A Thorn in Her Life
By Olatunbosun Adetula (Nigeria)
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Alan smiled and carried the bag of money and put it under the bed. He sat down on the bed and did a lot of mental gymnastics. After a lot of fro-ing and to-ing he came to a conclusion. He made up his mind to visit Simeon, his friend. He would give him some of the pictures and the following day he would deposit the money into his account, collect his ship from Mr. Benson, and travel to Paris.
Later he stood up on the bed and went to the mirror very close to the window. The pain and sorrow he felt a day before had disappeared like smoke from a chimney now that he thought about the money. Of course, Alan would have been happier if Rebecca was beside him. But now he looked at himself in the mirror, felt satisfied, went downstairs, locked the front door and drove out of the compound. He drove fast to Simeon office at Robert road Victoria Island.
Simeon was a thick and well set man - the editor of the Island Daily News - a very popular daily newspaper on the island. Alan and Simeon knew each other from Mr. Benson’s house but - unknown to Alan - Simeon was a very close friend of Mr. Benson. Alan got into the office and Simeon stood up to greet him.
“How are you Simeon?” Alan said and sat down. Alan looked around the office; he saw that it was tastefully furnished, cosy and exotic.
“I am fine. Welcome to my world Alan. I am fine and okay,” Simeon said.
Alan looked around the office again and smiled; Simeon looked at his eyes and shrugged his shoulders.
“Would you care for a drink?” Simeon said and picked up the phone.
“No - thank you very much, Simeon,” Alan said and Simeon dropped the phone.
Simeon breathed deeply and looked at Alan’s face as his guest picked up a magazine from the table.
“So what has brought you to my office, Alan, after such a long time?” Simeon said. Alan dropped the magazine back on the table.
Alan thought for some seconds. He trusted Simeon so much that he brought out the brown envelope and laid it on the table. When he dropped the envelope, he saw Simeon shift on his seat. There was a puzzled frown on the editor’s face. Alan breathed deeply and spoke.
“There are many things happening in this city under the cover of darkness that you press men don’t see,” Alan said as Simeon picked up the envelope on the large table and looked into it.
Simeon looked at the pictures for more than five minutes and raised his head.
“This is Bath Benson’s picture,” Simeon said. He was confused and shocked by what he saw in the pictures.
“You have very good eyesight, Simeon.”
“I can’t miss Bath; I know him very well, like the back of my hand.”
“Yeah you know him. What did you see in the picture?”
“There are many things inside the pictures. Here I saw Bath carried a sack out of his house. Here I saw him as he held a woman by the throat and here his eyes were menacingly evil, as if he were ready to strike,” Simeon said and laid the pictures on each other on the table.
“Those pictures showed how Bath killed his wife and went to throw her into the lagoon,” Alan said as Simeon continued to look at the pictures. The pictures were so weird that Simeon concentrated all his effort to look at them.
Simeon looked at the pictures again. He was shocked at what he saw. When he raised his head he looked at Alan in the face and wanted to ask him how he came about getting the pictures.
“I took the pictures myself,” Alan said as if he knew what was on Simeon’s mind.
“I see, but does the picture capture the whole murder?”
“Yes of course. If you need more, I am ready to give them you,” Alan said and Simeon smiled sheepishly.
“This might make a great headline,” Simeon said and looked at the pictures again. He became restless in his chair and stood up, going to the window and opening it. He examined the pictures one by one once again in the light. Then he came back and sat down.
“What did you want me to do with the pictures?” Simeon asked.
“I want you to keep them until when I give you a call; then you pull the trigger.”
“How are many of these pictures do you have in your hand, Alan?”
“As many as possible. All pictures are inside my phone. If you need more copies I can print them for you,” Alan said and smiled. Simeon looked at the pictures again.
“Is this a vendetta or blackmail, Alan?”
“All of it. Look Simeon, I want to destroy Benson and his son forever. He made the bed so he must lie on it,” Alan said and told Simeon what Mr. Benson had done to him.
Simeon listened to his narration without an ounce of concentration. Unknown to Alan, Simeon already knew about what happened between him and Mr. Benson.
“I forgot to ask, are you not working for Mr. Benson gain?” Simeon said and feigned ignorance.
