Lara felt spent.
She had taken deep breaths. She had wrung her hair. She had chewed her nails. She had tried sitting down, and when that didn’t work she had tried pacing around. Nothing to stem the panic brewing in her heart. And as much as she didn’t have to mind to say it out loud, her two friends weren’t helping matters.
“Babe, calm down na. They’ll find her.”
“Come and sit down and chill.”
“Here, have a glass of wine, you’ll feel better.”
“The police are on the case, come and watch TV.”
“She’s a little girl. No one will hurt a little girl.”
“Abi. She’s a child. They won’t harm her.”
When her hysteria came down a notch, she lent a slight thought to how she had gotten such friends. A look at the bottle on the table answered her questions. These were her drinking friends, the ones that offered solace with the reach of a bottle. Their compassion stretched as far as they could be inebriated, and they managed to have their kind of life style because they got lavished by different people. Lara wasn’t like that. She had Segun in her life. She had created something amazing with him in the form of little Barbara, and now her little bundle of perfection was gone.
Lara recalled how minutes earlier Segun had calmly walked out of the house, with Chike trailing behind. When she pleaded with Chike to spill on what Segun wanted to do, Chike, with a defeated look, had simply said;
“I honestly have no idea.”
The police were still hanging around, but their attention seemed to wane. Neighbours hadn’t returned yet, and Lara silently cursed herself for not being more neighbourly and getting their numbers. Lara was through with another round of pacing when her phone rang. She froze, staring at the screen when she saw ‘Unknown Caller’. With a deep breath, she answered the call.
“Your first mistake already, and we haven’t even started.” Chills raced down Lara’s spine as the same robotic voice spoke coolly through the speaker. “I see why you have… issues.”
“H-h-hold on…” Lara’s stuttering caught the attention of her two friends. “You never said I sh-sh-should do anything!”
“Okay. Do not call the police. You have been told, and now you have failed.”
Lara fell silent. This had to be a dream. There was no way this was happening to her.
“Now you will have to be punished for this.”
“W-w-what do you want?”
“You will have to stand at the junction down your street in nothing but your underwear. I am watching. I am waiting. And so is little Barbara.” The line went dead.
Lara stood still for a few seconds before heading for the couch and shoving her friends aside as they tried to inquire about the call. She slumped into the cushion and dropped her phone on the table, rubbed her eyes until she saw spots, and said in a slow drawl;
“Abike, pour me some wine. And fill two glasses.
The club was called Oshe’s, and it was located downtown, about an hour away from Segun’s home. It was one of those clubs that culled in the top people of the city, but still found a way to include those with not so extravagant means. Segun used to be a regular here, in a life far far away. He had tucked away that bit of him when he had decided to go straight and create a little happy family for himself. But as he was waved through the door and came upon the once forgotten ambiance of debauchery and sensuality, he realized he had missed the place. In the light of day, it settled down as a simple bar for patrons to come while away time and talk business if they saw fit. At night, it turned into a niche for denizens of the good life.
Segun took the steps up to the VIP area and waited in front of a non-distinct door as the guard in front went in to deliver a message. While he waited for the invite to come in, Segun studied the VIP section and appreciated the fact that it looked even better than the last time he was here. BC was doing a wonderful job, Segun thought as he admired the lush couches and the lighting. The guard reappeared and let him through. Down a narrow hallway, and through a door to the left, Segun came face to face with the one who had been at the top in his past life.
“Shegere Shegere. When they said you were the one, I no wan believe. But true true, here you are.”
“BC, I hail o. I hail you,” Segun paid homage to the one called BC. The man smiled, noticing that Segun had remembered the little nickname not many people were privy to. Everyone else called him Constrictor, Segun happened to know why. Constrictor reclined in an office chair, his legs crossed atop the polished oak table in the centre of the room. Segun moved forward and went down on one knee with his head bow. When he stood up, Constrictor was looking at him with a smile.
“Shegere. This one you’ve come here… wetin happen? You don tire for office? How Omolara sef?”
Segun winced. “Lara is… another matter. I am here to ask for your help, BC.”
Constrictor’s eyes narrowed. “My help? Shege, you haven’t been here for a while, so I will forgive you. But… you don’t just come asking for my help.”
“It’s very serious, BC. And right now, you’re the best I have,” Segun sighed. “It’s about my daughter.”
“Oh boy. You get daughter true true o. I think say na joke. Congrats oga! How old?”
“Oshe daddy. So you want me to babysit?” Constrictor joked.
“No… I want you to find her. She’s been kidnapped.”
Constrictor’s smile fell as soon as Segun said the words, and his demeanour turned deadly. “Someone kidnapped your daughter…” Segun nodded. “You want me to find her…” Another nod. Then a pause. “What about the person responsible?”
“Dead,” came the cold answer.
Constrictor’s legs came off the table. “And you’re ready to do whatever? This won’t be free service.”
“Name it. I will do it,” came the answer. Segun didn’t hesitate one bit.
“Segun,” Constrictor started as he rose from the chair, “take time to think this through. Be very certain this is what you want.” He put a hand on Segun’s shoulder. “I let you out of this place for a reason. Go to the bar. Chill. Have a drink or two. On the house. Think this through, then get back to me.”
Segun nodded. “Thank you, BC.”
Constrictor watched as Segun turned around and left the office, feeling for his comrade and imagining the lengths the man would go to find his daughter.
Did you hear the one about the couch potato? Me neither. I was too lazy to listen.