Fifehanmi’s car screeched to halt. He looked at Halima for a moment before he cleared his throat and spoke out. “Are you sure this is the place?” He enquired as he was about turning the ignition.
Halima looked at him and nodded. The journey to Charles’ house was a quiet one. Fifehanmi was busy thinking about his own life while Halima was also lost in thought of whether Charles could be there or not. She had come to check him but he was nowhere to be found. The neighbours had also told her that they saw him packing, from all indications, he already ran away.
“What’s up?” Fifehanmi asked as he tried to break the silence.
“Nothing’s up. The car has been quiet right from the beginning, so let’s just try our luck.” She said as she opened the door.
Fifehanmi spurted out air from his mouth before he finally came down. “I’m just worried.” He said.
“I understand.” Halima smiled faintly.
“What do you understand?”
“Adebisi.” She shrugged.
He smiled and stroke his beard. “Let’s try our luck.” He said as they motioned towards the building.
“This is the apartment.” She said.
“It’s not locked.” Fifehanmi said as he knocked on the gate. It was an apartment with a small balcony by the front and a small gate. “Hello.” Fifehanmi said as he kept knocking. Halima already stood aside so if Charles’ was truly at home, he wouldn’t run away at her sight.
“Yes, who is there?” They heard from inside the house.
Fifehanmi gazed at Halima as he threw his hand open into the air. He was giving gestures, asking if the voice was Charles’. It seemed Halima didn’t hear the voice well and also gave her own gesture as a reply as she held the gate with her left hand and waited for the voice to repeat itself or the person to show his face. She knew it was a male voice but she didn’t hear the voice well.
“Who’s there?” The voice asked again, this time it was clear because he was by the door. Fifehanmi looked at Halima to see what she would do.
She raised her thumb with a nod, still looking shocked to hear the voice.
“Fifehanmi.” He replied the voice.
The door was opened and Fifehanmi stared at the figure before him. What would he say? He scratched his moustache and smiled. “Hello.”
“Yes, how can I help you?”
“Please I want to see Charles.”
“Really? From where?” He asked as he tilted his head.
“I’m from Badagry and I have an offer for him.” He replied.
“Really? I am Charles.” He smiled, looking confident in himself.
“You’re Charles?” Halima’s voice resounded as she stepped into the balcony. “Charles!” She exclaimed.
He stood before them, dumbfounded as his lips shook and he seemed too shock to even mutter a word.
“You don’t need this, dear. You really don’t need this.”
“Excuse?” She smiled.
“I know nothing can make sense now, but.. I’m sorry.”
“Bros, how far you? No be so life be o.. na hit and run you wan do?” Fifehanmi crossed his hands over his chest as he watched.
** ** **
Adebisi unlocked her mobile phone and stared at it for a moment. Was she really seeing the right thing? She really doubted it as her phone slipped down from her hand.
“What is it?” Abbie asked as she saw her expression.
She shivered. “Fifehanmi and that girl..” She stammered as she spoke. “Like… he slept with the girl!” She breathed heavily as she spoke.
Abigail stood from her seat and walked to her sister’s side slowly. She didn’t want to believe her ears at all, she must see what has been seen with her eyes too. She picked up the mobile phone and stared for a moment. “The picture hasn’t loaded, how did you know?”
“From the blurry one, can’t you see what it’s about?”
“Let it download, then we can conclude.”
“IT IS OBVIOUS!” She shouted and snatched her phone angrily. “Can’t you see?” She showed her again as the pictures kept downloading.
Abigail could see what was there also even though it had not downloaded. She didn’t know why her mouth was unable to close after she had seen the picture. “It has downloaded.” Adebisi announced as she sprung up from her feet. “See.” She pulled Abbie to her side.
Abigail stared for a moment and smiled. “This can be a setup.”
“Which stupid setup is that?”
“Remember Pelz is after this guy, Adebisi. How could he go to a lady and he would be snapped? How?”
Adebisi relaxed a little before she continued. “But he was not dragged there, dear. He was not.”
Abigail hissed. “If one will be set up, will he know the motive of everything happening? I am so sure he might be trying to help her out or something like that, Adebisi. Just think about this, why were they snapped? And why is that you were the one they sent the pictures to?”