“I am not working under the devil again,” Alan said.
“Okay Alan. I think I shall do as you have said,” Simeon said.
“I am relying on you Simeon. When I give you the call, you pull the trigger, right?”
“It will be devastating when we release it. It will be headline news,” Simeon said with a forced smile.
“I want to hit him when it pain most, right in the scrotum,” Alan said and smiled. He was enjoying the whole scenario inside Simeon’s office.
Simeon stood up from his seat, walked to a small fridge, opened it and took two bottles of soft drinks to the table. He urged Alan to drink. Alan took the soft drink and gulped it down his throat as quickly as possible.
“So how much are we going to pay for these pictures?” Simeon said and drank his drink.
“Nothing Simeon. I won’t collect a dime from you,” Alan said and stood up.
“All right Alan. Thanks for your generosity,” Simeon said and stood up.
“Thank you for your anticipated help,” Alan said and smiled.
“I will be waiting for your call anytime.”
“Let me be on my way then Simeon.”
“Okay, take care of yourself,” Simeon said and escorted him out of the office.
Alan didn’t suspect anything when he gave the pictures to Simeon. When he got out of the office and waved goodbye to Simeon, he went to the parking lot, opened the door of his car and whistled as he turned the ignition key. The engine sprang to life and the car left the parking lot.
Meanwhile, Simeon fell back on his chair, still astonished at what he saw in the pictures. He thought for some times. He knew that what affected Mr. Benson would definitely get to him because he earned salary under him as the publicity secretary of the Benson company .Later, as he thought, he took the phone and dialed Mr. Benson’s cell phone. He waited for a few seconds and Mr. Benson came on line.
“How are you Simeon?”
“I am fine and okay sir.”
“Sir, you have let the cat out of the bag,” Simeon said and Mr. Benson was silent.
“Simeon I don’t understand what you are saying,” Mr., Benson said, his voice thick and strong.
“Alan showed me the pictures. They were weird and shocking, and I wanted to vomit when I saw them,” Simeon said. He could hear Mr. Benson shout “Oh God!” in the background.
“I have paid him handsomely; I gave him an easy passage, Simeon, you know I hardly do this, you know,” Mr. Benson said and Simeon shook his head.
“I think, sir, the money is not enough for him. Alan wants a pound of flesh.”
“A pound of flesh from me? Well, thank you Simeon, I will think of what to do about him.”
“Well sir, the ball is in your court.”
“Thank you Simeon. I am very grateful. I will deposit some cash into your account,” Mr. Benson said.
“I am most grateful Mr. Benson,” Simeon said and the line went dead. In his heart, as he sat down on the chair, he knew that Mr. Benson would not spare any effort to deal with Alan. He smiled, stood up from the chair, and closed the window before he went out of the office.
Later in the night, Alan was thinking on the bed. When the wall clock struck seven, he stood up and went to the window. Looking at the brooding dark clouds, he thought about Rebecca and he cried.
X X X X
Mr. Benson was mad at Alan. He couldn’t believe that Alan could do such a thing to him after he gave him an easy passage. When he got the news that Alan had reneged on his promise his face was streaked with anger. He couldn’t sleep throughout the night. When he managed to lie on his back, his eyes remained opened throughout the night, Gina was by his side but he didn’t want to share his problem with her. Instead, his eyes worshipped her body. Mr. Benson had not seen a beautiful girl like Gina in all his life.
Later in the morning, as he sat in the living room, he was racked by pain which seemed to swing inside his skull like a pendulum. He could hardly think straight. He brought out his cell phone and called Tony.
Tony and Ruth lay snuggled on the bed, Ruth entangling her legs around his body as they played together.
“Tony, I saw you last night when you left the bed.”
“You must be dreaming Ruth; I didn’t leave your side,” Tony lied.
“You are a big liar, Tony.”
“I swear I was beside you throughout the night.”
Just as they argued, Tony’s phone rang and he picked it up. It was Mr. Benson, his voice nervous and frightened.
“Tony, I want to see you at my house as quickly as possible,” Mr. Benson said urgently.
“Yes sir, I will be there immediately sir,” Tony said and stood up from the bed. He went to the bathroom. Ruth watched him with tears in her heart as he left the bed, her mood changed, turning very sad.
