The sound of Jerry’s mobile phone, indicating an incoming call, made Evans to turn on the bed. Ordinarily, he would have ignored the call. But the situation at hand required a contrary action.
Evans sighed. He was sure the clock had a long way to go before it reached five thirty.
As Evans rose from the bed, he felt light-headed, a sure sign that he had not slept for long. Still he was grateful that nature had overpowered his thoughts, offering him sleep for a while. The piece of paper he had discovered in his locker had dominated his thoughts.
The phone had stopped ringing before he got to the table where it lay.
Evans turned the switch on, making the electric bulb come alive; his thoughts also came alive. Who could have placed that note in my locker, he mused. Am I really gay?
Jerry’s phone brightened again, and Eminem’s ‘When I’m Gone’ filled the room. The screen revealed the caller—Charles.
“Is Jerry back?”
The line went silent for a while, but it was obvious the call had not ended. Evans held the phone, waiting for Charles’ response. The voice he heard next had a distinct tone.
“Hello. Evans. Jerry’s things, are they all in place?”
“Hello . . . who are you?”
“It’s Lanre, a friend of ours.” a voice said. Evans easily gave the voice a name—Charles. “Its a conference call, Lanre just joined.” Charles said. “He wants to know if anything is missing in the house, like—Jerry’s clothes, shoes, your mum’s property, anything.”
“I’ve not noticed anything.”
“Check.” To Evans, Lanre seemed to have an air of authority. Evans liked the fine timbre of Lanre’s voice.
“I guess you have to call back.”
“Just go ahead and check. Don’t worry, the call is free.” Charles said.
Evans walked to the wardrobe, and he pulled its door. He considered the clothes, most of them Jerry owned.
“His clothes seem to be in place.”
“Him no go notice easily, even if one or two dey miss,” Charles said, obviously to his friend. “Guy, make we let the boy go sleep. In the morning we go reach their side.”
“Evans, sorry for disturbing your sleep. Lanre and I will come to your house in the morning.”
“Ok. Thanks.” Evans for a moment tried to paint a mental picture of Lanre, a physique that would be just right for the voice he had heard. Tall, dark, slightly muscular, with a face that offered a smile only once in a while; he imagined.
Evans walked back to the table to drop the phone. As he approached the table, Evans noticed something. Instead of two, only one of Jerry’s bag was on the floor, under the table. The smaller bag was not there. He lifted the bag from under the table, then, he pulled its zip. The bag, Evans was sure, contained more items than it used to. And atop was a novel. Evans brought out the novel and flipped through its pages. Most of the pages had been marked with ink too. Unlike the other novel, this one was marked with yellow ink. Evans stopped at a page, and he started with a paragraph marked with yellow ink:
She had stated her price quite quickly, and he had reached for his wallet without any bargain. He had approached her knowing she was naive, though she had priced herself too high. Marcus did not mind. He liked them that way. As he slid a finger between her wet opening, he knew he was in for a treat.
Evans closed the book and placed it back in the bag. Though he was sure he would return to it later.
Nneoma turned on the bed. A stretch and a yawn, and she was grateful, though surprised, that she had slept for a while. As she sat up, she picked the scarf that lay on her pillow. Nneoma placed it on her head, without tying it, before she began to pray.
Nneoma yawned before she let the scarf rest on the pillow again. Then she eased her frame from the bed. Her prayer had taken a much longer time than usual, and she had mainly prayed for Jerry’s safety. Nneoma sang softly, so as not to wake Ruth, as she walked towards the door. A thought found its way to her mind as she walked past the wardrobe. Still she continued her walk. She held the door knob, undecided. Her hand remained on it as she struggled with her thoughts. Nneoma let go, and started a walk towards the wardrobe. As she got near it, Nneoma tried to keep her thoughts in check; she tried same with her fears too.
Nneoma pulled the door that secured the wardrobe. Then she brought out a black bag. She provided the correct combination, three digits, one-six-four, and the bag opened. Immediately Nneoma knew that someone had recently tampered with its content. It was not much of a surprise when she discovered that the money she had kept in the bag was missing, three hundred thousand naira.
She felt queasy, and a bit on edge. Her stomach also felt full, added to it, an uncomfortable sensation. Still she gently let her frame off the bed. She knew she had to, before her mother would walk into her room, with a cane and a sermon. A virtuous woman has no business with her bed, once it is five o’clock in the morning; her mother had told her severally.
She soon began a slow walk to the door, heading to the bathroom, eager to spit out the saliva that had gathered in her mouth.
She got to the door and turned its half-broken knob, immediately greeted by the strong scent of a locally made disinfectant. The scent stretched her discomfort to its peak, and a sudden rumble in her stomach followed suit. Her steps quickened as the need to use the bathroom had peaked too. Her right arm pressed tightly on her stomach forming a semi-circle around it as she raced to the bathroom. She bent over the bathtub just in time.
“My God! What is the meaning of this?!” she heard, though, her mother’s voice did not startle her. She had recognised her mother’s presence at the door, long before she heard the exclamations. She figured that her mother must have heard the sound of her feet while she ran on the slippery, tile floor. She had also considered the possibility that the sound she made while she retched may have been loud, and disturbing enough, to drag her mother to the scene.
The front door was opened after the first knock. He walked in, and the door was closed again. The one who had opened the door walked ahead of him, leading him past the living room. He considered the features of the one who walked ahead of him: dark, well-over six foot, and muscular.
The hunk stopped in front of a closed door, knocked on it and stepped aside.
“You can go in.” the voice, deep and rich, matched the frame.
He turned the knob. Then he walked into a room, spacious and decently furnished. A man sat on an armchair.
“You are welcome, young man. Jerry, right?”
“Do have a seat.”
“I don’t waste time when it comes to business. Do you have the money with you?”
“Good. Normally I don’t accept such meagre sum. But I like you. I will help you.”