Few Days Later
The first thing David did was to quit his job at the hospital. He knew he needed the money but he didn’t want to be linked to Nene Abasi’s murder anymore and some of the staff had already begun to look at him with accusing glares. He tried to ignore them as he made his way out of his superior’s office.
“Is it true what happened?”
David turned around in the hospital’s reception area to find his usual partner Segun standing behind him. David sighed but was glad that he wasn’t simply whispering behind his back like many of the others. He had become the topic of all fresh gossip.
“I didn’t do it obviously, would I be that stupid?”
“Not the murder, I know you wouldn’t have done it. That you’re a wanted man, I mean. In fact, some guys came around asking for you a few days ago.”
“What? Which guys?” David became alert at this.
“Yes, they said it was a very important matter they had to discuss with you but they didn’t look like men that wanted to discuss business to me. I told them you had disappeared. If I were you, I wouldn’t even show my face here again.”
“I can’t believe this.” David muttered.
“I suggest you make yourself scarce. So many innocent people get dragged into matters beyond them. I once knew someone who was arrested for a crime he did not commit.”
“Did he ever make it out?” David asked quietly.
“His sentence was death by firing squad.” Segun said, looking him straight in the eye. “He was my younger brother.”
There was a moment of silence in which the reality of the magnitude of danger he was in hit him squarely. He had already been in Police custody but they hadn’t truly let him go, he had escaped. Now unknown men were looking for him.
“Take this,” Segun said, writing something on a piece pf paper. “Maybe this can help you get back on your feet. Tell him I sent you.”
David collected the piece of paper and glanced at it. It was a phone number with the initials J.D written on it. His attention was drawn to the presence of three men in uniform walking into the hospital. They had badges, clearly the Police. He swore in shock. The hospital had called the cops on him. The betrayal was a painful slap on the face and it stung. He was innocent for heaven’s sake. He looked at Segun who nodded and stepped in front of him, partially blocking him from their view.
He didn’t need to be told, he hurried to the second ground floor exit that was rarely used and dashed outside. What he didn’t know was that even more officers were waiting outside.
“Police,” They announced. “Freeze!”
He ran like hounds of hell were nipping at his feet. A shot was fired and barely just missed its aim.
“Hold fire!” The command was given by an officer, putting a stop to more bullets being released. Too many civilians were around and a stray bullet could be the end of someone’s career or life.
David didn’t go home immediately, just in case they followed him. He decided to call the number Segun gave him. He could use all the help he could get at this point in time.
“Hello?” A gruff, old masculine voice answered.
“Am I speaking with J.D?”
There was a pause.
“A friend of Segun, my name is David. He asked me to call you.”
“I like to have my discussions in person, David. I’ll send you an address, come see me tomorrow.”
After the call, David brooded over the meeting that was to come. He had no idea who this man was but if Segun recommended him then he would go ahead with it. Besides, he was at his wits end now.
Early the next day, before daybreak, David silently crept back into his apartment. He was pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn’t staked out by the Police like he had feared. He had a quick shower and changed his clothes before heading out again. He didn’t want to take his chances and linger for long. J.D had sent the address so he made his way there with the little money he had on him. Luckily, none of his property had been stolen despite meeting the house trashed the first time he came home. Whoever was looking for him wasn’t after money or his things, not that he had much to his name anyway.
He arrived at the two-storey building and looked around. The neighbourhood was quiet and seemed peaceful enough. A blue Toyota car was parked in front of the house. He rang the doorbell and waited. A young maid opened the door shortly; her squinty eyes did a quick survey of him before asking for the purpose of his visit.
“I have an appointment. I’m here to see Mr J.D.”
“May I have your name please? I’ll check if he is around. Wait here.”
David gave her his name and she left. She came back later and asked him to come in. The room she led him to was simply but tastefully furnished. Leather sofas and armchairs were arranged round a glass center table. Glass frames held artworks that added a nice touch of colour to the room.
“Please make yourself comfortable.” She said before walking away.
David used the time alone to study his surroundings, trying to figure out what kind of person this man J.D may be. Footsteps came minutes later and an elderly man walked in. He used no support stick but walked upright for his age. He was dressed simply in an Ankara shirt and a pair of black trousers.
“Good morning sir.” David said, getting up from his seat.
J.D signalled him to sit down and turned to study him from head to toe.
“You must be David.”
“Well, Segun told me that yours is a unique case. How may I help you?”
David was stumped for a second. How could he explain his situation? That he was a wanted man seeking help. That he had no idea who some of the people looking for him were. He wasn’t just in need of money. He was in need of some sort of stability in his life. So, the next words out of his mouth weren’t planned but he realised it might be the starting point of getting what he needs.
“I need a job, sir.”
“What sort of job?” J.D asked.
“Anything.” David answered but then he thought he might have replied too fast. What sort of job did he want?
J.D considered him for a few moments. Within the space of silence, the maid appeared once again carrying a tray on which two glass cups were filled with chilled water. She placed one before her boss first then the other before David. She left as silently as she had come.
“Do you have any driving experience?”
David thought back quickly. He had little experience from when he used to drive his father around but was it enough to qualify? Well, experience is experience. He thought.
“Yes I do.”
“Good. I own a fleet of cars that make up my private taxi company, J.D Transport Services. How would you like to be one of my drivers? This requires that you are very adept with automobiles and have a good sense of direction on Lagos roads.”
“I would like that very much sir.” David nodded.
“Alright then, you will start your first week of training tomorrow. Be here by 8am to get started.”
“Thank you very much sir.”
“One more thing young man.”
“Yes sir.” David looked up with curiosity.
“I’m going to need you to do something to ensure your safety and mine. I understand that you are having a few issues with the authorities as of now and I don’t want to have them knocking on my doors any time soon. My maid will escort you to get a few supplies so that we can have your appearance altered and you will need a change of name too for the time you’re here.”
“You mean like plastic surgery?” David asked with uncertainty.
“Nothing that serious.” J.D chuckled. “Let’s call it a sort of… makeover.”
Hours later, David stood in front of the mirror as he thoroughly scrutinized his appearance. His hair was all scraped off, completely bald. His eyebrows seemed fuller, almost like they were tattooed on. He now had a fake, full beard, complete with a moustache that covered most of his face. His complexion was darker now and two artificial tribal marks adorned his cheeks. He felt he resembled a typical northerner. He stood straight and looked into the mirror like he was staring at another person. He looked so different from his usual self, nearly unrecognisable.
“Hello,” He smiled slowly at himself. “I don’t believe we’ve met. My name is Gabriel Michaels.”