The phone starts ringing, just as someone is banging the door, and monalisa, the half-breed German shepherd is barking furiously. Funsho wakes up with a start. He had slept off while solving the Sudoku number game; he sleepily picks up the phone, wondering who’s calling; it’s his friend Mayowa. What are you doing still sleeping? its 3am bro. Funsho laughs groggily, and says to him, you are crazy man, the question is, what are you doing awake? Just as mayowa is making a smart comeback, someone kicks Funsho’s door open,He drops his phone in amazement, his face a picture of utter surprise, which soon became extreme fear, as a giant of a man, brandishing a massive machete, glistening with some red liquid-could it be blood? He was so astounded, he couldn’t say a word. He just looked foolishly at the man who was now walking towards him growling, asking for the money. Funsho’s mind raced, what money? No one knew where he had been, no one knew, or did they?? Was this blood dripping from the machete? am i going to die today?????
3days earlier ….
Funsho, Mayowa and their girlfriends went to Abeokuta for the weekend, they wanted time off the lagos hustle and bustle, besides; Funsho did not have a job yet, Mayowa did but he sometimes wished he didn’t..it was so stressful, and he was paid peanuts for his efforts. Tosin on the on the otherhand had a very nice job, she worked with chevron, a renowned multinational oil company, and her parents were rich. She however cared about Funsho deeply, and he was grateful, although his manly ego sometimes got the better of him, by and large, they got along very well ;Busayo was Mayowa’ girlfriend, they had broken up two, three times, and had only just recently reconciled. They had decided to go for a little excursion at the Olumo rock which was good for the exercise, bonding and relaxation and so the journey began. They went through the Lagos- sagamu route, and had a relatively smooth ride in Tosin’s, Toyota rav4 mini SUV, they went prepared with food, and drinks, as well as enough casual wears. They left Friday evening and arrived the historical city of Abeokuta..night life in the city was upbeat, but not as colourful as in Lagos, thankfully so..traffic wasn’t so much..they lodged in a hotel, Rockville hotel, what a cliché, thought Funsho, the hotel was fun, everyone was courteous, all the staff were dressed in traditional adire attire, which the town is generally known for. They slept off early, after sharing drinks over a game of scrabble and having snacks they got from a fastfood joint. Saturday morning was bright and sunny, got up to an early start, and left for the Olumo rock, they were determined to climb to the top the climbers way, no elevators or manmade stair cases, they would instead follow the old paths made by the old inhabitants. And so their journey began, the steep and winding path to the top, they saw many caves, and old wizened men, watching them walk chewing rigorously on something, possibly tobacco. Evening came, and they were almost at the top. So they camped at a flat landing, exhausted. The guys hitched the tent, the ladies sorted the food and drinks, they made small talk and had fun,they slept off, all slightly drunk and tipsy from the canned beers. At the fifth cockcrow, they woke up, and started off, after brushing their teeth and taking turns to pee; today wasn’t as eventful as yesterday, as they reached the peak of the Olumo rock, in less than 2hours, they then decided to go down through another route. Led by Funsho and Mayowa, the crew embarked on their journey down, here they saw fellow climbers, and tourists, they where few this time of the year, probably because it was the rainy season, they kept going, and then suddenly, it started raining.This was strange, no warning, no thunder, no lightning, no drizzling, just sudden heavy rain. Mayowa then said, maybe its all these rainmakers calling for the rain, Funsho just scoffed, you and all this your superstitious beliefs. We are in the rainy season, and so its raining! Simple. Everyone laughed, as the rain gradually increased in tempo, and the thunder and lightning were coming in quick succession. Tosin suddenly cried out, “my wallet !!”. It was a Louis vuitton, classy and simple, more importantly it was functional, in it lay, wads of cash, her credit and debit cards, her driver’s licence, and the key to their hotel room, which for some reason, she had forgotten to drop at the receptionists. She was visibly upset, Funsho scolded her, then asked her to calm down, assuring her he would go get it, he told Mayowa to watch them, and if he wasn’t back in an hour, they should go along to the hotel, he would catch up with them there. Mayowa asked him to wait for the rain to stop or at least reduce, Funsho answered, i’ve always loved to play in the rain, besides , i’m not salt, only salt fears the rain for fear of dissolving in it,he smiled, and left, as Tosin looked sadly and shamefully away.
