“Corpse of twenty-five year-old woman found in a bush by the roadside of Lugbe Expressway , Abuja…”,said the first line of the blog article.
“Not again!” sighed Lovette as she read it out loud in horror to her friends. She scrolled down to take a closer look at the picture of the victim posing with both hands on her hips and a huge smile revealing a perfect dentition. Her long wig was a perfectly-styled bone straight hair with middle parting. That must have cost quite a fortune, she thought to herself. She squinted her eyes as she enlarged the picture on her screen…
“Lizzy! Is this not Lizzy?”, she shouted as she jumped out of the bed on which she had been sprawled with Ruby and Chioma, munching some nuts and sipping cold sodas.
‘It’s her oo!’ confirmed Chioma after taking a closer look and grabbing the phone to soak up the details from Lovette, whose knees now appeared to be giving away as she slowly fell back on the bed, an incredulous expression on her face, with her two hands on her head.
“The lady was last seen at Booze Lounge where she was lounging with her friends before excusing herself with a man who had bought them drinks,” Ruby read on.
“But she was an amazing seamstress, na! What happened? Why was she hustling?” asked Chioma who had stepped closer to Ruby to take a proper look at the article on Lovette’s phone.
“No wonder she stopped picking my calls since last week. I have been begging her to sew a dress for me since last month but she has been avoiding me”, muttered Lovette.
“Even Amy has been complaining that Lizzy has been turning down sewing jobs for the past couple of months, despite being so good at it and sought after”, added Chioma.
“Mummy, I am so sorry. Daddy, I am so sorry. God please forgive me. Father Lord save me,” Liizzy cried and prayed silently as Michael, the name he gave as his own, now turned abductor, was using a thicker rope to tie her ankles than the first one he had used to tie her hands behind her back. He had gagged her with a smelly rag but hadn’t covered her eyes: she knew it was a bad sign.
After he had driven his sparkling white Mercedes Benz into the compound with a single standing bungalow and walked her inside, he had suddenly turned around and started beating her, kicking and slapping in equal measure. Somewhere along the beating, he had pulled off what had initially appeared to be his natural luscious black beard that Lizzy had admired when he first approached them at their table. I had only seen these on Instagram – this is the first time I actually see a man with a fake beard, Lizzy found herself thinking in the few seconds between him pulling off the beard and resuming the beatings with a resounding kick to her stomach. Lizzy fell backwards to the ground propelled by the sheer brute force of the kick. After beating her to a stupor, he started raping her repeatedly and in every possible way for what felt like an eternity.
She looked at her abductor from lowered eye-lids as he proceeded to dexterously tie the rope. Clearly, she thought, this was not his first time. To think that she had found him so attractive and distinguished-looking when he had first approached the table where she sat with her two friends; she reminisced to herself. He had spoken slowly to them in a low baritone voice whilst looking at her alone.
“Hi ladies, my name is Michael”, he had said in a smooth but deep voice with perfect American accent.
“Can I buy you ladies a round of drinks?” he asked without breaking eye contact with Lizzy.
Lizzy had felt so special. She felt like the chosen one, by this dashing young man. Her friend, Tracy, elbowed her and Tonia kicked her ankles underneath the table as she attempted to withhold a shy smile. ‘I could follow this one for free’! she caught herself thinking. She imagined the girls having pangs of jealousy at her fortune. Being with a handsome young ‘customer’ was always preferable to some pot-bellied wrinkled old man. Besides, the latter were known to make edgier requests to get off – most likely due to a lifetime of sexual vices that had rendered them harder to please. This was what the girls had concluded during one of their discussions comparing customers and their peculiarities. Besides, the girls had watched the movie, ‘Pretty Woman’. In fact, it was their favourite movie to watch on Sundays after church where they fervently thanked God for making it safe through the weekend’s hustle. They all silently prayed for the opportunity to meet a Prince Charming someday – even if through their hustle: a fine, rich man that would love and save them from street life. The movie made it look like a possibility. If it had happened to the protagonist in the movie, why not them?
Lizzy felt her entire body ache as he manoeuvred her roughly to position her face-down.
God save me, God help me, God forgive me. God please let me see my parents again…she kept praying silently. What about my younger siblings? Who will look after them, Lord? And my ageing father who is now losing his sight to diabetes? Our father, who art in heaven…she kept praying. After all, she had heard several stories of people miraculously released by their abductors or finding a way to run away.
“Sheyi na money you dey find?” Twa! Lizzy felt a sharp pain as he slapped the back of her head, making her face bounce on the hard floor. The sharp pain caused tears to roll down her cheeks.
Was he a ritualist? Maybe a yahoo boy? A psychopath?
Keep praying, she reminded herself silently. …Father Lord in heaven…
His phone rang.
“I don ready. Make una enter”, she heard him instruct someone in between her silent prayers over the phone. There was a knock on the door and her abductor opened it. She heard what sounded like two sets of feet walk into the room. She heard herself emit a throaty groan of fear and panic.
“Michael, like the angel” she recalled herself saying after he offered to buy them drinks. His face had broken into the most handsome smile she felt any man had ever directed at her. She had felt butterflies somewhere in her stomach. Who could resist such a handsome man? He is probably from a rich family and brought up in America, she remembered herself thinking. He had excused her away from her friends after the drinks arrived and they briefly discussed payment arrangements in a corner. He had guessed right: that they were all hustlers. It wasn’t hard to figure from their cheap and cheerful shiny mini dresses with rather exposed cleavages. They all sat with a single bottle of water each clearly waiting to be approched by customers. They took turns to stand up and dance suggestively whilst rubbing their hands up and down their bodies and chewing gum noisily.
God please intervene. Father forgive me for not taking up the sewing gigs and rather resorting to ‘faster money’, she prayed. She had felt it was the best way to raise funds for her ailing father. Why kill herself with all those tailoring gigs when she could easily get money this other way? She would just keep sewing for herself, she remembered herself thinking after ignoring yet another call from a customer who wanted to commission another dress.
She heard the footsteps of the men get closer to her as they spoke in a language she couldn’t understand.
Oh Lord I am so scared, heavenly Father…. Lizzy felt a sharp pain on the back of her neck along with a frightening thud. Darkness enveloped her, the type from which, she knew, there was no return.
Dabi Lolomari , an interior designer, teaching consultant and journalist/writer, can be reached at [email protected]