THE ACCIDENT & THE PSYCHO
“OKAY Linda, put her on the line.”
“Sure thing, Michael.”
The young man easily rested his right palm on the steering wheel and placed his left arm on his car driver’s door while waiting for the call, humming along and nodding to the rhythm of R. Kelly’s WORLD’S GREATEST coming from his stereo. Michael Black was driving slowly through Stream Street. He was in a good mood.
“Hello, Giny here.”
“Oh, Giny . . . hi . . . whatzup?” he began, speaking through a hands-free snuggled into his left ear. “Can you do me a favor, please?”
“Hi, Michael . . . still at the office?”
“Nope . . . that’s why I’m calling . . . ”
“Is Henry with you?”
“Nope . . . . Just left them at Suzie’s bar, where they are sipping some beer.”
“Not to worry . . . he and Ben . . . I knew you were the jealous type . . .”
“Now, don’t start with me, Mike . . . !”
“Take a joke, girl . . . just joking . . . always have been . . . .” Giny was Henry’s girlfriend and they were planning on getting married soonest, hence the close watch she’d placed on him, and Michael really wanted to assure her. “All my friends seem to be in a good mood today, girl . . . just some guy outing, that’s all . . . .”
“Don’t tell me they bought much more alcohol than your stomach could ingest again?” Now he could hear her stifled giggles.
“Well, didn’t want to get myself drunk,” he defended, “tomorrow will be a very busy day at work for me . . . .”
“So after just two bottles you excuse yourself as usual and leave for home?”
“Oh, Giny . . . stop teasing me . . . .” At least her fear was no more. “Right now I’m in high spirits. The alcohol already in my system is blending well with the music playing from my stereo, putting me in the right mood. You should know the song . . . R. Kelly? World’s Greatest?” He turned up the volume for her to listen in . . . .
“Oh, whatever . . . what did you want, dear?”
“Need you to transfer a folder from the office PC to my inbox? Need to work on it tonight . . . .”
“Oh Michael . . . working at home again?” began Giny. “Really you should . . . ”
“OK . . . just don’t start . . . I AM HAPPY . . . ask the many girls trying to be my girlfriend . . . .”
And he had lots of reasons to be happy. At twenty-eight, he was the personnel manager of a great multinational company of which his performance had been impressive in the past six months. The future looked bright. His decisions had proven effective and good for the company and his employers and co-workers all seem to believe in him. His salary had just been increased; he just bought the flat he was presently living in, and he would soon be traveling to the UK for more training. Therefore, his good mood could not only be attributed to alcohol and music.
“Oh, alright, dear,” concluded Giny. “No point arguing with the most handsome guy around, is there? Where will I locate the folder?”
“On the desktop? The folder is ‘TO-DO-ASAP.”
“Okay . . . will send it over ASAP . . . .”
“Thanks . . . I appreciate . . . .”
She rang off, and he drove in silence for a while.
Of course, he was loved by everyone at his workplace, and he loved his job. Michael was a gregarious and fun-loving person. He easily made a strong, lasting impression on people he was meeting for the first time and found it easy to mix with people of various personalities. He could say his study as a psychologist at both his degree and masters’ level had helped him develop this ability.
Tall and well built with an assuring masculine voice that blended perfectly well with his easy-going nature, Michael was undeniably handsome.
But he was also celibate. Not even a girlfriend. This has always mystified his friends and everybody around him, though he seemed happy as a single man because he wasn’t doing anything about it. Whenever he was approached with the issue, he would listlessly reply that he was still searching for the right girl.
Michael’s only problem was that he was very selective with girls. He always told his friends that his mind had already constructed a mental image of the girl he would love to date and marry. Her personality and structure were already imprinted on his mind; hence, any girl coming across him without exhibiting this mental picture he made sure to put on a platonic platform.
His friends always reminded him about the impossibility of getting such a girl and how necessary it was for him to adjust his expectations and engage with the available girls. And he always assured them that he knew what he was doing and was sure of getting the girl of his dreams, that all he needed was patience.
Sometime in the past, Michael had dated different girls, and experience had taught him to exercise self-control and wait for his dream girl, but even now, the ladies won’t let him be. He always found a psychologically soothing way to tell them off without hurting them. Although he was enjoying his celibate state, he sometimes wished to be in the arms of a woman he loved, but till then, he wasn’t going to relent in enjoying every bit of his successful life.