“Where are you going, Tony?” Ruth asked.
“The boss wants to see me real bad,” Tony shouted from inside the bathroom.
“Tell him you are not in the house.”
“I can’t tell him that, Ruth. You know, he pays the piper.”
“Are you now his mechanical slave?” Ruth said and left the bed, going to join him inside the bathroom.
“Say what you want to say, Ruth, I am anxious to meet the big man,” Tony said and went out of the bathroom. He changed to his clothes in a jiffy .and looked at himself in the mirror. He combed his hair and took his phone on the bed. He was about to leave the room when Ruth shouted from inside the bathroom.
“Tony, wait for me, please. I am coming with you,” Ruth called, running in nakedness out of the bathroom and searched for her clothes.
“Meet me downstairs. I will be waiting for you. Be fast or I leave you in the house,” Tony said and he went downstairs.
Minutes later they both left the house. He dropped Ruth along the road. Tony then drove very fast to Mr. Benson’s mansion. Mr. Benson and Bath were talking in the living room when Tony got into the house. He immediately cottoned on what they said when he got into the living room.
“I told you, Dad, it would be sheer madness to trust a man like Alan.”
“I have given him a second chance. Since he wants no chance, I will have him six feet under,” Mr. Benson vowed, his malevolent eyes becoming crimson. Once he resolved to do anything, nobody could ever stop him.
“I told you. Dad, Alan has eaten more than he could chew; I found it hard to believe that the son of a bitch could turn the heat onto you.”
“If I hadn’t agreed to give him a second chance, he wouldn’t have had the guts to blackmail me,” Mr. Benson commented.
“Dad, we must do something fast before he gives the pictures to everyone on the street,” Bath insisted, standing up and paced around the living room like a restless ant.
“Let’s wait for Tony. I will shut the mouth for him. Alan has welshed on his promise and he must face the consequences of his action.”
When Tony entered the living room, he greeted Bath and his father, Tony knew that something had happened. Mr. Benson stood up by the window and stared at nothing but blank space. Later Mr. Benson’s goons Kabonski and Rosco came into the living room and greeted Mr. Benson and Bath as they went to sit down. Later they began to talk.
“Look guys, Alan has become a shaft in my eyes. I want him out,” Mr. Benson said and went into his room. The three men smiled and looked at themselves and then they began to talk.
Tony, Kabonski and Rosco talked together. They knew Mr. Benson was very angry and they needed to carry out his orders swiftly. Bath watched them, going to the bar and pouring scotch into a glass cup. They stood up after they had made arrangement to visit Alan in the house. When the men were about to leave the room, Bath hollered to them.
“Wait a minutes Tony, I will follow you there.” Bath said and went upstairs. When he came back he wore a black jeans and a T-shirt.
Later the four men entered a Mercedes Benz car and drove very fast to Alan’s house. Alan was hungry, so he had gone to the kitchen downstairs and made some sandwiches. He came back into the living room and sat down and ate. As he dipped the sandwiches into his mouth his cell phone rang. When he picked the phone and looked at it, he saw that the call came from his former girlfriend.
Tina was Alan’s girlfriend before he met Rebecca. He would have married her but Rebecca swept him off his feet. When he had told Tina that he was no longer interested in the affair, Tina almost died but later she patched her emotions and continued her life. Then, when she heard that Rebecca was dead, she made a repeated attempt to get back into Alan’s life.
“Hello Alan, it’s been a long time,” Tina whispered into the phone.
“How are you Tina?”
“I am fine. Where are you?”
“I am at home; I am just preparing to go out.”
“Okay, I will come around.”
“I will be expecting you,” Alan said, smiling and eating his food.
After he finished the sandwiches, he felt pleasurably mellow. He was so tired that he climbed the staircase and went to his room, arranged the bed and fell onto it. He was so tired that when he slept he snored like a pig.
Tony was able to locate the house at last. It had been a long time since he came to the house. He parked the car in front of the gate. Later the four men came out and walked to the gate .It gate was not locked so the men entered the compound stealthily without any challenge. When they got to the front door and Tony twisted the knob, pronto the door opened and they entered the living room. The men smiled and strategised as they got inside the living room.
