Recap: Back in the dark room, Ade had hatched a plan to escape through the ceiling, he managed to pry open one of the ceiling sheets but was confronted with the noisy zinc sheet used for the roofing, the had to make a choice….
Mama Shola sat at the desk forlorn, her long face clasped in her slender fingers, she had aged since the last 2 days. Two long days since she had not seen or heard from her son. His phone was unavailable, no one knew his whereabouts, the people at Star Bank swore he had not come in to deposit, the police were treating it as a stolen money case but she knew deep down that all was not well with her son. Especially after the nightmare she had, had the night before, she had seen Ade covered in blood, she wasn’t certain it was his blood but one thing she was certain of was that he was in distress. Her husband had waved it off as just a dream but her maternal instinct told her it was much more than that. Yet as she prayed that morning, she prayed that her son had actually stolen the said money and would turn up when he had spent it all as opposed to being in mortal danger. She could easily bear the thought of a criminal son than a dead son!
“So Madam how can we help you this morning?” The investigating officer; a prickly woman asked.
“Madam I think you people should send out men to look for my son instead of waiting for him to turn up.”
The officer whose badge read ‘Ngozi’, rolled her eyes and replied, “We do not have the resources to waste, there are more important cases that require more attention. Your son has gone on a jollification, he will reappear when his pocket is empty, then we go nab am like thief.” She hissed and continued scribbling into the notebook open in front of her.
“Muneerat his girlfriend said they were supposed to meet on the day he disappeared, why would he make plans with her if he knew he was going to be running away?”
“Ma, we interrogated the young woman and she confirmed the same thing but we both know that he had no idea he would be in possession of two hundred thousand Naira before he made that plan. So let us not just conclude.”
Ade’s mother let out a sigh of resignation, it was obvious these people were too lazy to get off their backsides to do any real police work and the window might be closing on any chance they have of finding her boy. She had to explore other options, she picked up her phone scrolled through the contact, found a number, dialed and immediately got up and left the station without another word to the woman.
“Major Collins, this is Mrs. Oyewale, are you in the office?”
“Oh, Stella, how are you doing, hope all is well? I am in the office but I would be leaving for a meeting in one hour, will you make it before then?”
“I am near, yes I can make it.”
“Okay, I will wait. Are you sure you are alright?!” He asked concerned.
“Let me come to the office first.” She said, hanging up. Her husband will blow a fuse if he learnt she spoke to Collins but she did not care. If he was too proud to ask for help, she wasn’t, especially where her youngest son was concerned. Pride would go out the window.
The sleek SUV glided through the green scenery, its passenger shook every once in a while when it hit a bump, which was often as they drove deeper into the shrub covered area.
Seated in the back was a man covered from head to toe in jewelry, his flow agbada flowed gloriously around him and reeked of affluence. He sat deep in thought as vehicle jostled through the jungle.
He hated making these monthly visits to the blasted jungle, he wished Baba would find a lasting charm that would not require him risking exposure or whatever danger lurked in the corridors of this cold and dark forest. He would have delegated the responsibility to someone else but the last time he did that Baba almost turned him to a chicken. He had never being that scared in his entire life.
The car jolted to a stop knocking back to reality.
“Oga we don reach.” His bald headed driver said.
“Okay, no off the engine, I go come now, now.”
The man stepped out of the car, his expensive shoe narrowly missing what he supposed was cow dung, he swore under his breath and headed through the thick shrubs towards the nondescript building, carefully hidden by trees and shrubs.
In and out, he had no desire to spend any more than three minutes here, the men there scared him. He pat his pocket to ensure the wads of note was still there and then knocked on the door.
Bello was surprised at the calibre of their clientele, he had not worked there long but in the time since he had been there he had encountered some of the most influential people in the Nigerian society, one time a musician, whose music he liked came seeking human tongues, which Bello later learnt was to help elongate his music career. Politicians were a different case, they came in droves and either wanted parts for money rituals or fortification against other charms and anything that would harm them. Some wanted parts that would shield them from early retirement, those ones often wanted human eyes and they were often many of them. Old men who were due retirement but were too greedy to give up their seats. It irked Bello because he knew these were the same people who sent people like him and his gang into different diabolical means to make ends meet. Not that that was excuse enough for him but man had to wak.
He went to the door, package in hand as soon as the clutch plates squeaked to a stop, the sentry had called ahead to inform them that a car was headed in their direction and after confirming it was a friendly, they let it through. Chief was a major customer, he came in monthly and paid good money always, even tipping them.
As soon as the door opened, the men exchanged greetings and handed over their packages, said their goodbyes and turned around again; business done, till next month.
Mama Shola sat opposite Major Collins in his posh, air conditioned office, he’s fine Italian mahogany table the only thing between them.
“How long has my god son being missing?!” Major asked, bewildered.
“Two days sir.”
“And you are just informing me now?! Haba Iya Shola, I would expect this from his father not you!”
“I am sorry, I had no choice, you know how your friend; their father gets when it comes to asking for help?”
Collins shook his head, Papa Shola; his childhood friend was as stubborn now as he was when they were kids. He did not change, one bit.
“Which station did you report the case?” He asked worried lines crisscrossing his forehead.
“Mile 2, Sir. The same place were Ade’s boss had me arrested.”
“Apparently, when Ade went missing he had 200,000 of his boss’ money with him.”
“Eyaa, that is bad.’ He sighed. “I do not know any senior ranking officers in Mile 2, but I can put a couple of calls around, so they can help expedite issues quickly, I on my part will have my boys in the look out. I am so sorry Iya Shola, I.cannot even to begin to imagine what you are going through but I promise to do my best in find your son.’
‘That is all I ask.” She said januflating.
“Haba!! Stand up. This is as much my problem as it is yours.”
They exchanged pleasantries and made small talk before he asked his driver to take her home.
Meanwhile back in the house.
“How do we get in there?” Kemi asked, her eyes portraying her doubts.
“Emeka will climb up first, since he is the strongest of us all, then he will pull each and everyone of us up, one at a time. I will be down here helping to lift you people up.”
“You see how you go take open the zinc without making noise”‘ One of the inmates asked.
“I am still figuring it out but we will need a diversion to cover up all.the noise. For now all we can do is pray.” Ade said quietly.
“Okay then, let us pray.” The six year old said. “My father always said that, if I was ever in trouble, I should pray. So let us pray.”
And so they gathered around the little girl, linked their hands and prayed. Muslim or Christian, it mattered not at that moment. They were united in purpose and focus and so they prayed each to his own God and in his or her own way. They prayed like they have never prayed before and may never ever pray again, if this was going to be their last prayers, they were determined to make it a good one.
The prayer inside the room they used as a cell drifted to the ears of the men as they enjoyed a game of Drafts (checkers), they wanted to ignore it but it soon became louder.
“Which kind noise these people dey make for inside that place sef?!” Bello asked irritated, “I swear, I go break person head oh!” He made to stand up but one of them; Emma asked him to sit down
“Allow them, no be like to say anybody go fit hear them, leave them make them pray, at least arrange their souls for the time when dem go meet their god.”
Reluctantly Bello sat back and continued with his game Checkers.
The group had become so engrossed in their prayer that they did not notice it, till the loud bang and everywhere went dark.