Hey baby boy, come hang out with mama.
A soft chuckle accompanied her words, the sound of her laughter echoing in his head long after her laughter had ceased.
Legs entwined, hair dangling beneath her, she swung on the Pole, dug her pearly white into her lower lip before winking at him.
It’s a private show. A show only for you, babe.
He heard her voice say to him. As before, her voice echoed in his head long after she had stopped talking.
He was stoned, and he needed to get home.
Grabbing his biker jacket, he emptied the scotch in the glass in his mouth; the remaining liquor in the glass burning his throat when he swallowed it.
“Lummy?” he heard her call when he was close to the door. Waving at her, he refused to turn before turning the door knob and stepping out of the private room where she had been stripping for him for thirty minutes.
He’d had too much to drink and if he was not skillful in the art of holding his alcohol, he knew he would have passed out on the curb the moment the fresh midnight air hit him.
However, skillful or not, he was smart enough to call an Uber to come pick him up.
The door to the shiny black SUV that pulled up opened for him and he hopped into the backseat, the moment he saw it.
“Shall I start the trip, sir?” his Driver asked and he could barely nod before he hung his head.
As the SUV pulled out of its parking space and joined other cars on the highway, he wondered if he had ingested more than the liquor at the Strip Club.
As a young boy growing up on the streets of Igbosere on Lagos Island, he and his best friends had practiced their toughness with strong liquor, gunshot wounds and knife fights.
And as he grew older, his ability to hold his liquor had earned him numerous nicknames.
However, here he was on a night when he had barely drunk more than two bottles, fighting nausea and dizziness.
“Roll down the glasses” he said as calm as he could to the Driver.
The air did little or nothing for him but he knew better than to barf on the leather seat of the SUV. So he waited, counting the minutes until his Uber pulled up in front of his House.
The moment he got out of the Car, he opened the door, raced to the nearest Toilet and lowered his head into the water closet. A wave of nausea overtook him and he let out everything he’d had that night.
It took a while for his body to find its calm and when it did, he rinsed his mouth and found himself a bottle of painkillers in the Kitchen.
Downing the pills with a refrigerated bottle of water, he slumped on the Persian rug in his sitting room and eased into deep slumber.
His ringtone jarred him to life some minutes after 4am. Grateful that the nausea and the dizziness was gone, he swiped his finger across the screen and picked the call.
It was his Mentor’s son, Sina.
However, the message he received seconds later told him where he was expected and as soon as he was expected.“Black devil,” he said the moment he heard his voice. “Something came up. I need you here ASAP. I’ll text you details” Sina was off the phone before he could get a word in.
Running up the stairs into his bedroom, he grabbed the keys to his second car – the jaguar.
The Jaguar was for special occasions and he rarely drove it around except it was very important.
However, after abandoning his Car at the Strip Club – Eros – he had no other choice but to drive his precious baby as he called it to the location he had just received its details.
Grateful he was not hungover from his heavy drinking the night before, he navigated the expressway and found Sina hidden somewhere on the road to Epe, some minutes later.
He sensed danger before he got out of his Car. And when he found a skimpily clad girl, lying dead on the floor somewhere in the bushes, surrounded by Sina and his best friend, his fear came true.
“Black devil, thank God you made it” Sina heaved a sigh of relief when he set eyes on him. “She OD’ed on something…”
Before he leaned over to feel her pulse, he knew she was dead. However, he also knew she did not OD on anything.
Sina had murdered her.
But he was not one to ask questions or talk too much. Especially when there was something needing his urgent attention. Looking around, he spotted Sina’s car somewhere close.
“Put her in your car…”
“Put her in your car and drive!” he ordered, following Sina and his best friend as they hurled the dead girl across their shoulders and marched towards the blue sports car Sina had recently purchased.
“Drive behind me” he said, ignoring the puzzled gazes on the duo’s faces.
He drove alone in silence in his car as they sped through the expressway, refusing to think of how many strange things could possibly happen in one night – being unable to hold his alcohol and having to help his Mentor’s son dispose of a dead body.
When they reached a bad road with thick bushes lining the side, he veered off the major road into the untarred street by the right.
Sina followed him.
Stopping in front of a wide path that led to a Village he knew too well, he stepped out of the car.
