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Annie: “Daddy park the carrrrrrrr…” she screamed angrily stomping her feet on the floor of the car. The car went to a screeching halt at the corner of the road and Annie leapt out of the car before anyone could say anything to her (she was by the window side). She ran towards the scene of the mob action without looking back. They all exchanged bewildered looks and ran after her.
Dickson: “Annie waiiiit!” he shouted after her as she kept running as fast as her little leg could carry her.

Sammy was already very weak from the beating he had already been given while they kept shouting incentives at him. He heard someone call him a terrorist terrorizing the neighbourhood. He heard another calling him a killer, killing innocent people before snatching their belongings. “But I did not do all this. God where are you?” he looked up to the sky but all he saw was blood, blood that had dripped from cuts on his head and eyebrow. His lips had a deep cut too. He heard someone say “set him ablaze to serve as a deterrent to other thieves like him” and many of them agreed with him. Someone brought a tire and threw it over his head, he was too weak to even remove the tire, he just laid there giving up hope of survival. Just as he was closing his already half closed eyes to prepare himself for the pain that was to come, he felt someone lift the tire from his head with difficulty and lifted his head up rocking it on her laps. He was surprised because the person seemed really small. He opened his eyes and with his bad eyes saw a little girl looking down at him with tears all over her beautiful face, she reminded him of his mother. She smiled at him when she realised he was looking at her.

Annie: “It is okay! No one will touch you now, my daddies are here, and they will not allow anyone to touch you.” The people around were surprised and kept taking pictures of the scene. The three men who were doing the beatings were angrier than ever.
1 st man: “whose child is this? Come and carry her before we set her ablaze with this thief” he ranted.
Annie: “You will not dare it. Who are you to beat an innocent boy like this? There are big thieves out there who has stolen your future, why didn’t you go catch them and set them ablaze? How can you still want to set him ablaze with all the blood on his body? Let me tell you the truth, if you can open your eyes and do this to a young boy and even getting ready to set a living human ablaze then you are a murderer. It’s you who needs to be set ablaze. It’s you who needs to be taken off the surface of the earth” she said daring anyone to come even closer. The people around shook their heads in agreement to what she said and marvelled at her boldness.

2 nd Man: “See, this small girl must be his accomplice, let’s set them ablaze together” immediately the words left his mouth, someone from the crowd stepped forward and gave him a stinking slap. “Let me see you try that.” By this time, her daddies were already standing behind her waiting for anyone who would make the move to touch her and the little bleeding boy.
2 nd Man: “How dare you hit me like that you scoundrel?”
The Man: “It’s you who is a scoundrel and for your information, I am a police officer and my team will be here soon, guess who will be arrested? You and not this little boy. Like the girl said, you are dangerous to the society and I will make sure the three of you are charged for attempted murder. I saw the person who stole the phone and it wasn’t this boy, it was someone else…” he was still talking when a police van came to a screeching halt right where the whole thing was happening and sent some of the crowd skittering from the road.

The three men tried to run away but people held on to them tightly while the police men disembarked from their vehicle, and bundled them into their waiting carriage.
Sammy was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was taken to the emergency room due to the multiple injuries he had sustained. Annie had wept all the way to the hospital, her hand and body were covered in blood. “Don’t worry friend! You will not die, I will pray for you very hard. I will ask my 2 nd daddy to take me to church so I can pray for you there too” she said amidst tears as her entourage watched in awe.

Paul: “Come now let’s go home, I guess there’s no more Olumo rock for today”
Annie: “Please can I and aunty Ewa stay with him here? Please? Give her transport fare, we will come back on our own tomorrow” she said pleadingly.
Ralph: “No way! His parents will come for him, we are all going home together now. I have settled his bills for now. So baby, I am afraid we cannot grant you this wish” he said looking hurt when he saw the disappointment registering on her face.
Paul: “Let’s go now” he said and tried drawing her along but she refused.
Annie: “No! I will not leave him, I will never leave him” she said weeping in a way that tore their hearts apart. Dickson scooped her into his arms forcefully as she struggled and kept struggling, screaming on top of her voice…
Richard became frustrated in his search for his son. People contacted him to tell him his whereabouts but each time he reached there, it would be as if he had disappeared into thin air like he didn’t want to be found. He noticed that ever since Sammy’s disappearance, his wife had gone back to her normal moody self. She blamed him for Sammy’s disappearance and refused to allow him touch her or even talk to him. He stopped going home regularly, he lodged in hotels sometimes or go home with one of his bachelor friends. He kept late nights most times and got back home drunk.
That night, he got back home and found that Ophelia had been waiting for him unlike the other nights when she wouldn’t even act like she cared. She sprang up to her feet as soon as she got a whiff of his presence.

