Innocent woke up screaming and kicking like a drowning man.
It seemed to him that he had been having the worst nightmare of his life. But he woke up, and the nightmare continued.
The woman, now wearing blue jeans and a black blouse was sitting on a chair watching him. The moment he came fully awake, she jumped up and looked at him in fear.
“Are you awake now?” she asked, sounding an interesting mix of ‘concerned’ and ‘afraid’. “Can you start leaving? My husband…”
Innocent sat up, fiery grip of hangover headache replaced with the cold grip of fear. There was no rational explanation for what was happening to him, and it was too pat to be a setup. Still…
“Henrietta, how can you be talking like this?! I am your husband! We met on our way to camp in 2003…Nasarawa. We played around for a bit – and then became serious in 2005 after we…”
The woman suddenly burst out laughing. “Oh oh! So, you and my husband set this up abi? Hehehehehehehe!” she laughed, sounding relieved. “Oya, where is he?”
Innocent stood up slowly, quickly clutching the towel as it started to unravel from around his waist. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he told the still-chuckling Henrietta. “I did not agree with anyone to set you up. I am your husband – Innocent Asuke.”
She laughed again. “I thought you were going to say ‘Idibia’. Are you sure that’s not your name?”
Innocent didn’t see what the joke was. “Henrietta, do I look like I’m joking?”
She looked at him. “You’re not my husband. Do you want to see the wedding certificate?”
Innocent shook his head. Looking around him for the clothes he had discarded earlier, he started to wear them slowly. When he was fully dressed, he took his keys and phone from the bedside table and dumped them in his pocket. Then he picked up the toothbrush he’d dropped earlier and placed it on the bedside table in front of the picture, the picture whose glass he had smashed. He did not look up till he was done, and even then he did not look at the woman.
“Are you leaving?” she asked him. When he did not answer – just walking past her towards the living room and the exit, she said “How did you get in sef? When did you get in?”
Innocent did not answer, walking slowly towards the main door instead. When he got there, he pulled out a bunch of keys and easily opened the door. He stood at the door and regarded her with calm coldness.
“Henrietta Omuna,” he began, noting with pleasure how her eyes widened at his use of her grandma’s pet name for her, “I don’t know what’s going on, but I’ll see how long you want to keep this charade up for. And then…”
He walked out of the door and shut it behind him. He looked around him to be sure he was in the right neighborhood, and nodded on recognizing his landlord’s grey Toyota Camry. In fact, maybe it would be better if he just spoke to the man…
“Hey! Who are you? Who are you looking for so early in the morning?”
Innocent looked towards the direction the voice was coming from and spotted a portly man wielding a wooden cane walking towards him. It was his landlord of course – except there was no indication that the man had seen him before.
He automatically started backing away, realizing how awkward it would be telling the man the same story he had just been telling Henrietta. He mumbled something about ‘wrong address’ and slowly made his way towards the gate a few meters away.
He would have made it to but for the fact that Henrietta chose that moment to open the door and yell “THIEF!”
Not waiting to see what the landlord’s reaction would be, Innocent broke into a run. He actually took a moment to appreciate the joke of his situation; running for his life from his house – or at least the house he paid rent for, before he flew at the gate full speed.
Fortunately for him it was open, and he ran through hoping the neighbors wouldn’t be interested in the commotion. Most of them should be at work anyways…
That was as far as he got before the truck smashed into him.