SIX – 13

SIX – 13

A black-and-yellow cab drove into the parking lot. Aliu noticed the cab because a thought had dropped belatedly in his mind 30 seconds after the cab pulled up that no one had alighted from it. Across the terrace of the diner where they were seated, he glanced at the taxi. He could see the silhouette of the passenger in the back seat. The occupant didn’t come down.

 A second later, he dismissed the taxi from his mind, when the young man from the other side of the expansive rectangular table said emphatically, “I swear, I am telling the truth.”

There were six of them seated at the table, Jovi, Ivan and Aliu on one side, facing off the other three young men who, until this afternoon, they’d not known.

After Jovi saw the blog post that Aliu showed him on his phone, an update that had a video footage of Moyo’s and Douglas’s gruesome murders, Jovi had finally began to come to terms with the reality that he and Ivan were on his side – whatever side that was. Jovi had expectedly wanted them to do something, get to the bottom of the case which the police had dismissed in the news as a cult clash gone wrong. He’d also been petrified by the video stills that had been published on the blog, especially the grainy picture that could easily identify him if an observant eye paid close attention to it. Jovi had said that he hadn’t been approached by any law enforcement officer regarding either the case or the blog post, but he believed that certain people who knew him would be able to recognise him if they came across the grainy picture.

They had sought out the contact information of the admin of the site, Rainbowman.net. Aliu had sent an email to the address provided, and fortunately, minutes later, the admin replied. Aliu had responded, requesting a meet regarding a security issue on the blog.

What security issue? came the immediate response.

It’s regarding the blog post updated with a very unseemly video footage, Aliu had replied.

What video footage?

The one that shows the murder of two young men, Aliu typed back.

A considerable amount of time went by, during which time the three of them went back into the restaurant to order some dinner.

Then came the reply: Who are you and what’s your interest in this video?

My name is Aliu. The victims were our friends and we just want to get to the bottom of what happened to them.

We? There are other persons other than you?

Yes. The boyfriend of one of the victims wants answers too.

Jovi had given him the permission to add that detail. He suspected that the blog’s admin, who simply went by the name Eddie, was gay. Supplying the detail about a homosexual connection might help earn some trust from the person on the other side of this interaction – enough trust to agree to a meet.

It worked. After a few more exchanges, during which time the admin made Aliu hand over his full names (no doubt so his identity could be investigated via the internet), they’d finally agreed to meet the following day at a diner in the Island.

The diner where they were currently seated, and a meet to which the man who’d introduced himself as Eddie Esang had brought along two of his friends, who he’d introduced as Declan Odum and Biola Ojediran. Biola had made it instantly clear that he was a lawyer and that he was at the meet to represent Eddie’s interests both as a friend and as a client.

The meet officially moved from an informal inquiry to a potential battleground.

Although the police had dismissed both murders as cult related, the video recording of Moyo’s and Douglas’s murders had surfaced a few weeks after he was been buried. It was a remarkable show of the police force’s ineptitude that they had not only simply released a statement, following the viral distribution of the video from the blog, which doubled down on their claim that the murders were a result of a cult initiation gone wrong, but they also hadn’t even bothered to contact the blog’s admin in the carrying out of any proper investigation of the murders.

“You can swear by Sango and Yemoja combined, but you do not honestly expect us to take your word for it!” Ivan snapped, clearly not buying what Eddie was selling.

“Well, you have no other choice, do you?” Biola intoned coolly. His expression was unruffled, but there was a razor-sharp quality to his demeanour that suggested he was someone who wasn’t afraid to fight dirty, despite the canary-coloured designer dress-shirt atop immaculate flannel trouser and suede shoes he was wearing. When he showed up with a legal pad and began recording their conversation with his phone, Aliu had suspected he was going for intimidating. And he was doing a good job of it.

“This is ridiculous. Surely, even you can see that,” Ivan rounded on the lawyer. “Your friend got a hold of video clips of two murders. He didn’t question their source and he went ahead to publish them – an act that goes to show his character, that he is nothing but a callous individual who will publish anything to drive traffic to his site.”

“I didn’t publish it to drive traffic.” Eddie’s eyes blazed at Ivan.

“You could have fooled me, because that post trended everywhere on the internet for weeks. I imagine you must have made a nice penny from all the attention it gave your site.” Ivan ran a contemptuous glare over Eddie, as though trying and sentencing his appearance as the product of a felony.

“There is nothing to be gained from being such a bitch, you know,” Biola said. His expression had hardened into something concrete-like as he gave Ivan a steely look. “We did you a favour when we agreed to this meet, and we can just as easily walk out of here, and there will be nothing any of you will do about it.”

“Please, don’t do that,” Aliu interjected, raising his hands placatingly. “We just want to get to the bottom of this.”

“Well, why don’t you start by telling us who the boyfriend is,” Biola said, dividing a look between the three men on the other side of the table.

“Excuse me?”

“In your email, you said one of you was the boyfriend of one of the victims. Which one is he?”

“I don’t think that’s necessary –”

“So there is no boyfriend?”

“No, well, yes, there is –”

“No, yes – could you make up your mind please.”

“Look, we just want to know from your friend how he got something regarding the murders that counteracted what the police claimed happened.”

“And so you lured us here under false pretences to get your answers?” Biola said archly.

“No. We didn’t. We are just trying to play it safe here.”