Funsho got into the rain, walked briskly, pulling the hood of his jacket over his head, and started into a trot, he kept going up the now familiar path, altered by the rain as he negotiated a tricky piece of rock, he saw he had missed his route, he had to go back a bit then proceed in another direction, eventually he got to the spot where they had camped, hoping that was where it was, lo and behold, the wallet sat underneath piece of rock wet with rain and dirt, he picked it, and put it in his inner pocket, he turned back and started his journey back , he looked at his wrist watch, which was a new Nigerian brand sports type, water resistant, and luminous, its light shone in the dark, and he saw that it was 10;30pm. By now he knew even the elevator service would have closed, he would be mostly alone here, he got to the landing where he had left his friends, as he was feeling the side of the rock as he manoeuvred his way into the low roofed spot, he wanted to make sure they hadn’t forgotten anything else again. His hand suddenly lost feel of rock, and fell into a space, he temporarily lost balance, and staggered, he then probed further with his hand and felt a bag, or was it a briefcase? by now, the rain had reduced to a drizzle. He brought the bag out, it was a suitcase..he just carried it casually and took off his jacket, to cover it. He then began the final lap to the hotel.. he arrived the hotel lobby, at 12midnight, strolled casually past the sleepy receptionist; their room key was in tosin’s purse. He got into the elevator, he pushed the button indicating 2nd floor, twice, as the doors did not shut, just as he pressed it the third time, and the doors were shutting, he noticed a huge man entering into the lobby. He got into his room, quietly placed the suitcase on the reading table, he opened it, and in it, he saw wads of foreign currency, it was dollars, from the look of it, Benjamin franklins stared fixedly at Funsho’s now flushed face, as he picked a bundle, then another, he noticed a transparent compact disc case, containing a disc. Beside it was an envelope, which was marked senator F.E. He heard footsteps and quickly packed the suitcase, as he shut it, he noticed, a red stain on the handle, and edges of the box, on looking closely, he saw it was clotted blood. No wonder, he thought to himself, the rain didn’t wash it off. ?Deep in thought, he hid the case below the bed. He called room 216, from his hotel room intercom, his friends where there together, worried , but trying to keep cool. Everyone rushed to get the phone. Tosin got it, sobbing gently as Funsho told her he was okay. They went to meet him, in his room, and ordered room service for sandwiches and tea as Funsho told them of his rescue mission, and gave Tosin her wallet which was rescued, she flung it away, and held Funsho close. Tosin sobbed gently till she slept off and Funshos mind was racing, as he pondered whether or not to tell them about the suitcase. He decided against it.
They returned to Lagos, going through papa lantoro road, ifo, and sango ota, instead of going through the Lagos-ibadan express way. Tosin and Funsho dropped Mayowa and Busayo off, and Tosin drove herself home after Funsho drove to his house. She kissed him passionately, and was apologising again, when Funsho held her close, and told her he loved her. They parted smiling, as Tosin went home to prepare for the new week .
As soon as Funsho got inside his one room apartment, he bolted the door, luckily there was electricity, he turned on the air-conditioning, brought out his luggage, opened the briefcase, and took out the disc. Strolled down to his LG DVD player, slotted it in, played it.
In it was a video of senator fawani assuring a foremost Lagos based businessman of taking care of his interests, the businessman told him, “all 1million dollars is in the suitcase, that there is no need to pay half and balance, later, i trust you, and i know you won’t let me down. The senator was visibly excited but tried to play calm, i assure you, wallahi, everything will be fine, i appreciate the money, and the trust you have in me, by giving me in full, i assure you, there will be no problems; In fact, there will be a press conference through all the media, declaring an open apology, for even mentioning you as part of the cabal”….and the conversation went on…
Funsho read the note that was in the titled envelope, it read, Dear senator, this is a video and voice recording of our encounter, showing how and when you received the money. I know i said i trust you, but again, I’m a businessman. I don’t tie my shoe-laces without a back-up plan. This is just a warm nudge to further ensure your compliance to our deal to the letter.
