The culprits are on their way to the plains. Will they make it through or get caught? Let’s see…
“My queen! My love! Oh God, I miss you so much. Why did you have to go so soon? We weren’t done living life together. My life is so hollow without you, Sams. Why did you have to leave me this way?”
In a tight embrace with his wife, Robert could not stop the tears from flowing, as he held onto the beautiful human being who had departed a few years ago in the most tragic of circumstances.
Samira simply stayed silent, rubbing his back as her arms were locked tightly around his waist.
“Robbie darling,” she murmured. “Things don’t always go the way we expect them to. Life can be a cruel waitress at times, serving you with the most horrid of situations. But baby, the past can’t be changed. What has happened has happened, as awful and unfortunate as it was. And I’m at peace where I am now. So take heart.”
Still sobbing, he kissed her forehead and looked into her eyes. “Samira, it’s just not the same without you. Our Saturday mornings where we’d listen to The Big Issue and yell out our agreements and disagreements with the panelists. Our special Marwako dates where you’d buy fried rice, yet eat half of my chips. Babe, I can’t listen to any Celine Dion song anymore; all I’ll remember is your love for her music. And I can’t buy ice cream from Pinkberry anymore, your favourite. Honey, it’s just not the same without you! It isn’t! I’m a flipping wreck without you!”
She held his cheeks and looked into his eyes, from which many tears rolled out with that painful speech. She ruefully smiled. “Beautiful memories, I know. Sweetest of memories. But that’s all we get to hold onto now. The great divide between us is too large.”
He wiped his face, still overwhelmed with grief. “I know. But God knows I’d do anything to have you back, Sams. I’d do the ridiculously impossible if it meant I could spend another five minutes with you once more. I love you, Samira. I love you and I miss you so much!”
“Robbie, I love you too. I do. But you know it’s time to move on. It’s been three years, darling, and you need to find love again. Don’t spend the rest of your life mourning me. Besides, I love it here. Wouldn’t wanna return to earth for anything. Hehe.”
Robert shut his eyes, the grief still bubbling in his chest.
“Take care of our son, honey. You still have him. And he needs you to be strong for the two of you. Let him know I love him, and I always will.”
More tears streamed down his face.
Robert woke up with a start, breathing heavily. Nana Kyereme shook his head as he moved to his side. “Chale, this kidnapper person has messed you up big time. You’re crying in your dreams.”
Robert didn’t realize the tear strains on his face until he wiped his left eye. He sighed and shook his head. “It’s messed me up. I keep thinking about Sams, and Benjy. The two just..” he sighed as he ran out of words.
“Take it easy, Robert. Take it easy,” Nana said soothingly, rubbing his shoulder. “I can only imagine how awful a time this is for you right now. That’s why you’re here. We’re here for you.”
Taking his time to breathe, Robert reached for his phone. No sign of a call from the superintendent.
He tossed it back on to the table and sighed. “Still no word on where Benji is. God, this is torment!”
“Hmmmm.” Nana had no words. He knew there were many cases where it took months for the missing children to be found, but that would hardly be of any help to his distraught friend at that moment. “I know it’s rough. But we just have to hold on to faith and believe that the police are doing all they can to find him.”
DSP Ekow Bentil and a number of officers from the Anti Human Trafficking Unit sat in their vehicles, parked at the Kpone Police Barrier, waiting in anticipation for the arrival of a Hyundai Mighty truck.
The deputy Superintendent shook his head as he folded his arms. “Jerry James Biney. Such a slippery monster,” he muttered to the other officer in the car, ASP Enoch Johnson. “If I had a cedi for every headache that bastard has given me since he escaped, I’d be owner of half the properties in Trasacco.”
ASP Enoch chuckled in agreement. “Say it again. It’s like he’s always five steps ahead of us. As if he himself drops the intelligence just to make a fool out of us. I just pray to God he doesn’t slip through our fingers this time around.”
“Hopefully not. Since he’s on this journey with that Joseph Ampong guy, we should nab him. I personally can’t understand why that young man is involved in this wicked trade, though. I mean, young successful man. Your business is already flourishing. What again are you looking for? Ah!”
“Hmmm. Some of these young people, you just can’t understand them. They are never satisfied with what they have. It’s amazing…”
Jozi grinned as he busily typed certain messages on his WhatsApp. “De-graft and his love for sticker conversations,” he murmured to himself in amusement.
He couldn’t help but feel glad Jerry James was around. It meant he was spared from driving for the trip. Of course, he hadn’t been the one driving the first time he had some youngsters sold off, but the thought of driving nine hours filled him with dread. So he was relieved that he could catch up on some chats and hopefully also take a nap.
He sensed Jerry James giving him the side eye as he enjoyed his chats, but he chose not to pay him any attention. Inasmuch as he was grateful to the man for introducing him to a sharp means of making mega cash, he was pretty peeved at how he had been spoken to by him. So he wanted to ignore him as much as possible and only talk when necessary.
Now on the Accra-Aflao road, time check 10:11, they were approaching the Kpone Barrier.
“So we’re almost at the police barrier,” Jerry James began in a low voice, his eyes fixed on the road. “Remember what you need to do.”
