This Chapter is Dedicated to Ugsams- Ugochukwu Samuel. Sam is a fan who came to visit me at Onitsha today.
At the entrance of the mall where i parted with Ngozi, was a cigarette shop. The owner, a middle aged woman was there when i returned. She had seen when i ran to the police to report that there were some men with guns coming after us. She had also seen when Ngozi walked past us.
”Excuse me Madam, do you speak English”? I asked.
”A little” she replied.
”I left my wife and my bag here when i was talking to the Police. Did you see her” i asked. She nodded. Great. She had seen Ngozi. It was a lifeline.
”Where Did she go”? I asked. She pointed to a coffee bar and said she entered there when the police took me outside.
I quickly thanked her and walked to the coffee bar ten meters down the massive mall. A girl of about 19 was serving some customers.
”Excuse me, did you see a girl with a red bag here” i asked. I didn’t bother asking if she understood English or not. She was young and should understand it.
”No, i just resumed work five minutes ago” she said. She explained that her shift started some minutes ago and said her colleague was the one who worked before she came. I asked if she could contact her colleague and ask for the whereabouts of my girl, she agreed and called.
”Good news, my colleague said she had seen your girl and that she had entered Simeone’s Taxi” she said.
”Who is Simeone” i asked. She said Simeone was a popular old taxi man in town.
”Everybody knows Papa Simeone” she had said.
”Do you have his phone number” i asked. She said she didn’t but said her colleague had it. She called her colleague back and picked up the number for me. I called Simeone. He didn’t understand ‘come’ in English. Here we go again.
”Please tell Simeone to come to your shop now, tell him that a customer is waiting” i said to the coffee girl as i handed my phone back to her. She spoke a few Italian words on the phone, cut it off and handed it back to me. She explained that Simeone had gone out of the city and would be back soon. I had no other option than to wait.
An hour and half later, we called Simeone again. He had returned to Genova and said he would be at the coffee bar in a few minutes. I waited. Ten minutes later, the old taxi man walked into the bar. The coffee girl pointed at me as the person who was looking for him.
Standing there and looking at me was the taxi driver who had told Police about us, the Cabman who was involved in the whole thing from the beginning.
”My girl, my girl, where is she” i said as i stood up and walked to Simeone.
”Hotel Casa, La Casa hotel” he said as he pointed to his chest. I looked at the coffee girl who explained that he meant Hotel house. Great.
”Tell him to take me to the hotel” i said to the coffee girl as i opened my wallet and gave her a â‚€20 bill. ”This is for your help”. She smiled and thanked me.
Papa Simeone as he was called, drove me to a small cheap hotel down the road from the Genova airport. As soon as we stopped in front of the hotel, i paid Simeone and told him to wait for me. I walked into the hotel and head straight to the young woman at the reception desk.
”I am looking for my girl, she came here with a red bag” i said. The woman looked suspiciously at me and brought out her phone. She made a call and when she cut the phone, she told me to wait. As i stood there opposite her, i wondered who she had called. Could it be Police? They already gave me twenty four hours to leave town which i had not exhausted. Did she call the thugs? Could it be that the thugs had approached her with some money and asked her to call them if i showed up. Maybe the thugs had seen when Ngozi followed Simeone to the hotel. I had come to believe that Maria was capable of doing anything, i had underestimated her capabilities. Whatever it was and whoever it was that she had called, i wasn’t leaving the hotel without knowing where Ngozi was. The call she made was enough proof that she knew something. As i was still trying to make something out of the call she made, Simeone opened the hotel door and entered. She told the woman that i was not one of the thugs who had come to the hotel to ask of Ngozi. It happened to be that the thugs had followed Simeone. How they escaped from the Police and returned on time to follow Ngozi still baffled me. I had only spent less than an hour at the beer bar before i started looking for Ngozi. A lot happened within that hour.
”She is in room 17” the receptionist said.
I didn’t wait for her to tell me where room 17 was located. I just scrambled upstairs to the first floor and found 17 four doors down the right. As i raised my hand to knock on the door, i recalled that Ngozi must be in shock. I needed to be as gentle and caring as possible. Right there in front of the door, i thought about the troubles i had caused the girl. If not for me, she would still be in Castel Volturno. She must have been resting at home without experiencing the kind of life on the run i had subjected her to. Life on the run was my curse and cross. It was a pity that all the girls who came into my life got entangled into the running web. I could have avoided all that if i had chosen to let them live their lives but destiny had thrown all of us into a web of organised crime where we had to escape danger every now and then.
”Baby i am here” i said quietly as i placed my ears on the door and waited for footsteps. Rightly so, i heard soft footsteps walked towards the door and stopped. There was no spyhole on the door.
”Sweetheart its me, please open the door” i said again. She recognized my voice and opened the door. She was crying as i entered into the house and locked the door. She hugged and held me for several minutes while i rubbed her slim back slowly. I didn’t want to ask her any question yet, i wanted her to calm down and return from the shock she had witnessed at the mall.
”I won’t leave you behind baby, you know i won’t go anywhere without you” i said as i turned her around and kissed away her tears.