Ophelia: “Where are you coming from by this time?”
Richard: “None of your business” he replied and walked tipsily towards the kitchen.
Ophelia: “How can it be none of my business when I am your wife?”
Richard: “Ahahahah… wife? I didn’t know I had a wife in this life and for your info, my wife is dead and I don’t know who you are” he said with sarcasm apparent in his voice. The alcohol flowing into his veins had made him unusually bold towards her.
Ophelia: “What do you mean by that Richie?”
Richard: “I said my wife is dead and I don’t know who you are or why you call yourself my wife” he reiterated his earlier statement and she burst out into tears.

Ophelia: “Then what am I doing here?” she asked with her left hand on her chest.
Richard: “Even I do not know the answer to that question. What exactly are you doing here? It’s not like you warm my bed at nights, you even stopped cooking for me so tell me what on earth are you here for? I punished my own son severely just to save your dignity and now he has gone missing. Instead of you to lend me your moral support, you are giving me attitude, for what? Did you marry me for me or cos of my son?” As soon as he said this, what Sammy told him came rushing back at him. “Wait! Was Sammy probably right? What he said about you, were those right? You know I never really asked you these” he said with his gaze boring into her.
Ophelia: “How can you ask me that? Don’t you ever ask me that kind of question again. I actually waited for you to make some restitution but I never imagined you’d turn out to be a jerk” she said and walked out on him.

Everything came rushing back at him, the way she was when they were dating. How tight she was when they first made love even though she was not a virgin. How happy she became during the time Sammy alleged was the time she started molesting him and how fast she went back to being moody when he disappeared . “Oh Sammy! Were you saying the truth? I hope not, I am just over reacting. I guess I should stop drinking alcohol, it is mushing up my brain. There is no way she would be a lesbian or a paedophile. Yeah no way! I know her very much, Sammy just wanted to get her out of the way” he said
One of the doctors watching them from the receptionist stand walked over to them as they struggled to drag Annie with them.
Doctor: “Hello please?” he said politely, smiling as they turned to face him.
Paul: “Hello! What can we do for you?” he asked still trying to calm Annie down.
Doctor: “Can I ask you guys a question please?”
Dickson: “Sure, go on”
Doctor: “Who is that little boy to you?”
Ralph: “Hmmmmm! We don’t know him, we were just driving by when we saw people gathered. That was when our baby asked us to stop the car, she kinda rescued him from getting killed” he explained proudly.
Doctor: “Your daughter should be given an award for such a brave act. And I overheard her saying she wants to stay with the boy? She’s got a really large heart I must say”

Ralph: “Yeah thank you!” he replied eager to get away from the conversation so they could go home.
Doctor: “May I suggest she stays? She and the young lady here, I will personally take care of them. They can even stay at my place tonight and tomorrow and if you stay around, I will drive them home myself. The way I am looking at things now, this girl might fall sick if you forcibly take her home like this.
Paul: “We are sorry to decline doctor. She is too young to really know what she wants. Thanks for your suggestion anyway. We will get going now, thank you” he said and they all turned to leave, he noticed that Annie was quiet all of a sudden, he checked and realised she had fallen asleep in his arms and heaved a sigh of relief. They drove back to Ibadan in silence with each of their minds occupied with thoughts of the young boy and the state they met him in. it was really pathetic.
He sat thinking about where he could find Sammy. He still nursed doubts in his heart about his wife. He knew he had to find out the truth but how he could do that was something he wasn’t sure about. He remembered he hadn’t read news that day and he had forgotten to get newspaper from the vendor, he decided to check online. He logged in to google and the first thing he saw was *JUNGLE JUSTICE: AN* *INNOCENT BOY* *ALOMOST LYNCHED BY* *AN ANGRY MOB. The* title seemed catchy so he decided to read it cursing the adults who would want to set an young boy ablaze just because of some cheap commodity. His network was slow so he tried again by reloading it. It came on at last and the pictures he saw almost took his breath away. Laying on the floor was his son, covered in blood, unrecognizable because of his swollen and bleeding face. He dropped his phone and stood up, unable to continue reading the news any further. ”Oh my son! My son!!” he kept muttering breathlessly. He thought he was going to have a heart attack because of how much pain he was feeling in his heart. “All these is my fault, I drove you out of the house… where exactly are you?” he remembered the post could give him information about his whereabouts and went over to his phone, picked it up and proceeded with his reading again. He saw the picture of the brave beautiful girl who had saved his Sammy. They were pictured with her rocking Sammy’s head on her lap and looking menacingly at one of the men carrying out the nefarious act.

