Zaneta’s alarm went off. It was 11:30am – time to head to Edith’s.
She sighed. She hadn’t made as much progress with the task she had come in to work on as she had expected to. Research often cost her 60-70% of the time she had to design a strategy. She had been under pressure by impatient clients many times to move quicker, but her boss was understanding and mostly shielded her, often succeeding in keeping her unperturbed.
Her work spoke for itself, her account balance was testimony to the fact – salary and bonuses.
She picked up her phone, fingers flying quickly over the keys, she sent an SMS to Edith:
“At the office, I might be a little late“
then promptly switched her phone to silent. She was determined to finish her research today, get to work on Monday and blow through the strategy document.
Over an hour later, she pulled up at Edith’s in her uncle’s VW Touareg. She had, of course, reported the details of her movement to the head of security before leaving home and politely refused to be driven. They knew where the car was at every moment anyways, they could as well be content with watching a blip move around on a screen.
Her uncle was not back yet, she could get away with some recalcitrance.
Some construction work was going on at the house, she didn’t mind the noise and litter (which wasn’t her’s to clean up anyways), but when she had learned what was being built she had shaken her head in awe – A Panic Room. “Who does that?” she had thought.
She scrolled through her phone as she walked to Edith’s apartment. No calls or messages from Zach. “Nice one” she thought.
She arrived at Edith’s door and knocked, the door swung open almost immediately.
“You won’t even ask who it is?” Zaneta asked Edith who was now before her. “Damn! She looks good!” she thought.
Edith laughed then said “Of course, I knew it was you”
“You were sure?” Zaneta asked still standing there, trying to hide her true feelings.
“I smelled your perfume” Edith said, “And no one else comes here, anyways”
“Yinmu” Zaneta replied.
“Please, come in” Edith said, stepping aside.
Zaneta walked in and headed straight to the kitchen where she placed the pizza she had bought in the microwave. “Where’s Sebastian?” she asked, taking out a bottle of Appletiser from her bag.
“Over at my mum’s” Edith said, getting two glasses.
“Yep!” Edith said, pulling out an ice tray from the freezer.
The microwave chimed and Zaneta took out the pizza, while Edith carried the drink, glasses and ice, leading the way to the living room.
The TV was on a style channel, they sat before it on the rug.
“How have you been?” Edith asked
“Been ok. You?”
“Fine. Miss you often”
Zaneta sighed “To be honest,” she said, “I didn’t realise how much I had missed you until I saw you just now at the door”
Edith smiled “Appletiser. You quit drinking?” she asked, sipping from her glass.
“No. I assumed we had serious talk”
“So, why am I here, Edith?” Zaneta asked locking eyes with Edith.
Edith muted the TV then told her about the nightmare she’d had.
“That’s it?” Zaneta asked when Edith stopped.
“Yes, then I woke up” Edith said, “that’s when I sent you the messages” she added.
“Ok” Zaneta said, deep in thought.
“I really don’t wanna pry, but are you seeing someone?” Edith asked.
Zaneta got up, “I need a drink” she said, heading for the kitchen.
She came back with a bottle of Night Train and more ice, resumed her seat on the rug and poured herself a drink. She gulped it down in a hurry then refilled her glass.
“It’s okay if you’d rather not answer, just be careful” Edith said, pouring herself a glass of Night Train too.
“It’s not even that. There’s this guy, but I won’t really say we’re dating. Just hang out from time to time, chat, calls and stuff. Nothing serious”
“Hell, no!” Zaneta fired.
“Anything strikes you as strange about him?”
“Not really, but I suspect he has a family or a serious babe, at least, somewhere. He’s like 32, comfortable, educated, refined, good looking and well-travelled. Not many that fit that description are lying around single like spare tyres, if you know what I mean” Zaneta poured.
Edith couldn’t help but smile, Zaneta never lost her sense of humour. “I understand” she replied nodding.
“From your dream, God forbid it happens, you said someone gave me up for arrest, like he set me up, yeah?” Zaneta sought more clarity. It made no sense. What could she possibly do that a BF could set her up for?
“Yes. It wasn’t really clear, but you were devastated, very. You seemed to know the consequences that would come ‘cos you tried very hard to escape, but they got you and took you away; not you, your enemy” Edith explained.
“And he was there?”
“Yes, he seemed happy about it”
Zaneta sighed. She thought about Zach for a minute, he didn’t come across like some betrayer, if anything he came across as someone who would be loyal. She examined the source of the news – Edith – a woman who clearly wanted her back.
“This isn’t a ploy to get me back, now, is it, Edith?” Zaneta asked after a moment’s quiet.
“No, dear. I wouldn’t stoop that low” Edith said without taking offence.
“Ok, thank you. Your description doesn’t fit anyone I know at the moment, but, thanks all the same, I’ll be more careful” Zaneta said.
