Eyin temi bawo ni o?
He was greeted with a bowl of pepper soup when he arrived at Goke’s. Tiny chunks of assorted meat drenched in the hot broth in the ceramic bowl before him. The aroma wafting through the room.
But even if he hadn’t had his fill at dinner with Toni, he wouldn’t be touching it.
Two of the most dangerous people he knew were sitting in a room with him, he wasn’t about to dine with them. He preferred to listen, be alert and leave the premises as soon as he could.
“I was just telling Goke how unexciting things have been at Mysterios lately and how strangely comfortable you all have been with settling for weakness.” Shafi said, a glass of scotch in his hands. He paused briefly before he asked, “What do you have to say about that?” he continued, “Do you think you have become complacent because of the strong influence and networking present at Mysterios?”
Olumide knew better than to answer Shafi directly. The man was a psychopath.
“I think it’s just in the human nature to lean back and relax sometimes. It does not necessarily mean weakness.” He replied.
Shafi watched him for a brief moment before saying, “So you mean to say the entire club is relaxing now?”
“I mean to say it could be what is happening. But since Mysterios has succeeded in achieving quite a lot in the past few years at least, I believe even the strong need to take a step back and rest before venturing out to conquer more territories.”
He was tired and he did not want to have this conversation. He wanted his bed, he wanted to shower, jump in his bed with the soft mattress and go to sleep.
Yet, here he was, in Goke’s house, having seemingly meaningless conversations with a dreadful individual.
Shafi looked at him long and hard, visibly silent.
“Olu, did you get the tape…”
But Shafi cut in, “Would you say it is okay to relax if you’re running for governor?”
Olumide knew he was being goaded, but Heavens forbid that he fell into the trap.
So he said, “Running for Governor is hard enough. You could never relax doing that.”
Shafi nodded, but before he could speak, Olumide added, “Long day tomorrow, I think I would like to call it a night.”
He exchanged greetings with Shafi and stepped outside with Goke. Once they hit the pavement, Goke sighed, he was obviously relieved to be away from Shafi’s presence.
The man was scary to everyone. Even this blood loving man by his side.
“Yes, I have made plans to have that delivered to you by morning at the Office.”
Goke nodded in appreciation, one hand on Olumide’s shoulder and the other taking his in a handshake, he said “I am glad you came through; look at Shafi, he’s already getting bored.”
The smile on his face was unmistakable. Olumide could see how happy he was that the tape was ready.
Willing to return to the comfort of his home, he bade his goodnight and hopped into his car.
The day had been eventful enough, now he had to hit the sheets and look forward to the next.
And think about the one beautiful woman he couldn’t get off his mind before sleep took over.
Toni’s lashes fluttered open. She’d been sleeping for way too long and now, she was late.
Jumping out of bed, she hurried to the bathroom and took a quick but warm bath.
Thank goodness for the spare toothbrush she always left at her Parents’, she squirted some toothpaste on her toothbrush, brushed her teeth and wore her clothes from the night before.
Praying there was no traffic on the way to hers, she hurried out of the room.
Her mother was reading the morning paper while having a plate of scrambled eggs and wheat bread when she emerged.
“I didn’t want to wake you because of the state you were in last night,” her mother said as she approached her. “How are you feeling now?” she asked.
“I’m fine.” She replied, pausing briefly by her mother.
Her mother nodded, “Good. Your father and I already spoke to Mr Owolabi about the burglary. I insist you should tell the Police. Staying by yourself in that house and having to deal with that is not safe.”
Toni remembered telling her Parents the night before that she was not interested in going to the Police. But they’d also insisted she had to. And when she refused to oblige, they’d decided to bring the Police to her. Their longtime family friend, Mr Owolabi, was the assistant commissioner of Police in Lagos state and obviously, they’d put a call across to him already.
“It’s not that serious…” she began to say but as usual, her mother was having none of it.
“It is.” She said firmly and added, “You should really reconsider staying by yourself in that big house. You have enough space in this place, come back here.”
