(Episode 8) Chronicle of a Royal Prince and the Devil Incarnate

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I opened the big oak door and came face to face, with Nora. She was decked in a black jumpsuit and Christian Louboutine shoes. My eyes were wide in shock when I saw her.

Nora: “You are that graphic designer Kunmi talks so much about aren’t you?” she asked with her brows arched.

Leke: “Yes ma’am” I stuttered.

Nora: “So what are you doing here?”

Leke: “I was worried that after the failed collection launch, you have not been coming to the office, I got the address from Kunmi” I said earnestly. I could see a faint trace of a smile on her lips.

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Nora: “You came to see me, so why are you leaving without seeing me, come on, perhaps we could talk about the fashion brand” she said and I saw a lonely woman, desperate for any link to a human being. I turned on my heels and we walked back in. Iya Biliki was giving me the stink eye, she obviously knew that Nora had not sent me, and wrote it off to an overzealous staff.

Iya Biliki: “Olofofo” I heard her mutter under her breath.

Nora did not entertain me in the living room as I had expected, she took me to her bedroom to my utter surprise. I was already calling her stink names in my head expecting that the woman was going to ask me for sex. I was also scared that I would be a disappointment since all I knew about sex were the things I read in books. But Nora did not have her mind on sex.

Nora: “It is a little inappropriate to bring you into my bedroom, but it is the only place I feel safe. It is ironic though that this room belonged to…” she stopped talking, even when I was hanging on her every word.

Leke: “Belonged to who?” I asked, desperate for her to continue, but she stared into space like she had not heard me.

Nora: “What will you have, I have exotic wines, old wines in the cellar”

Leke: “I will have Chardonnay if you don’t mind” I said. She stopped on her tracks, turned and looked at me. Chardonnay was my father’s favorite white wine; mother also took up on the taste while they were dating, so it was all they drank at home while they were alive.

Nora: “How old are you anyway?” she asked

Leke: “I am twenty five” I lied.

We talked about the fashion house, but anytime I tried to bring up the incident that happened on the day of the collection launch, she would brush it aside. Then she asked about my family, I told her I was an orphan and she had the effrontery to feel sorry. It took all my will power to keep smiling, when what I really wanted to do was bash her head. I asked to leave when it was getting dark, and she was beginning to slur her words. I told myself there would be other chances. Besides, Banke had been burning up my phone with calls. On my way out of my former house, I called Banke to meet me somewhere so I could take her to my place. I was angry and she was the closest victim, I was determined to exert my anger at the whole of humanity. Banke came, dressed in a super short dress, and her face was all made up. She obviously came with expectations, and I was not going to disappoint, at least in giving her what she wants.

Leke: “Why are you dressed up, are we going out?”I asked mockingly.

Banke: “You are so unromantic. Compliment me if you wish, stop beating around the bush” she replied and threw herself on the bed. The short while before she came, I had groomed myself, so when I went to the bed and pulled her up for a warm embrace, she was hit by a huge amount of male freshness. When I tried to pull away from the embrace, she leaned in closer, holding on to my Tommy Hilfiger vest. I pulled away nevertheless; I was not going to be that guy who rushed a girl like he had never had sex, even though I have never really had sex. I took out a bottle of red wine from the bedside refrigerator and poured two glasses.

Banke: “Wow, cool” she said as the rich taste of Cabernet sauvignon hit her taste buds. As we sipped the wine, she talked about herself, all the relationships she had been in and her expectations for our relationship. She had high expectations; it was too bad that I was not the one for them because, even though I had to pull on big boy pants quite early, I was just sixteen. Everything she knew about me was a lie.

Leke: “Relax, you are just twenty one, live” I said. If she had wisdom, she would have got the message. The fact that she did not though, was good for me. When I leaned towards her, she tilted her head and I brushed light kisses on her lips. I deepened the kiss when I felt her shudder, and saw her metamorphose into a wild sex beast. She pushed me to the bed and began to ravish me. I wanted to take back the controls, but she was not letting go of the reins. Before I knew it, she had flung her dress away.

Leke: “Have you done this before?” I asked, suddenly afraid I would mess up, Banke was not naïve after all.

Banke: “You haven’t?” she asked incredulously.

Leke: “I have never quite found the right girl, until now” I said gazing into her eyes. If I had to admit my virginity, I best present it in a romantic way. I was not about to tell her I was still a virgin because I was locked up in a house for loonies for ten years.

Banke: “I am honored. I feel so ashamed now, wish I waited for you” she replied with doe eyes, looking up to me like I held the keys to the kingdom.

Leke: “No need to be, all that matters is now” I said patronizing her. I began to trail kisses all over her naked body, I felt her turn jelly under my hot lips. The reins of control were back in my hands.

When I opened my eyes, the sun was up. My heart raced in fear, had I slept off my first chance with a girl? I panicked.

Banke: “Morning sunshine” she said with a wide satisfied smile. The memories of last night began to return to me. It was lit; I had done well, even at my first trial, all thanks to all the kamasutra I read.

Leke: “Morning bae” I replied and got out of bed.

Banke: “I am so in love with you” she exclaimed, I stopped in my tracks and went back to bed to lean in for a kiss. Even though I was not feeling her, I had to treat her well, so she would be malleable for me to use in my plot against Nora.

Leke: “When does your school resume?”

Banke: “In December, I have months to kill before then. I would have been so bored if I did not have you” she said, smiling sheepishly. She was beginning to irritate me, did she have sex and lose her brains after wards? I wondered.

Leke: “I have something that will keep you engaged. We are a team right?”

Banke: “Sure boo” she said excitedly.

Leke: “I want to do a documentary on Nora Aboderine. The incident at the collection launch has got me thinking. It seems Nora came out from nowhere and became the chairman of Fola fashion house. I want you to be my eyes and ears.” I said carefully, watching her facial expressions.

Banke: “You want me to spy on your boss, and my sister’s boss?” she asked, getting up suddenly from the bed, to go stand by the window.

Question: “Will Banke agree to this dangerous plan?”

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(Episode 6) Chronicle of a Royal Prince and the Devil Incarnate

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I turned and there before me, was Mary, I was dumfounded, I also felt guilty. Straight out of the mental home, I had not thought of her, I was fixated on mother and finding the real cause of her death. I did not remember the one woman, who was not my mother, but loved me no less. I rushed toward her, and then stopped. She was not looking at me; her eyes were on someone else, a slim dude that could be in my age group. She was looking at the boy because, that is how I would look, if I had not grown fat due to sedentary living in the mental home. He had my height and my shape of head, and he was turned away from her. She began to walk towards him, but I intercepted her. She looked up at me, and I stared at her. Unlike Nora, the years had told on her, she did not have a ready smile like before, there were a few crow feet at the edge of her eyes, and a few gray hairs in her mass of hair.  We stared at each other for a few seconds, on her face was a frown; she could not understand why this young lad was standing in her way. Her moment of comprehension came when I smiled.

Mary: “Leke?” my smile was unique; I twitched one side of my mouth upward when I smiled. Despite every change that had occurred in my life, that didn’t change.

Leke: “Yes Mary” I bent a little and embraced her. My eyes welled up with tears; she was like a part of my past that had eluded me.

Mary: “Oh Leke bobo, I knew you were going to make it because you are strong” she said as she wet my tux with tears and phlegm. I pulled her away softly, and looked at her legs.

Mary: “It is a long story”

Leke: “I want to hear it, come on, lets eat somewhere” I pulled her by the hand and took her to Mama Cass. I ordered their special spaghetti with big cow tails, while Mary ordered amala and ewedu. We ate in silence, each of us immersed in our thoughts. After eating, I ordered a bottle of wine for us to talk over.

Mary: “Leke, how do you have the money you are spending?”

Leke: “I work at my mother’s fashion house, and I am being paid”

Mary: “Really, Nora allowed you work there?”

Leke: “She doesn’t know it is me, I go by a different name now”

Mary: “That sounds like something I watch on television, what is your job there?”

Leke: “I work in the creative department as their graphic designer” I replied impatiently.

Mary: “I am asking the wrong questions right?” she asked rhetorically. She was always so perceptive of me, right from the time I was a little boy.

Leke: “You can ask me anything you want though” I said to make her feel better. After a few seconds, I couldn’t pretend not to be curious.

Miami, Florida, USA --- African American couple eating in restaurant --- Image by © DreamPictures/Blend Images/Corbis

Leke: “I am curious, the doctor said, you would never walk again, how are you walking?”

Mary: “It is a long story” she said as a blanket of sadness came over her eyes.

Leke: “We have enough wine for it” I replied, and she looked from me to the bottle of Chardonnay, like she wanted to oppose me drinking wine. But she thought better of it. I was surviving in this cold, cruel world all on my own; I deserved a glass of wine once in a while. The truth was, I had bought the wine for Mary’s sake, and my intention was to seduce her, not sexually but mentally. So that, she would tell me everything, and leave nothing out. It is a trick I learned from the laws of seduction, a book I read while in the mental home. The next person I was going to try this trick on would be Banke.

Mary told me how she had told the police, who came to get her statement that I was innocent, that though she had not seen the face of her assailant, it was a grown up person. Whether it was a man or a woman, she could not tell because the person was wearing a free flowing clothe and masked from head to shoulders. The police had reopened the case, and the heat around my father became much. Many theories were peddled around; some said he had hit on Mary, when she had refused his advances, he had attacked her to punish her, some others said he had slept with her and she was blackmailing him, so he decided to end her life to save face. Just before he was arrested again, Nora approached Mary and gave her a deal she could not say no to.

