NICHOLAS EPISODE TWELVE

THE IMPERIAL

ILORIN

2 PM

13, NOVEMBER 2015

He ran his hand through his hair as he stepped into the reception. It had been a frustrating three months for Adam. He had made a case his purpose for living, if the case truly had anything to do with his living, then he was close to suicide. The months had dragged as he tried to solve the case; the first case he had ever tried to solve. He had tried his best, staked out places, followed people, intercepted notes, paid snitches but he just went round and round in a frustratingly small circle.

He had spent a lot of time outside of his post; Arandun, but nobody seemed to mind. Or maybe they did not notice. His boss had long stopped asking him for updates. Officially the case was still open- it had to be, you do not close a case without solving it- but nobody talked about it anymore; it was a dead case. He spent most of his time in Ilorin, it was where the case was centered. His only suspect- he had since ruled out Nicholas as a suspect- was living in and working in Ilorin, all investigative works he did was done in Ilorin. He visited Arandun frequently, but that was all he did- visit.

He stepped into the lobby. He stopped as he tried to adjust to its dimness. He shuffled through the lobby which led into a corridor, music boomed all over the building as he stepped into the restaurant. He stepped aside as a young couple tried to walk through him. Love indeed is blind. He scanned the restaurant; it was not really a restaurant. It had a bar to left, it was two in the afternoon but already the bar was busy serving half a dozen people. In front of the bar, closer to where he stood, there were sofas. A young man, probably a student, sat on one of these sofas busy on his iPad. Enjoy the free wifi my friend. A couple sat close to him, judging by the number of empty bottles in front of them, Adam assumed they would not be driving.

To his right, he noticed a sign that read “VIP”. It was placed above a wooden staircase, he moved towards it. He had always wondered what was different about places marked ‘VIP’ in clubs and restaurant. He moved up the stairs trying to look as ‘VIP’ish as possible. Everyone in the room turned to look at him as he stepped inside. He tried to look as casual as possible. I’ve been here a dozen times, stop staring. ‘Everyone’ was just five people and they all turned back to their VIP lives as a Chinese lady walked towards him. He had heard rumours that the Chinese restaurant – or club, as it actually was – had Chinese waitresses. Apparently they were only found in the VIP section.

“Huan Ying.” She said smiling.

“What?” Did you insult my mother?

“You are welcome to the Imperial sir.” So you speak English. ”May I escort you to your seat sir.”

Another Chinese lady brought him a bottle of water and a pack of Cigars as he sat down. He took the bottle of water and waved away the cigars. He wondered why they offered him the cigars; he was not a smoker and was sure he did not look like one. They both left him as he opened the bottle of water. He felt exposed in the big room. He was the only person sitting alone and he was yet to make an order.

Fifteen minutes later and he was feeling nervous. He had caught the waitresses staring and whispering, he could not blame them. He looked at his watch for the umpteenth time, he was losing his cool. He took his phone out of his pocket, he had to keep his hands busy.

“Sir, are you waiting for somebody?” he almost jumped, he had not noticed the waitress behind him.

“Hey, why did you sneak up on me like that?” a couple of people looked in his direction. He was about to make a stupid excuse when she entered. “She just arrived.” He said, pointing to the doorway.

Her name was Helen and she was the only hope he had left, if he was going to solve his case.

The waitress nodded, smiled at Helen and walked away. ‘Why meet at the Imperial?’ he had asked her. ‘Meet me at the Imperial’ she replied and that was it. After months of searching without finding anything remotely helpful, he had stumbled on Helen. She had worked with Faruk for a few months before he got promoted. He did not know if she had any information that could help him – she was not the first person who thought they had information – but she was all he had left, the case had already wearied him.

“Why didn’t you order anything Adam, you didn’t have to wait for me.” She said crossing her legs. She was beautiful and she knew it. She had the air of someone who always got what she wanted. On another day, Adam would have played her game.

“Helen, you know I’m not here to drink or to eat. Why did we have to meet in the VIP section anyway?”

“Adam, look at me. Do I look like I eat with regular people?” She looked at him and laughed. “I’m just kidding, I’m meeting someone here later, I don’t want to move around.”

“Okay, so the information you said you have for me, what is it?” he was losing patience.

“Be patient man! You can’t come here, drink their bottle of water for free, and then walk away. You have to order something.”

Adam sighed, threw his hands in the air and obliged her. He stared at her for the next fifteen minutes as she devoured her food. For the first time he understood why some Cops planted evidence. It was the only way to get rid of people like Helen without getting physical.

“Now that that is out of the way…” she said wiping her mouth. “I think I’m ready to talk to you.”

Adam looked at her without saying a word.

