Mma Pastor enters her salon and switches on the light. She opens a drawer and brings out two bundles of money roughly held with rubber bands. She begins to count.
Pastor walks in. “You’re here.”
“Good morning dear.” Mma Pastor drops the money on her lap and covers it with her hand.
Pastor doesn’t seem to notice her reaction yet. “Good morning. How was your night?”
Mma Pastor smiles. “Fine, thank God.”
Pastor looks at her hand. “I thought you said they took the money to the bank yesterday.”
Mma Pastor shrugs. “In fact, I was surprised to see it too.”
“Hmm. These workers.” Pastor looks at the money again. “Can I get the loan now?”
Mma Pastor bites her lower lip. “This money is not profit, Daddy. I told you so yesterday…”
“Oh, so you knew they didn’t bank the money?”
Mma Pastor gasps. “It’s not like that.”
Pastor looks at her. “Give me the twenty thousand.”
Mma Pastor shakes her head. “This money is not even up to that.”
Pastor glares. “Then give me what you have.”
Mma Pastor lowers her voice. “Daddy, please. The other ones never came back. This money is capital. It is not profit.”
Pastor arches his eyebrow. “Will you give me?”
Mr. Eke’s office is a luxury space furnished and decorated with leather and state-of-the-art interior designs.
Bukky knocks and walks in. She looks pretty and dressed up in a yellow and white polka dot fitted knee-length dress. Betty is in the office, seated across from Mr. Eke.
Bukky eyes Betty. “Good afternoon, sir.”
Mr. Eke’s face lights up. “Hi Bukky. I wasn’t expecting you.”
“Yes sir, something really urgent came up.” Bukky hisses at Betty.
Mr. Eke clears his throat. “Betty can you excuse us?”
Betty eyes Bukky too and walks out.
Bukky sits straight. “It’s about my wedding. I really need assistance.”
Mr. Eke corks his head. “Hmm.”
Bukky leans forward. “Lekan is being such a pain. We need about eight million and he says he has only one point five I don’t know who to meet again.”
Mr. Eke smirks. “Your fiancé is being very stubborn. I’ve asked him to come and see me several times.”
Bukky claps. “You know because you two were school mates, pride is worrying him.”
Mr. Eke nods. “Hmm.”
Bukky pouts. “Yes o. I’m just tired.”
Mr. Eke siits back. “So how much do you need?”
Bukky shrugs. “Seven million, maybe.”
Mr. Eke arches his eyebrow. “For your wedding?”
Bukky looks down. “Yes.”
Mr. Eke licks his lip. “So what are you giving me in return?”
It’s late in the evening before Itoro gets back home from work. She stops short at the sight of Mfon and Etido seated outside Mrs. Akpan’s doorstep.
Itoro moves closer to them. “Is Mrs. Akpan not home?”
Etido glares at Itoro. “Are you her daughter?”
“Or her sister.”
Itoro frowns. “I’m her neighbour.”
Etido stands. “Ah, good. So you know Imoh very well.”
Itoro shrugs. “I know Imoh.”
Etido nods. “You know Imoh my sister ran away yesterday and nobody has seen her in this Lagos.”
Itoro’s eyes widen. “Aha! No one told me.”
Etido throws his hands up. “We will burn this compound if that witch doesn’t produce Imoh.”
“Sorry o.” Itoro walks to her house.
Mfon sobs. “We will burn down this Lagos.”
Mrs. Uzo stares at her computer screen.
Mr. and Mrs. Uzo are in physical combat.
Kristal walks into Mrs. Uzo’s office where she’s seated staring at her computer screen, absent-minded.
Mrs. Uzo startles. “Hmm!”
Kristal folds her arms across her chest. “Sorry to scare you. Aren’t you on course?”
Mrs. Uzo sighs. “I just came in to get some stuff.”
Kristal takes a seat. “It must be hectic. Aren’t you lodging? I even thought it was out of town.”
Mrs. Uzo nods. “No. It’s here in Lagos. I didn’t want the out of town one.”
“Did Mrs. Eke come to your house about the house help?”
Mrs. Uzo shakes her head. “No. Was she supposed to?”
Kristal frowns. “Yes. I brought a girl for you.”
Mrs. Uzo hisses. “Ah, that Tina is just a useless woman.”
Imoh is dusting the parlor when Mr. Eke walks in.
Mr. Eke frowns. “Who are you?”
