The slightly scorching sun ray forced me to open my eyes that morning. I never sleep too deep so I felt the ray scorch my eyelids to a point where I could not take it anymore and had to open my eyes. I had been so reluctant to wake up because I wanted the moment to last forever.
The feeling of having the one you love lay by your side sleeping so peacefully with the scent of her lovely cologne pierce your nostrils is a feeling that is next to none.
I stared at the beauty by my side and I could not believe that at long last she was all mine. I smiled as I saw her shriek and then opened her pretty blue eyes. Her lips curved into a smile.
“How long have you been staring at me?” She asked.
“Just a few minutes now. You are the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen,” I said, meaning every word.
“Well, you either need to go out more often or you are blinded by love,” she said with a grin and pecked me before I could voice out a reply.
She crawled out of the bed and went to the bathroom, not sure what she went there to do but she was out shortly looking pretty much the same as before.
“What happened last night?” she asked. “Hope we didn’t…” she was about to add but I cut her short.
“No we didn’t do anything except watch a movie, you slept off during the movie and I didn’t want to disturb your beauty sleep,” I cut in.
She paused to assimilate my reply before she spoke again, “wait o, so Henry crashed alone in my room with Ayo?” She asked with a raised eyebrow, it was as if she was just realising the many possibilities.
“Don’t worry, Henry is a gentleman,” I replied grinning. Gentleman my foot!
“I hear you,” she sarcastically said. “Anyway, I’m going to put an end to their honeymoon, we would see later.”
“I’ll drop by your place later in the evening so that you would have time to read,” I replied just before I closed the door.
Don’t know if it has to do with something about our default male instincts to protect the female at all cost or not but I could not sleep well all through the night as Funmi slept but once the door was closed, I jumped back on the bed and slept off with a huge smile planted on my face.
David had expected me to call and it turned out he was right. I wanted to tell him all I knew over the phone but he stopped me and arranged for us to meet at the same eatery we met last time to talk in person.
This time, I got to the venue before them but I did not have to wait long before I saw the Range Rover Autobiography pull up in the parking lot. Looking at the car, I felt it was a little too expensive for a NSS agent to afford but I had no idea there was something as DSS a few days ago so how was I to know how well they are paid?
That thought did not last long in my head however because David and Ebuka appeared at my table in a flash.
“Hello Mary-Anne,” David said as they sat across the table, I gave him a nod in response.
“Why haven’t you ordered for anything?” Ebuka asked.
“If I wanted to eat, I would not have called you guys,” I replied. I was having conflicts in my head over if I was about to do the right thing so I just wanted to rush and say I had to say before I had a change of mind. Henry can’t hurt any of my friends again!
“Very well, so straight to business then,” Ebuka urged me on.
“You said you had some information for me on the phone, right?” David asked.
“Well, go on. I’m listening,” he said.
“You have to show me some means of identification, you say you work for the NSS, right? I’m sure you guys have ID cards,” I smartly said. My subconscious was just looking for a reason not to talk.
David smiled and dug his hands into his back pocket. He brought out his wallet and out of it came a very convincing ID card.
Feeling deflated, I quickly searched for another excuse.
“Does he have to be here?” I asked looking at Ebuka.
“Yes he does. You are probably thinking ‘what is he doing here?’ and I wish I could answer that question but his input to this case is confidential so I can’t tell you that, but trust me when I say his presence here is necessary,” David replied.
I wondered what good Ebuka can do to the case but could not think of any. David had however just basically told me Ebuka was not going anywhere so I decided to spill anyway.
“Firstly I need assurance that anything I say would not come back to me or Amaka,” I said.
“Nothing would come back to you but we need to be sure that Amaka is actually clear before we make any promises about her,” David replied.
Fair enough, I thought.
“When you said you believed Amaka was somehow involved in the murder or Agbaya, you were right,” I said.
“I know that already, but the question is why are so sure now?” David asked. “The last time we had this conversation you did not want to hear any of it.”
“Well she opened up to me, she told me herself,” I replied and watched as they both turned to stare at their selves before they turned to look at me.
“What exactly did she tell you?” Ebuka asked.
“She told me who killed Agbaya,” I flatly said with no emotions.
David rose an eyebrow in surprise, “Who did she mention?”
