Hi everyone. Been a while away from here. Thank you to all the folks that kept sending messages asking about The Passion Chronicles. Let’s just say “Many waters were passing under the bridge”. I’ll write a story about my silence very soon. You can read the first part of that story here .http://the3six5ng.wordpress.com/2013/05/07/may-6-2013-ajoyo/ I had no idea I would need a sequel when I sent in my contribution . Did I here someone say ‘Welcome Back’? “Thank you”. I am here to stay now. Please enjoy the third part of In The Line of Fire. The concluding part will be posted this weekend.
It was 2.15am on a rainy Sunday morning in September. Alero stood before the calendar marking dates and pointing. Her eyes were leery with sleep, but she was willing to push through the last few minutes of her conversation with Kunle, who was calling from Afghanistan. He had travelled to the far eastern country for two weeks and was due back in the country via Dubai one week to their wedding. Elizabeth peeped from behind her writing dates and timelines as the telephone conversation progressed. Elizabeth had worked closely with the wedding planner, and took notes of all the dates discussed on the phone. After the conversation, Alero would log on to the internet and book a total of four flights from Lagos to Morocco Dubai to John F. Kennedy Airport, New York City and then back to lagos. That pretty much explained why KK had budgeted a sum of fifteen million naira for the entire wedding ceremony and the honeymoon. There was a long list of hotels and airport services to pay for as well. How she envied her friend. Where were her eyes on that fateful day when KK’s eyes roved through the ladies in the church in search of the woman he would lavish all this money? If she caught his glimpse she would have rolled it until it magnetized his legs in her direction. Where was her much coveted big naija backside when it needed a good showing. Had KK caught a glimpse of her fitted gown that fateful Sunday morning in December, she was sure she would be in Alero’s shoes now. Her faith in God dwindled over time, since her friend met with Kunle. He was obviously an answer to prayers, but she prayed harder than Alero. Why did God decide to bless her. She wept on the phone while talking to her mother two nights ago and her mom could only remind her that God’s plan for her was that of good and not of evil, to lead her to an expected end.
“Jeremiah twenty nine verse eleven. Mummy, I have quoted that scripture all my life. Why does God’s plans for me not include a man like Kunle…”..and not those hounds that want only to make a toy of my backside. Her mom scolded her for envying her best friend of many years.
“You should be grateful to God for her. And pray that your man will show up soon.”
Alero stood behind the dining table staring at Elizabeth, who was still looking at the calendar but lost in deep contemplation.
“My friend, the same God that brought Kunle my way will definitely bring your husband your way.”
“Oh, I didn’t realize you were done with the phone call. Thank you Alero, you are the only one that understands what I am going through.” Elizabeth retorted. That midnight they had a long discussion on miracles and happenstance until the heaviness of their eyes overcame the excitement of bantering. They both woke up a few minutes before noon, when last service at the Pentecost church had ended.
“Blue house with a black gate… I’m sure I am in the right place”. Posi wondered as he looked between the mirror and his eight hundred dollars Omega timepiece. He had been parked under the tree on Aboyade Cole Street, as directed by Mr A for over an hour without the phone call he had been expecting from the only man that knew his newly registered phone number. He stared back at the small phone he had purchased from MTN office under the alias Jerry Ghana. He had paid his contact at Road Safety twenty thousand naira to produce the license he used as identity card for the operation he had personally named “Xtreme”. Code Xtreme had become his obsession since he realized Kunle had made an exit plan that he was working assiduously to achieve everyday. He recalls those early days when Kunle told him emphatically that every mission must have a name and a vision. Xtreme meant the end for Posi. It meant the ‘End’ for so many people and so many things, and his meeting with Mr A was crucial to the success of the mission. He toyed with the idea of calling Mr A , but he had been warned to simply wait until a white Mercedes Benz showed up in front of his car. The man was very stern on the phone as he bellowed instructions when they spoke earlier. Part of his discipline was patience. He pictured KK teaching him many years back the importance of patience.
“Always wait till you get the right team. Then wait for the right time. No matter how long. Just Wait!” Kunle always told him in the early days.
“I see you are a very patient man”, a voice came from behind him. It was the voice of the man he had been speaking with over the phone. Mr A!
Posi looked back, not knowing what to expect.
