After three hours of recklessly driving to keep them in sight, she was glad that they were at the Badagry expressway at last and it was easier to keep up with them. But as they continued and covered Kilometers upon kilometers, she became sure of Kamil’s fate.
Johnbull drove with Max sitting beside him while Kamil was sandwiched between Batho and Bobby in the back seat. He felt almost relaxed. His only thought was centered on the bag of money he kept under his bed. For the first time he nursed the regret that he had not kept his money in a bank. He decided he’d contact Jaiye and have her send the money to him. He could only hope that Chief doesn’t discover the money before she does. With that decision, he relaxed his mind, with any hope, things were still alright. They could still continue their plans and travel out together. It was better he was out of the scene. No one will know their movements now. He was safer outside the state.
Kamil was so relaxed that he did not notice the car pointing a left turn but his heart gave a violent volt when Johnbull left the main road and headed down a narrow untarred lane into the bush.
“This is not the way to the border!” Kamil cried in a voice saddened by the fear that suddenly gripped him.
“Don’t worry. We are taking a bypass to avoid the men of the law.” Johnbull explained.
“You know you don’t have a visa and we don’t want you deported,” Max said and they all laughed. Kamil kept quiet. He didn’t have the nerves to laugh. He only hoped Johnbull had said the truth.
Jaiye saw the move alright. A perfect location for a kill, she thought. Driving past the turn, she brought the car to a slow halt and rushed out, retracing her steps back towards the untarred road Johnbull had taken. She continued on foot, careful not to alert them. Half running, she covered the distance between them, fearing she might be too late to help him.
The scared voice of Kamil suddenly came to her, bringing her to a halt. She walked stealthily towards them, hidden by bushes.
“This is not the border.” Kamil croaked in fear as Johnbull and the other men came out of the car.
“You have reached your border.” Batho said and they laughed
“Chief said the Seme border! Okay, take me back to the road, in fact, don’t worry, I will find my way there myself.”
“Come out and find your way then.” Bobby said, mocking him.
“Johnbull, please don’t let them harm me” he cried.
“I have no say in this. I have been asked to drive you guys here. That is the only reason I am here, Okay?”
“Please, Johnbull help me. This could happen to anyone. You can’t turn your back on me now, we are colleagues.” Kamil cried as Bobby pulled him out of the car and dragged him through the thick bush. “Johnbull please help me, don’t let them kill me. I will disappear! I will never set my foot on the soil of Lagos state again! Please spare my life.” He cried on but no one paid him any further attention. They got to a small open field and Bobby shoved him hard to the ground. Reality hit him finally when he saw Max and Batho with two shovels, he has reached his end he thought!
“My brother,” he said, crawling towards Johnbull. “Please don’t let them kill me, I am a man like you, we are the same.” He begged desperately but Johnbull watched him with eyes full of hatred.
“We are not the same. I am not fucking the boss’ wife behind his back. Guy, you’ve had your fun, this is payday bro.” Johnbull said while the others roared in laughter as they took turns to dig his grave.
“I made a mistake and I am sorry” he said earnestly as he grabbed Johnbull by the arm.
“It’s a little too late for that now pal. Chief wants revenge and he is going to get it. I am sorry, man. You got what was coming to you.” Johnbull freed his hand from his grip and walked away. He sat on the bare ground and watched. He was sick of Kamil.
“You must stop begging for your life, it is pointless.” Max, the leader of the group told him plainly.
“Please take the money, you can have all of it, just let me go.” Kamil cried in a final attempt to convince them to spare his life.
“So you can continue to sleep with the madam? Oh boy!” Max asked.
“Oh no, no I will keep to the terms and disappear.” He said desperately.
“Common shut your mouth before I shut it for you.” Batho yelled from inside the grave he was digging. “Come here, it’s your turn to dig.” He added angrily, throwing the shovel at him. He jumped out of the hole and stood before Kamil.
