Gentleman’s guide to Dinner Etiquette “A gentleman is one who puts more into the world
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Ibrahim’s grief was shattered by the wailing siren of the ambulance. It felt like a scene out of terribly sad movie. He stood outside the motel gates as he watched the ambulance weave through the traffic of human, motorcycle, cars and buses with its blue lights ablaze. Onlookers peered through the tinted windows of the bus hoping to catch a glimpse of the victim.
The crowd was like a sea of humanity, everyone bumping into another as words spread about the death of a guest at the Cassandra motel like wild fire. Some older women cried with reckless abandon at the corner of the street cursing and pouring invectives on the unknown killers, while a group of youth huddled together at the side of the motel narrated the scene they had witnessed earlier that morning.
The feeling of sadness was like a blanket of grief, strong and palpable in the air.
There was something in the intensity of the moment, as if the way the ambulance was being driven gave some emotional urgency to the street. For those few moments everyone in the scene were a tiny part of the unfolding drama, urging it onward, to carry its “precious cargo” to safety.
He eyed the balding tires of the ambulance and let the sadness inside him out with a sigh while shaking his head slowly. The bitterness inside him was starting to rise like a bile to his mouth until he spat out phlegm into the dusty ground.
Bilkiss had been confirmed dead when the medics arrived. There was nothing more they could do. They had mentioned to him that she must have died from blunt trauma to the head. They however could not tell if she was attacked in the bathroom or accidentally slipped.
He wasn’t buying any of it. She had called him earlier that morning and she must have known that her life was in grave danger at the time. He was sad that his rescue team didn’t get to her before she left the place.
He never felt so worthless or disposable, never so wretched and cold. It felt like he failed her and for all it was worth, he swore to find her killers and to bring them to justice.
Justice must be served!
“What do we have?” He beckoned to one of the female agents who was waiting to get his attention.
“We have positively identified one of the boys. He was at the new nightclub yesterday and paid with his debit card. We reviewed the CCTV footage of his car and the registration plate matches the description of the eye witnesses at the motel”
“Okay…and …” Ibrahim was starting to get impatient.
“He was also positively identified as the same man who booked a room at the motel. We have his picture already and we are in the process of getting his mobile number”
“Was he alone?”
“He had an accomplice sir. We have images of his partner also from the CCTV” she wasn’t making eye contact as she spoke quickly and assertively.
Just then the agent’s mobile phone rang out and she paused to answer it, while making eye contact with Ibrahim to seek his consent.
“They found his residence in Barnawa” She announced as she ended the call.
“Take me there right away”
In the slow time-bubble Collins woke up with a start. His heart pounding and threatening to burst out of his rib cage. He looked out of the car window and around the car instinctively. He was alone in the car.
He looked at his wrist watch for the umpteenth time and he already knew what it read. They were out of time.
“1.58pm” He muttered under his breath.
He was starting to panic and he was convinced every time wasted was going to draw them into a violent vortex of discovery where they would be doomed forever. If they were going to get-away it had to be now or much later in the night.
He considered the options; Leaving now could be their best bet as no one would expect that they would head out of the city until it was dark.
He opened the passenger door, alighted and walked towards the apartment he had last seen Princewill with the dark-skinned girl. Just that moment, the lovers opened the door giggling. Princewill was buttoning up his shirt whilst he kissed Tolani passionately as she bid him farewell.
“What did you tell her?” Collins queried his friend.
“Nothing! I told her we were skipping town until everything dies down” He response was so casual it angered Collins.
“Give me the car keys, I am driving” Collins commanded.
Princewill handed him the car keys just as he tossed the mobile phone into the open storm drain at the side of the road. Now they were completely without a tracking device. He felt safe.
“They left in a hurry” Ibrahim was standing right outside Collin’s apartment at the same spot the two friends had waited an hour before. The black Honda that had been described by witnesses was sitting pretty next to him bearing evidence of the night before. Two agents were picking up forensic details from the car- dried blood samples, strands of hair, pieces of clothing, laces and other incriminating and irrefutable evidence.
