A story written by INEGBENOISE OSEODION OSAGIE. (07068221839, 08093828575, [email protected])
The warder budged out of the entrance and Bakare wheeled himself into the room and continued wheeling towards Ivie. With every revolution, his wheels screeched against the cemented floor. He had shaven his sideburn and left only a goatee. He pushed the wooden chair away and fixed his wheels in place.
“It’s nice of you visiting.” His voice seemed to have come from the thinnest folds of his vocal cords.
“How’s your condition?” she asked, trying not to look at his legs and making sure it wasn’t obvious she was trying not to look at them.
“Which of them? My stay in jail or my legs?”
To which was she actually referring? “How are your legs?”
“It’s useless asking about them. They can’t get better. Asking about my stay in jail would be preferable.”
She directed to the legs and again, wondered why anyone would want to disable them. “Thank you for testifying in court?”
He rolled backwards and veered to the window, pointing eyes to the louvers. “Don’t thank me. It wasn’t a favour.”
He revealed the truth and that was worth thanking for.
“So which do you prefer? Seeing me here or seeing your Richard?”
“I wouldn’t want any of you in jail.”
Bakare huffed. “I’m a criminal. I sold drugs. I deserve being in jail, right?”
She remained silent.
“What feud did you have with Ezinne?” she asked.
He gave the window more eyes and spoke to them. “Did she tell you I have a feud with her?”
“There must be a feud before she can attempt killing you.”
“Ezinne is a murderer. I’m not her first victim. Two others had died in her hands.”
He did not seem joking. He was not with a smirk, or smile, or any form of complacency.
“Who did she kill?”
“She killed my children.”
The least man to qualify a father was Bakare, and Ezinne, even with all she had done, did not qualify a child killer. Or maybe she did. Someone who could watch her husband groan in jail could also strangle the neck of a child.
“You had children?”
“She killed them.”
“Why would she kill your children, and why would she want to kill you?”
Bakare wheeled away from the window, allowing in a small stream of light, and progressed to her front. Even with the air streaming from the window, sweat lines yet lined his neck.
“I dated Ezinne in her university days. I got her pregnant and deserted. She aborted the children and in the process, lost her womb. She blames me for her loss, and that must have prompted her to want to put a bullet in my head. The woman tried to kill me even after killing my children.”
“That’s it. That’s your sin. You deserted her. Why did you do that?”
“I’m not proud of it, but it was the only choice. I wasn’t equipped enough to be a father. Ezinne’s parents would have willingly catered for those children. I knew that; that was why I left. Every sensible girl would give those children to her parents, not murder them.
“I never knew she lost her womb. She told me the moment before she shot me. I wonder how much hatred she must have for me.”
Ivie watched him, the way his lips moved and the way his eyes blinked. She was engaged to him, engaged to a man who abandoned his children. “A man who abandons a pregnant woman isn’t the type to be proud of.”
“Not only abandoning. I denied the children. There were twins. She told me that. I’m a bad man, right?”
“You did a bad thing, a very bad thing.”
“Yes, I did. I’m lucky the bullet didn’t meet me in the head. I’d have been in hell, a hell worse than this.”
Little perfect twins. Their image slunk into her brains, and she imagined a doctor’s blade tearing them into pieces. She channelled the gory image out of her head. “How long will you be in jail?”
“If the judge has mercy, I may be spending three years.”
“What if she doesn’t?”
“Then I would say seven. Hard drugs dealings are very punishable.” He began rattling fingers on the table and slowly lessened the rattling. “I’m sorry I didn’t inform you of the drug business. You weren’t the type that would clap for such. I’m also sorry for the bank heist case that was enough to have crushed my testimony. I have many friends, and when you have careless friends like that, one would one day call you to stand in the witness box.”
The pores occupying his face had all closed, gathering some sweats at his brow, sweats that harboured seriousness. Maybe sorriness. Heavens knew he had to be sorry.
She fixed on the table. “What about our…” She lifted head to him. “You kept your end of the bargain.”
A smirk surfaced in the midst of all that happened on his face. “So it’s time to keep yours.”
“For how long are you awaiting trial?”
“I’m not awaiting trial. I’m awaiting sentencing.”
She sniffed and rubbed her sweaty palms on her blouse, and squeezed the palms against the blouse. “What about my end of the bargain?”
“You want to get married to me?” He cocked head.
“Do I have any other choice? You proposed to me and I said yes.”
“It was a bargain, and everyone is supposed to keep his end.” He paused, and the pause became long. “Bad thing that I couldn’t keep my end.”
“You did. You testified in court.”
“If I’m remembering clearly, the words of the bargain say I come to court and testify. I was never in court. Blame it on my legs.”
The air streaming into the room doubled and bleached off the sweats dwelling in her skin. “So what are you saying?”
“My words determine what I do. I would appreciate you come visit me regularly in jail since it so happened I couldn’t win you as a wife.”
She thought of the words to say, the right words. A “thank you” was not the right word. “I wish you good luck.”
“Good luck doesn’t exist. It’s an abstract phenomenon.”
It better came into existence because he would need it. She rose and turned to the door. His voice rang from behind. “You would come see me in jail, wouldn’t you?”
She turned to him and nodded.
“Next time, try not to bargain with your future.” He began wheeling himself backwards.
She gave him another nod and made it through the door.
To Be Continued…..