“Well, that’s your prerogative. My prerogative is to protect my client. And on that note, this meeting is officially over.” He began to rise to his feet.

“You cannot do that!” Ivan flashed.

“Oh I think I can,” Biola rounded on him, his eyes sparkling with his own rage. “And I will. The three of us are going to walk out of here and you will have nothing – absolutely nothing from us. And if you bother my client after today, I will use my profession to its fullest extent to make sure you are equally kept very uncomfortable. Trust me, I know my job and I do it very well.”

“You are just a cold sonofabitch, aren’t you?”

“Was that an insult?” Biola reared back in an exaggerated show of one who couldn’t believe what he’d just heard. “Are you now insulting me?”

“Two people were killed,” Aliu cut in then, “and the police have done absolutely nothing to bring their killers to justice. Don’t you want to know? Don’t you want whoever appears to have gotten away with these crimes to get caught, brought to justice, made to answer for what he did? Do you not want to know?”

There was a beat, some moments of silence which pulsed with undercurrents of tension.

Then Eddie said quietly, “I do. I want to know.”

“We also want to know who the victim was connected to amongst you three,” Biola cut in with a tone that brooked no argument.

“I am,” Jovi said for the first time, drawing their stares. “I am – was the boyfriend. Moyo was the love of my life.” He said that with a heavy emphaticness, an admission of a sad truth that would not go away, an implied plea for something right to be done about his pain.

“I’m so sorry,” the other friend, Declan said. This was the first time he too was talking, and Aliu found himself stirring in reaction to the warmth of his voice. The way he looked at Jovi, the weight in those three simple words he’d just uttered, conveyed the connection of a man who himself had known love and loss.

“I was blackmailed into publishing those videos on my site,” Eddie said, his face also turned to Jovi.

“Blackmailed?” Aliu said.

“Yes.” Eddie turned to him. “I am not callous” – this with a fractional look thrown in Ivan’s direction – “and I would never post such grotesquerie on my site. But whoever it was that emailed me those footages told me that he would out my friends if I didn’t do as he’d asked.”

Eddie’s expression as he spoke was schooled with such sincerity that Aliu believed him.

“I know it sounds unbelievable, but it’s the truth,” Declan addressed Jovi. “Eddie has a gang of us who are his closest friends, and we didn’t know about this until he posted those clips. And I for one was very furious with him and revolted by what he had done. That is, until he told us what had driven him to do it. He showed us the email the blackmailer sent him. Eddie is a good person, and he didn’t think he had any choice. His blog is already so controversial. What was a three-minute video compared to the safety of his best friends.”

“And he hasn’t been himself since he put up that post,” Biola said, raising a hand to place protectively on his friend’s shoulder. “He almost shut down the blog because he thought what he did was despicable. It was despicable. But the only reason he put it up was because of us. He was looking out for us. This blackmailer had sent pictures we could not believe anyone could obtain…” He paused, and took in a deep breath. “Whoever this person was is dangerous, and Eddie made the decision not to tango with him.”

“Do you still have the email?” Aliu asked.

“Yes,” Eddie said. “But I don’t think it leads to any clue as to who he is. I had an IT friend look into it and try to trace it to a viable identity, and it just led to a dead end.”

With a sigh, Jovi dropped his head into his hands with obvious despair. Before now, the three of them had thought that meeting with Eddie Esang would bring them closer to knowing who the murderers were. But in that moment, all they had was a wider understanding of how deadly and unscrupulous the people they were dealing with were.

“Is there anything at all, anything you can think of all that might help us?” Aliu asked.

Before Eddie could answer, his phone vibrated on the table. He picked it up to read the text that had just dropped in. whatever he saw caused his eyes to widen and the hand holding the phone began to tremble.

“What is it?” Declan asked. He took the phone from him. His sharp intake of breath confirmed that something was very wrong with the text.

Biola took the phone from him, read the text and his features hardened to steel.

“What is going on?” Aliu asked.

Biola handed him the phone.

The text read: Whatever you do, don’t forget that I’m watching you all. I haven’t gone anywhere.

The words were so starkly sinister that Aliu felt fear quicken the pulse in his throat.

Don’t forget that I’m watching you all.

His skin began to crawl as he looked around the terrace. There were only two other patrons chatting away at their table. He looked at the door leading into the diner. Could whoever sent the text be inside?

He was starting to rise from his seat to go investigate, when he heard a car engine ignited to life. Instinctively, he looked out to the parking lot. The black-and-yellow cab that had driven in earlier was slowly rolling out of the lot. From the backseat, the passenger leaned forward to give the six of them the peace sign.

Written by Vhar

 

FROM THE WRITER: Vhar would like to thank all of his readers and followers of the series, Six. He would also like to let us know that Six will be going on a brief hiatus, to return shortly with bigger, bolder episodes of Peka, Kareem, and possible answers to just what the heck is happening with Aliu and co.

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3 Comments

  1. Mandy
    July 12, 07:25 Reply

    I see Declan! 😊
    I see Biola!! 😀
    Oh Biola is still such a lovable bitch!

    And who on earth is this mysterious human being messing with my crew. Vhar, biko don’t do rough play with these guys. Turn your attention back to Peka and Kareem abeg and leave these ones alone.

  2. Sucrescalada
    July 13, 21:01 Reply

    This crossover is killing the story! Where’s Peka and Kareem?

  3. Bee
    July 14, 00:20 Reply

    I thought Declan & co were in jail.

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