THE HAND OF GOD (Part 3)

Previously on The Hand Of God:

A year after the murder of Kenyan operative, Akeem Onyango in a car explosion, US newswoman, Blake Hudson, moves to New York to begin a new job. And a new assignment that involves an exposé of Muslim jihadists in West Africa. But the assignment doesn’t happen, because Blake is shot to her death in her hotel room by a black man with an accent.

And now, ten months later. . .

November 2023

When Thea Coulter let herself into the apartment in Carnicot House on Consort Road, she heard movement upstairs. “Remi, is that you?” she called in the direction of the stairs, her words coloured by the cockney accent that had refused to let her be fluent in her Spanish class. “Are you there?”

“Yes, come on up. I need your help here,” a female voice called back.

Thea shrugged off her woolen coat, and stowed it and her shoulder bag away inside the coat closet beside the door. Walking up the stairs, she pulled the band out of her ponytail, and ran her fingers through the straight fall of her – in her opinion, uninteresting – chestnut-coloured hair. She got to her flat-mate’s door and knocked.

“Come in!” called Remi, sounding hurried.

Thea opened the door and peeked inside. It looked as though a hurricane had blown through, leaving destruction in its wake. Clothes were strewn everywhere. In a corner of the room, on a console, a TV was on, soundlessly depicting the images on its screen.

“What happened in here?” asked Thea as she gingerly stepped between pieces of clothing scattered on the floor.

“I can’t decide what to wear.”

“What’s the occasion?”

“Kay is taking me out to dinner.” Remi held up a short black dress. “What do you think?”

“It’s lovely.” And Thea meant it. In fact, she thought Remi would look good in anything, even a burlap sack. Her flat-mate, Remi Coker, was black and Nigerian, but her nationality didn’t count for much with Thea because Remi was a British citizen and had never once visited Nigeria. She was also the loveliest black woman Thea had ever seen, with a lush, full-figured body, bronze-complexioned skin, and pouty-lipped features that Thea believed with all her heart belonged to billboards and magazine covers. Each time she suggested modeling as a career, Remi would laugh and say with her charming self-deprecation that she didn’t think she was glamorous enough for the profession. Thea believed otherwise. And without Remi’s knowledge, she kept sending her face-shots off to modeling agencies. None had responded yet, but Thea felt optimistic that something good would turn up soon. She wanted the best for Remi, because she was in love with her.

“But it’s black.” Remi’s moan jolted her out of her brief libidinous reverie. “Do you really think I should wear black? Do prospective brides wear black?”

At her mention of her marital status, Thea felt a quick constriction of her heart. “I imagine brides wear any colour they wish,” she said woodenly.

Remi looked at her reflection in the mirror and wrinkled her nose. “Definitely not black.” Tossing the cloth on the bed, she picked up a tan-coloured dress with a short skirt and a plunging V-neckline in both front and back. “What about this?”

“It’s wonderful with your colouring. And very sexy. But it makes you look slutty too. I can’t imagine you would want to look slutty for” – she found herself choking on the name of Remi’s fiancé and finally settled for – “him.”

Remi chuckled. “With Kay. it doesn’t matter what I’m wearing. The shorter the better. Makes for easier access, if you know what I mean.” Her eye dipped into a lewd wink.

Thea didn’t share her humour. She cleared a spot on a chair and sat down. “Maybe it would help if you were to tell me what look you’re trying to create. Do you want to look innocent? Classy? Sexy? Innocent and sexy at the same time?”

“I just want to look drop-dead gorgeous.”

“You always are.” The words fell involuntarily from her mouth in a murmur.

“What did you say?” Remi asked as she dumped the tan-coloured dress.

“Nothing. I didn’t say anything. Just that –”

“Aha!” Remi cut in, triumphantly lifting a white stretchy dress that looked like it would fit like a glove. “Ta-da. This should shake things up a little.” She stood in front of the mirror and swayed back and forth. “Yeah. This is definitely the dress.”

She unselfconsciously began to strip out of the cloth she was wearing. Thea swallowed hard as she took in the full swell of her breasts held together by her bra and the softly flaring hips that tapered down to legs that were just shy of being catwalk-model perfect.

Remi maneuvered herself into the second skin of the dress. “Zip me up, Tee,” she said as she shimmied and tugged the dress down over her body.

Thea carefully picked her way back over the clothes and did as she was asked. Her fingers trembled slightly as she imagined running them over the bronze suppleness of Remi’s skin. She caught sight of their reflection in the mirror; her paleness, untouched by the sun because of the insistent cold of London’s November winter, startlingly contrasting with Remi’s vibrant colour of chocolate. Chocolate she would love to sink her lips into. She quickly brought her eyelids down over her eyes and looked away before Remi could see the longing in there. The aching loneliness that suddenly crashed down on her left the sour taste of bitterness in her mouth, bitterness at Kayode Moshood, the man who had robbed her of the chance of ever winning Remi’s love when he came into her life, and subsequently made her his woman.

“Don’t you think this is all a little bit too fast?” she said as she walked back to her seat.

