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Ajike’s freshly made up face was smeared with sweat. The liquid had dripped from her face, forming brown paths all the way down staining her white Monday shirt. She took one more look at her car and kicked the fender. Her phone rang, and it was Lolu. She ignored the call, swearing under her breath. She looked at the time again, and it was obvious she will be late for one of the most important meetings in her fledgling career. It was 11.45am, and a Senior Partner in the firm was taking a meeting with an international client at Westtown Hotel in Ikeja at 12.30pm. Her phone rang again, and this time it was Stephen.
“Will you stop calling my line?” She screamed, clenching her fist.
Isiaka stood under the almond tree opposite the car park, watching Miss Missy. Her code name made him laugh, especially at that moment when she looked so clueless staring at the car. He had earned his first fee already. Demobilizing the car was not a difficult thing at all. He could have been jacking cars in Lagos, but for the prayer warrior that told his mom to pray ceaselessly that her son did not turn a robber.
He picked up his phone.
“Where are you? She is outside already. …Yes..her car cannot move. I will cross the road now!”
Everything was working as planned. He was to demobilize the car once she parked it in the morning. He had crawled under the Toyota Camry when no one was watching and unscrewed the ignition to the extent that it will not make contact when Miss Missy tried to switch on the engine.
The second man, who was by the corner , according to him, was to show up to finish the next phase. Isiaka looked around to be sure no one noticed his shifty eyes. He saw the helpless look on Ajike’s face, and felt pity for her. He considered the balance of fifty thousand naira he had to collect as soon as the assignment was concluded, and crossed the road immediately.
She carefully thought of options to save the impending dent on her career in Liman’s Accountants. Call Mr. Brown, to inform him she has an emergency. Bad story. In the corporate world, you must always have an emergency recovery plan, and Mr. Brown was the head of Business Continuity on the Board. Switch off my phone, and return to work two days after with a doctor’s report claiming she fell from exhaustion. That sounded plausible. She ran her finger through her hair and stamped her feet on the floor helplessly. Everything that could be wrong had gone wrong on that Monday morning. She felt a tap on her shoulder, and leaped.
“Madam, I have been calling you.”
Ajike’s heart thumped as she turned around to look at the face of the hoarse voice behind her. The man’s face was calm, although she had never seen him before.
“How may I help you?” Scared, Ajike glanced across the man’s shoulder to be sure she was not alone with him in the car park. There were two men she recognized from their Uniform. They were Engineers who worked for one of the companies on the street. The woman that sold pepper rice was also in her corner.
“I am a mobile mechanic. Is something wrong with your car?”
Ajike took a second look at the man. He had four tribal marks that stretched from his ears, and narrowed at his mouth.
“Just give me five minutes.” Isiaka hit the car. “This engine will come back to life.”
Any help to assist her with the car was welcome.
“Let me get my attendant quickly.” The man ran off before she could express herself.
It was already 12.00pm. She decided her best option was to send a text to Mr. Brown.
I have just been hit on the third Mainland Bridge .I cannot make the meeting. Need to get to a doctor ASAP.
She pushed the send button, and remembered her Pastor’s words when she got her job ten months back.
There are a lot of lies in the Corporate World. Employees tell lies to keep their jobs. Hold on to your integrity. Stand out! Be different.
She had lost faith in her integrity since she cheated on Stephen. And now, Lolu was a bastard. She cursed him underneath her breath because if not for him, she would have made it to the car park early enough to discover the fault with the car.
Franca sat pensively inside the Toyota Tundra staring at the monitor that had just been installed. She had spent close to half a million naira on her mission, and she was determined to spend more if the need arose. She watched Abami pacing up and down the compound controlling his boys on the other side.
In a moment of anger she dialed her husband.
“I sincerely hope you plan to come home tonight.” Her voice was stone cold.
There was no response.
“Answer me Lolu, because that girlfriend that keeps your arse outside is dead meat already.” She wanted to taunt her husband. He would never have an idea of the shocker that awaited him.
“Franca, Are you mad?” Lolu had been watching Ajike from the topmost floor.
“Any woman that lives with you should be mad.” She cut the line.
Lolu had a sudden premonition after the phone call. Franca’s last words flashed as an image on the window for a second, screening his vision of Ajike. He dialed his wife back.
