The Final Smile
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January 3, 2018 at 7:30 am #1155991
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story written by Adeola Nissi
The road was wet and muddy as the rain teared down in full velocity. Water leveled the road and no one would have seen a pot-hole on the totally destroyed road. The road was without deep gutter so the road was filled with rain water flood and mud. The environment was chilling to the bones and even the trees shivered from the cold atmosphere. Raymond had his glass wound up as he drove home in the rain from the club. He had always bragged that cold weather can never have an effect on him but tonight’s weather had gone way over the edge. His car heater was on and his shivering body gradually calmed down. Thinking about it, he became happy that he was able to sneak out of the club without his reckless friends’ acknowledgement for they would have laughed him to scorn.
Careful of pot-holes, he mulled over the events of the last few hours, driving moderately. He had arrived home from work and had met Tinuke unexpectedly at home. Tinuke was his fiancé of about two months and lover for more that three years. After proposing to her two months ago, his immediate line of action had been to formally see her parents for the traditional rites but he held back. Ever since the engagement band had been slipped into Tinuke’s finger, she had changed drastically, doing things she had never done before. She transformed from a sweet little dove to a nagging peasant who complained about everything that meets the eye ranging from his style of dressing, his choice colour, the friends he kept, and on and on. She started suspecting every move he made and the house was always on fire with her in it but he just could not send her away.
He had deflowered her three years ago when they met and he had been so surprised to meet her a virgin at 23. He had vowed in his heart never to let her go because he saw her as a rare gem as he had never met with a virgin before sexually. His friends had advised him to let her go when she started this new tactic but he just could not bring himself to doing it. This night, Tinuke had so much worked on his bad side that he ended up asking his friends to take him to the best club they could find; something he hadn’t done in years; but instead of finding happiness, the place just gave him more headache.
Raymond bumped into a pothole and cursed his stray thoughts. Putting the car back on its balance, he raked his fingers through his tiny bits of hair. His eyes caught something by the road side and he suddenly hit the brakes. It was a rather large sack, the true colour could not be determined considering the sheer darkness; but what caught his eye particularly was the mass of hair protruding out of the sack. His heartbeat accelerated and he sat there in his car at the middle of the road transfixed not knowing whether or not to get involved in whatever this may be. He was never practically scared of anything but he couldn’t understand why this fear was paralyzing him. After seconds which seemed like forever, he decided to check out what was in the bag.
Raymond hadn’t taken five steps when the sack suddenly moved. He froze instantly and his skipping heart started running a hundred meter race. He tried to bring down his fear by blaming the wind for the occurrence but the sack moved again, very softly, and he knew that whatever is inside that sack is responsible for the movements. He discarded his fear and moved towards the sack. He looked around in utmost fear hoping that some of the scenes in Hollywood movies would not manifest; where police men would round up good Samaritans assuming them to be murderers. The environment was utterly dark and he could not see anything asides bushes. He reached down and pulled down the loose top of the sack and what manifested before him was the face of a human being. His heart almost stopped from fear as his prediction had become reality. Raymond’s breathing was not coordinated at all and he had gone pale. The face was slightly covered with mud but the entire hair was immersed in it. From the hair, he knew it had to be a girl so he pulled the sack down to the waist line of the body with his shivering hands. He looked up and nearly died of fright when he met the eyes of the girl slightly open and in his direction. He started wondering if she was a spirit or a witch sent to kill him but then he saw how pale she looked and warded off his vague thought. He glimpsed a thick mass of blood on her stomach and winced internally. She started moving uncomfortably and seemed to be doing that unconsciously. He hurriedly pulled out the sack and threw it into the bush. Without even considering the risk of picking her up, he whisked her into his arms and made for his car. Ever since he saw the helpless girl, he had forgotten all about the rain which did not stop and now, he was soaked to his pants but he could not care less. His eyes riveted from the car to the mud covered girl in his arms and he prayed silently that nothing bad happens to her.