I paused as I tried to answer the one question that was ringing in my head, ‘do I really want to do this?” Telling David and Ebuka what I knew might get Amaka and maybe Maxwell mixed up in the case but it would ensure that Henry would not hurt anyone else and besides what’s the worst that could happen to Amaka and Maxwell if they get mixed up?
“Before I tell you that I want you to give me your word that nothing would happen to Amaka if I say this,” I said.
“You have my word,” he said.
I searched his eyes for any hint of deceit but found none so I went on to spill.
“Henry is the name of the person you should be looking for,” I said after taking in a deep breath.
Now, the reaction I got was not quite the one I was looking for but as I said it, David turned to look at Ebuka and he got a nod from Ebuka.
“Are you sure about this?” David asked.
“Hundred percent sure,” I replied.
“Thank you Mary-Anne for your corporation but I’ll need one more thing from you.”
“I need you to tell me how we can get to this Henry,” David said.
“So that you can arrest him?” I asked.
“No, we don’t have enough evidence to do that as the court doesn’t regard hearsay so we just want to bring him in for questioning,” David said.
Ebuka starred at me so tensely it made me feel uncomfortable.
“Would he have to be there for the questioning too?” I asked looking at Ebuka.
“Not necessarily but he would most likely be there during the pickup,” David replied.
I thought briefly about what to say next, Ebuka presence was making me feel uncomfortable as something just wasn’t adding up but I had to finish what I had started already.
“You wouldn’t have to pick him up, he would come to us,” I replied.
A quick glance at the digital clock on the wall told me the time was a few minutes after five when I heard a knock at my door. I had been doing what everybody seemed to tell me to do, lay low, so I had spent my whole day indoors, scrolling through my twitter timeline judging and teasing people just for the retweets.
“Who is there?” I screamed hoping the person at the other side of the door would hear.
I listened for a reply but got none so I was forced to stand up and check who it was. I looked through the peep hole and was glad to see it was Mary-Anne. It felt good to know that she had probably thought of a solution.
I unlocked the door and let her in.
“What’s up?” I anxiously asked as she walked passed me.
“Nothing much,” she replied sitting down on my bed.
I sat on the chair across and stared at her, waiting for her to start talking but she kept quiet till I spoke again.
“If you are trying to make me nervous, congratulations you have succeeded,” I said.
She laughed, “How are you? Looks like you’ve been indoor all day?” she asked.
“Is it not you people that insisted I stayed on a low key?” I asked.
“And how do you feel about that?” She asked.
Strange line of questioning, I thought but kept that to myself.
“I feel so good about it, I couldn’t have asked for any other better way to spend my day than indoors with my phone,” I rolled my eyes.
“Sarcasm? That’s good. It would make it a lot easier for me to say what I want to say,” she spoke so calm that I figured whatever she had to say couldn’t be good.
“What do you have to say?” I asked, trying to match her calm tone.
“I have a solution to your current predicament,” she said.
“Go on,” I said smiling.
“Why don’t we report the case to the police and let them take over,” she suggested.
I had thought about that in the past and frankly did not care much about Henry spending the rest of his life in prison but what stopped me from doing that was the part where I might have to explain why I had not reported the case since and the possibility of the Nigerian police twisting the case until both I and Henry found ourselves sharing a cell.
“No… no police,” I simply said.
“Let’s be frank here, I don’t like Henry and neither do you so what’s the problem with that plan?” she asked.
“I’ll get implicated,” I said.
“Is that your only worry?” She asked.
I thought about it for a bit, what was the worst that could happen? If I was not going to get implicated then Henry could go to hell for all I cared. The only loop hole was members of his cult could trace it all back to me and I wouldn’t like that so with that I made up my mind.
“Let’s just leave the police out of this,” I said with finality.
“Talk to me na, if your fear is being implicated then I have a solution to that.”
“What do you mean by that?” I asked, how could she have the solution?
She stared into my eyes quietly and had to ask her again before she replied.
“You remember that guy you met at the club the other day? The one who claimed to work for the NSS?” she asked.
“Yes, what about him?” I asked not liking where the conversation was heading.
“Well, we met today to talk,” she said avoiding eye contact.
“Talk about what?” I asked dreading the reply I might get.
“I told him what you told me,” she said staring keenly at her feet.
Mary-Anne!” I exclaimed as the reality of what she said dawned on me. The police I dreaded was already involved which only meant she was just working me all this while.
“Before you get angry I want you to know that I made sure he was legit before I said anything and got assurance that it won’t come back to hunt you,” She said.
