GRACE - Episode 7

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Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - the power of money, kidnapped, Chief, father, guns, vigilante group, police, Lagos, First Bank branch, vigilante, bullet, blood.

“Where?” My father asked. The crowd wondered what was going on. James and Benjamin quickly retreated behind the building opposite our own. Impulsively, Gbenga ran after them following the direction of my finger as I pointed. They vanished like smoke in the air. “He returned to announce that they were gone. “They are coming back though…they want that money so badly that they would do anything for it,” he explained. “We have to plan for them…we have to get ready for them. They cannot come here and harass my family after what they have done to you,” my father said. I quickly thanked the crowd for their prayers and support, telling them that I had been kidnapped. I promised to release the full story in due time.

As they dispersed, we returned to our tiny living room. “You cannot sleep here tonight,” Gbenga said. “Not just you,” he added referring to me. “All of you. It is not safe. These people are ruled by the power of money and they will do anything to get it. We have to be ready for them,” he explained. “I know what to do,” my father said. “Chief Adefarati who lives on the next street has a pump action. We have to contact him. We have a vigilante group in the area too. We need to mobilize them,” he explained. My dad contacted our next door neighbor who quickly spoke to Chief Adefarati. “In this area? They have come to take her again after having kidnapped her and she escaped. Over my dead body,” Chief Adefarati said exuberantly.  He too contacted two of his friends who also owned guns in the area. The vigilante group was mobilized immediately and they responded promptly. News of my return galvanized the entire area into action.

We lifted my mother and took her to a friend’s house two streets away. Gbenga took my siblings and I to a hotel where I paid for a room for us all. We had left through the back door in case James had posted someone to watch our movements. Gbenga returned to the house where he and my father camped in our neighbor’s apartment. All the men that lived on our street were on red alert. Chief Adefarati and two of his gun-wielding friends were in buildings near our own, ready to shoot. All the children in our building the ones next to it had been quickly sent elsewhere to stay with friends and relatives around.

I was restless. My siblings talked all night. They wanted to hear all about my experience. I hated reliving the gory and heart-piercing experience, so I left quite a lot out as I narrated my ordeal to them. By 2:30 AM, two men walked down our quiet street. They wore masks. From the other end of the street, two other men walked up the street, casually scanning the area. They too had their faces covered with masks. The first group from the Boundary end of our street quietly walked onto the battered front porch, leaping over the stinky dirty gutter. They walked straight to our door and busted it open with a heavy metal. The loud noise set the entire vigilante group into motion. They watched patiently as the two men entered our apartment. They pulled their guns and began to ransack the apartment while the two outside continued to scan the area. They had double-barreled guns in hand.

The two inside grew worried when they noticed there was no one in our apartment. They screeched outside. That was when Chief Adefarati took aim at one of them and took a deadly shot. “Boom!!!” The sound of his pump action echoed through the entire neighborhood. One of the hoodlums fell to ground with a massive thud. The other began to run in all directions. The vigilantes began to emerge from their hiding spots. One of them was shot in the neck. Another shot echoed through the area. This time, it was one of Adefarati’s friends. The second criminal was gunned down. A third one was tackled down by vigilantes hiding out at the swamp near the end of the street. His gun went flying in the air and they swamped him in massive numbers. They pummeled him and yanked the mask off his face. One got away.

The police was quickly called in. The two dead men where the roughnecks Benjamin had brought in to scare me at the hotel when Grace was taken by the Olabisis. “Yes, these two were part of the group,” I confirmed to the police at the hospital the next morning. Benjamin was the one captured alive while James had made an escape. Benjamin was behind bars when I arrived at the police station. They brought him out in cuffs. He was badly bruised from merciless beating of the previous night. His eyes were swollen-shut and his head had bruised patches all over it. “Is he one of them?” The police inspector asked me. Chief Adefarati was a popular man in the community who commanded the respect of all. He had flexed his muscles to get the local police working after hearing my story. Besides, he had known my father for a long time.

“Yes, he is,” I answered. Gbenga squeezed my hand gently. “He was the one that raped me repeatedly and beat me for about a year,” I explained. “Every day is for the thief, Benjamin, but one day is for the owner of the house. I hope you rot away behind bars,” I said to him. “Where is the baby? Where is the girl, Foluke, who worked with you?” The police yelled at him as one of them slapped him across the face. “Officer, please have mercy. I don’t know where Foluke is now. She returned to Lagos with us, but she disappeared while we went after Abimbola,” he answered. Another cell swung open and a man and woman came out. They were Foluke’s parents. I had known them most of my life. They cried as the police led them out. “Your daughter connived with kidnappers to take her away. They sold her child after raping her. Where is your daughter?” they asked them. “We don’t know. We have not seen her in several weeks,” Foluke’s father answered. Her mother was shaking in fear. “We are very sorry, Abimbola,” she said to me. She could not even look me in the eye.