So, Mary went ahead and withdrew her formal statement, she told the police that I was an unstable child and was on medication. She had also put the question of my mother’s death to rest, as she lied that my mother was suicidal and had tried to kill herself before. I was dumbfounded when she was done. I could not believe that she was capable of such betrayal. I could not say a word, even though my mind was riddled with words. I felt betrayed, but I had also learnt an important lesson, that humans would always look out for themselves first. The reason Mary had betrayed me and my late mother was so she could walk again. After she kept her end of the deal, Nora flew her out of the country for rehabilitation. She underwent numerous surgical procedures before she could walk again. By the time she came back to the country, Nora and my father was already wedded, and they wanted nothing to do with her. She had been living from hand to mouth, from one menial underpaying job to the other. She was still unmarried because, the guilt of what she did, destroyed any relationship she tried to build.

Mary: ‘I am very sorry Leke, I was tempted by the ability to walk. I looked at my life, stuck to a wheel chair and I could not bear it. Forgive me” she said holding my arm entreatingly.

Lleke: “Is your life any better now?” I asked before I could stop myself. I could not deny that I was angry. Mary had the power to change the course of my life, but she didn’t care. She condemned me to a life in a mental home.

Mary: “Forgive me; I have regretted my actions ever since. I have wanted to see you, but the home administrators refused”

She begged to make it up to me, but I wondered how she could ever make it up to me. While she was talking, telling me of her plan to disguise herself and work in the house again, so she could keep watch over Nora.

Mary: “I will disguise myself, anything I will do to make it up to you” she said desperately. I almost told her to go retract her statement, and tell the police the truth. Instead, I said;

Leke: “No, this is something I have to do alone. But you have given me a better idea” I said thoughtfully, the wheels of my mind turning in my head and birthing a perfect idea of how to snare my mother’s murderer.

I thought of a better plan, and I knew just who I was going to use to execute that plan. I smiled and turned to her, even though she had betrayed me, I was still happy to see her because she was the only one from my past who really knew me and what I had been through. So I embraced her. She told me, she had heard about the collection launch and had come to demand that the mental home administrators allow her see me, before luck had shined on her and she had seen me. I was not the least warmed by this bit of information because, coming to see me was not the essential thing she could have done, she could have gone to the police and told them the truth.

The next day, I rushed to the fashion house; I needed to be there for all the gossip, it was the only way I would know how my plan had fared. The receptionist as usual was ever ready with gossip, she hammered on about how guests had fallen on each other, how one guest had fallen on someone to find out it was her fiancé who brought another girl to the show, whereas she was also with another man in the show.

Receptionist: “But, who could have played such mean prank?” she asked.

Leke: “You are asking the wrong question. The right question would be, why did she react the way she did?” The receptionist shrugged with her eyes wide open, the question was bigger than her. Then came Kunmi, with Banke in tow.

Leke: “What is she doing here?” I asked pointing at Banke.

Kunmi: “Rude much. Well she suddenly has an interest in fashion designing after last night’s debacle”

Leke: “I would wonder if it is fashion that interests her or drama” I said, which got me a stink eye from Kunmi.

Banke: “Hello Mikhail” she said with a small smile. I just nodded and walked away.

Receptionist: “That boy is beginning to put on airs” I heard the receptionist say lightheartedly.

I was working on some prototypes in my cubic office when I heard the click of heels coming towards the office. It was Nora; she walked past on her way to her office without a sideways glance. I rushed out of the office to take a look at her receding figure. I was surprised because, just yesterday, she had been shocked out of her mind, but today she was back on her feet like nothing happened.

Leke: “Does this mean…” I began to ponder the possibility that I was wrong. No, I was not wrong, I would need to up my game, and it was time to bring Banke in.

Question: What does Leke have in mind for his late father’s widow, and what role would Banke play?

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(Episode 5) Chronicle of a Royal Prince and the Devil Incarnate

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I looked at her in the eye, even if she recognized me, I was not going to cower.

Nora: “What is your name?” she asked

Leke: “I am Mikhail ma’am”

Nora: “Are you computer literate, can you do graphics?” she asked impatiently

Leke: “Sure ma’am” my heart was already singing because I knew where it was leading to.

Nora: “My graphic designer just quit, and our collection launch is close, can you fill in till we get someone else? You will be paid of course”

Leke: “Yes, I can do this” I said enthusiastically

Nora: “Come on then” she took me to the creative department floor; I had been raised from the ground floor to the top floor. This department was the most important, if they had a problem, the whole company got a problem.  If I wanted to learn the rudiments of my mother’s business, this was the department for me, so I was determined that this arrangement would be a permanent one. After my first day using the usual applications to transform hand drawn cloth designs, I went online and found out about AutoCAD. I spent the entire night studying it in an all night café around the company. The next day, though I had deep eye bags, I was ready to take the whole creative department by storm. After making the first batch of dresses using my AutoCAD, the creative director ran to my cubic office which was a cut out from the storage rooms. She was around thirty or so, but had this twentyish look about her. She was dressed in a midi skirt and a blouse with a flamboyant bow on it. From her dressing, you needed no one to tell you, she made the designs the fashion house owns.

Director: “You made these?” she said with her eyes wide behind her wire mesh glasses, holding the prototypes in her hand. Nora walked in at that time; she always seemed to walk in at the right time. I have noticed that she did not actively engage in the day to day activities of the company.

Nora: ‘What is the excitement about?” she asked obviously not pleased with the bickering.

Director: “These prototypes are the best I have seen, since I started working here, and he made them” she said. Nora looked at me, and smiled. She was probably pleased with herself for bringing me on board.

Nora: “I think you got the job then, congratulations” she said simply and proceeded to her office.

Director: “I am Kunmi, I have been designing for this company ever since, even when the real madam was still here”

Leke: “You knew my mother!” I exclaimed and immediately regretted it, as I saw the look on Kunmi’s face.

Kunmi: “Your mother?”

Leke: “Not my mother jare, I am always thinking of my mother ni, she died many years ago” I said hitting my head in an exaggerated manner.

Kunmi: “Same, with the original madam. I love her, she is the reason, I am still working here, if I leave here, I am going to open my own fashion brand, I will probably carry all my fans which are the customers of this brand. This present madam knows nothing about the fashion industry and she will not calm down to learn.” She said. I put it in mind, to keep my head down and learn all I could from Kunmi, I had just found the career I would be in. My mother left big shoes and I was going to fill them.

Leke: “Wow, I wish I met the former madam, she sounds interesting”

Kunmi: “Ha, she is oh. She had a flair for fashion, I learnt most of the things I know today from her. It is a pity she died as she did”

Leke: ‘How did she die?” I asked, but Kunmi had sealed her lips.

Kunmi: “So I am glad you are our graphics designer, you bring my designs to life even before they are cut. I love it, what you say we do lunch, with my younger sister, she just got admitted into the University, you will like her” I accepted and that was how I found a new family where I had none.

Lunchtime came, and I followed Kunmi to an upscale restaurant, there was a simple air about Kunmi, but she didn’t do anything in a simple way. I felt the restaurant was too much for a simple lunch, but what did I know? I spent years inside a mental home. She was ordering for both of us, when two young girls walked up to us. One was the exact replica of Kunmi, Olive colored skin and all.

Kunmi: “Hey, Banks you are here. Make yourself comfortable, I was about ordering food. Oh and yeah, this is Mikhail, my colleague at the office, Mikhail this is Banke my sister and her friend, Prisca”

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Banke: “Sister mi, this one is too small for you oh” she said eying me from head to toe, she even bent to look at my shoes.

Kunmi: “Naughty girl, he is my protégée, a genius if you like. If you see what he made of my designs, he landed himself a good job today” she said .All the while Prisca was just looking at me, like she had never seen my kind before, while Banke was more or less disinterested in me or what her sister was saying. The meals came and I dove into mine, I had not forgotten table etiquettes, but I have also not seen this good food in years. It seemed however that I was irritating Banke the more.

Banke: “If you ask me, he looks more like a stray, than your colleague, sister mi. Is Fola fashion house now employing strays?”

Prisca: “Haba Banke” her friend said.

Kunmi: “Banks, be nice” I dropped my cutleries, and dapped at my mouth. I disliked her immediately; she was just like Nora, beautiful, but not beautiful in my eyes. Latter along the way, Banke would fall head over heels for me, and she would be my first victim.

The day for the collection launch finally arrived, I had something planned, I wanted to test a theory I had, the outcome would determine my next step.  I was busy the night before with the creative team, they were putting finishing touches to the collection, and I was there every step of the way. I had decided I was going to study fashion and design in one of the good fashion institutes in Lagos, but I was going to gain as much hands on experience as I could from Kunmi. I saw Nora less often as I would have liked, she was rarely at the fashion house, but she was always there to collect the accolades like she was involved. I knew she would turn up for the collection launch in her best, ready to reap where she did not sow, and I was ready for her.

The guests had arrived, the host for the show was already thrilling the guest, some musicians had performed, and it was time to showcase the designs. Nora came on the podium, dressed in a vibrant dress that I recognized from the prototype I made. She had a good body so it looked good on her, I could not deny that fact. I myself, had gotten myself cleaned up, I was dressed in a sleek Tuxedo. I had been collecting monthly pay which was more than most boys my age earned, so I invested in a good Tuxedo. I knew Banke would be attending, and I really wanted to impress her. Yes, it is the Nigerian mentality, we impress people we don’t even like. The models began to strut on the runway in the clothes designed for that collection, they were halfway through all the designs when the lights went off, and the big projector screen came on. A voice boomed out of the speakers saying;

Voice: “You killed me, confess! Confess now” the voice was guttural, like an animal’s.

