4AM NEXT MORNING
In a white singlet and red boxers, Cole walked silently through the passage between the rooms. He skipped the first two rooms and entered into the third room which door was directly facing the fourth one. He closed the door behind him and proceeded further to the bed.
The Inspector General was still asleep in a corner of the bed, his hands and his legs still chained and restricting his movement. A leftover food was covered in the tray on the stool beside the bed and a bottle of water was beside it. Cole opened the plate to see how much the man had eaten the provided meal. He remembered that the night before he slept, the man had refused to eat the food in his presence. He had left Basit alone in the room with the man to go and have his night rest in his own room.
The food was finished halfway, so it was obvious that Basit had been able to convince the man to eat or that the man was more comfortable eating in Cole’s absence. Cole covered the food back and proceeded out of the room. He went to the first room by the left and knocked gently on the door. He paused to listen for a response. He turned the knob and entered the room.
He couldn’t see anyone, he looked around and noticed that some clothes were on the bed. ‘Basit,’ he called, now facing the bathroom.
‘Cole,’ a muffled voice called back and then the bathroom door opened slightly after. Basit poked out his head, his hair was covered with soap lather.
‘Good, you’re having your bath already.’ Cole said. ‘I came here to wake you, we should be leaving here before five o’clock.’
‘Okay boss,’ Basit answered.
Cole nodded and then turned back. He got out of the room and walked to the one directly opposite it. He knocked on the door and listened for a response, he got none. He repeated the process three more times and then opened the door and stepped in.
Henry was on the bed, still fast asleep. Cole walked to the bed and stopped at the side.
‘Henry,’ he called, staring down at the sleeping one’s face.
Henry did not answer but only changed his position in the bed and turned his face to the other side.
‘Henry,’ Cole called again, this time in a louder voice.
Henry turned and stretched, he managed to open his eyes and let out a loud yawn. Then he kept a sleepy stare at Cole’s face still lying down.
‘Good morning Henry, it’s time to move, you need to get dressed.’ Cole said. He got no visible response from Henry but he believed his message was gotten clearly. He turned back towards the door and proceeded there.
‘Can’t you guys go without me? I’ll come to Lagos when I’m ready.’
Cole stopped in shock. He wondered if it was really Henry’s voice he heard or someone else’s. Or maybe Henry was not yet fully awake because his voice still sounded very sleepy. He turned and walked back to the bedside.
‘What do you mean Henry? I don’t think I got you clearly,’ Cole said.
‘I think I expressed myself clear enough,’ Henry said, trying to sit up. He balanced himself and rested his back against the headboard. ‘I’ll meet you people in Lagos when I’m ready.’
‘You got to be kidding me Henry, how would we leave without you?’ Cole asked, slightly angry. He was sure now that Henry knew what he was saying, there were no signs of drunkenness or odour of alcohol, so Henry was very sober.
‘I don’t think I can go now,’ Henry said. ‘I have unfinished business here.’
Cole stood still, stupefied, he was speechless and even out of thoughts.
Henry returned to his sleeping position in the bed and closed his eyes.
‘Henry, don’t delay us, Tarasha is expecting us all to meet in Lagos tonight.’ Cole said out of anger.
‘Tell her I said I will meet you there when I’m done,’ Henry replied, without opening his eyes.
Cole shook his head and proceeded out of the room in anger.
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‘We’re leaving right away,’ Tarasha whispered to the doctor as they rolled the patient in the bed into the ambulance.
‘I know,’ Doctor Ekwueme replied. ‘But we’d have to stop on the way when we get into town to get some provisions in case she wakes up during the trip.’
Tarasha and the man who drove them to Anambra came out of the ambulance after rolling the bed in and making it stable.
Doctor Ekwueme and Stephanie were standing behind the ambulance and Stephanie watched them in sadness. She had expected her mother to become conscious immediately after the therapy the doctor put her through but the doctor had instead come up with an explanation that it wasn’t expected for the patient to regain consciousness immediately, most of the patients regain consciousness after few hours and in some cases, the patients could remain unconscious for two to three days and then the patient would go into vegetative state if consciousness wasn’t regained on the third day. However, the doctor assured her that the reading on the machine before he took her out proved that she would respond positively to the therapy.
‘You should remind me once you see a good pharmacy in town,’ Tarasha said to Dr Ekwueme. ‘You can go in now.’
‘Thank you,’ the doctor replied. He stepped into the ambulance and located his adjustable seat at the corner, he adjusted it into a comfortable sleeping position before lying on it. The door was closed by Tarasha from outside.
‘Let’s get inside the vehicle,’ Tarasha said to Stephanie and held her by the shoulder as they both walked to the front and got into the right side, Stephanie sitting in the middle. The driver was already in his seat, he started the engine at once and they drove towards the gate of the hospital.
