Atinuke looks at the barely breathing form stretched out on the bed with a significant drop in the size of his belly and general body fat.
‘Be careful what you wish for’ she thinks, allowing herself a brief smile.
Shutting the door carefully behind her she leaves the hotel. She signalled a taxi and sprawled on the back seat, grateful to be away from the judgement filled eyes of the hotel attendant.
“take me to VGC oga” she says in reply to the weary driver’s question about her destination. They haggle over payment until an exasperated Atinuke snaps at the man.
“no problem just drive! dey go!”
She opens up her phone and hurriedly tries to reach Jide. After many rings go unanswered she makes to drop her phone in frustration when she hears a Click.
“Hello” a smooth voice filtered over the line.
“Hello? hello ?”
Halfway lost in thought she scrambles and puts the phone to her ear
“Jide, it’s me. I have the supply and i need to see you.”
“Don’t worry I already know why” came the smooth reply. “it’s being taken care off as we speak.”
” it’s personal this time Jide, I want to be there. Your measures may not satisfy me.”
“Ati baby” the words drip like hot chocolate from his tongue
“I’m disappointed you would think that but I understand, meet me tomorrow. Our usual spot. I’ll have a view for you”
“When the regular people retire and our people think of coming out to play”
He ends the call and she stares at the blank screen for a few seconds, mildly disoriented.
‘Do I really want to do this? Will this make me feel better?’ These words play over and over in her mind.
“They need to know I’m not the kind of person to be fucked with.”
“Aunty, we don reach. I no fit enter inside the road no good”
Eyeing the squat, dirty man with open disgust she pays and steps out of the cab.
On getting to her hotel room Atinuke looks around her safe haven and flops face down on the wide bed, longing for the next day as she drifts off into sleep.
Outside, Tunji could see Kunle’s Keke Marwa but it had been parked further up the street, partly obscured by cars parked in front of the Assemblies of God Church. He wondered briefly why it hadn’t been parked by the gate. Perhaps the guy was in a hurry and needed to get out of the street as quickly as possible. He joined the others and they got into a three-wheeler hired by Ahmed and set off.
The Alfa’s shrine they came to was installed at the rear end of Oko village. A dirt road that veered off the Lekki express led into the village. It was a small settlement, sitting by a dirty tributary of lagoon water to the Atlantic.
On the other side of the water stretched slum buildings as far as the eye could see. Ahmed directed their driver along a dirt road that ran parallel to the filthy shore, separated only by the wooden shacks of market sellers, until it stopped abruptly in front of a small gate, flanked by a low stone fence.
Here they got out, passed through the open gate and into the compound. The Alfa, a short, yellow man with a soft, beardless face, appeared just then from a small shed constructed beside his decrepit bungalow. Ahmed started towards him.
“ah, Ahmed. You have come. Se wa pa?”
“Alfa!” Ahmed saluted. “mo wa..” He answered.
“these are your friends?”
“yes. Yes.” Ahmed gave way for the others to greet and shake the Alfa.
“Let’s go inside.” the short man turned in his flowing, brown jilbab/jalabiya and led them into the house.
A sharp perfumed smell filled the air inside the house, mixed with the smell of other pungent mixtures and concoctions lined up in the corridor. They entered an adjoining room and the Alfa disappeared behind a blue curtain. He soon returned with a small, rusted tin in his hands and sat on the floor, in front of the four young men. Facing Tunji, then Ahmed, he asked in thickly accented English, “you people have a problem?.. And you have come to me to help you solve it.” He paused, while they nodded their heads.
Nodding solemnly, the Alfa continued.
“I’ve been told the nature of the problem. And so I’ve already gotten what you people need.” He opened the tin container and peered inside. “Who shot the girl?” He asked suddenly. Duru made a hesitant admission.
“Hm. Okay. Okay..” His fingers dipped into the container set on a raffia mat between his outstretched legs. Out came a brownish substance, powder- the now curious men realised a little later. The Alfa picked a minute steel pot steaming from a stove in one corner of the room, turned some of its content into a larger pot and then dispersed the powder clenched in his fingers into what was left of the hot liquid in the pot. His audience of four watched in curious silence while he stirred the mixture with a carved piece of wood until it thickened into paste. Then he transferred the stuff into a very small rubber container. Giving this to Duru, he said to them, “understand me. HE is the one that carried out the last operation. He’s the one who killed her last.
