You can run, you can hide,
but dirty deeds always follow you.
but dirty deeds always follow you.
Eight by Chinelo Enemuo
NINE...That's how many times Ebele had looked to the large framed mirror that leaned on the wall. And still, she couldn't help shudder at the sight of the bald-headed, gaunt reflection that stared back. Twenty-five; the number of pounds she'd shed, and thirteen; the number of weeks she'd been away from home... from family and friends. No-one knew where she was and most would probably not recognise her. She had become a ghost of her former self... The look was right.
ELEVEN... The hour the loud-ticking clock on the wall struck. She pulled the hood of her jacket over her head and peeped through the shabby curtains of her motel room. Outside was pitch black, save for the headlamps of passing cars and the street lights along the highway. Storm clouds loomed above and a light drizzle ensued... The weather was right.
FIFTEEN... That's how many minutes it took Ebele to jog from her motel to the empty parking lot of the supermarket. Two; the number of letters unlit from the neon sign that glittered before her. The name Oasis only flickered Ass. Two was also the number of shoppers Ebele found inside - elderly women sauntering along the grocery aisle, complaining in hushed tones about food prices. Four cashiers at the counter were taking stock of the day's sales, hankering to close shop in a few minutes... The timing was right.
FIVE... That's the number of times Ebele's hand reached for a feel of the loaded piece tucked into her left side. She raised her eyes to the CCTV cameras and tugged on the hood over her head. It was time to strike. Six times she had done this; six similar supermarkets in six different cities. But this time felt different... Guilt and nerves gave way to a firm resolve and the relief that this seventh strike would be the last... The feeling was right.
TEN... That's how many minutes the operator's voice announced that the store would be closing in. Ebele queued at the counter, behind the old ladies, rolling a bottle of coke in her hand. No sooner had the oldies exited the building that Ebele pulled out the glock from her side, sending the Coke bottle smashing to the floor. The cashiers were quick to comply, obediently emptying their trays into the bag that Ebele provided. All was going as planned... Up until the entrance doors swung open, forcing Ebele to turn her pistol in that direction. A lady in a drenched nylon rain coat scampered in and Ebele was the first to gasp when their eyes met. Kemi. Ebele almost cried in disbelief. Kneeling down with her hands up in the air, Kemi couldn't help squint at the dark hooded figure pointing a gun at her. "I know you from somewhere," Kemi muttered, unsure. She was right.
THREE... That's how many cashiers had taken advantage of the distraction and dared to make a run for the back door. A frantic Ebele pointed the glock their way, ordering them to stop. "Ebele?" Kemi's timid voice uttered from behind. Then came the loud shots, ringing through the air. The cashiers screamed. Kemi screamed. But Ebele's head was spinning and her finger kept pulling the trigger until all screaming stopped. With no second to spare, she grabbed the money bag from the counter and made for the door. She fled into the rainstorm with the sound of sirens whining in the distance. Raindrops merged with the tears that flooded her face and for what felt like hours she kept running, past her motel, and down the highway for as long as her legs could carry her. All was wrong.
FOUR... That's how many weeks after the incident before Ebele returned home to Atlanta. She almost missed the church service, arriving just at the tail end. She took a seat at the back pews, away from the altar... Conveniently distant from the casket. A curly wig covered her bald head and dark shades obscured her sunken eyes. She sat and watched as Dr. Ade spoke in forced restraint about his daughter and his gratitude to all who had come to commiserate with the family. Everyone in the room was in tears... Everyone except Ebele. She was all cried out, and her hollow eyes were proof of it. When Dr. Ade ended his address by promising to get retribution, Ebele got up to leave. She had just stepped onto the church's patio when a familiar groggy voice from behind called out her name. George, Kemi's husband.
"I'm so sorry," Ebele whispered as they hugged.
He wore dark shades. "I should say the same," George said. "You are like family"
"What was she doing in West Virginia?" Ebele asked.
George hesitated for a second, replied in a somber tone, "To see a distant wealthy relative. She was hoping to raise money for your boy, Tony."
Ebele's hands flew to her mouth and her heart sunk further than it already had.
"Please don't feel bad,” George continued. “She'll rest better knowing that you were able to raise the money for your son's surgery. It must have cost you so much."
"Yes." Ebele stood trembling as she glanced towards the casket at the front of the altar. The tears found their way back as she replayed the events from that night.
EIGHT... That's how many bullets Ebele fired at her best friend Kemi.