"Ah, Ah!!! Help me!" a distressed male voice emanated from the loud speakers in the Kada cinema hall. "Somebody please help me." He called again. Already bleeding from his legs and hands, he pulled himself on the titled floor, looking for an exit. A masked man welding a hack saw advanced toward the crying man.
"I hate horror movies." Chigozie protested from where sha sat in the large cinema hall. "I thought we were supposed to go straight to business?"
"We will" Emeka Odile, her boyfriend of five years, said. "This is just a little by the way fun."
"I don't need fun. Business is supposed to be business. I don't need fun. We're not trying to make up, are we?"
"It depends on your definition of make up." Emeka smiled at her.
Chigozie observed him briefly and shook her head. He always had answers for every question. That aside he loved to turn tables, to put one in the spot light. "When you feel like doing business, meet me at the restaurant. I'm out."
She stood up to leave but Emeka quickly caught her by the hand. "Ok." He said. "Let's go."
The next five minutes found them out of the cinema and at the kada fries section of the kada structure. A plate of roasted chicken, a bottle of malt and a bottle of guiness stout rested easily on the table. While Chigozie ate, Emeka observed her. In the past, he had loved her like his life depended on it. He met Chigozie five years back. They were both final year students at the Delta State University, Abraka. Final exams were on. In fact, it was the last day of exam. He drove to school, although a little behind schedule, when he saw her stranded at the road side. She was drenched in the heavy down pour, but she didn't seem to care. She stood there, waving at vehicles. But none stopped for her. One couldn't blame them. For all they cared, she could be one of those girls who stood by the road side to set up car owners. Ignoring the thought, Emeka stopped and picked her up.
"Where are you headed?" He asked, as soon as she was in.
"Campus two, faculty of arts."
"Ok. I'm heading there too."
She said her thanks and he drove off.
Minutes later, they were at the faculty. She got off, thanked him again quickly and ran off.
"You're welcome." He muttered as he watched her run off. His thoughts went to his friends at that moment. He knew they would laugh at him when he tells them he picked up a girl but didn't woo her. Well, to hell with them . He got out of the car and headed for his department, theatre arts, to write his own paper.
A week later, after he had long forgotten her, they ran into each other at the main market. She was shopping for some food stuff to take home to her parents, he was shopping for food stuff to cook. He wasn't ready to go home.
"Hi!" She was the one who greeted him first. "I remember you."
He turned to look at her, his breath caught. "Hello," It took him time to realise she was the same girl he picked up. That day, drenched in the rain, she didn't deserve a second look. But at that moment, in the market place, he was sure he was going to woo her.
Days turned to weeks. Weeks, to months. Soon, they became an item. After, they had long returned to their various states, Emeka visited her parents and also took her to visit his. Marriage was certainly in view. But then, things happened. Emeka lost his dad, Mr. Theophilus Odile, two months to the wedding. All resources were directed at giving him a proper buried. The wedding was postponed. Just after the burial, a business associate of Emeka's late father appeared. He demanded pay back for all the money the late Mr. Odile owed him. At first, the family saw it as a trap. How could their father and husband die and be buried before they ever got a debt complain. After investigations, hidden documents in the late Mr. Odile's personal study revealed that his business associate owned everything they had. He lost his home and business through gambling. To keep his wealth, he had to do several dirty jobs. The jobs were not over and Mr. Efeke only showed up to ensure that the jobs were completed. At first, the family refused. But after untold hardship due to everything being taken from them, Emeka gave in. He just couldn't bear to see his mother and siblings suffer so much. Chigozie adviced him against it, but he had made up his mind.
"I won't let you go into a criminal organisation alone." She told him. "If you go, I'll go with you."
All that was five years ago. The debt had been paid. But Emeka, seeing his criminal jobs as quick means to earn cash, refused to stop. While his siblings ran his late father's company, he signed up as a full time worker with Efeke. And he dragged Chigozie into it, threatening to maim and kill her, if she refused to remain with him. She had tried once to run away and start afresh. She packed up and move to Benin City. Unfortunately, he caught up with her and killed her new boyfriend. He knew that wasn't enough warning. Chigozie was a smart girl with a strong heart, she would up and run away again; going very far this time. So, he threatened her family. Her aged mother would be killed if she didn't cooperate. Her brother would be maimed and her sisters would be dragged to a brothel to work. Scared out of her wits, she complied with Emeka's instructions. But she couldn't tell anyone. She was trapped in a world she didn't want to be. Now there she was, constantly carrying out dirty jobs for her so called boyfriend.
"Are you going to eat? Or are you going to spend the afternoon observing me? The food is almost finished." She blurted after she noticed he wasn't eating.
"You know I love watching you."
"Quit it, Emmy. We both know this meeting is really about something else. It was never about us having fun or trying get our lives back. We're both past that."
"Ok" Emeka relaxed, arms folded across his chest. "I wanted us to try and rekindle our love. But since you're not up to it, let's get down to business. How did last night go?"
Chigozie deeped her hand in her handbag and brought out a brown envelop. She slid it across the table. Emeka picked it up, opened it and poured out its contents. Indeed, they were pictures of the diseased lady and the entire crime scene.
"Nice job." Emeka said, after going through it one more time.
"Thanks. Now are we done?"
"No. Not yet sweetheart."
"I'm not your sweet anything." She protested. Her expression, repulsive.
"Ok. I'm sorry." Emeka raised his hands in apology. "I have two more jobs for you. You do them well, then you're free."
Chigozie observed him as he picked up his bottle of guiness stout and drank from it.
"What about us? What exactly happen to what we had?" Chigozie couldn't help but ask.
"Nothing dear. We only have bigger fishes to fry."
"Everything you just said is total crop." Chigozie fled up. "Ever since we started this work, we've drifted apart. And you don't seem to care. You're no longer the man I used to know. And you won't let me move on with my life. It's always one instruction after the other."
"Actually, I do care. We can move on together. You're the one always pulling away from me.
"That's because you changed and you changed me too. Unfortunately, for worse." She shook her head at him and turned back to her chicken meal, refusing to be disturbed.
To be continued...