The final month of 2019 is upon us already! Chale, time goes so quickly, doesn’t it? Well, all glory be to God for taking us through the year. It’s not been easy, but He’s been good…
Well… something nasty happened at the end of part 5. Are the traffickers and victims OK? Let’s see…
It was 11:28 pm when Robert’s phone rang.
Still struggling to get a peaceful, uninterrupted bout of sleep, Robert was lying on the couch when his ringtone blared loud. He sprung up and immediately grabbed the phone, ready to answer and unload all the questions he had on his mind.
He hesitated a bit, though. As anxious as he was, he felt maybe he needed to take his time and let the man speak. Flooding his questions on the superintendent wouldn’t better or worsen what he had to say.
His right hand shivering, he pressed the green button and answered, “Hello?”
“Mr. Bart-Plange… I need you to come over to the station as soon as possible. Your son has been found…”
“OH MY GOD, YES!!” Robert screamed with delight, punching the air with his free fist. Relief coursed through his veins with that statement. Oh, the joy! The euphoric joy!
“So is he with you right now? Can I speak to him? Is he OK?”
The excitement had him going back on his earlier decisions as he unloaded excited enquiries on the superintendent.
“Calm down, Mr. Bart-Plange.”
The response from him brought back the unease in Robert’s insides. He went mute, wondering what was next.
“Your son was found in the possession of a notorious child trafficker. A team apprehended he and an accomplice at the Kpone Police Barrier, but things took a bit of an unpleasant turn…”
“Oh God, oh dear God, please don’t let my son die,” he whispered to himself as he sat in the backseat with Nana, as Superintendent Larbi drove to the hospital where all the inhabitants of the truck had been admitted.
The superintendent shook his head. “It’s incredible. Just when we managed to find ourselves a step ahead of him, this happens.”
“Sooo… any word yet since the team last contacted you, SP?” Nana asked, his arm around his friend who had his eyes shut in prayer, begging God to spare the life of his son.
“Not yet. All we know is that the Jerry James guy passed on the way to the hospital. Suicide.”
“Yep. According to DSP, after the team rushed in to retrieve those in the car, there was a sickening cutting sound they heard. Somehow, he grabbed a broken piece of glass and slit his throat before he was taken out. Didn’t make it.”
“Good Lord! Ei!”
“Hmmm. Some of these criminals eh. It’s like they’ll rather kill themselves than be captured. It’s crazy.”
“What about the other guy?”
“No word on his condition yet. None concerning the children either. Information given to me was that it seems pretty serious, though. Our hope is that they all survive. We need them all.”
“Hmmm, we pray so. But honestly, it sounds like it was intentional. Like he deliberately made that sharp turn just to flip the truck over. What kind of evil people do we have on this planet? Ei! Wicked and unreasonable men for real.”
“Chairman, this world has so many of them. Human beings who won’t blink at the opportunity to hurt another person. No matter how vulnerable they are. My brother, it’s amazing.”
“So-so, they were going to sell them off?” Robert asked quietly.
“Yeah. At the Afram Plains. That side of town has become a hub for that activity. We’ve caught a number of traffickers there in recent times. Released a lot of children who were being made to work under extremely dangerous conditions. It’s just amazing what the love of money can do. No wonder the Bible says it’s the root of all evil.”
Nana Kyereme shook his head. “Indeed. So in love with money, you’re willing to do the worst to little children. Goodness!”
“Hmmm,” Robert sighed. “Well, I just pray to God that my baby boy is OK. And the other children, for that matter. None of their parents deserve to lose their child because of these cold, selfish bastards. None of them.
DSP Bentil stood to his feet and saluted as his superior and two other gentlemen walked through the entrance of the Atlantis Clinic. SP Larbi introduced them to the deputy, who shook their hands and gestured to the seats nearby, asking Robert and Nana Kyereme to take a seat. As they did, he walked away with his superior, who gave him some needed information.
As they sat, Nana Kyereme looked around. “I wonder if any of the parents of the other children have been informed yet,” he mused.
“Yeah. Looks like the others are yet to be identified. Chale,” Robert responded, shaking his head at the thought of it.
“Hmmm. From the look of things, they probably might have been on their way to becoming child slaves if Benji’s issue hadn’t been put out there so quickly. Crazy.”
As Robert nodded, the two senior police officers returned from their discussion point and walked to the two. Robert looked up at them.
“Mr. Bart-Plange, Mr. Kyereme, I’ve just been given some information that is pretty… bittersweet.”
Robert’s heart jumped into his mouth.
“The latest news coming from the doctors attending to the victims and the surviving suspect is that three out of the five, Benjamin included, sustained traumatic head injuries. He also sustained a broken arm. They’re undergoing treatment at the moment. But from all indications, the conditions are not very critical. They should manage to pull through.”
Robert and Nana Kyereme gave huge sighs of relief. That was the most relieving piece of information the former had heard in a long time. “Oh, God, thank You! Thank You for saving my son! Thank You so much!” he whimpered, tears of joy in his eyes as Nana Kyereme lifted his hands in victory.
