“You aren’t going to pick up?”
Janet inched closer to Judith and stared at the phone screen. Judith put the phone down and let the call go to voicemail. Two years ago, though unpopular in her circles, she activated it for her high end clients. She doubted however that her dad will leave any message.
“You just allowed it beep to voicemail.”
Janet sat in the swivel chair and looked at Judith. Her face was being taken over by anger and a little fear. Her eyes were getting smaller and her slender chin was sort of tugged in. The few times her brother called and mentioned her dad, Judith’s face took on this expression. Fiercer and without the fear.
“Menni no nkasa.”
Janet said, starting to clear the shop for closing. In no time, the whole street will be taken over by darkness. With a handful of scattered streetlights on that stretch, the night often looks like thick smoke clearing and yet there.
“How will you get home? Should I drop you”
“No” Judith said shaking her head. “I’ll take a stroll and clear my head.”
Janet flipped the close sign on shaking her head.
“That risk is not going to be taken today.”
Judith smiled gratefully at Janet. She’s like my mum. Her stroll would have ended in a pub. She’ll have 5 shots of Vodka to calm down. Janet knew that.
“Why are you smiling.”
“I’ll watch you get a cab or I take you myself.”
“Watch me get a cab.”
Judith picked her handbag and set it on her thighs.
“Mr. Akrobea is already concerned we still hang out. I don’t want him worrying over where I could have taken you.”
Janet slid the door and stepped aside for Judith to pass.
“Mr Akrobea signed to the best friend code in our marriage agreement.”
She laughed and joined Janet outside.
“You know he hates to hear you say marriage agreement.”
Jane laughed harder.
“He says it feels like we did a prenup.”
“And nowadays people believe anything they hear. That’s what he’ll add in baritone.”
“Mm… Mm… You know Ken so well. Wish we were twins. Identical at that, we’d switch when I’m tired.”
“I’m not marrying Ken any day. I don’t care if he proposes even at twilight.”
“He’s not that bad.”
Janet said looking around for a taxi.
“It means he is bad.”
Janet hit Judith softly with her bag.
“Go on and defend him. I’ve missed about ten possible cabs. I could have been in bed.”
“You have and so your Knight in Shiny armor is coming.”
“Look this way.”
“Towards the Mechanics.”
“As we can all see. Someone’s got herself a chaperon.”
“I can see that. It’s pretty apparent it’s an urgent reason for him to show up this way. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Janet walked away toward her packed Range Rover. After three years of working her feet and hands off, she learnt being in the beauty industry wasn’t a bad choice after all. It could have strains on the Christian’s worldview but driven by a strong focus, it was good.
“You can’t just walk away like…”
Janet turned as Judith’s words died off suddenly. Derrick had made something like a thirty second stop and within a blink whisked her into the car .
She muttered and got ready to back out of her packing space. Whatever was happening, her best friend was in it. She’ll have to follow. Even if it meant following from a safe distance. Janet grabbed her steering wheel, shut her door with her left hand. Her hand was shaking. Both of them. She exhaled and laid on the steering wheel.
I’m afraid Lord. What should I do? Derrick coming in like that looks to me like there’s trouble.
She waited in the silence awhile, if she’ll hear anything. The street was getting darker. She could hear music from a far distance. The world around her didn’t seem upset. Just the one inside her. She’s always felt responsible for the turn of Judith’s life. She should have paid more attention to Judith during the university years. She should have prayed more for her, shared her convictions more with her. She was scared if she did nothing right away, she’ll just add to the things she should have done, said, known. And yet she was scared to do anything.
Janet looked in the mirror. Her face stared back at her, calmer. Calmer than her thoughts. Her phone rang.
Janet turned on her Bluetooth receiver.
“Hey. Already on your way?”
Lewis Akrobea sounded upset.
“Just about to.”
“Hurry if you can.”
Janet got tensed.
“What is wrong? If you’re hungry, there’s some jollof leftover in the fridge. The microwave should be working…”
“I’m not hungry.”
Janet could tell Lewis was trying his best not to get her upset. They say it isn’t good for being behind a wheel. But she already was.
“So what’s wrong?”
She waited impatiently. Her heart was beating heavily. It did, missing some heart beats in between.
“Janet’s dad is here. He’s been here for an hour. Maybe two, I can’t really tell and he wouldn’t leave without her.” Janet could feel him moving away a bit. The phone lines seemed to have some movement of air. He was probably pacing. “At least that’s what he said. And I think he means it. He’s all packed up.”
“Mr. Biney? Judith’s dad?”
“Yes Janet. He’s here with his car, a suitcase, a briefcase, about two lunch packs of food I think.”
“It’s him. I’m on my way.”
Janet put off her receiver and drove onto the road. This needed attending now. This is what she should really do.
Judith and Derrick were in the direction of the Central Community Church. Judith was staring at him with wild eyes. Ten minutes ago, she could bet he was crazy, like taken over by a demon. He had brought his car to a sharp halt, whisked her in and taken off all in what seemed less than a minute.
She didn’t get the chance to finish talking to Janet and the horrid, confused expression she saw in her eyes when she had glanced back before Janet was out of sight worried her. The girl will be dying with concern about now. Over the minutes, she’s looked over her shoulder a hundred times to see if she was following them. She wasn’t. It was surprising of protective Janet not to be but she was relieved. Judith turned towards Derrick.
“You said you are taking me to the church because you think someone is after me?”
“Yes, in summary.”
“And I told you I don’t want to go to your church. Any church for that reason.”
“And I said we have no other option.”
Derrick drove into the Church’s compound and came to a screeching halt. Judith sat still, buckled up. She looked at the building. It was bigger than it appeared from outside. It looked like a three storey. the third storey had smaller and more windows compared to the other two. She presumed it might be offices. Opposite the storey was another block with about 10 buildings and in between every two of those an opening further inside with two more doors.
Derrick got down and got her door for her. She unbuckled. Derrick looked taller, leaning over her door while she sat.
“I’m sorry you have to come here. We’ll go to my office, talk and I’ll take you home.”
She nodded and got down.
I am rather sorry you have to bring me here.
She hasn’t heard anything yet but wouldn’t be taken aback to know rumors are already flying around about the pastor and his sinner friend.
The lawn around the parking area appeared soft and welcoming in the dim light. Their shadows fell on them and on the concrete pillars in front of the office block as they walked along. Being around a church did not carry the sense of condemnation she was accustomed to. Inside the church itself could hold a feeling, better or worse.
Menni no nkasa – I won’t talk to him in twi.
© M’afua Awo Twumwaah 2016.