I was not sure which one pained me more, the fact that I was dumb enough to trust Mary-Anne or that she thought I was so stupid not to see that this whole scheme was just to punish Henry for playing her and making her loose Maxwell in the process.
“How much did you tell the NSS guy?” I asked.
“Everything,” she replied, “and I think you should thank me because I don’t see any bad outcome from my action.”
“You selfish bitc-h!” I roared angrily, “You don’t even know the half of it,” I said thinking of how Henry’s boys would cut of my head when they found out what had happened.
I quickly picked up my phone on the table and dialled Maxwell’s number, he had told me to inform him right away if anything came up. Once I told him what had happened he told me to make sure Mary-Anne did not leave the house until he got to my place.
It turned out that this Funmi friend, Ayo, was a lot more fun than her friend. She smoked and had good orientation about frats, so good I concluded she was a Veron Queen but she denied flatly. A Veron Queen is what we call our female members.
She had knocked at my door and asked for some weed, so I offered to give her some if she cooked for me afterwards. She agreed and the next thing I knew, we were at her flat smoking and eating. Loving her company, I bought two bottles of Novalin with codeine and that was the end of the day for us as we both woke up the next morning only to realise that we had slept off after downing the two bottles.
We underestimated the power of codeine, a mistake I made a mental note not to try again.
Funmi came to the flat the next morning and I left the room for her feeling I had definitely over stayed my welcome.
I got upstairs to see Henry sleeping so I decided not to disturb him but to go out and hang out with Tonia who I still couldn’t get out of my mind. I called her, got the address to her place and was at her door step in less than an hour.
Jessica was nice enough to leave the room for us so we spent the whole day cuddled up at the front of her laptop watching movies.
Later on in the evening I felt we had stayed too long and decided to leave so once I said my goodbye, I was gone even though she did not want me to leave.
I got home and instead of climbing up to my flat, I stopped at Funmi’s place to pick up Ayo. I liked the way she reasoned and spoke, so straight forward and real.
I suggested we go and grab something to eat so she insisted I bought her Sharwama. I agreed on the condition that I would buy suya for myself which she would not taste on any condition and she was to buy the drinks.
“Are you an Igbo man?” she asked laughing after she heard my offer.
“To survive in this country you have to have a little of every race in you,” I replied with a smile, “I don’t want you to get used to the idea that I’m your maga so we are going to split the cost.”
I had spent time with so many girls in the past to know how they think. Once you make it known to them that you have money and little things like things won’t be a big deal, they would classify you as a maga and start take advantage of you so I did not want that to happen between me and Ayo so that’s why I insisted she bought the drinks even though buying the drinks was not a problem for me.
We left the house once she agreed to my offer.
We got to the Suya joint and was negotiating with the Hausa boy who sold it when I received a call from Maxwell.
“Guy where you dey?” he asked.
“I dey that suya joint for junction,” I replied, “Wetin dey sup?”
“Kasala don burst oh, wait for there, I dey come that side now now,” he said and the line went dead.
Minutes later Maxwell had gotten to the junction in a hired cab and urged me to enter. Ayo entered as well but sat at the front seat while we both sat at the back.
“There’s no need for you to come along,” Maxwell said to Ayo.
“No worry about her,” I said to Maxwell, thinking we couldn’t be going too far and Ayo had earlier complained she was tired of staying at home.
“Wetin dey happen?” I asked him moving on and sounding a bit nervous.
We drove for a while before he started telling the story of how Amaka had told Mary-Anne the truth about Agbaya’s death and how Mary-Anne had told the NSS agent that had approached Amaka everything. Basically we were going to Amaka’s house to question Mary-Anne to know how much she had spilled so we could think of what our next move was going to be.
I said no word after her narrated the story to me until we got to Amaka’s place. I instructed Ayo to wait in the cab while we went to Amaka’s flat. She opened immediately we knocked at her door.
As soon as I stepped into the room I spotted Mary-Anne sitting on the bed and I walked up to her and gave her a slap that rendered her blind and dumb for a few seconds as I noticed she opened her mouth to scream but no sound came out and her continuous blinking indicated she could not see.
I was about to give her another slap on the other cheek but Maxwell was quick to grab me. It was getting quite annoying that he always stopped me whenever I was about to treat these girls fuck ups. Maybe if I had hit Amaka the other day she might have been too scared to tell Mary-Anne anything.