“We already had this conversation, mummy. I am not moving back here.” She said to her mother. “I will be fine by myself.”
“You’re still my child no matter how grown you think you are. So it is normal I look out for you.”
Toni smiled, “If you really want to baby someone, have them bring Ayo back for you.”
Her mother winced, “Not like that one.”
“You should really talk to him though, Oluwatonifise. You cannot stay angry at him forever.”
Toni shrugged. “I just don’t know what to say to him.” She glanced at her wristwatch. “I have to go, mummy. Already too late for school.”
She was about to step out when her mother stopped her.
“Ah, Toni! It’s Mr Owolabi calling…”
Toni stopped and listened to her mother’s brief phone conversation with the assistant commissioner.
“They have the guy in custody – the one who broke into your house and hit you with a gun. I told you the Police wasn’t entirely useless.”
Toni smiled. Who knew?
Olumide was rounding off a phone call with an NGO when her message came in.
The NGO was hosting an event promoting awareness against self-medication and they wanted his pharmaceutical brand to be one of their sponsors for the event.
He had barely finished the call when he saw Toni’s text. She was thanking him for the night before and also informing him one of the men that broke into her house, specifically the one who hit her with a gun, had been caught.
Not one to be shaken by anything, he calmly put a call across to Tari.
“Bossman, I have been trying to call you since morning. Dem don nab Jigga o.”
Olumide listened to Tari explain how Jigga had been rounded up by a group of Policemen and hurled into a Van hours earlier.
Tari sounded shaken and worried but Olumide wasn’t. If there was anything he’d learnt in his life, it was that no problem was without a solution.
Calmly, he asked “have you taken the tape to Mr Adesina?”
“We are on our way, bossman.”
“Good. Let me know once the delivery has been made.”
“I will talk to you later.”
Ending the call, he returned to work. Jigga might have to stay a few hours at the station – that would be his punishment for a careless job in the first place.
And maybe for hitting the woman.
The thoughts of her had filled his night as expected and he’d carried it over to the morning light.
What was disturbing was how badly he wanted her naked beneath him. He’d never wanted any woman this way. He’d wanted women in the past, of course.
But never had he wanted someone so bad, he went to bed with them on his mind and woke up with them still on his mind.
His life had always been eventful. Even as a little boy in Obalende with no mother or father and one who always had to engage in stealing sometimes to make ends meet, he always had his hands full.
Transitioning into the ward of a popular Lagos lawyer/a rich man hadn’t changed anything – he’d still always had to study harder than anyone, be excellent at everything he did and work hard towards ensuring he or his future family never lacked.
Of course, he never wanted to settle down. It had never been something he’d dreamed of. But he’d always loved and wanted kids and always wanted to give his children the family he couldn’t have.
He never knew his father – his mother was a crack whore – and he was born in an uncompleted building with the help of a petty trader who placed her wrapper on the floor so his tiny body didn’t meet with stones, broken sticks and sand on his entry into this world. A wrapper she eventually gifted his own mother after he’d been bathed. A wrapper he was still sentimentally attached to.
And maybe that was why sticks and stones didn’t break him as he grew into a man. Maybe it was because he’d been shielded somehow by that wrapper. A wrapper that now stood as a metaphor in his real life.
And even as he grew older, he’d vowed never to let his children lack, or know life like he had.
It was a promise he’d made to his mother on her deathbed – that no family of his would lack. He hadn’t known it was their last conversation together.
Still, he’d promised, like he always had.
And now she had been dead for over 15 years, he still held on to that promise.
But somehow, the promise seemed incomplete without the woman who now haunted his dreams and whose memories followed him through the day.
Toni Garrn, the woman threatening to rewrite his life plan. Somehow, he’d become a Ghost writer in what was to be his own life story – she was the one doing the writing, and he, doing the living.
If only she knew how badly she had him messed up.
Here he was, Olumide ‘black devil’ Okubanjo, one of the most respected and feared men in Mysterios and, in the underworld in Lagos, fighting to own his thoughts from a woman who didn’t even know she literally controlled his mind now.