People screamed, but Nora screamed the loudest, she screamed till she slumped on the ground in unconsciousness. Pandemonium broke as the guests began to find any way to escape the hall. I looked up to the screen and smiled. On the screen was the picture of my mother, with her neck slit, blood oozing out unto the white bed sheet as she splayed on the bed. I had found the picture on the internet, and tweaked it with my new found graphic designs skills, to look more horrific. An ambulance was called and Nora was wheeled into it, her face had lost all color, despite the makeup on her face, she looked dead, only the slow rise and fall of her chest made people know she was still alive. The collection launch had ended in a mess. But most importantly, my theory had been tested, the coming days would tell. I walked out of the event center, into the hotel’s lobby. The event had been held at the prestigious Eko hotel and suites’ event center. I bumped into Banke, she glanced at my outfit and I could tell from the faint smile on her lips that she was impressed.

Banke: “Hey Mikhail, have you see my sister Kunmi?”

Leke: “No I haven’t “I replied her in a disinterested way, and brushed past her. I turned back to see her mouth open in disbelief. I went out the gate of the hotel, hoping to catch a bus to the hospital, I needed to know how Nora was faring. I was about jumping into one of the yellow and black stripped buses, when I heard my name… my real name. In my new life, after the mental home, no one knew me by my real name. “Adeleke” the voice called. I turned, with fear etched on my face and behold…

Question: Who knows Adeleke in his new life, has his past caught up with him?

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(Episode 4) Chronicle of a Royal Prince and the Devil Incarnate

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Nora took me in her SUV, we drove in silence for a while, with me wondering if she was really taking me to the police station, so I could see my father. Then she spoke to me, in words that were shocking to my ears.

Nora: “Adeleke, I know you think I am harsh, or I don’t like you. I understand you are going through a lot of changes since your mother died, but you have to trust that I and your dad are here for you” she said, her eyes on the road. I was looking at her the whole time, trying to see if she meant what she said. But Nora had this kind of face that you could never use to tell what she was ruminating, in the recesses of her mind.

Leke: “But you lied against me” I said, trying to figure her out.

Nora: “A harmless lie my dear. I did not want to worry your dad, he just lost his wife” It sounded reasonable to me, so that when she offered me Ribenna juice, I did not hesitate, I drank all of it, and I smiled at her.

When we got to the police station, my father and his lawyer were already at the counter, I rushed and held him, I had missed him, and after the talk with Nora, I attributed all his new characters to losing Mother.

Bamidele: “My son, I am so sorry for what you are going through” he said and kissed my head, my heart burst with love for him. Then my world shattered…

Nora: “You have to let Bamidele go, Adeleke confessed to attacking his nanny, Mary” she threw the bomb and kept her usual passive face, like she was not about to destroy my life forever. I looked at father, who was staring at Nora, I wondered if he also knew about this.

Leke: “Father, is that why you wanted me here?” I asked

Policeman: “What kind of mock story is this? That this little boy mangled those legs I saw?”

Nora: “I did not believe him, until I remembered that his dad had told him he is schizophrenic” she said. I looked to my father, but he was not even looking at me, he would not save me, nobody would save me. My mother was dead, Mary was decapacitated, and my father had just turned against me. My life had just taken a turn for the worst. The police immediately seized me, they took me into their interrogation room, where they kept asking me all sorts. While I was in their custody, my room at home had been searched, coincidentally they had found a thick iron rod, and also gone through my books. It seemed the fact that I read books written by atheists made me an evil person, capable of attacking his nanny. From the police station, I was taken to the hospital where my blood and other body fluids were tested. Traces of Zolpidem were found in my blood, and it was concluded that I was mentally unstable. So instead of being taken to prison, I was a child, the court sent me to a mental institution.

The day I was led into the mental institution, Father was beside me, but I made sure no part of my body touched him. I already hated him.

Bamidele: “It is all for the best son” he said, as the door closed, locking me in for ten long years.

In those years, photos of my mother and the books I usually read were my succor. I went into the mental institution with a plan, I was going to be the easiest patient they had, pretend to take all my medications; of course I would not really take the medications because they made you crazy if you are not. So I would always stay up in my room reading and talking to my mother’s pictures. I am sure wherever she was; she would be moaning the fate that had befallen her beloved son.

One day, Nora came to visit; this was on my seventh birthday. She brought cake which she shared with the other children loonies.

Nora: “How are you?” she said as we settled into a couch in the visitors lounge.

Leke: “I know what you did. That juice you gave me in the car, which was why that drug was found in my blood. I have never been medicated before. You lied against me again, are you going to tell me now that you were doing it for my good?” I asked her in a very cold voice.

Nora: “I have been selfish, your father is innocent of the crime he was accused of, and he has a governorship ambition in the coming election, I could not let him go down for that. Would you have preferred your dad to be destroyed?” she asked. All the while, my face had been turned away, but when I turned to look at her, the light fell on an object, a big diamond rock sat on her finger.

Leke: “You are getting married to my father?” I asked incredulously. It was just months after my mother’s death.

Nora: “You will probably spend your entire life here, but you will be well taken care of, I will take care of your father and all he has” she said and walked away swiftly. I got up to leave for my room, when I heard my mother’s name mentioned on television.

News Anchor: “Disturbing news about the death of FolakeAboderin has emerged just days after BamideleAboderin’s engagement to society lady, Nora. A reliable source tells us that her neck was slit right inside the Aboderins mansion. The question on everyone’s lips is, did she slit her own throat, could she have been suffering from mental sickness, seeing as her only son has been committed to a mental home” I stood transfixed as I gazed at the television screen.

Leke: “My mother’s throat had been slit?” I whispered in disbelief. I knew for a fact that she had not done that to herself, she loved life too much to kill herself. She was looking forward to Christmas, she was looking forward to seeing me grow, and she could not have slit her own throat. I went back to my room to ponder the things I had heard. I was sure that the same person, who killed my mother, also attacked Mary. What did the person gain from harming these women? If I found the gain, I could find the killer.

Ten Years Later

On my sixteenth birthday, I was certified normal and released from the mental home, straight into the streets. Many years had passed, but the pain in my heart over my mother’s murder had not been eroded. It was as fresh as it was, years ago. My first port of call was my mother’s fashion house, I was sure no one would recognize me because, staying put in one place for years had taken a toll on my weight. Where I was a skinny child, I was now a burly teenager, I had height too. I walked into the shiny building, with polished floors that reflected your image as you walked, and big chandeliers hanging from the high ceilings. I was a bit lost, till I sighted the receptionist. She was a pretty lady with over toned skin and the longest Brazilian weave I ever saw. I was at her desk asking after a job opening, when Nora walked in elegantly with her aides running after her. She looked the same as she did the first time I saw her, ten years ago. She was still elegant in face and physique, and yet still not beautiful in my eyes.

Leke: “Who is that woman?” I asked, being careful not to sound interested.

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Receptionist: “She is the owner of this place; she is a powerful woman oh.” The receptionist replied with delight, she was ready to divulge all the juicy details I was sure. I had found my first informant.

Leke: “What of her husband?”

Receptionist: “Ha he is late oh. Before he died eh, he was just like a vegetable, paralyzed from up to down. Madam tried during that period oh. But she is bouncing back sha” she replied, licking her mouth like the gossip was sweet. I was stunned at first; my father was dead, now I was truly an orphan. I did not mourn my father because I was not sure of his role in my mother’s death.

So I started as a cleaner in my mother’s company, giving them false names, I kept my life as AdelekeAboderin in a box and resumed life as Mikhail Samoa, a Ghanaian boy, it was a low level job and there were no security checks. I also began to go for GCE and JAMB classes in the evening, I had my plans, and they would not work without a sound formal education. While I worked, I found out things about Nora, how she lived her life these past years. One day, I had gone to check my GCE results and found out I aced my papers, it was not a surprise though. In the mental home, I had a gateman smuggle in books for me to read, so I was almost genius, studying was a lifeline to me. So while, I was celebrating with a few workers in the lobby, Nora walked in with her aides.

Nora: “What is going on here?” she barked.

Receptionist: “Sorry ma’am, Mikhail just aced his GCE and JAMB” she said. She turned to me and said,

Nora: “You!” My heart skipped a beat.

Question: Does Nora recognize Adeleke, is this the end of his plans?

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(Episode 2) Chronicle of a Royal Prince and the Devil Incarnate

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After mother’s burial, my maternal family left the house, and so did father and Nora. I was left once again to myself, but this time, there was no counting the hours until mother would be back and filling it up with reading. There was no anticipating mother’s voice as she shouts “Leke bobo” as she climbed the stairs. The house was quiet and cold, it was like mother had carried the life of the house to her grave, or perhaps, she was the life of the house. With her sing song laughter that rang around the house and made me smile whenever I heard it, even with her shouts when she was angry with the house servants, she made the house alive. Now it was just cold and dead. I lay on my bed, not bothering with my shoes. The rain began to fall lightly, I thought of mother in the grave, the rain falling on her. She had hated the rain when she was alive, she said it made everywhere dank and colorless, but I suspected it made her cold, as she always layered on clothes when it began to rain. Who would protect her now from the pelting of the rain, she was there alone in the grave, not even her beloved son had stayed back to keep her company. A line from a sermon I heard in church sometime ago crept into my little mind.

