SILENT CRIES - Episode 23

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Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - Galleria, handed over their shopping, qualify as paraphernalia, in the line of “duty", smoky in the bar, The gang, undercover moles and criminal gangs, the Shoprite bag.

“Udochukwu, one thing I know is that Dabaru is part of this project and Ijeoma will be kidnapped. If it ever gets to the point where he finds out that Ijeoma is connected to me...he won’t think twice about it. She’ll die because of me. I won’t let it happen.”

“Nnamdi…if you let us do our jobs it may not get to that point.” Udochukwu started, a hint of irritation in his voice.

“Look, I'm not prepared to take that chance.” Nnamdi cut him off. He tried to breathe. “Udochukwu, I figured since you’re in on this whole mission, you’re the best person to ask for help. Will you help me or not?”

“Send me the co-ordinates when you get them from your source…and Nnamdi? Keep me posted, okay?”

“No wahala…” Nnamdi said, even when he actually meant, “Not a chance.” The caller waiting tone was beeping while he was on the call to Udochukwu. So immediately he got off the phone, he checked his missed calls. Ijeoma!

Supo had probably gotten her to Galleria by now and handed over their shopping. He called back.

“Hey babe…”

“Nnamdi, Err...Supo just gave me a few things.”

“Yeah. Good.”

“He gave me a bag of some kind of...paraphernalia.”

“Ijeoma, clothes, a hand bag and a blonde wig hardly qualify as paraphernalia…” Nnamdi said trying to make light the situation.

“Nnamdi!” Ijeoma said in her “cut the crap” voice.

“Look babe, some people are watching you. Some very bad people…I thought I wouldn’t have to tell you but…there.” He listened for a while.  “You said you have to meet James but they mustn't know it’s you, that's what the different clothes are for...Is James there?” “Yes?” “Okay...make sure you stay in the restaurant. Don't go home and don't follow him anywhere. Discharge him soon...tell him clients or something. You must change before you leave. Go out through the side door…Ijeoma, trust me, okay?”

“Go to Double Four and stay there. Supo will come to pick you again. Do as he says. Go with him to wherever he takes you. You’ll be safe there.”

The phone line went silent for a while. Nnamdi could almost hear her thinking.
“Ijeoma…are you there?”

“Yes.” Ijeoma said in a voice that even he did not recognize. He could tell she was not happy with the whole cloak and dagger affair.

“Sweetheart, this too shall pass. We’ll get through this. Be strong for me. Please go and change. Call me when you’re safe with Supo.” She remained silent.

“Ijeoma. I love you…”

He had a terrible feeling that she would not see him in a long while.

“I love you too honey. Promise you'll tell me what this is about later,” her voice faded.

“I promise, and please act normal…not like anything's up. Call me if you have any hiccups.”
The night seemed to be on never-ending mode. Nnamdi sat at a darkened corner in the bar nursing a drink.

Gbenro should be crouched outside somewhere, phone in hand and ready to squeal to the number Udochukwu had provided if need be.

He’d relayed all the necessary information to Nnamdi earlier before they parted. Now Nnamdi waited for Dabaru and his top shot to come in. Opposite him, Dabaru’s boys sat drinking and making merry. He wondered which one of them told Dabaru that Ijeoma was James’s girlfriend so he could deal with him.

He called his mind to order. He was here to see Dabaru. He was here to bury the hatchet. At whatever cost…He hadn’t seen any cars by the way…Dabaru was still not in sight…Oh there he was!

He’d aged some since Nnamdi last saw him. He even had a limp now. The years he's spent in Kirikiri wouldn't have helped and maybe he'd got shot in the line of “duty”.

Nnamdi sighed. What was he doing here? Oh yeah. He knew. To die.

Oh Lord, what have I gotten myself into. What was I thinking? What?

He heard a voice…a very familiar voice. He heard the voice long before he saw the face. The voice that was now greeting Dabaru in the most familiar tone. This voice that he’d grown to know so well. The face he’d grown to look up to. The voice that now faded as it followed Dabaru into what seemed to be the VIP Lounge of the bar.

It was Alhaji Galadima!

Ijeoma closed the phone and glanced around her. It was a bit dark and smoky in the bar as most of the guys in the room had a cigarette. It was either hanging from their lips or wedged between index and middle finger. A number of the ladies were smoking too. She sighed deeply and looked across at her brother-in- law.

“You were late,” she blurted the first thing that came to mind.

“I have apologized for that, haven't I? I just had to make sure all was well.” He glanced around again, eyes darting into the corners and jabbing at the door.

“Are you expecting anyone?” Ijeoma asked. She couldn't deny the suspiciousness that clouded his every move.