He dropped her at the back seat and ran behind the wheels. Another thought occurred to him and he was out of the car in an instant. He searched the bush frantically until he got the sack and he ran with it to the driver’s side. Dropping the sack carelessly, he hit the road, driving at a deadly rate, not minding the pot-holes. His eyes riveted from the road to the girl. Her already waned strength was at the verge of going out completely and her eyes started closing. Ray’s heart started doing a summersault, “Please hold on, please. You have to help me to help you. You can’t die on me, please. Hold on…” he said over and over. He saw her struggling to keep her eyes open and he praised her strength. He faced the road squarely again and fired home at top speed. He searched for hospitals by the side of the road but did not see any; not that he had ever noticed any ever since he plied the road, but he checked anyways. Looking back at the girl, he wondered what hospital would accommodate a mud covered person. He picked up his phone and dialed a number with shaky hands. He checked the time and noticed that it was already past 1am. The phone rang off without answer the first time and he dialed again. He heard a sleepy “hello” and he sighed out.
“Oh… thank God. Doctor T, could you please meet me at home, it is an emergency … yes, please do … thank you so much”, he hung up and dialed his maid’s number. He had totally forgotten about Tinuke, but even if he had remembered, he would not have called her.
“Bose, stay close to the gate and open immediately you hear my horn, ok? …” He dropped the phone and his eyes went to the back seat again and seeing the girl’s eyes closed, the alarm sounded in his head. “Hey, wake up”, he yelled. Her eyes opened slightly and he breathed well again. He faced the road, put the swaying car back on track and raced home without looking back. He started talking to himself and the girl in order to remain sane.
A check point was ahead and his head ached. It was like a movie was being acted with him as one of the casts. He was not finding this role funny at all. The people at the check point were well known to him as he always had something to give them whenever he cruised by.
Bringing down the glass halfway, he peered at the policemen, desperately trying to calm himself. “A really wild night officers”, he said, smiling at the fat one among the three men. Even the smile threatened to crack up his face.
“Oga, I no know say na you o”, the man replied, smiling cunningly. “I can see that you have gone to enjoy yourself. Make we no delay you”.
Raymond grinned, relieved. He was about to move the car when he heard one of the slim guys talk in plain English. “I can see you have helped yourself to a fresh babe. Is she sleeping?”
Raymond’s colour drained. His smile was tight. “She is really drunk. I had to whisk her out of the club. If you would excuse me guys, a man has got to get a quicky once in a while, don’t you think?” The men muttered, moving this way and that, with a fleeting smile on their faces. Ray put his hand in his pocket and brought out what he assumed to be five thousand Naira.
His praises rang out and he was on the road within seconds, speeding like someone in a racing competition. He feared the ridiculous delay would tell on the poor girl. He glanced at the girl at the back and saw her eyes closed. Blood drained from his face. He braved it and mentally told himself that she just passed out. He could only imagine what she must be going through now. He wondered why he was this agitated about someone whose face he could not even see, through the mass of mud. He got to Macurly Estate within minutes which was like eternity to him, gave instructions to the security men on guard to let the doctor in before speeding off to number 8. Before he got there, he blared the horn and the gate flew open. He drove inside the compound and moved to the entrance of the main house.
Fred poured the ninth cup of alcoholic wine and downed it within seconds. His thumping heart increased in tempo and his vision became blurry. He smashed the glass cup against the wall and took the bottle to his mouth. He could still not believe what he had done because of jealousy, not that he did it intentionally though. He had seen Lucy hugging a guy beside the road and his blood had boiled furiously till it became thick. Lucy, who had been the only woman he ever loved had never loved him back and every time he confessed his love to her, she always told him to get over her because they could only be friends. It had been torture maintaining his ‘friendship’ status with her. Seeing her with another man made him terribly furious that he went over to her house and waited for her. Due to her working arrangements, she lived alone in a one room self contain apartment cos of proximity to her office so he waited by the door for her. He did not call her so he had to wait for about one hour at the entrance with each passing second increasing his anger.
She didn’t appear until very late in the night but he stayed there. When Lucy came, she was so surprised to have Fred waiting at her door. She put up a conversation, asking so many questions but he remained mute. He saw the surprise in her face at his mood but did not say anything until she had unlocked the door and they were inside.
“What were you doing with that guy on the road?” he asked, immediately the door closed behind them.
Looking stupefied, she asked, “Which guy?”
“Don’t play dumb with me. I saw you hugging a guy on the road, who is he? I told you I want you, you did not accept and now you are hugging someone else?” he yelled.
“Are you crazy? How dare you trail me around? What business of yours is this? I can see whomever I please and do whatever I want to do, do you understand? What is your problem anyways?” she yelled back.
