A FOOL'S PARADISE.
Money In Its Own Right Is An Open Door To a World Of Satisfaction, In Its Own Wrong It Is a Closed Trap To A World Of Hunger
DAMILOLA BENSON was his name. But he was better known as D'Boi. If you were in Lagos for a while you would have heard that name somewhere, somehow. Damilola was a 21 year old multi millionaire. Perhaps he was a billionaire. His name was registered on the lips of many because of the way he spent his money.
His money was a menace to those who had it but didn't know how to spend it. It was a terror to those who wanted money but didn't know how to get it. It was an irritation to the older ones who had toiled many years to get up there and see this young man rise up here with no regard for who they were or what it had taken them to be here.
Damilola aka D'Boi was here to spend money just the way no other would spend it. He was much talked about. What was the source of his wealth? Some said he was a yahoo boy. Some believed he was a ritualist. Others could swear he was a remarkable business man who knew his onions and potatoes.
To a deep observer the source of his wealth may not have been genuine. This was no way to spend money if it was toiled for. He had no history, no wealthy parents nor a profound education. Where the hell did he come from with all that money?
He wasn't the everyday guy you encountered. In fact, he was a difficult person to meet with. He breezed into popular hangout spots once in a while. And when he did you wished you had always known him. In one night he had ordered over 3, 000 bottles of Moet in a downtown club in Ikeja. And he could do it all over again the following week. Statistics claimed that Nigeria was the highest importer of champagne. It was because of people like Damilola Benson you had incredulous figures to point to that fact. Other yahoo boys honoured him, politicians dined with him, celebs would do anything to be at one of his parties and the average gal just wanted a night with him. Since he was a 'shadow' and he came out only when the rain of money would pour, people created rumours and weaved stories around his person. You would never hear the total truth about Damilola Benson. But I will tell you what I know and whether you have heard this before or something different then we should know we have both been fooled.
The thing was that no one really knew where D'Boi resided, not even the women who swore they had slept on his bed and that his house was a five story mansion. The best you could get was a night with him at one of the city's five star hotels. He never stayed in a particular residence for more than two months. He was always on the move. He was so fluid, so sublime and elusive. Journalist wanted full stories about him, inspectors would do anything to have him in their nest to be interrogated, and the so called EFCC (Economic and Financial Crime Commission) always reported he was at large. The truth was that many media persons and law enforcers were on his payroll.
Damilola's life didn't start from the plush and sumptuous lifestyle of upper class Lagos, but from the slummy streets of Ajegunle where he had been an apprentice at his uncle's tailor shop. His uncle had brought him from Ikire, Osun state, when his parents died and decided to raise him.
Life was horrible for Damilola at his uncle's place. His uncle's wife didn't make the situation better for him. She made it a nightmare, a hell on earth. Every day he regretted why he had not been taking along with his parents. The days were long and the nights were longer. He wished for a day he would get out of this hazy picture of life.
Rasheed Adegbite, his uncle and his wife scolded him, thrashed and abused him. Nothing he ever did seemed right to them. And their kids, spoiled brats who were glad to have a relative around they could toy with. It was pain all the way.
Life became more unbearable and at age sixteen he decided to flee. He ran away from his uncle's as far as his legs and money could carry him. He fled to the outskirts of Lagos, beyond Alagbole. He reached a house. The owner he did not know. But he knocked. It was a tired knock. He was so famished and so exhausted he fainted before the door.
He was later picked up by the owner of the house, who took him in. This man happened to be Pa Aruwe Fehintimi, the Oluowo of Ifo land.
It takes a lot to become the Oluowo of a vast place as Ifo land. You had to be firm and a strong traditionalist who knew how to practice his arts. Your proficiency in divination and black magic must be unequalled amongst your contemporary within the geographical location you lived. Your roster of clients must include persons of note in the society. This doesn't mean that your position won't be threatened. You must be vigilant to remain at the top. Because in this profession there were adversaries.