Sina’s full headlights momentarily blinded him and he had to shield his eyes with his hand before he killed the lights.
“The keys” he said to an utterly confused Sina.
“The keys!” he repeated, grabbing the car keys before Sina could get another word in. “Out” he added, drawing him out and getting behind the wheels, leaving his ally no time to hop out of the car.
Slamming his foot on the accelerator, he drove right into a tall tree, smashing the car into it.
“Fuck! Black devil!” he heard Sina scream as he rammed the car harder into the tree. When he was done, he dragged the girl to the Driver’s seat, removed Sina’s ID and the car’s particulars and got out of the car.
He handed it to him before walking to his parked car. “Are you guys coming along or what?”
Dazed, Sina and his best friend followed him into his automobile.
As they drove back to Lagos, none of them uttered a word.
Mostly because they feared him and also because they knew better than to speak.
Toni Garrn smiled at the middle aged couple sitting right in front of her in her Office
They did not return the smile and they seemed like they would be anywhere else in the World but here, at the Principal’s Office, talking about their son’s suspension with the Principal.
However, over the years, Toni had learnt to smile through tough situations with Parents.
It helped them see that the Principal was not trying to be a bad Person – she was only trying to help their kid become a better person for Society.
However, if the last twenty minutes had told her anything at all, it was that these two sitting right in front of her were not interested in easing themselves up.
Her Office was not too small, but she ensured it was not too big either. As she had told her late husband many times, she was not some big Executive running a massive Firm in Victoria Island or Ikoyi.
She was a School Principal; one who cared about her Students and who wanted her Office to feel comforting to whoever stepped in.
But as she sat in the space now, she wondered if it was not too small; if she should have listened to Michael and made it wider.
Because all of a sudden, the space seemed too tiny for her.
She sighed, embarrassed when she realized the Parents noticed, but still grateful that they chose to speak after minutes of staring daggers at her.
“We do not think our Son should be suspended”
“He brought in an Olamide video…”
“A very explicit one…”
“We are very much aware…”
“And he played it for everyone to see…”
“Yes. But he was not alone.”
Toni refused to see what they were doing – trying to transfer the blame to some other Student. She was used to seeing that but she could never get used to the irritation she felt whenever a Parent tried to absorb their child of the blame that was rightfully theirs.
“Everyone involved has been punished. However, your Son gets the largest percentage of the penalty because he brought that music to School. Coupled with the Playboy magazines with the naked images in them” she still managed to hold the smile in place.
Before Michael died, they had been talking about having kids and she remembered how much she wanted to raise good and well behaved kids.
She had been a good kid herself – graduating top of every single class from Nursery to Primary and Secondary School.
She had broken JAMB record during her UME – holding one of the highest scores the Joint Admissions Matriculation Board had ever seen, and had one of the best results in the Country in her WASSCE.
At the University of Ibadan, she had been on a 4.5 CGPA before her Parents got tired of the constant strike actions in the Country and had shipped her off Abroad.
Yet, she still managed to lead her class while in school in the US.
Not that it was easy to ace every single class all her life but it was not that hard either.
All she had to do was set goals, be determined and refuse to end up like some of the Students she had encountered in her school.
It was disappointing to see them make horrible decisions consciously and it was more disappointing to see their Parents indulge them.
“But he did not bring the music to School” the mother was saying now, her chin raised as if to say Toni was extremely stupid not to see the obvious.
Toni could not wait to toss their elitist behind out of her Office.
These ones were the types who raised overindulged and spoilt kids and expected the Society to laud them in their lack of morals. But as she told herself when she started Garrn International High, she was not around to raise spoilt kids – she was there to save society’s future by ensuring these kids didn’t end up debauched.
“Mr and Mrs Alade, I understand how disappointing this must be for you and how incredulous the situation must seem, but Juwon was caught with the Laptop and USB that has the music not anyone else” she said with a faux smile.
Her cheeks were already aching from trying to force a smile that did not move past the corner of her mouth and that did not reach her eyes. She wished the end of term would come already, she desperately needed that vacation.
Since Michael died, she had refused to see the world like she once did with him by her side.
It was her way of mourning him, their love and everything their relationship stood for.
However, two years later and she was beginning to miss the thrill of seeing other places and discovering new sites and cultures.