“Pick it up and dig!” He commanded.
“Okay, okay, I will.” he said quickly, dropping the envelope. He crawled slowly towards the shovel and as he made to pick it up, the first of his many miracles happened. He spotted Jaiye hiding behind a shrub nearby. He was so relieved to see her that he grabbed the money instead, deciding not to part with it after all. He saw her make a sign to him to make a Ziz-Zaz run towards her. The moment his feet touched the ground, he sprang towards her. She ran out from the bush too and made a Ziz-Zaz run towards him.
“Shoot him!” Max commanded, pointing his own gun to aim at him.
“Wait! Who is the woman?” Batho asked, surprised.
“Hey, don’t shoot, that is Chief’s wife!” Johnbull screamed from where he sat as he quickly got on his feet.
“What is the meaning of this? How did she get here?” Max asked angrily.
“She must have trailed us.” Johnbull explained.
“Get him!” Max yelled and Batho and Bobby went sprinting after him but Jaiye got to him first. Pushing him behind her, she spread out her hands in his protection.
“Don’t come near me.” She said, panting heavily.
“Get out of our way ma’am, we have no business with you, get out before you get seriously hurt.” Max said.
“You won’t dare to touch me and if you kill him I will go to the police.” Jaiye dared to say.
“Then you will leave us with no choice but to kill you both and bury you here. It is your choice to make.”
“Madam please stay out of their way!” Johnbull said tartly. She watched him for a moment, realizing he wouldn’t be able to stop them from making good their threat, she decided to make a deal.
“I will pay you guys more than what he has paid you but let him go please.” She said slowly.
“Huh, you want to make a deal.” Max said smiling.
“Yes, yes please”
“First, let him hand over the envelope with him, that’s our pay for killing him.”
“You are lying! Chief said it’s my pay off!” Kamil protested from behind her.
“Give me the envelope, you fool!” She said impatiently, snatching it from him. She tossed it at them.
“That’s it.” She said.
“Good, it means you can be trusted. How much are you willing to pay? Your husband paid five hundred thousand bucks. What’s your offer?” Max asked.
“Don’t do this Max, Chief will skin you alive.” Johnbull warned coldly.
“That is if he finds out.” Max said patronizingly.
“Don’t do it.” He repeated in clenched teeth. He was very angry that Max could betray Chief.
“You don’t have to kill him Johnbull.” Jaiye said quickly. “I know you don’t want to betray my husband but come on, temper justice with mercy for once. I will make sure he disappears.”
“I cannot betray Chief, I am sorry.” Johnbull said flatly.
“Everything is entirely my fault, please let him go and I will make it up to you.” Jaiye begged.
“Give the boy a break, he messed up and he has learned his lessons. And Madam has promised to keep away from him and out of Chief’s sight. Chief doesn’t have to know we let him go.” Max said impatiently. “Madam, what is your offer?” He added, turning to face Jaiye.
“I am warning you Max, I won’t let you do this. I am here to make sure you don’t betray Chief.” Johnbull said coldly.
“And how are you going to stop us?” Max asked him in anger.
“The only loaded gun here is with Batho and he cannot shoot me.”
“Says who?” Batho said sarcastically.
“Says I because I have the second loaded gun and you won’t allow me to shoot Max.” Johnbull said, pulling a gun from his pocket. He pointed the gun at Max. “Drop your gun or I shoot him!” He commanded.
Batho hesitated. He could not believe Johnbull could pull a gun on any of them, let alone their leader. He didn’t know what to do either.
“I said drop the gun!” Johnbull yelled. “I will shoot him if you don’t drop that gun in ten seconds. Then I will shoot you too and then Kamil. And Bobby alone will get to keep the money. Well, it depends on who’s side he is.”
Batho slowly dropped the gun and moved away from it.
“Good. Now back to our business. Dig.” He told Batho.
“You dared to point a gun at me?” Max asked furiously, angry that he allowed an amateur like Johnbull to catch him off his guard.