Aruwe's climb had been swift and sudden. He wasn't a pa because of his age. A pa he had come to be in terms of conquest. Five years ago, he may just have been unknown or unnoticed amongst his colleagues. But he'd shuttle through with ferocity. His career took a twist as he increased his clientele and gained fame near and far. His clients would boast and refer him as a skilful traditionalist. His prophecies were accurate. He proffered soft solutions to your severe problems. Nothing brought more clients than the quality service he rendered. His formula worked. If Aruwe didn't have the solution to your problem perhaps no other witchdoctor would.
Pa Aruwe took him in. He gave him a new life. He suggested to Damilola the shortest route to wealth. Incredible wealth. Damilola didn't have anything to lose. His family was gone. His energy to discover had waned. If there was a short route to wealth, why shouldn't he take it? Even if danger loomed on its sidewalks, he would take such a route less plied by many.
There were rituals he had to observe. Rituals in dark magic. Rituals that took days and nights of consulting with certain spirits. And then there was the universal rule, three observations he must do and he mustn't do.
These commandments or laws were vital: he must always spend money lavishly and never have a hold on to it, for the more he spends the more he shall come to have; he must have intercourse with as many women as possible and never shall he sleep with the same woman twice; he must claim what comes with this wealth and never must he ever disclose his source of wealth. The consequence of breaking any of these laws meant his money falling short and the earth consuming him. Damilola wouldn't have imagined this to be deeply rooted laws. Its observance meant a lot to the spirits. For wealth, Damilola would have done more. He was desperate.
To those who attached themselves to the deep things of this planet, Damilola had trod the wrong paths. Because he was going to get lost on this journey.
He performed the rituals. He took the blood baths. He walked through the night and performed sacrifices. He took oaths and committed himself to the strange hands of the gods. Incantations were poured, the request was made and the wealth was given. But like we know or you should know, the witchdoctor never tells you everything. Because he knows every outcome, every possibility in the deal you have made with the gods. Life was a complex terrain. And even mere mortals wouldn't discern. What's the use of the gods if we knew it all?
Yahoo boys; these were persons who partook in cyber crimes. He didn't do all that, the money transfers, the impersonation of false characters, hacking, the swiping of credit cards and e-transactions with false information. Cyber crime was a billion dollar industry which had made a lot of person wealthy overnight. But Damilola never made his money that way.
He possessed an account with a first rate bank. Every month he would receive a call telling him so money has been transferred to his account. The numbers could be overwhelming. It even gets more extraordinary if he is quick at spending it. It works like this. If he receives four hundred and fifty million naira this month, he should spend it all before he receives the next call from God-knows-whom. The more he spends the more he gets. The quicker he spends it all the better.
It all went right for about six years.
The Chrysler came to a halt in front of Aruwe's house. The two men in front got down and lifted the passenger behind. Damilola was a mess. They carried him into the building of the witchdoctor. It was the last hope for him. Damilola had requested to be brought here.
The two young men were his last friends of immense value. They had done a lot. They had stuck with him through his darkness. It was difficult to know if they would do more. Everyone had deserted him. No one wanted to be associated with this sick man.
The body was dumped at the waiting room. The men never even said a goodbye before they turned around to take their leave. Abandoned there alone, Damilola moaned in pain. He would have groaned louder but the light left in him was dim.
Aruwe came out to see Damilola, a young man now seemingly old. His face was pale and his skin had lost colour. His lips were dry and cracked as a wilderness and his body had lost size. He was a living corpse waiting to be cremated.
He observed him for a while and shook his head in pity. This was the fury of the gods. He now wished he hadn't shown him this way. He wished the boy had been more of a man all the while and never made flimsy mistakes. The gods would have remained silent and kept their end of the bargain. Their vengeful wrath wouldn't have consumed him this way.
