I rush to the car, hoping Toro is already inside, hoping she’s not dead. But Toro is not inside the car. Steve is, covered in blood. The whole village is awake and at the joint. I push people aside looking for the pastor, looking for Toro, looking for Jang, or Kenny. Anyone to explain what is going on.
Bisi is seated on the floor, still clothed the way she came to my house. What is she doing here? Her legs her wide apart and she wails like one in mourning. I notice blotches of blood on her body.
I see Jang finally and rush to him.
“Not now, Abbey.” He paces, praying in tongues fervently. “Pastor has gone to look for petrol. The one in his car cannot take the victims to Ife. Hopefully, Baba Elero will have some—”
“Victims.” I grab Jang. “What happened?”
His lips tremble like he will cry. “I called Fortuna. She promises to come with a cab. But it’s late. I don’t know.”
“What happened here, Jang? Where’s Toro, and Kenny? I see Steve in Pastor’s car.”
“Kenny escaped.” Jang sighs. “The boy Ajao came to call Pastor.”
“You’ve not said what happened. Who did this?”
“They were drinking. Six boys with machetes came here. They went for Toro. Steve tried to protect her.” Jang pulls himself away from me. “I need to pray, Abbey. Call Fortuna and find out where she is.”
Just then a car drives into the area raising dust at top speed. People scatter to avoid being hit. Fortuna jumps out of the car before it stops and run to us.
She screams. “Where are they?”
“Inside the hut.” Jang heads inside. Fortuna and I follow.
Toro is in a pool of blood on the floor. I fall on my knees beside her but a man who ran in after us pushes me aside.
“I’m a doctor. Don’t lift her,” the man shouts.
Another man comes inside and carefully, they examine Toro.
“She’s alive but losing too much blood.” The man looks at his colleague. “Call the hospital. We need O+ blood on standby. God help us if she’s a negative.”
They carefully lift her to the car. She looks lifeless and I can only pray they can save her. Six boys with machetes! This Ade needs to be stopped. I can’t believe he came for Toro, and why would it matter to him if she beat Bisi or not. No one touched his sister this time.
I feel some respect for Steve for the first time, and sincerely pray he doesn’t die. The car Fortuna came with takes both victims away, and we have to wait for Pastor to return so we can go with him to the teaching hospital.
There’s blood everywhere. Iya Elemu and her serving girls are nowhere in sight. Jang holds and pats Fortuna who is an emotional wreck. I walk to where Bisi is a bit calm and squat beside her. I need some real answers here.
She hiccups. I rub her back, and she quiets.
“What happened? Were you here?”
She nods is her characteristic way, and shifts from me. I feel deflated. Now she can’t stand my touch. I look around and notice people are around. Of course it is foolish of me to touch her in public. She’s obvious of the people around. I sit beside her but not close, and keep my hands to myself.
“Tell me everything that happened. Why did you come here after I took you home? Is this the kind of place you should be?”
She glares at me and her eyes tear again. I get impatient, and anger rises within me. Does she think her tears will move me from getting the truth out of her? Why would she come to such a place like this? And all the blood on her dress shows she must have gotten involved.
“I was sleeping. Ade come call me. Say where is Tisha Toro?”
Ade. The prince. Why would he go to Bisi’s house? The truth begins to dawn on me even before Bisi says it. I wasn’t punished for flogging Foyeke his sister. I was given twelve strokes of a wire-whip for giving Bisi one stroke of the cane.
I give Bisi a stroke and receive twelve. Toro gives her six and gets attacked by six machete boys. What an animal Ade is?
“I beg him to leave her alone. Say my hand is okay.” Bisi sniffs. “He pull me said we will go your house and I will call Tisha Toro to follow us.”
“You know what he did to me because I beat you the other time?”
She nods. “I beg him to leave you alone. He no hear me.”
I close my eyes for a moment. “Does he know what Steve did with you?”
“Heh, he will kill Tisha Steve.”
Explains it all. That’s if he hasn’t already killed Tisha Steve. And if Bisi gets angry with me, I’m dead meat. The mad dog Ade is in love with Bisi too. What a reveal.
Bisi lowers her voice. “He was with his friends. He said me and him will watch his friends rape Tisha Toro, then they will beat her with cutlass. Six six all of them.”
I shudder at the plan. Ade needed to be arrested. The boy was mad. No other explanation for this.
“He did not want to kill her ooo.” She begins to wail again.
I look around. Many villagers have left. “So what happened?”
“I tell him Tisha Toro has gone to Ife with you. He no believe. So he drag me to your house. I knock on Tisha Toro door, and everywhere is quiet. Ade now say he knows they drink and we came come came here.”
I stare at her, angry, and sorry at the same time. I will let her finish before I ask my question.
“Then what happened?”
She draws in a deep breathe. “They were all drinking. We arrive, all of us. As people see us arrive, they carry their bottle and leave. Ade call Tisha Toro to follow us. She no gree. Tisha Steve stand up and face them.” She sobs. “They cut him and grab Tisha Toro. I was crying and begging. Everybody run.”
My throat clogs. “Did they follow the plan?”
Bisi looks at me, tears run down her eyes, and nose. And she nods.