It’s day two (Saturday) in the story Go Getter (Go-Get-Her) and here is a recap of the events so far:
Ochuko encountered Wunmi (the troublesome lady who strived to win his attention) and Sandy (the sad Lady whose life suddenly seemed to be falling apart) on his way back home from work on Friday evening. He’d just helped his company acquire a firm but his joy was incomplete because he had no wife to celebrate with. All he had left was Lucy, his only daughter.
Wunmi lost in her attempt to win Ochuko’s attention, Sandy had, unknowingly, and had him following her. But this was after being tripped in the bus by Bobo. All Ochuko’s effort at winning her that night proved fruitless and just when he decided to go back home to rest it for the day and meet his lovely daughter, he encountered Wunmi again, only this time, she was interesting.
He took Wunmi to his house and they almost had a fulfilled night if not for the frame in the bedroom with his wife’s picture. Wunmi, who was unaware that Ochuko’s had a daughter, mistakenly burned Lucy in her fright, the morning of day two, while preparing breakfast. Ochuko had to rush her to Amazing grace hospital where he encountered Sandy again.
Sandy had gone home Friday night, after the embarrasing event in the bus, to meet a drunk Cas waiting. Casmir is her cheating boyfriend whom she wanted nothing to do with anymore. And since her mother was just recently hospitalised, she didn’t think she would be able to give him a chance to explain. Her life was in a mess.
Cas tried to rape her that night (something that was completely off his nature) but got interrupted by Bobo who had been following Sandy since tripping her in the BRT bus. They got into a fight which ended with Sandy’s head broken. Cas rushed her to the hospital with the help of one of her neigbours, Mrs. Osifo. The neighbour however got Cas detained, believing he had harmed Sandy who reminded her a lot of her late daughter.
Miss Sharon (Lucy’s class teacher and best friend) got a text from Ochuko the next day, stating that Lucy got burned by boiling water. She was required to meet them in Amazing Grace hospital. This simplified her work. She is on a mission to wipe out all that was her late sister’s and then get married to her husband, Ochuko. This mission is spurred by their mother whom she’s striving to win her love. She got to the hospital without being noticed by anyone, but failed to kill Lucy. She found this out later that day when she called the hospital. She was also informed that Ochuko had taken her away.
Casmir, who would do everything possible to have Sandy back, got released from the police cell. However, three agents have been assigned to ensure he doesn’t push his mission any further. Cas beat them by wearing a new look, and off he went to Sandy’s.
Bobo got himself sacked from work the morning of Saturday, and refused from entering the house by his best friend Benji, whom he’d lived with for a very long time. He decided it would be best to head over to Sandy’s. He got there and met an empty house. He tidied it up and prepared a meal so as to win Sandy’s love and disprove himself a coward. Prisca, another of Sandy’s (nosy) neighbours came into Sandy’s house to check on her, and Bobo ended up having sex with her.
Ochuko couldn’t stand the news that his daughter was almost murdered. Lucy told him it was Miss Sharon that tried to kill her; he wouldn’t believe this either. By the way, he wouldn’t allow Lucy receive treatment in Amazing Grace anymore. He took her to another hospital out of her will, and picked Sandy up on the way to this new hospital. Sandy had been informed of her mom’s death. She was also informed by Doc Al that the medical bills have been taken care of by himself. She tried to keep it together and maintain a conversation with Ochuko on the ride to her house.
They got to her house – after dropping Lucy off in the new hospital – and met Bobo. Bobo and Ochuko got themselves into a quarrel and as Sandy tried settling it, Casmir came in. He and Bobo got into a dirty fight and Ochuko escaped with Sandy. He took her to his house, where unkmown to him, Miss Sharon waited with her Belladonna berries to finish the job she had started. They met her cleaning the house. Somehow Ochuko found the berries inside the fridge where Miss Sharon had kept them. He thought it looked appetizing and decided to share it with Sandy. He had no idea whatsoever that the berries were poisonous.