Aruwe was a man of great strength. He had seen many things during his days. This was a story turned bad. This was another story turned sour. He walked to the window side to stare at the night from his humble room. The end seemed near. But for every end there was a beginning and the horror that consumed now started four months ago…
The night club PAGE on the last Friday of the month was a place to be. You had award winning deejay Ice Creame and deejay Sunshine on the music wheels blasting anything that would only make you dance. On this night the movers and the shakers of Lagos elite were in the VIP ordering everything from Hennessey to Bacardi. You had the hottest ladies in town from University of Lagos to Lekki phase 2. The kind of ladies that could make you bleed your cash earnings in one night. They were all present. Including the wannabes that wanted to identify themselves with this event and its participants. If you weren't there on this day, trust me you were nowhere.
Kinshasha was here, renowned divisional police officer. He was here too on this night. Perhaps he was here to catch fun or to catch someone. He was sipping his Johnnie Walker Red Label and waiting.
Her name was Jadesola King but people called her Jade. She was the hottest thing on any dance floor. The finest shake with the finest body. What you would do to have a moment of pleasure with her. Her sensational appearance stunned many. Tonight wasn't an exception. She was a light skinned gal from the eastern part of Nigeria but claimed a Yoruba name because her mum was Yoruba. She spoke Ibo and Yoruba fluently and was sure to light up any conversation. She was eclectic, well travelled and intelligent. Nobody could ascertain how she had emerged into the scene or how she made so much money and became so wealthy. But one thing for sure, she made money the way it should really be made - easily. She had captured many and had her connections with the bigwigs in the society; politicians, business executives, employees of oil and construction companies were amongst a few on her row call of acquaintances.
She was on the dance floor with those sensuous moves. Two dudes were at her side dancing with her. She was having her fun.
"Damilola Benson is here," the bartender came close enough to whisper into the ear of Kinshasha. The DPO accepted the Intel with a nod and gave the bartender a good tip.
Kinshasha was what he was popularly known as. His real name was Kehinde Fashina. He had always been a rugged cop since he started as police corporal in Ajegunle. It was the slums that pushed him into accepting the ills of the trade and fighting crime the way a tout fights for survival. He knew the way it was and should be done. That was the way of a crooked cop on the streets of Lagos. Now he was the Divisional Police Officer of one of the most perilous crime zones in Lagos, Ikeja. He was the commander of the Area F police command, a place which housed some of the most hostile criminals you found in Lagos state. Criminals who found their cells cosier than their squalid houses. And for two years he had been able to manage the place successfully. With terror and reverence he had gotten his name registered as awe to every criminal within the district.
He wasn't here tonight for pleasure neither was he here on official duty. He was only here to confirm hearsay. When he was in Ajegunle a boy had been brought to his station because his uncle's wife claimed he was a thief. That boy she had tortured and dealt with. She brought him to the police station to be beaten by the cops. He had let the boy go because he felt the boy had had enough. Why try to punish him so more? He could still remember the boy's name. He had a good memory. It was Damilola Benson, an unschooled but characteristic boy.
And now he heard the boy had struck it big time. He wanted to confirm how true that was. He was not here to spite him or war him but to establish a common ground. This was his jurisdiction and he was hearing things, things that baffled him. How had the boy hit it this big within such short time?
An informant had told him he would be here tonight. It would be better to see him and decipher the truth in this puzzle. He swallowed another gulp of the alcohol before him.
Damilola Benson was in the building. He had slid in at the midnight hour. When his entry would be least noticed because of the party's crescendo. He walked out of the restroom and to the VIP. He signalled to the bartender. "The bills of your every customer tonight are on me." He withdrew a bundle of hundreds and tipped him. "Who is that lady?" He pointed to Jade.
"Her name is Jadesola King."
"I want to meet her."
The bartender nodded and walked away. Ten minutes later the emcee was speaking into the microphone, "Shout out to my chairman, Lagos biggest boy to the fullest, my homie, Damilola Benson. The bills are on him tonight. Get it to the fullest and drink on him to your stupor."
That got a loud cheer from the crowd at the club.