He finally got the address of the hospital where Sammy was admitted at, without thinking, he ran for his car and zoomed off. Ophelia ran out when she heard the sound of his car leaving the compound and wondered what could be wrong this time. She saw his phone on the table with the post he just read still on the screen, scooped it up and scanned through it. She staggered back when she saw Sammy in the pool of his own blood. Her hands began to shake while her palms sweated profusely. She quickly dropped it, took her car keys and went after her husband.
On getting to the hospital, he was directed to the doctor in charge of his son’s case.
Richard: “Good evening, I am the father of the boy who was brought in some hours back. The one in the ER” He introduced himself.
Doctor: “I know whom you are, the receptionist already called to inform me of your presence” he said as they shook hands.
Richard: “Oh good! So how is my son? Will he be okay?”

Doctor: “Of course he will be okay. He sustained multiple injuries though, three broken ribs, mild concussion of the brain and some fractures here and there. But let’s thank God that girl stood up for him when she did, by now his charred corpse would have been what you’d be picking from the road now with people looking at you as the father of a thief”
Richard: “Hmmmm glory be to God. Does that mean my son is not in danger anymore? I mean he will recover?”
Doctor: “Of course he will recover faster than you think. You should find a way to thank the parents of that girl. They even paid your son’s hospital bills and the girl? She was so taken to your son that she didn’t want to leave”
Richard: “I must see that girl of course, I read about it all online and I must say I am really impressed. Her parents must really be proud of her. Please when next they come, tell them I want to see them, they should give me a call” he said handing his card to him

Doctor: “Okay they will hear. And don’t worry, your son will be fine”
Richard: “But can I see him now?”
Doctor: “Of course! If you can’t see him then who can? I will take you there. Come with me please?” he said leading the way.
Richard: “Thanks a lot” he said as they walked along the long corridor leading to the Emergency Room.
He was taken aback when he saw his son. He was plastered from head to toe. POP was used to support one of his legs. He fell on his knees and just stayed there with his heard down like a gallant soldier who fell in battle.
Doctor: “Are you okay?” he said holding him gently by the shoulder.

Richard; “I am not okay doctor. You see that boy lying over there? I am the reason he is there. He told me something grievous someone is dong to him and I refused to believe him. I even punished him for calling me a coward when I knew within me that he was really saying the truth. Now he is lying here almost maimed while his mother is lying cold and stiff in the ground, all my fault”
Doctor: “I will advise you to just pray for him to get better soon so you can apologize to him. That is the best way and hope the person that did that grievous something has been reprimanded? Don’t let him or her go scot free”

Richard: “She will not. I will reveal her dirty secrets to the whole world, I will ruin her life for ruining my family” he said bitterly.
Doctor: “It’s okay, go talk to your son now, he seems to be awake. I will get going though, I am having another appointment in five minutes’ time.” he checked his time, patted Richard’s shoulder and started walking out.
Ophelia hid herself behind the door till the doctor had disappeared out of sight. She quickly sneaked away from the ER and fled from the hospital.
*_To be Continue


Ever since they got back from Abeokuta, Annie refused to talk to anyone. She became sullen and withdrawn overnight. The cries of the boy kept ringing in her head, his agonized gaze as he looked up at her. She felt like she could almost feel all the hurts he had passed through in his short life on earth. She wanted to go back there so much but there was no one to take her, which saddened her so much.
Paul: “Annie, we are going to see that boy tomorrow which is Saturday. Will you like to go with us?” he said that morning as they were preparing for work while prepared for school.

Annie: “Yeeeees! She said jumping up excitedly. “let’s get him plenty gifts, I will give him all my toys even Elsa”
Paul: “You like him that much?”
Annie: “Yes I like him very much, he looks as if he is my brother”
Paul: “Really? Brother from another planet heart right?” he teased her.
Ralph: “Looks like someone is back. Welcome back baby, we missed you” he said pecking her on the cheek with the foamy teeth paste in his mouth.
Annie: “Uhnnn! 1 st daddy, you are dirty” she said using her towel to clean her cheek.
At the hospital, The POP on his leg had been removed while some of the bandages still remained. He kept thinking about the girl who had saved him. She looked exactly the same age as his Annie, for this one fact, he wanted to see her so much. As he was thinking, he heard shuffling of legs outside, he looked sideways and there she was, standing right there grinning gleefully.
Annie: “Oh my God! You look better friend. Thank God He answered my prayers” she said walking towards him slowly afraid that if she walked fast, she will find out that it’s all a dream anyway.
Sammy: “So you’ve been praying for me?” he said sitting up.