Wunmi would not accept that she’d lost Ochuko; she’s bent on getting him back. Ochuko had warned her never to show up anywhere around him because of the incident, but she doesn’t know how to. She saw Ochuko in paper standing beside her sister’s husband while grieving her misfortune. She guessed her sister’s husband was Ochuko’s superior at work and wasn’t wrong. She called Mr. Ogundele, her sister’s husband and attempted to blackmail him just so he agreed he’d make her Ochuko’s business partner. It worked out fine for her, but she’d have to wait for Monday to meet her lover again…
Monday seemed such a long time.
Wunmi was tired of running scripts in her head of how first day at work in the same office with Ochuko would go. Her belly knotted with tension as she couldn’t yet envision their conversation rolling out smoothly, not to mention a perfect chemistry, which was what she longed for.
What about speeding things up a little? She thought.
She picked up Jude from the bed and went to get another can of malt. She thought of the percussion of the malt she was taking – two in just one afternoon – but that was after she had emptied the can. Measures to watching her weight can wait. She looked out the window at the white duplex sharing the same fence with her house. As usual, nothing there caught her fancy. The house sat glumly in its place, nothing eventful happening and nothing eventful ever would happen even on that last day when people would be scrambling up roofs of houses to catch garments of ascending angels.
Sade had sang her last; Wunmi couldn’t tell the title of the last track or what it had sounded like. She threw a wishful glance at the CD player but decided she didn’t need any more of sorrowful songs. She wanted her man and there was only one way to get him: Go to him. And go, she would.
There’d be no befitting words to say to him standing there in his doorway and staring him in the face; nothing she can do to show him how sorry she was for everything. But she would go to him all the same. As she stepped out of her clothes and wrapped a towel around her body, she hoped he’d only look into her eyes and read her mind. If he’d be able to do that, he’d be able to see that she needed to be kissed, needed to cry on a broad shoulder, and most importantly, needed him to be by her side for the rest of her life.
It took her thirty minutes to transform into a lady a man in his right senses wouldn’t resist. She sat for minutes in front of the mirror not content with the way she looked. There was a doleful expression on her face, something makeup couldn’t mask or hide. The chirpy Wunmi was gone and it had taken only a jug of boiling water to do the job. Tears gathered in her eyes and in no time, she began to cry.
She had begun pulling off her shoes when her eyes happened on the newspaper she had left on the table. She picked it up and sat on the bed. She stared at Ochuko shaking hands with the other man. Stared into those grey eyes that hid sadness, stared into that smile that had his teeth glittering in the camera light. Everything about him called to her. She traced a finger over his sideburn, down his neck to his red tie. She stopped when she realized she was trying to loosen the knot of the tie in the paper picture. She was going insane and it would get worse if she doesn’t go to see him.
All she needed was patience. Monday was two days ahead, she knew this, but what would she be doing before it comes? Eating and packing up weight? She sighed and wore back her shoes. Maybe the sight of him would bring back her happiness, some at least if not all. Maybe hearing him scream at her to leave would put her life back in order, give her some hope that things would turn out well in the end. She didn’t bother to look at the mirror this time, she closed the door behind her and walked to the gate.
* * *
He couldn’t tell how long he had lain on the floor, he only knew it was an awfully long time, for the blood on his lips and nose had caked. Cas gathered himself up in a haste, feeling like a cornered rat. The policemen at his house must have discovered his disappearance and begun searching for him. For all he knew, they were waiting behind the door with cuffs ready in their hands to manacle him and dump into their van like heap of rags. He tried to walk and a groan escaped him. He was in terrible pain.
His brain hadn’t suffered a good beating like the rest of his body, he clearly remembered how he got here, as well as the drama that ensued afterwards, the one that had left him in this state. He limped his way to the door and slowly opened it. He stealthily looked both ways and found nobody waiting to hijack him. He felt little relief at this. He limped to the bathroom to wash himself. His face felt double its size, his eyes seemed to be peering out through tortoise’s shell, and he generally felt sticky. A cold bath would make him feel better.
When he was done drying himself up, he walked into Sandy’s room and opened her wardrobe. The clothes he had worn over to this place were in a mess, he hoped to find something clean to put on. He had pushed almost all the clothes on hanger in the wardrobe to the right side, and was making up his mind wear back his bloody clothes when he happened on a hanger with a big black tee-shirt with the inscription ‘Together Forever.’ He took it out and went to the window. He could remember the shirt well, remember the very day Sandy had worn it with brown Chinos shorts – both belonging to him – out of his house.
