By Tomi Adesina
Umar cleared his throat. “Are you not stupid? How dare you come here and demand anything from us?”
“Because I know you both are pigs and your mud just got dirtier.” She replied.
Yusuf swallowed. “What are you talking about?”
“I can give you Aaima’s location if you wire the money into my account. This minute.!”
Umar frowned. “Are you mad? Who goes around with fifteen million naira?”
“I said ‘wire’ it. You sure would be able to afford that to keep your mess away.” She replied.
Yusuf stared at her. “How do we know that you would give us the correct location?”
She smiled. “Do you think I took the trip all the way down here to joke around? I mean business.”
She watched as Umar leaned over to discuss with Yusuf. They were not audible.
“Just in case you are thinking of the cheap option which is to torture me till I tell you, don’t waste your time.” She said. Umar and Yusuf turned to her. “I have nothing to lose. No money. No location. I don’t mind if you kill me.” She added.
Yusuf clenched his teeth. “I think you talk too much.”
She smiled back. “I can’t help it.”
“Let me have your account details.” Umar said, fetching a paper from his table.
Yusuf stopped him. “Umar, there is no need to make a very hasty decision.”
“Do you have a better idea?” Umar asked. “From where I am, she seems to be proffering us the best solution here, and I have run out of patience waiting for your grand idea.” He concluded, handing Sarah the paper. “I’ll wire it.”
Sarah smiled as she started to scribble down in the paper. “There’s no need to argue over who has a better scouting prowess.” She started, as she flashed a grin at Umar and Yusuf. “I just want the money and I am out of your faces for good.” She concluded and returned the paper to Umar who immediately got behind the computer.
“You are making me fifteen million naira poorer.” He started. “I hope you are happy.”
She nodded. “It’s for a good cause.”
Yusuf stared at her. She was a huge distraction to his mapped out plans and was of more good to the anxious Umar than himself. He knew Umar would sent a team out for Aaima’s head once he got the location. He wished he could stop it. However, Aaima was not his primary responsibility. The country’s secret unit was paying him to bring Umar in. All he needed was for Umar’s goods to get into the country and he’d lead him into an ambush to clear it. Frankly, no one cared about the backlash that formed from Fatima’s death, fixing Aaima in the equation. She was simply “collateral damage” as they liked to call it. Who was this lady? He thought to himself as he stared at Sarah angrily. He was dying to snap her thin neck off. It pissed him off staring at it. He took one glance at Umar who was busy on his laptop. The man was desperate to find Aaima and put an end to all his sleepless nights. Yusuf smiled faintly at the thought. Umar deserved no sleep. He couldn’t reckon why Umar was desperately after peace with all the evil he had done. But then, Yusuf felt some sympathy for the man. He was the ‘devil’ that infiltrated Umar’s life and thickened him up for his evil acts. Yusuf waved the thought off. He couldn’t feel any pity for Umar. He only acted as a catalyst. Umar surely had it in him.
“Money sent. You should get it any moment from now.” Umar announced.
Sarah nodded with a stern look. Her inner face was smiling so much it could crack open to the outside. Fifteen million!!! Oh boy! She was going to get herself an apartment somewhere far away. Maybe she’d go on a vacation to the Caribbean and enjoy the hot sun with a smoothie in her hand or maybe some prawns or any sea food. She could mentally smell the money in her bank account but as long as the beep had not come to her phone, she had to curtail her excitement.
“Where is Aaima Bello?” Umar asked.
She exhaled. “I am yet to get the alert.”
Umar groaned. “Listen to me, young lady! I am not one to play games and I suggest you stop risking your sanity and that of your family by telling me the exact location of Aaima Bello.”
“I already told you that I came here with nothing to lose.” She replied, defiantly.
Yusuf clenched his teeth. “That, my dear, is not true.” He started. “We always have something to loose. And trust me, your greed for fifteen million that you are willing to share the location of a lady tells a lot about you even without saying and you might try to convince yourself that it means nothing, but you would not walk out of this room alive if we sniff any foul play here.”