Now, as he slowly drove through Stream Street, he was quick to notice a young girl of average height walking as if she’d been drugged. He became curious and even slowed down as he continued to observe her. She was elegantly dressed and he could guess that she was a beautiful girl just by viewing her from behind.
Suddenly the girl missed her step and fell to the ground. He was alarmed and quickly pulled over beside her. Swiftly, he got out of the car looking around for help as he hurried towards the helpless girl.
The street was scanty; no other person seemed to have noticed what was happening. As a psychologist, Michael knew little about first aid. A quick, closer observation revealed that she had just fainted and needed immediate medical attention. He checked her pulse. It was normal, so without trying to revive her, he quickly carried her to the car. She was heavy, but with little difficultly, he was able to successfully do this and make her comfortable in the car. He quickly drove, praying that nothing bad should happen to the poor girl.
* * *
The black SLK swerved into the hospital’s parking lot a few minutes after Michael had set off with the unconscious girl.
“Someone please help me!” he found himself shouting as he banged shut his driver’s door and swiftly went round to pick up the girl. Two nurses had already rushed to the car with a stretcher.
“Who is she, sir?” one asked him, but he was too flustered by the incident to hear her. “Who is she, sir?” she repeated as she helped her mate put Brenda on the stretcher.
“Don’t . . . dunno . . . she . . . she just fainted . . . !”
“Where . . . how, sir?”
“Priscilia, abeg . . . !” began the second nurse as they both wheeled the unconscious girl into the hospital. “You’ll know what you want to know after we have saved her life!”
Michael was closely following them as they rolled into the hospital. He was a very familiar figure to most of the staff in Standard Hospital. It was the only establishment he patronized whenever he was ill and in Lupe. Moreover, one of the doctors, Doctor Christopher, popularly called Dr. Chris, was his very good friend. He halted when he saw Dr. Chris coming towards him. The doctor stopped the nurses carrying the patient on the stretcher and did a brief professional examination of the victim.
“She will be okay. Take her to Room 110; I will be with you in a minute,” he announced after a few seconds, then he turned his attention to Michael, who was very eager to explain what had earlier happened to him. The excitement had already cleared away the little effect alcohol had on him. “I see she fainted, but she will be okay. What really happened Michael?” Dr. Chris asked without formerly greeting him.
“I was driving along Stream Street when I saw her walking sluggishly, and before I could say ‘Jack Robinson,’ she slumped to the ground. So I quickly rushed her here,” quickly said the young man.
“Oh, you don’t even know her?”
“Well, she is not in any serious condition, but it is important we contact any of her family members, they deserve to be informed. Just hang around for now let me go inside and make sure she is alright.” Dr. Chris pointed to the nearest empty long seat meant for visitors as he spoke.
Fifteen minutes later, the doctor came out.
“We have revived her,” he said as he led Michael into his office. “Her name is Brenda Davis. Emotional breakdown is always sad news. Obviously, heartbreak, I guess. She asked that her friend be contacted. This is her cell phone number.” He handed Michael a piece of paper as he sat down on his rather large seat. “She also asked to see the Good Samaritan who brought her here.”
“That’s alright. I will make the call and then we can go in and see her.” Michael reached for his cell phone and quickly dialed the number on the piece of paper. After informing Jane of Brenda’s condition, and giving her the hospital’s address, he said, “Let’s go and see the patient.”
Taken over by impatience and concern, Michael had not been able to take a closer look at the girl he had rescued. As he entered the hospital room and saw her sitting on the bed, he knew instantly that he had found the girl of his dreams.
Physically, she was everything that he had dreamed of, the smile, the posture, the gentleness that seemed to be her real nature. She looked very vulnerable and there was a sudden urge within him to protect her. She was beautiful, and more importantly likeable. He became more concerned to know what happened to her. What went so wrong that she even lost consciousness? Maybe he could help her.
“This is Mr. Black. He is the good man that brought you here when you fainted at Stream Street,” introduced Dr. Chris.
“Hello,” Michael quickly greeted. “I can see that you are much stronger and brighter.”
“I am really fine now, oh, I am sorry for the inconvenience that I have caused you this evening. Thank you very much for the help. You don’t know how grateful I am,” Brenda said.
“I am actually glad that I was there to help you.”
“I didn’t know what really happened; I just got dizzy and couldn’t control myself any longer”
“It is alright. I thank God that you are fine now. I have called your friend. She should be here anytime from now.”