“The dead has nothing to do with the living” I cried, I hit the bed, hoping to inflict some of the pain I felt on it. I heard the door open, and before I saw her, I knew it was Mary. Mary is not intrusive, I was only six but when she enters my room, she does it like am older.

Mary: “Leke, I brought you pop tarts” she said. The mention of “pop tarts” reminded me of my shopping spree with mother, a day before Christmas.

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Christmas had come and gone, even with the New Year, and for the first time, the other rich kids did not get floored by me. All the expensive things mother had picked up for me, were in my wardrobe untouched, I detested them.

“Take them away” I said in a low tone, my throat choked with sobs. Mary came to the bed and pulled me into her arms, and rocked me like a baby. Then, the door opened for the second time, and the devil’s mistress came in. She was wearing black, and she was wearing a dark makeup. She reminded me of “Lucifer’s Queen”, a book I read a fortnight ago.

Nora: “Don’t you have something to do in the kitchen or something?” she asked rudely, glaring at Mary.

Mary: “My job description is limited to Leke’s needs” she replied her, and began to loosen the lace of my shoes.

Nora: “Is he not a little old for a nanny? Please leave the boy, he can undress himself” Mary got up abruptly; I knew she was vexed, but was trying to control her temper.

Mary: “The boy has just lost his mother, why are you picking on him?”

Nora: “Why would you say a despicable thing like that?” she yelled on top of her voice. My father came in at that moment; he was probably looking for his executive secretary.

Bamidele: “What is going on here?” he asked looking frightened, like he was expecting another bad news. At that point, I realized I was only thinking of myself, but my father was also in grief too, he had just lost his wife, but that’s what kids should do right? Worry about themselves, but I am not like most kids, I understand what Adults do not expect me to understand. I was not that close with my father, we have our moments, when he was not busy being pursuing millions. I was still thinking that me and dad have to grief together, we have both lost the woman we both loved, when Nora opened her mouth and released the bomb.

Nora: “Adeleke is just being a naughty boy, he asked for pop tarts, now he said he wants chocolates” My eyes opened wide in disbelief. I knew adults lie, but they always had a reason, but she was lying for no reason. What was she up to.

Bamidele: “Give the boy whatever he wants” he barked, his frustration was evident on his face.

Leke: “She is lying father, I asked for nothing, Mary was just here when she entered and asked Mary to leave, Mary…”

Mary: “It is alright, Leke’ she said and patted me on the head. Nora was so vexed that Mary could just stop me from giving an explanation to my father, that the veins of her neck stood out and her eyes became even darker. The truth was, Mary had a lot of leverage with my parents because they depended solely on her to take care of me. They saw she was good to me, she gave them peace of mind, and they could pursue their dreams without worrying about me.

Bamidele: “What do you want, Leke?”

Leke: “I want my mummy” I said as fat tears rolled down my cheeks. Father crossed over in two long strides and pulled me into his arms. He began to weep, sobs shook his body. We were both sad, we had both lost our woman.

Nora: “Bamidele, you know you have to be strong, you have a company to run” she said as she walked over to us and extricated my father from the embrace, then she embraced him. I watched them and wondered what kind of secretary called her boss by name and embraced him in such manner. My little mind could already see what she was doing, it was the reason she had lied, she was warming her way into father’s heart.

Nora: “Come on, let’s go make you some tea to calm your nerves, you are meeting with the investors from…”

Leke: “You know what else I want, dad? I want her gone” I interrupted her, pointing my finger at her.

Nora: “Oh my God, Bamidele, your son is being nasty” she began to cry, her mascara ran down her face, she looked just like a witch.

Bamidele: “Apologize to Aunt Nora now, Leke” Father thundered, gone was the man, who was crying at the loss of his wife.

Leke: “I am sorry” I said, trembling at father’s anger.

Bamidele: “That’s better, Mary I do not know what you have been teaching this boy” he said. Mary looked up at him, with pain in her eyes, this was the first time, father complained about the way she handled me. She turned and looked at Nora; she was obviously blaming her for this change.

Nora: “Let’s just go” she murmured and pulled my father out of the room. Mary told me to go to the bathroom and shower, after which I wore my pajamas and another day without my mother ended or so I thought.

I fell asleep the moment my body hit the bed, my six year old body was tired, even though my mind was still trying to comprehend the things that were changing. Then a piercing scream rend the quiet atmosphere in the house, it was coming from a room on the same floor. I got up with fear in my heart, was I going to lose my father too. I had woken up to this type of scream and my mother had died after ward, was it my father’s turn. I was too scared to move, I stood in front of the door, unable to turn the knob. I saw the shadow of two feet stop in front of my door, and my heart lurched into my mouth, the feet traipsed down the hallway, as the scream grew louder. The fear of the unknown gripped me and paralyzed me, I fell down in a heap.

When, I woke up, my room was lit by the sunlight streaming in, through the flowery curtains Mother had decorated my room with. Fear gripped me as I thought of last night.

Leke: “Father!” I screamed out in fear, I could not bear to lose my father; he was all I had now.

Bamidele: “I am here son, do not be afraid” he replied as I hugged him fiercely, and then I noticed Nora looking down at him with a menacing glare. I looked around and could not find Mary. That was when I remembered the tiny detail about last night. It was a woman’s scream I heard.

Leke: “Father, where is Mary?” I asked eagerly. Father looked at me with sad eyes and began to pat my head. I pushed his hand away angrily; he was trying to hide something away from me.

Bamidele: “Calm down Leke, Mary is going to be alright”

Leke: “She was alright when I went to sleep last night.” Before my father could explain further, he was informed by one of the housekeepers that policemen were downstairs waiting for him.

Bamidele: “Adeleke, please stay in your room and do not come out” he said and ushered everyone out, he closed the door but did not lock it. I sat on my bed and pondered. My father had never called me “Adeleke” before; things were changing fast, too fast for my little mind to comprehend. I went to my reading table where a picture frame of mother stood; I picked it up and held it to my chest. After a while, I dropped it, my curious mind wanted to know what was happening downstairs and why Mary had not come to my room. I opened the door confidently, knowing everyone was downstairs and walked down the hallway in a hurry. I went down the stairs, in slow quiet paces. Just before the landing, a bit obscured from people in the living room, I squatted to listen.

Police: “How long has Mary been working for you?” I arched my eyebrows, why were they talking about Mary? I asked myself.

Bamidele: “Since Leke my son, was a baby. He is six years old now” father replied.

Police: “One last question, where is your son?” I heard the police man ask, it seemed I came when it was all over.

Bamidele: “My son is not in the house, he went to be with his grandfather” I heard father lie to the police man. Why was he lying to a policeman? I asked myself, nobody was giving any answers.

Police: “Mary is still in coma at the hospital, it seems she went into the shock. I am surprised though that someone that has been with your child since infancy will be attacked in your house and nobody from this household is at the hospital with her”

Bamidele: “I had to take care of my son” he said before he realized he had told the police that his son was away from home.

Police: “Is it the same son, you told us went to his grandfather’s?”

Leke: “I am here, no need scolding my father” I said as I walked down to the living room, father just shook his head in resignation.

Question: What happened to Mary?

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(Episode 6) Two Hearts with Twisted Destinies

Abasiama walked under the cover of darkness to the marina, where she hoped to board a boat that would take her away from the village. But she had no money; neither did she have any possession to trade for money. She saw the light of the speed boat; it was anchored by the bank of the river. She walked discreetly, not making a sound, towards the boat. She could hear the voices of the passengers waiting to board; she knew no one would take pity on her, so Abasiama decided to bootstrap. She was determined to get to Akwa Ibom at all cost. She edged closer to the boat, she would not be able to go through the gangplank, so she walked gently into the water as the waves crashed at her feet. Where the water rose to her thighs, she sneaked into the boat. It was dark instead, probably because people were not boarding yet. It was a perfect cover for her, she went into the recesses of the boat and curled beside a sack, so that she looked like a parcel, not a human being. The water had seeped into her clothing, and now she felt cold. Her teeth clattered against each other, her heart beat faster in her chest, she did not mind. All she thought about was finding her children. Soon the light in the boat came on, so she crawled more into the shades as people began to board. Twenty minutes later, the boat was sailing down the river.

Abasiama had slept off, after having so many thoughts in her head. She was having a dream, in which her husband was alive and they were by the river bank, kissing and hugging each other

Obong: “I love you so much; nothing has changed my feelings for you. Not even the persecutions we have faced. Ata ataufan mi” he said, calling her his personal friend.

Abasiama: “I will bring our children back to the soil of their birth; they must see their father land. I do hope that by the time I am back, our town would have received light and leave the Stone Age” she replied as she caressed his face.

Obong: “I am in support, I will go with you on this journey” he said and a white light came on and blinded her eyes, she could not see her husband again.

Abasiama: “My husband, my husband” she shouted as she opened her eyes to reality. A beam of light was pointed at her face, and she could make out the form of a man. He flung the cloth she was covered in and started down at her, menacingly.

Man: “Who are you and why are you on my boat?” he barked. Abasiama began to whimper.

Abasiama: “I am Queen Abasiama” she replied in a small voice. The man burst into laughter.