Umar slammed the table. “Damn this network! Do you think I sat behind my laptop playing solitaire?” he asked angrily. He pulled out a revolver from his drawer. “I sent the money already!”
Sarah kept a firm face in the face of the impending danger. She would not be broken. If she was selling out, she was going to earn big for it. After all, Yemi snitched on her and placed her on suspension. Aaima took away the only thing that mattered to her after her ambition, Fola. And Fola, Fola! He threw her under the bus by forming an alliance with Yemi. She hated all of them and they all had to pay for how she was feeling. She didn’t deserve the treatment they had given to her. She was going to have her pound of flesh, and she was going to gain big time from it. “Just the alert and we are good.” She said.
Yusuf joined her. “When I said you’ll not walk out of this room alive, I did not mean putting a bullet through your head, because, that would be very easy. I have more special plans. They include mutilation.” He said, staring at her eyes. “The worst kind of mutilation. Severing of your body parts bit by bit until you beg to die, and I would not listen to you because it is who I am, so when you think you can come up here and be a bad b****, keep it in mind that you did not come here to meet a bunch of amateurs.” He concluded and gave her a cheesy peck on the forehead.
Sarah was scared as she stared at Yusuf. His eyes were cold, but she was determined. She knew what she was getting herself into when she stepped into the building. She was certainly not going to turn back at this point. “I just need the alert to drop.” She replied, confidently. She had to muster the remaining strength in her to match these guys. They were not here to play.
Her phone beeped. She tapped on it. Credit Alert. The fifteen million naira was real. She was fulfilled. “Aaima Bello is currently in the custody of Prosecuting counsel, Barrister Yemi.” She said.
Yusuf swallowed as Umar reached for his phone. “What are you doing?”
“Changing the boys’ direction.” Umar replied.
Yusuf shook his head. “I am going there myself.”
Umar stared at him. “Oh…okay…”
“I want this to be as clean as possible.” Yusuf replied, fetching his car keys.
Umar turned to Sarah. “Give us the address.”
“Of course.” She replied, as she started to scribble in a paper. Umar placed his revolver firmly on her head. “Bad idea.” She said.
Umar stared at Yusuf and then back at her. “Give me one good reason why I should not kill you right now.”
She smiled. “You are never getting your fifteen million naira back. We both know that you are only hurt because of the money.”
“Wrong answer.” He replied. “The only reason I am letting you live is because if you have something against Aaima such that you are willing to kill her, I would love to see how all these end for you…and it’s certainly on a grand scale. I wouldn’t cheapen your death with a bullet. Moreover, it’s a waste of my bullet.” He concluded, taking the paper from her hand. He handed it to Yusuf as he dropped the gun on his table. “You’d better get going.”
Yusuf nodded and turned to Sarah. “Do you need a ride?”
She shook her head. “I am fine.”
“He could give you a lift, maybe he could even take you to the place so you can witness how he puts the bullet through their heads. What do you think?” Umar asked.
Sarah shook her head and rose to her feet. “I’ll pass. My work is done here.” She said. “So long.” She added and walked out.
Yusuf turned to Umar. “I’ll call you.” He said and walked out.
Umar waited till Yusuf had gone before picking his phone. “Hello, I want you to follow Yusuf, ensure that he kills Aaima and whosoever stands in his way…and if he does stand in yours, kill him.” He said, ending the call.
Obi paced around the living room while Yemi stayed on the phone. She was engrossed in the conversation with her boss. “It’s my jurisdiction, Sir. I can take this case.” She replied. “I am not emotional about losing the first berth and trust me, I just need you to assign it to me, and the rest is history.” She added as she paused to listen. “Sir, I am not worried about Fola King representing Umar Abubakar.” She stressed.
Fola stared at Obi who would not stop pacing around the living room. Aaima tried to be calm as she sipped some tea. She had not said a word to him since they got there. Yemi was the one who gave them the full load down on Sarah’s drama when she came over. He thought sitting beside Aaima would initiate a natural conversation but she didn’t seem to be in the mood for that. He sighed and joined Obi who was now standing by the window. “Dude, you need to chill.”