What’s your name?” He turned to Duru. A brief hesitation.
“Duru is my name, baba.”
“okay, Duru. You last killed the girl. So take this. You apply it to the bullets you use to shoot at her. Do you understand? I’ll advice you strike latest, tomorrow. This is a serious case. Whatever keeps that girl alive is giving her the encouragement to come after you guys.”
All four of them looked at each other in bewilderment. “come after us?” They asked in unison.
The Alfa curiously observed their surprise. “oh, what did you think? Ahmed you must know. There is powerful juju at work here. Everyone connected to her deaths will be hunted down. Make no mistake, Atinuke, or what is her name?, is capable of killing you all now. She’s even looking for her killers as we speak.” As the Alfa finished his ominous warning, he spared a glance at Duru.
“Yes. She is on the prowl. But with what I have given to you, have no fear. This is how you’ll use it, Duru; this mixture is known as Oja. Oja does not touch human skin and suffer its owner to live after one day. You understand me? After applying it to your weapon and keeping it away, please wash your hands. If it touches your cloth, put it aside and wash it. Or throw it away. If not it will smell of a corpse. Do you hear me?” Duru nodded, “yes baba.”
“good, that is all. Your Chief called earlier and said he will see me.” The Alfa was smiling, exposing stained teeth. “I’m sure Ahmed is aware of the arrangement.”.
“Be e ni.” the charcoal skinned fellow affirmed. They thanked the Alfa and left. Outside, Dabs checked his watch and announced:
“time is twelve past three guys, we still dey reach Adeogun side for Elegushi estate?” A friend and member of their clan, Adeogun’s place had been agreed upon on as the rendez-vouz point before their mission recommenced.
“of course.” Came Tunji’s reply. Then as an afterthought he added, “in fact, call him so he knows we’re coming now.”
Two hours later and with the sun bathing the sitting-room of Adeogun’s Elegushi residence in gold, Tunji announced it was time for Duru to go and finish the business on the mainland. Being a top ranking clan member, Adeogun was abreast with the sequence of events so far. He was a host of pedigree. First his cook had brought the guests plates of steaming porridge riddled with peppered fish. Then he next procured a chilled bottle of Jack Daniels from the large refrigerator positioned by a dining hall across the living room. Such that, Dabs happily remarked, “if this was my last supper I wouldn’t mind if I ended up in hell.” Only Ahmed and Duru did not laugh as they tapped away furiously at game pads.
They stood up to leave when the bottle of JD was more than halfway gone and their host insisted the remaining whiskey was for his oesophagus alone. When they stepped out onto the open street Adeogun pulled Duru aside and spoke a few words to him. “guy, you be OG. But you gats make sure say this asawo go die finally. Oti iya oloriburuku. Ko ò ye? Dem no born am well. I believe you say you go finally end am.” Duru nodded affirmatively.
He couldn’t reply because Tunji was now asking Adeogun if they could quickly get to the junction from the street.
“yes na.” Adeogun answered in his booming voice. “see keke for there. Enter that one e go carry you guys reach junction.” then he turned to a woman sitting within an open stall beside his gate, covered in black awnings. “e ma, abeg give me sweet…”
“Ade, later things,” Tunji called out.
“okay now!” Ade called back, tossing a tom-tom past the beard around his mouth. They crossed the street and crowded into a keke marwa which coughed into life and chortled up the street.
The day’s heat slowly fades away as the ocean winds keep blowing stronger towards the land on this side of the Atlantic.
Well dressed and with a generous application of make-up on her face, Atinuke climbs up the steps of the recreation center overlooking the road and beach.
She looks around for Jide, he’s not at the usual bench yet.
Without missing a step, she walks towards their regular bench and sits down.
Feigning interest in her phone but her heart is really in her mouth. Decisions made must be taken seriously and carried out is the only thought echoing in her head.