“No hard feelings bro, we must stick to the plan.” He said winking. “I said dig!” He yelled again at Batho who was yet to pick up the shovel. But it was his mistake because Max took the chance and dived at him, grabbing his hand. They both went down as they struggled for the gun.
“Run!” Jaiye screamed at Kamil. He wasted no time as he darted into the nearby bush, making a blind run for his life. “My car is parked by the roadside, get to it and getaway. The key is there.” Jaiye called out to him but in his state of mind, he could neither hear her nor make out the direction of the tarred road. He just ran blindly away from the killer squad! The commotion gave him a good gap start and before the warring assassins realized what was happening, he was already deep into the jungle.
“He’s getting away!” Johnbull said breathlessly, pushing Max off him.
“Get the woman!” Max yelled.
“No, leave her. Let’s go after the boy. He couldn’t have gone very far.” Johnbull countered, taking quick strides into the bush. But Kamil was way out of sight and sound. It was too late to catch up with him.
After three hours of fruitless search, they decided Kamil was gone for good. And it was Johnbull’s duty to report the bad news to Chief.
Less than two hours later, Johnbull stood before Chief and narrated the sad news of their failure. He’d expected curses and threats. He had even come prepared but Chief’s calm reply came as a considerable shock to him.
It took Chief Ani a few moments in Bukky’s arms that morning to convince himself he wasn’t making a mistake in his decision to divorce his wife of many years and marry her. He marveled at the prospect and was amazed that he has never given it a single thought before.
Last night’s episode was an eye-opener to him. It shattered to pieces the bounds that have held him captive to Jaiye’s selfish manipulations. She was now filth in his once loving heart and he could now find the courage to admit it to himself. He didn’t want her anymore. He couldn’t even stand the sight of her now. He was going to divorce her immediately, he decided.
He didn’t go home that night, or many nights to come. Neither did he show up at his office. He needed the time off, while he made arrangements for his divorce and marriage at the same time. He intended to shock Jaiye. To make her pay for all his pains over the years. Now he’d use her weakness against her, just like she’d used his against him. Her weakness is lack of money and he would leave her penniless!
But back at Chief’s house, tension reigned between mother and daughter. They both blamed each other for Kamil’s disappearance. While Jaiye blamed her daughter for sealing Kamil’s fate by telling her father what had transpired in his room, Yemi accused her mother of secretly relocating him to another place, so she won’t see him again. They didn’t believe they were both innocent.
Yemi decided to monitor her mother’s movements. She was determined to find him and win his heart back. She knew he had denied her because he was afraid of her mother. She loved him and she was sure he preferred to be with her. She would find him and go back to America with him, never to come back to Nigeria again. But after days of closely trailing her mother, she realized that she was also trying to find Kamil. He could have left the house on his own volition. That was the only logical conclusion she could make but still she blamed her mother for her loss. And she hated her!
Mother and daughter turned against each other when they could no longer curtail their frustration. They fought openly, each accusing the other of betrayal. But still, none of them got words from Kamil.
Chief Ani learned about the war in his house but he didn’t give a damn. He was happy with his new life and he intended to keep it that way. He was done putting his happiness aside for his family. He was now inclined to be selfish too. They didn’t deserve his love. He would only go to the house only when he was ready with the divorce papers and he didn’t care if they set themselves on fire before then.
Jaiye looked vindictively at Chief as he alighted from the car and made his way to the building. She has longed for this moment, the moment she’d set her eyes on him again. She moved away from the window and prepared herself to pounce on him the moment he came into the living room. She was determined to force Kamil’s whereabouts from him. She was sure he knew where the boy was. She was now very convinced Johnbull and his gang found him. She wanted to know his fate and somehow, she was convinced Chief knew what happened to him. Sometimes, she was convinced he was already dead. She was sure he would have contacted her by now if he was still alive. Or free. The fact that he has not contacted her made her very scared. She couldn’t take any more of it. Their visas were ready and she couldn’t wait to leave the house and country for good. Her mind was made up, this was the right time to leave him. But she wouldn’t leave without Kamil.