“Oh, thank you, Mr. Black. I can’t thank you enough.” She was trying so hard not to show her sadness. She couldn’t still believe that Adam had really left her. What was she going to do with her life once she left the hospital?
“Please call me Michael.”
Before she could reply, Jane stormed into the room and went straight to hugging her. Brenda held unto her like she was the only precious thing on earth.
Michael was quick to notice the steady stream of tears running down her cheeks. This girl is depressed, he thought. I wonder why someone would hurt her; she doesn’t look like she can hurt anyone.
“What happened?” Jane asked her.
Seeing that Brenda wasn’t ready to talk about her problems in front of a stranger, Michael quickly cut in, “I’d better be leaving. Can I have your contact? I will like to be sure that you are alright.”
“Oh yes, emm…Jane, this is Mr.…this is Michael, he brought me to the hospital and also notified you,” Brenda said.
“Thank you, sir, I am really grateful.”
“It’s okay.” He collected the piece of paper Brenda handed him. “And you don’t have to worry about the medical bills; I have already taken care of that.”
Both girls were touched by his kindness. And Brenda said, “You shouldn’t have bothered, you have already done so much for me.”
“No problem at all.” He was already walking towards the door. “This is my complimentary card.” He handed it to Jane. “You girls should take care of yourselves. I will keep in touch.” He bade them farewell and walked out of the room. He looked forward to seeing Brenda again.
* * *
Lupe Prison was situated at an isolated area of town. It had a very large compound with a great wall. People dreaded being associated with Lupe Prison, not just because of the general impression most people had about prisons, but because of harsh stories told about this particular prison. The death rate for inmates in this prison was very high mainly due to the harsh conditions inmates faced; here the convicts really paid the prize for the crimes they committed. Most prisoners who successfully completed their tenure in this prison always prayed that nothing ever took them back there.
This was where Nimrod James had been for the past four years. A five-feet-nine-inches-tall fellow with muscular physique and mean-looking eyes, Nimrod hated this prison with all his might. He couldn’t wait to be free once again; to have the freedom to do whatever he liked whenever he wanted. His body system had never adjusted to the life in the prison despite having stayed there for four years. He couldn’t stop praying to God, if there was one, that time should fly so that he would be free once again.
Here he was treated like shit by the prison warders. He was made to eat rubbish and subjected to hard labor every day. Every little offence one committed always resulted in severe punishment here. Suffering that could never be compared to the offence.
“Who the hell wants to know?”
“Your god in here!”
He was handcuffed before stepping out of his small cell when it was unlocked, but before he could react, a baton came crashing down on his head.
“What the f***?”
“That?” screamed Curtis, the prison guard on duty. “That doesn’t even compare to what you have just done! Now move it!”
And he was pushed forward, jeers ringing out from the other cells as the stoic guards fell in step behind him. Everyone knew about his exploits in Lupe, but then nobody liked getting into trouble when Curtis was on duty!
The group stopped before another cell and Nimrod flinched. The prisoner within had cowered to the far corner of the small room when he saw them and Nimrod knew he had every reason to be afraid, yet he still tried to wriggle his way out of the trouble he now knew he was in.
“So what have I done now?”
Another baton crashed into his back and he doubled over.
“Is he the one?” Curtis asked the terrified man inside and thought he saw a flicker of a nod. That was all he needed. “C’mon James…you’ve got a date with the sun!”
“But – But I didn’t do nothing wrong!” he tried again.
“You fag…!” shouted Curtis, kicking him with vehemence. “No one is your girl in here!”
“Wait till I’m through with this, Sean…,” snarled his victim as he was being pushed away. “Wait till I get my hands on you after this…!” And the young man inside the cell cringed back the more.
“You’ll do no such thing, homo!” bellowed a second guard. “Your new cellmate will be Sean and a camera will be fixed on you from now on 24/7!”
Daylight almost blinded him when he was pushed out into the open and he tried to shield his eyes with his chained hands. The interior was always dimly lit and his discomfort was a direct result of this. A terrible push saw him crashing to the ground and the guards on duty all around him erupted in laughter.
“Hey…What – What the hell you doing, man?” he asked Curtis as the no-nonsense warder proceeded to rip his standard issue prison clothes apart with a razorblade. “What the hell you think you’re doing?‼”
“Putting you back in line, big boy! Now, get up!”
Nimrod Effiong Bassey James had to spend his remaining free time that day under the sweltering heat of the angry sun with nothing on and in the glaring presence of everyone he’d come to hate in Lupe Prison.