Story by LND
What is the one poison that when you administer to someone, it works its way down your body, killing you instead?
“Arrrgh!” Leo screamed and ground his teeth as Idara pulled out a bullet from his thigh, “oh my God! I am seeing stars, ID.”
“How didn’t you feel the bullet? Was the adrenaline pumping that hard?” Idara asked but Leo just shivered. “Sometimes I wonder whether you have a death wish or something,” she looked at the bullet and gave it to him, “add it to the inventory you’re collecting.”
Leo murmured inaudibly and went into deep sleep. He slipped in and out of consciousness so many times that he lost track of time. When he eventually woke up, four days had gone by. He opened his eyes to a strange room and found himself lying on a comfortable bed that smelled of lemons and coconut. He looked around and knew he was in Idara’s bedroom. She was sitting before the mirror, applying makeup. Leo painfully pulled himself up and looked at her with bloodshot eyes.
“What time is it?”
“Friday? Wow!” he pressed his lips together, “I taste blood in my mouth. Why?”
“I’m not a doctor. If you need consultation, go to the hospital.”
“Thanks for saving my life, by the way. How did I get in here?” he looked at her lithe frame, “did you carry…”
“I had my gateman carry you in. You destroyed my couch and Persian rug with your dirty blood.”
“What did the captain do this time? You sound so pissed.”
“He just dumped me,” Idara turned around to face him, “he walked in and saw you and looked at me straight in the eyes and said I had cut him deeper than an enemy’s sword and told me it was over. Two years of being with a man and you would think he would have the decency to let you off easy, but nooooo. He just dismissed me as if I were one of his dogs. Well, serves me right for trying to help you,” she ended angrily.
“It’s all my fault now?”
She walked to him, “do you know how much the captain puts in my account every month?”
“I will double it.”
“Do you know the respect I get from just being associated with him?”
Leo winced at the dull ache in his thigh, “what has respect got to do with it? Everyone knows you’re his mistress.”
She pointed at the door, “get off my bed and get out.”
“Okay, I’m sorry, that came out wrong. You’re his girlfriend?” Leo smiled.
“The thanks I get for saving your life! Imagine if you had collapsed somewhere and they didn’t have the experience to remove bullets, you would have bled out and died!”
Leo drew back his head and looked at her carefully, “time of the month? Pregnant?”
“Get out of my house, Leonel!”
“Can I have a drink of water at least?”
“Get out!” she screamed and burst into tears.
“Okay, now, I’m going.”
He tried to get off the bed but she pushed him back.
“Why are you like this? You can’t even console me in my tears?”
“For what nau? Na me dump you?”
“I hate you!” she began pounding her fists at him but he held her hands and shoved her away from him. Angrily, she marched to the dressing table and produced an envelope, “this came in for you yesterday.” She flung the it at him and he caught it, feeling it with his fingers.
“Who delivered it?”
She sniffed and wiped her eyes, “I don’t know.”
He opened the envelope and pulled out a card with ‘I’m Sorry’ boldly written on it. He flipped the card open and read out loud: “I’m sorry for what will become of you by this time tomorrow.”
“Let me see,’ Idara snatched the card and read the message again.
“You said this came in when?” Leo asked.
“Yesterday, at about ten. Who sent it?”
“Can I have your phone, please?”
Idara readily handed her cell phone to him and he dialed someone. As he waited for a response, he looked at her, “pack a bag; we’re going away for the weekend. Yeah?” he spoke into the phone, “hello? Get everything set,” he terminated the call.
“don’t you have respect? I am two years older than you and I do not say this proudly…but who do you think you are to just come into my house and push me around like that?”
“Idara, if I leave you here, I don’t know what the general’s boys will do to you. Just…please, listen to me for once in your life. You will enjoy what is about to come out of this. And you will be safer with me, I promise you.”
“Am I to trust you?”
“You’re my best friend, ID, my Aphrodite,” he winked and she released a smile, “you know you can trust me.”
Leo ran as fast and far as his legs could take him. He could hear his heart beating wildly, about to explode in his chest but he just kept moving. He saw her from afar but he felt he was not fast enough. Any delay could spell disaster. He saw people, strangers, most of them, female, heard them shouting and saw their phones in the air, taking pictures and recording Idara’s insanity.
“IDARA!” his voice rang far and she turned to him with pain in her eyes. The sun was just rising and she looked to him like an angel for there was a certain glow over her veil which hung loosely above her head.