Bath looked around as Tony tip-toed upstairs. On the table was a bottle of whiskey beside a few leftover sandwiches. A ten dollar bill was beside the bottle. When Bath looked at the television, he saw it - a small portrait of Rebecca. His constitution could melt gold when he saw the picture; he removed it, placing it inside his trouser. Tony came back from the room and told Bath that Alan was fast asleep on the bed. Then Bath told the men to bring him down into the living room.
Alan was fast asleep on the bed snoring when the men entered the room. Later, as he tried to open his eyes, the men tiptoed backward and hid behind the door but Alan didn’t wake up. Instead he turned around on the bed and continued to sleep.
Tony went to meet him on the bed and then yanked off the bedspread. Alan was startled and woke up with sudden fear. When he looked at Tony, he couldn’t believe his eyes. He thought he was dreaming and very soon he would wake up but he got another think coming when Tony got to him on the bed.
As Tony approached Alan wanted to run to the window but Rosco blocked his way and sent him back with a heavy blow to the face. Alan became weak. Suddenly he looked up and knew who the men were, and he knew he couldn’t confront them. Kabonski rushed to him as the men encircled him inside the room and they both fell on the ground. Tony and Rosco loomed over as Kabonski hooked him to the ground. They pummeled him with several blows to the face.
They beat and hit him in the chest and scrotum. Blood oozed out of his face and body. Rosco and Kabonski took him to Tony and they held him in their midst, Tony brought out his dog chain and swung it on his face.
“You think you can blackmail the big boss, right?” Tony shouted and hit him several times on the face with the chain, Alan was covered with red crimson blood; he couldn’t utter any words. Tony hit him on the face with the dog chain several times. The impact was so much that it broke his skull and blood gushed out from the wound.
Rosco took him out of the room and pushed him out. Alan rolled topsy-turvy as he went down the staircase. When he got into the living room, Bath stood in front of him and looked at him with bloodshot eyes. The three men stood behind him as Alan crawled on all four.
“Alan I told you, I said you will never escape. You stole my love and ruined my life, and I hate you,” Bath shouted and Tony threw the chain to him. Alan grasped Bath’s leg. Bath bent down and wound the chain around his neck, dripping with blood.
Alan wanted to say something but Bath tightened the chain around his neck. He tightened it very hard as Alan struggled.
“I hate you, Alan, I hate you with all my life,” Bath shouted. Later Alan fell lifeless on his arms. Bath stood up. They cleaned the whole house. Later Tony, Kabonski and Rosco went to his room and scattered everything around. When they came downstairs, they carried two bags and files in their hand.
“Sir we found this money and some pictures,” Tony said and then the men took the bag into the living room and laid it on the table.
“The son of a bitch has spent part of the money. Where is the cell phone?” Bath said.
“Here sir, this is the phone we found on the bed,” Tony said and handed the phone to Bath, who looked at it and flicked it open.
“Let us get out of here fast.” Bath said and the men removed their gloves and left the house.
Tina saw the car as it sped past. When she got to the house she had no idea that the men within the car had come to Alan. She was so happy she entered the compound and went to the front door. When she got close to the door, she looked up and saw the curtain of the room upstairs billowing out of the window. Then, when she opened the door, she almost fainted, seeing Alan drenched in a pool of blood.
She ran to him on the floor, called his name several times, but Alan was gone like smoke from a chimney. She cried, knowing that Alan had died, and the pain penetrated, deeply into the fabric of her heart. She didn’t know what to do. Later, in agony, she removed her cell phone from her bag and dialed the police emergency number.
The police went all over the area. They tried to look for the men but they couldn’t see them, for they had disappeared like a streak of lightning. Later a police ambulance came and took Alan’s corpse to the mortuary. When Inspector Johnson got to the house, he knew that the death came from the same source. He knew he came there for another wild goose chase, for the commissioner of police would botch the whole investigation.
Sergeant Roger came to meet him, a look on his face suggesting that there was nothing they could do about the murder.
“Inspector sir, sometimes I wonder if all this investigation is really worth it,” Sergeant Roger said.
“Calm down sergeant; one day we shall get them somehow.”
“The whole thing is going to reach a crisis point sooner or later if the commissioner continues to shield Benson and his son from facing prosecution.”
