Treachery 3

Luke sat at the bar, eyes fixated on his untouched cup. Two weeks after he ran out of the Eden building he was still laden with guilt. Everything was going on well with Law Engineering, more than just well; things were booming. Engineer Lawal was not joking when he said they need somebody young and mobile. He’d already been to six cities in three different African countries in two weeks and he was scheduled to meet Engineer Lawal the next day. Those meeting usually led to another trip. He was enjoying his work. Mostly. He’d had to poach some of the staff at Eden to start his own company, that part he didn’t enjoy. He was yet to see or talk to his former boss and he hadn’t even officially resigned. The most painful thing though was losing Elizabeth before he even had her.
Luke picked the cup and took a sip of whatever the bartender had poured in there. Up until two weeks ago, he had never taken alcohol but it was fast becoming a habit now. People said alcohol helped you forget your troubles. He didn’t forget his, but at least they numbed his guilt for a while. Maybe he didn’t deserve to have his guilt numbed.
He waved over the bartender and stood. He dropped a few notes on the bar for her and walked out the building. It was dark now and there were no stars in the sky. It looked like it was going to rain but nobody seemed to care. Cars drove past him, blaring their horns at nothing in particular. Women sat under makeshift tents hawking their wares. Tired pedestrians walked past them without as much as a glance. Luke looked at them with envy, they had no problems. At least not the type that he had.
He entered his car and started the engine. He closed his eyes and tried to picture what his life would be if he could control it. He imagined L.B. Consulting’s grand opening; Doctor Jordan and Elizabeth on either side of him. He imagined traveling to six cities in two weeks with Elizabeth by his side. He imagined Doctor Jordan calling to congratulate him on closing the deal with Law Engineering.
He opened his eyes and punched the steering wheel. He was trying his best to get away from Doctor Jordan, how come his mind wouldn’t let him?
He shifted the gear into drive and turned into the road. And then everything happened in a blur. He heard a loud horn beside him followed by a crash. The car swerved away from his control and he slammed the brake.
What just happened?
His heart was racing and his eyes were blurry. He opened the door of the car and stepped out. A crowd was starting to gather. He looked around and saw a Benz GLK350 not too far from his car. He looked back at his own car and it had a huge dent. Anger surged through him. Whoever was in the Benz had run into him. Today was the wrong time to mess with him. He walked towards the Benz. The driver was still inside, he wasn’t even going to come down to apologize? Luke walked around the car to the driver’s side. He knocked on the window, whoever this fool was, he was going to let him have it tonight.
The window rolled down slowly and he tensed, ready for whoever was behind the wheels. The windows came down and he frowned.
“Elizabeth?”
She turned and looked at him. “Luke? Oh my God.”
Luke looked around, the crowd on the scene was becoming larger. It was only a matter of time before a policeman arrived to try and take advantage of the situation.
“Can you still drive?” Luke asked, she nodded. “Good, we have to leave this place now.”
“Okay.”
“Drive ahead, when you get to the next street, turn right. There is a restaurant just after that turn, park in front of it. I’ll join you now.”
“Okay.” She said.
Luke stood and watched her drive away. He turned around and headed for his car. Was this a coincidence? He smiled, there was no way this was a coincidence. He’d literally run into her on the night when he was feeling the lowest, that was no coincidence.
He got to his car and entered. He turned the ignition, and the engine started, spluttered and stopped. He turned the ignition again, this time it did not start at all. He looked up, Elizabeth was already out of sight. He stepped out of the car and looked at it, what was he supposed to do? He was not an engineer; he could not fix the car. Even if he could he did not have the time.
“Mister Man?”
He turned around and saw a policeman approaching him. He didn’t have time for this.
“Is this your car?” The policeman asked.
Luke looked at the car, it wasn’t his favourite anyway. And he probably would get it back.
“No, it’s not.” Luke said and walked away from the policeman.
He waved down a commercial motorcyclist and was away from the accident scene before the policeman could ask any other question.
He stopped in front of the restaurant he had described to Elizabeth and she was there, sitting in her car. He knocked on her window and she stepped out of the car. She was still a little shaken.
“I’m so sorry for… “Luke said. “I don’t even know what happened back there.”
“You turned into the road without looking.” Elizabeth said, her voice a little too cold.
“I’m so sorry, I was having a bad day.”
She looked up at him with concern. “A bad day? I thought your business was doing very well.”
