Thanks for your kind words in the comment section guys. Happy Easter to you and yours.
I had to steal Sally’s style of infusing photos into my series today, there was so much visual touch I wanted to put in here that if I didn’t, my writing mind would be mad at me. Shhh… don’t tell her. Enjoy 😉
PS: This one’s for Alison Iyke Dike who wouldn’t stop bugging me for a fresh Squadi episode.
“When destiny insists on tying your fate with someone, fighting it is like punching blows in the air in a dark room, alone”
She hated his guts.
The arrogance in him could compete with the high stakes erected for Long Jump in a sports competition and the condescending nature he bore when he spoke to her made her feel nauseous.
She hated his guts so much.
Slamming the door to the Range, he faced her squarely and asked the question he had asked her twice before again, this time, his impatience written boldly on his face like an Advert on a Billboard.
“What are you doing texting my father?” he seemed irritated with her. Or maybe he was just naturally irritated at people like her. She looked him over; when she just started working with his step mother, he had been a regular at her Salon. At the time, his father had kept him there mostly because he was being stubborn and he, his father, had been trying to teach him a lesson by seizing his International passport and insisting on him spending time around Martha who was not supposed to let him out of her sight.
All she remembered of him at the time was how meticulous he was with his dressing – he was not the usual young guy with sagging jeans and big chains – he wore mostly shirts and jeans and sometimes T – Shirts. But never anything that gave away his age and obvious behavior.
“Are you going to say something?” his irritation seemed to be competing with the sun, both rising to a high level as if trying to prove something to the Universe.
She turned to leave. She needed to cross the road to the other side, hop on a bike and return to hers so she could map out a strategy for her current issues.
She did not have the time or energy for the overindulged, rude and annoying bastard that was the only son of her former boss and the man she sometimes fucked.
His hand caught her elbow and he gripped her so she could not make it past him, “Do I have to threaten you to speak?”
She lost her cool then, “Do I have to tell you that whatever I do with my body is none of your business?”
She could tell that her response shocked him and she immediately took advantage of his momentary shock to relieve herself of his hand and dashed across the road.
Arrogant bastards were not her favorite type of people, no matter how good looking or how wealthy they were.
She was known to be the girl who never swallowed her pride even for the wealthiest men.
Years before, when she had been running her part-time OND program at a Polytechnic in Osun state, she had caught the eyes of the Prince of the village where her school was located.
Bashir was his name, a lean, handsome and very well spoken man in his late twenties who made the ladies swoon whenever he stepped out.
All Bashir had to do was breathe and the whole world stopped. She used to tell him that he deserved to be in commercials, helping Brands sell their products.
He had smiled, revealing a set of dimples that had drawn him to her at the beginning.
She remembered all too clearly how he first spoke to her now.
She and her colleagues who were members of the Executive in her department had gone to the Palace to see the King, Bashir’s father, to solicit for money for the upcoming Freshers’ Week.
And because it was supposed to be a serious outing for the department, the PRO of the association had insisted they all wore matching colors – black and white – and made sure they looked impeccable.
Ekanem had settled for a body hugging polka dot gown, one of the few good ones she had, brushed the hell out of her weave till it became too smooth and well laid and then joined her colleagues to see the King.
Bashir had been the one who came to speak to them because his father was indisposed and when he had come, he had been introduced to every single one of them by the Vice President, who seemed too elated to speak to him and who laughed at every single word that came out of his mouth.
His eyes had lingered on her though, his gaze sweeping through her body in one quick look and his lips twitching into a smile when she stood to read out the reasons they had come, their aims and why they sought funds from the Palace.
She had reluctantly given him her number when he asked, most especially because the Vice President had made her uncomfortable with a piercing gaze, but she had given him still, hoping he would never call.
But he did call and he never took no for an answer. Not even when she showed him she was not the type of girl who fell at his feet simply because of his pedigree.
He simply became unfazed.
Bashir chased her.
He chased her with the sweetest words, the nicest things money could buy and his time, which at the time, seemed golden.
And when she fell for him, she fell hard, harder than the Angels that fell from the Heavens. Harder than rain on days it fell the heaviest.
And he was there, holding her every single time she fell for him, reminding her it was okay to keep falling.
Until one day, when they had their first fight, a fight they never recovered from.
And a fight that pushed Bashir into the arms of the Vice President of their association, that one who had always desperately wanted him.
Ekanem glanced at her phone now, Alhaji still hadn’t responded. She swallowed hard, fighting the panic that was threatening to overwhelm her. If Alhaji did not come through for her, it meant another night in the Police station for her brother.
She tried to shut out the terrible tales she had heard of Policemen shooting young unarmed men and pinning a crime on them out of her mind.
She couldn’t think that now, her brother had to be safe.
“What was so important you had to settle right there and then with her? Do you even know her? Hakeem, I have a test for crying out loud!”
His problem with Hakeem at the moment was not his earlier decision to stand by the middle of the road while he questioned the girl they just dropped off.