What was he to do now?
His phone rang, tearing into his thoughts.
He swiped his thumb across the screen and picked the call, “Hello?”
“Olumide, well done. Your boys just delivered the tape, I am about to send it to Shafi now; you know the man wastes no time. I want him to know I am serious.” Goke laughed nervously.
Olumide knew everyone feared Shafi and Goke clearly wasn’t an exemption. He, Olumide, didn’t fear the man. He was more curious than afraid of him.
Olumide thought the man was interesting and cruel and he genuinely wondered what went wrong in his life that turned him into the man he was.
Who killed a man that was once his friend, and then took his business, position and wife?
It was stuff of movies but it was unfortunately the reality in his world.
What he did created fear in the minds of grown men in Mysterios and in the places where Shafi was really known. However, it only made Olumide wonder if the man had experienced so much tragedy in his life, he knew no other way to project it than to shed blood or, if shedding blood was simply a past time.
“I am glad to have been of help, sir.” Olumide replied. Goke promised to reward him before getting off the phone.
Olumide returned to work, or as it were, working and thinking about Toni for a few minutes more before grabbing his car keys and heading to an office somewhere on the outskirts of the city.
He needed to see someone real quick. Jigga was not going to spend the night behind bars.
Ashu Abe was monitoring something in his warehouse when he received a visitor.
Short, stout but swift, Ashu was one man who had the admiration and respect of many.
The reason was quite simple – he was the man who helped fix everybody’s mess.
One phone call to Ashu and your problem vanished without a trace. Still, he only did that for the people he considered innocent and who were his allies.
As nice and kindhearted as he was, Ashu wasn’t the man who went out on a limb for someone he barely cared about.
He shook hands with his visitor now, a firm hand on his shoulder. “black devil.” He said firmly, a smile on his stern face.
The noise from moving heavy equipment in the warehouse was almost deafening and Olumide had to speak at the top of his voice. “Ashu, I need to speak with you outside, please.”
Ashu designated some work to his staff before stepping out of the huge warehouse with his friend. Leading him through a passageway, Ashu took Olumide into his Office – a small room with a cold air conditioning unit.
Olumide was grateful for the coolness of the room. The sun outside emanated so much heat, it almost felt like someone in heaven was mad at Nigerians.
“Please sit, my brother.” Ashu said, waving Olumide to a seat. He took a seat near him. “Shall I offer you drinks?” he asked, already looking towards his intercom which was sitting just a few spaces away on his carefully arranged desk.
“No worries, Ashu. I only came for a quick one.”
Ashu nodded, “What is the problem?”
Olumide narrated how one of his boys was picked while ‘running an errand’ for him at a friend’s. “The commissioner’s office is involved but I don’t like my boys having police record. You know how dis tins dey go. Police go just chook eye for deir mata from dere.” He added.
Ashu nodded, he understood what Olumide was saying. “I go take kia of am. Dat wan no be serious mata.”
“Thanks bros.” they shook hands again. Olumide stood. “I have to run sha. I still have a lot of work waiting for me at the Office.”
Ashu stood. “Hian, so na dat small mata bring you come here? Phone call would have solved it now, black devil.”
“I know. But you also know how I prefer to discuss some matters in person.”
They both exchanged a knowing smile. Shaking hands again, they promised to catch up sometime in future before Olumide headed out of the building and went for his parked car.
Toni listened to her mother in utter shock. Her hand held a glass of water with ice, but her thirst was long replaced by total disbelief.
“How could they even let him go? I confirmed he was the one just hours ago!”
Anger surged through her as her mother explained it was ‘clearly a case of mistaken identity’ and that the guy in question was just a doppelganger of the person they were actually looking for.
“But I saw this guy with my eyes and I will recognize him anywhere!” she replied in anger. Setting the water on the coffee table, she grabbed her bag. “I told you before now that I didn’t have faith in the Police but somehow you chose to involve them, now look! I would have preferred not to involve them than for this to happen.”
