Beyond words and expression, I just stare out into the surrounding darkness. Bisi continues to sob and I find nowhere in my heart to console her. Five men rape a twenty year old girl and force a seventeen year old to watch. Nothing can be more brutal. There is no law. No order. I cannot ask where Ade is at this moment. Probably snoring on his wretched mat.
Pastor returns with only a gallon of petrol but enthuses that it will take us to Ife. We all get into his car, and despite my protests, Bisi insists she will follow us.
It’s close to 2a.m. and my headaches now pounds in my eyes as well. One evil image remains embedded in my brain – Toro with those six evil boys. If I feel so bad, I wonder how Bisi must feel.
The petrol in Pastor’s jalopy old Datsun car takes us to the gate of Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching hospital, and rolls to a stop. We all run out and head for the Casualty and Emergency accident area.
Panting and disoriented, we are turned here and there before someone attends to us. Thankfully, Pastor seems to be known in the emergency ward. A nurse on duty calls him aside and gives him a brief.
Steve was B.I.D.
“What’s B.I.D.?” I swallow. “Pastor, I don’t understand.”
Pastor shakes his head. “Brought in dead, Abbey.”
A cold wave of nausea overpowers me, and I stagger back for a moment. What a waste. Poor Steve. To think I was so upset with him just a few hours earlier and plotting to have him punished by the animal who killed him. I feel shame flood over me.
Fortuna screams and faints. Jang grabs her before she hits the floor but her weight is a little too much for him, and he hits the floor on one knee. He lowers her to the ground and looks up, tears stream down his face.
“I tried to win him. Oh God!” Jang wept.
“Only one strike of the machete,” Pastor whispered. “The killer hit him across his head to his neck. It was a deadly blow. He couldn’t have survived.”
I hear Bisi sob beside me. She shouldn’t have come along. I am in no position to comfort her, much as I wished.
Steve was a huge guy. The killer must have been big too, and highly skilled. Just a blow had terminated his life. Oh death, where is your victory.
“What about Toro?”
I cannot forget my friend. How she came to be here beats my imagination. Maybe I should have taken her hints and had an affair with her. All these chain reactions would not have occurred.
Pastor takes a deep breath. “She’s in the theatre. The doctors are battling for her life.”
Fortuna stirs and proceeds on a loud wail that makes the nurse on duty to send us out of the waiting area.
It’s cold and I notice Bisi’s Ankara dress is short-sleeved. I pull my jacket, which I’d taken at a last minute, but change my mind. A wild beast is jealous over her at this moment. I don’t want to be a subject to his bitter rage.
We spend the next two hours just lamenting the evil over Abagboro by this useless act. We all ignore Bisi who seem to have an endless capacity to shed tears. Her eyes are bloodshot and swollen almost shut yet, the tears continue to stream down her cheeks.
I wonder what kind of affection the evil Ade must have for her. Did she feel the same for him? I have a strange feeling he’s not a potential suitor like me. But this is not the time nor the place to find out.
The nurse who’d supply the information comes out to us at about 5a.m.
We all shout. Fortuna falls on her knees. I cover my mouth to keep from screaming. Thank God.
The nurse pulls Pastor aside and mumble a few things. Pastor nods once and returns to us.
“Bro. Abbey, we need to contact her family. She’s been attended to only because of the doctors who brought her in,” Pastor says. “Now they need money.”
I bring out my phone. “I will call her sister. She used my phone to call once and saved the number.”
“Be discreet. Don’t get anyone excited.”
I nod and walk aside to make the call. I didn’t have to say more than was needful. Toro’s sister goes ballistics on the phone. Finally, someone calms her and thanks me for calling, with a promise to come right away. Toro came from Ondo, a city about an hour away so I expect her family to arrive shortly.
About half an hour later, Mr. Akande arrives with the acting vice principal and Biology teacher, Mr. Ojo.
I am relieved to see them. Though of what use they are, I don’t know. Pastor breaks the news and Mr. Akande, for the first time since I took up work under him, breaks down.
He points at Bisi amidst tears. “You! You again?”
I steal a glance at Bisi, and her lips begin to tremble again. Seriously, there can’t be any tears left in her system. I am worried by Mr. Akande’s accusation. “This happened before?”
“Yes,” Mr. Akande sobs. “Oh God, what will happen now? Youth Service! They will never send anyone to Abagboro again. How will we cope?”
Mr. Ojo taps him, and hands him a phone. “The zonal coordinator of the NYSC is on the line, sir.”