Adebisi plopped down the sofa as her sister spoke. She knew it was a truth too real to be discarded. But would she trust Fifehanmi? Pelz already dealt with her before, what’s the assurance that Fifehanmi was real? She was trying so hard to believe that he was real, at the same time she found it so hard to believe. “Pelz?” Her eyes were wet.
“Just try to reason along with everything before you judge. I don’t know why I feel so much peace with Fifehanmi, Adebisi. It’s also possible nothing happened between the two of them.”
Adebisi chuckled. “Nothing happened? Is he a wood or a stone? Answer me!”
“Just calm down.” She grinned as she spoke. “You also need to learn how to create a lot of excuses for people’s shortcomings or else you will never be a friend to anyone.”
Adebisi glared at her.
“Will you call him now?”
“Fifehanmi of course.”
Adebisi shook her head. “After all these? I will be the one to call? Maybe he doesn’t have airtime.. at least we are now creating excuses for people.”
“I just know everything I have been saying is so true, Adebisi. I have been basing this on predictions because it’s not normal that this happens and you get the pictures!” She walked to her seat.
“If I call him now, what will I say to him?”
“You can just try to know how far with him on phone, probably know how he’s fairing and one way or the other, you are getting to know his state of mind.”
“Maybe he knows about it already or not.”
“You think this is right? I am not finding this funny at all, Abbie.”
Abigail was mum for a moment. “Just do it.”
Adebisi sighed as she unlocked her phone again.
** ** **
“Will you come in?” Charles asked.
Fifehanmi glanced at Halima, trying to give another gesture of asking if they should also go inside or not. Halima nodded and they entered. “What actually happened?” Fifehanmi asked as he sat down.
“Do you want the truth or the lie?” Charles asked.
Halima and Fifehanmi looked at each other and faced him back. “The truth.” They chorused.
“I was totally afraid, Halima. I was totally afraid.” He repeated.
“Afraid?” Halima asked again.
“Your father alone is enough to scare one, Halima.”
“Didn’t you know my father when we were together? Didn’t you know my father when everything was getting sweet? Didn’t you?”
He scratched his head. “Em… see.. I..” He started stammering.
“Calm down, bro.” Fifehanmi smiled.
“I never knew you could do what you have done. Is that how life is? Is that?” Halima continued angrily.
“Calm down, Halima.” Fifehanmi interrupted her. “At least he is here now.” He added.
“How do we face your father now, Halima?” Charles asked.
“He knows about the pregnancy, but he doesn’t know about the father of the child yet.” She replied.
Charles shivered. “He knows?”
“Yes, he does. You don’t know what is on ground, Charles. If you do, you will know it’d have been better you showed your face before this time.”
“He knows Fifehanmi as the father of the unborn child and he has dealt with him. Just imagine what will happen if he finds out that we have been lying to him. By the way, wedding preparation is going on.” She explained.
“Wedding?” He drifted forward from the sofa.
“Yes, wedding. Between the father and the mother of the child.” Fifehanmi replied.
There was a brief silence before Charles spoke. “Are we going to your father now?”
“Did you plan ever meeting me again?” Halima questioned him.
He nodded. “I love you, Halima. I cannot run forever. I was only scared then and I had to run away.”
Halima sniffled. “Are you ready to meet him now?”
Charles shrugged. Fifehanmi’s lips curved into a smile and just then, his phone buzzed and he quickly reached for it.
** ** **
“Hey, Fifehanmi.” Adebisi greeted.
Fifehanmi tried to know her state before he replied. He was doubting if she hasn’t known about the issue yet. Her voice sounded cool and she didn’t seem to know anything about the issue, but at the same time, he didn’t want to believe since Nifemi could have gotten her contact from his phone. “How are you?” He asked.
“I’m good here, what about you?”
He sighed before he replied. “I’m just there.”
“Just there? What’s happening?”
“I was actually suspended yesterday, Adebisi. Yesterday was so rough for me.”
Adebisi looked at Abigail for a moment with shock over her face. Fifehanmi has been suspended? She wondered as she didn’t know what she would say next. She hated being a problem to people around her. She knew her issue had caused Fifehanmi of his job. Ï’m deeply sorry.. like are you at home now?”
“No. I had to quickly attend to an issue this morning and I’m still on it.” He replied.
“When will you get home?”
“I will call you when I’m about leaving this place. But I hope you are really good?”
