“Jaja, Armani is dead.” Anita uttered at the other end of the phone.
“What? Armani is what?” He fumed, shouting at the top of his voice.
She let out a deep sigh. She knew it wouldn’t be easy for Jaja to take. Her fingers quivered slightly as she held the cell phone to her ears. She was a tad relieved that she was not with him to bear the brunt of his anger. She could have sworn he could put a bullet through her skulls if she had been right there with him.
“That’s not fucking possible. Armani is what?”, he asked again.
“Armani is dead. I just found out. I confirmed it.” She tried to sound as calm as possible. For the past few hours, she had been trying to figure out how it could have happened.
There was only one suspect, Udo, but she didn’t imagine him in that light. The gateman who could barely speak English could definitely not have had the guts to murder his boss. But as much as she tried to wave him out of the equation, his head kept rearing in. On the other hand, she thought of how Jamila was handling the news of Armani’s death. For the umpteenth time since she took up both contracts, she felt like she was going to be in trouble soon. Something was just not right everywhere and as tough as she was, the last thing she wanted was getting stuck in the middle of a family drama that didn’t concern her in whatever way and probably getting killed in it.
“How the hell! What the fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!”
At the other end, she could hear glasses shattering one after the other as he threw curse words before he hung up.
He was infuriated. He, of course, already wanted Armani dead but he wanted her to agonize before she died. He wanted to give her death before she died. And he wanted to be the reason life stopped in her veins. With Armani’s death, he felt insulted. He hated that someone must have been faster than he was. This was leading to a whole complicated cycle he had to figure out before he got conquered.
He needed to play his cards all well again. At this point, he knew he had to leave Anita out of the operation.
He picked up his phone and placed a call through Dangan.
“Find me who killed Armani. And kill him too!”
* * * * *
“I need to understand what exactly is happening,” Armani said as she paced to and fro in the little house. “Udo, can you tell me what is happening? What do we do now? Where do we go from here?”
The house was small and archaic and from her calculations, had not been in lived in for years. It reeked of dust and was everything far from comfortable. Two hours earlier, Udo had rushed in to her hospital bed with a dummy and a bag of blood and hastily told her, “Armani, stand up. We need to be out of here as soon as possible.”
“What? Why?”, she had asked him, jumping out of her bed involuntarily.
“I’m taking you to somewhere safe.”, he had said as he tried to pick a few of her things he thought would be needed for the trip and thrusted them into the hands.
“Why? I thought this place was safe and undisclosed. What’s wrong? Where’s Dr. Amina? What about the IG?”, she had quizzed.
“He instructed me to take you out of here right away and get you to a safe place. Word got to him that there’s someone on Jaja’s team, asides Anita, who knows this place and is ready to kill you. This place is simply no longer safe for you and for your baby.”
She had stared at him with eyes wide with shock as she unconsciously held her baby bump.
She stood motionless at him as he hastily pulled out a pair of transparent gloves from his pocket and wore them one after the other. “Just a minute,” he whispered as he uncovered the dummy he had brought along with him and a small bag of blood. The dummy looked exactly like Armani and he subtly placed it on the bed in her place.
She gasped as she watched him work on the dummy. In fifteen minutes, the dummy looked like the dead her and there were traces of blood on targeted spots; the wall, the floor, the bed.
“We’re doing this to put him off for a while. The plan is to make them think you’re dead whenever they come in here to look for you”
“But… they’ll know it’s not me”, Armani protested, pointing at the dummy.
“Yes, but not immediately. Anita will be here first but she won’t touch you to avoid fingerprints.”
“And Jaja is that stupid?”
“No, Jaja’s smart. He’ll be angry at your “death” at first but he’ll find out soon that you’re not dead. And by then, you’d have been too far for him to find.” He had said with a note of surety as he held her hands and hurried her out of the hospital through an entrance that was rarely used.
* * * * *
“Armani cannot be dead, Anita.”, Jamila said, almost matter-of-factly. “Armani cannot be dead.”
At first, Anita had thought Jamila was sure that Armani wasn’t dead but when she said it the second time, she sensed a pang of pain and anger emanate from her. She gulped the wine in the glass down and walked down to the window, staring as though she could find answers from the breeze.
“Could Jaja have murdered her?”, Jamila asked without turning from the window.
“No. Not possible. Jaja didn’t want her dead too easily and quickly. He was maddened when I informed him on the phone. I doubt he has a hand in her death. At least, not so soon.”
There was a brief silence.
“Anita, I need you to go back to that hospital and conduct whatever checks you need to. I’ll need every information on this. Find out who came in, at what time, who they were, what they looked like. I want every fucking detail. Everything!”
“How about Udo?”, she asked.
“No, leave Udo out of this. I have that sorted out.”
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