“Making money is like a Rave, everyone’s invited really”
There was one thing he undeniably hated about wealthy people – the fact that they believed the world was their sitting room and they could basically do anything they liked, including invading other people’s personal space.
And that, threatened to drive him insane sometimes more than anything else, particularly because he loved his personal space more than anything else in the world.
He eyed Hakeem as the latter slumped into the bed right opposite him, a bottle of liquor in his hands.
Ajayi will forever curse the day fate thought it was cool to bring both their destinies together.
Hakeem was an obnoxious, arrogant and overindulged son of a bitch. He had always gotten away with everything.
Ajayi remembered when he first heard of him, he’d gone to the school cafeteria to eat when a couple of guys on the table next to him in the crowded food area started talking about Hakeem.
His father was one of the wealthiest in Africa and he constantly donated money to the school, money that kinda gave Hakeem the immunity to basically do anything he wanted.
His problem was not to get caught, his problem was what trouble to get into on a new day.
He was that kid. The kid who got everything, the kid who was born with everything and the kid who clearly sulked and cried and threw tantrums when things did not go his way.
Ajayi eyed the bottle of liquor in his hands again and held himself from asking him to leave. That was not going to be in his favor, the silly boy had somehow gotten wind of a software he designed to hack into the school’s exam records the previous semester and was going to run with it if he as much as screwed up.
Again, he cursed his fate for handing him over to Hakeem like a Christmas present being given an eager kid.
Hakeem opened the bottle in his hands, swigged the drink and then chuckled.
Only Hakeem Rasaq could do that; openly bring a bottle of liquor into the school hostel, sit with it like it was nothing and drink it without a care in the world.
“So let me see, you were going to just not turn up tonight” he said, a look of displeasure on his face.
“I had to make sure the software could not be traced back to us… to me” Ajayi replied, his eyes set on his laptop. He knew the ultimate way any transaction or visit to the internet could be easily made anonymous was by disabling the IP address but he was also aware of the fact that he could be discovered through thorough investigation in case of fraud. And since the fraud they were about to commit was one that was going to get the owner of the account to go crazy with the eventual hunt, he worried that it was only a matter of time before they got caught.
And when they did, chances were that Hakeem would be allowed to walk because it was his father involved, he on the other hand, he knew was not going to be that lucky.
“And you could not come tell me that? You broke niggas though” he said, rolling his eyes as he swigged the bottle again.
“See, if you get caught your father would just warn you not to do it again and give you the money anyway. Me nko? Have you actually considered what would happen to me? This is scam for goodness sake!”
Hakeem shrugged, “What’s the worst that can happen?”
Ajayi gaped at him in utmost shock, “What?!”
“Dude calm your tits and think. I mean, worse that’s going to happen would be us getting caught and we’d hire a fucking amazing Lawyer who would ensure you get your ass out of the whole mess.”
“My ass. My own personal ass not yours!” Ajayi pushed the laptop shut and stood, “Guy, I can’t do this rubbish abeg.”
If his action bothered Hakeem, then he was not showing it. “You do remember I could go to the school authorities with your stupid software that you were going to use to hack into the school exam records, right?”
Ajayi shrugged, “Well…”
“And you’d go to jail or if they decide to behave like Christians, you’d be expelled. And your Parents are fucking broke; they were able to send you here in the first place because of your scholarship. Meanwhile, if you help me, if you do get caught, I’d get you a Lawyer that is amazing at his job and you’d walk off rich.” He held Ajayi’s eyes as he added, “Which would you prefer, dude? To be Scofield or Zuckerberg?”
“Zuckerberg did not hack into a foreign account to be a millionaire” Ajayi retorted
“But he’s a computer Wiz and he like stole Facebook from some twins, didn’t he?”
“That was in the film…”
“Yeah whatever, that’s what I saw in The Social Network and that is what we are running with. So what’s it going to be?”
Ajayi knew from where he stood, he was going to have to pick the lesser of the two evils in front of him.
“Fine, I would do it”
Hakeem chuckled, “That’s what I’m saying, Zuckerberg” then he raised his bottle, “Cheers. Now let’s get our asses to Quilox”
“Why are we going there? I don’t feel like clubbing…”
“Well, we have to celebrate your hundred percent acceptance.” He stood and turned towards the door, “Come on, my cab driver has been waiting for a while”
Sometimes he wished he was driving a Taxi. Drivers that drove Taxis had quite a few things over the ones who drove buses; more money, nobody to share it with and respect.
The latter he had realized since he was younger, the way other road users spoke to or even dragged the road with commercial bus drivers was different from the way they did with taxi drivers.
And when they had to insult Taxi drivers, they did that with a little bit of respect.
“Baba e lo sense yin now” was likely to be the response to an argument from a Private car owner but to a Bus driver? Oh, they could go all the way. It was not a shocking picture to see a private car owner dishing out slaps to a bus driver for instance.
He’d seen it too many times.
But truth was, a Yellow bus was all he could afford at the moment. With time, he was going to get a Taxi, buy more Taxis and employ Drivers so he could retire and start his dream business – buying and selling cars.
