Unintended Consequences Cont'd
This is sequel to Unintended Consequences
Kasa kept her left palm on her shoulder and winced when she had to move it. She sat at the desk where Jack found her barely two hours before, while Jack stood over her thinking what to do about her bruises and the obvious pain in her shoulder. At that point, it did not occur to him that the men that were following him might still be outside waiting for him to re-surface.
He remembered how his mother used ice rolled up in a piece of fabric to do a cold compress whenever he or any of his siblings sustained an injury through accident. There was no fridge in Kasa's room. Jack went outside her room and soon found someone who had ice in their fridge. He borrowed some and returned to apply it to the fast-rising swelling on Kasa's face. After twenty minutes, he felt there was nothing more for him to do for Kasa, so he stood to leave. It was at that moment that he noticed a long shadow, just outside Kasa's room. The room was lit, but the passage outside the room was dark, but the face of the person standing outside the door was illuminated, and it was Loveday.
Loveday seemed reluctant to walk into the room even though the door was left ajar for ventilation. He hesitated and decided against walking in. Jack found the behaviour absurd for someone who was visiting his girlfriend or ex-girlfriend's home. Jack pretended that he did not notice Loveday standing there.
"Bros. Make I see you outside briefly," he said, focusing his attention on Jack.
What does this have to do with me, Jack kept thinking. Jack had no violent bone in his body despite what his build and physical appearance might suggest. So, he was afraid of being entangled with the Teschio gang. Jack put on his best innocent face and walked out of the room calm and collected, looking slightly bored. He intentionally stood in such a way that he was blocking the door from being closed. As he stood there, light from inside the room filtered outside.
"Yes?" Jack asked.
"I want to pick up my belongings in this room," he said.
It took Jack a moment to realise what Loveday meant: he wanted Jack's permission to walk in and take his stuff. Behind him were two goons whose hands Jack could not see due to the darkness. Until that evening, he did not even know Kasa's middle name. Suddenly he was being asked permission, by her boyfriend no less, to access her room. Jack knew that the request and the reason behind it had all the potential to return and bite him in the ass. Jack had to be smart with this response.
"The stuff you want is yours, and the room is your girlfriend's," Jack said carefully. "I don't see why you need my permission to do what you want to do."
Loveday thought about that response. The fact that Jack called Kasa his girlfriend and not ex-girlfriend seemed to bolster his confidence and resolve, so he walked into the room. Jack stayed outside moments longer to enable him to try to see the faces of the goons, but they stood away from the light, and their faces were well hidden. Knowing that they had seen his own face, and being unable to see theirs bothered Jack more than a little.
"I want my pictures," Loveday said in a short burst of words. Kasa was talking back so fast that Jack knew that there was going to be trouble if he did not intervene. He left the goons outside and went inside the room.
"Please, calm down," he told Kasa. "Do you have the pictures he is looking for?"
She went to a rack on the right corner of the room, took a brown envelope and dropped it heavily on her reading desk. It seemed that her anger matched Loveday's. Loveday took the package, opened it and began to sort through the pictures, finding his portraits and keeping them aside. Jack thought the whole thing was childish, but he kept his thoughts to himself. Kasa took the pile that Loveday had selected, looked through it and found some pictures they made together. She ripped them into two with all the ferocity of a tiger. Loveday took his photographs and left without a word. Jack had a feeling that the problem was not over. He sat there for another half hour and decided how to proceed.
Kasa watched Jack curiously as he unbuttoned his shirt and undressed, revealing his well-developed shoulder muscles. Beneath the shirt, he wore a black singlet which matches his jeans. He folded the shirt and tucked it in his jeans back pocket.
"I am sorry for all this. None of it would have happened if it wasn't for me," Jack said.
"It wasn't your fault. I am just glad to finally rid myself of him," she replied.
"Won't he return?"
"I would like to see him do that. He won't return unless he isn't afraid of dying," she said with feeling.
Listening to Kasa, Jack knew that he was on his own. Kasa felt confident that she could handle whatever Loveday would throw at her. Perhaps she was sure that Loveday could not hurt her. Jack could not say that about himself. He left that room and walked towards the gate, trying to figure out how to get home without being seen by Loveday's goons. Dressing in black would help him get past the goons in the dark without them realising that it was him.
Kasa's school town was called Kazella, and it was about three kilometres from Jack's university village. The roads from were in such a bad condition that motorcycles had become the fastest public means of transportation. As soon as he found one, he waved it down and jumped on. The bike took him back to his accommodation outside his school campus. He had to leave his bag with Kekere. It was after he arrived in his room that he realised the real problem with his experience that day: he would have to be looking over his shoulder each time he went to read in that school. He could not even figure out how to retrieve his bag from Kekere without being seen by Loveday and his goons. But his biggest problem yet was his inability to recognise the people who were after him.
Jack woke up the next morning and the events of the night before flashed before his eyes. He sat up and began to think of how to manage the situation without getting hurt in the process. He had been told many stories of cult gangs who killed other people because of issues such as the one he was having with Loveday and his gang. He felt weird without his bag and his books, so he knew that he had to get it back, but he was hungry and had to eat first.
Jack left his room and went to eat at one of the small restaurants in his school popularly known as Bukas. As he walked into the Buka, he was more conscious of his environment than he had ever been. Every guy he saw was potentially Loveday's gang member. He knew that he had done nothing wrong, but he also knew that it did not matter. The only thing that mattered was that he had embarrassed the gang leader and by extension, the gang and he was going to pay. He went to the Buka counter and ordered fried eggs and porridge yam. As he took his meal to one of the tables, he noticed a girl eating at a nearby table.