They were coming home from church that evening when a heavy rain started falling. They got drenched in no time. Sandy had to get home to her mom that night, hence she couldn’t spend the night in his place. However, she needed somewhere to stay to wait out the rain, as well as something dry to put on when the rain finally stopped. They had gone over to his place, she had prepared a wonderful pepper soup with the goat meat in the fridge to warm them up, won him in the game of monopoly they played, and allowed him to bathe her. Their relationship was at its early stages then. Before then, she had rejected all his attempts at kissing her, but that night, she had blessed him with the sight of her nudity. She had allowed him touch her soft skin, and of course given him the long sought kiss. It was a very remarkable night.
He held the shirt – the only souvenir of that blissful night – to his nose and inhaled deeply. It was there. Though the fragrance of his perfume was overwhelming, it couldn’t take it off. It was the smell of her, mild and rich. He took out the shirt from the hanger and there was the Chinos shorts beneath, neatly pressed. A sense of nostalgia filled him as he entered into the clothes. He observed himself in the mirror when he was done. He didn’t look good, neither did he look too bad.
So what do I look like? He asked himself and smiled.
He went to the door and stood there. He didn’t know where to go from here. The guy who had given him a good beating, he knew, but the one Sandy had left with, he didn’t know. He needed to sit down and plan things. He needed the comfort of his house, but he knew the danger involved. He had officially vacated his house and maybe his normal life. If he could get Sandy and convince her to come with him, they could have a new beginning, a new life in a new city.
He gave the sitting room a final look, sadness filling up his heart. This place, where he used to visit once in a very long while, now looked inhabitable. Sandy’s mother dead, Sandy gone forever.
“Not forever.” He croaked, and something occurred to him.
He needed to know how Sandy got out of there. The informative text message from the doctor was not enough. He needed to hear the full story, maybe this would give him a useful clue as to where she could be at the moment. Even if it doesn’t, he had to get moving, had to leave this vicinity. He was surprised the policemen hadn’t checked here yet. It was logically the first place to check the moment they realized he’d escaped. Maybe they were yet to come to that realization.
Whichever way, he wouldn’t stay to find out. He checked himself to ensure he still had his phone and wallet, then he limped his way to his bike parked outside the gate. He mounted it and drove off.
* * *
What Cas failed to do before zooming off in his bike was to observe his surroundings. A few distance from where his bike was formerly parked was a caramel Toyota Camry. Inside it was Sergeant Major Chikadibia, one of the police agent charged with the responsibility of making sure Cas never saw Sandy again. He sat silently in the car listening to the afternoon radio program on Inspiration FM and enjoying the chill of the air conditioner. His eyes were trained on the gate of Sandy’s compound. He had been following Cas from the moment he stepped out of his house in his new look. He hadn’t fooled them at all. They knew he was the only one in his house, hence nobody other than him should leave the house. Of course, they had stood watch adeptly and long enough to certify that no one had sneaked into the house.
The deal wasn’t to ensure that he didn’t leave his house, the deal was to make sure that he didn’t go anywhere he was banned from going to, or pulled stunts he wasn’t supposed to pull. Chikadibia had sat still in his car and watched all the while the drama was on in Sandy’s apartment, refusing to interfere because he felt Cas earned the beating. He had expected this duty to be irksome but Cas had proved to be an interesting fellow. He had a couple of tricks under his sleeves and Chikadibia was just too curious to see how he would disclose them.
As Cas pulled into the dusty road of the street that connected to the main road, Chikadibia picked up his Walkie-Talkie from its holder and spoke into it.
“Our guy is on the move again. He’s heading your way. You should mark him in the next two minutes. Roger?”
“Roger, Sir. I can make out the sound of the bike already.” Usman, the sergeant on the receiving end said. “Two minutes is accurate, Sir.”
“Follow tail, keep good distance. Roger?”
“Notify Lawal before he gets to his own end.”
“Copy that, Sir.”
He kept the device back in its place and began to unwrap a gum he found at the base of the holder. After three dull and uneventful months he was finally doing something he loved.