“Sure, I am.” She replied, trying to really be. She didn’t know which to believe, it didn’t even look as though he knew anything happened, perhaps it was photoshoped, she had thought as she dropped the call.
“How far?” Abigail quickly asked.
“He was suspended yesterday, Abbie. The way he even spoke, it was as though he doesn’t know anything about this Nifemi issue.”
“Exactly my point!” She clapped her hands and continued. “What if the picture was cooked up by them?”
Adebisi thought for a moment. “Do you mean photoshoped by them?”
“Yeah.. I think that’s what they call it. So he was suspended because of you, I’m sure.”
Adebisi sighed. “I am truly confused.”
“So you want to go and check him up right?”
“I don’t even know what was controlling me when I was asking him the question.”
“That’s what is called love.”
“Ogbeni… I am not playing here o.”
Abbie shrugged. “I was not playing either.”
“Just leave me alone sef.”
Abigail relaxed and watched her.
** ** **
Fifehanmi was now more confused. What exactly should he do? He didn’t know if he should tell her the truth or just continue hiding. Everyone knows whatever is hidden is what the devil take advantage of, but at the same time, if some things are not hidden, it can cause a big problem.
“I think Charles is ready to see Alhaji.” Halima said.
Fifehanmi smiled. “Are you doing this on the basis of love or compulsion?”
“You have no idea of what has been between us before now, so you can’t know how much I do love her.”
Fifehanmi chuckled. “So obvious! If not, why did you run away? See, just hear this beforehand, bro. I might not have met you guys right from the scratch, but now that I am involved, know that she means a lot to me and my destiny. If you try anything questionable, I will be the one to deal with you, not even Alhaji.” He brushed to his feet. “Can we leave now?”
Halima found it hard that Fifehanmi was the one who just spoke. Was he serious or just joking? He just said that Halima means a lot to him.
Charles scratched his head as he stood up. “I wonder where you guys even met, but I must say… you look real.”
Fifehanmi chuckled again. “I don’t look real, bro. This is my real face! I don’t look it, I am it.”
Halima was just looking at the two dumbfounded on her seat.
“Let’s go.” Charles said again.
Fifehanmi gazed at Halima. “Shall we?”
Halima stood up as she tried to calculate the drama about to get unfolded.
** ** **
Ben dropped his pen and picked it up again. He stood up and walked to the window, looking outside. He had been wondering on what could have happened to Fifehanmi the previous night. He could feel the atmosphere of the company that Fifehanmi was not around. He felt so dry and bored to be alone. They weren’t sharing the same office though, but it seemed as if the they shared the same atmosphere. He was still there when the door was opened and Mr. Kolade barged in. He quickly turned and saw him.
“I’m sorry for barging in on you, Ben. What of Fifehanmi?” He asked looking impatient.
Ben gazed at him and shrugged. “He should be at home, sleeping.”
“Are you sure?” He asked again.
“Is anything the problem?” He dropped his pen on the table as he folded his arms.
“He has been on Mrs Davies’ case and she just came in now and she said she’d love to meet him.”
“Davies..” Ben repeated as she racked his brain to remember who the person was. He clicked and he nodded continually. “Ooh.. of The Dave Inn?”
“Yes. At least we have lost the contract of Pelz Companies, this shouldn’t just go like that too.”
“Why do they need him when you are around to attend to them?” Ben began to trouble Kolade.
“He has been the one in charge and according to the woman, she said she has heard about him from this company..” He looked up as he tried to remember the name of the company that was mentioned to him. “Dee Royal Stables”
Ben chuckled. “That’s one of our largest bases.”
“Will you get Fife for me and let’s save these stories, Ben.”
“But Oga, why didn’t you call him?”
“When did you start questioning me? I just gave you a job to do and you have been trading questions with me.” He walked out.
Ben grinned as he walked out. Why couldn’t he really call him too? Was he afraid or what? Ben picked up his phone and dialed Fifehanmi’s mobile number.
** ** **
Fifehanmi found his way to his pocket to silent his phone as it buzzed. It had taken enough courage to step into that house again and a call just came from nowhere when he was about entering into the living room of Alhaji. He didn’t even know what would end his story as he was about entering and someone somewhere was calling his phone.
“Good afternoon.” Fifehanmi quickly bowed as he saw Alhaji.”
