Welcome to the final episode of In The Line of Fire. I’d love to see your comments, and as always do not forget READ.LEARN. SHARE. You never can tell..there may be someone out there who needs to read these stories and get their lives back in the right direction. Be sure to log on next week as I begin a new series you must read. Trust me.
It was 4am on Saturday morning, the 14th of September, a few hours to the wedding ceremony of Alero Falope, daughter of the popular Mama Falope of Gbagi Market in Ibadan and Kunle Davids, young entrepreneur and architect whose face had graced the cover pages of several magazines. Those who sold lace and expensive brocade at Gbagi market had been smiling to the bank for weeks. Mama Falope’s customers had spent fortunes buying in exquisite apparel in preparation for the popular market woman’s daughter’s wedding. The wedding was the talk of town. From Ibadan people to Lagos highflying business women who had patronized Mama Falope, it was time to celebrate with their very own. Lagos celebrities and musicians, who had been treated at different times to the generosity of the famous Architect Kunle Davids were also on hand to celebrate with their homeboy.
Alero turned carefully on the bed leaning to the other side to confirm if Elizabeth was fast asleep. She had not slept the whole night, not because she was excited her wedding day had finally arrived; but because she was not sure she had the courage to act upon her earlier decision. She crawled out of the bed surreptitiously, realizing that she had only a few minutes before all her friends were up and about the preparations for church service at 10am. The dream she had the previous day was so scary, she thought she saw an apparition of the red car chasing her from her wedding reception ceremony.
“Run for dear life!”. She heard it again. This time it sounded like Elizabeth was talking from her sleep. She tiptoed to the small sitting room of the Presidential Suite Kunle had rented for her and her maids of honour, opening the door with care so no one would be aroused from sleep. She picked up her bag from under the table close to the door, wore a pair of slippers, opened the door and disappeared through the hallway. She dialled Baba Risi, her regular taxi driver to confirm if he was at the car park downstairs waiting.
“Aunty, na you I dey wait since last night, As you don talk your waka today I no go home. ..U don dey come?” Baba Risi shouted from inside the mosquito infested taxi in which he slept through the night waiting for his customer.
Alero took long strides down the hallway disappearing fast around the staircase just in case anyone came out of any of the three rooms some of the wedding guests were staying. As she walked down the stairs, tears dropped down her eyes. This was a tough decision to take. What would her friends say about her when they found out at dusk? What will Kunle do? She loved Kunle, but something deep inside her soul nudged her in this direction. After she decided to stay off food for three days and pray to God to have mercy upon her, she would be a fool not to take necessary caution in reaction to the dream she had. Run for dear life. The dream felt so real. Who owned the red Rolls Royce that pursued her almost the entire length of the third mainland bridge in the middle of the night until she took a plunge into the lagoon? If she reported a dream like this to her mother, there would be about ten Bishops praying through the night over her life. She was hardly superstitious but she knew from experience that when she refused to listen to God, He usually warned her in dreams. This was no ordinary dream, and she was running for dear life. At the car park, she was startled by the sight of a red Rolls Royce Phantom that drove into the hotel. She initially docked for cover behind a janitor close to the entrance, until she reminded herself that she was awake. Watching the rollsroyce intently, she slid into Baba Risi’s yellow and black striped Peugeot 304 which was already close to her. The car jerked out of the hotel premises and sped off through the empty streets of Victoria Island. God , please take full control and help me.
Posi quickly muffled the sound of the phone call that woke him up from sleep. He picked up the phone and did not say a word. Mr A was on the line to give him further instructions as agreed.
“Make sure you do the swap before 6am. If you want out, this is your free ticket. I have just finished a meeting with my boss, and there will be a press conference later in the day. Don’t mess me up!”
Posi hung up the phone without a word. His heart was racing. The time had come to strike; and every sound that the second hand of the wall clock made pounded his head like a gong. Every second that passed was a potential time bomb ticking towards explosion. A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do! He opened the door to KK’s room with the intention to startle him and all the other groomsmen out of bed.
“Wake up! Wake up! We have to pray! Church is an hour’s drive from here. We don’t wanna be late guys!”. He switched on the light and removed pillows from their heads. Before long everyone was peeping at him through sleepy eyes.
Moremi Falope was the only occupant of the Falope family that was still in bed. It was a full house. The entire Falope extended family had gathered at their family house in Oniru in preparation for the wedding of their late brother’s daughter. State of the art cars were being washed in preparation for the convoy movement and there was a lot of merriment in the compound. Moremi could not celebrate; she could only pray solemnly that a miracle would occur. She had told everyone that cared to listen that her daughter was getting married against her wish, but they told her off insisting she dismiss her fears. KK was loved by the family especially because he was a successful professional architect who moved with the society people of Lagos state. They praised their brother’s daughter for pitching her tent with a man that commanded respect in many social circles. The wedding was going to be a society wedding and all the major softsell magzines had been paid for a full coverage of the wedding ceremony.