The gate was opened after the security officers performed some checks and they were allowed to drive out. Few minutes into the drive, Stephanie dozed off and the doctor at the back also slept off in his chair.
After about fifty minutes of driving, Stephanie woke up on noticing that the vehicle stopped moving. She saw Tarasha stepping down from beside her. She looked around, they were on an expressway, the day was still dark and there were very few vehicles on the road.
Tarasha closed the door and walked to the back of the vehicle, there was a car parked behind the ambulance. A man was seated at the driver’s side, sleeping in the adjusted seat and one of his legs placed on the dashboard.
‘I arrived here thirty minutes ago,’ the driver said to Tarasha as she stopped to talk to him through the window of the passenger’s side.
‘Thank you for arriving early,’ she said as she dipped her hand into her back pocket and took out some naira notes. She dropped them on the seat and proceeded to the back of the car. ‘Open your boot,’ she said in a loud voice.
The boot was opened and she saw her package in it. She lifted it with her two hands and began to proceed towards the ambulance, this time passing by the left side of the vehicle.
She stopped beside the driver and dropped what she was carrying in her hands on the paved floor. The driver who was counting the money stared at her, she dipped her hand into her front pocket and took out something. Before he could see what it was she already inserted the needle by the side of his neck. He slept off immediately. She threw away the syringe and carried the body bag on the floor. She got to the back of the ambulance and opened it, then she lifted the body bag into it and climbed up. She pulled it gently under the bed which Madam Atinuke laid. Doctor Ekwueme was staring at her.
She moved to the left side and placed a knee beside the body. ‘This is the journalist giving us problems,’ she said to the doctor. ‘He’s still alive, I need to keep him alive for now, but powerless, I’ve drugged him already.’
The doctor stared at her without replying. He watched as she opened the zip of the body bag and saw a young man lying still in the bag. She took him out of the bag totally and folded it.
‘When the day is brighter, we need to check his temperature and see if he’s safe,’ she said to the doctor before getting up to her feet.
She stepped out and returned to the front seat with Stephanie. Stephanie stared at her in awe, wondering what she went to do. She had overheard Samantha talking with the doctor behind but couldn’t make out what was being said, but she was somehow sure that Samantha had just brought in something new into the vehicle. She had watched how Samantha went to the boot of the car parked behind the ambulance but her mind didn’t even think it could be Dave.
When Samantha had returned the day before without saying anything about Dave, she had concluded that it was either Dave had been killed or he had been forgiven and warned.
The driver of the ambulance continued driving immediately after seeing Tarasha settle down. Stephanie soon laid her head on Tarasha’s shoulder and slept off.
Another fifteen minutes after they continued the journey, Tarasha received a call from Cole.
‘Hey Cole,’ she said into the phone as she answered.
‘Boss, Henry is giving us some problems here.’ Cole voice sounded angrily from the other end.
Tarasha’s response to him was delayed, she had to think for a moment. It sounded strange to her that Henry could give them any problem. She wondered what Cole meant and hoped that Henry was fine and safe. ‘What’s the problem with Henry?’ She asked.
‘He says he doesn’t want to go yet,’ Cole said.
There was silence for some seconds. ‘He doesn’t want to go?’
‘Yes, I tried to wake him up now to get ready but he refused and asked that we leave without him.’
‘That’s impossible,’ Tarasha said in low tones, almost under her breath. ‘What happened yesterday?’
‘Nothing really significant after we took Chief Rikau,’ Cole replied hesitatingly, not wanting to mention that they went out. He believed Tarasha might scold them for moving around instead of staying safe and focusing on the reason for their trip.
‘And what’s the insignificant thing that happened?’
Cole sighed, he had to answer and answer truthfully. ‘I went out to see my girlfriend and returned in the evening. He also went out when I returned and he came back late at midnight.’
‘Do you have an idea of what happened to him?’
‘No, I don’t.’
‘Okay, did he tell you where he went to?’
‘I don’t really know, but it was something about his mother.’
Tarasha knew something was amiss. Henry was not the kind of person that would go out and return at midnight. She remained in silence for a while.
‘What should I do?’ Cole asked.
‘Let me speak with him,’ Tarasha replied.
‘Okay, give me a minute to get to his room.’
It took Cole less than a minute to get to Henry’s room and Tarasha could hear the exchange between both of them; how Cole spoke to Henry that she wanted to speak with him and Henry’s harsh refusal tone.
‘Boss, he’s not ready to take the phone from me.’ Cole replied.
‘Put it on loud speakers for him to hear my voice,’ Tarasha said.
‘Henry, Henry,’ Tarasha called without getting any response. ‘Please, talk to me, what’s wrong?’
There was still no response.
‘Cole, let me talk to you.’ Tarasha said.
‘Yes boss, I’m listening.’
‘Give me some time to think, I’ll get back to you.’
To be continued