“What is?”

“This” – she gestured with her hands – “You and Kay. You’ve known each other just three months and already he wants to marry you?”

“Well, I do fancy myself a good catch,” Remi said with a chuckle and an exaggerated batting of her eyelids.

“Yes, but he’s from Africa. Nigeria. I mean, what good can possibly come from that place, with its wars and corruption and all sorts of horror stories.”

“Hey, I’m Nigerian too –”

“Please. Remi, you’re about as Nigerian as I’m the first lady of America. Come on, you only bear the name. You don’t even know what Africa looks like. You were born and bred here. But Kay – he’s . . . he’s . . . how is it those crass Nigerian singers put it?”

“A Naija boy for life?” Remi supplied, her lips twitching with amusement.

“Exactly. He was born there, he grew up there, and spending the past ten years here doesn’t change the fact that he has a life there that you don’t know, and are not a part of.”

“Well. . .”

“I mean, think about it. I hear these Nigerian male expatriates have their families pick out nubile, young girls as wives for them, and the times they travel home is to consummate their marriages to these girls. And then, they come back here to fool us into thinking they are available and unattached.” Thea’s lips had twisted with distaste.

“Oh come on, Tee. Kay is not like that.”

“Really? Has he ever taken you home to Africa?”

“Well, no, but –”

“You mentioned he has two phones, one which he never lets go of, and which he takes calls on privately.”

“He says it’s to do with work –”

“Work. Hah!” Thea’s sarcasm spat the words at her flat-mate. “What does a real estate developer need privacy for during his phone calls? What is he – cutting house deals with MI6 agents?”

Remi’s face dimpled with sudden perplexity, wrinkling her forehead. The exuberance she felt earlier had winnowed away with Thea’s stricture. Her eyes were clouded as she started looking around. “I have to call him. . .” she muttered.

“What?”

“I have to call him . . . where’s my phone?”

“Over there.” Thea pointed at the device which was on the console beside the TV. She was feeling a savage surge of pleasure at the wedge she imagined she had driven into Remi’s relationship.

Remi picked up the phone, tapped a button on her speed-dial and planted the phone against her ear.

Thea watched her. I hope you come to your senses and break up with him, she thought.

Suddenly, Remi gave a sharp intake of breath. Looking at her, Thea could see her eyes had widened with mounting alarm, and her mouth had dropped open.

“Remi – what is it? Did he answer –”

“No . . . Look. . .” She lifted a shaky finger to the TV screen. “What is that . . .? What does it say there. . .? Her voice was wobbling with nascent hysteria.

Thea looked at the screen. The TV was mute, but she could see enough. Familiar surroundings of the outside of a train station. People jostling about in clear panic. Tendrils of smoke lifting into the atmosphere. And the headlines ‘BREAKING NEWS: BOMB EXPLOSION IN PECKAM RYE STATION!’ emblazoned across the bottom of the screen.

“Oh my gawd,” Thea gasped as she got to her feet. “There’s been a bombing.”

“At the Peckam Rye Station . . . right? That’s what it says there . . .?”

“Yes – why?” Thea looked sharply at the other woman.

She had on a horrified expression, as though a scream had frozen itself on her face. “No, no, no . . . Kay – oh, no . . .”

“Kay what? What is it, Remi?”

Remi turned her face to her. Her eyes were glassy with tears she hadn’t shed yet, and her lips trembled as she answered, “He called – said he’s attending to some business at the station . . . that he’ll be coming to pick me up for dinner from there. . .”

In spite of herself, Thea felt a cold gust waft over her heart. “No, don’t think like that. He’s fine – he has to be –”

“Then why isn’t he answering his cell!” Remi screamed as her hysteria climbed.

Thea snatched the phone from her hand and thumbed the green button against the number Remi had just called. “He’s fine – he has to be. . .” she kept on muttering as she put the phone against her own ear.

* * *

The entire area surrounding the Peckam Rye Station was riven with a bedlam of activity, chaos and terror. The environment was inundated with the flashing lights and sirens of police cars and ambulances, gawking crowds, reporters and television cameras that had materialized at the bombing sound and crash that rocked the area minutes ago. There was a din of raised voices as shocked travelers fled up the stairs from the train station, all of them wearing varying looks of disarray, and helping along others who were bloodied. Uniforms were already in action, with the police trying to bring back some semblance of order, and the paramedics lashing wounded bodies unto stretchers and piling them away into the backs of the ambulances.

There was so much pandemonium to keep everyone around occupied, and so no one noticed the slightly-built, dark-skinned man with gloved hands tucked into the side pockets of a heavy overcoat slip back into the station, picking his way through the rubble of concrete and bodies, and keeping with practised ease to the shadows. His countenance was alert and grim, and his eyes missed nothing.

He was searching for someone.

He found the person soon enough. The body lay in a corner of the decimated station. He was clearly dead. His head was tilted to one side, revealing that the back of his skull had been blown off. Brain matter, congealed and pink-white, lay spattered on the ground. The damage was severe. It was either a very large bullet or from a very close range. Whoever had shot him had stayed behind after the explosion to ensure that if the bombing hadn’t killed him, the bullet would.