It was his decision to stick by his actions, while yelling on top of his voice at Ajayi.
Minutes after the girl had dropped and they had continued on their journey, Hakeem was still insisting his decision to stop the girl and waste their time made sense.
He was becoming exhausted and he knew that he was nearing the end of his patience.
“When this whole shit is over, I don’t even want to ever hear from you again” he hissed, focusing his attention on the road and hoping they would get to school soon, before his coursemates finished the test they were writing.
“Hey, careful how you speak to me” Hakeem replied but he ignored him.
He was only going to do what he had to do henceforth, so he could get him out of his hair and he could return to his life without drama and spoilt rich kids.
And he was starting now, because the earlier the better. Grabbing his phone which was securely in his jeans pocket, he dialed one of the best Hackers he knew in Africa.
Lerato Thulo was called King by the few people who knew who she really was and what she really did.
The South African beauty, who had curves and a beautiful brown skin which made it seem like she immersed herself in milk and honey every morning, was probably one of the most lowkey beauties Ajayi had ever come across in his entire life.
Lerato had full boobs, curves that could thaw any man’s resolve, an ass that had never seen a Surgeon’s knife but which could rival the best Brazilian butt and long legs that belonged on New York and Paris runways.
She was effortlessly beautiful on the outside as she was on the inside.
The first time he had met her, he had accompanied his older cousin, Oluyede, who was a company driver to the Hotel where she was.
Because he was a rebel, and sometimes, seeking to be away from his Parents’ stifling behavior and constant invasion on his privacy, he sometimes chose Oluyede’s house, a one bedroom apartment somewhere in a Shanty town close to Obalende, to hibernate.
Oluyede understood him the way his Parents and nobody ever did and indulged him to be whatever he wanted to be.
It was why he was his best friend and favorite cousin.
They were very close and shared secrets and information both could not tell anyone. Sometimes, things ‘Yede couldn’t even tell his fiancée, he told him.
And they also ran some of Yede’s errands together.
On the day Ajayi had met Lerato, Yede had been sent by his boss to go hand her a package in the Hotel where she was.
Because Yede had expected it to be a very quick delivery, he had parked carelessly, removed the key to the car and disappeared through the five star Hotel to deliver what his boss had sent him.
When the Hotel security had demanded for the Driver, Ajayi had needed to find Yede and had hurried into the Hotel to find him.
Then, he had found himself at the entrance to Lerato’s room when Yede had picked up the call and told him to come take the keys.
When he got to the room, he had been initially enthralled by the legged beauty that sprawled on the bed, frowning at something on the Computer and talking angrily to someone on the other end of the phone while she complained about some programming issue she was having.
Ajayi had offered to help when she got off the phone and she had hesitantly let him, surprised at how quickly he fixed the issue.
He had then revealed to her that he was the Original Programmer.
That day, she invited him over for dinner, they had a conversation till very late at night and she exchanged contacts with him before returning to South Africa.
She had invited him to come to SA a couple of times but he had declined. He was not ready for the life Lerato was dangling in his face.
“King” he said with a salute as Lerato’s face filled the screen via Skype. “You’re hot tonight o” he added, his eyes taking in the white Jacket she was wearing. It was a double breasted low cut jacket that flaunted massive cleavage.
“I always look hot, AJ. You seem to forget” she said coolly, her words followed by a wink. “Is this you calling me to tell me you’re coming to SA?”
“I hate to break your heart but No”
She let out a fake cry, accompanied by a pout and a sniff. “So you’re just here to look at my fine face then?”
He chuckled, “Get over yourself Lerato”
She laughed then, revealing a set of white teeth that he knew had recently been polished. For the Computer Geek that she was, Lerato took great care of her appearance.
“What’s up?” she asked now, a frown on her face.
“I need your help with something”
“Lay it on me”
Then, he hurriedly went over what Hakeem wanted and how he was worried about being discovered if he went through with it. “King, I need to know if you have any ideas on what I can do to stay incognito”
“Staying incognito is not the issue here. The issue here is this guy you’re working with” she replied, “You trust him?”
He did not trust Hakeem, but at the same time, he did not have much of a choice. That, he let Lerato know.
“Okay. Er… this is easy. You’d know that if you were not such a Loner”
He laughed, Lerato was referring to his decision to not make friends with anyone while he enjoyed his own personal space. It was who he was and who he hoped to be forever. As an only child, that was not hard.
“Yeah, Scammers use it all the time.” She continued, “Generate a link, send it to the email address of your guy’s Daddy. Let him click on the link and his account would be at risk of whatever you both want to do with it. You would be able to access bank account information and everything else you need. And of course, wire all of the money that you want out of that account”
“As for staying incognito, ensure the link you have generated has a time lapse. I would suggest 12 hours, because 24 hours might just be too long. And most importantly, open an account untraceable to you both. Since this guy is a rich kid, I would suggest an account outside Nigeria. Get someone on the other side to withdraw the money as it enters the account ASAP and shut it down completely. I doubt that can ever get traced back to you”
He was relieved, “Thanks Lerato”
She smiled in response, “And, AJ?”