“Any time. If I didn’t think it was important, I wouldn’t have asked you over in such urgent tones”
“Yeah” Zaneta said rising to her feet, “gotta run. I have a hair appointment for 4pm”. She picked up the empty pizza box, her now empty glass and the done bottle of Appletiser then headed to the kitchen.
She dropped the box and bottle in the bin, took the glass to the sink and washed it. Her mind was far away. She didn’t hear Edith walk up behind her.
“You don’t have to do that” Edith said as Zaneta finished up and wiped her hands, still backing her.
Zaneta turned around. Edith who was already close behind her took a step closer, stood up on her toes, wrapped her arms around Zaneta’s neck and kissed her.
Zaneta froze, not even breathing, her mind screaming that she get out of there fast, her body unable to obey, began to respond to Edith’s kiss.
Edith broke the kiss then took her hand, leading her to the room where they undressed each other frantically.
“It’s been too long” Edith whispered as she went down on Zaneta.
He stepped into the house, shut the door and stood a while adjusting to the darkness. He pulled out an ultra slim flashlight that threw more light than one would expect for something of that size.
This was grunt work for him, not necessarily dirty, just work he’d rather not do. But he had given his word, battered this for Max’s five minute appearance at Alice’s wedding. He looked around. It was a neat place, small and well taken care off. There were a lot of books to be seen including a KJV copy of the Holy Bible. The guy was a lawyer. A few plaques adorned the walls, he was clearly an achiever who was proud of his achievements.
He unscrewed the light bulbs and placed them all in a desk drawer before sitting down in a couch. On a second thought, he found the AC remote and turned it on. He wasn’t about to soil his suit with sweat over a cheap job. He looked at his watch, his mark would be here soon.
He hadn’t been waiting up to an hour when a key slid into the lock from outside, two clicks, a twist and the door opened. Zach watched the man as he locked the door behind him. He was dressed in a suit and had a laptop bag slung over one shoulder. He reached the light switch and flicked it, the lights didn’t come on.
“Ahn ahn! But there is light. Choi! I left the AC on? All my card go don finish!” he lamented as he fumbled in his pocket for his phone.
Suddenly a light hit his face, “Jesus!” he shrieked dropping his phone and laptop bag.
“I’d appreciate it if you were quiet” a voice said.
“Ok, Sir” he said raising his hands above his head, eyes shut against the beam form the flashlight.
“Put your hands behind your head”
“Now, kick your phone away”
He kicked wildly sending the phone sliding across the tiled floor, straight into the kitchen.
“Kneel and face the door” the voice ordered.
Quickly he did so.
“You and I are going to have a little chat, feel free to speak freely. But any form of unrequested movement will earn you a bullet to the base of your skull. Are we clear?”
“Yes, Sir” he replied, shaking.
“Don’t call me, Sir, Barrister Kawu. Are you familiar with Ecclesiastics 10:8?” the voice asked.
“I’m n- not sure” he mumbled, his heart racing wildly.
“Do you read your bible?”
“Let me help you, ‘He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it…’ complete the verse”
“And whoso breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him” he said, sure he was right.
“Great. I like you, Barrister. I am the serpent and you, Sir, have broken the hedge”
“Hedge?” he managed, a huge lump in his throat.
“Yes. Why are you with Rashidat?”
“Rashidat? She’s my fiancé” he said
“Yes, we have been dating for 2 years now….” he went on and told all he could recall of his relationship with Rashidat.
Zach didn’t interrupt him. When he was done, he asked him “Why did you hit her?”
“Shit! She told you that?” he asked, feeling totally screwed. “I don die!” he thought.
“Never mind what she told me. You tell me why you hit her” Zach insisted
“I’m sorry, it was just a tap. She lied about where she’d been. She went for a show and didn’t return. Had seen messages on her phone so, I tried to call her out on her lies, she started screaming and I tapped her on the cheek, telling her to shut up” Kawu explained, throat dry.
“You didn’t strangle her?”
“Jesus! No! I swear! I would never do such. I love her, boss! I love her”
“Guess what?” Zach said, after some thought.
“Wh- what?” he stuttered
“I believe you”
“Thank you” Kawu said, relieved.
“Never ever hit her again, some other person would not be this lenient”
“Yes, sir. Never again” he slipped, sniffing.
“And, do yourself a favour, stop checking ladies’ phones or calling up their male friends. Those only bring you grief”
“Yes, S-, uhm, I won’t do that anymore” he caught himself.
Zach rose and walked without a sound to where the lawyer knelt, “Get up” he said with his pistol on the back of his head, startling him.
“Please, don’t kill me” Kawu pleaded.
“Say, on this day you hit her, the messages you saw, who were they from?”
“A musician, Max-Tee. He performed at the concert. She was with him that night, slept with him in his hotel room, I saw their whole conversation” Kawu explained trying to justify his actions and hoping it sufficed.
“What’s her password?” Zach asked.
“It’s a pattern, like -” he was making a sign in the air when he suddenly felt a sharp jab in his arm and the room spun out of focus.