The man in the overcoat heard and recognized a faint burr coming from the dead man. He leaned forward and slipped the dead man’s mobile phone from his pocket. It was vibrating and the word ‘Remi darling’ was written on the LCD screen. The man grimaced, and began a search of the corpse. He didn’t find anything.

Straightening up, he dialed a number on his own phone.

The line began to ring.

One ring . . . two rings . . . three rings . . .

Finally, the call connected.

“Sir, Agent Kayode Moshood has been put out of commission,” the man in the overcoat said without preamble.

Stony silence greeted his words, as though the person on the line was taking his time to absorb the news. Then a deep baritone said, “Are you certain?”

“Yes.” The agent stared down at his partner’s dead face. “I’m positive.”

“The bombing?”

“And a bullet to the head.”

“Do you think it’s the contact? Was the meet a setup?”

“No, I don’t think so. The contact sounded genuine, and clearly afraid of something or someone. Whatever he was afraid of must have caught up with them here.”

“Is the contact dead too?”

The agent flicked a quick look around. “I can’t say. I don’t know what he looks like. He only communicated with Kayode and I through untraceable calls. There are lots of dead people here, and he could be among them.”

“Or he could have gotten away.”

“That too.”

“And Agent Moshood has nothing on him? Nothing the contact could have given him?”

“No, sir.”

The other man emitted an audible sigh and then said, “Very well, I’ll notify Abuja. You can clear out from there and come for a debriefing at the safe house. Make sure you get rid of anything on Agent Moshood that could link him to us. As from this moment, Kayode Moshood is NFU.”

NFU – Not From Us. The agent allowed himself to feel a tug of melancholy at the inevitable divesting of his partner’s secret identity that he’d been proud of when he was alive. The Nigerian Intelligence Agency (NIA) had a sole responsibility – to the country, and not to its individual agents. “OK, sir,” he replied.

The other man clicked off, leaving the agent to confiscate whatever evidence of the dead man’s person he could find on him, before stealing away, a faceless stranger into the multitude of people still caught up in the tragedy that had just rocked the city.

 I am @Walt_Shakes on twitterBomb-blast-scene-e13497192581461-612x300

 

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20 Comments

  1. Yemie

     /  December 2, 2013

    Double wowzer! Don’t know how you do it Walter, but you keep ‘bringing’ it. Such awesome creativity can only be God-given. You’re a terrific writer, you really did your homework on ‘espionage tinz’. LOL!

    Walter, why are you killing off all the romance in this series na? Person go don dey gear up and ginger up for some superlative action and then waltz in Walter and his agents of death to put a spanner in the works.

    I sha hope Remi does not end up in the arms of ‘lesbo’ Thea, eeewww! at the thought of that happening. Great story Walter, keep it coming.

    Reply
  2. NIA, NFU in Nigeria?? That is very Utopian.

    Reply
  3. Maduka

     /  December 2, 2013

    Another death and we don’t even know what’s happening yet, hmmm. Nice piece for a monday morning sha.

    Reply
  4. Evan

     /  December 2, 2013

    Yemie has said it all. So I’ll just say, well-done to the power of ten.

    Reply
  5. Another death. Hmmm… I can’t wait for the dots to connect. Hurry up, Walter. And post every week o

    Reply
  6. Oguntoyinbo Motunrayo

     /  December 2, 2013

    Interesting

    Reply
  7. Melexa

     /  December 2, 2013

    Awww and wow! *mixed feelings*
    Oga Waltz! Which levels na? U just dey mesmerise me hia without a backward glance…I don’t even know what to feel again fa.
    This is a smack-down…marvelously woven, enjoyed every twist n turn…
    Abeg knack me two plates of Hand of God ozugbo’zugbo!!! Oga a di ro!!!

    Reply
  8. Izuchukwu

     /  December 3, 2013

    Now, this is a change of phase. I love love stories because I write love stories. This is beautiful, Walter. I enjoyed every bit of it

    Reply
  9. simi

     /  December 3, 2013

    WOW!!! Dis story gets mor awesome wit each post. cant wait 4d nxt episode 😀

    Reply
  10. nik

     /  December 3, 2013

    im still waiting for the connection, first a kenyan handsome dude, then a white lady from another agency, then a nigerian from another agency, all wanted a new life……….. hmmmmmm walty is up to something and the wait is becoming annoying.

    Reply
  11. Vester

     /  December 3, 2013

    And the plot thickens……An action packed series,Each episode ending with bomb explosions,gunshot then death. Now thak Kay is dead,i pray Remi does not fall into that lesbian arms.
    @Walt_shakes,Where is julia onyema?
    Who is behind all these assasinations?

    Reply
  12. Adeline Kasper

     /  December 7, 2013

    God hand dey dis 1 too??#watching 😦

    Reply
  13. Another death 😦 I’ll keep my comments for the next episode.

    Reply
  1. THE HAND OF GOD (Part 4) | MY MIND SNAPS

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