Annie: “Of course! Meet my three dads. This 1 st dad, 2 nd dad and 3 rd dad” he said pointing at them one after the other.
Sammy: “1 st dad, 2 nd dad, 3 rd dad? Are those their names? How is it that you have three dad? What of your mum?” he asked after he had nodded greeting to the three dudes standing like her body guard.
Annie: “They refused to tell me where she is. What about you? But what is your name? I don’t even know your name”
Sammy: “My name is Samson but everybody calls me Sammy. What about you?”

Annie: “My name is Annie…”
Sammy: “Annie…?” his eyes almost popped out of their bruised sockets.
Annie: “What happened Sammy? Why did you shout?”
Sammy: “It’s nothing, what is your full name?” he asked hopefully.
Annie: “Annabelle”
Sammy: “Oh I see! It’s not Anita? Oh that’s fine”
Paul: “Is something wrong young champ? You look pale” he asked with concern registering in his voice and face.
Sammy: “Nothing really, just that she reminds me of my sister who was snatched from my arms some years back”

The three men exchanged looks.
Ralph: “What was her name?”
Sammy: “Her name was Anita but we called her Annie” he said looking so downcast.
They exchanged confused looks again.
Ralph: “Do you still remember the date it happened? How old was she?”
Sammy: “That was one day I have inscribed into my memory. It happened on the 14th of March, 2011 around past 10p.m at night. We haven’t found her till now, not even her dead body. It was as if she vanished into thin air. Meanwhile she was just three months old” he had tears in his eyes when he was done with his narration.

Dickson: “Oh my God! How many were the men who had snatched her from you?”
Sammy: “They were two on a bike”
Ralph: “Let me see you guys” he said walking away from Sammy’s ward into the corridor while his friends followed suite.
Paul: “Are guys thinking the same thing I am thinking?”
Dickson: “I am short of words right now, I don’t think I can even breathe. Those two seem to be siblings, oh my God!” he said using his hand to fan himself.
Ralph: “Let’s not jump into conclusion yet, it might just be one big coincidence. We cannot take everything hook, line and sinker just yet. We need more proof”
Paul: “You are right. I absolutely agree with you” he nodded his head in agreement.

Dickson: “What other proof do you need? Annie was like three months when we found her, there were two men with a bike parked beside them. As if that is not enough, we found her on the 15th of March. I noticed the striking resemblance between them though but I thought it was just a coincidence. Annie must be the missing sister he is so longing to see again. We cannot just close our eyes to this just because we are afraid of losing her”
Ralph: “You are right too though but we still need more proof and until I have it, I will not release her to anybody” he said, walked back to the ward and met the two of them having a serious discussion.
Annie: “Tell me about Annie your sister please?”

Sammy: “My baby sister was a very charming girl. Her smile could lit up the darkest of souls. She had dimples just like yours, actually her dimples were my doing. I dipped my middle finger in each of her cheeks every day until the dimples became permanent” he gave a short mirthless laugh.
Annie: “Hmmmm! You are wicked o…I wish I know your sister though, we will be very good friends”
Sammy: “Yeah! I have a feeling you will get to know her soon. What did you say happened to your mum?”
Ralph: “Uhmm! We have to go now, it’s getting late. We will be back to check on you later okay?” he said intentionally changing the direction of their discussion.

Sammie: “Awwwwwww too bad! When will you come back again please? I have not really gotten to thank Annie for saving my life” he became melancholic in the twinkle of an eye.
Annie: “Do we really have to leave now? Can’t I stay with him? Tomorrow is Sunday anyway” she said pleadingly.
Sammie: “No Annie! You should go with them, it’s not right for you to stay here all by yourself. They are just trying to ensure you are safe. Trust them, they will bring you back and by then, I would have gotten better and we will be able to play around. I will even show you lots of stuffs”
Annie: “Okay Sammy” she replied brightening up. Her dad exchanged another surprised looks at how easily he was able to convince her.
A nurse entered the ward with a message for them…

Nurse: “The doctor asked me to give you this card, his dad requested that you call him whenever you are around, he wants to see you I guess” she said handing the card over to Ralph who collected it.
Ralph: “Thank you, I will call him but not today anymore. We are just about to start heading home” he replied with a forced smile.
Nurse: “It’s okay. Call him next time you are coming then” she replied and strutted out of the ward.
*_To be Continue

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