Three other friends joined him on his table at the VIP. A bottle of Dom Perignon was delivered to his table.
Jade excused herself from the dance floor to the bar. She sat and got a shot of vodka, a note under the glass cup. She read the contents of the note and turned to the VIP to see the person who wanted her so desperately. She grinned to herself and turned away.
Minutes later a guy emerged to her side and took his seat, "you weren't going to come."
"Why should I?"
"Who knows where the heaven lies?"
"The great Damilola Benson, I never thought you could be so brainy and cocky."
"So many things come with money, and those two are not an exception, my dear."
"You have some nerves, buying the bar out."
He withdrew a wad of 1, 000 naira notes and dropped it in front of her, "that's three hundred thousand naira, you will get another three hundred thousand if you will ride with me tonight."
She scoffed. "That seems an offer I can't refuse."
"You sure can, the only thing is that many have gone away regretting."
"I am not many. I am worth more than you can imagine. Money has never been a question mark for me."
"Why don't you try adventure?"
"Don't beguile me."
He grinned and took a sip from his cup. "You dance well, God gave you moves. I heard your name is Jade, since you already know my name, I guess we have already met."
The sound of a gunshot cracked through the air, rippling the ecstasy into chaos. Some guys wanted more than fun at the club, it was their way of making a statement.
"We have got to get out of here," a guy came to whisper to Damilola.
Kinshasha hated this part. He rose. His hand was on his Glock, an automatic police special. How he would love to break down an overfed idiot.
The gunshot had caused its pandemonium. The clubbers were now running out of the main door. Kinshasha couldn't get a clear view but he'd see Damilola and a lady making their way out of the club. Whoever the shooter of the gun was, he had an agenda. He wasn't after the secondary. He was here for Damilola, not some disturbed rich thug.
He followed Damilola out of the club. Just when the young man entered the driver's seat of his S-class Mercedes Benz, he caught up with him and said, "Damilola how are you doing. I am Kehinde Fashina, DPO of Area F police command."
That caught him by surprise. He looked at the huge man in a crisp black suit. So many people knew him these days. He couldn't contend with the call ups.
He gave a smirk. This was the kind of scenario that had always suited Kinshasha. He eyed the lady sitting next to him in the luxurious car. She was a pretty catch. "We have got to talk sometime. Here's my card," he handed him a complimentary card. "Try to pay me a visit soon."
"What's that suppose to mean?" she questioned after the police officer had departed.
"I really don't know," he replied as he turned on the ignition of the car. He pulled away from the parking lot and drove off towards the island.
They were staring at the ocean from the beach side. "I always wanted to have such peace." It was four a.m. in the morning.
"What peace?" he asked her.
"The peace of the ocean. Not to be at war with anyone or fighting for survival."
She saw the expression on his face. "Stop kidding me."
"I am not kidding you. We all want peace, but will the world give us? When my parents died I thought the world had thrown its curse on me. I felt it was over."
"Is it over?"
Damilola grinned. "No it just started. And with you it gets better."
"Why do we hear so much stuff about you?"
"I don't know. That you are money driven. I thought you had no soul."
"There are always rumours. Can we do without them?"
"I want to go home."
She rose. He joined her and they both walked away.
That morning he drove her to her house in Victoria Garden City. That night had started a splendid friendship between the two of them, a friendship that blew into a romantic affair. Three months later she would play a central role in his twenty-first birthday party.
Aruwe had been forced to attend. He wouldn't have loved to be here. But D"Boi was someone special to him. He came because he had to be faithful. This wasn't his thing. Nothing here amused him, not even the name of the bar D'Boi had locked down for his birthday party. Shell Bar, that's what they called it. It even had a sky view. He had seen some of the other guests on TV, like your favourite celebrities, D'banj, Ice Prince, Emeka Ike. Some others he knew personally. There was satisfaction in the food, but they were too sophisticated for him. Sea foods like shrimp, gizzard, and octopus decorated the plates of guests. He would have preferred something more serene. He wasn't a man of the city. He preferred been closer to nature, not something this exotic.