“I have been receiving calls from the hospital. I told them I had an emergency to deal with, I am not used to being away from my patients and I am worried that going to the hospital might endanger someone or myself.” He replied. “I don’t even think we are safe here.”
Fola looked around. “Why not? I think this building is really protected. And they pay a lot for their security levy, if that counts for anything.” He said, chuckling.
“Yes!!!” Yemi exhaled as she got off the phone. She smiled at Aaima. “Guess who is representing you now, lady?” she said and continued almost immediately. “Of course, you don’t need to guess.” She added and then turned to Fola and Obi. “Umar is going to be served his invite in the morning, and you might be called by your darling client.”
“I quit.” He replied.
She nodded. “Oh well, he needs a new lawyer. This thing is about to get real. I am all fired up for it.”
“Do you live for these things?” Obi asked.
She smiled. “Why not?”
He exhaled. “You are just so excited about it. It’s a good thing you love your job.”
“Well, I enjoy this.” She said and then turned to Fola. “Anybody hungry? I haven’t eaten just yet.”
Fola stared at her. “Need help in the kitchen?”
Yemi stared at him. “Really? I can do it on my own, you know?”
“I would love to help. We don’t want to burden you so much.” Fola said, joining her.
She smiled. “Ain’t you so sweet, Fola?” she asked. She tiptoed to his ears. “Are you trying to make her jealous? It’s not working.” She said, through clenched teeth.
“Let’s go and cook.” He said, leading her out of the living room.
Yusuf stared at his phone. He expected his friend to have sent him an update on the phone number he requested. He frowned as he noticed the black salon car that had been following him for over five minutes. “Distrustful b******.” He said as he took another turn, off the route to Yemi’s house. He knew he needed her number as soon as possible else Umar’s urchins would phone their boss that they had been tailing him for too long and Umar would sense foul play. If only the silly tech nerd at the security agency knew when to up his agility when necessary. Yusuf knew he couldn’t put pressure on him so as not to alert his boss that he had slightly deviated from his mission.
His phone buzzed. Yemi’s number had been traced from the telecommunication agency. He dialled her immediately.
Sarah arrived at the ATM and slotted in her card. She made some withdrawals and hailed a cab. “Local Government Council.” She said.
The driver nodded and drove her down there. She hurried into the office and met with the Local Government Inspector.
The large old man stared at her. “Barrister Sarah, what are you doing here? You have been suspended.”
“Sir, NYSC is almost over and my passing out is close. I won’t get my certificate and my name is part of the processed list for suspended corps members.” She said.
He yawned. “There is nothing I can do about it. The order came directly from your Place of Primary assignment and this shows that you have been a bad ambassador of the NYSC. Besides, you are one of those girls that pencil your khaki trouser and use unauthorized belts when we don’t ask you to, so…this is your punishment. In fact, I am glad you will have to wait extra months and serve with another batch.”
Sarah stared at him with some disgust. “Oga, na wetin na? Which one be all this wash because of ordinary NYSC?”
“Na you sabi. You sha no fit carry me go court on this matter, abi?” he said, as he picked the corn on his desk and continued eating.
Sarah fetched a stack of bills from her purse and started to count. The old man stared at her. “Sarah, what are you doing?” he asked.
She stopped at twenty thousand naira and dropped it on his desk. “Please take my name off that list.”
He stared at the money and then at the stack in her hand. “Sarah? You are bribing a government official.”
“Yes, and you just agreed to it.” She replied.
He frowned. “How?”
“You didn’t call it an attempt to bribe, you said I am bribing you, and so, yes, I am. Take that money and take my name off the list.” She replied, counting ten more notes. “This is a total of thirty thousand naira.”
He blinked as he reached for the money and slid it into his drawer. He fetched a paper from his drawer and gave it to Sarah.
She stared at it. It read “NYSC Defaulters List”. She frowned as the list was empty. “What is this?”
“You suppose no say I no dey hold any corper back for this my Local Government. There are no names on that list.” He said, laughing.
She frowned. “You just swindled me of thirty thousand naira!”
“Consider it a gift to a man you have been rude to.” He replied, laughing.
She grabbed her bag and walked out angrily.
