Body & Soul

Familiar stranger

Suddenly, he stopped struggling with them and one of the
two security men trying to drag him outside missed his
step and nearly fell down.

 

“Oh sorry,” Jay told him, reaching out to steady him.
The other security man stopped. One could see the surprise
on their faces.

“I’m really sorry. I lost it in there. She’s my wife. Something
took over me. Can’t explain it. Lemme take some deep breath
outside. I’ll get back to her. I need to steady myself. Please go
ensure my wife is okay,” he said.

His voice was tinged with remorse. Or so, it appeared to the
two security men. The two security men looked at each other.
Jay nodded at them and they nodded back at him.

“I’m Jay. What’s your name? He asked the one on his left.
He was sure the young man said something. He wasn’t listening
though. He turned to the one on the right. That one
also introduced himself.

 

“Oh good. I’ll join you soon,” he said, sauntering to the right.
His car was parked further down. As the two men moved
back towards the restaurant, Jay quickened his steps. By the
time the huge glass door of the restaurant closed behind them,
Jay was already in his car. The engine came to life almost immediately
and he nosed the car towards the gate of the complex.
The initial confusion outside had eased, though some cars
were driving out. But then, many other cars were driving in.

Inside the restaurant, some people were gathered at the corner
where the two women were. Some one asked for a fan. A
diner grabbed a napkin and handed it to the man who was
squatted beside the two women. Another diner grabbed a
napkin and started fanning them too. The other woman sat
up, looking around her. In no time, another young man was
bent over Adele, fanning her with a napkin too. She opened
her eyes briefly and closed them again. There was blood at
the corner of her lips.

The two security men got to the scene and saw the two women
still on the floor. After observing the frantic efforts being
made to revive Adele, one of them went outside in search of
Jay. Helped by her partner, the other woman got up and left.
When the security man got outside, he moved to the direction
Jay went. He was nowhere to be found. There were many
cars at the park and many were coming in and going out. He
went back to the park and looked around again. He didn’t
see that man who said he was going to get a grip on himself
and get back to his wife. Confused, he returned to the restaurant
and whispered something into his colleague’s ear. Ashen
faced, the senior security man rushed out of the restaurant.
After a few minutes, he ran back in, shaking his head.
“Her husband is nowhere to be found,” he told no one in
particular.
“Whose husband?” Someone asked.
“The man that slapped her. He told us that she’s his wife.
He said he wanted to try and rein in his anger. We left him
outside. We didn’t know he wanted to run away,” the senior
security man said.
Immediately the import of his statement hit them, some of
the people gathered there left. Understandably, no one would
want to write statement at the police station if things turned
ugly. All but three people remained. Two older men and a
young man. He was looking at Adele curiously.
“We need to get her to the hospital. She must have a phone.
Where’s her bag? We can at least identify her,” one of the men
said.
They looked around and found no phone or bag around her.
Adele opened her eyes and looked around her.
“My clutch bag is on the table,” she told them.
Someone had apparently stolen her bag during the confusion
for none was found on the table.
“There’s no bag on this table ma’am. Someone could have
taken it. We’ll call a member of your family, if you’d give us a
phone number,” someone said.
“I can’t remember anybody’s phone number right now,”
she whispered.
The truth was that she didn’t know anyone’s phone number
by rote…apart from Jay’s. And that was the last person she
would want to speak to right now. She was bothered though.
She didn’t even know Bolan’s phone number by rote. Funny
how one would recognise a phone number but wouldn’t know
it. She attributed it to mental laziness. She closed her eyes as
weariness enveloped her. She hadn’t rested in days. She felt
faint suddenly.
The people who wanted to help her were at their wits end.
One of the men turned to the security men and said, “She
needs to be taken to the hospital. I’ve got to leave. You also
have to get her family members since her husband seemed to
have abandoned her here”.
A man strode towards them and they all looked up.
“He’s the manager,” one of the security men said.
“Oh great. She needs medical attention. Seems her husband
beat her up here and ran away,” the first man told the newcomer.
“Good evening sir. Does anybody know who she is? The
manager asked.
“It seems her bag and phone had been stolen,” someone said.
“That’s serious. She needs first aid treatment,” the manager
said.

“Not first aid, she’s got that already. She needs medical attention.
A doctor has to see her,” the first man said.
The manager looked around confused.

“Is she still alive,” he asked.
They all stared at him. The young man shook his head, surprised
at the manager’s question.