* * *
Those moments when shock made us remain in a state or position for few minutes and we think we’ve stayed that way for a lifetime; those moments when we feel we are unnecessarily too slow. Miss Sharon was experiencing those moments as she hunched over her moping stick. Her auditory sense had gained higher power. She could hear the squashing sounds of the berries as Ochuko’s molars and premolars worked on them, hear the click of finality his throat made as the mashed berries slid down its dark passageway.
And here was the problem, she wss getting nothing from the other lady’s end, not a single sound. It seemed like her plan was backfiring, like it was bent on killing the wrong person. She knew the other sounds her super sense of sound would pick up next. It would be the mechanical grinding of Ochuko’s digestive system, and what a deafening sound that would be. She shut her eyes and willed herself to move. When her legs still wouldn’t move an inch, she screamed.
Silence descended. The chirping of the birds as they played in the lawn became magnified, so was the sound of leaves as the breeze blowing outside forced them to rub off with each other. Then, she heard the sound she thought she had heard earlier – the click. It was the gunshot her legs needed to start moving. She shot up and strode over to the other room.
The click was the sound Ochuko’s heels made as his shoes connected with the tiles. He had heard the scream from the room Miss Sharon was in and wanted to see if something had gone wrong. His biggest fear was that there was an accident, a terrible one judging from the scream. The berries dangled in his hand as he walked in long strides. The real accident, however, was him bumping into Miss Sharon at the doorway. He was quick enough to break her fall. The moment when they were halfway from the ground staring into each other’s face, bent like ballet dancers delivering the final step of their routine, Ochuko strongly noticed Miss Sharon’s resemblance with his wife. It was not for the first time, though.
He slowly brought her to her feet, her body shuddering in his hold.
“What is wrong, Miss Sharon?” He asked, taking her back to the room he had come from.
Sandy hurriedly walked over to them as they entered the room. When they had seated she went to turn on the air conditioner. The damn thing had been off all the while and they were unawsre. Miss Sharon was sweating profusely.
“Sandy please turn it off.” Ochuko said. “I think she’s having a fever.”
She turned it off and went to open the windows. “Don’t you think we should take her to the hospital?” She said.
“No hospital for me. I’m fine.” Miss Sharon said.
“But you’re shaking and sweating. That’s high fever.” Ochuko counteted.
“No. It’s tension.”
“What is getting you tensed?”
Miss Sharon’s eyes strayed from Ochuko’s to the berries lying beside him on the chair. Ochuko and Sandy’s eyes followed hers. A frown appeared on their foreheads when they saw what she was looking at.
“What about those?” Ochuko asked.
Miss Sharon smiled and got off the chair. They watched her every movement in curiosity, not wanting to stop her but cautious to act if anything unexpected happened. She walked few feet away from them and then turned to face them like a debater to his audience.
“You two are not supposed to eat the berries.” She said.
“Why?” They asked, looking puzzled.
“Because it’s for Lucy. I came here with the fruit hoping to meet her here. I should have brought it to the hospital but since the doctor informed me that you guys were no longer there, I decided to bring it over here. Also, I kept it in the fridge so she don’t easily see it. It was supposed to be a surprise stuff, actually. My way of saying get well soon to my sweetheart.”
Ochuko turned from Miss Sharon to Sandy, unable to fully comprehend the speech. Sandy only smiled and shrugged.
“But that shouldn’t have made you scream like you’d seen a ghost.”
“Well, there was no other way to stop you guys from eating what shouldn’t be eaten yet, especially something not meant for you.”
“Ha! So I can’t eat a little of what is my daughter’s?”
“No, not that. You don’t get it yet, Sir —”
“And I’ve commented about your calling me Sir.”
“Okay, I’m sorry, Mr Ochuko.” She smiled, a true smile. “You actually didn’t mean to have a little. You were about to have a feast on the berries with your new girlfriend.”
“And I also introduced her to you as Sandy.”
“Sir, this is not a big deal.” Sandy said, smiling, though Ochuko was giving her a mean stare for calling him Sir. “Like she said, it’s a surprise package. Abi you don’t know what that implies?”
“Exactly what I’m saying.” Miss Sharon said.
“It just isn’t fair that I’ll let something so juicy and sexy like this pass me without finding out if its taste is commensurate to its looks. And you ladies are not giving me a fighting chance here. It’s called fair hearing, you weren’t taught that, I’m sure.”