“Faruk was my boss for about two years, and he was a fantastic boss. He was very nice to me, of course that was before the day he fired me.” Probably for gluttony. “I worked as a P.A. sort of, I wasn’t hired by CyberCorp, he hired me himself. And no, I wasn’t sleeping with him, I arranged other people to do that plus he cannot afford a gal like me.” Adam smiled. “Listen Adam, before I go on, you have to promise me that there is no way this will come back to haunt me.”

“I cross my heart and hope to die.” Adam replied with a smirk, lifting up his hand in mock salute.

“Okay, that is good enough for me.” She moved forward on her chair, entwined her fingers and rested her chin on them. “There was this girl he started seeing, not seeing as in dating, she wasn’t his type, but he visited her very often. That went on for a while until one day we visited a hospital and I noticed he was visiting this same girl.”

“And you know this girl, how?”

“I saw her at the school once during one of his visits.” She answered, waving her hand. “She looked a little different on the hospital bed, but I could tell it was her. I don’t ask questions, that’s part of why Faruk liked me, but I overheard him talking with the doctor, she had been in a coma for a while.”

Adam rested back on his chair and let the information sink in. Kemi was alive, and it was a relief.

“How long ago was this?” Adam asked.

“About three months, I was fired not long after that.”

“Okay Helen, got one last thing. May I have the name and address of the hospital?”

She smiled as she dug into her bag for a piece of paper. Adam offered her a pen and she wrote the name and address.

Adam had a bounce in his steps as he walked away from Helen and her Chinese obsession, the case had just received a breath of fresh air.

COOKES BANK PLC

ILORIN

6 PM

13, NOVEMBER 2015

‘Good night’ Kate called out to the last of her colleagues as they left the office. She had been working at the bank for two weeks and she was already a hit among her coworkers. Working in a bank was not exactly her dream come true but she was enjoying the experience. Getting a job was not a problem for her; she had not expected it to be. It was one of the perks of graduating near the top of your class, looking gorgeous and having one of the best personalities available to mankind. When she was employed by the Oriental Bank, she had a chance to pick the city she wanted to work in. Lagos or Abuja were the obvious options, but Nicholas had begged her to stay in Ilorin. He did not have to beg for long, she was already considering it.

The last two months of their youth service had flown by. She had put a lot of attention into teaching, it was all she had to do. Nicholas had spent more time in Ilorin than at Arandun. He was slowly getting a grip on the reins of CyberCorp and he needed to be as close as possible to the company. She had gotten involved with his mother too. She was easy to talk to and she never talked about Nicholas or her dating him. She was not dating him – at least not officially – probably because Nicholas still had his mind on Kemi. She pushed the thought aside, she had a pleasant night to look forward to. Nicholas was taking her out on a proper date for the first time. He had asked casually and she told him “no problem”.  There was a problem and it was time. They had scheduled and canceled many time; he was busy, she was busy, but that night they finally had time.

Kate cleared her desk into her backpack and headed for the bathroom. He was picking her up from work so there was no time for two hours of makeup. She had brought a dress, and her makeup bag and that was all.

She came out of the bathroom fifteen minutes later looking the best she could in that time. She looked at her watch, it was six twenty. She was going to have to wait for ten minutes. She took her backpack, switched off the lights in the office and walked out. The janitor would lock up later.

She was startled as her phone rang. She dug her fingers into the bag and brought out the phone, it was Nicholas.

“Hey.”

“Hello Kate, I’m sorry for just calling, you remember we are going out this night right?” Are you kidding?

Yes, in ten minutes time. Right?” she tried to sound as cool as possible.

“Yeah, wait, are you ready? Oh my God. Good I’ll be in your office in five.”

He arrived in eight minutes. Nicholas rarely drove himself, he did not like it, but it came with his position. Kate watched as he came out of the car, he was driving that night, he was wearing a dark grey suit, a white shirt and a maroon bowtie. A bowtie?

“Kate…” he said as he hugged. “You look gorgeous.”

Kate smiled.

“Nick, did you actually wear a bowtie to work?” she said with a teasing smile.

“Nah, I dressed up for you. You like?”

“Yes, I like. And you look gorgeous yourself.”

He opened the door of his black Mercedes C300 4matic, she stepped inside and closed her eyes saying a little prayer. The date could be the beginning of something, she prayed it would be a perfect night.

“So where are we going?” she asked when Nicholas entered the car.

“You’ll see.”

He started the car and they moved. Kate observed the city as they drove in silence. She had not explored the city as much as she would have liked to. It was a beautiful city. They drove in silence until they entered a very quiet and beautiful street. Kate had never been to that part of town.