“Franca, I hope you are not up to anything stupid.” He was worried, especially when she did not respond.
“You insult my smartness, sir. I may wear braids but my brain is full of intelligent ideas.” She laughed.
“Oh, you confuse me for your house girl or call girl because I sit here waiting on your arse all day and night?” Franca looked her face in the mirror.
“No, Lolu. That’s not me. I am smart, and I always give you my A-game. Just the way I give it to you in bed. Excuse me.” Franca cut the line. A tear dropped her eye, and she couldn’t explain why. She looked into the mirror and saw another woman; a woman beaten and broken on the inside by an incorrigibly unrepentant adulterer. She had put up with not a few embarrassments. He had slept with neighbours, church members, family friends. She saw different faces of all his women…Lara, the mad girl from University of Ibadan, Valentina was from Auchi, Jessica was there neigbour when He was studying for his Masters in London. The door opened and Abami came in.
“Keep the engine running, and put an eye on the monitor.” He saw the tears in her eyes, and stepped out of the car immediately.
Lolu ran down the staircase three stories, jumping three steps at a time. Something was going on, and he needed to get a grip of it fast. On landing, He ran out of the complex premises and was almost hit by a taxi driver, as He crossed the road.
Ajike watched and wondered if She would have had the car hit him or not. He deserved a hit anyhow. Lolu waved at the yellow taxi driver wondering if He was a part of what was about to happen.
“Look Ajike, forget about me for now..but I swear something is about to go wrong.” He hoped Ajike will jettison her emotions.
“Yes. The car is being fixed. Thank you.” She gave him a blank stare and crossed her legs on the bench she had been sitting, while watching Isiaka and the other man under her car.
“Babe, I am sorry but you need to listen to me.”
“Before anything, I need you to tell me the owner of that ring in your suit pocket.”
“I have told you. I am not married.” Lolu looked around.
“I will soon know the truth.”
Isiaka crawled out from under the car with his assistant.
“Madam the car is ready. You can start it now.” He rubbed sand off his palms.
The other man walked briskly out of the car park, shouting.
“Let me discard these parts.” Lolu watched curiously, and ran after him.
Ajike sat inside the car and switched on the ignition. The car roared to life immediately.
Lolu got to the main gate of the car park, and the man had disappeared.
Something is happening. I can smell it. Lolu had a keen sense of discernment. He knew when things were going out of hands. I need to stop these people. Who are these people?
The man peeped from behind the electricity pole a few meters ahead. He could see Lolu scanning the area like an owl. After a few seconds, he noticed him walking down towards him. A lot of money was at stake, and He had to make that phone call fast or run as fast as his legs could carry him. His phone beepe. It was Abami calling. He managed to pick the phone.
“Device streaming! Device Streaming!” He whispered and cut immediately.
Lolu had seen the man, hiding behind the pole. He kept a side-eye on the pole, and walked straight pretending He was walking straight. It was lunch time on the Island, and a bevy of Professionals had taken to the streets. This is not the best time for a chase.
The man leaped into the street, and took to his heels. He ran in between the cars approaching and disappeared into the adjoining street a few metres ahead. Lolu stopped in his tracks and stood arms akimbo watching disappear helplessly. He made a quick decision to go back to the car park. The other man will still be there.
Ajike drove out of the car park with speed when she saw Lolu rushing down. She wanted to avoid further discussion with him, and she planned to spend the rest of her evening at home alone.
“The red dot represents your car. The blue represents her car.” Franca looked at the monitor again and smiled.
“Like I said earlier, she is headed for the mainland.” Abami pointed at the map on the monitor.
Franca revved the 4.0 litre engine of the Tundra.
“Now is the time.” She pressed the clutch and brake.
“Goodluck.” My boys will be with you later to uninstall. He alighted from the car relieving it of his full eighty kilogrammes muscle mass.
She wound up the car and increased the volume of the cd player.
“Somebody’s got to die.” She sang along and dialed Lolu’s number.
“I am now ready for you. I hope you are ready for me.” She shouted into her phone watching the blue dot moving at a speed of Thirty Kilometres per hour through Ikoyi towards Carter bridge.
Lolu broke out in sweat.
“Franca, please.” The line went dead.
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