His eyes bulged as I said that. It was probably the least of any question he must’ve expected, but I didn’t care. I needed to know the truth.
“Answer me, are you?” I repeated.
“Is this a joke?”
“I’m not joking.”
“Then what’s this?”
“I just want to know.”
“Then search me and see if you’d find any weapon. Cultists are mostly known to have weapons with them, aren’t they?”
“I don’t need to search you, I can clearly see the ring and tattoo you have there.”
“So having a tattoo now makes me a cultist? Fifi you’re funny,” he said amidst laughter.
“What about the ring then, how do you explain that?” I caught him off guard. Before he could come up with another forged tactic, I continued.
“Boma, you can pretend for all I care but I want you to know that I know who you are. It’s of no concern to me either you choose to be a cultist or not. It’s not my life, it’s yours. But all I am trying to say here is that, this is the second time you’ve neared death and escaped. You might not be lucky next time. At least if not for anything, think about your life and your parents. Is this how they want you to be?” I said plainly and stood up.
I had expected him to get a hold of me or try to stop me from leaving, but instead, he just smiled and watched me leave.
“Fifi,” he called out to me midway into the hall. I intentionally ignored him and kept moving. When I got back in, I met the girls seated at a particular spot and joined them.
“So how was it?” Jovita asked.
“He’s much better now,” I said.
“Are you sure?”
“Trust me, he is,” I assured.
We kept talking and discussing until the celebrant was called on stage. She was asked to come with a friend and Oluchi accompanied her, so I and Mimi stayed back.
“Fifi where’s your phone abeg, borrow me let me collect something,” Mimi asked.
I dipped my hand into my purse and realized it wasn’t there. I remembered I had earlier dropped it with Boma outside and rushed back there, but he had left, to my utter dismay. So I used Mimi’s phone to call the line when I got back into the hall.
It dialled two times before he picked on the third ring.
“Hello Boma, it’s me Fifi. Where are you?”
“Who is Fifi?”
I was surprised at his question.
“What do you mean by who is Fifi! It’s me, the same Fifi you know.”
“I don’t know any Fifi please. Don’t call this line again,” he said and hung up. I was baffled to the bones.
First of all, Boma cut the call on me and secondly, I wouldn’t have cared if it wasn’t for my cell that he had with him. I dialled the line again and it diverted. I dialled again and it said my number had been barred. The last one I tried, it was switched off. I started losing my temper.
I was on the verge of placing another call through when a text message came in.
“If you need the phone back, don’t bother calling. I won’t pick up. Let us meet at Paloma joint tomorrow by four and I’ll give it to you.”
“What’s wrong?” Mimi asked, staring at me as my gaze still remained on the text. I showed it to her and she seemed confused herself.
“Are you sure this is Boma?”
“I know it’s him. Who else could it be? I left it with him last,” I said.
“What if someone picked it?”
“There’s no way someone else could have picked it. I’m sure it’s Boma I left it with.” I insisted.
Mimi took a closer look at the text again and faced me.
“Don’t worry, I’ll figure something out tomorrow. For the main time just take your mind off it and enjoy the party. Don’t let this disrupt Jovita’s birthday,” she said to me. I took her advice and played it cool.
At the end of that night, we ended up cutting cakes, sharing gifts, wishing wishes, taking photos and singing Happy Birthday songs for Jovita. We bathed her with a full bottle of Andre wine and complimented it with a bucket of water. She literally screamed and ran out of the hall like a frightened baby as everyone cheered and laughed at her.
By the time we got home, I was exhausted to the point that I couldn’t even have my usual night shower before heading to bed. I slept that way with my outfit.
To my surprise, Mimi was the first and the least person I had expected to have woken me up that particular Saturday morning. Upon how drunk she was the previous night, she still managed to find time for her God. It baffled me.
“Lord please, touch Fifi’s life so that she can know you truly do exist. Let her see your divine wonders, miracle and glory manifest upon her,” she continued praying, unaware that I was awake. I merely hissed and passed her, making sure she heard the hiss loud and clear. She knew I didn’t believe in those religious fairytale stories she and her gullible followers had been brainwashed with, and I already warned her not to include my name in her prophetic prayers anymore, but she proved stubborn.
When I returned from the bathroom, she was already done praying. We exchanged pleasantries and said nothing to each other as we went about our daily routine. We usually jogged on Saturdays before taking breakfast, but due to how famished we were that morning, it had to be postponed.
As we ate, an idea came into my head, reminding me of my phone. I reminded Mimi also and she said she has a plan sorted out. The plan was that, I would go to the designated venue and meet with Boma, taking her phone along while she switched her sim card to another smaller phone she had. The purpose of her phone was to secretly record everything we say there, in case of security reasons or threats. While she also adviced me to retain the text message he sent the previous night, so that when the need arises, we could use it as proof.