Yemi, also looking from a window in her room upstairs, watched her father walk towards the house. She was also desperate to confront him and demand her lover’s whereabouts from him. Not that she believed he had anything to do with his disappearance though but she must use every avenue open to her to find him. She watched him steadily and realized there was something about him that was totally different. There was something in his cold eyes that cautioned her. She has had no reason in the past to entertain any fear or hatred towards him. She has always looked at him with eyes that cherished every fiber of his being that she now knew all his moods and temperaments. There was certainly something different as she watched him and it scared her. It also suppressed and compressed her anger to mere caution.
“You bastard!” Jaiye spat as Chief came into the room. “Where have you been? You think you can come in and go out whenever you want?” She added as she rushed to meet him. She was so blinded by rage and the desperation to find Kamil that she did not notice the glaring fact that the man that just walked into the room wasn’t the same man she has known and controlled over the years!
Chief Ani shoved her out of his way with his left hand and continued into the big living room. He took his seat on his favorite chair and waited for her to regain her balance and probably come to her senses too. He watched her in disgust as she struggled to balance on her feet. He wondered how he has been able to tolerate her all these years.
“Get me Yemi.” He told the housemaid who had just come into the room.
“Yes sir.” She said and fled the room.
“What was that?” Jaiye said, visibly shocked.
“Get me the file marked confidential and wait outside.” He told Johnbull, ignoring his wife. As Yemi came into the room, Johnbull handed him the file and left the room.
“Good afternoon daddy.” She greeted with caution.
“Good afternoon. Have a seat, I want to have a word with you and your mother.” He said in a quiet expressionless tone that sent immediate fear into her. Without a word, she located the nearest available chair and sat down.
“Have a seat Jaiye.” He said coldly.
“I will not sit down unless you tell me where you have been.” She said obstinately.
“You will do yourself good by sitting down right now Jaiye.” He said, even more coldly. Jaiye sat down.
“I will go straight to the point. I can no longer pretend not to know what is going on in this house. I was a fool to let Kamil into my home in the first place but I have taken care of him. For his own sake, I hope he adheres to our gentleman agreement. Now I want to make an agreement with both of you too, well, considering the circumstances.”
“I don’t know what you are talking about. What I want to know is where you have been all the while?” Jaiye said.
“I am coming to where I have been and I am talking about your shameful affair with your driver.” He said in disgust.
“I will not have you speak to me in such a manner.” Jaiye said coldly. “Especially not in front of my daughter.” She added.
“Huh, your daughter? And you thought nothing of sleeping with her lover!” He said with enough scorn he hoped would make her behave. But he was soon to realize he wasn’t the only one who has made up his mind. Jaiye’s mind was set too.
“OK, I see that you prefer us to lay it bare.” She began, looking straight in his eyes, matching his disdain with her’s. “In case you didn’t notice it, he was first my lover before she even got back to the country!”
“Honestly Jaiye, you ought to be ashamed of yourself sometimes. How do you find the guts to display such effrontery?”
Jaiye laughed mirthlessly. “It is very simple my dear, you of all people must know that.”
“Oh yes, I should. I do really and I blame myself for giving you such freedom and privileges. I must have been a fool to think it was the best thing to do under the circumstances.” He said ruefully.
“Oh no, do not blame your entire self. Blame that half-dead piece of flesh that dangles lifelessly between your legs. It gave me the freedom and privilege to sin when it went limp!” She spat.
“Mother! I will not sit here and listen to you speak to my dad in that manner!” Yemi declared, getting on her feet.
“And what are you going to do about it?”Jaiye asked confidently.
“Please ignore her Yemi. I have received more dehumanizing treatment from her but today, I will put an end to it all.” Chief said, smiling coldly.
