Dawn to Dusk: 24 hours on crossroads – Episode 27
The murderer of Queen has just been identified from the CCTV footage of her room. Meanwhile James is caught shut from introducing Helen to his father.
Silently, the trio walked into the control room. The room was dark, mildly illuminated by the screens of different computers hung on the wall, showing different parts of the hospital in a shady colour; a black and white resolution. The technician was asleep with his head resting on the table, opposite a computer, like a pillow.
“Wake up from there you fool!” Nnadi cursed as he pulled him up. “If you were not sleeping you would have seen what happened to my daughter and maybe prevented it.”
The technician jerked up in fear. He wiped his eyes with his left hand and the entire room looked different and blurred. He rubbed his eyes the second time, the room cleared and he saw Charles.
“Good morning, Doctor,” he stuttered in fear.
“Oh my God, this man is stupid,” Smith sneered.
“We need the footage of emergency room 23,” Charles ordered ignoring his miscalculated greeting.
The technician nervously punched some keys on the keyboard and turned the monitor in front of him to face the trio.
“Here,” he said.
They watched in silence. Then the silence grew into fear and suspense. They got shocked. Charles sighed, shook his head and glimpsed at Nnadi, their eyes met and he shrugged. Nnadi hissed and stormed out of the room, with Smith scurrying behind him, raged.
“What happened?” The technician asked, trying to watch the footage.
Charles turned the monitor to him and played it back “The reason why you are here is to stop acts like this. But your constant dozing off on duty has cost us two patients in one month.”
“Oh God! Who is that?” the technician yelled in shock.
“Your sack letter,” Charles replied and scuttled out.
The technician was devastated. It was true he sometimes slept off on duty, but that was because he doubled as a Surveillance Manager at the City Mall during the day, to be able to pay his bills and meet up with the incessant demands of his ever nagging wife. He wept as he begged Charles to pity him, but Charles was already out before he recovered from his shock.
Nnadi stormed out of the room, with his phone in his hand, as he searched for the number of a DPO friend close by. He was rich and influential, and his position as the past President of his business division earned him many such influential friends. The worst has happened, and his zeal for revenge: to hurt James and destroy Osakwe’s family was even greater than his grief for his daughter’s death. He felt the revenge would restore to him the inner peace his daughter’s death tampered with.
“DPO,” he said as the call went through, “There is a psychopath looming around Bright Stone Hospital here in Lekki, and has murdered my daughter,” he paused and waited for a response which came in affirmative. He hung up and turned to Smith. “Show me where they are,” he said and they both ventured in a wild search.
Osakwe held Junior gently to his chest in a grandfatherly embrace, which has not happened for months. Junior stared at him strangely. Thanks to his composure, he would have cried out on top of his voice, sending an emergency alert to his father to come and rescue him from the stranger denting his pristine body with hugs. Osakwe saw his strange expression and knew exactly what he was thinking. The last time he saw him was three months after his birth; when he barely could recognize his mother. Now eight months have passed and he sure did not recognise him just as James predicted. He must be wondering why his dad granted a stranger access to his royal and precious body.
“I have missed you, Obinna,” he whispered to him, a name he gave him the day he was born, which has come to become his name, although James insisted he is the lower version of him, hence the name Junior. “I know you don’t know me, but I am your grandfather. I was away for a very long time due to some complicated family issues, but now I am back and I won’t leave you again, I promise,” he added, kissing his forehead.
Junior must have understood what he said and his apology, because he smiled and pulled at his ears. Osakwe admired him with the passionate love in his eyes. He was surprised at his composure. He did not look like a child who just underwent a surgery, though it was minor. Some other kids would still be in pain, while he was already up and about hours after the surgery.
“He is a strong boy, just like I expected,” Osakwe said and James smiled. “No offspring of mine is weak or lazy. We are a strong breed,” he emphasised. James smiled again.
“Junior is s strong boy, he has always been, right from birth,” James said. “And I am glad you are here, father,” he quickly added.
“I am where I am supposed to be,” Osakwe said, laying Junior gently on the bed. “And that reminds me, I should call your mother.”
“Do you think she will be fine with your decision about all this?” James asked, as he suddenly went moody.