Fred paced the length of the room and picked up the knife he saw in a tray filled with oranges in the bedside table. He saw fear creep into her eyes but he was no longer himself, all he wanted was to hit someone really hard. He advanced towards her and she moved back until she tripped over something and fell. All her pleadings fell on deaf ears as he brought the knife down on her. Her ear deafening scream restored his senses and he could not believe what he had done.
Even as he drank himself to stupor, he still could not believe he had actually done it. He had killed the love of his life with his bare hands. He finished the bottle, smashed it against the wall and grabbed another bottle. His tears flowed freely and his hands shook terribly but he silently swore to himself that he would find the guy who made him do this, the guy who had the audacity to hug his babe. He would have his revenge, he said silently. “Since I am weeping now, I would make sure he weeps also or my name is not Fred”.
Tinuke locked herself up Raymond’s room. She could not fathom the possibility of sleeping in the guests’ room. The house is big in itself, having the total of five rooms apart from the gym and the laundry room. She had always admired Raymond’s taste and ability to choose the best. She had quarreled with Ray again, although it is no longer a new thing. Her friends had schooled her well on how to ensure her man does not escape. It had taken her three years of putting up the innocent and sweet face to get the ring on her finger. Her friends had told her that men need a little strong hand. If they feel their woman is very sweet and accepting, they would feel free to indulge themselves with other women outside. Having another woman take her place is definitely something Tinuke Rogers would never accept.
She and Ray had argued extensively on the issue of wedding this evening. Ray had stormed out after close to two hours of heated arguments. She could not see any point in delaying his formal meeting with her parents and he was just procrastinating the issue unnecessarily. She knew he expected her to be out of the house and back to her own apartment but he had a surprise coming. Whatever the time he comes back, they would continue their argument until she comes out victorious. Trust Tinuke to make a house a living hell, she thought, pleased with herselfJanuary 3, 2018 at 7:33 am #1155993
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Raymond’s cloth clung to his body as he jumped out of his car, rushing to the back seat. Bose saw his anxiety and went to him, trying to see if he needed her help for anything. She squeeled at the sight before her. Never in her life had she seen a human being so dirty. Wait; is she dead? Her eyes popped as she stood frozen behind Raymond.
Raymond checked the pulse of the girl and heaved a relieved sigh. He glanced back and saw Bose standing transfixed behind him.
“Don’t just stand there gawking, go and open the door”, he spat out, louder than he had intended. She obeyed instantly, vanishing from sight. Ray lifted the girl effortlessly, his gaze fixed on the girl, not even bothering to close the door of the car.
“What is this thing you carry, Ray?” he heard. Raymond stared at Tinuke for some seconds, not really knowing what to say instantly. She was standing arms akimbo, looking at him like he had just developed two heads. He tried to boycott her, but she stood. It had completely escaped his mind that she was home. When he told her to leave before he arrived, he had known that she would never do such a thing.
“Tinuke, it would be in your best interest to leave my front before I lose my patience”, he said, already losing his cool.
“I, Tinuke Rogers, am not leaving this place. You can bring down heaven, I don’t care. Now I asked you a question. What is this piece of trash you are holding?” she sniffed her nose in a sigh of disgust.
Ray was beside himself with fury. “Leave my front Tinu” he roared. She stood defiantly. Before she knew what was happening, Raymond used his leg to push her out of the way, making her fall to the ground forcefully. Ray marched inside, his feet pounding on the floor. The girl was unconscious. He could not fathom how she could still be alive after all these drama; he could not even guess how long she had been staying in that sack, out on the cold and muddy road. Bose, who had been watching the drama, ran ahead and opened the door of one of the rooms.
Ray placed the girl on the bed very carefully. Having a mind of her own, Bose ran to get a bucket of warm water and a napkin. Ray stared at the girl, feeling pity for her. She was very small, and from her body size, he imagined her to be either seventeen or eighteen years old at most. He wondered what might have happened to her. From the cut at the side of her belly, he knew it had to be a knife cut. He swallowed hard.
Bose arrived with a bucket of warm water and a cloth. She knelt down to begin wiping out the mud on the girl’s body but Ray stopped her. He collected the cloth from her, dipped it in the water and squeezed it dry. He wiped the face of the girl, removing part of the caked mud on her face.