“I am eagerly waiting for the day they will be prosecuted.”
Later the two police officers went out of the compound.
“How about taking you home sir?” sergeant Roger said as they got out of the compound.
“Thank you Roger. Take the police car to the station. I will get a taxi and save you the bother of taking me home,” Inspector Johnson said. Later he saw a taxi, hailed it and went inside. Minutes later the taxi took him to his house.
In the evening Inspector Johnson wore a white T-shirt and black jeans. He didn’t take his car. He stood at the bus stop and waited for a taxi that would take him to the police club at Victoria Garden City. Then he saw a black bike zoom past along the road. He looked at the bike and the rider and knew the rider was Tony..
X X X X.
Bath and Tony were in the study. Tony took the phone and plugged it into the laptop, waited and opened the files inside the phone. Then he saw it. He called Bath, who left his chair and came to sit down beside him and they both watched the screen together. Bath saw Ringo’s pictures on the screen. The pictures were so many and most of the things inside the phone belonged to Ringo.
Bath stood up and went to the window. He thought real hard and went to meet Tony, as if he read his mind. Tony looked at his eyes and spoke.
“Who is this man sir?” Tony asked.
“I know him very well; he is Ringo.” said Bath.
Bath was dumbfounded. Now he believed that it was Ringo that saw him the day he killed Rebecca, but he couldn’t believe that Ringo would do such a thing to him. He was so angry that he clenched his fist; he hadn’t the foggiest ideas that Ringo was his number one enemy; he had poked his wet nose into his family affair. Now it dawned on him that Alan must have employed Ringo to spy on him. It pained him that this rotten tooth in his mouth was his enemy.
“That man caught me unawares. That thoroughly obnoxious little man caught me in the acts,” Bath said nervously. He took a bottle of scotch on the desk and poured it into a glass cup and gulped it down his dry throat.
Bath was so angry at what Ringo had done to him. Ringo, an old reprobate, caught him pants down.
“Sir the man caught you in the jugular.”
“It really surprised me. If someone had told me I wouldn’t have believed it,” Bath said and drank more scotch to steady his nerves.
Tony saw a lot of text messages that Alan had sent to Ringo on the screen.
“I will deal with that son of a bitch.”
“Sir, how do we come in?”
“That old fool lived beside my house; he stays under the tree doing nothing.”
Minutes later, Kabonski walked into the study. He saw Bath and went to meet him.
“I think I found the address of the studio that Alan used to print the pictures,” Kabonski said and gave the business card in his hand to Bath.
“Let me see it.”
Bath perused the card for some minutes and shook his head.
“Law photo studio. We shall go to the place tomorrow,” Bath said and smiled; he was ready to destroy all the evidence that Alan wanted to use to implicate him.
X X X X
Ringo was not a widower. At sixty he had no wife and no child, the only girl that was close to him was Janet. He had dreamt that Janet would be his wife. She was forty two, a normal lady; she worked as a maid in a rich woman’s house in Banana Island., was not far from Victoria Island.
Ringo didn’t read the morning paper. If he had tried he would have seen the headlines; most papers carried Alan’s obituary. Alan was the former secretary of the Island Shipping Council, so his obituary was featured in the newspapers.
Ringo went to a lingerie store two street away from where he worked. When he got there, he bought lingerie and necklace for Janet; he wanted to tell her how much he really cared. Then he took a taxi to Banana Island to see Janet.
Ringo was proud and he smiled with confidence when he got to the large house. When Janet ushered him into her apartment at the back of the building, she was shocked to see him and wondered what he came do. She wanted to send him away but then she saw the bag in his hand and she changed her mind. When he gave his gifts to her, Janet was all over the moon. When she opened the bag and saw what Ringo had brought for her, she embraced him for so long.
Janet was no spring chicken when it came to men. She knew that Ringo would be the last person to take her to the altar. Like the saying goes - everyone is beautiful but not everybody sees it. What she lost in facial beauty she gained in her beautiful body.
As they left for the beach, Ringo held her hand tightly. The flesh on her hand was like the touch of an angel, so soft and so beautiful that they burnt with aura of love. As they sat on the beach together and played with the white sandy soil, Janet smiled when Ringo looked at her face. The beach was deserted. When they both looked in the distance they saw two white birds played together beside the sea. He moved closed to her and she looked into his eyes and they kissed.
