Treachery 4

Guilt is a terrible burden. It drives men to crazy heights and terrible depths. Men have killed innocent strangers because of it. Some have ended their own lives, transferring the guilt to their relatives who then carry it on till they also reach their breaking point. Guilt have driven men to dreamless sleep and dreadful daydreams. But for Luke, guilt eventually drove him to sleep.
After several hours of drinking and pacing in his living room, he had swallowed a few sleeping pills. They made him drowsy but couldn’t get him all the way. He was trying to run away from what he had done and what he was doing but sleep was not going to be his escape. Maybe it was better to wallow in the guilt, allow it devour him. He let himself go; broke down in tears, cursed himself and everything he had done in the past two weeks. Maybe it was the drugs eventually working or the exhaustion from the crying but in the end he fell asleep.
He tossed in his sleep, his legs flaying around on the cold, hard floor. Anybody watching him would think he was fighting something and maybe he was, but his enemies were not such as could be beaten with a few karate chops.
The screen of his phone came on followed by Tu Pac’s voice declaring with rhythmic fervor “I see no changes, wake up in the morning and I ask myself, is life worth living, should I blast myself…”
Luke did not wake up to hear his phone ring, or to answer the question Tu Pac was asking but he would soon have to answer both; the call and the question.
The phone rang again, and Luke stirred for a few seconds and stopped. He lay still till the phone stopped ringing. His eyes opened, slightly, but his mind could not comprehend anything he saw. He opened the eyes wider and sunrays streaming through the window hit his cornea. He snapped his eyes shut and for the first time noticed the banging noise on the right side of his temple. He moved his right hand and placed it on his temple. Actions had consequences, hangovers were proof of that. He pulled himself to a sitting position and leaned against a sofa.
Why on earth did he feel so terrible?
His phone rang again and he had the answer to that question. Engineer Lawal was calling. He remembered the arrest warrant. He remembered Doctor Jordan and Elizabeth. He remembered the document he’d signed. The clock on his phone said it was seven minutes after twelve. If Engineer Lawal was right, the arrest warrant would have been issued already. And if Elizabeth was right, Doctor Jordan would be out of the country already. He could not wait on the ‘if’s though. He picked up the phone and hit the answer button.
“Hello?” He said, his voice barely audible.
“Where the hell are you?”
“I’m…” It looked like he was in his living room. “I’m in…”
“Is your TV on?” Engineer Lawal asked.
“TV?”
He removed his right hand from his temple and reached for the TV remote. His head felt like it would come apart. He clicked the power button and the TV came on. There was nothing on. He’d not paid his subscription in four months.
“Hello?” Engineer Lawal called.
“Sorry, my sub has expired.”
“Okay, I guess I’ll just tell you then.”
“Tell me what?”
“Doctor Jordan was arrested this morning at the airport and has been brought in for questioning by the DSS.”
“What!” Luke jumped to his feet. His eyes swirled and two seconds later he was back on the floor.
“It is what it is Luke. We are working on it but we need you to stay away from the case, okay? Don’t do anything stupid, we are sorting everything.”
“You said this was not going to happen.”
“You just be calm, okay?”
“Be calm? You said they couldn’t arrest him.” Luke screamed, trying his best to be louder than the banging in his head.
“You said he would not be in the country.” Engineer Lawal retorted.
“You made me sign that thing…”
“Shut up Luke. We are sorting everything as I speak to you.” Engineer Lawal said. “And nobody made you sign anything, you made the choice.”
“What am I supposed to do now?”
“Sit tight and don’t talk to anybody. You understand?”
“Does he need a lawyer?” Luke asked and quickly added. “Do I need a lawyer?”
“We are taking care of it, sit tight.”
“Okay.”
“And remember, don’t talk to anybody.”
“Okay.”
The call ended and Luke dropped the phone on the floor. This was exactly what he feared, no, what he knew would happen. How could he have been so stupid to sign that document? He’d hoped they could sort the whole arrest out without Doctor Jordan even knowing about his part in it but there was no way that was happening now. What were they doing to his poor boss now? Were they torturing him? Were they threatening his business and his family?
Elizabeth!
He had to talk to her. He was sure Doctor Jordan already knew he was the cause of the arrest and Elizabeth probably knew too. He had to talk to her.
He picked up his phone from the floor and noticed the ‘missed calls’ for the first time. He had thirteen of them. Nine of them from Elizabeth. He hit the redial button and put the phone on speaker. It started to ring. He was not sure what he would do or say but he had to talk to her.
“Luke, I’ve been calling you all day.” Elizabeth’s loud voice filtered through the speakers.
“I’m sorry.” Luke said. “Where are you?”
“Where do you think? In the police station and I’m not even sure my father is here.”
“You’re not…?”
“Why are you not here?”
“I’m sorry, Engineer… I mean, I just heard about the arrest.”
“You just heard? Have you been asleep all day?”
He could not answer that question. “What happened? I thought you said you were traveling this morning.”
“Our flight was delayed.”
“Oh, no.”
“They are calling my father a terrorist Luke.” Her voice broke and she started to sob. “They said he was a sponsor for terrorists. You know my father will never do that.”
“I know Elizabeth, I know.” Tears welled in his eyes, what had he done? “Don’t worry Elizabeth, your dad will be fine. There are people working on his release.”
“People? What people?”
“Just trust me, okay? He will be fine.”
“Luke, they are not even allowing him see his lawyer.”
Luke sighed. He could not tell her about Engineer Lawal or what he was doing to help her dad.
“Elizabeth, I promise you, your Dad is not alone. I’m doing something about this already.”