Mrs. Eke walks in and Mr. Eke glares at her. “And who is Imoh?”
Mrs. Eke stops short. “She’s the new maid. She’s temporary.”
Imoh curtsies. “Yes sir.”
Mr. Eke looks at her from head to toe, and without sparing his wife a glance. Walks out.
Mrs. Eke turns to Imoh. “That’s my husband. And as long as you are in this house, you are not to talk to him.”
Imoh trembles. “Yes ma.”
Mrs. Eke continues. “He leaves the house around this time every day and comes back late, after you’ve gone to bed. So in the morning like this, you stay and help with Alice. Don’t come to the parlor.”
Imoh nods. “Yes ma.”
Mrs. Eke raises her voice a little. “Do I make myself clear?”
Imoh curtsies. “Yes ma.”
It is morning in Ikot-Urua village and Ekaette walks to a phone kiosk to make a call.
“Hey good morning o, Asuquo. Toronto gave me your message.”
Asuquo, a stout man in his mid-thirties dashes Ekaette a toothless grin. “Mfon bin call you say make you come fast.”
Ekaette sighs. “Ah, I hope no problem o.”
Asuquo shrugs. “Follow call back.”
Asuquo dials and gives the phone to Ekaette. “Talk to ya daughter.”
Ekaette grabs the mobile phone with both hand. “Mfon, aba di e.”
The morning comes too fast and Mrs. Akpan steps out of her house with her children. The little one is set for school and Stella is dressed casually. Mfon and Etido are on her doorstep. They look like they spent the night there.
Mrs. Akpan stops short at the sight of Mfon and Etido. “What are you doing here?”
Etido snarls. “What does it look like?”
Mrs. Akpan screams. “Are you people mad? Hehhehe! These people don’t know me o.”
Etido bares hie teeth. “Abi you don’t know us. Person that say his mother will not sleep will see no sleep too.”
“Okay, we shall see. Let me meet you people here when I come back. Useless people.
Mrs. Akpan stomps away.
Paul stands at the window of the bedroom and watches his drive away. He carries his pillow and throws it across the room. He kicks the bed, and gives the mattress several blows. Then he slides to the floor and covers his face.
Mrs. Uzo walks into her office as though in a hurry. Kristal walks in behind her.
“You could have called me to stand in for you,” Kristal says.
Mrs. Uzo opens her three drawers. “I thought, since I was in town anyway…”
Kristal frowns. “What are you looking for?”
Mrs. Uzo looks stricken. “The keys to the property? Dear God, I hope I didn’t take them home.”
“But they should be in the key safe.”
Mrs. Uzo shakes her head. “I took them out when that fraudulent boy asked to see it.”
Kristal gasps. “Ah. You didn’t return it?”
“I thought I dropped it here because I came back late.”
Kristal groans. “Ah. That’s serious.”
Mrs. Uzo pauses from her search. “Is MD on seat?” Kristal nods grimly. “Ah, what sort of a thing is this? And I told them I’ll meet them in an hour. There’s no way I will get home and then…
“Let me try and get you the spares.”
It’s late morning in Lekan’s house but Bukky lounges in her nightgown on the couch. The TV shows a sponsored musical programme. She nods her head in tune to the music whilst going through a list in her hand. She seems engrossed and pleased.
Ade drives into the compound. Mr. Eke comes down and goes into the house. The sun is hot in its midday glory and Savanna Street is quiet as it normally is at this time of day.
Mr. Eke enters his house and looks around. He touches the surface of the couch and rubs it between his fingers. He walks to the dining area and touches the surface of the table too. He disappears into the kitchen.
Imoh hums a local Ibibio song and washes rice in the sink. Mr. Eke walks into the kitchen and startles Imoh.
“Where is your madam?”
Imoh curtsies. “She’s sleeping sir.”
Mr. Eke circles her. “She told you to sleep in that room yesterday?”
Imoh gasps. “Yes sir.”
Mr. Eke narrows his eyes. “What else did she tell you?”
“She didn’t tell you the room was for… Someone else?”
Mr. Eke stops pacing and glares at her. “How old are you?”
“You don’t plan to go to school?”
Imoh shrugs. “My mother said when there is enough money sir. My sister is going to school now.”
“Where is your mother?”
“In the village sir, in cross river.”
“And where is your sister?”
Imoh looks around. “Mfon? She is in this Lagos.”
Mr. Eke arches his eyebrow. “Going to school?”
Imoh nods. “Yes sir.”