He managed to have a cold beer in his hand as he watched a music band play. He concealed himself at a distant corner at the end of the hall. But D'Boi noticed him and ran over. He greeted and said, "thank you for coming pa."
The man nodded, "You are living up to your name. I am impressed."
"I am doing what you asked of me."
"Good." The man noticed the luscious lady welcoming other guests just arriving. "Who is she?"
"Someone special. She may just be my wife." He took another sip from his cup of wine.
Aruwe's eyes brightened just as he heard that. Then he said, "Can I meet her, please?"
"Of course." He went to bring her. She was stunningly beautiful tonight. She was wearing a red Chanel evening gown on red Gucci shoes. She had smiles and charm all over. "This is Jadesola King, angel of my dreams and desire of my heart. Jade this is Pa Aruwe."
She shook his hands, "It's good to meet you Pa Aruwe."
"You are beautiful enough to steal any man's heart."
"Oooh that's a compliment I will forever blush at."
Someone signalled to the celebrant to come over, his presence was needed urgently. "You will have to excuse me, I have one to quickly attend to," he hurriedly left to answer the call.
There was silence for a moment between the two before pa said, "Jadesola is that the name you gave him."
"It's a pity." The man shook his head sorrowfully. "I feel bad for him."
"I am afraid that's all you can feel for him."
"I know who you really are," he said, "I know who you really really are," he reiterated, for emphasis. "I didn't expect you to come after him."
"My job here is almost done. We both know where your powers are from. We come from the same source. You can't stop this, there'll be severe repercussions if you try to," her voice was stern and contained lots of venom.
"No I won't try to stop this. It is not my job to. It is only my hope his manly intuition helps him out and saves him from the scourge you are about to bring upon him. I can't stop it neither can I warn him."
"Then you can pray. Perhaps his instincts can help him survive, but I have accomplished too many missions to think he would come out of this one alive." She said and walked away.
The man gave out a sigh. He had to leave. He had seen many metaphysical wars and survived many. But he knew this enemy would be too strong for him, more or less a blinded Damilola Benson. If he knew who she was perhaps he would have fled from his worst nightmare. A nightmare he would never wake up from. He couldn't only pray.
He never bade the celebrant a goodbye. Why should he? There was darkness lurking everywhere around him. And he felt weak he couldn't stop it.
It may have been his birthday but that night failed him. He came back not to find Aruwe. The traditionalist never acted like this, departing without saying a goodbye.
That night was the first time he made love to her. It was cosy love in a five star hotel. It all came with the usual, exhilarating romance and caressing of bodies. It was a yearning satisfied and fun filled to the end. It was the way he had imagined and anticipated it would be. He only was to love her better after this collision of hearts and flesh.
He woke up in the morning to find emptiness at his side, the woman was gone. He got into a robe and called room service inquiring for his woman. Why would she leave just like that?
Jade was gone. She had left before dawn without looking back. That night would be the last time he would see her or anything that belonged to her. She had left like an angry wind migrating to a distant land.
As a relationship had ended so a storm had begun, striking with so much venom and tearing through with so much terror. It was then his health deteriorated and worsened. He was admitted into several hospitals with no diagnosis of any disease detected. There were tests and scans but the puzzle continued. It was a fearsome pain. How would a doctor treat what was unknown?
The phone call never came anymore. His account wasn't deposited into. Poverty slowly consumed and enveloped, with so much hospital bills to pay and amounting as his wealth depleted. He needed answers. But those who would have provided such answers seemed to have deserted him.
On his sick bed he understood the meaning of true friendship, fewer people came visiting day after day. They seemed to have better things to do. Not even consolatory calls came through. He was alone.