“It is for your daughter.” Sandy said. She snatched the berries from the chair and handed it to Miss Sharon, an act she would never forgive herself for. “Do you not think of your daughter first before yourself?”
“Thanks.” Miss Sharon said and walked out of the room beaming with smiles.
“I really wonder what kind of father you are.” Sandy said the moment the footfalls of Miss Sharon died.
“There she goes again about successful fatherhood.” Ochuko said and drew her to sit on his laps.
“Not on your laps, Sir.” She said, smiling. She sat close beside him and he hung a hand over her shoulder.
“You know, you can get employed as my tutor in this fatherhood business.”
“I know I should decline any offer you give me.”
“You just want to play tough. A woman who must go by the rules.”
“Going by the rules never get you into trouble.” She rested her head on his shoulder without thinking about it.
Ochuko didn’t say anything. He let the silence stretch on as he thought of the perfect picture both of them made sitting that way. He listened to his heartbeat and felt it had never beaten so true like it was doing at the moment. He needed the perfect words to explain to her the way he felt about her and the future plans he was already making for them. She was all too sensitive about his advances. Things were smoothening though, he thought, but it would take time for the kind of love he expected to finally blossom. It appeared she wanted to move in her own pace, wanted to take her time to fully understand his person and what she was about to enter into. She needed time and he would give it to her.
Maybe she doesn’t see it this way, he thought. Maybe she had only chosen to be with him at this moment because she had run out of options. Maybe she just wanted someone to help shoulder her burden the short while it lasted. Maybe she was confused and really didn’t know what she wanted. Maybe…
Miss Sharon came back into the room, a white polythene bag in hand. Sandy removed her head from Ochuko’s shoulder and shifted away from him a little. He felt like hurling a brick at Miss Sharon for spoiling such a wonderful time. But then again, he thought of his wife. He rubbed a hand over his head and agreed there was a high chance of him coming down with headache.
“Sir… I’m sorry, I mean, Mr Ochuko. You didn’t really tell me where my chocoberry is?”
“You’re sure I didn’t?”
“What’s that in your hand first?”
“It’s the surprise package only now in a real package. I want to cut out the surprise part, since it almost ruined it for me.”
Ochuko laughed. “She’s in a different hospital and I don’t think she’s in the mood to see anyone following what she’s been through.”
“That’s true. The burns must be very painful. She’s just a kid. Anyway, she’d be glad to see me, anytime, any circumstance.”
“It’s not the burns.” Ochuko said. He didn’t know how to explain to the lady his daughter strongly felt attempted to take her life that there had been an attempt at taking his daughter’s life. He didn’t believe Miss Sharon would do such a thing and he didn’t wish to even let her know something like that ever happened.
“Please Mr Ochuko, tell me where Lucy is. You know I’m the closest friend she have. How would she feel towards me when she fully recovers and I never visited? It’s bad enough that I’ve delayed this long.”
Ochuko understood how it felt. He’d had a taste of the rejection already as a consequence of dismissing her suspicion as mere childish fears. He turned to look at Sandy who offered him a pleading glance.
“Okay.” He said. “Do you know Healthy People Hospital and Maternity?”
“Not really. Can you help me with a description?”
“Once you get off this street and into the main road, take a bus or keke going to Isolo, then stop at Alhaji Olusesi Street. Walk down the street, almost to the end. You’ll see a big building on the right side, it’s the only of its kind in the street. That’s the hospital. You’ll also see a billboard in the front of the building with the hospital’s name boldly written for better emphasis.”
“Oh, thank you very much, Sir.”
“I wouldn’t have told you if I knew you would go back to calling me Sir.”
“I’m sorry, Mr Ochuko.”
“It’s no problem, but wait. When you get there and you’re prevented from seeing her, of course they wouldn’t allow anyone but family to see her, tell them you’re a relative and that I personally sent you to her. They can call me for confirmation.”
“Don’t be surprised if I don’t need to explain all these to them.” She beamed at him. “Thank you once again, Mr Ochuko, and hey, you guys should mind the tiles, they’re still wet. Don’t march on them unless you want them to get dirty. Have a nice time together.”
“Good luck.” Sandy said, and with that Miss Sharon happily left to complete what she had started.