'Push away the bag. Hold onto something.' Luta's head was at it again. He flicked close his eyes to shut himself from himself, into another world where he would have no control of his body. It didn't work this time. The man on the inside of him didn't want him off. He wished he could just drop and let it all pass out, but that wasn’t going to happen, not even now. 


He drifted aside, one step at a time, as he moved across the room. 


He stood firm, with his heart in his ribcage hammering violently against his side, his lips twisted to the side, tongue drying up, eyes getting fixed, and gaze going rigid. Goose bumps rose off his skin and he feared he would drop dead from an attack. 


With all he had, he peeped and his tempo rose. Hot air escaped his nostrils and his body system froze out almost immediately at the sight of his lab coat, which was hanging against his door, creating a shadow. 


He  moved angrily, took it down and dropped it on the bed. He stared at it and felt the absence of direct sunlight in the room was not needed. 


Then he tugged the curtains and the window blinds. 


While he was busy with that, a knock thumped at his door, realtime. 


He paused apace, not knowing whom it was and why it came again. He carried his bag with clothes falling out, took giant steps till his wardrobe was in his face, yanked its door open and stuffed the bag in it. 




*****


Precious stood by the window again, her eyes down as she tried to keep away the morose look. It was more than what she had thought, and knowing it all was a mansion on sandy soil, made her regret ever starting up a thing with Ayo. 


Her eyes focused on her wrist as she consulted her wristwatch.  


She shut everything out of her head. With the noisy ceiling fan that wasn't breaking into her consciousness on, she felt she was safe. She was forking thoughts in thoughts, and pitching on her past life like it wasn't worth it. She got the shock when she was just a second away from hitting the red line; a way she would never have returned through with a swift swing.


The cold hands brought her back. She looked. One of her brothers was with a big stainless cooler. The other was moving across the living room with a nylon. She knew what that meant. 


Tara needed food and it was past the time she should have had lunch. 


She whisked, feeling it would take away her troubles. It didn't. 


"You will stay with her tonight." She faced the one who was a bit fat. He nodded in agreement and moved his head, pointing at the door. She looked away and her attention returned. One of her brothers had her keys raised up, jiggling around his fingers. 


She snatched it and in minutes, her car was getting out of the compound. 




***


One step at a time, Luta moved. It was over 10 minutes. The rate at which the knocks were coming had reclined but he still felt the movement in his balcony. He wanted to act like he wasn't home. 'Isn't that too late?' He thought. 'The knocker meant good,' his head told him this time. 


He moved at the door and waited again, then the knock landed. 


His heartbeat jumped again but he was took quick with the motions, that he felt he would oppose his emotions. He did. 


He unfastened the lock and his heart came out his throat.


A quick flick, random look and reflex motion. 


His eyes came against that tall, dark man on his balcony, shady and straight. His face was long and all the features made him feel like he had just met a familiar stranger. 


Ayo, the tall guy stepped forward with a giant smile. 


The proposal wasn't it. Luta was against it. He felt like running back, slamming the door close and ending his life with his knife. He was too late and was left to reason why Ayo stayed back in the balcony. 


"Any problem?" Luta asked. He took the hand Ayo had extended for a shake, and glared at him. 


"You must have forgotten me too quick. I am from the clinic." 


Luta watched him for a few seconds, which felt like hours, then regained consciousness of his environment and pushed open his door. 


Ayo walked in. His eyes scanned the living room in a swift and he waited for Luta to point him the couch. 




They both sat on the same couch, staring at each other, chests rising and falling, one waiting for the other to pick up the conversation. 


Ayo coughed as he rubbed his hands against each other. It was cold and the standing fan was directing all the breeze at him. 


His collar was blowing randomly out of proportion. His shirt was well starched and ironed, with gators on the rise creating an arrayed pattern.  




"Sorry about today!" Ayo said. 


Luta looked right, surprised. 'How did he know about the interrogation?' He was partially talking in his head. 


'Did the whole office know about it?' Luta thought and before he could get out his words, Ayo was replying like he had an insight from his head. 


"No one knows at the clinic, except the news and I am trying to suppress that for you. But we can't do it enough, we need to fight this." 


The 'We' 'We' 'We' reached Luta. He felt Ayo was trying to step in his shoes but it seemed suspicious. 


'How come he knows my thoughts?' Luta thought again. 


Ayo watched the expression on his face and made a gesture with his fingers. 


"I can't read your thoughts." 


'Again?' 


"You think I can read your thoughts, but no. It's your expression. It says what you have in mind, and that is relative to what we are talking about." 


"Fine! I was picked this morning, not arrested." 


"The news said you were. I was quick to run down from the clinic to work out your release. The press was flocking in and that would've been so harmful to your reputation." 


'He did just say my reputation, not the company's.'




Ayo kept talking and Luta was listening. He felt all the passion, kindness and hope behind the young man. He felt he could trust him. 




"I don't know your name." Luta said, making Ayo take a break from his lengthy talk. Ayo felt Luta wasn't listening.


"Ayo!" He said again. His eyes brooded the background of the living room once again. Then he met on eye level with a knife; a different one. 




'No!' Ayo stated mentally. That wasn't enough proof to believe Luta killed the victims. 


"What do you have in mind?" 


"Listen first." Luta raised a finger, his brown eyes lightened as he rolled his tongue over his lips. 


"Do I trust you?" Luta asked.


Ayo stared blankly, not believing what he had just heard. He was going to rush into saying a yes, but he pulled his feelings together and reclined on the couch. 


"Trust me!" 


"Good!"


"But there is trouble." 


Luta, shared a terrible gaze with Ayo. His brow arched as he projected a frown. The fear hugged him deep and his hands vibrated visibly.  


"Follow me! I will explain to you later." Ayo said. Luta stood up and whirled as Ayo motioned him to take a look at his doorway. Ayo reached for his back and withdrew a gun in a quick pull. 


Luta turned around and the end of the gun was pointed at the side of his head. His knees sagged and Ayo held onto him before he reached the ground.