Jozi nodded, his gaze fixed on his phone screen. “Yeah. Tell them we have an emergency delivery to make to Royal Senchi. Be charming and respectful. Tip them, if necessary. I got it.”
As the truck got closer to the barrier, the policeman at the side of the road raised his hand, the usual indication that they should slow down.
Jerry James stepped gently on the brakes as he drew to a stop. “Here he comes,” he hissed at Jozi as the policeman approached the vehicle. Standing by the right side of the truck, he waited as Jozi rolled down the glass. Once it was done, he flashed him a charming smile and warmly greeted, “Fine evening, Officer!”
The officer kept a straight, emotionless face as he responded, “Good evening, sir. May I ask where you’re headed to?”
“Oh, yes boss. Some emergency bi ooo. Royal Senchi needs some fish. Called me just this evening that it’s urgent. So I’m on my way with my driver to deliver them. Real inconvenience, but chale, it’s all part of the hustle!”
“Mr. Joseph Ampong?” the policeman asked, barely cracking so much as a slight grin.
“Yes boss! Owner of Jozi Frozen Fish stores. That’s me!” Jozi answered cheerily, the charming smile still plastered to his face.
The policeman stepped back, switched on his torch and flashed it at the side of the truck, where he saw the sticker for Jozi’s business. The two relaxed their tense muscles, anticipating his response that they continue with their journey.
“Gentlemen, please step out of the vehicle immediately.”
The two were stunned by that order.
“Uh, Officer,” Jozi began, “no offence or anything, but… I beg waa, please, can we just be allowed to go? We’ve been given a time limit and…”
“Please, gentlemen, don’t make my work difficult for me. Step out of the vehicle!”
“Boss, please, I beg! If I lose this contract, it’ll be a huge blow for me!”
“Please, please, please, it’s a simple order. Step out of the vehicle right now!”
As Jozi and the officer went back and forth on coming out of the vehicle, Jerry James’ eyes darted to the other side, where he noticed another policeman approaching the vehicle. He frowned and squinted as he noted the officer’s style of walking. I know this weird walking style. But from where?
It took a couple of seconds before it clicked.
That walking style was one he had noted when he was being arraigned for court the time he had gotten arrested. Belonging to some Fante man. He couldn’t remember the name, but he remembered which branch of the service he belonged to.
The Anti Human Trafficking Unit.
This was a trap. Despite their plan to sell the children off quickly so they’d be relieved of any immediate suspicion, it looked like the police had actually beaten him to it.
“… please, Officer!”
“Mr Man, for the last time, I said get down from your vehicle!”
“Jerry James Biney!”
The booming voice of the oncoming officer confirmed his worst fears. It was him! And somehow someway, he knew it was him in the truck.
Jerry James immediately switched the engine on, pulled the gear into reverse and moved from the barrier, doing a 3 point turn as fast as he could before speeding off.
“What the hell is happening right now?” Jozi wondered out loud in an irritated tone of voice, visibly shaken by the demands of the policeman, as well as the sudden turn. “How did he know it’s you?”
Not sooner had he spoken than the sounds of police sirens began blaring behind them. The deputy superintendent and his men were in hot pursuit.
Jerry James shook his head, looking confused as he kept his foot down on the accelerator. “I dunno, I dunno! I have no idea.”
“But I thought you were the slippery eel that can never be caught,” Jozi said sarcastically. “What happened? Suddenly lost your magic or something?”
“Look, will you be quiet?” Jerry James snapped. “I don’t know how this is happening. I didn’t expect this. I didn’t.”
“So as you’ve turned back, what are we doing? Going back to Prampram? Returning them to their families?”
SHUT UP!” Jerry James roared, already growing weary of the scornful words coming from Jozi’s mouth.
“NO, I WON’T SHUT UP!” Jozi yelled back. “I don’t know what kind of stupid brain fart you’re on right now, but I want my money. So I don’t care what’s happening out there, you better find a way out of this right now, or walahi…”
Jozi’s roars became a distant sound as his ears began picking up others.
The cry of a child. Looked like one of the children had not been given a strong enough dose, and was now awake and crying, obviously wondering where he was.
The police sirens growing louder with each passing second. Meaning they were getting closer to the truck. No surprise, considering it was no speed machine.
The sound of his own thoughts that day he broke out of prison. From that triumphant proclamation of freedom to the solemn vow he made.
… I’ll rather kill myself than let these brainless police guys catch me and have me sent back to prison!
The child’s cries. The loud thoughts. The ever increasing siren. Jozi’s angry rant.
All these bombarded his ears with a fervent fury, causing him to grit his teeth as he tried hard to focus on the road and go as fast as possible.
But they kept hitting at him.
“Herh, look, you better be finding a way out ooo. Hmmm! You don’t know me, eh. Yooo!”
Then he snapped.
“You want a way out? I’ll show you a way out!”
The police vehicle came to a slow stop, as DSP Ekow Bentil and his men in the car watched in shock and horror at what just unravelled before them in the course of ten seconds.
“Awurade Yesu!” one of them gasped, his hand over his mouth.
DSP Ekow blinked, inhaled and exhaled loudly.
“God Almighty! Men! Go get them! Be quick! We can’t lose any of them! Not a single one! Go, go, go!”
What just happened? And in all this, is Robert’s son OK? We find out tomorrow!