“I told you, she made the decision long before I did,” Osakwe answered, searching for Catherine’s number in his phone.
“You did, but I did not understand.”
“She went straight to Nnadi’s office in the afternoon and told him we are done. I was angry when Nnadi called to inform me about her rantings. But seeing Nnadi embarrass you and I at that reception hall was just too much to ignore. I had to align with her,” he said. “Do not be scared, we are behind you, we are here never to leave again.”
“Thank you so much Father,” James said and hugged him.
The hug was however cut short by the sudden entrance of Helen, who walked in, unsure of what to do or how to behave. James looked at her and quickly observed her state. She looked emotionally tensed up, with fear and regret registered in her eyes. Her steps were unsure, like someone who has done a terrible thing and was now regretting. Her confidence and agility has flown out of her, leaving a shadow of what James knew her to be.
“Are you okay?” he asked. “You look different.”
“I am fine,” she answered, as she stood still at one spot, eyes flashing around the room, at nothing in particular. “Is he your father?”
“Yes, yes!” James said shaking off the thought in his head. “Father, this is Helen, the Nanny who has been taking care of Junior.”
Osakwe was speaking with his wife on the phone. He just looked at Helen, nodded with a smile and continued his conversation.
James held her hands; they were trembling. He looked at her face; it was pale. “You have never been this tensed before. What is the matter?” he asked again. “Is it my father? Do not worry; he is a changed man now.”
She squeezed a smile out of her mouth.
“Meanwhile, I was looking for you at the reception. Where did you go?”
“I was pressed,” her voice shivered. “I had to run to the toilet. And I feel dizzy now,” she whispered as she moved to the chair by the corner and slumped into it.
“I knew something was wrong with you. I knew it,” he squatted in front of her. “What have you taken? Anyway, let me call Charles to give you something,” he searched for his phone.
“No, don’t call anybody,” she objected. “I just need to go home. It’s late, my niece would be worried by now and I need to close my office.”
“No way! You are not going anywhere till you have been treated. You can’t leave the hospital sick.” She was going to protest but he interrupted her. “I am sure your secretary has locked the office. Are you even looking at the time? It’s almost nine pm. Who will still be in the office by now? And call the neighbours to make sure your niece is fine, because you are not leaving without me introducing you to my father.”
Helen nodded uncomfortably, staring at the door like she was expecting somebody.
“Expecting someone?” James asked, as she continued glancing at the door at intervals.
“Yes…no…I mean yes,” she stuttered. “The doctor.”
“You said I shouldn’t call him remember?” James was confused.
“Yes, that is true,” she sighed, eyes still fixed on the door.
She was acting really weird and he was disturbed, unable to fathom the cause of her strange action. The only thing he could pin it on was the dizziness and her niece, as for the office, he knew she was not serious about that. He held her hands.
“Do not worry, I am going to call Charles now and once he comes with the drugs and you meet my father, you can head home to see your niece, okay? So, loosen up, you are sweating.”
Helen ran her hand across her face and wiped the drops of sweat off. Then she jerked and stood up. “I have to go now. I will meet your father tomorrow, or next or whenever,” she said and briskly made for the door.
“Where is she going?” Osakwe asked as he ended his phone call.
Helen heard his voice and paused. She wanted to leave; ran away or disappear to anywhere but that hospital. She sighed deeply, slowly turned and walked back.
“Are you sure everything is fine?” James asked. “You are acting very strange.”
“I am fine,” she said as she approached James.
Looking at Osakwe, she curtsied and greeted him with a feigned smile. Osakwe extended his hand for a handshake to which Helen responded reluctantly, still feigning a smile and not forgetting to take a glance at the door.
“I heard you are my grandson’s nanny,” he said. Helen nodded. “Thank you for your good works. James, why don’t you invite her to the house for a dinner? We need to appreciate her more for how well she has taken care of Obinna.”
James smiled. “Actually Father, there is something I need to tell you,” he said holding Helen’s hand. “This lady here has…”
The door flung open, interrupting James’ speech. Two armed policemen stormed in with Nnadi and Smith making the whole scenario more shocking.
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