Man: “Oh her royal majesty, how may I be of service?” he asked in a mocking tone, and proceeded to call the boat crew. They got angry that Abasiama had got into the boat without paying, they pushed her from one man to the other.

Man 1: “What do we do with her?”

Man 2: “Since she could not pay in cash, I say she pays in kind” one said, exposing his tobacco colored teeth.

Man 3: “What pleasure would I derive from such a woman as this? Her punani must be sagged and shriveled.” He spat in disgust.

Man 1: “Then I say, we throw her overboard, let the fishes have an early Christmas” he said, grinning wickedly.

=====

Nadia wanted to be the hero, so she played a risk card. She called the police. She hoped that the police would get to the house when it was too late to rescue Kaylah. She ran into the hallway to call her parents but stumbled on Malcom, who was passed out on the floor.

Nadia: “Oh my God, oh my God Malcom” she went on her knees and began to shake him. When he wouldn’t stir, she rushed to the master bedroom and banged on the door.

The police van was close to the house when the vehicle in which the militants were being conveyed drove past them. They were too much in a hurry to notice that the occupants of the SUV looked absurd. Mr. and Mrs. Assanga were awoken by the insistent banging on the door, and the noise of the siren outside their gate.

Mrs. Assanga: “What is going on, this cannot be good. Where are my children?” she jumped out of the bed and rushed to the door. But Mr. Assanga intercepted her, holding her firmly. She flayed her hands asking to be freed.

Mr.Assanga: “I will go find out what is going on, stay back” he said curtly and walked to the door. He opened the door and Nadia stumbled in.

Nadia: “Sir, Kaylah has been kidnapped, Malcom is injured” she yelled frantically. MrAssanga heard a thud and turned; behold, his wife had collapsed on the floor.  He rushed to his wife and ran back to his son, then rushed to his wife again.

Mr. Assanga: “Oh no, I am so confused” he said with his hands in the air. He rushed to his wife and carried her from the floor to the bed. By this time, the police had entered the compound, with their guns aimed, and the crackers under their boots giving out a creaky sound as it connected with the ground, they climbed up the stairs.

Inspector: “We received a distress call from this house. Chief, what happened here?” he asked with his shoulders high up girded in shields. Looking at him, one would think he was deploying soldiers to the Sambisa forest.

Mr. Assanga: “My son, my daughter, my wife, ha Abasitua mi mbom” he said asking God to have mercy on him, in Ibibio language.

Nadia: “Kaylah has been kidnapped, and Malcom is unconscious, he was brutally beaten by the kidnappers, Mrs. Assanga is unconscious. The Inspector called the emergency response for an ambulance, while he tried to get a semblance of a statement out of Mr. Assanga. But the latter was incoherent; he was falling apart in the face of crisis. Immediately the ambulance arrived, the paramedics rushed to attend to Mrs. Assanga and her son. While the police set up an incidence booth in front of the house.

Unknown to everyone involved, Nadia had phoned the pressmen. She was certain that the police would not be able to apprehend the kidnappers, so she decided to use the incidence to get some camera time. So, while Mr. Assanga had followed the ambulance to the hospital, Nadia took charge of the situation. She acted the hero, she acted the heartbroken friend.

Nadia: “May her soul rest in peace” she wailed into a journalist’s microphone.

Journalist: “Ha madam, she is not dead na”

Nadia: “Oh yes, the kidnappers will die if they don’t bring my friend back” she cried and fell on the journalist’s chest. The latter looked at his other colleague for help; he did not know how to handle a female who has gone haywire. Nadia went ahead to continue the show even though some of the performing artistes were reluctant to continue the event.

Nadia: “It is what Kaylah would have wanted. She thought of the children in all she did” she said and this was the excuse she said to all who asked her reason for continuing the show.

The militants had reached their hideout in the Qua Iboe area of Ibeno, they had a sack bag over Kaylah’s head throughout the whole trip. As they alighted from the vehicle, Kaylah began to throw her bound fists about, she was scared and her fear was fueling. She needed to fight for her life; there was so much she had to do. She thought of the children that were promised a Christmas show, how were they faring.

Stinger: “Don’t make me hurt you; you have been a good girl so far, continue on that track and you may yet live” he said, but Kaylah wouldn’t hear that, she kept struggling and flailing her hands, trying to hit whoever was holding her.  Stinger was so vexed that, he threw forward his clenched fist and it connected with Kaylah’s mouth. Blood spurted out and splayed on her Lavini tee shirt.

Stinger: “Now see what you made me do” he pulled her by the hair and dragged her. They walked a few distance on a deserted, sandy path before they got to a spot. Kaylah could see, but she could hear the waves, and knew they were close to water. Stinger opened a cap on the ground and stared down the long distance into the ground. They were going to hole up in an underground bunker. He entered first, using the iron ladder, and when he was below, asked that Kaylah be thrown in, for him to catch her. Stinger who had been small bodied in his childhood, had grown into a burly man, with ripped stomach, and muscular biceps. When Kaylah was thrown down, he caught her to his chest. Kaylah felt the hardness from the strong chest, in better circumstances;

she would have swooned over this, being cradled by a muscular man. But, this was her abductor, her assailant, so she began to push herself away from him. She whimpered behind the gag when he refused to put her down. Stinger felt his loins react, when her warm supple skin touched his. She had probably worn a perfume to bed; he could smell it on her skin, and he knew it was something the rich indulged in… or perhaps, it was the soap she had used to bathe before bed, or perhaps she had scented bathwater. He thought as he inhaled the sweet smell, it was intoxicating, and he felt like having her right there.

Stinger: Hey come here

Kayla: Please let me please! She begged

Question:  Will Stinger forcefully sleep with Kayla? Is this the end for Abasaiama?

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(Episode 5) Two Hearts with Twisted Destinies

Back in Old Essien town, Abasiama hid in the bush till night fall, the men had all gone by this time. She crawled out of her hiding place on all fours. She checked everywhere to be sure the men had left. She had heard them saying that, Awasi had inflicted her with madness and they were going to drown her in the Kwa river. Weeks ago, she would have welcomed them with open arms, because life held no meaning. But now, after looking for death everywhere death lurked, she was determined to stay alive. She was convicted her children were still alive, so she was going to look for them, even if she spent the remaining years of her life searching. She walked quietly to her hut , and saw that they had burnt down her hut, there was nothing left for her anymore.

Abasiama: “My husband, I am leaving the land of our Fathers, this land that has brought us so much misfortune. There is nothing left here; I am going into the world to look for our children. Rest well my husband, I did not fight for my children back them, I let them cast my babies away. But this time will be different, I will find them again” she said looking towards the river where his body had been cast. After which she hurried on her way, she was going to the other side of the village where she would board a boat to the other side of the Kwa River, Akwaibom, the land of the Ibibio and Anang.

====

Stinger: “You my dear have just been kidnapped” he said through clenched teeth. Nadia whimpered softly behind the palm that held her mouth captive. Then she realized the gravity of the situation and began to struggle to get free.

Militant: “What next boss?”

Stinger: “Gag her, and let’s take her away” he replied. They stuck a fold of old, dirty rag into her mouth and threw her on their shoulder. Nadia screamed but it could not be held. She clawed the neck of her abductor, so much that he threw her down on the floor.

Militant: “Bitch are you a vampire?” he lamented holding his neck which was already bruised.

Stinger: “Look here, I am sure I can get another victim in that house, for what I have in mind, so don’t vex me to the point that I decide to kill you” he said cruelly. Fat beads of tears began to drop from Nadia’s eyes. This was not the attention she bargained for, she had hoped that the right brands would notice her and her phone would buzz endlessly with calls from brand managers and CEOs, asking her to be their brand ambassador. The gig she managed to score before coming on this cursed trip was even shaky, as they were threatening to terminate her contract. But no, the right people didn’t notice, only kidnappers and criminals noticed her. She began to hit the ground in frustration.

Stinger: “Do you have something to say?” he asked. Nadia was stunned at first, and then she nodded her head vigorously.

Stinger: “Don’t be smart, if you scream, I will burst your brains with my big gun.” He said as he removed the gag.

Nadia: “It is not me you want; I am just an orphan who is trying to make her way in the world. The person you need is Kaylah Assanga, she is the most beautiful girl in Lagos, and she is set to represent Lagos at the MBGN beauty pageant next month. Besides, her parents are rich; they own this house you see” she whispered.

Stinger: “How I do I know you are not just bluffing?”

Nadia: “I will show you her room” she replied and Stinger stuck the gag into her mouth.

Stinger: “Any pranks and your grey matter will be scattered all over this floor” he retorted and pushed her forward with the butt of his gun. They entered the house through the big oak door. Nadia pointed with her hand, and they all took the staircase, to the top storey of the house. It was indeed a magnificent house. Nadia pointed to a door and they all stopped in front. She began to shake her hands wildly. It was a sign that she had something to say. One of the militants removed the gag from her mouth, and they all stood at the ready, waiting to pummel her with bullets, if she screamed.

Nadia: “I have one request. Permit me this one request. If you kidnap her, do not ever let her come back. Maybe you could drop her off in a jungle after your needs have been met, or you could just kill her” she said, and immediately she felt a thud on her face, Stinger had hit her. She stumbled and almost fell, but one of the militants held her up.

Stinger: “Don’t act like you can tell me what to do. I might just decide to take you both” he said and turned to the door. He knocked on the door.