“Thank you Luke.” She said. “My Dad needs you now more than ever.”
“I will not disappoint him.” Luke said.
It was already too late to fulfil that promise but she needed to hear the words.
“When are you going to get here?”
“Within the hour.”
“I’ll see you then.”
She ended the call and Luke buried his face in his palms and screamed. He lifted up his head, stood and stumbled towards the bathroom. There was a time to beat himself with guilt but that time was not now. Doctor Jordan and his daughter needed help and he was going to the one man who could help them; Engineer Lawal.
***
Luke held the car steering wheel with one hand and held the phone to his ear with the other.
“The number you have dialed is switched off.” The machine said for the umpteenth time that afternoon.
Luke looked at the phone, he was dialing the right number; Engineer Lawal’s. Was the engineer in a meeting trying to sort Doctor Jordan’s arrest? This was the first time his phone was switched off. He’d told him once he never switched it off, not even at night. He had business partners in different time zones and he needed to be reachable at every minute. Why was it off now?
Luke pushed his turn signal and made a right turn, he was going to the restaurant where he’d met with Engineer Lawal severally. He might meet someone there who could tell him what was going on.
What if he didn’t meet anyone? What if he was not able to reach Engineer Lawal on time? What if he was never able to reach Engineer Lawal again? He shook the thoughts off his mind. He had to focus now, Doctor Jordan needed him to. Elizabeth needed him to.
He didn’t need to worry, it would seem. As he approached the restaurant, he saw Engineer Lawal go into the place with a couple of older men. He sped up to the building and parked as fast as he could. He ran to the door and stepped in. The restaurant was in full operation. There were customers sitting around but Engineer Lawal was not in the restaurant. He walked to the counter and saw the lady he’d seen in dungarees the other night sitting close to the cashier.
“Hello.” Luke said to her.
She looked at him, her face blank.
“I’m here to see Engineer Lawal.” He said.
“He’s not in.” She said, her face still showing no emotion.
Luke smiled. “I understand why you might say that but I’m one of his business partners. I was here the other night, you took me in to see him.”
If she remembered that night, her face did not show it.
“It’s urgent please, I’d like to see him now.” Luke said.
“He’s not here.” She said and this time her face showed a reaction; annoyance.
“I just saw him walk in.” Luke said, he was getting pretty annoyed himself.
The dungarees lady stood. “I’m sorry but I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”
“Leave? Are you serious?”
“Please leave now.” She said.
Luke turned around and faced the door. What on earth was happening here? Was this girl just being a problem or was she under instruction not to let anybody see Engineer Lawal? Or maybe Engineer Lawal did not want to see him specifically. Well, there was only one way to find out.
Luke eyed the door he’d gone in through that night, it was slightly open. He turned around and ran for the door. He crashed into the door and was behind it before the dungarees lady could get after him. He ran through the short corridor and burst out into the kitchen. He got to the end of the kitchen and turned the handle of the door that led into the room where he’d met with Engineer Lawal. The handle turned but the door did not open. On the other end of the room, the dungarees girl was approaching. Luke did not like the look on her face, she looked like someone who could kill.
He had to get in somehow. He knocked on the door and then he banged on it.
“Engineer Lawal.” He shouted. “I know you are in there.”
“Step away from that door.” The dungarees girl said. “Now.”
Luke stayed as close to the door as he could and banged on it with both hands.
“I said step away.”
Luke turned around and faced her. “I just want to talk to him.”
“You are not going to, not today.”
“But he’s in there, isn’t he?”
“Step away from the door.” She said and walked closer to him.
He was not sure what she was going to do but the least he could expect was fisticuffs. He was getting into the room whether she liked it or not.
“For the last time, step away from…”
He stopped her mid-sentence with a punch. It landed well, almost as well as any punch he’d ever thrown. It wasn’t good enough because now, her formally blank face looked hot with anger. She balled up her fist and he got tensed in his body, ready to receive a punch.
He heard a click behind him and the door opened. He turned around and Engineer Lawal stood in front of him.
“Thank you Sade.” Engineer Lawal said.
Luke entered the room and Engineer Lawal closed the door behind him. He was torn between gratitude for not having to feel the wrath of the girl and anger over how he had been treated.
“What are you doing here Luke?” Engineer Lawal asked.
“I could ask you the same thing.” Luke said.
“Weren’t you supposed to sit tight?”
“You are supposed to be helping Doctor Jordan get out of jail, instead you are…” Luke looked around. The two men he had seen earlier were sitting with two bottles of wine and half empty glasses in front of them. “You look like you’re celebrating something.”
“Yes, we are Luke.” Engineer Lawal said and returned to his seat.
“I don’t understand.”
“Get a glass Luke, you should share in this celebration.” Engineer Lawal said.
Luke’s heart started racing. He was confused about what was going on here but it did not look like anything good.
“What is going on?”
“You helped us achieve a goal we have been trying to achieve for years Luke. You are our hero.”
Luke shook his head. “Congratulations on achieving your goal but I’m here to talk about Doctor Jordan. What are you doing to get him out?”
“Nothing, Luke.” Engineer Lawal said. “Absolutely nothing.”
“What?” Luke said, his throat was getting dry and he was finding it hard to swallow.
“Why would I want Doctor Jordan out of jail when I was the one who put him there?”
Luke suddenly felt faint, staggered backwards and reached for a place he could lean on.
Engineer Lawal stood and moved closer to Luke.
“Your boss, Doctor Jordan, will not be getting out of jail today. In fact, he will not be getting out of jail at all. Thanks to you.” He lifted his glass to Luke. “Cheers.”

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