“That makes two of us. I have also decided I have had enough. Go ahead and keep your stupid secretary and let me have my driver. But you must first tell me where you are holding him hostage.”
“Fair enough and it would have been my pleasure to personally do the handover but I don’t know where he is.” He replied, concealing his shock.
“Where is he?” Jaiye asked flatly. “Or have you killed him?” She added quietly when she saw the snide he gave her.
“That was my intention but you helped him getaway. But it turns out I am happy I didn’t kill him. It will please me to see how you both will fare when I strip you of everything.” He said and gave a wicked laugh.
“Where is he Chief?” She asked again in clenched teeth.
“I don’t know but I wish I knew, really.”
“Liar!” Jaiye screamed in a sudden wild voice. “I will kill you if I find out you are lying to me!”
“I have not killed him yet but I will if I ever set eyes on him again, just to make you miserable. You wretch!”
“You will pay dearly for this, you murderer! I will bring you down to nothing and I will make sure you spend the rest of your life in jail!” Jaiye screamed.
“Are you daring me Jaiye?” He asked coldly.
“No, I am telling you what I will do to you if you dare me!” She said as a matter of fact.
“I see.” He said watching her keenly. “Let’s see how well you survive what I have in store for you.” He said and took the papers from the stool beside him. “These are our divorce papers. Sign the appropriate portion. Let’s start with this.”
“Hmmmm,” she began, making a face at him. “Is that all you can do?” She asked scornfully.
“No” he said. “This is just the beginning of what I will do.” He added, sounding a silent warning to her.
“I am ready to leave, I want a divorce too.”
“Good, here, sign the papers and let’s end it.” He said stretching the papers to her. She grabbed them and read through them quickly. It didn’t take her long to see she could never agree to his terms. She would rather kill him instead while she was still his legal wife and naturally inherit his wealth. And she must be fast about it too, she mustn’t give him time to change his Will. At the conclusion, she laughed and closed the papers. Handing them to him, she said. “You must know I will never agree to these terms. Are you really sure you want a divorce?” She asked with a puzzled look on her face.
“You may have convinced yourself that you know me well and that I couldn’t leave you. Yes, you knew my weakness and over the years you have used it against me. And yes, I allowed it because it was a weakness then. It is not anymore. I knew your weakness too and I am going to use it against you now. Tit for tat, huh?”
“You don’t know me Chief, you obviously don’t. If you do, you won’t come up with such terms unless this is just a joke or a mere threat.”
“It is no joke or threat. I am leaving you. I will not let you ruin my life any more than you have already done. Leave peacefully before we both wreak havoc in the lives of our children.”
“I am the one leaving you dear and this time I won’t stay even if you give me a pound of your flesh!”
“I would have gladly offered even more than that but you do not worth a dime to me now. Sign the papers and leave.”
“I will leave only on these conditions. I get half of everything that belongs to you and you tell me where to find Kamil. I will not accept anything short of this.”
“Then you should be ready for the biggest legal battle of your life because you are in no position to give me conditions!”
“Be ready too. I fight for what is mine. I have played a vital role in all your achievements. And I will not spend thirty-something years of my life with you and go with nothing. No matter the circumstances of our divorce. Unless of course, you are not ready for a divorce.”
“You will leave and you will get nothing from me.”
“Then we shall see.”
“Daddy please, the two of you can resolve this in a more amicable way.” Yemi said calmly.
“And you, you are to return to American within a week. If I see you around after then, I will not hesitate to disown you. Have I made myself clear?” He said sternly.
She wanted to protest but when she saw the look on his face, she held herself back.
Chief Ani left the room and went to his bedroom. He was sure he has made his point very clear. He packed four suitcases and when he was done he called Johnbull and asked him to take them to the car. He’d get the rest of his personal things later. On his way out, he walked past his wife and daughter without a word. The battle line was drawn, the next action was to wait and see.