“Before you kill the girl, let’s hear what she has to say,” Maxwell said holding me back.
He had a valid point so I stopped trying to break loose from his grip and went to the balcony where I leaned on the railings with my hands folded.
“Mary-Anne, what exactly did you tell the NSS agent?” Maxwell asked calmly.
“Nothing that is not true,” she said with anger, I had never seen her look that angry before, “I told him Henry killed Agbaya!” she yelled.
“Why did you do that?” he asked again.
“I did it for you and Amaka, when he destroyed what we had, he took away my happiness and hurt me so bad.” She said crying, “If I let him, he would eventually pull you guys down with him and I could not bear the thought of that happening so I did what blind friendship won’t let any of you do,” she said bursted out in tears.
It was fascinating watching how she had twisted the story in her favour. How on earth was she the victim here?
“Don’t tell me you are falling for her cock and bull story? This twisted girl just don’t know how to handle a break up so she put the blame on me and simply wants revenge,” I said walking back into the room really pissed that she could not think of a good excuse.
“Yes! The break up was painful but don’t flatter yourself to think I would…”
Kpa!!! I slapped her cutting her short. She was talking far too much.
“I didn’t give you permission to speak,” I said as she screamed in agony.
She screamed continuously and I knew the only thing that would stop the wailing was another slap but a glance at Maxwell told me that was a bad idea so I held myself back, albeit reluctantly.
She continued to scream and it was getting quite unusual and annoying until her real plan came out in the open.
The door was forced open with a loud thud and five people walked in in a rush with axes. I instantly recognised one of them, Ebuka, the leader of Buccaneers, a rival fraternity.
One of them held on to a bald guy who from Amaka’s initial description I figured was the NSS agent.
I turned to look at Mary-Anne, “You don’t know what you have done,” I said as I ran to the balcony and jumped over the railing in a flash. I purposely did not think about it because I knew my liver would have failed me.
Amaka’s flat was on the second floor so I didn’t die as I landed in the next compound but I heard a loud crack and the pain that followed was almost unbearable but I knew if I stayed there the Buccaneers would run around and meet me there, and once that happened the least of my problems would be a broken leg.
I stood up and limped to the compound gate, moaning in pain with each step, just as I got out of the gate I started waving frantically at every car, bike and tricycle that passed but none was willing to stop.
By the time I decided that it was best if I kept on moving, it was too late for me as I saw two of the Buccaneers running towards me with their axes raised high above their heads.
From what I gathered, it turned out that Ebuka had been approached by David who knew that Ebuka was the leader of a cult to help in investigating the murder of Agbaya or he would be arrested. David apparently believed that if Ebuka was not the murderer, he surely knew who the murderer was since the only cultists killed in such gruesome way. Besides having Ebuka on his side ensured that people would talk faster due to the fear they had for him.
Once Ebuka was approached, he immediately informed David that the murder was definitely carried out by men from Henry’s camp since he was sure that his people were clean this time. David kept Ebuka around and Ebuka could not have had it any other way because it meant he was eventually going to have an encounter with his arch rival, Henry, which came soon enough.
Mary-Anne informed us as she cried that she had come to my house in the company of just Ebuka and David. She was to convince me to call Henry to come to my house so that David could catch him and just question him but obviously, Ebuka had a different plan.
Once they forced my door open, Henry had done something unbelievable and jumped over my balcony forcing Ebuka and his boys to go after him. But two stayed behind, “who goes?” one asked Maxwell.
“You guys should not do anything you would regret,” David had said but one of the boys hit him with the blunt side of the axe and he passed out immediately.
He turned to Maxwell and asked again, “Who goes you?”
Seeing that the Buccaneers were almost near me, I knew all hope was lost but I kept on running with my broken legs and started screaming the one thing any Viking man would scream in such a situation.
“Aro! Aromates!” I echoed hoping Baggas in the vicinity would come to my rescue.
The Buccaneers seeing that they had boxed me up reduced their pace and started jogging towards me slowing, brandishing their axes as the came nearer. You never know through fear until you stare death right in the face.
“Aromate!” I echoed more desperately as I picked up a log of wood on the floor which I planned on using to defend myself if the worse wanted to happen.
“Boogie Smallz, your time on this earth is over,” Ebuka said as he got nearer to me.
“Aromates!!! Aro!!” I yelled desperately, ignoring him.