He’d always dreamt of a life out of the Ghetto he was born in and had always wanted to give his children a life he could only dream of when he was a little boy.
And because his first set of babies was coming into the world anytime soon, he knew time was not on his side.
Again, his heart sank as he remembered his beautiful fragile but strong wife, Itunu. She was his everything – his life, his reason to want to live and she was about to give him two more reasons to want to live.
Mufu had been quite protective of her and he knew that one would never forgive him if any harm came to her when he could have protected her.
There had to be a way he could make more money and there had to be a way he could pay her hospital bills soon enough.
His phone rang, it was his cousin Okey.
“Yellow” that one called from the other side, he could hear cars speeding by and he sensed he was on the road.
Unlike him, Okey owned a Taxi and was in the process of purchasing a better car so he could become an Uber driver, one of those cabs that were fancy and that Lagosians seemed to be choosing over Yellow cabs in Lagos these days.
“How far Okey?”
“I dey. You don go house?”
Yellow was actually trying to pick Passengers who were on the road late, hoping to make money he did not have to share with his conductor.
So far, he had been unlucky.
“No. I dey Falomo” he replied, “Wetin dey happen?”
“Nna, na dis my Taxi o. I don tire for the tin sef”
Yellow remembered Okey’s cab had started giving him serious issues about a month before and once, Yellow himself had helped him fix something in it so he could at least be able to drive it to the Mechanic’s.
“Wetin you do that day wey you help me? You fit come do am now?”
Yellow had worked at a Mechanic’s workshop for a year when he was a Teenager. Actually, he had worked at the workshop with Mufu, both of them certain they wanted to be trained Mechanics at the time. Until their Boss accused Yellow of stealing something and Mufu had been so livid, he’d walked away and dragged Yellow with him.
He really missed Mufu. He really did.
“Yellow abeg, I go give una money for fuel” Okey sounded desperate and he figured he’d have to help.
“Okay I dey come. Where you dey?”
“Toll Gate. Lekki Toll gate”
“I dey come”
As he was about to end the call, he heard Okey apologizing to someone who seemed extremely pissed.
Worried that his cousin might be in a tighter situation than he thought, he slammed his foot on the accelerator and sped towards Lekki.
He could never understand cab drivers and he honestly could not be bothered with understanding them.
The reason they were in this fucked up situation in the first place was because of Ajayi who had been certain he was drunk and had been hell bent on returning him to his house.
He was not drunk, he was pissed.
At the Club, some stupid guy who he was certain had the little coins he had because he was a Yahoo boy had been rude to him and he’d been pissed. Guys like him should never be able to hold a light to his face, yet he had the nerve to utter something about him and then, his father.
“You fucking peasant” he’d spat and then, had thrown a drink in that one’s face.
The result had been a physical fight and he’d been thrown out by Bouncers but because it was just 11.30pm and he still wanted to party, he’d insisted on them going to another club.
Except Ajayi was not down for that and had insisted on taking him home. He’d jumped into the backseat of the only cab they saw and now, that one was parked in front of the Toll, his car refusing to move any further.
“So what’s your plan?” he asked the Driver who looked confused as he bent his head in the car engine, fiddling with stuff Hakeem knew he was clueless about.
“I will do something to it”
“And I am expected to wait here while you do whatever? That aint gon happen, dude” then he faced Ajayi, “Zuckerberg, we have to leave this guy here. There is no way in hell I would be here while he’s probably trying to rob us blind”
“Oga, I swear this is a genuine fault but my cousin is on his way to come and help…”
Hakeem chuckled, “Cousin? Is that what you call gang members and fellow thieves these days?”
Ajayi pulled him away from the Driver, “Hakeem, we do not have much of a choice from where we stand. So can we wait for him to fix whatever it is so we can go to yours?”
Hakeem eyed him, “If we get robbed tonight… sorry, if I get robbed tonight cos you don’t have anything they can rob, it would be on you”
He watched Ajayi look away from him, his eyes on the road.
Hakeem wished his phone was not dead, he’d have called an Uber.
But as it were, he was at the mercy of this guy.
A yellow bus slowed down behind the cab and a light skinned man jumped out, he hurried towards the driver in front of the cab they’d hired
“Okey how far? Make I handle am” he said and without acknowledging anyone else, he got busy.
“Thank you bros” Okey said, “Wetin you go need?”
“Enter my bus, you go see one red box like that. Bring am”
Hakeem looked at Ajayi, “I told you these guys were about to rob us.”
“Get over yourself, Hakeem” Ajayi snapped
“You shouldn’t talk to me like that though. I can buy you…”
“And I can walk over to your father now and tell him you’re trying to scam him of millions of dollars that you are too impatient to wait for!”
“Keep your fucking voice down, dude!”
“I’m just letting you know what I can do. So stop talking to me like I work for you”
“Well you do and you will respect me henceforth”
Hakeem and Ajayi stood eye to eye, one refusing to back down for the other. And Hakeem knew that he might have been born into so much wealth, this Ajayi guy was not going to be an easy person to control.
