What’s worse; good news with detriment, or bad news with benefit? How do you celebrate a fallen enemy, while mourning a dead ally?
Dogo has no time to think of any of this. It’s fight or flight. Live or die.
Moments ago, he fought for his life, taking one in the process. Now’s the time for flight.
The doorknob clicks, just as the Dogo’s cocked weapon spits a bullet. The bullet breaks through the top right corner of the door. He pulls the trigger and the last bullet in his piece lodges itself just beneath the bullet hole already on the door.
Silence on the other end of the door.
A stranger would see the door and think, “what are horrible aim.” But for Dogo, this isn’t a miss, this is bull’s eye.
“Time,” Dogo thinks.
Time is what those two bullets will buy him. Enough time to quickly make his way to the balcony, but not before grabbing Jamila’s phone. Everything that leads back to him sits in this phone.
He takes one last look at her pale, blood-splattered face and knows that for the rest of his days, he will never get this image out of his mind.
There’s some movement at the other side of the door just as he scales the balcony, and descends to the floor beneath. From the now 2nd floor, a Mango tree is now within reach. He takes him a split moment to decide he’s going to make the jump.
There’s some rustling of leaves as he lands inside the tree. The night camouflages him, just as the evening wind drowned out all suspicion from the rustling of the leaves. He looks out and from his line of sight, he can see people rushing out the hotel’s reception. There’s noise of police sirens coming in the distance. A semi-sprint towards the crowd, and he’ll just become another hotel guest who’s now regretting they chose this hotel instead of choosing the one their spouse chose.
“I forgot my phone!”
A woman grabs her lover before he can run back upstairs to pick up his phone. For her, self-preservation is running for safety. For him, self-preservation is making sure his phone doesn’t somehow end up with the Hotel Management, who, in all responsibility, decide to take the initiative to send the phone to his home address. Death by Wife’s Wrath seems inevitable.
Dogo follows the small crowd, makes his way past the gate. A slightly larger crowd is already outside the gate, all onlookers who came to the sound hoping to catch some action from the safe distance, or some gossip for which of their neighbours was sneaking away with a lover.
He makes his way past all of them, and disappears into the darkness.“I’m sorry. She didn’t make it.”
The doctor walks away, part defeated that he’s lost a patient, part hopeful that he’ll also save more.
Udo sinks back into the chair he’d just got up from, eager for feedback from the doctor.
They’d spent over an hour, trying everything to bring Armani back but she died. Everything they tried was like clenching tightly at a fistful of sand from the beach. The tighter your grip, the more sand sips through your fingers.
He thinks about how far they’ve all come. When this mission began. How much enthusiasm and hope he had for this. He knew they would be casualties, he just hoped it won’t turn out this way.
He takes a walk to the nursery down the hall, and peeks from the window at the little one. She’s wrapped in a pink white shawl, and in the tiny space she now occupies in the world, Udo thinks about how much she changed his entire world. His career, his life, all of it on the line for this little one.
“Jamila,” he says to himself.
“I have to tell Jamila.”
He calls and no one picks up. He knows better than to not call again, but he does. He does because he doesn’t just have bad news to pass on. He’s scared that he’ll get bad news too.
“Samuel, I can’t think of anyone I trust more on this, than you.”
It’s 10am Monday, years ago that now feels for Udo like a lifetime away. Jamila is standing at the window again, looking out like she always does.
She walks back to her seat before she continues.
“There are so many things at stake here,” she continues. “I’m personally invested in this, and I need someone that will not just be a colleague on this, but a real ally.”
She broke down what needed to be done, and if she’d given me the full brief of everything strand in this web, maybe Udo would have backed down. Maybe he’d have thought more deeply before taken on this new mission that has seen him even forget his own real name, and cut off contact with friends.
“Samuel,” he says to himself, “Samuel is your name.”
He thinks about Jamila and where she must be at this point, just as he heads back to the hospital reception.
There’s a siren in the distance, and a news reporter talking away on the screen.
Beep-beep. It’s his phone.
The reporter is talking about a shootout, but he’s not paying attention. The sirens are getting closer, and he doesn’t pay attention still.
You know what to do.”
He looks up just as there’s a lot of movement around him. The first body rolls by, the second rolls by when he recognises the hotel on TV.
When the third body rolls by, he recognises the hands so well. In that moment of confirmation, he knows exactly what has to be done.
Jamila was an ambitious woman. But Jamila was also a woman who constantly thought about all possible outcomes.