#9

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She was not sure she had ever seen a hospital that under equipped and dirty, it was as if the doctor and the nurses simply didn’t care about the appearance and environment of what was supposed to be a health facility, the only functioning one in the small town.

The blue paint on the wall was peeling off and the tiled floor looked like it had not been scrubbed in months, a pungent smell which she guessed was the effect of different brands of disinfectant mixed together, hung in the air and disturbed her senses. Cobwebs hung from the ceiling and by the window, some interconnected like it was supposed to be some sort of Christmas decoration.

But even the negligence of the hospital workers and how terrible her environment looked did not distract her from the man who lay unconscious on the only bed in the room.

She perched herself on the bed near Toni and held his hands, as if scared that if she let go, he would leave her…forever.

Ehime had disappeared almost immediately after he had committed the act and she had yelled for help. He didn’t seem to have planned for help reaching her so soon, because immediately he saw the young night watchmen who were retiring from their nightshift approaching them after she had yelled for help, he had disappeared faster than she could have expected.

Dede wondered where she was and why he still felt that insane lust for her after all the years, bile formed in her throat and merely thinking of him irritated her.

How had he found her? And why did he do things like that?

She wondered about the people who had her girls and wondered why they had not contacted her until she showed up.

Did they have plans or were they just waiting for the day she would wander into the small town to check on the girls?

She wiped a sweat off Toni’s brow. She was in love with him, always had been and always will be. Years of pain and being with the wrong people had made her realize she couldn’t live without him and now that she had come to that reality and she did not want to lose him.

She hadn’t known how much she would hurt if he died until he almost died and now she knew if he passed, she will forever be alone and will never recover from the moment.

She placed her hand on his chest and felt his heartbeat, she was considering transferring him to Ibadan, the city was closer than Lagos and had better facilities than the town they were in.

An auxiliary nurse strolled into the room, she was chewing gum noisily like a hooker and blowing bubbles with it without a care in the world, her eyebrow was gone and had been replaced with a dramatic arc which was drawn with a red pencil and which made her look like an Indian spiritualist. Her artificial nails looked like she had not bothered to file them into a reasonable length and shape, making her look like she possessed claws not nails.

She was wearing a bohemian hair that looked like it was heaped on her head and forgotten there by the stylist who probably had no clue what he or she was doing.

“E pele o madam” she said in Yoruba, chewing noisily as she checked the drip being passed into Toni’s body.

Dede did not respond to her, what did she have to say to someone who looked like something handpicked from a poorly made Yoruba movie?

“E go soon get berra” she said with a heavy H-factor. “it can talke tailm sometylms sha”

Dede noticed with more discomfort, the “L” she added to some of her words. She really needed to move Toni out of the hospital and fast.

“Call me hilf the drip has almost finish”

Dede nodded, she just wanted her to go away.

“If you want to healt, I sell gala and Lacasera. I can brinlg it for you”

Dede smiled, “No thanks. I’m fine” she said.

She really didn’t want any of what the nurse sold and she desperately wished she would go away but it seemed like the latter had the whole day to spend with her discussing nothing in particular.

“You look similiar sha o” she said and Dede almost cringed, the nurse wasn’t going away soon, that was pretty much obvious from the way she folded her arms and watched Dede trying to converse like they were old friends.

“I don’t know…”

The auxiliary nurse clapped, “ehn ehn…Dede Okosun!” then she flashed Dede a smile, revealing a gold tooth and a silver one.

Dede nodded.

“ahn ahn, why did you come here? Whattapun?” She inquired and as Dede realized, expecting a genuine response from her.

Dede wished she could throw the nurse out, but that seemed impossible as she sat near her on the bed and began to touch her skin like she was trying to feel if it was real or not.

“Miss Dede Okosun”

She turned towards the door, forgetting the nurse staring at her like a puppy and found a man standing there, staring at her with a stony expression.

“Your attention is urgently needed outside”

Dede had no idea who the man standing at the door was but somehow she knew whoever wanted to see her knew something about her girls. She sprang up and followed him.