After a minute, Nana then asked, “But wait… you said three of them. You mean…”
DSP Bentil nodded sadly. “Yes, unfortunately, two of the little ones didn’t make it. Their bodies could not handle the resulting trauma. They’re gone.”
The two put their hands over their mouths. “Oh God!” Nana Kyereme gasped. “Owww!”
Robert shook his head. “Wow. Terrible. I’m grateful my son is alive, but… damn, someone else just lost his or her child. That’s devastating.”
“Indeed. At least, I get to give you good news. But once we identify the others and have to inform the parents of the deceased, it’s going to be something else. Been at this job for thirty-two years, and these things never get easy,” SP Larbi said sullenly. “To inform a parent that their child is no more. Hmmm…”
Robert saw the look of pain on the superintendent’s face and sighed. He felt absolutely relieved to know that Benji was safe, even though he had suffered injuries. Of course, he would choose that over him dying any day of the week. But he knew it would be tough for SP Larbi to tell the unfortunate parents of the two departed children the bad news. Indeed, it never would be easy, no matter how long he had been doing it.
“The remaining suspect is also on admission,” DSP Bentil added. “He sustained a broken cheekbone and concussion, plus various cuts on the face. He’s also not in a critical condition. We’ll have him face the full rigours of the law once he recovers.”
He sighed after that. “Jerry James, though. That man slipped through our fingers yet again. For good, this time. Well…”
“So… uh, when do I get to see my son?” Robert asked.
“I’ve informed the doctor of your presence, so when he’s done, he’ll come and meet with you. Excuse us for a moment, please.”
As the policemen walked away once again, Nana Kyereme took out his phone and called Godfred.
“Yeah, Godfred. Chale, by God’s grace, Benji is safe. Just some injuries bi he sustain in some accident. But chale, people be wicked for this world inside oo. Herh…”
An hour and a half later, the doctor attending to his son came to meet the two men sitting around, trying their best to while away the time by discussing different issues. Leading them to the ward in which Benji rested, he gave them an update on how the youngster was faring.
“He might show some extra sensitivity to light for a while, due to the head injury. And of course, his arm is in a sling, so please be cautious when you see him. He’s still in a bit of pain.”
“Noted,” Robert responded.
The doctor opened the door to the ward. He gestured toward the bed right ahead of him.
There, sitting up in his bed, right arm in a cast, was Benjamin Bart-Plange.
Robert didn’t need to be told to rush over. He immediately sprinted towards his son, tears in his eyes.
“Benji!!” he gasped as he embraced his son as tightly as he could, minding the broken arm. “Oh God, Benji, I’m so happy to see you again! I’ve been worried sick since you disappeared. I was so scared. Thought I’d never see my little boy again…”
The youngster sobbed as he flung his good arm around his father’s neck. “It was scary, Daddy. This bad man, he called me, promised me chocolate. Then suddenly, he carried me into his car and…”
“I can only imagine, Benji. But it’s all over now. Daddy’s here. Nobody’s ever gonna do anything bad to you. I promise. The police have the bad guys now. And you’re coming back home with me.”
Benji didn’t say much, choosing to shed tears of relief as he relished the embrace of his father. Indeed, the past few days had been frightening. From being grabbed just outside his school compound by a very friendly-sounding stranger to being transported to a place very far from home. Joining a group of little ones his age in a bare room in a mansion, equally as petrified and stricken by their plight as him. Spending nights soaked in tears, wishing he was back in his nice, warm, comfy bed, his father praying with him before saying goodnight, instead of the hard floor and a very unfriendly-looking gentleman who only ever peeked his head in to the room to see what they were doing.
Like his daddy said, it was all over now.
“You want a way out? I’ll show you a way out!”
Those were the last words he heard before Jerry James, out of the blue, did a sudden sharp turn.
With the truck moving at its highest speed, this caused it to turn over.
A frightened “JESUS!” scream sprouted from his lips as the vehicle flipped over. Somersaulting about two or three times, there were screams and cries from him and the children who had awoken.
As it came to a halt on its left side, he remained strapped to his seat, his belt having kept him from falling off.
His face throbbing with intense pain, he felt a blackness taking hold of his body. As he drifted out of consciousness, the last words he heard were a defiant whisper…
“They’ll never take me alive!”
Jozi’s eyes popped open. Sitting up on his bed, he gasped for breath, holding his chest as he inhaled and exhaled a couple of times.
The throbbing sensation was still present. He felt pains elsewhere. The light felt a little too bright.
But he was alive.
Just then, two neatly uniformed policemen entered his ward.
Jozi felt his heart sink once his eyes fell upon them.
This was it. It had been pretty rewarding while it lasted. But it was obvious; once he had been brought to the hospital by the police, nobody needed to inform him that this quest to become richer had backfired badly.
He may have woken up from that disturbing nightmare, a reminder of what had occurred a few hours earlier, but reality had a bigger nightmare in store for him. And there was no way to escape this one.
It was over for him…
So Robert and Benji are reunited, and Jozi’s gonna be dealt with. Appropriate, I think. Tomorrow’s the conclusion of this mini-series!!
© Qwamenah 2019