Kinshasha heard about Damilola's terrible ailment from one of his many loyal sources of loudmouthed rumourmongers. It was rumoured that the renowned Damilola Benson was a living corpse. Slowly he was being swallowed by the man called death. It was better to be taken away in a quick moment than this way. Kinshasha knew what that meant. He had to go and see him. Not only to confirm the attestations but also to offer his condolences.
He remembered two months ago when D'Boi had come visiting his office at the Area F police command. It was an unexpected visit, one he would never have foretold or imagined. He was putting a white polo T-shirt on denim and a pair of sneakers.
The police officer looked up from his massive desk, "I never expected to see you."
"No one ever expects to see me." He came closer, "I was passing and decided to stop by."
"You got a good office for a police officer," he observed.
"You should come around more often to see how I get clustered with these things. They make my office look too little for me."
He smiled and took his seat. "I remember you, you let me go once."
"I don't think I will let you go a second time." They both laughed.
"How are the family and all that comes with it?"
"My wife says I should quit the job and find something else to do, something that will give her less anxiety."
"I think she's right."
"She can't be."
"You think so."
"This is my life."
"I hope you rethink her position. Perhaps next time I will come and see the family." He rose, withdrew a cheque and dropped it on the desk with a car key.
How do you feel towards someone who wrote you a fifteen million naira cheque and gave you a Toyota four runner jeep? He had retired from the police force shortly after that. He had attained enough in the police force to take the long break. Besides he was tired of the violent scene he was forced to fight against. And there was family to consider. He needed some peace.
He had not seen Damilola since then. It was the fifth floor of the St Nicholas Hospital. He was there lying and breathing slowly. He noticed the young man had lost energy and soul. What was left was a man struggling to catch a breath.
He held his hand. After a while he opened his eyes. He took him a while to recognize the former DPO. He tried to say something, but the words wouldn't come.
"I am sorry," Kinshasha admitted. It was a painful sight to see. The drips being passed on to the scrawny body was like a last waterfall giving a dry land hope of fertility. But it seemed a waste.
He took his seat at the young man's bedside. Damilola coughed, once twice then heavily, he wanted to say something.
"You need rest," Kehinde admonished.
"No," he finally managed to speak faintly. "I… I need your help."
His voice almost seemed voiceless. He had to come close with his ears for him to hear anything he would say. "Please… find her and ask her why."
"She the… woman… Jade…King. Please find her?" He was giving everything to saying these words. The words mattered to him. "Please find her," he finished like a pregnant woman that had just survived labour pains.
He gripped those weak hands to give an assurance, "I will find her."
Three days later his last two friends had come to take him to the home of the traditionalist. It was Damilola's wish to be taken there. If there was anywhere he wanted to pass away and give all hope, it shouldn't be in a sophisticated hospital. He wanted some peace, he wanted some answers. And to see Aruwe one more time. To know why he had turned his back on him like this without telling him what was the cause of this tragedy.
Now as Aruwe stared into the darkness of the night, he may just have regretted bringing the young man into these, it had become complicated. Yes, he had answers, answers he couldn't utter because the gods would only make it more trivial.
Aruwe had so many clients near and far, from senators to ministers, from actors to corporate executives, from fraudsters to underground criminal kingpins… his list was endless. Moreover he knew there was always a sad end to his every success story just as there will be a sad end to his life. It was a compromise he certainly will have to deliver at the right time.
There was nothing that could be done, not even a veteran herbalist could help Damilola out. The gods wanted what they had given returned, plus an extra goodie in a bag. He was theirs now. Before dawn struck, the final whistle would have been blown.
Kinshasha took another drag from his cigarette. It had been four days he had taken a decent sleep. His watchful eyes like those of an eagle, he wanted to see this one to the end personally. He was in the driver's seat of the Toyota Land Cruiser, listening to the late night debate of two radio hosts who were so uninformed on the topic they argued on. So much for Nigerian radio, instead of entertaining you they kept you amused. He was outside the building that housed the Lagos City Mall.