“Oga, you dey shake” Bose commented. Unlike all the other house helps he had come across, Bose was someone who says and does things without the fear of being sacked. She says whatever she wants to, whether you like it or not; as long as it is the truth. That notwithstanding, she holds Ray in high esteem. Ray had come to see Bose as a friend and a junior sister.
“I am fine Bose, go and wait by the gate, Doctor T is coming”. Bose snorted and made no move to leave her position. “I am still your boss, Bose, do as I say”
“Oga, if you no go remove your cloth, you go first this girl die”. She lamented. “Leave am, I go take care of am, go commot your cloth, abi madam body don tire you, you wan see another person body?”
Ray stared at her for some seconds, feeling exasperated. There were many times he felt tempted to sack Bose but he hadn’t been able to bring himself to doing it. She was always there to talk to when Tinuke started her crazy tantrums.
Knowing that an argument with Bose would be futile, he stood up. “be very careful, I think the wound is not too deep but she has lost a lot of blood. She must be really strong to still be alive now. Try to speak English; that is why I sent you to school”.
Bose laughed. “I was expecting that”
Ray shook his head and left the room. Bose lightened his mood the way even Tinuke couldn’t. Tinuke flashed back to his mind as he rushed back to his room. He still could not imagine that he had tossed her the way he did. It is not in his nature to hurt a lady. He felt bad that he had pushed her, even though she had provoked him. He did not have the courage to talk to her, he was ashamed of his action, even though he did not hit her. He entered the room and shed his clothes within the twinkle of an eye. Downing his night robe, he hurried to the gate to open the gate for the doctor who had been blaring his horn. He passed by Tinuke in the sitting room, who sat foaming in anger but did not even glance at her twice. A life is at stake.
Doctor Tunde was not even out of his car when Bose literarily jumped out of the house, stuttering. She was pointing, jumping and screaming at the same time, fear written all over her tears stricken face. Without even hearing anything from her, Raymond raced inside, dragging the doctor along. He grew pale when he saw the girl jerking. Doctor T pressed her chest, trying to stabilize her. He pressed and pressed for some seconds, which looked like forever. He instantly knew that this sight would haunt his dreams for a long time. The girl became still and he closed his eyes. To say he was frightened would be an understatement. Bose held on to him, putting her face on his chest, shivering. He held her, knowing that this must be really terrifying for her too.
“Tell me. She is not dead, is she?” he whispered, his eyes closed.
He heard nothing apart from the voice of the sobbing girl in his arms. He opened his eyes slowly, his heart racing.
“I never knew you to be this fearful. The girl lives, but she is very weak and may not survive. We need to take her to the hospital. The gadgets and machines in the hospital can help to a certain extent if she would survive this. She is stronger than she looks to be alive now. This cut is deep and she has lost so much blood” he said thoughtfully.
Carefully removing Bose’s arms, Ray strode forward, his eyes fixed on the girl. She had the whitest skin he had ever seen. He had to admit that the mud and pain she was in is involved but that notwithstanding, she was still exceedingly fair. All these thoughts occurred within splita of seconds. He bent to carry her but the doctor stopped him, going over to carry her, applying less force and more care, as espected of a doctor. Bose ran to her room and grabbed one of her gowns. She hadn’t finished cleaning her up, not to mention change her clothes, when the girl started jerking wildly. She hadn’t seen a corpse before and right now, she was feeling llike she had just seen one, even though the girl is not dead.
Rushing through the sitting room, Doctor Tunde stared unbelievably at Tinuke. How can someone be so heartless as to leave them alone to struggle with a girl’s life without showing the lowest level of care? Minding his business, he hurried past her to the car. Raymond ran to the room, picked his wallet and his ATM card, threw a shirt and a trouser over his body, then he ran out of the room. He had forgotten that Tinuke existed and seeing her in the sitting room, still foaming with anger, made his blood boil.
“There are some times I am sad I proposed to you Tinu, but there are other times I am really, really sad that I ever had anything to do with you. How can you be so selfish and senseless as to shut your eyes against the girl in danger?” he asked bewildered.
She jerked up. “To start with, you never asked for my help, instead, you asked for the help of your stupid maid. I could have helped, instead, what did you do? You pushed me away like a piece of thrash. You are not leaving this house until you apologise for what you did” she went to block the doorway again.