“Leo?” she said in a whisper and he alone heard it. He slowed down when he got to the scene. He knew the phones were turned to him but none of that mattered. All that mattered was her life which she was about to stupidly waste because of him.
“Idara,’ he tried to catch his breath, “don’t do it, sweetie. don’t.”
She looked around her like she was in a strange place. She was standing over the edge of the top of a three storey building and was about to jump.
“Leo…” her brown eyes watered when she looked at him. He was wearing only his boxers and shame was scrawled over his face.
“Why?” she mouthed.
“Please, stop this madness, ID. Come down and we will talk.”
“How could you? You said I should follow you; you said if I stay with you I will be safe; you said if I married you my life will get better… Is it better? Mm? answer me, Leonel! I am talking to you! is it better? They murdered my whole family last night…”
Leo bent his head.
“They killed my mother and brothers, they burnt my house…”
“I am so sorry…”
“Then I walk into your room to share my pain with you but I find you in bed with another girl on the night of my bridal shower? You who wouldn’t sleep with me, who told me I was too good for you to share your bed….”
“Sweetie, come down.”
She shook her head, “no. I have to do this and you have to take the blame for it.”
“Idara, don’t do it. I…love you.”
She laughed, “no you don’t.”
“Please,” his voice shook desperately, “please come down!”
“You must take the blame for it,” she smiled a sad smile and jumped.
It was all distant to Leo like an odd, formless dream but it actually happened. Someone had screamed piercingly and he had heard a sound that didn’t sound real to him. Idara had actually fallen to the ground below, the ground he was standing on. There was a moment of silence and then screams and gasps and more screams. His hands were suspended midair where he had left them in the last minute to stop her from falling to her death. Why didn’t he break her fall?
“Call a doctor!” a girl screamed.
Leo had seen many deaths and watched people die in front of him but none of them had died for him. None of them had to pay the price of just being with him. But Idara, his Aphrodite. He always knew he had a curse but he didn’t know it was this bad…
“She’s alive!” he heard someone say and he rushed to Idara. His knees hit the ground and he lifted her in his arms.
“What happened?” she looked confused and slightly dazed.
“You had an accident. Hold on; we’ll get you a doctor,” he assured her as he saw a doctor running to the scene.
“I can’t feel my body. What happened to me?”
“You are fine,” he looked up to the rising sun gratefully, “you are fine.”
Leo looked at the four girls before him, all disheveled and drowsy and smelling like a local alcohol joint. He had slept with all four of them at some point and had gone nuts over each, apart from one. He would like to think their lives were not any better because he had dumped them but they were looking good, considering. The hangover that hung over them was as a result of heavy drinking from last night’s bridal shower. Now, they all looked like something the cat dragged in, something not really bad… He had sat them down on a long couch in one of the guest sitting rooms, a large retro-looking room in the east wing of his family’s villa in Mambilla Hills. The first girl on his left was Felicia. She was a banker and had long, supple legs that he would never forget. His eyes strolled from her feet all the way up her thighs and he stopped there as she lifted one leg and put it over the armrest, exposing what he did not remember too fondly. He was drunk that night and you know what they say, agro na bastard. Next person. Bukky was very fair and had thick, Yoruba lips but she had a smoky voice that he just wanted to hear right now. She cleared her throat and in anticipation, he leaned forward and then she yawned and he almost fainted. Next! His eyes strolled to his right at the formidable duo, Ada and Chi-chi, two juicy Igbo friends who screwed his life over with their possession of too much sense. He had not played Ada and Chi-chi; they had played him. His eyes went back to Bukky. She was the nicest of the four and the classiest, forget her breath. He leaned back all the same, he didn’t want to carry phlegm in his throat all day long.
“Bukky, how did you get the invitation to get here?”
“Mm?” she yawned and looked left and right dazedly, “what did you… what did he say? What…” she mumbled incoherently and Leo sighed and repeated his question. “Oh!” she yawned and spoke, her voice sounding more huskier, “how did I? well, I was just coming from…coming in from work on Thursday evening when my gateman gave me a parcel with my name on it. I opened it and brought out a Gucci bag.”
“Me, I got mine in the office,” Felicia began.
“I wasn’t asking you, Felicia.”
“I wonder, oh.” Chi-chi said snidely.
“I threw the bag in the dustbin…” Bukky said with an ajebutter expression of sophistication.