That, coupled with the stress of running a secondary school filled with spoilt rich kids finding it difficult to handle puberty was beginning to take its toll on her.
The Alades exchanged glances and focused their attention on her.
“Mrs Garrn, our son did not bring that USB to School.” Mr Alade said, an unwavering look of certainty on his face. His arm was draped around his wife’s shoulder now, his wedding band glittering in the bright room.
With the extremely wealthy, Toni had noticed that expensive simplicity was the rule.
They wore what seemed like the tiniest jewelry but which usually cost thousands of dollars and which could not be found in Nigerian markets.
It was the same with their kids – the students of the secondary school she owned.
“So who did?” Toni asked.
The faux smile on her face was wiped clean the moment she heard the words. “Excuse me?” she asked, her brows knitted in a frown.
“He’s my nephew, I know his full name” she spat, unable to control the rage fueling inside of her. If these two were dragging her family into their Son’s business because they were gunning for a milder punishment, she was not going to take it lightly.
The boy in question was in SS2 and Ayo in SS1. The SS1 and SS2 blocks weren’t even on the same part of the School compound, so how in the world did they exchange Ponographic Magazines and Music videos with naked women?
“Our son said Ayo gave him both the Magazine and the music video…”
Toni was on the phone, dialing Ayo’s number before they finished off their statement.
Recently, Ayo had gotten into a lot of trouble in and out of School. He had only just returned from a three week suspension the week before, after he had punched his classmate in the face, resulting in a broken nose.
Before then, he had beaten a cab driver outside their House and it had taken two neighbors to separate them before her Parents had been notified in the house.
Now, he was in another fresh round of trouble.
She waited for him to pick and when he did, she sensed the hostility from the single word he answered his calls with “Yeah?”
“Report to my Office now, Ayo.” She said firmly and hung up.
She toyed with a red Pen, avoiding the gazes of Mr and Mrs Alade as much as she could while waiting for her Nephew.
The moment he stepped into her Office, she jumped out of her Seat and marched towards him.
“Tell me you had nothing to do with the Porn and explicit music video Juwon Alade was showing around?” she asked, her hands on her hips.
He shrugged; an unrepentant look on his face. “I gave him ‘cause he asked for it”
Toni gasped in shock, “Excuse me?”
“You asked me to be polite” he said as if in his defense “And when he asked politely, I gave them to him.”
Toni was aware of the looks the Alades cast in her direction but she avoided it as much as she could and dragged her juvenile Nephew by the ear, pulling him out of her Office.
“Are you out of your senses?” she asked the moment they were behind closed doors. “Are you on a mission to self-destruct? Do you not have common sense at all?”
He barely looked in her direction, talk less of granting her a response. Toni’s hands itched to give him a slap but she held herself and turned towards the direction of her Office.
“Worst I would get is a suspension…” she heard him say when she got to the door. And she realized he was immune to all the punishment they served him.
But because she was tired of his antics and was not going to watch him kill himself like his mother did years before, she turned and said to him “No, you have no idea what the worst you would get is.”
Then she slammed the door shut behind her as she prepared to face the Parents in her Office.
“Olumide” he called before walking into his Office, followed by his bodyguards.He was helping his Employees out at the Counter when his Mentor marched into his Store. One hand thrust in the Sokoto of his expensive lace material, the other gripping his fancy walking stick, he walked towards the Counter, closely followed by two heavily built men.
Olumide gave his Employees a quick instruction before following his Mentor into his own Office; a space secluded from every other Office in the Building.
Olumide ran a big Pharmaceutical brand in Lagos – with Branches scattered all over the Metropolis.
However, with every branch came his Office, decorated the same way and secluded so anyone who wasn’t familiar with the place had no idea what lay behind the walls.
His Mentor had made himself comfortable before he sauntered in.
“Stand outside” Goke Adesina, his Mentor and one of the most powerful men in the Country ordered his Bodyguards.
Olumide stepped in and shut the door behind them.
As was peculiar to all his other Offices, he had ensured that not a word he spoke was heard outside the walls of the Office and so, if you weren’t let in, you couldn’t hear a thing.
“I like the mysterious feel it gives” Goke had once said, during one of his earliest trips to the Office.
💖💖💖… Should I continue?