They had broken into Collin’s house to find that his cloths were strewn all over the apartment and fake identity cards, debit cards and other digital devices dotted his room. His neighbors had been quite cooperative with the agents by giving a perfect description of the get-away car. They gave information about his lifestyle of drugs, women and booze. It seemed that they couldn’t wait to tell it all.
There was a look of concern on some of his neighbors, but a good many appeared relieved. Some discussed in hush tone around the premises while others just went about their business.
“I want checkpoints manned at all the major exit highways in Kaduna right away. I want this done within the next thirty minutes. They must not leave the city” His face did not betray his resolve. The agents scrambled to their walkie-talkie to pass on the message just as fast.
It was time for the criminals to face the music!
Collins knew his way out of the city and it wasn’t the first time he was escaping from security agents. Just like the first time in Lagos, he was escaping a stunted version of himself that left trails of crime wherever he went. He was now going to create a new version of himself that would stay clean and out of crime if he could drive out of the city safely.
He was escaping a prison invisible to others and it was time to leave the world of crime, for good.
He silently prayed to God-the same one he had not cared about for many years. The last time he prayed was the last time he eloped and God must have answered his prayers, otherwise he would have been caught.
Now he needed God- desperately so.
The first checkpoint was only a few meters ahead and he slowed down queueing behind the cars as they approached the soldiers slowly.
Princewill sat upright and tried to look casual and relaxed. He held his breath inside as the armed military officer asked Collins to lower his side window.
Collins obliged calmly.
“Good afternoon Officer” His voice sounded coarse as he coughed out the phlegm.
“Can we see your boot please” the soldier asked politely.
“Sure” Collin obliged as he opened the side door.
Princewill froze in his seat. His heart was beating irregularly and he felt like he was going to faint.
Outside the car, Collins opened the boot for a few seconds before shutting it on instruction.
“You are free to go” The soldier announced.
When Collins started the car engine, Princewill let out a deep sigh.
“Oh my God, that was close”
“We are good now bro. We made it!!” Collins declared excitedly as they both laughed hysterically.
They screamed out loud like a bunch of school kids as the highway sprawled out in front of them. It would take just two hours to get to Minna.
“We are going forwards and nothing but a blessed tragedy can change that” Princewill screamed animatedly and was barely able to contain his joy.
The car tires made their monotonous hiss over the rain-washed highway as Collins stepped on the gas pedal to widen the distance between the car and the checkpoint. He looked at the checkpoint until it disappeared in his inner mirror.
He then fiddled with the car radio to fill their ears with the latest popular tunes from Olamide- the new kid on the music scene. His hands felt the plush fabric of the seat as he started to relax for the trip ahead.
One moment, the road was slick, wide, open and safe, the next there was a deafening loud bang and the car shook violently as one of its rear tyres tore to shreds. Collins managed to hold on to the steering wheel but as soon as he hit the brakes, the sound of the squealing tyres on the wet surface was followed by the car hydroplaning awkwardly into the road shoulder stopping only when it hit a tree.
The two friends were thrust at the windshield on impact while still strapped in the seatbelt and the airbag shot right into their faces simultaneously.
The moment between losing control of the car and the impact was one Collins could not comprehend. It happened so fast that his collar bone snapped in two and tore right through his skin, glinting white in the afternoon sun. With it was the spluttering of blood and the maddening pain he had never felt in his entire existence. He blacked out.
Princewill wasn’t so lucky. He died instantly.
When he opened his eyes, he was happy to be alive. The pain was still there, but he had a throbbing headache that didn’t seem to abate.
He tried to move his hand, but he couldn’t. It was handcuffed to the bed. That was when he opened his eyes feebly.
One face was staring down at him.
“My name is Ibrahim and I am your worst nightmare”
The time was “The End O’clock“
Thank you so much for reading. Please drop a comment.
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