For five days he had gone after her with the passionate venom of an injured cobra. He had lunged at everything that will lead him to her, his ex-contacts, his colleagues, criminals who still owed him one or two favours. He had asked, he had searched, he had bribed. He had used everything that had made him a successful police officer for more than twenty years. And then he had gone hunting, digging out every hole she may still be hiding in.
She was allegedly dating a married executive in an oil firm now. How quickly she had forgotten Damilola and moved on. She was here tonight perhaps to see a movie with one of her girlfriends. But the good thing was that he was waiting. He checked his wristwatch. It was ten twenty-five p.m. She had been in there for about four hours. Experience in the game told him she would soon be out.
He finished his cigarette and lit another. This was what kept him busy during those long hours of wait when he was a cop, when he had to wait severely as he chased down a criminal. This was a tonic for fighting the restless blood rush.
He sighted them, Jade or whatever her real name was. She and her two friends came out of the cinema, giggling and teasing with pop corns in their hands. They walked into Kentucky Fried Chicken, the newly established fast food restaurant. He hissed and felt the nakedness of the butt of the gun around his waist. It was a Magnum Smith & Wessons semi automatic pistol. This wasn't licensed or registered. This one he used on dirty and out of line assignments. He rarely used it. But when he did it meant blood.
He had punctured the tires of their Ford four runner jeep hours ago. They would be stuck when they found out. It all served his purpose of getting the woman. How he would love to see that.
The ladies came out still giggling as if that was what the world meant to them. They walked to the car. They stopped dead as they noticed the flat tires, all four tires were down. They were screaming and cursing now, tempers and anxiety flaring up.
She knew something was wrong as she noticed the flat tires. Her sixth sense told her. But what was behind this action?
It was time to move in. He got down from his car. They were just ten yards away. He withdrew the gun and approached them. He pointed the gun at the ladies without hesitation.
They were trembling now. Panic was in the air.
"You scream and you get one in the head." The size of the gun was enough to emphasize that threat. "I have no time to waste. It's you I want." He beckoned to Jade, "walk with me."
The others were about to cry, they trembled as she walked to meet him. This wasn't how they had anticipated the night would end.
"You make one sound and I do a triple on you gals." He warned as he took the lady away. They said nothing. If they weren't caught up in such fright and a gun threat they may just have whimpered. But they didn't.
He took her to the Toyota and dropped her in the passenger's seat, then took his position in the driver's chair and drove off. Their destination - Surulere, another high brow area of Lagos. The drive was a silent one, not a word was exchanged.
Jade must have known what this implied. She wasn't going to trigger a thing. She was never a scared sort. Why should she be considering where she was really from?
He parked the car in front of the shop in Kilo Alawode Street and ordered her out. The place was serene and at this hour had all the calmness only upper Lagos could possess. He dragged her into the shop. He had prepped up the place. It was a place he used in those days to interrogate and get information out of hard core criminals. It was a disguised place that could contain all the noise the violated would make. This place was another out of the square thing. How far he would always go to know the truth?
He didn't need to tie her to a chair. There was no way she was going to overpower him and get away. He told her to sit, after lighting the candle. There was no power in the room.
"Sorry if this is not the VIP treatment you expected, we can always improvise."
In his hand was the Magnum, a gun with a muzzle large enough to eject a bullet that could just tear in and out of any part of the human body.
"Who are you and what do you want?" she demanded.
"Just a gentleman with an ambition. To know who you really are and why you went after Damilola Benson."
"Damilola Benson," she scoffed.
He took his seat opposite her and lit another cigarette. He withdrew some picture and threw them at her. "Those were the pictures of the real Jadesola King. She was killed four years ago in a ghastly motor accident. I won't like to hurt you, but I will if I have to."
She looked into his eyes, they were steady and straight. She knew he meant every threat he proclaimed. He didn't look like many men who gave out loud noises. He looked direct, a type of man that would kill without flinching at what he had done.
"I do not have a real name."
He sniggered, "that's a good start. Then who are you."