All this was too much for Funsho, he strolled to his fridge, in search of those canned beers Tosin bought last week, he picked a Heineken, downed it in 2gulps, then he went to his kitchenette for some coffee, he came back to his room, and sat on his reading table, his mind racing, as he tried to make sense of all he had seen and that had happened. He took his previously unfinished Sudoku game, hopefully, this would calm him down as usual, then he dozed off, head on arms, arms folded on table ; till the dog started barking, and the phone began ringing.The man with the machete obviously was in no mood for games, he came for the money, not stories..
The journey of the suitcase……
Mike was a frustrated security guard at the famous silvabird shopping mall. He looked more like a weight-lifter, because of his muscular build. He was having a bad time in his life, his wife left him, after he could barely take care of himself, the last straw for her was when the landlord evicted them after almost a year of owing, why should she bear this loser’s child? she thought to herself. He moved into a one room apartment, in the renowned face-me-i- face you buildings very popular in the less classy areas of Lagos. He got home one day after a hectic day at the shopping mall to meet his door left ajar, and an empty room; his wife of 4years had left him, like they say “high and dry” Getting to work the next day, he saw a classmate of his drive into the exclusive car park, in a new model BMW5series car, the guy strolled in, and when mike tried to say hi, he cut him short and gave him a 5000naira tip, saying, “today na your lucky day, Jona just pay” mike had never felt so humiliated. Getting home and meeting no one was too much for him, he suddenly started screaming , and kicking at his door. It took 8hefty men to calm him down.He became docile, in fact too docile for about two weeks, the neighbours next called his brother, whose number they had found on his mobile phone, the brother came, and decided that mike would need proper psychiatric evaluation,They thus opted for Abeokuta, where the foremost psychiatric hospital is located. He was admitted and being managed for depression and panic attacks.
He escaped 2weeks into treatment from the mental home, and was strolling around the Abeokuta town. He had done his national service year here. what memories, his eyes brimmed with tears. He had actually stopped taking his meds since 3days after they started giving him, he knew what his problem was, and drugs would not help. He needed to make money, and get his life on track,as he walked the streets, he had a five hundred naira note, still in his pocket, rumpled and dirty, but still intact. He would have to return to Lagos first. It was evening as he approached the garage, by now, he had been walking for 2hours. Just as he manoeuvred a bend he saw a familiar person in a Hausa buba and trouser attire, enter into a Peugeot 607 saloon car, apparently he stopped to take a pee, as he got in, curiously the car did not drive off, the driver must be asleep, funsho thought. He now remembered the guy, it was the same classmate, he had seen a few months back, at the mall, who had given him the 5000naira tip; He then decided to go meet him, saying to himself “today is my lucky day”. The area was secluded, and bushy, more like a bush path than anything else, as mike approached the car, what he saw scared his recently depressed brain. The man’s driver was stabbing him repeatedly, the windows were wound up, and slightly tinted. Mike hid behind a tree, watching the preoccupied driver do his thing. The driver brought out a huge cutlass, and cut the senator into smaller pieces, put them in a bag, and was cleaning the car , slowly. This must have been pre-planned”, thought mike. The driver then brought out the suit case, opened it and grinned. He then placed it not far from the car, as he went to the trunk of the car, to get petrol. He intended to burn the car. As he opened the boot, mike came quietly out of hiding, took the briefcase, and ran back as quietly as he could. He then ran as fast as he could, the ruffling of the trees distracted the driver, who was focusing on a perfect burn, sprinkling the petrol patiently on every part of the vehicle. He saw a man run into the bush, and his heart skipped a beat. He started the fire and went to pick the briefcase, only to find it missing. At this time, mike was running as fast as he could, the driver was hot on his heels, running frantically, brewing with anger, he heard as mikes heavy feet hit the dry bush. He kept running. Then mike got onto the main road, using his Nysc knowledge of Abeokuta, he got to olumo, still panting, he climbed the small mountain, following the back route, and when he got to a landing, he found a crevice in a side wall, he dropped the suitcase in it. His heart was pounding furiously, his lips were dry, he hadn’t had a meal since leaving the hospital. The driver was almost going crazy. He couldn’t find the man. He had heard him running, but since they hit the mainroad, the trail had gone cold; he was right now in front of olumo rock.
