Previously on ALL IN THE KNOWING…
Samaila sat back in the car and watched the window of the well-lit lecture hall. The girl was inside; he could see her, her head bowed over her book. He took a drag of his cigarette, laced with marijuana and felt the rush in his veins. He knew he was a criminal and made no apologies for it. He chuckled as he thought of how many times he evaded the net of the police, either through their ineptness or connivance. It didn’t matter to him as long as he made his daily dose of naira. He didn’t really know who hired him for the job tonight and he didn’t care. He figured he might or might not meet his employer of sorts later in the evening, but that didn’t matter. He had been given a hefty sum with the promise of more to come at the end. He used a stolen car provided by one of his friends in another state: a rather nondescript grey Honda ‘Halla’ with a fake license plate number.
He sat up as he watched the girl get up and pack her books. She was leaving. Now was the time to do it. He signaled his two cohorts, Bulus and Yusuf in the back seat, and they nodded. The girl came out of the hall and started walking towards the school gate. He started the car and moved slowly, watching her as he drove. She would take the expected route and then they would move in.
As she passed the gate and started walking toward the area where she would meet her friends, Samaila quickly accelerated and pulled up next to her. The backdoor swung open and Bulus jumped out and clamped his hand over her mouth just as she uttered a short cry. He quickly shoved her into the back seat, entered the car and shut the door. Samaila sped off into the night.
As he drove, he could hear the men behind making vulgar comments and innuendos about the girl, who was now crying and looking around her with confusion.
“Blindfold her, you idiots!” Samaila hissed. “Tie her hands while you’re at it!”
They quickly did as they were told. She started pleading for her life and sobbing. She hiccupped as she asked them who they were and what they wanted from her.
“We are not after your life. We won’t touch you,” Samaila said reassuringly.
He was calm, the high settling into a low buzz in his system, the warmth coursing through him. As his men’s lewd remarks surged, interspersed by the girl’s whimpers of alarm, he turned to address them, his tone ominous and low, “Listen up, you fools. If you know what’s good for you, don’t touch her.”
The two men quieted at his words.
Samaila was not really worried about the police checkpoints on the road. His informant had given him all the necessary information and he knew what route to take to avoid being caught. This was indeed going to be a long night.
Béisa sat on the lone chair in the abandoned building. This was one of the many abandoned buildings around town – another stark reminder of the inefficacy of the government and their penchant for starting projects that they had no intention of finishing. The wry thought crossed her mind that she should be grateful to the government for the opportunity to use one of their many abandoned projects. There was no electricity; the light was provided by a dozen candles placed strategically around to cast a soft but eerie glow in the building.
She was expecting her delivery any minute now; proud of her discreet handling of the matter, using Esu for most of the dirty work.
She remembered Mike’s hasty and insincere denial when she had confronted him about Sandra.
“Me? Why would you think that I would do that? Okay, I’ll admit I’ve not been as…forthcoming as I should have been in the past, but I promise you I have nothing to do with this girl.” He had given her a beseeching look and it was all she could do to restrain herself from slapping him.
She had stared at him coldly, hissing in an unnaturally low tone. “Not my home, Mike. Never my home. Not when my children can see.”
He had feigned ignorance, affecting an ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about’ pose. “Here? No…no Béisa. I didn’t know…”
But she hadn’t waited to listen to any more of his drivel. She turned and walked away then, out of his presence and into her plan.
Presently she heard the low rumble of the car, the sound of tires over gravel. She heard the doors open and shut and the muffled crying of a female. A sense of satisfaction enveloped her being and her lips curved into a slow smile. She heard footsteps and the sound of someone being dragged. Soon enough she saw the girl, two thugs on either side of her, half dragging her to place her in front of Béisa. Samaila strode in, a little unsteady on his feet, no doubt due to the effects of the drugs he had taken.
Stupid fool, she thought, scorn etching her features.
The girl was brought to stand before her, eyes still tightly blindfolded, hiccupping, crying and trembling with fear.
Béisa turned to Samaila. “Here’s the balance. As agreed.”
She pulled out a white envelope from her bag and tossed it to the ground a few inches from Samaila. He gave a slight start, looking like he wanted to protest. Béisa remained unflinching in her stance. The criminal bent, picked up the envelope, opened it and peered inside. Then he looked up, shaking his head.
“Uhm…madam. I think I need a little more. As you can see, I had to get extra help, and you know, a little bonus would be good.” He said this in Hausa, a sonorous whine in his voice.