“Oluwatoni, this is not my fault…”
“Of course not.” She mumbled and marched towards the door. “I will see you later. Bye.” She added and slammed the door shut behind her. She was so angry and the more she tried to rein in her anger, the harder it became.
She felt like a total fool, an idiot.
And most of all, she didn’t feel safe. If she hadn’t gone to the station just hours before to confirm the attacker’s identity, then she wouldn’t have felt so worried for her own safety.
But she’d gone to that damn Mr Owolabi’s office, sat down and confirmed the suspect was indeed her attacker.
Now wherever that guy was, he was probably watching her and waiting to launch another attack.
She shuddered at the mere thought.
Suddenly, going home was so scary. She didn’t want to stay by herself in that house anymore. She needed company.
Once she got into her car, she dialed Tania’s number.
“Hey,” a sleepy voice answered the phone.
Irritated, she asked, “Tania, you cannot still be sleeping now.”
Tania exhaled deeply, “Don’t mind me jare. It was this guy’s party we went for last night. I helped him organize Ushers for his event at the Arena and I had to ensure the girls were well behaved before returning home.”
Toni sometimes forgot Tania had a legit job because she spent most of her time with her many sponsors. But the girl actually ran an Ushering/Modeling agency and had high profiled clients.
“Who was that one?” Toni asked her now.
“Maxo now. The fashion guy. I kuku remember telling you this two days ago. But you forgot I’m sure. He was launching a lingerie line and my girls were on duty. I had to be there in person.” Toni heard the sound of a door closing. “Wassup with you?” Tania asked.
“Hmm, Tania you won’t believe what happened to me o…”
“What?” Tania had turned on a tap from the other end, she was in the bathroom.
“My mom convinced me to report the breaking and entry case to Police. She even called that our family friend that is assistant commissioner of police…”
“Police sha.” Tania sounded as unimpressed as she’d expected. And Toni knew she’d be more irritated when she heard the full story.
“Can you believe they caught the guy and then let him go an hour ago?”
“I don’t understand.”
“Well, I am as confused as you. They caught him, I went to the station to confirm his identity and before I even got halfway, my mom called me and told me to come over. They let the guy go on the grounds of mistaken identity!”
Tania drew a long hiss from the other end, “I told you those people weren’t worth it. Shebi it was this my former sponsor, that one that used to be DPO, that told me that most of those people collect bribe and have their hands in dirty deals. I told you now.”
Toni was livid. She should have listened to Tania, for real. Even though she paraded herself as a slay queen half of the time and had a thing for sleeping with moneybags, she sometimes had a point. Like in this case.
“I know. I’m just mad. I can’t believe it.”
“And I am just worried for your safety. Because I am sure that guy is somewhere out there, watching you now…”
Toni looked around her instinctively. “I know right.” She sighed.
“Shey you will come home first?”
Toni started the engine of her car.
“I will go and get us some food at that new restaurant that just opened down the road. So we can eat and talk more when you come.”
Toni was grateful for Tania. Thanks to her, sanity was still hers. She wondered what she would have done if not for Tania.
“Oshey jare, ore.” She replied, relieved for her.
“I’m having amala and goat meat. What are you having?”
“Eba and efo riro with plenty ogunfe.”
Tania ended the call and Toni drove out of her Parents’ estate, hoping there wouldn’t be the usual slight traffic on the road leading to hers.
Olumide got a call from Goke on his way back from Ashu’s warehouse.
“Come over to Akins restaurant.” He’d said, giving him directions.
Goke had told him he had a surprise waiting for him, one he’d love.
Olumide had wanted to excuse himself, but between willing to fight Toni off his mind and hoping to actually get something to eat, he’d given in.
So he took a different turning and drove to Akins once he hit the express.
When he arrived at Akins, Goke was sitting at a table with two ladies. One he touched almost inappropriately – his hands grabbing her arm, touching her breasts – the other sat by herself, head buried in a phone.
He approached their table in one quick move. Goke laughed the moment he sighted him. They exchanged greetings and Olumide sat beside the girls.