He would stay here till something came up, he was not going to lose that money, not after all his efforts, not today. He waited, and waited..
Mike on the other hand, just lay exhausted, wondering what was in the box, maybe it is money. He was to shaky to check.He decided to take a walk into town, since the box was well hidden, he simply traced his steps back, and took a short walk. As he approached a small market beside the tourist centre, he saw policemen, who had seen him first. They were staring at a picture in their hands , and back at him, apparently the hospital had informed them ,that a man fitting his description had escaped. They caught big mike, and bundled him to the hospital where he was identified, and sedated. He woke up, staring at the ceiling in a familiar room, where the walls were white, and his mind was in a perpetual haze.
The driver was panicking, the rain started as a drizzle, then gotten heavier, and he still hadn’t seen anyone, at about 11pm, he decided to go to a nearby hotel to lodge, and reflect. Rockville hotel wasn’t so far off, he noticed it almost as soon as he walked left of the mountain..as he walked into the hotel lobby ,he noticed a man in the elevator, trying to get the door to close, and he had a briefcase. His heart skipped a beat, perhaps he was lucky. He saw the sleepy receptionist, and was lucky to get a room, he could not sleep all night, and he got to the lobby, at 15minutes to 3am in the morning, he went with a newspaper, observing, and waiting.
Funsho and his crew, took their time, and eventually left for Lagos, Sunday evening, unknown to them, they where been followed by a rented car , driven by the driver, from the hotel he followed them, till Tosin dropped Funsho off. He waited patiently, till late, then entered the building, to survey. Funsho lived in a studio apartment, a living room and a bedroom, the building was five storeys high, the landlord was really wise. He maximised the land quite well. The driver watched quietly, and even strolled in casually, like he was looking for someone. He found 3 rooms that he thought might be funsho’s. He would break down each door if he had to,i swear on my fathers grave, he muttered under his breath. He lay watch in his car, till 3am sharp, he brought out his machete, hid it under his shirt, a part of the blade extending into the side of his trousers. He walked stiffly, and quietly into the building, as the gate was un-manned, he strolled in, through the main door, which apparently was not properly secure, then he climbed the stairs, got to the 3rd floor, where he felt he had seen Funsho through the window, he got to the door, tried to twist the handle, too bad it was locked. He tried the second, it budged a bit, a lady came out, mischievously tiptoeing out, wearing a see through sexy nightie, apparently she was having an affair with the occupant, as soon as she saw the huge driver, she opened her mouth in fear, as if to scream, the driver brought out the machete in one swift smooth movement and sliced through her larynx, ensuring no sound would ever come from her again, he then proceeded to the next room, which was locked. He banged it once, then Just as some silly dog started barking, he broke open the door. There he found Funsho , his phone in his hand , his eyes a picture of fear.
He growled, asking for his money. Funsho was tongue-tied, he simply pointed towards his bedT there lay the suitcase. The man went to the bed, opened it, confirmed the money was there, and strode away with it. Funsho stared, as the man walked out of his room, he saw him leave the gate, and into the night. Funsho breathed a sigh of relief, Tosin wouldn’t believe this story. But was the red fluid on the man’s machete blood??? Funsho sat on his bed, and remembered, that the DVD was still in his DVD player, aha! “evidence, that for 24hours i was a millionaire in dollars” he thought to himself.
The news media was agog about certain businessmen who had been implicated in the subsidy embezzlement saga, 2days later , a video showing, the senator fawani was tendered as evidence in the tribunal, the whole country watched in awe, as they heard the vast amounts involved.
Funsho and tosin, were cuddled together, as he had just been cleared from the police concerning the murder of the lady just beside his room, apparently her “boyfriend” had caught a glimpse of the murderer and was hundred percent sure it wasn’t Funsho.
The lovebirds were on his bed, as Funsho narrated his unbelievable story to his unbelieving girlfriend, even the DVD was not enough to convince her, as she felt it could have been recorded online..