”Maurice, Get the car fast” i heard behind my back. The two thugs who had started chasing after me halted instantly. The driver of their Peugeot was apparently among the two. The little stop they had, gave me a few seconds to increase the gap between us. About 100 meters down the road, i saw them started their Peugeot engine and head towards me. Apart from the road that led to the A10 highway , every other place was dark.
There was a small tared road by the right, a cab was parked there with its light turned off; I ran past the road and continued towards the A10. There was a narrow walkway on the left which i didn’t know where it led to but if i had to escape them, i needed to take the path. I diverted left to the pathway before their powerful headlamps flashed towards me. The pathway wasn’t big enough to accommodate a vehicle. I was very scared because according to the map i studied back in Genova, Sanremo was a coastal town in the Ligurian region. The Ligurian sea itself was a large body of water which was part of the Mediterranean Sea. It was usually typical that stray canals and rivers were everywhere in European coastal cities. I had previously lived in Amsterdam where there were tens of canals chanelled into the sea. Rather than running further into the darkness, i decided to stop. At the right side of the small path, there were two trees standing side by side with each other. I dashed towards one of them and started climbing. As i climbed, i saw the Peugeot drove to the mouth of the pathway and stopped. The three of them jumped down from the car and followed the path. Apparently, they had seen when i diverted there. Even if they didn’t see me, it was only logical that i had entered the path since it was the only way that diverted out of the major road before the A10. Before they got to the trees, i had succeeded in getting to the second branch which was about 13 meters above the ground; it was strong enough to support me. As they walked slowly towards the trees, i thought that it was finally over. The great Ozoigbondu has finally been captured alive. I thought they also had guns. As i sat on the tree branch, i wondered how much money Maria had paid or promised these people. I wondered what made them to take all the risks just to capture Ngozi and I. What exactly was Maria chasing after? Was it me or the money she gave me or Ngozi? It must have been the combination of Ngozi and the money she gave me because i believed that she wouldn’t have spent a dime chasing me if i had just disappeared from Castel Volturno. On the other hand, i wondered what was happening with Ngozi and Simeone, the cab driver. I had asked her to call me as soon as they crossed the borders. Why haven’t she called yet? Was there some kind of problems or what? I would have just called her but unfortunately, my position on the tree branch was too difficult to allow me bring out anything from my pocket. And even if i was able to bring out the phone from my pocket, the last thing i needed on top of the tree was noise of any kind. The dogs were very close to me. I had even managed To hold my breath. I was afraid to breath properly because i thought the sound of carbondioxide coming out of my mouth and nose could be enough to alert them. I was still panting from the running i did from the Sanremo station to that point.
Amidst all those fears and panting, i was able to think about Ngozi. I prayed that she had crossed the border successfully. If she was safely in France by then, i could still have a bargaining chip. Obviously Maria was after two things; Ngozi and her money. I had over €12,000 with me. If i tell the thugs that i could get Ngozi back and give them the money, they could spare me. On the other hand, i could just buy my way out if they were Nigerians. I could just give them the whole money and tell them to tell Maria that they didn’t find me, sure they would take the money but what would happen to me was yet not clear in my head. Whatever happened, i was half fulfiled that Ngozi was not with me, things could have been too complex to handle. Since i was alone, i could endure torture. I knew they won’t kill me without first knowing where Ngozi was. I believed Maria told them where i hid the money.
I watched as they walked past the two trees and flashed their torchlight left and right into the darkness. I remained quiet on the branch and watched as they disappeared into the dark through the path.
It was time to call the Police emergency team. The tune of the dance had changed long ago, i was just too ignorant to notice. These people have been chasing after me since we left Napoli approximately one week ago. A journey from Napoli to France was just a day travel or a little bit over a day depending on the method of traveling. But as it stood then, i had spent more than six days just to get to France. It was then that i realised the enormity of what was happening to me. I was never good at focusing on the problems, i usually focused on the solutions more but unfortunately both of them worked together.
I was going to call the Police to rescue me. It was true that i was already given 24 hours to leave Italy. I would explain to them that i was on my way out when those thugs stopped me and tried to kill me in Sanremo. They obviously knew that Sanremo was very close to France and since i was warned in Genova which was about 113km north east, it was only logical that i was heading to France.
I fumbled into my pocket to bring out my phone, the angle of my pocket was too difficult to allow that. But i needed to do something. Those thugs were sure that i took the pathway because the stretched out road led to the highway which i was never going to take. As i tried harder to bring out the phone, i saw their torchlight flashing towards the road again. They had decided to return to the road after determining that i varnished into the darkness. My phone was already out of my pocket by the time i saw them, i decided to stay still and watch them pass.
But as soon as they got to the front of the tree where I was hiding, my Nokia phone started ringing.
“The only way not to get disappointed in this life is not to expect anything”