Felicia drew in a long, exaggerated breath and looked at Bukky aghast, “that bag was sold for two hundred and fifty thousand Naira and you threw it away?”
“Felicia…” Leo cautioned again.
“Sorry, but it just doesn’t make sense, oh. Every girl in Lagos wanted one of those bags. I knew a girl who was willing to pay four hundred thousand for my own but I refused,” she turned to Leo, “let me tell you how I got my own.” She nodded and began, “mm-hm! I took excuse from my boss to close early, that my mother was sick. So I took a bus from CMS because I had withdrawn every last dime I had to get the bag and I couldn’t afford a red cab. When I got to Awolowo Road, come and see girls! They were over one million!”
Ada and Chi-chi burst into laughter but she continued.
“I was about to join them when one car just pulled up beside me and gave me a polythene bag. Before I could say ‘what is it?’ the car drove off.
“Did you see who it was that gave you the bag?” Leo asked.
“The guy was tall…” she lifted her hand, “no, short.’ She lifted the other hand and used it as a scale, “the car is here and the man is…short! He’s short in complexion.”
The Igbo girls laughed again.
“So I opened the polythene bag and to my greatest surprise, what is there? The Gucci handbag. I quietly left the place and hailed one red cab and vamoosed! And after that…”
“It’s okay, Felicia,’ Leo said and it was as if he turned off a switch as she turned to sleep immediately. Yeah, he remembered this about her. She was the one who slept off after sex like a man. Then who was the one that sang ‘if walls could talk’ to him all night?
“Aren’t you going to ask us how we got ours?” it was Chi-chi, the younger of the friends, the mistress of seduction and mystery that spoke up. She was one of Leo’s nemesis, he had quite a few but none that could ultimately outwit him as Chi-chi did. He wanted to be locked in a room with her right now to have his revenge.
“Leonel, stop thinking below your waist,” she always knew his thoughts.
“How did you get the bags?” he asked.
“What do we get if we answer your question?”
“Must everything be money to you?”
“Must everything be sex to you?”
“Get serious, Chiamaka,” he looked away from her teasing eyes.
“So you’re suspecting the four of us?”
“Yes, and with good reason.”
“Good reason? Your stupid girlfriend…”
“Fiancé,” Ada corrected.
“She jumped off from the roof! You were there; you watched her jump because of you and you’re here suspecting us.”
Bukky said gently, “Leo, none of us were even there when it happened. We were all asleep.”
“Ehen! You woke us up nau,” Felicia also contributed.
“My fiancé was almost murdered today…”
“She tried to commit suicide,” Chi-chi interjected.
“Shut up!” his voice was so sharp, they all remained still. “I said someone tried to kill her. She jumped off because she was drugged. Which one of you is responsible?”
“Ah! Kill keh?” Felicia shook her head, “not me oh! I don’t even like you like that, Leo. I just came here because I thought guys will be here for bachelor’s party.”
“Olodo!” Chi-chi laughed, “Leo, how did you do this illiterate? Is bridal shower the same as bachelor’s eve?”
Felicia, obviously intimidated by Chi-chi turned away and said under her breath, “na you get your mouth.”
“Ehen, better person!” Chi-chi faced Leo and placed a hand on his knee, “what if I tell you that I have a suspect? Will I become your new wife?”
“Chi-chi, be serious in your life. Someone almost got killed. If you know the person, tell him,” Ada chided her. Leo looked at Ada but she looked away and he did not miss the pain in her eyes that surfaced briefly. This one loved him but he broke her heart. In revenge, she sent her friend after him. When he found out who the friend was, he went to back to Ada and begged to be reconciled and she accepted. Feeling like the bad guy, he thought he had both friends under his spell. In the end, they made away, in a cleverly planned scheme, with a whooping sum of five hundred thousand dollars from him.
“Yeah, someone almost died…” Chi-chi murmured but Ada cut in, desperate to say her story and leave the place.
“Chi-chi and I got a drop-off at our house early Thursday morning. There was a knock and that was all. When I opened the door, I saw a plastic bag and when I looked in, there were the advertized bags.”
“You found the flight ticket and the other stuff within?”
“Flight ticket and ashebi material,” Chi-chi answered, “all there. I must commend you, Leo. Great work! You had the sense to sell a bag that was going for 50k in the market for 250k and the whole of Lagos girls, fought and clawed and bitchslapped each other for those bags.”