“I have been waiting for a white Mercedes Benz for almost two hours.” He said staring at the burlesque six footer man standing before him flashing his ID card, with his fingers over his name. Mr A pressed the remote control in his hands and the flashlight of a car came on a few metres down the road. The light revealed a white Mercedes Benz 230 from the early 90s.
“Cigarettes? With a job like mine, you will always need stress busters.” Mr A lights a stick of cigarette and offered the pack to Posi .
“No addictive substances. Not with what I do. A hundred percent alertness is required a hundred percent of the time.” Posi responded pushing back the pack of cigarretes.
“My word, I have heard about you boys! Well read graduates, dapper gentlemen living the Hollywood life in Lagos. I am pleased to meet you.” Mr A gave Posi a warm and firm handshake. The handshake was the beginning of a long meeting that saw the two men pacing up and down the street for two hours under the dimness of the street lights, discussing plans that will be unfolded over the next two weeks. Driving home that evening, Posi knew the fire had been lit. It would burn along the line mapped out, and anyone caught in the way would be burnt beyond recognition.
Alero sat opposite Kenneth by the window in a corner of what used to be their favourite snack bar in Ikeja overlooking the Mobolaji Bank Anthony traffic. It was 7.30pm on a Saturday three weeks to her wedding. Kenneth had invited her for a discussion that was now getting on her nerves.
“Ken, I honoured your invitation because of the little respect I have for you as my ex. Respect yourself and move on with your life. I have moved on!” She waved her diamond studded engagement ring over her face looking intently at Kenneth.
“I have moved on as well. I only called you to tell you about the dream I had. I have always believed that we make our choices regardless of God’s plan for our lives”. He stared back at her.
“Don’t tell me about God’s plan in this matter. Is it God’s plan for your evil dream to come true?” She screamed in frustration. “You come here telling me about some horrible dream you concocted in your wild imagination, and you tell me about God’s plan. Ken, I have made a choice to marry KK. Unfortunately, even if I have made a wrong choice I cannot go back at this time. If you still love me like old times, keep me in your prayers! That’s the best you can offer in this situation. Goodnight.”
“Goodnight!”. Kenneth responded without looking up.
Moremi lay naked on the floor crying out to God silently. She had lost her voice after three straight days of keeping vigil praying that her daughter will not marry the young man called Kunle. She knew there was a God in heaven and He will answer. “Except Alero’s nakedness was not bathed with my blood when she came to this world”. She could quote very few scriptures; and so she invoked the power of motherhood and the bloodline. In her days as a young lady, her mother would have taken two effigies representing the couple and turn the effigies in different directions followed with violent incantations. The results were usually disastrous cases of death, mysterious disappearances or violent fights between the intending couple. Those days were now gone. Now that she had met God, she believed in the power of the cross and resurrection. She cried in Yoruba ni agbara ajinde Jesu Kristi. (By the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ)
Alero woke up in the middle of the night replaying the meeting with Kenneth in her mind. A sentence kept reverberating at her through the four sides of the walls of her room in Kenneth’s characteristic crisp voice. …we make choices regardless of God’s plan for our lives. She wondered why he directed his thoughts at her. Was she making the wrong decision by getting married to Kunle? How was she to know? She realized that the past few months since she met Kunle had not been without its vagaries. Only a few of her friends thought she had made the right decision, and she found herself constantly trying to prove to people that Kunle was the “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh”. She had spoken to Pastor John about her fears, and he kept assuring her that she was in the will of God.
“You are going through a normal process,” Pastor John assured her. “Marriage is a major decision in the life of every individual, so it is normal for you to fret.”
Alero knew she was not just fretting. Everything about Kunle seemed perfect except for what she felt she did not know. She loved the money, the success, and the social circle in which Kunle moved but was there something she was missing out? Every second that ticked got her closer to the wedding day, and every day that passed made her question her future.
Invitation cards had been printed; her wedding gown and shoes were due to be delivered the next day from Vera Wang, the reception hall had been fully paid for,…millions of naira had already been spent. Are all these things worth your life?
No. Alero responded . But how am I to walk away from a man that has spent so much on me, and has not hurt me in any way? Alero waited all night for the answer to her question. It was a very long night. In the morning she must answer the question herself.