“My God. Except I have not served you diligently these five years. Let your counsel prevail.” She knew God could do miracles, but it seemed too late as the day’s dark sky gradually faded to blue.
Posi cleverly held KKs phone pretending to be making a phone call until he walked out of the room quietly into the main lounge. He quickly brought out the sim card on his phone and swapped it for the sim he had purchased in the name of Jerry Ghana. Locking the phone cover back, he called out to Mike.
“You know why I love what we do Mike. We cross our Ts and dot our Is with suave. And of course the number one Suave guy is tha Don KK.”
Entering the room, he threw the Blackberry Z10 back at Kunle who caught the phone effortlessly.
“See what I mean. I hail you boss.” Kunle laughed.. “It’s just part of me to ensure there are no loose ends. And guys, I just wanna thank you for ten years of cheating the bloody system of this world. I will be born again after today, and I hope we meet at the other side.”
Mike lights a pack of cigarette, and responds between puffs. “We are on the other side already. Speak like a man of faith.”
Posi joins in the laughter that ensues while he takes a hard look at the clock. It is 6 am in the morning, and he now has a new lease of life.
Mr Benjamin Oko strolled into the departure lounge of the Murtala Mohammed Airport to resume scheduled 6.30 duty. His bank account in London had been loaded specially for today’s twelve hour duty. He was a stout gentleman with several years of experience working at the international departure lounge with several escrow accounts with huge amounts of dollars to show for it. He strolled to the counter in the office to sign duty resumption, when he was told by the security that he will not be taking the duty for that day. It was an order from above. Sweat broke right through his face under the early morning harmattan.
“Order from above?”
“Yes sir. And you are to report in the office of the Zonal Commander with immediate effect.” The security officer added.
Mr Benjamin retrieved his phone from his pocket, and immediately dialed the number he had been given. The line was dead. After several attempts, he realized by instinct that something had gone terribly wrong. He made attempts to return to the inner passage that led to the departure hall but he was intercepted by the security man at the door.
“Sir, on order, you will proceed immediately to the Zonal Commander’s office.”
“There is fire on the mountain, and I cannot run.” Mr Benjamin said to himself. This was the moment he needed to flash the hard currency notes he kept in his pocket. He looked at the stern, evil look on the face of the officer that stood before him and retreated. He disappeared into the hallway towards the office of the Zonal Inspector. There is fire on the mountain.
Elizabeth stood at the reception of the Sheraton Four Points Hotel screaming. Sade and Nancy, two other friends were in a state of frenzy.
“With all the security in this place, are you all saying you did not see the tall slender lady with whom my friends and I checked in to this hotel last night?”
“Madam calm down. We are looking into the CCTV footage.”
Ten minutes later Elizabeth and two of her friends watched footage of the bride walking out by herself and climbing down the stair case. The last footage showed her entering into a Peugeot 304 taxi which drove out of the premises at 4.45am. Pandemonium broke loose at the hotel lobby. Alero still had not picked up her call while KKs phone was out of reach. The ladies decided to rush to The Pentecost Church where the wedding was going to take place to report that the bride was missing. Elizabeth advised that they should dress up in preparation for the ceremony before taking off, since it was possible Alero would make it back to the room within the hour that followed.
The hotel lobby was full of photographers waiting for the first appearance of Mr Kunle Davids of Kraft Architecture. The photographers scrambled for the prime shots as the gold plated elevator door of The Southern Sun Hotel opened to the arrival of Kunle and his groomsmen. Kunle dorned a lilac bow tie, a black jacket on grey Windsor waistcoat and black brogues to match. The groomsmen all looked stunning. The air in the hotel lobby became charged as guests arriving and departing turned to take a look at the fine gentlemen as they headed for the entrance where a chauffeur driven red Rolls Royce Phantom was parked waiting for them.
“Mr KK, how does saying goodbye to bachelorhood feel?”, shouted the camera man from Ovation.
“It feels great sir. I have a new lease of life from today.” Kunle smiled as he strutted across the lobby with his groomsmen by his side.
Pastor Rock and his wife, Salewa slipped on their trainers in preparation for the Saturday morning jog within the Bodija estate in Ibadan. They were late because the better part of the morning was spent counseling Kenneth who had come in from Lagos the previous day a broken man. He told of how Alero had gilted him for Lagos big boy, Kunle David. It was hard encouraging a young man to believe the best of life in the face of so much hurt and disappointment. Alero and Kenneth started their relationship while they both attended their church in Ibadan, and a lot of young people looked up to them as roll models. As they stepped out of the gate, a yellow taxi from Lagos pulled over in front of them, and to their disbelief Alero is seated in the backseat staring at them.
“I couldn’t do it Pastor.” Alero alighted from the car and hugged Pastor Salewa so tightly; her husband had to support both of them with his embrace.
“Please come in first Alero. You are welcome.” Pastor Rock tried to compose himself. He had seen many miracles as a Pastor, but this looked more like a story from Nollywood, not like fire and brimstone miracles from Elija’s days in the bible.
