Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Night Out

You may run,
But you can only hide for so long
In a fish bowl.

Bella Kapina drove her Toyota Corolla expertly through the light Friday traffic. Sapele town where she had grown up was large and busy in comparison to this dead-end zone. She had whined and griped; but still here she was in Kabrika town not too far from Lagos, and yet too far for anything lively to happen. These people didn’t need a bank, they needed entertainment!

She parked her car and walked up the steps juggling her keys to find the appropriate one for the padlock on the protector. In Nigeria, all houses had metal bars on every door and window that led outside. They never wait for a burglary before they installed them; the bars were part of the architectural plan and design.

Her phone rang. It was Selena. “Yes I’m home, just take a cab, they’re safe in this town.” I hope you find one, she added mentally as she ended the call. Dead-end town, she shook her head.

Less than 30 minutes later Selena was at her house. Seven years younger than Bella, Selena was a handful. Within minutes she had put on the TV, tried the radio stations, made four out of town calls (who would she be calling within town anyway?) and had dinner. She was over for the weekend and would go back to Lagos by Sunday; if she survived tomorrow.

“So what’s up for tonight?” She hopped off the arm of the chair where the GSM network had better connection; some areas of the house were classified as out of network area, that would be something the service providers alone would be able to explain.

Bella looked at her glumly; “I was posted to Kabrika to open a branch. The bank did not consider night-time entertainment when they were trying to make life ‘comfortable’ for us.” She endured up to fifteen minutes more of Selena’s whining before relenting. “Okay, okay! Get dressed; we’ll go to the only place with passably decent entertainment.”

‘For Us by Us’ fondly called FUBU club was a child of necessity, created by the staff of Fortune Bank to survive acute boredom. It was a converted flat with the living room turned to a bar and dancehall area, while the rooms were set up for shooting pool.

“Bella!” Emeka Okeke was the brains behind FUBU. An Ibo boy to the core he had wangled capital out of the staff and was keeping a cool percentage from this venture. So far, none of the colleagues were ready to argue with him; they were getting great value for their money.

Bella stopped briefly to chat with Emeka while Selena drifted off and mingled; being Bella’s sister got her more than enough attention.

Many drinks, games and laughs later, Bella rounded her up. Selena wished there was another bar to hit; it wasn’t even well past midnight yet. In Lagos she’d be up till four.

Selena had turned up the car radio and they were singing along with Timbaland when it happened. Bella was driving, she blinked once and there was someone in the middle of the road! She swerved sharply to the right to avoid the figure who had thrown up its hands when the car lights beamed on it. Bella struggled to stabilize the vehicle which was now threatening to go into a spin but somehow it slowed and stopped.

The sisters turned to gaze out the back of the car, “Did I…?”

Selena could only whisper, “I think you did.”

Acting simultaneously both girls opened their doors and stepped out to survey the surroundings. There was a body lying facedown on the floor. They approached slowly and turned it around. It was a lady; bleeding and gasping for breath, trying to speak. Selena leaned in to hear better, but the lady grabbed her hand and pulled it to her back as she breathed her last.

Selena was surprised as her hand touched something cold and hard. She turned the woman over and saw a knife stuck in her back. Both girls jumped back and scanned the area, slowly retreating to their car. “She was saying ‘run.’” Selena realized with a jolt.

They turned and ran back into the car. Bella started the car and stepped hard on the accelerator. They sped off from the scene.

Both girls would need some seconds to recover from the shock of that encounter, and a few more to realize they were not alone in their car; At least that was what the owner of the third heartbeat in the back seat was thinking as they all sped along.

Run all you want dears, you are mine!