It was an ordeal writing my statement. As soon as I finished with the help of Gbenga and my father, I went to my mother’s best friend’s house to see her. I wanted to do all I could to get my mother the best medical care possible. Seeing her in that state broke my heart. I wished I had stayed after my initial pregnancy. “We have to be careful knowing that James is still out there. I don’t think he will go down easily. Please be careful. I will be leaving for Oyo tomorrow. I hope you take good care of yourself and your family,” Gbenga announced. “Thank you very much for everything. I wish you could stay longer, but I understand you have to return to your job,” I replied. He nodded. “Can I see you again?” He asked. “Yes…most certainly yes.” “Then, I will come and visit when I get the time. I will be praying for you. Here is my address. Send me a letter when you can.” “I will,” I replied.

Chief Adefarati gave us an apartment in one of his buildings in Isolo. We were to stay there until James was nabbed by the police. As we packed some of our things the next morning to move to Isolo, I saw Gbenga off to the bus stop. Before he boarded a bus, he leaned over and whispered into my ear, “I will miss you Abimbola.” I blushed for a moment. Somehow, I found the courage to take his hand and squeeze it. “You will always have a place in my heart,” I replied. “You too…I…I really like you. I know you have been through a lot and now is not a good time. Besides, you are still young, but…I…I hope that someday, you and I can share something special,” he stammered. “We already do, Gbenga.” For the first time, I called him by his name and not Pastor Gbenga. “Yes…yes, you are right. We already do,” he replied. He smiled handsomely. I gave him a quick peck and walked back to the house. A local vigilante was following me for security. He carried a pistol that chief Adefarati had provided him.

“Benjamin has signed the cheque, so all you need to do is append your own signature here,” Adefarati’s lawyer told me. The police, through Adefarati’s pressure had gotten Benjamin to sign a cheque so I could withdraw the half a million Naira from the bank. My hands shook as I signed the cheque. Benjamin was carrying some cheque books on him when they arrested him with the hope of getting me to sign one of them should they catch me. In the end, it worked out well for me…for the time being. “If you present this cheque at the bank, you will have access to the money,” the lawyer explained. My heart was racing. I could not wait to cash the money. I was eager to get my mother into a decent hospital and to start searching for Grace. “Thank you,” I said to the lawyer. “Are you going to the bank today?” He asked. “Yes,” I replied excitedly. “Take care. Be sure to open up an account into which you can transfer all the funds,” he advised me. “I intend to that. Thanks again,” I replied.

The same armed vigilante man followed me. We took a commercial motor bike to the nearest First Bank branch. When we arrived at the bank, I alighted from the bike. Oluwabusuyi, my vigilante security alighted the second bike behind me. I paid both bike riders and proceeded to cross the street. As soon as I reached the other side of the street and headed for the bank entrance, a man stabbed Oluwabusuyi in the back in broad daylight. He gasped as he fell to ground. “Run Abimbola!” He shouted. His attacker was sure to grab his gun off his waist as he fell. People began to run in all directions. I was stricken with fear. For a moment, I did not know what to do. “Run!” Oluwabusuyi shouted again. He was holding his back as blood gushed out. Before I could pull myself together, a hand reached for my purse and grabbed at it. I swung around and fought hard for it. I had never seen the man before. He hit me in the face, but I would not let go. Then, I saw him reach for his waist. I saw the end of a pistol. Before he could raise it from his waist, I lunged at him and sank my teeth into his hand. I held onto is with my teeth like a bulldog. The gun dropped to ground.

He did not know whether to go for the gun or for the purse. He pulled the purse and tried to bend over at the same time to pick up his gun. That was when I saw a second man; the one who had stabbed Oluwabusuyi running towards us. He had a blood-covered knife in hand. I went for a second bite, on the hand that held my purse. The man gasped in pain. Finally, he let go of my purse and I began to run into the bank. It was too late. The second man grabbed at my purse. When I attempted to fight over my purse with him, he swung at me with the knife. I ducked, letting go of the purse. The other man picked up his gun and shot at me. For a moment, it seemed as if I had been shot. Time stood still for a while. Both his co-criminal and I stopped, watching each other almost in slow motion.

Then, he dropped to the ground. I saw blood oozing out of his belly. He had taken the bullet that was meant for me. I wanted to grab my purse from his hand and run, but another gunshot rang out. At the same time, the police were headed to the area. The bank had alerted them. I fell to my knees to keep from being hit by the second bullet. The man with the gun took my purse and ran. Around the corner, he turned right and disappeared. Oluwabusuyi was still wriggling on the floor in pain as I looked on with a dead criminal lying before in a pool of his own blood. The shooter vanished with my purse and its contents!  Story continues...

Written by:
Victor Chinoo

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GRACE - Episode 7
Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - the power of money, kidnapped, Chief, father, guns, vigilante group, police, Lagos, First Bank branch, vigilante, bullet, blood. An African Literary Blog
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