“Of course she’s alive,” the first man said, irritated.
“I’m really sorry. Didn’t mean to sound callous. I wasn’t just
thinking right. Sure, we’d get her to the nearest hospital,” the
manager said apologetically.

“I’ll go with you,” the young man, who had been staring at
Adele all this while, said.
“Oh good then. I need to run home now. My wife has been
calling my phone since,” the first man said, straightening up.
He took a few steps and turned back.

“Could I have your number? He asked the young man.
“Yes sir,” the young man said.

They exchanged numbers and he left. By that time, Adele’s
eyes were open again and she was looking from one man to
the other.

 

They tried to help her up and she screamed immediately she
stood on her feet and collapsed on the floor again. Her ankle
ached. She must her twisted it. The man ran back to her and
knelt down.

“What’s the matter madam?” He asked Adele.
She said nothing but pointed at her aching ankle.

“Where’s the nearest hospital?” He asked the manager.

“I think I’ve seen one on the next street…not sure though. I
don’t live around here,” he said.

“Okay, let’s take her there,” he said.

They lifted Adele and took her out while the remaining diners
minded their business.

*****#

Jay watched his rear view mirror as he drove out of the restuarant
premises. He wanted to be sure no one was following
him. From all indications, no one noticed his movement. When
he had some buildings between him and the restaurant, he
pulled off the road and applied his brakes.

Oh no! He had done it again! Each time there was an opportunity
to mend fences with his wife, he would misbehave
and get himself into deeper problem. This wasn’t the first time
he would beat her up and run away. It wasn’t as if he planned
to cause her pain. He never did, but he just couldn’t control
his anger. Now, he had spoilt his case. This wasn’t something
done in secret; there were witnesses. The public watched him
batter his wife in a restaurant! Did someone make a video of
that? In this age of social media, one had to be careful. What if a
video of that incident surfacd online? Scenes from the incident
flashed through his mind and his skin crawled. Did he draw
blood again? He felt he did, though he wasn’t too sure. Once
again, he had bungled a chance to reconcile with his wife. How
would he begin to clear this mess he had consistently soiled
himself with? Well, he would have to go back to that restaurant
and apologise to his wife! Yeah, no shame about it. He’d do it.

 

He carefully did a U-Turn and drove back to the restaurant.

At the restaurant’s gate, his phone beeped. It was Debola. He
checked the time and it was almost two hours after their last
phone conversation. Debola had threatened him. He had to
see her! He had already driven into the restaurant premises
and had parked in a corner, opposite where he parked the
first time. He killed the engine and alighted from his car and
walked slowly towards the side of the restaurant’s building.

On second thought, he stopped. What if they had called in the
police? Moreover, the two security men who dragged him out
about an hour ago and who he deceived and ran away would
readily recognise him. He walked back to his car. After turning
on the engine, he waited and watched the entrance door…


 

Bolan was worried. With Adele’s two phones in his car, he
knew she wouldn’t be comfortable. The phones had been ringing
almost non-stop but he couldn’t answer any. He knew
how he felt the day he left home without his phones. It was
as if a part of him was missing. He couldn’t concentrate on
anything. He had to go back home to get it. So, he knew how
Adele would be feeling right now. If she drove to her dinner
date, he wouldn’t be so worried. But she was supposed to call
him and she didn’t have her phones with her. Also, that call
from her husband’s line was disconcerting. Why would she
call him minutes after he dropped her at their rendezvous?

 

And with her estranged husband’s line! It didn’t add up at
all! He had a feeling that something was amis. He decided to
drive back to the restaurant. When he got there, he nosed his
vehicle to a point where he had a clear view of the restaurant
door and parked. He would wait until she would come out
through that door. He kept the engine running. He noticed
the car that drove in few minutes later but paid no attention.

 

The car parked few cars from him at the well-lit parking lot.
The man that stepped out of the car looked familiar. Bolan
watched as he walked past him to the side of the building.

Something about him was definitely familiar. He watched as
the man halted suddenly and moved quickly back to his car,
entered, kicked the engine to life and pulled out of the parking
lot towards the gate. Immediately his tail light disappeared
into the night, Bolan sat up. That was the guy whose picture
was displayed on Adele’s phone when her estranged husband
called. That must be him! If he drove in just now and drove out
again almost immediately, then, something must be wrong.

 

Could it be he called to reschedule their date and couldn’t reach
her? But why didn’t he go into the restaurant? Had Adele been
alone in the restaurant all this while?

He killed the engine of his vehicle, alighted and strode into
the restaurant…

**********#

Let’s continue this journey on Sunday!

Send your observations to: julietbumah@gmail.com

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