HE DID NOT LOOK FAMILIAR TO HER IN ANY WAY AND EVEN THOUGH SHE HAD MET MANY PEOPLE IN HER LIFE, she never forgot faces and she knew if she had ever met the man sitting opposite her in a fancy car that she knew cost millions, millions that could only be gotten from stolen government funds, she would have recognized him.

But he insisted that she knew him.

“You still don’t remember me Miss Okosun?” he inquired in a thick voice, every word he spoke was punctuated with heavy breathing, Dede couldn’t help but notice his massive stomach and his fat body that occupied more than half of the space in the backseat  where they both were.

“Let me refresh your memory, I am a friend to the Williams and I attended every wedding you have ever had and your last husband’s funeral.”

Dede still couldn’t place him.

“I am very good friends with the late Chief Williams and was one of the few who ran in his close circles. I have a fourteen year old daughter who idolizes you and who you know where she is presently…my name is Kunle Bifarin”

The face might not have rung a bell, but the name did ring a thousand bells.

Kunle Bifarin, a once close friend of her late husband and who had fallen out with him after a certain business and political partnership went horribly wrong, he had been good friends with Chief Williams and she wasn’t sure if she had ever noticed him but the name was certainly a familiar one.

“My daughter sent me a message some days ago and I have managed to convince her our little misunderstanding can be settled” he continued to say, “I got her to tell me where you hid her and the others and she did without much trouble, they are all now safe with me.”

Dede scoffed, “safe with you? You raped your daughter every night until she sought help Mr Bifarin!”

“Chief Bifarin, I got my chieftancy title just recently so please call me Chief” he said breathlessly and Dede eyed him, he couldn’t be serious? He was talking about a title when she had just told him he was a terrible father?

“Dede, I did not want to do this before now and I almost did not travel all the way down here to speak with you, but I realized you didn’t deserve death and you had to be told nicely to stay away from other people’s businesses”

Dede arched an eyebrow, “Those girls are my business Mr Bifarin”, she had not forgotten about the chieftancy title that meant the world to him, she just felt she had to make him realize he wasn’t important, not even with a title from his hometown. “It is my business to keep abused girls away from sick people like you. There are a thousand and one prostitutes out there that you can stick your manhood into if you are not content with your wife, why your own daughter?”

“My wife is dead and my daughter replaced her after her death because they are the same”

Dede gasped, the man was not sorry, he never would be and she realized that he would keep abusing his daughter till he was forcefully stopped.

“You will quietly stay away from me and my daughter Dede, or else you would regret it” he told her gently, even though the words were nothing but gentle.

“What will you do if I don’t?”

He smiled, “I will kill you”

Dede’s blood chilled, the smile on his face had disappeared and his eyes pierced hers like he would commit murder right there and then if he had his way.

“Let me tell you a short story my dear, you see, when your husband died, I needed the documents to a particular deal we did together and my money that he stole, I had come this close to everything, when I realized you had everything with you”

Dede frowned, “but I don’t have…”

He didn’t let her finish, “I just realized you did not know you did. I assumed you knew and you knew why it was with you and when I found out you knew my secrets, you deserved nothing more than death. I had watched you become really unhappy with Makun over the years and I knew death would be a good solace for your soul”

“You are sick” Dede said, the hatred building up inside of her for the man was strong.

“But when I received the call from my daughter, she made me promise not to hurt you and I did. It was the only way she could tell me where she was. Stay away from my business and face yours Dede, that is all I came to tell you”

Dede was not sure what to say or feel or think, the man was sick and he did not seem to notice, why she had thought it was the governor trying to have her killed was beyond her, maybe because it was because she felt he had more to lose than anybody else.

He unlocked the car and Dede hurriedly made to get out, she wanted to be away from him as quickly as possible.

“By the way, my eyes are on your lover” she heard him say, she knew who he was referring to and because she knew life was impossible without that person, she concluded that very moment, that she was done protecting her girls.

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