Béisa had the sudden urge to gouge his eyes out. Her tone was clipped as she responded, “You will take what I just gave you…what we agreed upon and you will leave and I will never see you again. Am I clear?”
Her Hausa was as clear and precise as his. She saw his eyes glaze malevolently as he took a step in her direction. Esu was immediately by her side, his large frame casting a looming shadow over her. He placed his hand threateningly over his right pocket, the telltale bulge of a weapon evident.
Samaila rethought his strategy and stood still.
Béisa smiled. “Don’t even think about it or you and your friends will be dead before you even hit the ground. Your services have been paid for. Now get out.”
Samaila remained standing still for a moment, bristling at the sheer arrogance of the woman before him. He shifted uneasily and began to turn, unsure of the wisdom of challenging this crazy woman.
“One more thing…” Béisa said, causing Samaila and his company to stop moving. “If you even think about telling anyone about our little…arrangement, it will not end well for you. I have the resources to make you disappear permanently. And you will not be missed.”
Samaila clenched his fists, his bruised ego fast overtaken by wisdom. She was obviously not a woman who made empty threats and it was apparent to him that she had the means and connections to go through with her threats. He nodded silently and slipped out of the building, followed by his cohorts.
It was then that Béisa turned her attention to the simpering girl in front of her. She had sunk to her knees, sobbing in earnest, her hands tied behind her back.
“Shut her up.”
Béisa’s crisp instruction brought a curt nod from Esu. He walked over to the girl and there was the sharp crack of a slap as he struck her across the face. Sandra yelped in pain as she fell over. Esu grabbed her arm and pulled her to an upright position. Béisa walked over, stood in front of her and yanked the blindfold off. The girl’s eyes were swollen from crying, her nose running and her makeup smeared.
“Please…please don’t hurt me…” she begged.
Béisa crooked one eyebrow. “Hurt you? Do you think I spent all that money to get you here just to hurt you? I just want you to listen to me.”
The girl resumed crying. Béisa rolled her eyes upward and gave an almost imperceptible nod to Esu. He slapped the girl again. She yelped again as she fell to the ground, not expecting the blow. Esu pulled her back up. She lifted her teary gaze to Béisa, who arched her brows meaningfully at her. The intent was clear: The more you cry, the more he will slap you until you keep quiet.
Sandra tightened her mouth, muffling her cries, as she trembled before the other woman.
“There, that’s better,” Béisa said. “I cannot stand stupid tears, my dear, and I doubt you want your pretty face messed up. Now look at me, Sandra.”
Sandra raised surprised, tear-filled eyes to Béisa’s face again.
“Yes, I know your name. And your room number. And your department. I think I know all there is to know about you, and let me tell you, I think you border somewhere between tedious and downright boring. Do you know who I am?”
Sandra looked at her, trembling with fear and shaking her head.
“I’m a very, very ticked-off wife. One on whose property you’re trespassing, in more ways than one.”
Sandra’s eyes widened. “Ma, I –”
Béisa cut her off with a sharp burst of laughter.
“Ma?! Ma? Oh, now you’re the well raised, respectful girl – calling me ‘ma’? Very amusing indeed. Cute, actually. Let me tell you something. I’m not here to tell you to back off my husband. I’ve quite given up on him. What got to me was the fact that you had the audacity, the animal boldness to come to my home! I don’t give a damn where you two go for your little dalliance, but my home and my children are totally off limits.”
“Ma, I’m sorry. I swear that –”
“No! I swear that the next time you even think of coming near anything remotely related to me or mine, my husband non inclusive, I will have you dismembered and your body parts scattered, one piece at a time, between here and Anguwan Rogo! Have I made myself clear?”
Béisa was breathing heavily now, a deep malevolence rising within her, a sense of evil almost tangible, digging its claws into her brain.
“Yes Ma. I swear I will never do anything like that again. I’m sorry. Please forgive me,” Sandra sobbed.
Béisa looked at her, the desire to strangle the girl nearly overwhelming her in its intensity. She shook her head. Then she told Esu to untie the girl’s hands, which he did, using a Swiss knife. The girl rubbed her hands in relief. Without a word, Béisa and Esu strode off, leaving the girl staring after them, wide-eyed. They got into the car and drove off, leaving her behind. How she found her way back to school was her problem now.
Béisa sat back in her seat, marveling at how much she had enjoyed that little encounter. She smiled.
Now, it was time to deal with Mike.
Written by Sifa Asani Gowon