Their lips met, sending passion down Ringo’s veins and he held her tightly. Then, because he needed her more than she needed him, he was starved as he held her very tightly to himself. Janet couldn’t resist him. As the two birds flew into the sea, Ringo and Janet fell on the sand. As they kissed he went into her. Janet felt him, so strong that she moaned as Ringo entered her gently at first and hotter later. Janet couldn’t resist him. Her silent moans drifted in the whims of the sand and sea.
Ringo was excited when he took a taxi back to his house. He smiled, hardly believing believe that Janet would give in to him. It was so sweet and great. He licked his lips and entered the taxi thinking of Janet and what they did on the beach and it flooded his mind like the rushing of a mighty ocean. He continued to smile; the taxi driver looked at his eyes and wondered what in the world was wrong with him.
“Hello man, I have got to your house,” The taxi driver said and Ringo was suddenly wide awake.
“Oh I am sorry. I was dreaming.”
“Man, take care of your dream, man.,” The taxi driver said.
“Here take your money.” Ringo said and got out of the car.
Ringo clutched a yellow brown bag under his armpit as he strolled into the house. When he got inside the compound he went straight to his apartment, so tired that he had no idea that evil lurked around. He got to the front door and turned the knob.
When Tony had left the study, he went straight to his house and rested for some minutes. Later he took a shower and changed into other clothes and went out of the building. He took his bike out of the garage and drove very fast to Bath’s house. When he got to the building, he stopped the bike in front of the gate and looked around. He looked at the tree beside Bath’s house but he didn’t see anybody in its shade; the whole place was silent like a graveyard. Then he went to the gate and opened it.
Tony pushed his bike into the compound and locked the gate, and then went to the front door and into the house. When he got inside, he went to bar and drank a glass of whiskey. Later he climbed the staircase and went inside one of the rooms; the window faced the George’s compound. He surveyed the whole compound and the house as he stood by the window. From his observation he discovered that there was nobody inside the George’s compound. He came down and began to make arrangements. When he had organized himself, he opened the front door and walked to the small fence that separated the two houses and climbed it.
When Tony got into the compound, he hid behind some of the flowers and saw that all the apartments were locked. He stood up and breathed deeply. As he looked the house over he identified Ringo’s apartment. His name was written on his door. Tony brought out a key from inside his pocket and opened Ringo’s door and then he stepped into the house. He locked the door stealthily and waited for Ringo to return from his journey.
Twenty minutes later, after he entered the building, Tony heard the gate open and he became alert like a ferret. He brought out his gun and waited patiently. Suddenly the door opened and Ringo went into the room. Tony had hidden behind the door, so that when Ringo was going to the bed, he went behind him and hit him with the butt of the gun. Ringo held his head as he fell on the bed. Tony went to him and began to beat him; he turned him over and gave him several blows across the face.
Ringo tried to defend himself but he was hopeless. The butt of the gun had weakened him. He tried to struggle with Tony, but Tony was too agile, strong and fast for him, striking him on the face with the gun. Then Tony brought out the rope from his pocket and tightened it on Ringo’s neck. Ringo wailed in agony as he strained against the rope that tied his neck. Then, as Tony wouldn’t leave him alone, he breathed his last and fell down on the bed like a piece of rubbish.
Tony breathed deeply when he was satisfied that Ringo had died. He searched the room and discovered the money that Tony kept under the bed. He took it and dipped it inside his trousers. Then he bolted the door and went out of the apartment, climbing the fence back to Bath’s compound. Inside the living room, he changed his clothes and went to the bar. He gulped several glass cups of whiskey down his throat. When he checked the time he discovered that it was quarter to eight. He took his phone and called Bath.
“Hello sir, the deed has been done,” Tony said and gulped several glasses of whiskey down his dry throat.
Tony drank more whiskey, took his phone and went out of the living room, bolting to the door and pushing his bike out of the gate. Upon locking the gate, he looked down the street and saw nobody, so he climbed the bike and sent it down the road.
Inspector Johnson came back from the club and saw the dark bike speed past catalogues of cars along the road. He shook his head because he knew the rider was on another mission to kill.