A Mighty wind wheezed through the curtains into the sitting room. Ivie sipped in coffee that burned her taste buds, yet she could not stop, because it cleared those images from her mind, even if not completely, even if they developed ways of peeking back in. The remaining coffee, she gulped and let it burn her throat.
She la!d her empty teacup on the centre table. Now the images had free access. The first came. It was that moment, that moment when a man asked for her hand in marriage. The most difficult question in the world. And yet, some women answered it so easily. They did because they wanted. It was a choice one had to make. A step of faith—an expensive, rare faith.
The second image slunk in. Richard Fayemi. It was not supposed to have access, but it always found ways of burgling in. The gold of the wedding ring round his finger glittered. If only she had the control over her mind.
Bakare Damijo crept back in. She struggled to make the image stable, and again, wished she had control over her mind.
It was a matter of choice. Getting married was a matter of choice, a choice no one else could make for her. She picked up her phone from the centre table and dialled Bakare. It rang. No response. She dialled again. No response. She la!d the phone on the chair’s arm, later picked it and dialled again. The ringing ended, and again, she pressed the call button. His voice came through before it could ring.
“I’ll call you. I’ll call you back,” he whispered. Whooshing sounds mixed with his whispers. Wind’s whooshes. The wind wheezed heavily wherever he was.
“What’s it? Calm down. I—”
“I’ll call you back.” He rushed the words. The rustling of leaves or a sound resembling that surpassed his whisper. Something hid within his voice.
“What’s it? You’re whispering. What’s happening over there?”
“It’s nothing. I’ll call you soon.”
“Wait, wait. You’re in… the orchard, and you sound—”
“I’m not near the orchard.”
She focused ears deeper and listened. Whooshes and rattles were the only things her ears picked. “You’re there. I can hear the leaves. What’s happening? I’m coming to the orchard.”
“I’m not in the Orchard.”
“Then where are you?”
“I’m ending this call.”
“I’m on my way to the Orchard. Something’s happening.”
“You can’t come here.” His whisper lifted.
“Why can’t I come? I’m coming. I’ll bring someone along. Whatever it is, remain calm.”
“You can’t come here.”
She ended the call and managed to release a breath. Her phone rang. It was he. “What’s it Bakare?”
“Don’t come here. It’s dangerous.”
“Just don’t come here,” he whispered fainter. Leaves rustling to the wind picked up the conversation.
“You could be killed.” His bass added to his whisper. “Please don’t come, not even with someone. Stay in your house. I’ll be there soon, and I’ll explain everything. Just stay calm. There’s no problem.” The call ended.
There was a problem. If she could be killed, he too could be killed. She regretted not knowing the police number, stupid unadvertised police, and the next station was miles away. She ransacked her phone contacts and dialled Richard..
“R-Richard, you know a DPO’s number?”
“What’s the matter? What’s—”
“I need a police number. Please give me any you know.”
“Police number? What for?”
“Their intervention is needed.”
“It’s 707112. That’s for my zone. What’s happening?”
“707112. I’ll call you shortly.” She disconnected and dialled the police number. A man answered and she told him the orchard address. When he demanded for more specificity, she pleaded he try working with the small information as she had nothing more. The man assured the police would be there. She hung up and dialled Richard.
“What’s it, Ivie?”
“It’s a friend.” She tried settling her voice to normal. “I think he’s in an unsafe situation. I lack the details but it’s serious.”
“A friend. What kind of situation?”
“Something life-threatening. I had a phone conversation with him and he sounded scared, said I could be killed if I came to his location.”
“Are the police on their way?”
“What place is that?”
“What place?” His voice rose.
“Why? You want to go there? No, let the police do their job. It’s not safe.”
“I want to send another team in case the police don’t get there quick enough. More hands may be needed. I served in the forces. I know these things.”
“I’ll text you. Please make sure your friends in the police guarantee his safety.”
“Do it now. Now.”
He disconnected, and she texted the orchard’s location to him.
Immediately his phone beeped, he snatched it from the coffee table. It was the text, containing the location: An orchard in Burma, two or three junctions after the Agro Industry.
He hurried to his room and pulled his wardrobe open, shoved his clothes to an edge and drew out his firearm kit. He shoved out his rifle and rummaged for his Glock pistol, digging hands into every corner. Not finding the pistol, he stopped searching and shouldered his rifle, and then dashed to his Pathfinder.
The gateman wasted no time in opening the gate.
His Pathfinder managed the bumps on the road and reached the Agro industry safely. He sped past the first junction after the industry and swerved into the second. He scanned for anything resembling an orchard, but found silence instead, treading on the damped grass and leaving its prints atop—the only thing worthy to be called a print.
Before he would attempt the third junction, he opted to try few more drives. Some distance further led him to the sight of a fence with wavering treetops protruded from its height. The orchard. He doubled speed and parked beside the fence. Birds chirped and leaves slashed within the fence. Chirping birds had never been a sign of danger. The police might have done their work and gone. Or they might have not. They were never fast enough. He examined the ground for police tyre prints. The grasses didn’t help.