6 : THE CHASE

My flatmates thought that I was just being extravagant with Jennifer by inviting her everyday but when they started eating deliciously prepared foods everyday for Atleast one week, they began to find out that she wasn’t going anywhere soon.

It was my plan and my money to make her cook everyday for the flat.
We hardly cooked food in the flat before her arrival but as soon and she came to live with us, we were partying with food on daily basis.
I gave her 400 euros to buy foodstuffs and store them up in the kitchen. She bought large quantities of fish and meat and stuffed them in the freezer.

She would cook with beaf on one day and the next day, she would use fish and cow head.
Everybody in the flat was happy but before they knew that she was there to stay, they had already been bought over with food.
I felt one or two of them would someday ask me to tell her to leave. They didn’t know her well enough to leave her alone in the flat. The only way I believed would work wonders was through food and it worked.

I escorted her to the H&M clothing market where she bought new cloths. She had decided to abandon her belongings wherever she kept them. She had come with some money, I didn’t know how much but it was enough to buy her five different cloths.
I on my own side, gave her extra 100 euros to buy more cloths. She mouth two pullovers and a trousers more.

After one week, the food ration began to reduce. I wasn’t going to feed them forever even if I brought Lucifer into the house. I own the room where she slept and I already had a bargaining chip; food.

After two weeks, the whole Jennifer affair changed. Her Madam who brought her to Europe had been looking for her. She couldn’t report to Police since she brought her illegaly into the country. She told few Nigerians. They suspected that she had ran out of the Country. They had even called Spain and Napoli to check if a new girl arrived over there.

One afternoon, a lady stopped me in Colombo business district of Lisbon and asked if I was Solomon. I nodded and asked who she was. She said her name was Grace and that she was the madam of one Jennifer whom she heard was with me.
There was no need denying her accusation so I maintained my composure and asked who told her she was with me.

*When in a difficult situation, ask silly questions to buy time*

” Bros, if she dey ya house, abeg tell her that I want her back this evening” she said.
” we don look everywhere for am and we no see am” she continued.

I stood there and fast tracked my thoughts on how to manage the situation. Suddenly and idea came; Attack with more silly questions.

” she said her mother is in Nigeria, what kind of her madam are you” I asked and stared directly into her eyeballs.
She said nothing.

” she is with me but she said she want to travel to Nigeria. She asked me for help but I refused” I continued, knowing that I was mixing up the truth with lies.

” she said she had nobody to run to. She also said you will take her back to your house if you know where she is. I have spent over 1000 euros on her TC but if your return 1000 euros, I will bring her back to you.” I said.
She looked surprised. I believed she didn’t saw that one coming.
She asked me to wait, then she walked to a middle aged man who had been loitering around the area. They spoke for a few minutes, then she returned to me.
” my husband say we no go pay anything. she said.

” Goodbye then” I said and moved quickly down to the taxi stands. She ran fast towards me while at the same time, motioning the man to come.
She was on a high heeled show, it prevented her from keeping up the chase.

I dashed down the concrete stairs and diverted right. Some cabs were standing there. I jumped into the first in the line and said ‘ Rossio”.
The Turkish Driver started the car and raced away. I looked back and saw the two comedians waving the taxi to stop but it was too late.
I called Jennifer on the phone and asked if she was at home. She was. I redirected the cab to the Madrid Hotel and stopped. I took another cab and drove to my house.

I didn’t particularly know why I was running. I felt that the Jennifer-recovery squad were more than two.
I didn’t also know how they found out she had been living with me but that wasn’t the major problem. I knew that as soon as the food stopped flowing, one of the flat occupants would squeal.

I ran up the stairs and found the apartment door already open. I had called Jennifer as soon as I alighted from the cab in front of the house.
As soon as she saw me, she asked what the problem was.
” Your Madam and one other man are looking for you” I said.

She didn’t show any sign of surprise, she simply walked back to the room and laid on the bed.

That was it. The fear that had been following me had been confirmed, the suspicion I had been nursing since she came to stay with me had just opened up.

I walked to her and sat by the bedside.
” Baby you know that they will come looking for you here” I said.

She murmured something I couldn’t hear but when I lowered my head and asked her again, she said ” let them go to hell”

It was all I needed. Time has come to battle it out with miss Madam but I was a little scared because those people were too involved with Juju.

I spent two days inside the apartment without venturing outside. I knew that miss Madam would be waiting for me somewhere in the dark corner of a building near my house.

I had two taxi numbers, therefore on the third day, I called one to pick me up in front of my house.
He drove me straight to Rossio area to buy food stuffs. It was a very open area, so I didn’t fear being attacked by anybody; I was wrong.
A prostitute spotted me and called the madam. The news that Jennifer was with me had spread like wildfire all over the Nigerian community in Lisbon. The whole thing was becoming dangerous to me.
I was on the look out for her and her husband all through my shopping. Lisbon was a small city where everybody shops in the same area.

