The car crawled along in the lazy traffic.
Akeem looked at his watch. It was 10:45am. Dark clouds threatened to ruin the beauty of the morning sun. If it rained, the traffic would be unbearable and he would be late for his business meeting. He prayed silently that things would work out for him. He mentally calculated how much he would make from the deal and smiled to himself. He rose up in his seat and stretched his neck to investigate the cause of the slow traffic, that was when he saw her.
First he saw the big orange bag she carried, then he saw her grey dress. She was pretty, dark and full bodied. Her hair was done in braids which poured over her shoulders. She stood apart from the large crowd waiting at the bus stop.
Akeem’s eyes settled on the woman and their eyes met.
In an instant he made a decision.
His car came to a halt in front of her. She opened the door and got into the car without saying a word. As he moved his car forward, an old woman in a blue wrapper and a white blouse crossed the road. He pressed hard on the brakes and the car leaped forward like a drunk man doing the Abiriba war dance. The old woman, with completely white hair cut into an Afro, stood in front of his car and looked directly at him.
Horns blared furiously behind him like the deliberations of a congress of angry baboons. His eyes were fixed on the old woman who crossed to the other side of the road and disappeared into the crowd at the bus stop.
The woman sitting beside him hissed under her breath. His eyes searched for the old woman but he couldn’t find her.
What was that all about? Akeem wondered as he drove on in the lazy morning traffic.
He turned his attention to the pretty woman sitting beside him. Her dress rolled a few inches up her legs, exposing her thighs but she didn’t bother to cover it. Akeem looked at her legs, his eyes filled with lust.
“Hi. What is your name?” he asked, still looking at her legs.
“Where are you going?”
“Where do you want it to be?” Joy smiled.
Akeem licked his dry lips.
To hell with his client. Money isn’t everything, he thought.
He turned his car out of the traffic and took the next exit off the main road.
Ten minutes later he parked his car in front of a hotel. He paid. They entered a room.
Moments later she was naked in his arms. She didn’t disappoint him. It was all he expected and more. As he lay spent on his back, she got up naked from the bed and entered the bathroom. He heard the shower come on. The sound of running water broke the aimless thoughts running through his mind.
Suddenly, he caught a slight movement on the bed. The orange bag the woman left on the bed seemed to have moved. He sat up in bed and looked at the bag. Two things happened simultaneously. The bag moved as if a rat was trapped inside it and he felt something strange happen to his body. He collapsed on the bed and strength eased from his body like air escaping from a punctured tire. The woman came out of the bathroom fully clothed.
“What is happening to me?” He tried moving his hands but they refused to obey his command. They lay useless by his side, crippled, twisted in an unnatural position.
Joy sat on the bed.
“You are dying,” she said coldly.
“Who are you?” he asked, realising how meaningless that question was.
As his body was sapped of life, Akeem thought about his wife Kemi and his three sons. Who would take care of them?
The woman touched the orange bag. It seemed to pulsate with a life of its own.
“What have you done to me?” The dying man asked.
She opened the bag and turned it towards him. It was full of money. Dollar notes. As money materialised inside the bag, life drained out of his paralysed body.
She snapped the bag shut.
“Shhh. Stop talking. You have done well. It will soon be over,” as she spoke she applied some red lipstick to her full lips.
Akeem lay helpless on the bed. The only part of his body that still moved were his eyes. Blood oozed from his mouth and formed a red lake beside his head.
Joy carried the orange bag from the bed and opened the door of the hotel room. Standing in the doorway was an old woman in a blue wrapper and a white blouse. When Joy saw the old woman, she staggered back into the room, dropped the orange bag, fell on the bed beside Akeem and screamed. Her eyes rolled into their sockets and the white came out. Akeem watched as she bared her teeth, hissed and writhed on the bed like a python. The old woman entered the room. Akeem’s eyes followed her. Her clothes glowed in the room. Her white hair reached behind her back to her waist. In one swift motion she pushed the thrashing woman off the bed to the floor and stood over Akeem like an angel. She smiled and looked into his eyes.
“Do you want to be set free?” she asked.
Words came to his mind but he couldn’t move his lips.
‘Help me!’ he cried in his heart. The silent supplication of his soul poured out of his eyes in tears and rolled down his face.
“I will,” the woman said and cupped his face gently in her hands. The radiant light emanating from her clothes overwhelmed him and he lost consciousness.
Suddenly Akeem slammed the brakes of his car. He threw his right hand over his eyes to avoid the blinding glare of the sun reflecting off the glass of the car in front of him. An old woman in a blue wrapper and a white blouse stood in front of his car, smiled at him, crossed the road and disappeared into the crowd at the bus stop. He looked around and saw a pretty lady sitting beside him in his car. When he saw the big orange bag she placed on the floor of the car, recognition flooded his eyes and fear like a rabid dog attacked his heart. His hands shook on the steering wheel as he manoeuvred the car to a reckless stop, narrowly missing hitting the car in front of him.
He hastily unhooked his seat belt, reached over and opened her door.
“Get out of my car! Out!” he shouted and pointed at the door.
The woman slowly unhooked her seat belt, picked up the orange bag and got out of his car without saying a word. He watched through his rear view mirror as she walked back to the bus stop and stood away from the crowd. Seconds later, a car stopped in front of her and she got in.
Akeem looked at his watch. It was 11:45am.
Where had time gone? Why was he on this road, stuck in this traffic from hell? he wondered.
He turned off the main road, took the next exit and left the morning madness behind.
He had never been so happy to cancel a business meeting.
He headed back to his office.
Some things were more important than money.