A dark-skinned man sits quietly beside her. She could identify Jide’s cologne anywhere. She turns on him quickly.
“I’ve been waiting for y….”
” I saw you climb the stairs, I’ve been waiting for You”
“So what happens next? What are we doing here ?”
“The drugs, where are they ?”
“With me. What of my previous question?” she presses further.
” I heard biggie is in the hospital.”
“Oh, too bad.”
“Yes, too bad.”
She tries to show as little emotion as possible but the look on Jide’s face says he knows. He knows everything. It’s Jide.
“He asked for it, don’t be mad”
“Don’t go around killing all our suppliers” he rebuked her. So she changes the direction of their conversation.
“Yes about your little problem, I’ve gotten the police involved. They will be Arresting them around here in a few minutes”
Only Jide would consider a murder a little problem. She liked him because he asked no questions and spoke even less but seemed to always know what was happening.
“Just police ? Why didn’t you take care of it ? ”
“Nothing. I don’t need that kind of heat. You were on the news”
“I figured you’d do something like this. I need the one that shot at me. I have promises to fulfill”
“They will be passing this route in a few minutes. Knock yourself out.”
The Keke vehicle Duru and his cohorts boarded slowed to a crawl in the middle of the choked street. The setting sun partially hid behind thick floating clouds, bathing this side of the world in a garish orange hue.
The traffic kept crawling till it virtually came to a stand still. Ahmed, in front, faced the Atlantic and watched the beach idly. So it came as a surprise to him when he saw four men who had been sitting lazily in the field opposite, spring up and begin to approach the street. Their gait didn’t match that of casual beach goers out for an evening of relaxation. Rather, there was a military precision to their movements; one that couldn’t be disguised by simply being garbed in plain clothes. These were officers of the law. It wouldn’t do to show any signs of alarm just yet. Over on the left side of the road was the large mall with the high grand steps and neon advertising boards hanging above, where lovers were positioned casually on stone benches on various vantage points.
It was in this field of vision that Dabs, who had been casually gazing at the surroundings, spotted a familiar looking face. He gasped in shock and terror. But his companions were looking on the other side, at another familiar face.
“no be Kunle be that?” Ahmed asked from the front where he perched with the Keke driver.
“he’s the one.” Tunji answered, brows furrowed in a futile attempt at comprehension. “he told me this morning he was going to Maryland. What’s he doing on the island then?” He asked no one in particular. They all saw Aburo Kunle glance in their direction and quickly look away. Dabs meanwhile frantically forced their attention to what he had seen.
“she..she’s there! Sitting beside that bastard man” He pointed upwards at the stone steps
“Who?!” Duru barked in apprehension. “Dabs, who?!”
“guys some men are coming here from the other side.” Ahmed announced. The plain-dressed men had spoken to Aburo Kunle and were now approaching them. Ahmed was the first out of the tri-cycle vehicle, darting straight through the static cars and meandering commercial buses towards the beach. The three men yelled orders and pursued the fleeing Ahmed who had been speedily joined by Tunji. Dabs, the last person left within -after the driver had dashed off too-, made to spring out of the vehicle but a figure blocked his way.
He looked up and into a face with white eyes that had mascara on them but no pupils. A face with a tiny hole sitting in the middle. He was transfixed but managed a gasp as a feminine hand slipped into his open mouth, filling his throat with earth, choking him. Duru slow to think and quick to act, picked the potent gun weapon and ran up the steps, his movements wild and desperate but his goal in sight.
Astonished spectators had watched the young man in the keke vibrate and choke in anguish, head thrown back, but no one could see his assailant. A final spasm and the body fell to the seat, limp.
Duru found his elusive quarry, but gasping for air. He cocked the gun and fired at Atinuke. The bullet knocked her out of her seat but Duru kept on squeezing the trigger like one possessed.
Jide had since fled the scene immediately he spotted the undercover policemen. This was when people rushed to the scene but they were late. The body had dried up and begun to disintegrate. Leaving nothing that looked like Dabs on the rear seat.
This is the end of the freaky Friday series by Temisan and Tony
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