I saw her coming towards me from about 200 meters down the road. I brought out my Motorola Razor phone and put it on a recording mode.
The madam arrived and saw me carrying a nylon bag full of food items. She blocked my way and stood there vibrating like a toy gun.
”  What is it again” I asked, trying as much as possible to be economical with words since my own voice was being recorded too.
” Where is Jennifer, Na me brought her to this country. I spent a lot of money to bring her here. If you don’t show me where she is, I will take your name to Olokun. You will die” she shouted in my face.

I remained calm knowing that every single word from her mouth was being recorded.

” What is Olokun” I asked; More silly questions as usual.

” Na mamiwoter be that, you don hear, na mamiwoter” she yelled.
” Ok, I will tell her to leave my place, if she wants to return to you, that one is her business. Please don’t send my name to any deity in Nigeria” I said pretending to be very scared.

” Give me your phone number” I said without hope of her doing that.

She refused and said I should just tell her to return to her house.

I agreed and as soon as I turned to go, she called my name.
” Bros, I spent big money to bring Jennifer to Europe, If you want to live with her or marry her, you must pay me 40,000 euros” she said.

That was it. The very line I was hoping to record. She had just delivered it unadulterated.
I just nodded and left the scene.

I returned to the house and kept the food items in the kitchen. I went into the room and saw Jennifer sleeping. I didn’t want to wake her up, so I went back to the kitchen and boiled 4 eggs. I opened a can of cooked maize and a can of cooked green beans. I also opened a can of smoked fish and made Salad.
I ate alone in the sitting room. After the food, I went into the bathroom and took my bath, then I returned to my room and woke Jennifer up.

” Baby we need to talk” I said.
She kept quiet.
” I saw your madam again today at Rossio. She confronted me and asked that I tell you to come back to her today” I continued.
I brought out my phone and played back the conversation I had recorded. It was as clear as a studio-recorded conversation.

She listened carefully and when it stopped, she smiled.

” What do you want to do with this” she asked.
” I don’t know, but I will think of something soon” I said.

My first thought was to go to Police. The European authorities had been debating over human trafficking and the suitable punishment for the offenders. It would be a massive evidence if they got their hands on the recorded conversation.
The problem however was that I haven’t gotten my resident permit. My virgin passport was not enough to be a witness in an European court.

The Second option was blackmail; yes blackmail. I had nothing to lose. Miss Madam and her Olokun whatever didn’t scare me a bit. I have never regarded any deity as powerful enough to harm me.
Blackmail sounded a better option but the problem was how to began.

I called Francis, my flatmate and told him what was happening. He said he heard they were looking for a girl but didn’t know it was Jennifer. He was in for the blackmail but warned me to be careful. Unlike me, He was scared of Olokun.

The following day, I got miss Madam’s phone number from Jennifer and called her. I scheduled to meet with her in Elephant Blanco restaurant.
I got there 30 Minutes before time and hide in a kiosk across the street. I smoked a Marlboro Menthol cigarette and waited. Some 20 Minutes to time, she showed up with two men I had never seen before.
She went inside while the two men walked towards me and crossed the one-way street to the kiosk. They bought a pack of chewing gum and sat on the concrete bench a few meters away from where I was sitting. I had switched off my phone when I saw them coming. I pretended to have received a call, put my phone on my ear and talked on the phone while walking away from them.
I crossed the road and walked faster towards the bus stop. Luckily for me, a bus was coming up.
I ran to the bus stop to be able to be there on time before the bus stopped.
(Unlike Germany where every bus was required to stop at the stations even if there was nobody there, Portugal bus would drive-bye if nobody was at the bus station).

I was in time for the bus. As I entered, I looked down the street and saw miss madam coming out of the restaurant while trying to make a call with her phone. I guessed she was dialing my digits but it was off.

As soon as I settled down in the bus, I switched on my phone and called her.
” Where you dey, I don come for the place” she said as soon as she picked my call.
” I warned you not to come with anybody” I said.
” I am here alone Bros” she lied.
” No, you are with two Policemen” I said knowing that the men were not police. I just wanted to push her to the edge to spill out her intentions.

” They no be police, na my friends” she said.

I hung up the call and waited. I knew she would call again and she did immediately.

” What is it madam” I asked that silly question again.
Before she could say anything, I cut off the line again and switched off my phone.
I stopped at the next bus stop and walked to the road parallel to the one I was and took another bus down to the SANTA APOLONIA train station. Then I crossed the Tagus River through the long VASCO DAGAMA bridge and went to a bar with snooker tables at Rua Antonio Calvaho. ( Rua means Street).

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