It was only then he discovered he knew the lone one. She’d once worked at his strip club, and then left after a few months.
Like the other girls he employed, she knew her onions and she could move well.
And maybe it was because of his past, his mother sometimes working as a stripper and sometimes a prostitute, he just always seemed drawn to girls like her.
And so, when he attended an event a year after, she’d been the one who ushered him to his seat.
He hadn’t recognized her but she had recognized him. And when he tried to sneak out before the event was over, she followed him outside and introduced herself.
He thought she looked gorgeous in the little black dress and the stilettos she wore. And because she wasn’t an employee of his anymore, screwing her hadn’t been a bad idea.
To be sure she was worth it, he’d taken her out on a couple of dates – which were all drinking at different pubs, because he never did romantic dates – and in about a month, they were done.
However, he had to admit, it was quite wild and interesting. That was until it seemed like she wanted more from him.
More he couldn’t give and wasn’t willing to give.
“Hey,” he said to her now.
She merely nodded, saying nothing.
He wondered what that was about.
“Olumide, welcome. Meet Mubo…”
“Mubo used to work at Eros.” Olumide said, the chic was still refusing to give him any attention.
Goke was surprised, he looked from his companion to Mubo. “You didn’t mention that, Mubo.” he said to her.
“I wasn’t there for long.” She replied. A waiter approached their table just then and brought their orders.
“I was hoping we could all have a good time,” Goke began to say. “This place is new, secluded and is owned by one of my boys. He’s been begging me to come for a while… so I figured we could eat everything on the menu…” his voice trailed off as his companion giggled. He squeezed her cheek and continued, “To celebrate… you know?”
Goke’s companion giggled as he landed kisses on her cheeks. “So I brought Mubo and her friend here, Gladys for lunch.”
“Nice to meet-cha.” Gladys said, drawing out a hand with long nails painted in bright red.
He took her hand in a shake and focused his attention on the Waiter waiting to take his order.
“Please get me a glass of orange juice, fried plantain and eggs.”
“I’m eating light” he said to a bewildered Goke. Goke’s own lunch was a heap of pounded yam and egusi soup with meat and stock fish swimming in it.
“Mubo, what’s wrong?” Gladys asked, her bright red lips in a pout.
“Nothing.” Mubo replied, her focus on her phone. In one quick move, Gladys reached across the table and snatched the phone from Mubo’s hands. “You better talk.” She said.
Mubo tried to grab her phone but Gladys wasn’t having it. “Talk.” She said.
Mubo sighed. “I don’t want to be responsible for spoiling your afternoon.”
“You already are with this attitude.” Gladys snapped.
“Okay, fine.” Mubo replied, she sighed and faced Olumide, “It’s him.”
“Excuse me?” More people were walking into the restaurant now, Olumide noticed from the corner of his eyes.
The place had quite a number of customers considering it was practically new.
“You, Olumide. You. Do you know what you did to me?” Mubo insisted, her eyes were blazing with anger now.
Still, Olumide was confused. “What are you talking about?”
Mubo made to talk but she let out tears instead. Frustrated, she pushed her chair back and stormed out of the restaurant. Olumide followed her.
Toni waited for the traffic light to turn green before hitting the accelerator.
Heavens had answered her prayer and the road had been free. She dialed Tania’s number to see if she’d returned home.
She didn’t want to go home and sit alone. Not while her attacker was probably hovering around the neighborhood.
The mere thought of that was running chills down her spine. The estate’s security used to be tight, whatever happened to that? She made a mental note to attend the landlord’s meeting she never showed up at and bring that up.
After they attended to it, she would bid them goodbye and stay away again.
She wasn’t a fan of sitting in the midst of people who tried to prove whose ego was bigger and who believed their view(s) were the most important.
“Hey,” Tania’s voice came through.
“Hey. Have you left the food place?”
“Nah. What’s going on?”
“I was thinking of coming to pick you since I’m actually almost home.”
“Alright, I’ll see you soon.”
She ended the call and drove to the restaurant.
