearment rolled off my tongue so easily and it just seemed so right.
“Will you be my girlfriend?” He whispered.
“Yes,” I whispered back.
“Promise you will never leave.”
” I promise”I said, ” It’s alright”
He had everything, the world was crazy about him but sadly it was only ‘Shark’ they loved and adored and not ‘ Sly’. Sly was lonely, scared and weak. I would be his if it would soothe him, chase away his fears and monsters.
I stared at the ray of light streaming into the dark cell I was kept through the tiny window. I itched all over from the mosquito bites, my body feels rough to my touch. There was a big cut on my lips from when I was pushed into the cell by the officers and I hit my face against the wall. There was a dried slice of bread and water beside me which was the only thing they have been giving me for a week. Neither Tade nor Mabel came to see me, I don’t even know if Mabel was alright.
I wasn’t allowed to even call my parents. I felt alone. So alone. My lips ached, my body was itchy and my soul was troubled. My cheeks was caked with my dried tears. I sat down, my knees pulled up against my chest. I wondered if I would ever see the sun again, I wondered if I would ever feel the fresh wind against my skin again. I wondered if I would be able to love another human again. I kept wondering about all these until my head pounded fiercely. An idle mind they say was the devil’s workshop and I had ample time to plot their downfall while I was locked up. If Mabel hadn’t died by the time I was out I would ensure that she does. I would kill Tade too and take serwa for myself.
” Hey, Ashawo! Come out.” A tall, female officer banged on the cell door.She unlocked the cell door and I stood up shakily. She held her nose in disgust as I walked out of the cell. She pushed me forward. She clasped a handcuff on my hands and led me out to the front desk.
Tade was standing there. My hatred for him skyrocketed on seeing him again.
” We have decided not to press charges.” He informed me.
I looked away from him. Wishing I could lay my hands on a pointy object at the moment. I would write out his name in full with his blood. The b—–d.
Two police officers led me out into the yard, another officer pulled a police car over and they pushed me into it. I wondered where they were taking me but I remained silent. Tade followed closely behind us in his car. I closed my eyes and when I opened it again I realized where they were taking me. The airport.
I was led into a small room at the airport. I was there for some minutes before an elderly man entered the room. He uncuffed me and led me out of the room. He stayed closely beside me until our flight was announced, I assumed it was ours since he jumped up with an agility which was quiet surprising for a man his age. He flashed me a toothy smile before raising up the hem of his shirt. A shiny gun glinted back at me.
” Kokou Bob,” He said, as a way of introduction. ” Ex_ military”
I looked away from him. Plotting my escape.
” I want to pee” I said.
He flashed me a smile again before painfully grabbing my arm. He held onto my arm until we were safely seated in the plane bound for Nigeria. He talked non_ stop like we were daughter_ father traveling together but I ignored him.He opened his back pack and placed a thick big envelop on my thighs.
“Open it,” he said.
I opened it and bills of Nigerian naira notes stared at me. So they had even taken the liberty of converting my money and the money owed me, I thought. All the money I was being paid was in my bedroom, I guessed they had ransacked it in my absence.
“Your bag has been sent ahead.” He said.
I nodded my head. A voice sounded in the air, announcing that we were touching down. My chest constricted suddenly and I started sobbing. I lost. I lost everything. I was certain the news had gotten to my parents already, what would they think of me? I sobbed my heart out, hiccuping and suddenly breathless.
” I am innocent. I am innocent. ” I said, tears streaming down my cheeks.” I love him, that’s the only crime I have committed.”
He patted my hand in a fatherly manner.”An ending is only a new beginning.”
To be continued..