Zach withdrew the syringe and watched as Kawu collapsed to the floor. He hit his head a bit. “He’ll be fine” Zach thought. A small pool had formed around his crotch – urine.
Zach capped the needle before putting the syringe away, and as quietly as he had come, he left the premises, leaving the lawyer to sleep off his ordeal.
He needed a word with Max. But he had no plans to book an appointment.
Zaneta stood beneath the shower, through the partly opened bathroom door she could see Edith’s naked body.
“God! How am I back to this?” she thought. The guilt was more intense than she could remember.
She felt deflated, knowing she could have avoided this or even stopped it in its tracks. She had more than one opportunity to pull away and leave. But then, she remembered what she’d been taught in church – it wasn’t helpful to wallow in self-pity, it was best to accept, make a turn and retrace one’s steps immediately.
She dried off her body and put on her clothes in the room. She knew Edith’s eyes were on her.
“Stay the night?” Edith pleaded
“I don’t have a change of clothes”
“Service is 9, we can swing by your place on our way”
“No. I have to go home. I didn’t say I would be spending the night. As it is I already missed my hair appointment”
“A simple phone call will solve that, Z” Edith persisted
“Is this why you asked me over? To get me back into this?”
Edith was stung, but said nothing.
“This is wrong Edith. Very wrong and I don’t want to continue in it. I have loads of stuff I’m asking of God, I might as well try not to so blatantly flaunt His laws” Zaneta said, strapping on her watch. It showed 8:34pm.
Edith made no response still.
Zaneta walked into the living room, picked up her phone and bag and let herself out with a “please lock your door” to Edith who hadn’t left the bed.
In the vehicle, she looked through her phone – 4 missed calls, a few messages, some other notifications – nothing from Zach. She bit her lip. She didn’t know why but a tear rolled down her right cheek as she started the SUV and drove off. She wished she could talk to someone.
Less than an hour later she was home. She sat in the vehicle for a bit fighting the urge to call Alice and tell all. She also fought the urge to call Zach just to talk. A new message come in, it was Edith:
“He doesn’t knw u lik I do, he cud nvr, in a thousand yrs, luv u lik I do“
“How did I get myself into this, Lord?” she asked, switched off the engine, picked up her bag and exited the vehicle.
The police presence was unmistakable, though they tried to keep it in the background – an effort at trying not to ruin the launch. He guessed Bimpe’s body had been discovered and that sort of thing couldn’t be good for business.
He drove into the car park, got out and went into reception where he found a bunch of guests looking sad, anxious or both. He curtsied at those who paid him any mind as he made his way to the front desk.
“Good evening, Sir” a receptionist on duty greeted.
“Good evening, what seems to be the problem?” Zach asked.
“A guest had been missing from her room since Friday night, but she’s been found now and taken to the hospital” the lady explained.
“Oh, wow! I hope she’s ok” Zach said, wondering if this was good PR, ignorance or plain facts. He looked around a bit before he rode the elevator to his floor. Once in his room, he made preparations to leave.
He had seen a few guests checking out in panic. He’d simply join them and be out of here. He still had a night’s worth of money in deposit, but that didn’t matter to him. What was bugging his mind was if it was even remotely possible that Bimpe survived.
Zaneta was being driven to the salon on Sunday evening when his call came through. She’d had to beg her stylist to reschedule for today at an extra cost.
“You now have my time, abi?” she said before picking up on his third try.
“Hey” Zach said.
“Hello, stranger” she replied.
“How have you been?”
“Very well, thank you” she said, coldly and yet wondering why she was pained by his silence in the past few days. “Was I not planning on doing the exact same thing to him?” she thought.
“My apologies, Zaneta” he said, carrying on.
“For?” she asked, setting him up.
“I promised to call, but didn’t”
“Oh! You did? I don’t remember, really”
“Maybe I didn’t mention it” he said, knowing fully well he didn’t, “it sure was on my mind, though”
“You are back?” she asked
“Getting in this evening”
“How did it go?” she asked, refraining from hinting at her suspicions.
“Pretty decent trip” he said. His phone beeped, he looked down at it, it was Malik calling. “Hey, I’ll have to call you back. Have a work related call coming in” he said.
“Aii” she said, hanging up
He took his right hand off the steering, picked up the phone and dialled Malik back.
“Malik” he said, when it connected.
“On the phone with Le Boo again?” Malik asked.
“What do you want, Malik?”
“That was you at the Pelican, yeah?”
“What Pelican?” Zach asked cautious.
“Did you fuck her first? The gods know I would, what with that body of hers? I know you did, bro, just tell me” Malik said laughing.
Zach knew he was being taunted, “Is there a purpose to this call, dude?” he asked calmly.
Malik laughed for a whole minute before saying “You and I. Enugu. In 3 days”.
“I work alone. You of all people know that”
“Not this time Amigo. No more fun without me” Malik said and rung off.
Zach knew exactly what had just happened and he didn’t like it one bit.
He slapped the steering hard with both hands. Not for the first time in his career, he felt like killing a superior.