Kaylah heard the knock on the door; she had been unable to hear the squabble outside, because the walls were soundproof. So when she heard the knock, she thought it was either her brother. He probably wanted to continue the conversation they had earlier in the day, so she thought.

Kaylah: “Malcolm, please go away, I am not in the mood for intense talks” she said aloud, even though she knew he would not hear her. But the knock persisted, so she jumped out of bed, her patience already worn thin, and opened the door in an angry jerk. But instead of Malcolm, she was looking down the nozzle of a gun. Her heart skipped a bit and she gasped. She moved backward and the men pushed themselves in, knocking her to the ground. She and Stinger locked gazes for a few seconds before they looked away.

Stinger: “You will follow us quietly and no harm will come to you” he said looking down on her, as she sat on the floor where they had pushed her.

Kaylah: “Where are you taking me, please I have an event tomorrow, I cannot disappoint the children. Please after the event I will go with you.” She pleaded. Stinger was taken aback by her love for the children, he saw every rich person as evil, wicked and self-centered. But for the first time, he was looking at a rich person who cared. He almost softened towards her, but shook his head to clear the invading thoughts.

Stinger: “Just shut up and follow us. Hey Assasino, gag her and tie her up”

Kaylah: “At least, allow me put on clothes” she said in a small voice.

Stinger: “You may do that” he said and they all turned their face in another direction as she changed into a flannel trouser with a Lavini tee shirt she had bought a few days before her trip to Eket. By this time, Nadia had scooted away, so it happened that Kaylah had not seen her, she was focused on the gun in her face and did not notice Nadia. They pulled her along with them in their midst, there were men before and behind her. Malcolm came out at that moment from his room, and was taken aback by the men in their house. They immediately directed their guns at him, with a menacing stare.

Stinger: “Go back to wherever you are coming from before I splatter your brains on these walls” he barked. Malcolm made to leave, but he peeked Kaylah from a little space.

Malcolm: “Kaylah!” he yelled and rushed at the men. They pummeled him with blows till he lay unconscious, and they hurried out of the compound. The operation was taking longer than they had bargained for; they had expected everyone to be asleep. They hurried out of the compound, into their waiting vehicle.

Stinger: “Go go go” he ordered and the driver drove off in a haze of dust.

Question: What will be become of Kaylah in the hands of her abductors? Will Abasiama be able to get to the land of the Ibibio and Anang people where she believes her children are? What does fate have in store for them both?.

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(Episode 2) Two Hearts with Twisted Destinies

The people outside, who had come hoping for a celebration, looked on in despair. Twins were an abomination in Efik land, they would be cast into the sea and the land cleansed of the ill luck they bring. The midwives had dusted their slippers and left the palace in a hurry, no one would call them for midwifery services, and they would live forever with the stigma of delivering twins.

The Obong lay on the floor of the hut and cried, life had dealt him unfairly, the thing that had come from his loins, was an abomination.

Abasiama: “I am sorry, please forgive me” she cried, because in this patriarchal society,  the woman would be blamed for bringing an abomination to the land. The Obong left the hut and went to his throne room; he slumped on the throne, like a drunk. Truly he was drunk in pain.

Seven days after the childbirth, as the culture demanded, Abasiama walked naked round the village, carrying two big baskets on her head. She was to go round the village seven times; her naked body was covered in cam wood oil, her hair was in big braids. She had given birth to a boy and a girl, this would have been a blessing to her, because the goddess had blessed her with two children, but in this land, it was a curse, and such children were not allowed to live. The villagers danced behind her, as she walked in front of them, with the weight of the burden on her head. They followed her, all the way to the Kwa river, as she walked in, slowly to where the water was deep and dumped the baskets which were tied together, on the river. She watched as the baskets flowed down the river, and the babies cried out in loud screams. The queen made to go after the baskets, but men jumped into the water and held her. They pulled her out of the water, to the land, where the Obong covered her with a white loin cloth.

Obong: “Sorry my wife, it is going to be alright. Awasi will give us another child” he said and held her to his chest. The villagers escorted them back to the palace, where the priest was waiting. Abasiama was taken into a room where no man was allowed to enter. There, women washed her body with water from the Kwa river, and smeared the burnt herbs the priest had given to them, on her body. While doing this, they chanted an Efik song, begging Awasi to have mercy on Abasiama and give her a good child.

The baskets in which the babies lay were tied together with a rope so that the same fate would befall them. It was expected that the fishes of the sea, which they believed would be messengers from Awasi Isong, the god of the earth and the waters, would devour the babies. But the babies sailed in the baskets for days without getting devoured, they wailed for their mother, as the cold bit into their tiny bodies. On the third day they had sailed into the Calabar River, where they met a great storm that ripped the rope tying the baskets together. Each basket sailed to a different direction.

=========================

Twenty years later

Kaylah woke up to the sunlight streaming in through the curtains; she had been having a sweet dream. In her dream, she wore the crown for the most beautiful girl in Nigeria. She smiled as she remembered how she had felt when the crown was placed on her head, in her dreams.

Kaylah: “You will get there Kaylah, just a little more effort” she said to herself, and turned to see another girl lying on a separate bed in the room. She was not at home; she was at the camp for the most beautiful girl in Lagos beauty pageant. Her roommate, Nadia, was one of the strongest contenders, she worried. She really needed to win, it would bring her closer to her dreams, and it would give her a platform to reach out to children in foster homes. She had nursed this desire since she was five and had visited an orphanage with her parents, in her hometown of Akwa Ibom. There she had met a small boy who was same age with her. He was named Ifiok, and was wise beyond his years. In his little voice he had told her how he wanted to change the world, and remove sadness and pain from the world. He told Kaylah that he cried every night to sleep because he was not lucky like Kaylah and had no parents.

Kaylah’s little heart broke, and every month after that visit, she cried for her parents to take her to the orphanage. So it became a ritual that, every month’s end, Mr. and Mrs. Assanga would take their Kaylah to Akwa Ibom, so she could visit the orphanage. The friendship between these youngsters grew into a bond. But one month, a year later after they met, Kaylah visited with her parents, but was told that Ifiok had been taken to another foster home, and the details could not be revealed to them. Kaylah begged her parents to adopt Ifiok, as that was the only way the details of his new home could be revealed. When they got to the new home, however, it was found that Ifiok had run away. Kaylah cried and refused eating for days, it was only through the help of a therapist she could start being normal again. But she carried the desire to make the world a better place and saving the children in Orphanages, her life’s mission.

Nadia; “Earth to Kaylah” she said as she tumbled out of bed. Kaylah came out of her reverie, and realized her roommate was awake already, while she was lost in the past.

Kaylah: “Don’t mind me jare”

Nadia: “Today is the grand finale, may the best girl win” she said and winked at Kaylah.

Kaylah: “May I win” she said within herself.

It was in the evening, the event center of the prestigious Eko hotel and suites, was filled to capacity, people had come to watch the girl that would be crowned the most beautiful girl in Lagos, she would go ahead to represent Lagos at the most beautiful girl in Nigeria. Mr. and Mrs. Assanga watched as their daughter strutted on the stage, in different attires. They were both academicians , but this was the path their daughter had chosen, and they were going to support her, most especially because, they knew  the motivation behind it.

After an evening of fun and laughter, which featured jokes from comedians like Basket Mouth and Teju Babyface, it was time to announce the winner and the runners up. The girls were all pensive as they posed side by side on the stage. Fifty girls vying to be queen.

Host: “First and foremost, before we call the winners. We have a NGO in our midst, they are one of our sponsors and they were impressed with one of our girls. I call on Mrs. Anyaegbusi to come up to the stage” the female host said and a heavily built woman rose from the VIP table and walked to the stage amidst cheers from the spectators.

Mrs. Anyaegbusi : “I am the founder of SAVING GIRLS INITIATIVE, and we look out for girls who would do exploits and be an encouragement to other girls. We listened to Miss. Assanga’s speech, where she talked about her passion for the orphanages and people who had no one in the world to speak for them, and we knew she was going to be our voice. We make Kaylah Assanga the face of our NGO. We will give her the platform to realize her goals. Of course this comes with a remuneration package, and she would travel the world to meet girls of like minds. Thank you” The hall burst into cheers, as Kaylah was ushered to take pictures with Mrs Anyaegbusi and other board members of the NGO. She was all smiles and blushes as cameras flashed, every reporter wanted a piece of her. She told herself that even if she did not become a beauty queen, she already had the platform to share her ideas with the world.

Host: “Now, we call on Mr. Ben Murray Bruce and Governor Ambode, to call the winner” she said as the two dignitaries walked up to the stage. At this point, Nadia was feeling jittery, seeing Kaylah become the face of a notable NGO, she was wondering when the beauty pageant became more intense, when did they start caring about soul talks and saving the world, weren’t they all about beauty? She asked herself. She told herself that if she won this, she would smile into their faces and kiss any orphan they wanted her to kiss, she would pretend to care about these things, even if she did. The dignitaries announced Kaylah as the most beautiful girl in Lagos, and Nadia as the first runner up. The ex queen came up to transfer the crown to Kaylah’s head. Her mother, Benita Assanga rushed up to the stage and embraced her daughter.

Benita: “My pride and joy, the day you came into my life was the most beautiful day” she showered her daughter with kisses, as tears rolled down her cheeks. Behind her, the banner for first runner up was placed on Nadia, she eyed Kaylah and wished something bad would befall her right now, so she could be made the queen.

