The time was 9:35pm when Abeke waltzed into the darkness of the apartment with some Thai takeaway in her hands as she softly hummed some happy tunes. That was the brightest I had seen her in days. She made no attempt to switch on the light; the beaming rays from the flat screen TV on the wall was enough for her to navigate the room.
“I got you some Thai, one of your favourites actually”, she said casually as she walked pass me into the kitchenette.
“Thanks! I’ll have it later”, I replied calmly though my heart was racing like crazy.
My thought processes and the many flashbacks had successfully activated mode paranoid in me. “She may have poisoned it”, I thought but quickly dispelled the notion. Abeke couldn’t be that mean and she wouldn’t allow her emotions get the better part of her. I kept my gaze on the TV though my inner eyes were on her just to be on guard for any surprises. I was uneasy to say the least. She settled herself into one of the two neon red high stools at the breakfast bar and ate her portion quietly. A recent copy of Grazia magazine lay on the counter, she reached for it and flipped aimlessly through the pages as she finished the last bits of her meal.
I heaved a sigh of relief when she announced she was retiring for the night. “Today must be my lucky day” I thought to myself, “but come to think of it, this wife of mine is acting rather normal. Hmmm, wait a minute, probably she only took a walk and never met up with Yvette. I mean,…the gravity of those revelations could never leave any relatively sane woman calm. Abeke knows nothing…thank goodness!”. No sooner had she disappeared behind the bedroom door than the starved man in me dived into the awaiting pack of Thai takeaway. It took a few mouthfuls to realise how famished I was. I finished the meal, switched off the TV and crept into bed next to Abeke who was soundly asleep by this time.
Groggily I woke at 8:15AM the next morning as waves of migraine rippled through the left half of my face. My body felt like one that had been struck by a ‘molue’. Abeke was nowhere to be found. On her side of the bed was a note which read:
“Meet me in Lagos!”
“What!”, was all I could summon from my vocal reserve. With blurry eyes I looked around and indeed her travel suitcases were gone. Alas, my headache compounded instantly. Right there and then, the unnerving quiet of hers the previous night made perfect sense. “Abeke met with Yvette…wow!”, I thought. I left my hurting head buried in my palms as I sat at the foot of the bed for what seemed like an eternity, trying to make sense of Abeke’s action and the possible upcoming drama that awaited me in Lagos. Yvette’s revelations would seem minute however if she ever found out my other secret.
The shrill chimes of the doorbell interrupted my musings. I made my way out of the bedroom into the living space to answer it. Whoever it was at the door impatiently buzzed again leaving the finger permanently on the button; this agitated my migraine some more. On opening the door, Yvette brushed me aside as she walked right into the apartment.
“Where is the Mrs.?”, she queried sarcastically as she sat in the lone accent chair by the window.
“Errmm…she’s gone back to Lagos”, I managed to utter in my state of shock.
By this time, my head was spinning in orbits. She broke a crooked smile as she rummaged her handbag for her mobile phone. She punched in some numbers and dialled. The conversation lasted 2 seconds as she said into the receiver “It’s on”. I tried to wonder what that meant but didn’t have to for long. The front door of the apartment burst open and 2 hefty young men of Caribbean descent barged in. One of them had long dreadlocks and the other, a shiny bald head. They manned the door like prison guards. Yvette crossed her legs and motioned me to take a seat. Unsure of what was about to ensue, I complied like a sheep being led to the slaughter for the presence of the men towering over me gave me major concerns.
“I learnt you came with an impressive wallet to splurge on the high street…hmmm! Well…I am your high street now. Go bring the money!”, she ordered. I stood for a minute, wondering how deep her conversation with Abeke got when she barked at me, “Get it right away…and I know the exact amount so don’t mess about with me.” Without a second thought I headed for the bedroom, took out the brown manila envelope that housed the £10,000 I had set aside for shopping from my suitcase and returned to the living room. I had no intention of testing the powers of Yvette’s touts.
Abeke leaving for Lagos ahead of me was my primary concern. Seeing that her flight wouldn’t leave until 11:30AM, I called her cell phone severally but she refused to answer it. Without wasting any more time, I called the ticketing office and changed my departure to the evening of the same day. I got to Lagos the next morning and boarded a yellow taxi home; Bala’s official phone was unreachable. Our driver was usually very reliable; had the drama started already?
I got to the gate of our home about 8 O’clock in the morning and the gate-man welcomed me with fear and anxiety in his eyes. I reached for my keys and unlocked the front door. As I wheeled my suitcases into the anteroom, I sensed some unusual presence in the house. Seeing it was dead quite, I proceeded into the living room. On opening door, down on her knees was Mrs Johnson, Abeke’s mum, with both hands up in the air as she rubbed both palms against each other pleading to someone I couldn’t see. The look in her eyes was that of great fear and terror. I dropped my suitcases and rushed to her side as I called out her pet name to ask what the matter was.