“This is a very nice place. I didn’t know Ilorin had streets this nice.” She could not hide her admiration.

“You need to ditch that bank of yours and get out more.”

Kate opened her mouth in admiration as they approached the ROMANTICISMO. She had heard a lot about the place even before she came to Kwara state. There were only five in the country. She did not take her eyes off the restaurant as Nicholas parked the car. She did not notice the car had stopped running until a chuckling Nicholas was opening her door.

“This is awesome Nick. I heard you have to get a reservation three days before. How did you…?” Then it dawned on her. “Of course you are CyberCorp’s C.E.O.”

She looked around as they walked into the restaurant, it looked like she had stepped into a movie, and it was perfect.

“Welcome to the Romanticismo.” A waiter said in an Italian accent. A Nigerian with an Italian accent? Awesome! Everything was awesome. A man wearing a suit identified Nicholas from a distance and walked up to them.

“This way sir.” He said and led them up a staircase. He opened a door and Kate gasped in astonishment. They were on the roof and they were going to be alone. A single table and two chairs stood in the middle of the roof. Nicholas was apparently enjoying her reaction to the whole night.

“Thank you, Mr. Luggi.” The ‘Italian-Nigerian’ man bowed and left. Before she could say anything, two waiters walked towards them with two covered plates. They placed them on the table.

“This is your Spaghetti pomodoro and basilico.” One of them said. They both bowed and walked away.

“They wanted to serve their five course dinner, but I told them to go straight to the Spaghetti and whatever he just said. It’s late and we still have to go to work tomorrow.” Nicholas explained.

“Wow Nick. Being a C.E.O. is not very bad huh?” They both chuckled.

Nicholas removed a bottle of wine from inside a bucket filled with ice.

“Hope you don’t mind being served by a C.E.O.?”

“Oh, I don’t mind at all.”

They talked as they ate; it was a perfect dinner if there was one. They continued talking as the waiters came back as soon as they were done to clear the table.

“This was nice huh?” Nicholas asked feeling pleased with himself.

“Yeah, it was. Like they say; ‘We should do this more often’” she replied with a chuckle. “Thank you very much, it was nice that you did all of this.”

She saw Nicholas look at his watch, it was time to leave. She picked up her purse and stood up. Nicholas had not made a commitment to her, but with more nights like the one they just had, it was only a matter of time.

2 AM

The six men wore white suits. Nicholas stood facing them, he did not know who they were or why he was there. They looked at him sternly.

“What do we do to him?” One of them asked.

“Easy, we kill him.” Nicholas’ heart jumped to his mouth.

“No, we won’t kill him. What’s the fun in that?” A man answered. He was the youngest among the five, his left eye was slightly closed. Nicholas looked around him, there was no way to escape. The hall was long and dark, there were no windows. He could not identify the source of the light that shone on the men.

“So what do you think will be more fun?” Another man answered. His face looked vaguely familiar; he looked like Denzel Washington.

“Check this out.” The man with one good eye snapped his fingers and two men came in dragging something in behind them. It was Kate! Her hands and feet were bound together, she was still wearing the beautiful black gown, it was torn.

“Oh my God!” Nicholas screamed. “What are you doing with her? This is between you guys and me. Leave her out of this!” he ran towards her. She whimpered as he touched her. “What have you done to her you bastards?”

They all laughed.

“It’s not polite to insult people older than you, your mother must have taught you that much.” The oldest of the gang said. “How about we ask her for ourselves? Maybe it’s not your fault, maybe she didn’t teach you better. It must be difficult raising a child on your own.”

He waved his hands and a huge man came in carrying something on his head. Oh no, not Mom, nooooooo!

“Get your hands off my Mother, you idiot.” He left Kate and ran to his mother. “Why are you doing this? You have a problem with me, you come to me, leave my mother or my… leave Kate out of this!”

He looked back to where he mother was, she was gone, Kate was gone too.

“Is this a joke?” he said boiling with anger.

“No, it is not!” He heard a voice behind him, a man walked out of the shadows. He was tall, with a white head of hair. Morgan Freeman? “It is time to end this game.”

Morgan Freeman had a gun, Nicholas moved backwards holding his hands up, he had never thought he would die at the hands of a celebrity look alike. He stumbled and fell as he got to where the five men sat, his would-be killer moved closer, his gun trained on his head. He feared he would die from the throbbing vein on his neck before a bullet hit him. He kicked, trying to stand to his feet but the men behind him held him down.

He looked at his killer, he was smiling. Nicholas closed his eyes and waited for death.

He heard the explosion and jumped up sweating. Music filled the room, he was in his room.

“Oh my God, I was dreaming!” He slumped back on to his bed and sighed.

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