====================

Somewhere in Eket, particularly in Ibeno, a group of militants sat together, smoking Marijuana. They had heavy machine guns lying beside each of them, their leader, popularly known as Stinger had girls sitting on his thighs.

Stinger: “We have to kidnap one of these big shoes. We need money to fund our next campaign against Exxon Mobil” They agreed that, since it was festive season, they would wait for the rich sons and daughters of Akawa Ibom to return home for the festivities. Then they would kidnap someone with clout who would fetch those millions, which they needed.

After they had concluded their plans, Stinger separated himself from the others; he walked a few miles to the beach, and sat by a coconut tree. He thought of his life, militancy was his way of shielding the pain he had carried from his childhood. No one cared about him, even his parents had not cared for him. He remembered that fateful day, when one of the administrators in the new foster home he had been taken to, had told him how he came to be in the foster home. After being removed from the old foster home, where he had formed a friendship with a little girl, whose name he could not remember, he had no one else to cheer him up and make life colorful. So he became unruly, and the administrators were not ready to tolerate his unruliness. Sometimes they would punish him by withholding food from him, sometimes they flogged him mercilessly. So he ran away.

From the age of six, he lived on the streets of Uyo. No one knew his real name because, from the age of ten he got the name “Stinger”. He had been bullied by bigger boys, because he had a small stature, but one day he sprang on his oppressor, and pummeled him to a bloody mess. People began to defer to him, and gave him the nickname. Till he grew, he had borne the name. Sometimes, in his quiet moments, he wondered what turn, his life would have taken, if he had parents who had not thrown him into the river. Yes, his administrator at the last foster home he was in, had cruelly told the six year old, that he was found at the river bank, he had been thrown to the river, and he was hospitalized for months before he bounced back to health. So, he should stop acting like a prince, because he was just a reject. So Stinger had poured his annoyance on the whole world, his life was forfeit, but he would unleash terror on the world.

Question: Is Kaylah, the girl Stinger had met when he was little. Would Kaylah meet Ifiok, the boy she had met when she was little, in the future?

…SEE Episode 3 Below  (You don’t wanna miss this!)

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(Episode 18) Wrong Turn … A fatal Attraction!

Oyinda agreed to clear Bimpe’s name in a press conference. Bimpe went all out in organizing the press conference. She invited top bloggers, vloggers and newsmen to the press conference. The conference was held in the courtyard of Cytron Company.  Bimpe waited for Oyinda to arrive before she went out, but Oyinda did not come at the time she should. Her heart began to tremble.

Bimpe: “This is going to be the worst, to be stood up” she muttered as they walked up and down her office. Her secretary did well to stay clear from her path because when she was in this mood, she could turn on anybody. She had sacked an employee once, when she was in this mood. But Barrister Demba was with her, Bimpe had discussed the offer, she offered Oyinda, but he had his doubts to the feasibility of this plan. So he was already prepared for the case. His only fear was that, Bimpe could be handing ammunition to Oyinda to harm her, she was giving her a stage and there was no telling what Oyinda would say. After a long wait, in which the pressmen were beginning to get impatient and some were packing up to leave, Bimpe came out of the company premises, with Oyinda in tow.

Bimpe: “Welcome everyone to this press conference. The purpose of this conference is to clear my name. By whatever reason, I was wrongly accused of the death of my husband, but today I am happy to say, that the one other person who saw the incident is here to tell the truth, and clear me from any wrong doing. The murderer is still out there” she said and paved the one for Oyinda to come to the microphone and talk.

Oyinda: “My stepmother did not kill my father, she is innocent, my brother did, he killed my father, but it was not intentional, he meant to…” People began to boo and jeer at her. She could not continue because they were throwing slurs at her. At this time, Bimpe should have taken her off the stage, but she wanted her to complete. More importantly, she wanted her to name her brother as the murderer.

Brian was sitting in his hideout watching the television, he was happy about the development, if Bimpe was convicted for the murder of his father, he could easily take back what he deserved. He loved his sister more for standing for him, he had not finished the thought when the press conference came up live on LVH1, he saw Bimpe and he saw Oyinda coming up behind her.

Brian: “What is going on here?” he thought to himself, his mind refused to accept the fact that his sister would turn on him. His hopes were dashed when Bimpe announced that her name would be cleared. Then his sister began to talk and his world crumbled.

Brian: “Oyinda! Oyinda!” he sneered through clenched teeth. He pulled up his hood on his sweatshirt and stepped out of his hideout. He was going to pay his sister a visit.

After the crowd quieted down, Bimpe urged Oyinda to continue her speech; the latter turned and looked at her thoughtfully.

Oyinda: “She is enjoying this; she wants me to finger Brian publicly. We’ll see about that”  she flipped her hair to one side and adjusted the microphone closer to her mouth.

Oyinda: “All I just said is a lie. Bimpe forced me to say this, she bribed me, that she would give me my inheritance if I cleared her name and finger my brother instead. My brother Brian was and still is out of the country on the day of the incident. How much she bribe me with my own inheritance, is it not my property? I have to say the truth even if it means that she will keep all of my father’s properties, it doesn’t matter. The murderer of my father, Chief Bamigboye is none other than Bimpe, and she must be sent to jail.” She said and walked away quickly, afraid for her life. She kept turning left right and backwards to make sure Bimpe had not sent anyone after her.

Barrister Demba: “We have to leave now” he pulled her arm but she was pulling back, she wanted to say her side of the story.

Bimpe: “They have to hear me, I did not kill Chief Bamigboye, I did not” she wailed. Barrister Demba succeeded in taking her away from the venue of the conference, back into the company’s premises. The conference was televised on many television channels, people began to remember the murder of Alhaji, and the tag “Black widow” appeared more on television.

Bimpe: “I want another conference”

Barrister Demba: “Enough of the conferences, this plan was bad from the onset, your priority is to win the case, not win public opinion. Public opinion does not matter”

Bimpe: “What is the way forward?”

Barrister Demba: “It is obvious that the police have no evidence other than Oyinda’s testimony, we have to attack her authenticity. Do not worry; everything is going to be fine”

Oyinda was in the big mansion all alone, she had on her night robe, but she could not sleep. She kept seeing the visuals of her father lying in his own pool of blood. She blamed Bimpe for everything, and swore that she would make sure she is convicted for her father’s murder. She was lost in thought she didn’t realize somebody else was in the living room with her. Till he gripped her neck, she tried to scream, but the sound was killed in her throat.

Brian: “You traitor, how could you do that to me?” he lifted her from the couch and threw her to the floor.

Oyinda: “Brian, what have I done to you that you want to kill me as you killed father”

Brian: “I saw you on television today, you …”

Oyinda: “Yes I was and I regret throwing Bimpe under the bus for you”

Brian: “I don’t understand, you cleared Bimpe’s name, didn’t you?”

Oyinda: “You probably watched the beginning and had no patience for the latter part. I did that to make things worse for her, have you read the news recently, people think she bribed me to say that, they think the worst of her. People already believe she is guilty, you are free. The police will never know. Only me know who killed father.” Brian embraced her and thanked her.

Oyinda: “How do we get our possession back?”

Brian: “Patience, sister. The first step is to get her to prison, if we succeed in that, every other thing is a cake walk”

The solicitor in charge of Chief Bamigboye’s estate fixed a date for the reading of the will; Bimpe went and told him that the day in question was not convenient for her. She knew she was a principal element and the will would not be read in her absence. This infuriated the children so greatly, that they couldn’t wait for the case to begin, so they would testify against Bimpe. One day, a day to the trial, Bimpe went to the house to pack her belongings, she had not lived in the house since Chief died. When she opened the door, she stumbled because fear consumed her, there, staring at her, was Brian.

Bimpe: “You?”

Brian: “Yes me, what are you doing here, murderer?”

Bimpe: “Oh my God, have you guys told this lie so often that you actually believe it?”

Brian:”What are you doing here?”

Bimpe: “I live here, in fact, I own this house since you killed your father. I would have kicked you guys out, but I am not in the mood, but don’t test me” she said and walked away, taking tentative steps up the stairs.

================================

The day of the trial saw a full courthouse, like the time of the murder of AlhajiDambazzau. People trudged to the courthouse, both pressmen and ordinary citizens.Bimpe dressed in a midi peach colored dress. She sat in the defense section with her lawyer Barrister Demba. Oyinda walked into the courtroom and sat on the other side of the room, eyeing Bimpe all the way to her seat.

Court official: “The defendant should stand” Bimpe stood up, she felt a sense of déjà vu. The last time she was in the courthouse, she was a witness, today she was a defendant.

Court official: “How do you plead?”

Bimpe: “Not guilty” she replied

Court official: “The court calls the prosecuting counsel to call its first witness”

The prosecutor stood up and called Oyinda out to the witness stand.

Prosecutor: “You witnessed the murder of Chief Bamigboye, do you see the murderer in the court room?”

Oyinda: “That is her, the murderer is Bimpe” she pointed straight to Bimpe, who looked at her, her face devoid of any emotion or expression.

Prosecutor: “What did she kill your father, with?”

Oyinda: “A pistol” she replied. The prosecutor had the remote to a projector, so he displayed the picture of the pistol found at the crime scene.

Prosecutor: “How did it happen?”