Moments ticked to seconds, seconds ticked to minutes, minutes ticked to hours and right then, four O’ clock came at last. Mimi advised me to go ten minutes after the appointed time, just in case he also had something planned.
“Remember, if he tries anything stupid or you notice something fishy, don’t hesitate to call me. I’ll know what to do.” Mimi said as I stepped out of the house.
“Don’t worry I’ll be fine. Wish me luck,” I said, and we hugged.
Within ten minutes, I arrived at the popular Paloma district. It wasn’t as fancy as I had hoped it would be, but it was quite remarkable. I took a table and ordered for Malt, frantically searching and screeching my eyes at interval to see if I could find Boma, but to my dismay, he wasn’t there. I dialled my line again and it repeated the same thing, switched off. So I had no option than to wait.
Five minutes passed, I was waiting. Ten minutes passed, I was waiting. Fifteen minutes passed, I was still waiting. I got fed up and was about leaving when this fair, skinny lady approached me.
“I have paid,” I said to her, mistaking her for a staff worker.
“Do I look like a staff?” She laughed. “Sit down.”
“Sit down,” she repeated, and I sat.
Even though she was skinny and seemed rude with the way she had asked me to sit, I obliged her, since she looked older than me.
“Straight to business,” she started, “let me start by saying I’m Monica. Monica Thompson. And you are?”
“Your full name please, if you don’t mind.”
“Ah! You are Ghanaian? I thought as much. That explains why you have this long curly afro hairstyle. Is it your natural hair?” She asked. I nodded.
“It looks cute. It’s the exact look we need for a model,” she said, “and I was thinking you could play that role well, Fifi. You have the body and looks, and your physique compliments it too. Let me recruit you.”
“Thank you, I’m not interested.” I said and stood up, making my way to leave.
“You haven’t even heard about the price.”
I pretended not to hear her and continued walking.
“Fifi!” she called out to me. I turned back and, just after dipping her hand into her bag, she brought out my phone.
“Will you come now?”
I was petrified.
“How did you get that? It’s mine,” I said as I made my way back to her.
“Sit down first,” she said. I sat back and watched with keen interest, particularly at my phone.
“First of all,” she began, “I want you to know that everything I just said now was a test. That’s not my main purpose of being here. I only wanted to…”
“How did you get my phone?” I interrupted, cutting her short.
“Well, let’s just say I am well connected.” She said, beaming a smile.
“That doesn’t answer my question.”
“Okay, fine. I saw you cleaning that guy’s wounds and bruises outside the hall yesterday after the fight. He seemed so free and relaxed around you that I was beginning to see you both as lovers from where I sat. Is he your…”
“No!” I cut in quickly. “He’s not my boyfriend. Just a friend.”
“Are you sure?”
“What does that mean?”
“Sorry, don’t mind the question. So after you left him and went in, he also left too. I was passing by and somehow, I saw the phone right there under your chair. I picked it and clicked it and your image appeared as the wallpaper, that was how I knew it was yours.” She explained.
“It all makes sense now. But when I later called with my friend’s phone, a man picked up. It was a male voice I heard. Who was that?”
“Oh, that should be Big Tiny. He was the one I left it with when I went to ease myself.”
“Big Tiny, is that someone’s name?” I laughed.
“It’s his nickname actually. He’s tall and very slim, so we call him Big Tiny. But the bottom line remains that we haven’t still discussed what I came here for.”
“I thought you wanted to recruit me as a model?” I asked.
“No, that’s not why I am here. Fifi, I need your help. We need you to help us.”
“Help you, how? I don’t understand.”
“Do you know the type of people you move with, those guys? They are horrible people. Cultists. Murderers!”
“You mean Boma, Kingsley and Simon?”
“Yes, those three especially, they are the brain behind the group. If I were you, I would back off from them.”
“But why? They don’t seem bad.”
“Will they tell you?” she cut me short, and continued, “I work for a certain Senator that I can’t disclose his name and identity at the moment. We have an upcoming election and these guys are our only threat. It seems our rival party has been sponsoring them because they know that if your school votes for us with the amount of population you have here, we are sure going to win. That is where your help comes in.”
“What do I do?”
“We want you to join in our alliance. We have trailed and watched you for a while, and it seems that Boma guy actually likes you. We could start from there as an advantage, don’t you think?”
“No, thank you. I don’t want to be involved in any of this,” I said and stood up.
“Fifi, the amount is huge. You won’t be disappointed.”
“I said I’m not interested. Thank you,” I said finally and turned to leave.
“Think about it, Fifi!” she called out to me.
I hissed and made my way out of the restaurant.
The good part was that, I had everything that transpired between us, all recorded in Mimi’s phone.
TO BE CONTINUED…