She breathed heavily. "I am your worst night mare. Someone you wouldn't want to cross paths with."
"Well I have just crossed paths with you. What's gonna happen next?"
"I knew you were coming."
"Why didn't you do something about it?"
"Why should I?"
She said that with so much insouciance he believed this woman was well funded or perhaps well backed up by some very powerful men. Very few people could talk with so much confidence and callousness when they were in such spot. He said nothing. He relaxed, brought out another cigarette from the packet, offered a stick and lit up. They both said nothing for a while, except enjoy the burning taste of tobacco.
"I used to be a police officer who feared nothing during my days. My joy was to enact the law. And make a rubbish of it if I have to." He knew there was no way she would be pushed or forced to tell him the truth. Perhaps he had to apply a different method. One that would take a friendly coercion. "I did a good job, so many things happened and I absorbed them. At the end it was all worthless, in frustration I threw in the towel and gave it all up. I saw Damilola a dying man. The doctors wrote him off because they didn't just have an explanation to his ailment. But he'd know where it had gone wrong. He must have erred somewhere or someone he knew may have erred. His last desire was for me to find you. That was his last hope. He wanted to know the truth."
"There's no truth," she told him. "He was suffering the repercussion of a past mistake. I am from a world out of your wildest unreality and imagination. I do not exist here with you. But I have come here to exact a judgement. It is a pity he had to experience the full length of it all. Years ago when he had just grown into success, he and three other yahoo boys raped a teenage girl to her death. Her mother was mutilated and thrown from the third mainland bridge into the passing ocean. That teenager was one of us. In fact that teenager was me. I was here on a peaceful journey to meet someone and make him realize what true love is. But these ecstatic young men had stopped me and cut my life short.
"My people are very fair. We give just as much as we take. By doing so we exact a good game in a lawless and mischievous world. Humans are like pieces giving to us to play with. The almighty has given us this commission to exact a good balance in life's affairs. For now it is our job to make an equation between good and evil, pure and impure, truths and untruths, love and hate, peace and war. I had to return to return what awful thing they had done to me. In another body I had come, one more sensuous and captivating. Each year I hunted each of them. It took me four years, to take them all down. Damilola Benson was the last of the pack.
"They say to catch a very good fish you have to throw in good bait. I did that, I didn't have to go to him. He came after me like a hailing storm. Whatever happened, you should know I only took care of business." She looked at him. They had both finished their cigarette. There was nothing left to say. For everything she had said he must have understood.
The night hour was bringing a whistling sound. It seemed it was going to rain. He peered outside, it was now obvious. A storm was coming. He rose.
Kinshasha finished downing his beer and folded his palms. He had finished telling the tale to the three young men before him.
"What happened to the woman?" One of them asked.
"You didn't kill her?" Another asked her.
"Why should I? We were characters on the same side, fighting for the same purpose."
"You mean you let her go," the third quipped in whimsically.
"You don't use a gun the way a beggar uses it, my dear kids."
"We expected more from you, dad."
"And what of all that Damilola Benson stood for?"
"Damilola's tale had come and gone. Like a whisper his passage would be less remembered. But he made things happen during his days. It was said he had so much money he begged how to spend it. He'd pay 1.5 million naira cash in rent for a house in Opebi once. Could you believe he never spent more than ten days in that house before he moved into another one? He changed cars as much as deejay changed songs in a party and stayed in the most exotic hotels."
"D'Boi was the man dad."
"You shouldn't kick against doing yahoo dad."
"You should have seen his end boys, no yahoo boy can come close to the luxury he enjoyed during the few years he possessed his wealth. I wouldn't support yahoo sons."
"Phew dad. Thanks for the story. We want to go and play ball." The teenagers rose and left with their ball as if all he had said had been a hindrance to the pleasure they stood to gain on the football field.
Kids of these days, many things they love to see than listen to. He lit another cigarette and leaned back to listen to the five o'clock news on his transistor radio, wondering where Jade may just be now.