“Only twenty of them, oh” Felicia stirred from her sleep.
“Sixteen actually,” Bukky added, “we had the last four.”
Chi-chi stretched out her hand to Bukky, “nice to meet you. I’m girlfriend number who-knows, April to July 2008.”
Bukky eyed her, “keep your hand to yourself, whore. He left me for you.”
“What did you just call me?” Chi-chi narrowed her eyes at her.
“Whore! You were the one buying him those smelling perfumes and cufflinks.”
“It’s called investment, Yoruba monkey! Come and meet me to teach you how to keep a man, fat fool! Mtcheeeeew!”
Bukky rose up towered over Chi-chi and rained down cusses on her, her ajebutterness disappearing. Wolf in sheep clothing she was.
“Oloriburuku, omo ale, olosha, oloshi….!”
Chi-chi stood up and Felicia moved away from the couch silently and watched them tear at each other with dirty words. None of them noticed when Leo got up and slipped away. As much as he was tempted to watch the drama, he had to find out who tried to murder Idara and what drugs they had used. She was in an induced coma to help keep her alive but her health was deteriorating fast. He wanted desperately to go see her but her mother and brothers were there. Yes, they didn’t die; the drugs had befuddled her mind into thinking they did.
Leo knew none of his exes had the heart or brains for murder but he knew they were involved and they had no idea. He had many enemies but the top three were flashing on his radar.
Number One: The general. Debbie’s husband. He had caught Leo in bed with his wife and had left a bullet in his thigh. But like a mad dog who had just tasted blood, Leo couldn’t resist the urge to be with Debbie. In fact, she was in his room, at the south wing of the villa, waiting for him. Twenty-four hours ago, she had called him and told him she had escaped from her husband and needed somewhere to hide. Leo sent a helicopter and a message to the general to come get his wife if he had the balls. At night when he was asleep, someone walked into his room boldly and stood at the foot of the bed, watching him with intent. When he woke fully, the apparition was gone. He did not need an angel to tell him who it was. It was his second enemy and the deadliest. The captain.
Number Two: the captain was just a name given to the man who was also known as the generals’ general. Men of ranking in the army called him their boss but Leo didn’t care. Idara was the captain’s ex girlfriend and because the captain had banded with the general, Leo repaid him by proposing to Idara. The wedding was in two weeks. It was the buzz of Lagos. On Thursday morning, the doors to Duchess Nigeria had opened to a stream of desperate females gushing in to shop. Expensively dressed ladies who held classy airs just a few minutes before while waiting outside on the popular Awolowo Road in Ikoyi, were now pushing, jabbing, elbowing each other and knocking down clothes in the classy boutique as they headed for the bags section. Two weeks prior to this, Idara had posted ads on Facebook, newspapers, websites and even on leodara.com (a website for the wedding) for this particular rush. She had purchased twenty Gucci handbags of limited edition and was selling them for a whooping two hundred and fifty thousand Naira but the catch was anyone who was lucky enough to get one of the handbags had an express invitation to her wedding and an all-expense-paid trip to spend a weekend at Leo’s family villa were the bridal shower would be holding. Idara, ever the business mind, thought it was a brilliant way to make money when Junior initially presented her with the idea.
Number Three: Junior. She was a girl. The last child of her parents, following six other girls. It had been prophesied that she would be a boy and be named after her father. She was born female but the name stuck. Now, fondly called Jay, Junior held an IQ of 170 and a crush for Leo the size of a mountain, although she kept her feelings hidden. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Leo had kept Jay not just as a younger sister but as a friend. She was smart with books but dumb when it came to men. She always used the cliché ‘damsel in distress’ approach and Leo allowed her believe it worked. When he broke the news of his engagement to Idara, he found it quite curious that she showed no emotion, good or bad. She just said in clear tones that she be allowed to plan the wedding. Idara, oblivious of Jay’s feelings for Leo, couldn’t resist the offer because at just twenty-five, Jay had already topped the list of well-known event planners in Lagos.
Walking to his side of the villa, Leo pulled off his player face and brought out his ruthless side. He didn’t like this side of him but he had no choice. He had told Idara to trust him and she did but now her life was hanging on the edge of that trust. He had to find who was behind her attempted murder and he had to do it fast. He numbed every feeling of desire and pleasure within him and walked into his bedroom. Debbie was still asleep.
She stirred and woke up.
“Get up and get dressed. We’re going out.”
To be continued…