“Not really,” he replied. James had on dark clothes and it began to dawn on her that what Nnamdi said might be true after all. Maybe she should not have come out here to meet James.

“Who was that on the phone?” he asked. Ijeoma thought fast as the words began to leave her lips.

“Oh, just a friend. She wants to talk and I promised to meet her after this. I said I'll be around in a few...”

“You mean you have to leave?” he interrupted. “But you barely got here.”

“I know,” Ijeoma sighed again. She was acting for her life here and didn't care how good or bad she was. “But you gave me such short notice, and then...”

“Anyway,” he cut her off again. “Maybe it's even better that we have just a short time together. I'll go ahead and explain why I called…”

“Yes I would like to hear that.” Ijeoma interjected.

“Well the thing is this. I told you the last time that I left Ngozi and Obi because of issues I was having?”

“Yes, you did.”

“Well, those issues are being untangled as we speak. See, I met this guy. He lives in a room at the place I’m staying at. We became friendly and began to talk. Along the line, when he mentioned the gang and their activities on the Island, I opened up to him.”

James raised pleading eyes to her.

“Go on,” Ijeoma encouraged. She wished she could cut it short. Nnamdi’s warnings sounded in her ears.

Look babe, some people are watching you. Some very bad people…I thought I wouldn’t have to tell you but…there.

She shook her head as if in sympathy to what James was saying, “I had been keeping to myself so much and after my run in with you, I became even lonelier. So it was a relief to be able to unburden myself to this guy. But things have become more complicated now…”

“Don’t tell me the guy turned out to be a criminal too?” Ijeoma cringed in her mind. That would explain the urgency with which Nnamdi had warned her to leave. Her heart began a slow pound as her gaze involuntarily went round the small space.

“Nothing like that at all,” James said. He moved his chair closer. “He actually works for the EFCC and they happen to be on the trail of the guys that want me dead. The gang has been threatening my life till now but the police are on to them.”

Ijeoma mulled his words in her head. When he had told her these six months ago, she had not believed it but now, with the aura of danger all around, she had no other choice than to.

James was still speaking. “The guy I met was a mole, sent to penetrate a group they had in Ajegunle. I didn’t even know they were so close to me but I managed to keep out of their way. However it seems I was not careful enough. They have found me…”

“What?” Under the table, Ijeoma squeezed her suddenly sweaty hands. This was beginning to sound like a movie. She didn’t think before now that such things happened in real life. Men on the run, undercover moles and criminal gangs…those were so not a part of what she was used to.

“James, I have to go,” she declared. Ijeoma clutched at the package Supo had given her from Nnamdi and began to get to her feet.

“Okay, okay…” James was trying to pacify her. “But you have to pass this message to Ngozi for me. It involves you too.”

Ijeoma paused, half on and half off her seat.

“The EFCC are ready to put all of you in a safe house pending when all this is sorted out.”

Ijeoma sat down abruptly. “Why do we have to do that?” she asked in a harsh whisper. Sweat was gathering under her arms, she shivered as a tickle made its way down her side. “Do these people know us? We have been living peacefully all this while.” Her voice rose in the hysteria that swirled around her but she was powerless to stop it. “What have you done?!”

“Ijeoma calm down, breathe…”

She realized she was panting in short bursts and tried to get her breath back. She exhaled through her mouth and dragged in air through her nose.

“You are a strong woman,” she repeated to herself.

James continued. Let’s not throw blame around here. Not now.” He stared into her eyes. “However it happened, they found me, they found you and it’s clear they will make a move sooner or late…”

Ijeoma jerked to her feet. This was just too much for her to sit and listen. She didn’t care how Nnamdi had found out about all this. She was just glad he had.

“I have to go to the ladies,” she muttered. She picked up the Shoprite bag and fled.
Ijeoma cracked open the door of the ladies and peered out. It appeared clear. James was still seated at the table, his back to her. She shook her head.

She wasn’t going through the front door. She would take the side door out like Nnamdi suggested. James would leave when he got tired of waiting. She opened the door wider and stepped out. She felt stronger and just bolder. She had recovered her poise while she had changed and given herself a pep talk too. Or maybe it was just the full face of makeup.

                CLICK HERE TO READ EPISODE 24

                CLICK HERE TO READ EPISODE 22

Written by:
Ikpo Henry Chigozirim

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SILENT CRIES - Episode 23
Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - Galleria, handed over their shopping, qualify as paraphernalia, in the line of “duty", smoky in the bar, The gang, undercover moles and criminal gangs, the Shoprite bag. An African Literary Blog
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