Having arrested Samson and his gang, and with Ononye in detention, the police had relaxed the security around Chukwudi. When night fell, Linda shut the door, walked over to Chukwudi and tucked herself in beside him.
Chukwudi: “You have a whole bed over there to yourself you know,” Chukwudi suggested to her jokingly.
Linda: “I know, but I want to lie here beside you. Your sweet scent, your warmth, your arms around me, they put me to sleep, sweetly.” He reached over and tickled her. She jerked violently and jumped out of bed. She was very ticklish. Chukwudi laughed raucously.
Linda: “Evil person!” She teased.
Chukwudi: “Lover of an evil person,” he shot back at her laughing.
Linda: “Please honey, let me lie beside you,” she pleaded.
Chukwudi: “The bed is too narrow for the both of us my sweetheart.
Linda: “No it is because you do Kungfu in your sleep,” Linda teased.
Linda: “You turn, coil, kick and rotate all in one night,” she continued.
Chukwudi: “I don’t do all that.”
Linda: ‘Yes you do. I always have to move you into position.”
Chukwudi: “No, you always like to touch me, just say it,” he teased.
Linda: “Yes, I like to, but in this context, I am better off staying away from you before you land a Bruce Lee-like punch on my nose while in deep sleep.” Chukwudi finally opened his arms wide and allowed her to melt in-between them.
Linda: “I love the smell of your hair honey. It smells like red rose. Alluring, soft, sweet and soothing.”
Chukwudi: “And I love the sound of your heartbeat. It seems to call my name. It thuds and relaxes gently, creating a subtle rhythm that always puts me to sleep.”
The two men walked briskly past the reception. As soon as they reached the room, they took out masks and covered their faces. One of them threw his weight forcefully against the door in the hope to open it, but it was firmly locked. A female voice yelled from inside, “who is that?” Her question was answered by a deafening gunshot, which tore through the door lock. Two masked men raced into the room and looked around. They had quickly flipped the light on. A lady flew to her feet, but the sight of the masked men sank her heart into her stomach. Fear gripped her. She was utterly petrified. Her hands began to shake. The sight of gun-wielding men completely immobilized her. She wanted to ask them what they wanted but her mouth had gone numb and dysfunctional, for the time being. There was another lady on the other bed. She was supposedly the sick person. She looked frail and well in her sixties. The gun shot had woken her up. She looked at the scene in front of her in sheer horror.
Assassin1: “Where is he?” One of the men asked the younger lady who was on her knees with her arms raised above her head, inaudibly begging for her dear life.
Patient: “W-h-o?” She asked, stuttering.
Assassin 1: “Where is that guy?”
They asked again, to which she gave the same answer. They flashed a picture at her. She peered at the picture but nothing made sense. She was not sure what was on the picture. Fear had disrupted her ability to decipher anything.
Patient: “I don’t k-n-o-w the…person…you… are…talking…a-b-o-u-t,” she stammered even more.
Assassin: “Look at that guy now before I shoot you.” She gazed one more time at the picture trying fervently to gather some form of composure.
Patient: “I don’t know…..him,” she answered in a frazzled tone. The older lady was almost having a heart attack. She tried to sit up, but her body shook immeasurably. One of the masked men looked at her, and a tinge of pity crept into him.
Assassin 2: “Let’s leave. He’s not here,” he said. They opened the window, jumped off and ran into the thick darkness. The entire ward was thrown into turmoil. Patients and their care takers screeched in all possible directions. The hospital staff tried to understand what had just happened.
They dialed the repeatedly number but it was dead. A quick trip to the bank with a court warrant showed close to three hundred and fifty thousand sitting in Ononye’s account. She had been careful not to dig that much into the money. She had grand plans to find her way abroad upon receiving her full payment.
Tunde: “I feel sorry for that criminal Samson,” Tunde said.
Aliu: “No I don’t,” Aliu answered.
Tunde: “Well, I mean, he thought this girl actually cared for him. Instead, she was only using him as a means to an end.”
Aliu: “I don’t feel for the idiot. Why would a right-thinking man want to kill over a girl? Besides, most of them that go to the University and join cults, like that girl pointed out, they are devoid of confidence. They join cults to amass a level of leverage, respect, to belong to something, to beef up their terribly distorted self image. He thinks he is a strong and rough guy, not knowing that a girl was using him like a piece of rag,” Aliu replied.