Mubo was bawling like a baby by the time they got outside and the two times Olumide had tried to gather her in his arms, she’d shoved him off.
He sighed, “Mubo, if you don’t actually speak, I wouldn’t know what I did wrong.” He said to her.
“Gosh, you’re so useless…” she said in between sobs.
It wasn’t something he’d take kindly to on a good day, but she seemed to have her reasons.
“You don’t know what you did?”
Gently, he said, “No.”
She shook her head in disbelief and tried to wipe her face with the back of her hands.
“Let’s at least get into the car and talk.” He said gesturing towards his parked car.
“No.” she said firmly.
He was running out of patience.
As if she heard him, she said “I’m sure you’re already tired of waiting but do you know what you did to me?”
“If you don’t say it, I wouldn’t know!” he snapped.
She paused, “Of course, you’re angry. I should be the angry one here, Olumide. I was the one who had my things tossed out by your thugs and had to find my way home after I was robbed and almost raped!” she was crying again. “I was almost gang raped because of you, Olumide.”
He looked at her in horror. “What?”
“Just because you didn’t feel a thing for me and you had to prove it.” she was walking away when he grabbed her and hugged her.
The night in question, she’d come to his unannounced, again. She’d wanted to sleep over the sixth night in a row, much to his displeasure and he’d gently asked her to leave.
It was not late and he’d asked her to clear her things out of his house and leave before he returned from his meeting at Mysterios.
He’d been angry at how she’d moved most of her things into his without telling him and how she’d wanted to move in despite the long talks they had about his lack of interest in committing in a relationship with her.
So he’d angrily told her to leave. On his way out, he’d instructed his boys to ensure she left.
He hadn’t expected them to rough handle her. He also hadn’t expected her to almost get raped.
“I’m sorry, Mubo. I am really sorry.”
Her body shook as she broke into violent sobs. He felt horrible. He hadn’t planned for her to fall into the wrong hands.
Thinking back, he should have allowed her spend that one night, even if it was the last.
After a few minutes, she calmed down and he quickly retrieved a tiny box of tissues from his car.
As she wiped her tears, they leaned against his car.
“I’m sorry for being cold…”
“It’s okay.” He said. It really was.
She leaned against him and for lack of anything to do, he held her waist. Placing a quick unwarranted kiss on his cheek, she returned her head to his shoulders.
However, he turned when he noticed he was being watched. Somehow, Toni was standing by the entrance of the restaurant, watching him.
“Excuse me, please.” He said and walked towards her.
Toni raised a hand as she marched towards her car. She was with Tania.
“Toni, that isn’t what it looks like.”
She whirled around, “what does it look like?”
“I don’t know… like something is going on…”
“I don’t care, Olumide.”
A second passed before he said, “You’re lying.”
“Excuse me?” she asked, angry.
“You’re lying, Toni. You do care. If you don’t, why are you so mad?”
Caught out, Toni fell silent. Then without saying more, she opened her door. Olumide slammed it shut.
“Be bold enough to face me and tell me you do not care.”
“Are you kidding me right now?”
“Say it, if you dare, Toni.”
She tried to open her door. “I don’t have time for this rubbish.”
Again, he slammed the door shut. “Say it.”
“If you think holding random women in public places means anything to me…”
Silence fell upon them, Olumide waited with bated breath, trying to control himself around her in an open place like this.
She was driving him insane, even in public.
“I don’t care.”
He nodded, watched her watch him for a few seconds. Then without warning, he stepped closer to her and covered her mouth with his.
They went at it for some seconds before she pushed him away. His heart was racing, his pulse quickening, his mind going crazy.
She was his undoing. Easily, she undid him and gave him that bulge in his pants.
What was he going to do? He was losing his mind. The woman had a hold on him and he couldn’t wrestle free.
This made no sense.
“You care and you know it.” he said to her.
But she ignored him and got into her car, driving off with Tania without saying a word.
Olumide watched her leave, his heart breaking into tiny pieces.
He was falling for her.
- ‘Tomilola Coco Adeyemo
Yes, I am stopping here. :p