Now we know who’s behind the kidnapping. What are the boys gonna do at this point? Let’s see…
The young girl giggled as she looked intently into the eyes of the boy in front of her. “You’re serious, Stringazy?”
“More than serious, Maa Adwoa,” Stringazy responded, secretly rejoicing at the current position he found himself in. his longtime crush in the corner of the wall of her house, him leaning towards her, spewing out all the romantic words he had been itching to tell her. “I’m crazy about you, girl. And I’ll do anything to make you my lady. Just give me a chance.”
Maa Adwoa smiled shyly, turning away from his loving gaze. She was clearly surprised at this proposal, but pleasantly so. “I… I… I want to think about it first.”
“Don’t keep me waiting too long, African queen. I know what I want and need, and it’s you.”
She giggled. No doubt, she was enjoying being wooed by Stringazy. All this was giving him hope that his dream of having her as his girlfriend was not far from becoming a reality.
He briefly took out his phone upon hearing the familiar message beep as she murmured something about needing to get inside the house before her parents came home. His eyes widened as he saw a message from Azah.
“Alright, alright, baby. I’ll catch you later,” he said rather hurriedly as he walked off, his eyes on the phone as he waited for the next message to arrive. Considering the words were in capital letters, it had to be serious.
The next message came up after about 5 minutes, and it had Stringazy screaming, “WHAATT!!”
The message after that was: Get Johnson and go to P/W Sergeant Derek Jahara’s place and inform him right now!
That next message didn’t make Stringazy too happy, and he knew Johnson would not be enthusiastic about it either. But considering the magnitude of the issue at hand, it would be ridiculously selfish to refuse to go to the Sergeant’s place.
He immediately called Johnson.
“Chale, Johnson! We get some serious emergency. From the look of things, we for go see Sergeant Jahara right now.”
“Sergeant Jahara?!” Johnson asked incredulously over the phone. “Ei! Guy! What are you talking about?”
“Massa, I know! I know. But the issue at hand be serious. You, I dey come. I go explain everything as we dey go…”
“Hmm! You boys! What are you doing here?” Rose asked disapprovingly as the two of them stood in front of her.
The boys squirmed uncomfortably. This was undoubtedly like a lion’s den for them. Hostility from the very entrance to the ‘holy of holies’.
The two of them, while in secondary school, had been chasing one of the sergeant’s daughters and one of his nieces. The sharp police officer had caught wind of the pair’s advances and was not pleased at all. The fact that they didn’t have a glowing reputation around did not help their cause either, so when they passed by the area, hoping to see the girls, they had an unpleasant surprise when he met them before they even entered the flats and gave them a good dressing down. They immediately ran away, and since then, the thought of being within 50 feet of the police flats gave them nightmares.
“Please, Madam, we need to see Sergeant Jahara. It’s about a very urgent issue,” Johnson explained calmly.
Rose looked at him skeptically. She was never a fan of him chasing her little sister; she saw him as a non-serious being, and his failure to obtain university admission had only cemented that. “You want to see him about a very urgent issue,” she repeated snidely. “What issue is that, if I might ask?”
“It’s a serious case. Has to do with his work, please. Time is running!” Stringazy interjected politely. “If we don’t act fast, some people will be in trouble.”
The skeptical look had not departed from her eyes, and to an extent, she still had plenty misgivings about their appearance there. But she shrugged and said, “Wait. I’m telling him.”
As she closed the door, the two stood outside, waiting. She returned about a minute later, signaling them to come in.
They walked into the living room, where the sergeant was seated. Their hands behind their backs, they held their breaths. This sergeant was a big man, about 6 feet 3, with heavy arms, a bald head and booming voice that would send shivers down anyone’s spine. Memories of his super stern rebuke were far from distant in their minds.
He looked them up and down. “Reuben Johnson and Ebenezer Dadzie,” he said. “What do you want in my house?”
They felt shaken already. The way he said their real names was intimidating.
“Umm, s-s-sir. It’s… it’s about an urgent issue,” Stringazy started, his eyes on the officer’s steely gaze. “Our friend Azah just told me this evening about something he witnessed.”
“Mm-hm. Go on,” Sergeant Jahara responded, his facial expression unchanged.
Stringazy continued, “He said this evening, he was returning something to Mr. Joseph Ampong’s house when he saw him talking to another gentleman. And from what he heard, it seems like Mr. Ampong is involved in a trafficking ring.”
Sergeant Jahara looked stunned by that last statement. He sat up. “Are you serious?”
“Yes, sir. In fact, from what Azah mentioned, it looks like he knows something about the Benjamin boy that’s missing.”