“Yes, it is.” Luke said.
“And that is why you haven’t called all this time?”
Luke was confused. She still wanted him to call her? He’d imagined whatever her father had told her about what he did would have driven out any kind of feelings she had for him.
“Can we go inside the restaurant, please?”
“I don’t have long.” She said, looking at her watch. “I’m traveling with my dad tomorrow morning, I haven’t packed yet.”
“I won’t waste your time.” Luke said.
They entered the restaurant and sat. They ordered just drinks, to the disappointment of the waiter.
“I’m sorry I didn’t call you.” Luke said.
“That’s all you have to say? No explanations?”
“No explanations because they’ll just be excuses.” Luke said she didn’t look like she was buying that. “I’ve wanted to call, believe me, I’ve wanted to. It was part of why I was having a bad day.”
“So why didn’t you?”
“It’s complicated.” He could not believe she did not know all he had done.
“Are you going to ask how Eden is doing?”
“I know Eden as always been and will always be fine.”
They sat in silence for a couple of minutes, looking out through the window. Luke did not mind the silence, it suited him. Any word he said could potentially ruin the moment so he just let her be. It had started to drizzle outside and people were hurrying past their window. He watched them; a large soup of humanity, stirred up and down by huge spoons of desire. He hated being in that big pot with everyone else, he hated being turned up and down by those spoons but he’d made a vow to himself a long time ago; his desires would not go unaccomplished.
“I think it’s time to go.” Elizabeth said.
She was one of the biggest things he desired at the moment, he was not letting her go.
“When will you come back from your trip?”
“In a week.”
“Will you answer if I call?” Luke asked, with a sly smile.
“Will you call?”
Luke nodded, of course he would. But there was still the issue of his running away from her father.
“Do me a favour please,” Luke said. “Don’t tell your dad you saw me tonight.”
“Okay.” She said.
That was surprising. He’d expected her to protest or at least ask why.
He walked her to the car and watched her drive away. There was no guarantee that he would see her again but whatever had made him run into her tonight would make it happen again.
His phone vibrated in his pocket and he brought it out. It was a text from Engineer Lawal.
Meet me now. Usual place.
***
Luke entered the restaurant and almost stepped out to check if he had the right place. The place was full, it was transacting business as usual. He looked at the spot where he usually sat with Engineer Lawal, it was occupied by a couple. They looked like teenagers, but the girl had a ring on her fourth finger so maybe they were not as young as he thought.
Where was Engineer Lawal?
He felt a tap on his shoulder and turned around.
“Come with me sir.” A young lady in dungarees said.
He wanted to ask who she was but what was the point? He followed her through a door with a tag; ‘Staff Only’. They went through a short corridor into the kitchen. The chef and his staff went on with their work like they didn’t see him. He suddenly felt like he was in an Italian mafia movie and he was about to go meet the caporegime in an underground gambling house. They went out of the kitchen into a room and there Engineer Lawal was. It was a well-furnished room. It looked like a normal office except the furniture looked really old.
“Thank you Sade.” Engineer Lawal said and the Dungarees lady left the room.
“Running out of money Engineer?” Luke said as he walked towards the table where the man was seated.
“What?”
“You didn’t buy the restaurant off tonight.”
“Nah, this meeting was too impromptu and the restaurant was having a very good night, I didn’t want to disturb them.”
“If you say so.”
“You don’t like this place?”
Luke pulled a chair and sat opposite Engineer Lawal. “It’s nice.”
Engineer Lawal drew closer to him and looked at his face.
Luke leaned back. “What?”
“You look happy.” He said.
“That’s because I’m happy.”
“Why are you happy?”
“Why am I happy? I’m always happy.”
“No, you’re not always happy.” Engineer Lawal said. “Come on, tell me why.”
“If you must know, I just talked to a girl I really like.”
Engineer Lawal drew away from him very sharply. “You talked to Elizabeth?”
“How on earth do you know that?”
“Okay, look, it’s none of my business what you do with your private life as long as it doesn’t affect our business.”
“How will it affect our business? It will not affect our business.”
“Okay then.”
Luke did not like what had just happened. Why did Engineer Lawal know about Elizabeth and why did he sound so disappointed when he found out he talked with her? It wasn’t his business.
“Why am I here anyway?” Luke asked.
“We have a problem.” Engineer Lawal said.
“A problem?”
“We have connections with the DSS and we heard a warrant will be issued for your arrest tomorrow.”