When the bonnet was suddenly slammed shut, the duo broke eye contact and faced the Drivers in front of them.
“Okey, I go need follow you because na me know how I go manage this car” Yellow said and Okey nodded, clearly relieved to have his problems solved.
“Nope” Hakeem said, “I don’t trust this arrangement”
But Ajayi had already hopped into the backseat, “One would drive and the other would sit in our middle. That should put your paranoia to rest till we get to your house” he said, “Now can we go or what?”
Hakeem hissed under his breath as he waited for Okey to get in and joined Ajayi in the backseat.
His father’s voice rang through his dream just as he was seeing himself speaking to Rihanna the next morning.
The man wouldn’t let him be great in real life and now had found a way to invade his dreams too.
Grumbling, he rose from his kingsized bed and slipped into his Slides as he made his way out of the bedroom.
It was slightly chilly that morning, he knew that because he’d woken up at night to switch off his AC and even though he’d worn his Rob Kardashian designed socks to bed, his feet had still been cold.
He made a mental note to ask the Chef to make him a cup of coffee as he snaked through the long corridor and turned right to the stairs that led to his father’s bedroom above him.
“Someone is looking for you outside. And when you’re done, come and explain to me why you are not in school”
Clearly, the man had just returned from his morning jog around the Estate and he’d seen whoever had come to see him waiting at the gate.
Hakeem grumbled as he ran down the stairs and made for the front door. There, he saw the guy who had driven him home the night before.
He could not remember forgetting anything, so he frowned, wondering what the man was looking for.
“Yeah?” he said, his voice colder than the chilly weather.
“I came to see you”
“I want to be part of your plan.”
“See Oga, I need money desperately. My wife is pregnant with twins and…”
“And somehow I look like MKO Abiola to you”
“No! I just need small money and I don’t care if you give me small cut. I just want to be part of the plan so I can take care of my wife and buy my own Taxi”
Hakeem weighed the guy’s expression for a few seconds before he said, “Oga, leave my house” then he turned to return into the house.
“I recorded your conversation last night. When you were talking to the other guy. Your friend. The one who will help you to scam your father”
Hakeem froze, then slowly, he turned to face the man in front of him.
“So can I join you now?” He asked, a desperate look on his face.
She’d walked out a bit too early. The thing with walking out on someone who paid your bills was, you must have an alternative. If you didn’t have one as at the time you stormed out, then your problem was going to be doubled.
Her mother handed her a bowl of edikaikong and took a seat near her on the old bench she was sitting on outside their house in Abule Egba.
Ekanem muttered her gratitude and dropped the bowl near the Eba she’d been served by her kid sister just some minutes before.
“Ekanem won’t you eat?” her mother asked her eyeing the bowl of Eba and the recently abandoned soup.
“I will” but she knew that was a lie, since they lost their father she had been responsible for their upkeep and now, because of her anger that was going to be extremely difficult.
She had to right her wrong and she had to do so immediately. Her brother was being refused bail because they did not have enough money to “settle” the police with and she would die first if she allowed him sleep another night in a Police cell.
Grabbing her bag which had been lying at her feet for a while, she stood.
“Where to?” Her mother asked, surprised at her action
“Island. I want to go and see my Oga” she said and walked away before the woman could say anything else.
Desperate people did not have shame.
She was going to remember that when Martha refused to re-employ her and when she eventually pleaded shamelessly.
Martha eyeballed her, her manicured hands fiddling with the phone in her hands. It was the most recent edition of a Samsung phone; a phone Ekanem was aware she could have had access through because of her husband.
That one basically got the latest trend, fashion, gadgets and whatever handed to him whether he wanted it or not.
He’d offered to give her a recent version of an iPhone when it came out a year before but she’d immediately refused because she knew she couldn’t sell it and Martha would be suspicious.
“So in your stupidity it did not occur to you that you’d be here in such a short period” she said gently, as if she were offering soothing words. “Eya. Idiot” she added and then stood, “Take these things home to my Husband. I brought his car here this morning and mistakenly took them with me” she said and handed her a brown envelope. “Don’t bother to return here, your work here is done.”
Then she walked out of the Office.
Ekanem tried to control the tears that pooled in her eyes but she knew it was a failed effort because before she knew it, it poured anyway.
Alhaji reached for her face and with his fingers wiped off the tears. “I can give you money to start your own business” he said to her “But you would have to wait”
Ekanem did not have time, that was the problem, “My mother needs money, my brother needs to get out of the Police cell. I can’t wait, Alhaji” she said
“You know I would help if I could, Ekanem. Ehn? Just hold on”
He leaned closer and covered her mouth with his, pushing his hand into her lacy bra, he retrieved her breasts and began to brush his fingers through her nipples.
She wanted to push him off but again, she hoped sex would change his mind because she knew he had that money he was asking her to wait for.
But because of who he was, he wanted her to slave for it.
So she threw her hands around him, parted her legs and watched him balance himself between her thighs.
- Squadi: The Originals
-Tomilola Coco Adeyemo