Ebuka and his three friends surrounded me and boxed me to a spot. I fell down on my knees and closed my eyes as I said my last prayer.
Suddenly I heard a loud sound that was definitely a gun shot and on opening my eyes I saw the Ebuka fall to the ground and his friend took off through the nearest gate.
Looking around I saw Skinny and believe me when I say that this was the first time seeing Skinny actually made me happy. The joy in my heart was not possible to be comprehended.
“Boogie, make we comot here sharply before them come back with reinforcement,” Skinny said as he pulled my hand over his shoulder for support.
With all the strength in me, I limped and followed him down to the end of the street where we finally got a cab which Skinny had to brandish his gun at the driver before he stopped.
Once tucked in, the driver drove us to safety.
I was home reading when a call from Ayo distracted me.
“Babe you know where The Address lodge dey shey?” she asked from the other end of the line.
“Yes,” I replied. I knew it because Mary-Anne was hit by a car some weeks back at the front of the building.
“Leave whatever you are doing and come here quickly!” she yelled over the phone. I was going to ask why but the line went dead instantly.
Not sure of what to think I closed my book and zoomed out of my house heading for The Address.
I got there shortly and not knowing where to go next, I called Ayo. She picked the call on the first ring and directed me to where she was. I got to the floor she had directed me to and saw her standing at the front of a door looking all shook up.
“What happened, why did you make me come here?” I asked searching her face for an explanation.
“Funmi, I’m so sorry,” she said as she spread her hands and placed them on the door blocking my access into the room.
“Sorry for what I asked,” trying to look behind her because the door was opened.
She opened her mouth and I could see she wanted to tell me what was bothering her so much but the only word she could say was, “I’m really sorry.”
As I tried to see what she was blocking me from seeing something led me to look down on the floor and that was when I saw it. I saw some red liquid flowing on the floor right under the opened door.
I knew it was blood but had no idea whose blood it was so I pushed Ayo out of the way and slowly walked into the room. In as much as I wanted to know who it was, my fear for the unknown scared me.
I first saw Mary-Anne and Amaka both siting on the floor at one corner in tears, I ignored them and slowly looked down on the ground where his body laid almost lifeless.
I covered my mouth with my hand to mumble the scream that was about to come out. I could not believe my eyes as I saw Maxwell’s cough out blood.
“Let’s rush him to the hospital,” I suggested as I bent over him and grabbed his hand, hoping someone would lift his legs but rather Ayo came over and held my hands shaking her head.
“There’s nothing we can do,” she said.
Feeling deflated, I fell on my knees beside his almost lifeless body that had been cut with what looked like an axe in so many different places. My legs were suddenly too weak to carry my body. I wanted to wail out loud but I could not even find the energy to do that so I had to cry in silence with each tear drop filled with so much pain.
So many questions filled my head like who did this and why did the person do it. I was so sure that Maxwell did not deserve to be killed in such a way as I knew he was a good guy in all aspect of the word so why would he die in such manner?
I lifted his head and placed it on my laps, the tears from my eyes dropped on his hair and with each drop his hair curled even more.
“Please don’t die,” I pleaded as I fondled his head.
I trembled as I felt his hands grab me desperately. He did not want to die but that decision was not his to make.
He coughed out and drops of blood splashed out as he jerked, “You promise me one thing,” he struggled to say.
“Anything love, anything at all my love,” I stuttered as I tried to control my breath.
“Promise me that you would find happiness and stay true to yourself for me,” he coughed.
“I promise,” I said meaning every word, I nodded so furiously hoping that making that promise would save him.
“I… I love you,” he could barely whisper. “I’ll always love you, I swear.”
“I love you too,” I quickly replied, the tears from both our eyes flowed like a river.
Suddenly his consistent moaning and coughing stopped and I felt his hand which had grabbed me desperately loose its firmness.
I quickly grabbed his hand, “Baby… baby… Maxwell…” I said tapping him, praying to God that he was only just sleeping but that was not the case.
Maxwell, the love of my life was gone forever. He was dead.
Ayo told me all that happened which led to his death and the question that I asked myself was this; if all Maxwell did wrong was just him being a good friend and that led to his death, what then is the point of being good?
PS: I had to re-write this chapter three times just to make sure I got it right and I believed I did so that explains the late update. The epilogue which so happens to be chapter 40 comes up on Saturday.