They instructed the bank manage on the order of the court to freeze Ononye’s account. They also found out that the three hundred and fifty thousand naira was deposited into Ononye’s account by a lady – Chinenye Ofor.
That did not help their investigation. They quickly made a trip to NITEL in Awka since the area code of the number that Ononye gave them indicated it was an Awka phone number.
NITEL: “Someone paid someone to have that number set up,” the customer service person told them.
Aliu: “So, there is no way you can trace that number to anybody?’ Aliu asked in disbelief.
NITEL: “No. That happens all the time. Our technicians take money, reactivate a dead number and hook it up to someone address for the period of time they are paid for. When that period elapses, the number goes into limbo again.”
Aliu: “This country sef!” Aliu complained bitterly.
Tunde: “That is the reason Nigeria will remain like this,” Tunde added.
NITEL: “It is everywhere you know,” the lady added. “Even in the police too,” the lady replied stopping shot of mentioning bribe collection by the police especially on the roads. They left NITEL feeling deflated.
Tunde: “There is no way that girl raised that amount of money on her own,” Tunde insisted.
Aliu: “There is an element of truth in what she said, but we are lost as to how to find the main culprit in this case,” Aliu said with a deflated look on his face.
Commissioner: “What? Last night?” The police commissioner asked. Sheer incredulity was doodled all over his face.
Chukwudi’s Dad: “Yes, I am told the masked men were looking to shoot a male occupant in my son’s former room. I am sure they were after my son. This is not over yet. Thank God he was moved to another room yesterday afternoon. They would have taken him out,” Mr. Igwesi complained. His voice was riddled with fear and worry.
Commissioner: “I am sending four policemen over to your son’s new room right away. Have someone pick them up at the gate,” the commissioner replied.
Commissioner: “Yes, we have a hunch that there is someone else or people involved. I have my boys working on it, but we did not realize they would strike again. We thought we had all the hit men in detention.”
Chukwudi’s Dad: “I am really worried. They won’t stop until they kill him. We have to find them and lock them up soon,” Chukwudi’s father pleaded.
Commissioner: “We will intensify our efforts Mr. Igwesi. We will do all we can to get them,” the commissioner promised.
Dubem, Gbenga and his girlfriend Nkolika, Ojukwu, Michael, and Ikenna had come in the morning to see Chukwudi. On hearing of the fresh attempt to shoot him, they decided to stay back until fresh police security arrived. The atmosphere was tense. Chukwudi’s mother latched onto his bedside like gum against a wall. Her heart was racing frenetically. Linda was in deep shock.
The commissioner walked into the office with an air of urgency. His belly dangled in front of him like a big, partially inflated balloon.
Commissioner: “I want to see that girl right now!” He ordered Aliu and Tunde. “They brought Ononye out. She realized that this was a top-ranking officer. She thought they were about to determine her fate, and the look on the man’s face was scary.
Commissioner: “Young girl, you better not play games with us. I can kill you right here and walk away, and there will be no questions asked. Now, I need you to tell me who the man is. Who is he? The man that paid you to kill my friend’s son.”
Ononye: “I don’t know sir. Honestly, I don’t know.”
Commissioner: “Did you get his car number or something?”
Ononye: “No sir. He met me at the university the first time and the next time we met at a restaurant. He always walked away. He never really drove sir.”
Commissioner: “How old is he? Just a guess.”
Ononye: “Maybe in his early or mid forties sir.”
Commissioner: “He speaks Igbo?”
Ononye: “Yes sir?”
Commissioner: “Then you should be able to know where he is from. What part of Igbo Land?”
Ononye: “I would think he is from Abia sir.”
Ononye; “I grew up in Abia, so I can tell some of the dialects. I would think he is from Abriba area sir.” The commissioner had been briefed earlier about the non-existent phone number. He thought for while. He was seriously angry.
Commissioner: “Now, I want you to arrest that Ugonna boy again. Torture him if you have to. Find something. Anything that will help us find this mystery man. Ask Chukwudi if he knows anybody who might want to harm him apart from the ones we already know,” he ordered Aliu and Tunde.
….. Stay tuned for Episode 20