The girl looked like something out of a fashion magazine. She was tall and slender. Jack looked at her fingers and found her nails were long and polished. Jack liked ladies with long nails. He looked at her skin and saw them as smooth as satin. He knew that she was entirely out of his league especially in his school where the population of guys were up to three times greater than the population of girls. His friend Bernard had made sure he knew that the chances of a student in their school dating a girl in the same school was pretty slim.
"Look, let me tell you: every girl in this school has a boyfriend for everything - a boyfriend to do math assignments, another boyfriend for engineering technical drawings, a boyfriend to sit with during exams, a boyfriend for parties and nightclubs. So, boy, you cannot hold a girl's hand and walk in this campus because she does not belong to you," he told him every opportunity he had.
Jack was still considering his friend's opinion when a guy walked in. Jack was a regular at that Buka, but he had never seen the guy before, so he observed him. He was a burly, dark, short guy with bowed legs, dressed in jeans and t-shirts. Jack wondered how he could support his weight with those legs. The guy walked straight to the beautiful girl and stood over her smiling.
"Can I help you?" she asked, not returning the smile.
"Oh baby!" he said, rubbing his hands together in the manner of someone washing both hands, and shifting from one bowed leg to the other, all the while maintaining the broad smile on his face. "Oh baby, my name is Tenshi and me just wan clear you say, I love you well well."
"Look! Don't you know that shoes have sizes? Please go and find your own size," she replied curtly.
Something about that smile worried Jack. He was not comfortable with not knowing why Tenshi was smiling. He smiled like someone who was enjoying a secret joke known only to him. If Jack were not very hungry, he would have left without finishing his meal. Presently, Tenshi calmly walked out of the Buka without another word. Jack breathed a sigh of relief. Jack was about to leave when Tenshi walked back in with both hands behind his back.
"Baby, as I dey tell you before, I love you well well. But make you yarn me the thing wey you yarn me last time,."
Baby, as I told you before, I love you very much but tell me again, what was that thing you told me the last time Tenshi said, not smiling this time.
The girl seemed angry, so she said many unsavoury things to Tenshi starting with what she had said before. Tenshi slowly moved his hands from behind him and revealed something tied in black polythene in his left palm. He raised it above the girl's table and punctured it with a sharp object he produced from his pocket. A brown fluid poured out of the polythene bag until it was empty, then he dropped it in her plate and walked out of the Buka.
The girl was covered in the brown fluid. As Tenshi walked away, the smell of the liquid diffused to all parts of the room. There was no mistaking that smell: it was that of human waste. The beautiful girl froze: she could not cry and could not scream for fear of the fluid entering her mouth. Jack had the presence of mind to rush to the back of the Buka and found a bucket of water. He asked the girl to come outside, and he poured the water on her. She was all wet, but he figured it was better than the alternative. Jack realised that he might be seen helping the poor girl, so he quickly left the vicinity and went home.
All Jack could think about as he walked home was the incident of the night before and how it compared to what he had just experienced. He remembered how ephemeral his safety was as long as he did not know all of Loveday's boys. He was always looking behind him to see if someone was following him. Every person he saw was a potential gangster sent to harm him, and the worst part of the problem was that he did not know his enemies, could not recognise them if he looked them in the face. By the time he got home, he had decided that he would return to Loveday and see if it was possible to make peace and if that was not possible, at least get to know the faces of his enemies.
Jack had a bath and prepared to return to Kazella. Jack was very good at avoiding people he did not want to encounter. When he was in secondary school, he once had to avoid an older girl that was crushing on him for a whole year because he was shy. If he could identify Loveday's boys, he could stay away from them. What he would not do was leave himself at their mercy or assume that all was well.
"Hello. I am looking for Loveday," Jack told the boy he found in front of the house where the incident of the night before took place. The man looked at him suspiciously and went away without a word. Jack followed him inside the premises. After ten minutes, Loveday walked out of his room, looking undecided on how to respond to his visitor.
"My name is Jack, the guy from last night," he said, stretching his right arm.
Loveday stretched his arm and took Jack's hand without a word. He looked like he had just woken from sleep. Jack wanted him to be relaxed, so he suggested they go to a bar even though Jack himself did not drink. Loveday took him to a local bar where most of his boys were regulars. Once they were served drinks, Loveday began to speak about his relationship with Kasa. Jack half-listened and watched his environment. Loveday's boys were hovering around. Some of them would walk up to Loveday, and he would introduce Jack.
"This is the guy that f8*ked up last night," he would say. Jack kept his cool and bought drinks for some of them. When he was satisfied that he had seen them all, he assured Loveday once more that he had no interests in his girlfriend. Loveday and his boys were uncomfortable with how relaxed Jack seemed in their own domain. They wondered who exactly he was that made him unafraid of them. But Jack was afraid, he just did not show it.
Jack left the bar with the knowledge of who his enemies were. He returned to his John's room and retrieved his bag, then he headed to the decommissioned laboratory to continue his studies and cover for the lost time. Each time Jack went to Kazella, he would see some of Loveday's boys. Sometimes they tried to take money from him, and other times they just said hello from a distance but, no matter the case, Jack always saw them first and avoided them whenever he wanted.
As for what finally happened between Jack and Kasa, your guess is as good as any :)
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