Sergeant Jahara looked even more stunned by that admission. He rose to his feet. “Are you sure of what you’re saying, boys?”
Stringazy nodded, feeling quite intimidated as the giant policeman stood before them, dwarfing them with his size. “He-he-he sent me a few messages to show to you. It has to do with the plans he and some other guy have.”
“Let me see them.”
Stringazy quickly took out his phone and opened the chat with Azah and handed it over to Sergeant Jahara, who squinted as he looked at the chats.
Chale, the Benjy boy them kidnap am, he’s with Jozi! He and some four other children bi lydat. And some trafficker bi too is here. They’re planning to take them to the plains. 9pm tonight. They’re hoping to get there by morning.
Get Johnson and go to P/W Sergeant Derek Jahara’s place and inform him right now!
Sergeant Jahara shook his head as he frowned at the screen, trying to digest what had been sent. A part of him doubted this was true; Joseph Ampong had a pretty high reputation among the people in their town, and to pin such an allegation on him sounded a bit like a stretch. But, inasmuch as he knew these boys to be lax and indolent towards life, surely they wouldn’t go as far as to tarnish another person’s name, would they?
Besides, the young men in front of him were terrified of him after he had properly lambasted them over their antics with his daughter. It was highly unlikely they would come around to play such a prank.
Or was it?
As he debated within himself, a new message popped up.
Update: Illiasu recorded the whole thing. He and the trafficker guy. Ibi like his name is Jerry James.
The name at the end of that message had Sergeant Jahara sucking his breath in sharply.
“Yehowa!” he exclaimed. “Jerry James?! Amazing!”
Jerry James was a notorious child trafficker, who had been active in the illicit trade for a while now. He had been arrested, convicted and imprisoned a few years back, but escaped from prison and had been on the loose since. The police force had him at the very top of their Wanted list, but somehow, it was virtually impossible to touch him. He was excellent at being evasive.
The message from Azah came a moment later. Sergeant Jahara quickly switched to the chat and downloaded the audio before hitting play.
“So we move at nine o’ clock, correct?”
“Nine o’clock. It’s a nine-hour journey, so we have to ensure we get the kids there around six in the morning. We’re using the Hyundai Mighty truck, not this one. The kids will have more space in there.”
“Fine. That’s settled.”
“Have you given them something to eat?”
“Uh, no. Should I?”
“Ah, Jozi! What kind of stupid question is that? Of course! Ah, do you want them to starve to death in the truck?”
“Alright, alright, I’ve heard you. Massa, me, it’s the money I’m thinking about ooo. All this charity charity…”
“Massa, massa, use your common sense. Long journey like that, they must have something to eat before we take them to their new workplace. You don’t just treat them basabasa like that. You think the people we’re dealing with will accept such things?”
“I’ve heard, ah! I’ll go and feed them when you leave. Hoh.”
The audio continued for about a minute. When it ended, Sergeant Jahara quietly handed the phone over to Stringazy.
There was no doubt about it, it wasn’t a silly prank or a malicious character assassination attempt. He recognized those voices very well. Indeed, Jozi was doing business with Jerry James.
Shaking his head once again, he murmured as he took his seat, “Jerry James. That man. Biggest pain in the backside we’ve encountered in a while. More slippery than an eel.”
Stringazy and Johnson continued to stand, waiting for a response.
Sergeant Jahara sighed, then looked at them. “Boys, I need you to keep mute about this to everybody else. What you’ve given me is very sensitive information concerning a criminal mastermind that’s been on the loose for a few years now. This stays between the four of you and myself, alright?”
The two nodded their heads obediently. “Yes, Sir. No problem, Sir,” they both responded.
“Good. I’m going to inform my superiors as soon as possible. And well done. You may well have saved some innocent children from child labour. You can go.”
“Yes, Sir, thank you, Sir,” they answered gratefully as they turned and headed for the door. Rose saw them out, the skeptical expression still etched on her face as she closed the door. Walking to her father in the living room, she asked cynically, “Paapa, those boys said something about some case. Were they serious or what?”
The sergeant, who was busily scrolling through his list of contacts, shook his head without looking up at his eldest daughter. “My dear, it is serious. Way more serious than you’d expect. Thanks to those boys, we know where little Benji is.”
Rose’s eyes widened. “What! You mean that six year old whose picture is all over Facebook and the like? Really?”
“Mm-hm. They’ve found him. What’s left now is the most crucial thing. To rescue him.”
Well, the boys have done the needful and reported to the police. Will they catch up with the traffickers in time? The remaining parts will let us know…
© Qwamenah 2019