Ray advanced towards her. “If you don’t leave my front now, I would forget my policy about not hitting a woman and hit you so hard that you would need the help of a doctor to recouperate.”
The light burned in his eyes and she knew that he would do it without thinking twice. She left the doorway and he rushed out. He asked Bose to come along with them because he could not begin to imagine what Tinuke would do to the poor girl if she stays. Having her open the gate, he regretted not replacing his gateman.
The anger in Fred’s eyes was deadly as he picked up the knife and started pursuing Luciana. They ran for some time, with Lucy ahead and Fred behind but as time went on, the gap between them became closer. Fear crept up Lucy’s face and she started increasing her speed even though she was already exhausted. Fred saw this and ran even faster, a devilish grin on his face.
In her haste to escape with her life, Lucy ran carelessly, hitting her legs several times. She hit her leg on a big stone and toppled to the ground. She let out a cry of pain, looking around desperately in the darkness, trying to see if someone could help her, but found none. Fred towered over her, brandishing the knife in a frightening manner. Lucy looked at him with pleading eyes but he only smiled evilly, almost like he was possessed. With a shout of victory, he brought down the knife.
Mrs Jones let out an ear-deafening scream, jerking from her lying position to a sitting position. Mr Jones jumped up in fright, as he heard his wife’s scream.
“My baby, my baby…” she said continuously, as her husband wrapped his arms around her. She whimpered and shook with velocity.
“What is it dear”
“My baby, my Lucy, my baby” she said over and over again.
“Calm down. It is just a dream.” He said to her.
She left his arms. “it is not just a dream. Someone wants to kill my baby. I can feel it here” she pounded the left side of her chest. “When he was about to stab her with the knife, I woke up. Ken, I told you before we slept that I was feeling somehow, and now this; I know when God is giving me a sign. I am a mother” she almost yelled.
Ken understood his wife perfectly. Her dreams are not to be taken likely at all because almost all of them turn out to be a reality, whether good or bad. He swallowed hard as he took his phone from the bedside table and dialed his daughhter’s number. Bewaji shivered and Ken drew her into his arms. The phone rang out and Ken released the breath he had been holding, but when the phone was not answered, he became worried. He dialed again and again but no answer came. Tears spilled over Bewaji’s face as she looked at her husband. The time was 1:35 am, and they would have assumed that she was too deep in her sleep to answer the call, if they hadn’t known her to be a very light sleeper. A slight movement beside Lucy is enough to rouse her from sleep.
Guarding his own worries, Ken faced his wife. “Don’t jump to conclusions now BJ, kneel down and let us pray”.
Tinuke roamed the sitting room of her fiance’s house thoughtfully. Ray had never raised his hands against her violently ever since she had known him but he had come very close to doing so today. He hadn’t done it but she knew that if she had pushed him, he would have hit her without thinking twice; and now he is out of the house, and who is with him? That blasted maid.
She groaned. She had always wondered what was going on between Ray and Bose, considering their strange closeness. The girl almost has more say in the house than she herself. To assume that Ray would stoop so low as to get involved with a maid, is something she could not fathom. And who is that ragged girl they are all fussing over? She wondered. Whoever she is does not concern her as long as she does not interfere in her relationship with Ray; but she is already doing that now. As for Bose, she would be damned if she sat back and allowed a mere maid take her place in Ray’s heart. She picked her purse and car keys, left the house and headed for the hospital. She already knew where Doctor Tunde’s hospital was.
Ray sat at the hospital reception of Hope Hospital, waiting for the doctor to come out. He was worried about the girl being attended to but what was giving him more stress was Tinuke. He wondered how he had gotten himself into such a mess. How was she able to hide this character? He wondered. She had been so cold-hearted that she did not even recognize their struggles in the house. He wondered if she would have showed some emotions if the girl had died. He sighed inwardly. Maybe his friends were right and they needed a break.
Bose stared at her boss. He looked older than he should with the lines of worry on his head. She had never known a more handsome man than the one sitted in front of her but that fiancée of his is practically making his life miserable. She stood up and went to sit beside him. “It would be alright sir. You would get through this” she whispered. Ray looked at her. She always understood him. Was always there for him.
“Thanks Bose” he said and held her to him. He heard the hospital door open and the next person he saw was Tinuke, standing at the hospital entrance.
…To be continuedJanuary 3, 2018 at 8:16 am #1156009
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Links To Available Episodes.
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