Alhaji removed his glasses and glanced at the wall clock. “We still have few minutes to afternoon.”
“Ooh.. good morning, Sir.” He bowed again.
“Good morning.” Charles also greeted as he stood beside Fifehanmi and Halima locked the door.
“Did you just get the message that I would like to see you?”
Fifehanmi nodded. “Yes, Sir.”
“Good morning. You people should find a seat.” He dropped the newspaper he was holding and placed his legs on the wooden stool before him. Ïs this your friend?” He asked Fifehanmi about Charles as he was about to sit down,
Fifehanmi opened his mouth but couldn’t find his voice. “Em..” He grinned.
“So you brought your friend along.. no problem though. Will you get them something to take?” He faced Halima who stood behind the sofa where the two were sitting.
“We are okay sir.” Fifehanmi grinned. It was obviously a fake grin, but what would he do? “Or are we not?” He faced Charles, still grinning.
“Drinks will be okay.” Charles said.
Fifehanmi didn’t believe his ears. As he was still trying not to believe he heard that, his phone buzzed again and he quickly pressed the volume button from his pocket. He wondered who could be calling him repeatedly. He felt it could be Nifemi that was trying to call him again. He faced Charles as he successfully mute the phone and glared at him. How could he even think of drinks when Fifehanmi’s head was thinking if they’d get out of the place the way they entered.
“Even your friend said he’s not taking anything, but if you want to, Halima, get him something to drink.”
Halima swallowed as she walked inside. A twinge of anger and disappointment flowed in her.
“Have you now informed your parents?” Alhaji asked.
Fifehanmi scratched his head. “That’s why we are here today, Sir.”
“How many of you?” Alhaji asked as he shook his head on the small stool.
“Me and… Charles.” He replied.
“Oooh.. you are Charles, right?”
Halima walked out and placed the tray on the wooden stool before Charles. She made sure she didn’t waste any time because she had to be there right from the beginning of the discussion to speak when she needed to.
“Yes sir, I am Charles.”
Fifehanmi sighed as he watched the drink before him. He began to wonder if he was truly afraid of Alhaji when he said he ran away, If he was truly afraid, it should be evident, he felt.
“So what exactly did you come for?” Alhaji asked.
Fifehanmi adjusted himself on the seat as he glanced at Halima to know if she was ready to talk or he should go ahead. He didn’t even know what would be the end of the whole matter as he felt so uneasy to open his mouth and tell Alhaji the reality. He doubted if he could as he pushed further and finally found his voice. “Sir, I don’t know what will be the end of all these, but I know the cat must be let out of the bag.”
“You have aborted for my daughter, is that not it?”
He smiled faintly. “The worst thing that a man can do from my own perspective is to kill.” He stopped abruptly as he thought that it could be a good way of cooling Alhaji down even if his am at the end of the day would be to deal with him. “Death and wickedness has nothing good it can offer a man, Sir.I see it as someone who does bad to an extent of killing a fellow human being does not even deserve help from God himself. So, I wouldn’t do that because for every man living, there’s a purpose of living attached to each one. Killing the poor baby is terminating his purpose for existence.”
Fifehanmi nodded as he felt himself deep within. It must be hitting him big time… maybe I should continue.. “Sir, I am not the father of this unborn child, it is Charles.” He finally said.
Alhaji was still. He was staring at the three of them expressionless. Fifehanmi wondered what might be going through his mind as he spoke. Who really cares about that? He had thought as he continued. “I met Halima for the first time the previous night before we came here together, Sir. I hit her with my car while I was driving because I was totally drunk. I was frustrated because of some issues and I was literally drunk, so I ran into her and we ended up in the hospital.” He tweaked his nose and sighed as he continued. “I had to stand in gap for Charles because you already warned her never to come home without the father of the child.” He paused again and looked at Halima and Charles.
Halima just stood by the side of the sofa Fifehanmi was sitting on. She was really thinking of what would happen at the end of the day. “Sir, Charles ran away because he was scared of you, Sir. To be truthful, I don;’t know Charles and I just met Halima too. I only helped her out since I had hit her the previous night, Sir. We went in search of Charles and thank God we have gotten him, Sir. I only came to clear myself irrespective of whatever the consequence might be, Sir. That’s all.”
ALHAJI STOOD UP…