Fola stared at Yemi’s ringing phone. “Are you not going to answer it?” he asked as he sliced some onions.
“No. I don’t have the person in my contact list.” She replied.
Fola frowned. “And so?”
“Fola, is it your phone? Why are you taking it personal?” she asked.
He chuckled. “I feel he is an ex and you know his number and you don’t want to pick his call.”
“Very funny, Fola. Very funny. I still have all my exes’ phone numbers. I don’t burn bridges, because you never know when you’ll need them.” She replied and picked her phone which was ringing for the third consecutive time. “And just in case you are right and maybe one of the exes has gotten a new number…” she said and answered the phone. “Yemi speaking. Who is this?”
“Listen to me very carefully, I don’t have much time. Some people are on the way to your house to kill you and Aaima Bello, I advise you leave that place now. You have only five minutes.” The voice said and the line went dead.
Fola stared at her. “Why are you so stunned? Did your ex propose to you?”
“They are on their way to kill us.” She said.
Fola took the phone from her. “What are you saying?”
“We have five minutes.” She said and turned off the gas. “Move, Fola!”
Fola hurried out of the kitchen into the living room.” Guys, grab your things we have to move.”
“What’s going on?” Aaima asked, rising from her seat.
Yemi closed her laptop and fixed it into a bag with some case files. “Our cover just got blown!” she said, leading the way.
Yusuf pulled up outside Yemi’s house. He watched as Yemi and Aaima got into a car and gaped upon seeing Fola and another man in their company. He looked at his side mirror to gauge the distance of Umar’s men. They had not yet gotten to him, but they had to be somewhere. He heaved a sigh of relief as the Yemi’s car moved before the black salon car got to into the street. He stepped out of the car, sure that they had seen him and moved into the building.
Fola dropped turned his Bluetooth earphones off. “My mom is at the airport. She’ll be going to Calabar. She’s fine.” He said as he stepped on the gas pedal.
“Now, where are we going?” Yemi asked. “I could call to report that we are in danger and the police would relocate Aaima and I until the trial is over.” She said.
Fola shook his head. “I don’t know how smart that is right now. Umar probably has guys everywhere.”
“We can’t keep driving and suspecting every car in the side mirror.” Obi said, looking through the window.
Fola stared into the rear mirror. “Aaima? Are you alright?”
Yemi stared at him. “Let her be, Fola. People get nervous when their lives are being threatened.”
He exhaled as he took another turn and gauged the cars that turned with him. “There are about five cars that have still been following us.”
“Should I call the police?” Obi asked.
“No.” Fola replied. “Just hold tight, we are going faster.” He replied.
Yusuf stood behind the door as he watched Umar’s men walk into the apartment. He adjusted the silencer on his revolver and fired at both men. He scoffed as the blood stained the sofa. “What a mess!” he said and touched them for pulse. None. He pulled out his phone and dialled.
Yemi stared at her ringing phone. “That number.”
“Answer it. Loudspeaker.” Fola instructed.
She answered the call. “Look, if you are-”
“I don’t have time to chat, Yemi. I know you are with Fola King and you need to meet me somewhere so this stops being awkward for us all.”
Fola stared at her. “What you want?” he shouted.
“Easy man, this is not the time to shout. I am sending you an address now.” He replied and hung up.
Aaima spoke up for the first time. “Don’t take the bait.”
Yemi turned to her. “What is it?”
“I know that voice.” She replied.
Yemi’s phone buzzed. “There’s an address, Fola. Not too far from here.” She replied.
Fola blinked. “Give me directions.”
Aaima was sure she had heard the voice before and it was not good news. She got the déjà vu feeling that it was all coming right back at her.
Moments later, Fola pulled up and turned to Yemi with a frown. “Is this the place?”
“I know this place.” He said.
Aaima exhaled. “I told you not to come here.”
Fola pushed the car’s auto lock as he looked around him. Familiar terrain. This was the exact spot he hit Aaima. He stared at Aaima. She was in tears.
There was a knock on the window.
Fola turned to see Yusuf. He stared at him and rolled the glass down. “You?”
“Get out of the car.” Yusuf said, pointing a gun at them.