Oyinda: “I was upstairs in my room when I heard shouts, it was Bimpe’s voice, she was screaming at my dad, she was angry, I could not hear what she was saying, I rushed downstairs just at the moment she pulled the trigger. My dad fell, with blood spurting out of the bullet hole, and she just threw the gun and stared at my dad, she did not do anything, she was so heartless.” She began to sob. It was easy for her to cry because she missed her dad and he was dead, never to return. Many who watched her cry could feel her grief, and they hated Bimpe the more. She was the face of villainous.

Prosecutor: “No further questions” he said and went back to his seat. Barrister jumped out the moment, the prosecutor got to his seat.

Barrister Demba: “Miss Bamigboye, you say that Bimpe held the gun and shot your father point blank?”

Oyinda: “yes she did, I saw her”

Barrister Demba: “But analysis of the finger prints on the gun has been compared with the defendant’s finger prints, and there was no match. Here is exhibit A” he brought out papers from  his folder and gave to the court clerk and the judge, he also displayed it on the projector, for all to see.

Oyinda(stuttering): “I only know what I saw, and she held the gun”

Barrister Demba: “Was she wearing hand gloves?”

Oyinda: “I don’t know, I cannot tell”

Barrister Demba: “Were you Jealous that a lady that was once your classmate was now your stepmother?”

Prosecutor: “Objection, speculation”

Judge:”sustained. Counsel, if you have no more questions, save our time”

Barrister Demba: “No further questions” he said and went back to his seat, with a sly grin. Bimpe looked at him and wondered what was amusing in this situation.

Prosecutor: “I call Bimpe to the stand”

Question: Do you think the prosecutor has laid a trap for Bimpe, by calling her to the stand? Also, why was Bimpe’s lawyer smiling in such a tight situation. Does he have an ace up his sleeve?

SEE Episode 19 Below (You don’t wanna miss it!)

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(Episode 16) Wrong Turn … A fatal Attraction!

Brian: “My father? Did you say my father? Bitch?” he raised his hand and smacked her hard on the face, Bimpe stumbled and fell backwards, but Chief Bamigboye was there to catch her.

Chief Bamigboye: “I did not raise you to raise your hand against a woman, you worthless son”

Brian: “You are the useless father, were you sleeping with my fiancée?” he said and made to grab Bimpe, but she held his hand.

Bimpe: “You dare not hit me again. You think I didn’t know you were after my wealth, I know everything, Brian, and that is why I refused a court marriage. I was ready to pretend and marry you, just to make your father happy, because I thought if I married you, I could be close to him. But I cannot imagine myself bond to you with the bonds of marriage. You are a despicable person” she turned to the priest, with a sober face.

Bimpe: “I have never slept with Chief Bamigboye, but my heart yearns for him, and I know he yearns for me too. Join us now” she turned to Chief Bamigboye and held him.

Bimpe: “We can live our life; we must not allow ourselves to be bound by the chains of society. I love you” she said passionately. At that moment her father opened the big oak doors of the cathedral and walked in.

Ladejo: “Bimpe” she turned and saw her foster father, her mouth opened in surprise.

Yusuf tried all he could to locate his mother but could not, with pain in his heart; he decided to go back to the State. He was at the airport lounge waiting for his flight to be called when a woman dressed in a blue burka came to sit close to him.

Yusuf: “Assallamu alaiku”

Strange woman: “Mualaikum salaam my son” she replied and Yusuf sat up.

Yusuf: “Mother, is it you. Where have you been?”

Alhaja: “You can’t leave the country, I need you”

Yusuf: “We have to look for a way to get you out of the country, you are a fugitive now”

Alhaja: “I won’t leave the country till the person who did this to us is recompensed” Yusuf thought of Bimpe and sighed. Maybe in another life, they would have been married now. After he lost everything, he began to see that buried under all his desire to get back his father’s properties, he had fallen for Bimpe, he had fought these feelings every time, but his heart won every time. He loved her but they could never forgive each other for the hurt they have each caused the other.

Yusuf: “Mother, you cannot hurt Bimpe. Killing father was not enough? How did you turn so evil?” Alhaja Zainab turned in her seat and gave Yusuf a resounding slap.

Alhaja: “I did not kill your father, I might not be a saint, but I would never hurt your father. That girl Bimpe is the murderer; I have no doubt about that” Yusuf thought back to when his abductors wanted to kill him, but Bimpe allowed him live, even when she knew that he could harm someday.

Yusuf: “Even if she did, we have to do everything legally. Two wrongs don’t make a right”

Alhaja: “She bribes everyone even the judge, even my own damn lawyer. Nobody wants to do any investigation; they want me to be the fall woman. I will do this my way.”

Yusuf: “Then I really must catch my flight. I hope you see the light early, before the darkness destroys you. Farewell Mother” he stood up and began to walk away.

Alhaja: “Please Yusuf, don’t leave, Yusuf!” people began to stare at them, and Alhaja, afraid that she would call attention to herself rushed out of the lobby, into the morning sun. Since, the day she ran away from the stairs of the courthouse, she had met a friend of hers who helped her access her offshore accounts. So even though she was on the road, she lacked nothing, she had already recruited people who would keep 24 hours surveillance on Bimpe, she wanted to know everything she was doing.

“This time, when I strike, you must go down” she pondered in her heart.

======================================

Bimpe: “Uncle, what are you doing here? You refused to give me out for marriage today, when you know my parents are dead. I don’t want to see you. Just leave immediately” she yelled. Ladejo’s heart broke, he tried to say something but the look in Bimpe’s eyes shut him up; he turned and went back the same way he came. The guests, when they left their houses, had not bargained for the drama they were watching now. They stayed glued to their seats, not wanting to miss any part of the drama.

Priest: “Are you willing to take this woman as your wife?” he asked looking at Chief Bamigboye. Chief Bamigboye was too stunned to answer. He could not believe that a woman such as Bimpe wanted him as a husband. But he wondered what the marriage would do to his family, especially his children. He felt a hand on his back, when he turned, he saw his friend, Doctor Dapo.

Dapo: “Think this through, you don’t have to do it today” he said. Bimpe looked at him and wondered why he was intent on scattering her plans, but she kept her cool. Then Dapo turned and their eyes both met. For a moment, they were immersed in each other’s eyes, but the moment passed.

Chief Bamigboye: “I don’t want to wait, I want to marry Bimpe now.” He said firmly. The priest blessed them, and they exchanged their vows.

Oyinda had traveled to avoid her brother’s wedding day, when she came back, she found out the worst thing had happened. Bimpe, her former roommate, someone who was on the lower rung of the ladder, was now her stepmother.

Oyinda: “Why the hell did you allow this happen? Did you just sit down and allowed your ex girlfriend become your step mother?” she yelled. Just then Bimpe walked into the kitchen.

Bimpe: “Hello children. No bickering in my kitchen, go to your rooms” she said with a wicked grin. Brian rushed towards her but Bimpe pulled out a knife from the knife rack and brandished it.

Bimpe: “Do I have to hire a bodyguard because of you? Instead of bickering in my kitchen, you should start looking for a wife. You know what is at stake, don’t you?” she snarled.

Oyinda: “You are such a conniving bitch; you never wanted to marry Brian, did you. You always had eyes for my father “

Bimpe: “He is very handsome and intelligent; it seems to me though, that you two missed the intelligence gene. This is just the beginning my dear children” she said and left the kitchen. As she passed through the living room, wanting to go up the stairs, Chief saw her.

Chief: “Bimpe, what are you doing with a knife, you want to hurt yourself?”

Bimpe: “It is for protection. Brian threatened me; I don’t feel safe in this house anymore”

Chief: “What do you mean, is Brian giving you problems? I know just want to do” He left Bimpe on the staircase, and proceeded to his private study. He always took very important calls in his study.

The next morning, Chief Bamigboye called a breakfast meeting. Bimpe was not ready to slave herself for anybody, so she had employed housekeepers as soon as she got into the house. So while the housekeepers set the foods on the table, Chief told them his mind.

Chief: “All your trust funds are in my new wife’s hands; she has a conglomerate, if she could manage that, she can manage your trust fund appropriately”

Brian: “What!”

Oyinda: “What has come over you father, to what purpose are you doing this?”

Chief: “I waited for you guys to grow up and be responsible, but I have been waiting a long time and none of you is stepping up. I do not want to die and my legacy dies with me. I will leave all I have in the hands of someone who is responsible.

Brian: “That will be over my dead body” he pound the glass table with his hard fist and the table gave in, breaking into pieces, and spewing the whole breakfast on the occupants of the table.

Oyinda: “The battle line has been drawn. Bimpe must leave this house or else…” she joined in. They both stood up and left.

======================================

Chief Bamigboye had gone to meet his lawyer, he wanted to change his will, but unknown to him, his son had an informant in the law firm that managed Chief’s assets and legal issues. So Brian was at home, when his phone rang, he saw it was his informant from the Law firm. He received the call and after listening for a while, his face contorted into rage, and his fist was folded. He hung up and threw the phone at the wall.

Brian: “I wonder how you got rich, was it by claiming other people’s inheritance? If so, you have come to the wrong house. I will not spare you” he said and walked to his wardrobe, he removed several piles of clothes, and then he brought out a parcel wrapped in a white cloth, he unwrapped the white cloth, and behold, it was a silver pistol. He dropped the cloth and left his room, the gun held firmly in his hand.

Brian: “You have bitten more than you can chew, Bimpe” he said as he descended the staircase one after the other. He could already see Bimpe and his father in the living room; Bimpe had her head on Chief’s chest.

Question: What is going to happen to Bimpe, will Brian go through with his intent?”

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