After waiting inside the church for over one and a half hours KKs anger had metamorphosed to fear. The choir of The Pentecost Church had gone over their renditions several times while all the guests waited for the bride to arrive. He managed to compose himself as he walked in company of his friends to the side exit of the church. Camera men swarmed around him as he surfaced outside the church.
“News has it that your beautiful bride has deserted you. How do you feel about this sir?”, the camera man from Silverbird shouted. Cameras flashed all around Kunle and he became giddy as he approached the main gate of the church. He did not know what to believe. Several calls had been made to Alero without response.
“Calm down KK.” Posi said. “Her mother is waiting to have a chat with you in the Pastor’s office.
As he approached the Pastor’s office, his mind fast forwarded his thoughts to the suitcases in the boot of the Rolls Royce.
“Mike, please see to the safety of that briefcase. There are too many people around.” KK knew if everything went wrong, the suitcases had to make it with him to the airport in one piece.
“Mr Kunle Davids. You were never meant to be my son in-law”. Mama Falope stared Kunle in the face like a stranger she was just meeting.
“In fact I was contemplating having you arrested until Alero sent me this text at a few minutes before eleven.” She brimmed as she thought of the miracle God had wrought that morning. It will remain a mystery how Alero decided she was no longer going to marry Kunle.
Kunle read the text message.
“Maami, please tell Kunle I am sorry. I cannot marry him. I do not know the reason as I send this message but I cannot marry him”.
“Thank you ma! Kunle stormed out of Pastor John’s office .
“I need to get out of this place now! Please ask my dad and my family to meet me at the hotel.” Kunle barked orders at Posi.
In the Rolls Royce Kunle held back the tears. He had other important assignments to carry out, and he needed to focus. He wondered how the luggage he had packed for Alero would go through the airport check-in point with him since she was no longer in the picture. He picked up his phone to inform Mr Ben of the lastest development, but to his chagrin his number was not on his phone any longer.
“Hey, what’s going on here? I cannot find Mr Ben’s number on my phone”. He scrolled through all the contacts on his phone without a trace of Mr Ben’s contact.
“What is going on here?” Kk screamed as the alarm on his phone rang. He had set the alarm as a last reminder for departure to the airport from the reception. In frenzy, he asked the driver to take the next exit and drive straight to the airport. He had wired five thousand dollars to Mr Ben to ensure his luggage is not scrutinized at the departure lounge. The last thing that would happen will be arriving after Mr Ben had ended his duty.
Mr A had all the perimeters of the airport secured his men. After several hours of interrogation, Mr Benjamin Okoh had confessed to aiding and abetting Mr Kunle Davids. He had gone as far as writing details of luggage that Mr Kunle will bring to the airport. He waited patiently at the departure lounge as his men combed the nooks and cranny of the airport. There was an amber alert at the agency and the press were already on standbye for a press conference in less than an hour.
Kunle alighted at the airport and picked the most important piece of luggage which should have been for his wife, Alero. It was his last in the trade and Mr Ben had promised all the assistance in his power to screen out the bag. He entered the airport and headed for the British airways counter where Mr Ben would be waiting for him. He heaved a sigh of relief as he saw a man that looked like Mr Ben from afar. Posi disappeared into the crowd as he watched his friends approach the check-in counter.
Mr A had sighted the trio as they entered the airport on the surveillance monitor in his office. The bag was exactly as Mr Ben described it, and Kunle Davids was the one carrying it, not his wife. His wife was no where in site. For a moment Mr A felt he had been beaten, but on closer look at the bag it was exactly as described. Mr Ben was the bait, and Kunle David would fall for him except Posi had lied.
Relieved that Mr Ben had not checked out his duty, Kunle smiled and extended his arms for greetings. Two narcotics dogs leaped out from behind the counter and started barking gripped the travelling bag in KKs hands. Before Kunle could say a word, He was invited for a chat at the Narcotics office while his bag was whisked away.
Pastor Rock’s sitting room was a full house. Alero sat, weeping at the feet of her mother, who had just arrived from the botched church service in lagos in the company of some other family members. Kenneth stared mindlessly at the television set while listening to the Silverbird 8pm news. Pastor Rock and his wife served water to the guests who had just arrived from Lagos.
Suddenly a breaking news blob flashed on the screen.
“Did I see that right?”. Pastor Rock grabbed the remote control and increased the volume.
“ Lagos Socialite and Architect Kunle Davids arrested at Murtala Muhammed International Airport earlier this evening after the Narcotics Taskforce discovered twenty kilogrammes of Cocaine in his luggage.”
All the occupants of the room jumped up in hysteria. The newscaster narrated the ordeal at the airport to the disbelief of everyone.
“My God will never put me to shame…”. Madam Falope screamed.
Alero stood dumbfounded. It dawned on her she would have been arrested alongside Kunle. Tears flowed freely from eyes as she screamed ‘Thank you Jesus’.
Kunle Davids was convicted to a twenty five year jail term , while Kenneth and Alero were joined together in Holy matrimony a year later in a quiet ceremony in Ibadan.