Luke sat up. “What? I don’t understand. My arrest?”
“I was as confused as you when I heard but let me explain.”
“Please do.” He could not believe what he was hearing.
“Remember all those trips you made in the last two weeks, they were all to countries where terrorists are known to have strongholds.”
“What does that have to do with me?”
“They think you are one of their sponsors.”
Luke jumped to his feet. “What?”
“Calm down Luke, okay? You will only be proving them right by acting haphazardly.”
“Calm down? You want me to calm down? You just said the DSS thinks I’m a terrorist.”
“No, not a terrorist, a sponsor of terrorists.”
Luke at the Engineer like he would strangle the man.
“Sit down please.” Luke sat. “Apparently, one of our weapons fell into the wrong hands and since your signature was all over the deal, you can imagine why they made this mistake.”
“You made the weapons, why aren’t you the one they want to arrest?”
“Frankly, I don’t know Luke.”
“So, what now? What am I supposed to do? I have to clear my name.”
“Clear your name? You can’t do that between now and tomorrow when the arrest happens. The only thing you can do is leave the country as early as you can tomorrow morning.”
“You want me to run?”
“I want you to live.” Engineer Lawal said. “You never know what the DSS are capable of. You could be dead before your name can be cleared.”
Luke bowed his head and held it with both hands. “I didn’t bargain for this.”
“This would never have happened to Doctor Jordan. He is way too experienced and connected to be arrested like this.”
Luke grinded his teeth. “Why didn’t you work with him then?”
“Wait a minute, there’s something we can do.” Engineer Lawal said.
Luke lifted his head. “What is it?”
Engineer Lawal shook his head. “No, I don’t think you have the balls to do something like that.”
“I’m desperate here, what is it?”
“Okay, I’ll say it. Remember I’m just trying to help you though.”
“Say it already.”
“Remember how I said your boss can never be arrested for something like this?”
Luke nodded. “Yeah?”
“Did you ever officially resign?”
Luke shook his head slowly. “No.”
Engineer Lawal paused. “Are you sure you want me to say this?”
“Engineer.” Luke said with a stern face.
“How about you sign an affidavit saying you signed all those documents on behalf of Doctor Jordan?”
Luke gasped. “What?”
“Think about it. He cannot be arrested, at least not yet and that will give us the time to sort all our issues with the DSS.”
“You want me to implicate my boss?”
“I want you to live.” Engineer Lawal shouted. “Don’t be a fool. You will be safe, your boss will be safe and we will clear all these nonsense before anybody gets hurt.”
Luke wanted to cry but that would not solve his problem at the moment. He wished he’d not taken Engineer Lawal’s call that day at Eden. He wished he had walked out of the office like he planned to. How could he implicate his boss in his own foolishness? But what if Engineer Lawal was right and this could not touch Doctor Jordan?
“What are you going to do?”
“Can I think about it?” Luke asked.
“You realize I said tomorrow morning, right?”
“Elizabeth mentioned that she and Doctor Jordan were traveling out of the country tomorrow morning.”
Engineer Lawal clapped his hands. “Great. He won’t even be in the country when the warrant is issued. By the time he gets back, we will have sorted everything. He might never even know what happened.”
Luke shook his head, what was he doing? This was crazy and it was all happening too fast. One minute he was having a good time with Elizabeth, the next he was about to sign her father’s arrest warrant.
“Luke, what are you going to do? I have to leave now.”
“Leave?” Luke asked. “Go where?”
“I have things to do Luke. I have explained the situation to you. What are you going to do?”
Luke sighed and asked. “The affidavit, how am I going to do that?”
“Are you going to sign it?”
“I don’t have a choice.”
“Great.”
Engineer brought out a bag Luke had not noticed from under the table. He opened the bag and brought out a form. He handed the form to Luke.
“Here, sign this.”
“You have the form already?”
“How do you think I got this successful? I can predict how people will behave. I knew you would turn on your boss and I had one of my people draft the document.”
He knew he would turn? Was he that kind of person now? Judas? A betrayer?
“Sign this already.” Engineer Lawal said. “I really need to get going.”
Luke collected the pen Engineer Lawal was handing him and signed the document.
“Thank you Luke.” Engineer Lawal said as he collected the document.
“What am I supposed to do now?”
“Go home and sleep. Everything is going to be alright.”
Luke did not sleep that night, he knew everything was not going to be alright.

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