He hoped to be.
Hakeem listened to Ajayi update him on their plan. From where he sat, it made sense to him and since he could make the resources available, he figured they were ready to begin the first step.
“Nice one” he said, grabbing his shirt which he hurriedly wore over his black Tom Ford pants and at the same time, slipping his feet into his recently acquired Gucci shoes. “How soon can you create this link?” he asked as they made for the door, Hakeem grabbing his bag on their way out.
“As soon as possible”
“Cool. Please get to it” they had made it out of the Hostel now, Hakeem responding to greetings from his fellow rich kids. Hakeem briefly saw the look of disdain that flashed through Ajayi’s face when he greeted his friends. He knew Ajayi could not stand his clique, and he honestly could not be bothered.
Ajayi was broke, they were rich. Broke people hated rich people for obvious reasons. But really, who cared?
Not like people who were broke did not desperately hang around rich people for favors.
Like that light skin girl from two days before that he had caught texting his father and who he was almost certain was screwing him.
He hated how often his mind drifted to her and how much he wanted to see her again so he could get answers to his question.
She riled him up the last time and he wished he could explain why. No woman really walked out on him and snapped back at him really but at the same time, that was not enough reason for him to keep thinking about her rude behavior.
“How far that guy? The Bus driver, have you given him the money?” Ajayi asked as they stepped out into the afternoon sun.
“Nope. He should be here soon though”
He saw the huge relief that appeared on Ajayi’s face and he laughed, “Na so fear catch you?”
“I am not trying to ruin my life because of you” Ajayi snapped and Hakeem chose to ignore his retort. Looking further beyond where they stood, he sighted the guy he had been waiting for.
That one crossed over to where they were and met with them in seconds. “Oga, good afternoon” he greeted Hakeem with a low bow and did the same for Ajayi.
Ajayi simply waved and looked away.
Hakeem dug his hand into his pocket and handed the man the money he had asked for.
“Don’t ever come back. I don’t take kindly to blackmail” Hakeem said curtly, marching past the man who thanked him profusely.
“I would buzz you later this evening” Ajayi said as he parted ways with Hakeem, “the link should be ready by then. Remember we have 12 hours, you have to be certain your father would click on it in that period”
“I bet he would. Just make sure the topic of the mail you send the link in sounds urgent”
They shook hands and Ajayi disappeared through the throng of students that pulled through a crowded hallway.
“Hey ‘Keem” a female voice purred from behind him, followed by a soft hand on his right shoulder.
He knew who it was and he waited for the kiss on the cheek that he knew usually accompanied the voice whenever it came around.
“Hey Nadia” he winked at the yellow bombshell that took her place in red Gucci heels near him and what he knew was designer white and black ensemble as they made for their next class.
She was the daughter of the Governor of the state and, his on and off girlfriend.
“Missed me?” she asked as she slipped a white substance in a small transparent nylon into his bag slung across his shoulders.
“Before nko” he said, knowing that her little gift was an invitation to what was likely to be another fun night off campus later.
What he wanted to do was to jump up and scream, hands in the sky while he sang praises to God.
But he was going to head to the Hospital first, pay his laboring wife’s hospital bills and then, go crazy if he wanted.
He had not counted the money he was handed by Hakeem but he knew that if the bulkiness of the brown envelope was to go by, it was a huge sum.
He grinned to himself. He had watched people get blackmailed in movies many times in the past, but none had been this easy. None.
Yet here he was, getting the reward of his first blackmail in cash just days after he had tried it.
He had to be the luckiest man in the world.
Waving down the first bike he saw outside the premises of the private university he had gone to collect his money, he hopped on it and asked him to take him to the park where he could easily find a Lagos bus.
He could not wait to see the smile on his beautiful wife’s face and the relief that followed birthing their twins.
It was all that truly mattered to him at the moment. His ringing phone jarred his thoughts and he picked instantly when he saw it was his wife.
“Are you okay? Is everything fine?” he asked the moment her faint voice came on the phone. She sounded tired and that made his heart break. He did not want to hear her like that. She was the love of his life, her pain was his pain.
“Yes. Where are you? I think the babies are coming”
“I would be with you soon. Hold on, sho gbo?” then he assured her of his love and urged the Bike man to move faster.
However, it was only then that he realized they had gone past vehicles and visible houses; they seemed to presently be in the middle of nowhere, bushes surrounding them with no noticeable human presence.
He vaguely wondered if he had passed this exact route while he was going to the school earlier. Tapping the Bike man, he asked him to stop immediately.
The man veered off the road, threatening to throw him off the bike as it pulled to an abrupt stop.
Then, armed with a knife Yellow had not noticed until that moment, he said, “Give me every single naira you have or Allah…” he placed a finger on his tongue and pointed upwards, “You go turn Suya now”
Yellow looked around him. Yeah, he was actually fucked up.
SQUADI: The Originals
– Tomilola Coco Adeyemo