Rain immersed herself in work. From when she got in at eight in the morning till she left at seven o’clock in the evening, she spent her time rummaging through files, minutes of board meetings as well as old and recent approvals. She also skimmed through pre- and post-contract award correspondences with clients and subcontractors to make sure she wasn’t missing anything. However, when it came to bank statements, she went through those with a fine-tooth comb. She wanted to be able to answer any question Chief Edozie might throw at her about the extent of fraud and diversion being orchestrated by the CFO, Mr. Donald Wakama, and his acolytes in the company.
It was a tedious, painstaking task, but one that needed to be done if she didn’t want to fumble on her first major assignment for the man that had been more than generous to her.
Come Tuesday, she wanted to be able to make a convincing presentation with incontrovertible evidence to the CEO when she was summoned before him. That was why she locked herself up in the office all day, tearing through heaps of paperwork and cross-referencing dates and figures for inflows and outflows. By lunchtime, she felt confident she had enough facts not to make a fool of herself but she kept digging through documents handed over to her by the CFO himself. Thankfully, it was either he didn’t suspect that she was on to him, or he, like many other men she had interacted with in the past, made the mistake of thinking that the prettier a woman was, the slower she was in figuring things out.
Beyond her desire to impress Chief Edozie, Rain figured hiding in the office was the best way of avoiding any confrontation with Mr. Waks. The last thing she wanted was to bump into him in the hallways or in the executive wing of the cafeteria in the sprawling EE office complex. She wasn’t ready to see him yet. She knew she wouldn’t be able to look him in the eye and act like everything was all right with the world when there was a California-wild-fire-sized inferno about to erupt in her chest and blow away her entire life into smithereens.
Her mother’s stunning revelation about being raped and that the man she was investigating could be her biological father still left her feeling like she was in a daze. The disclosure caught her completely off guard and had her acting irrationally since she began processing the information. Rain was in shock and denial at the same time, and she prayed that when the feeling wore off, she wouldn’t regret saying yes to D3’s marriage proposal and maybe call off the engagement.
However, ahead of the Tuesday morning meeting with Chief Edozie, Rain had to confront the sudden dilemma placed before her. If the man she fondly called Zaddy, the man that facilitated the purchase of her car and her first overseas trip was truly her father, then he was flesh and blood to her. It meant that she had his blood flowing in her veins and arteries, and pumping in her heart, and didn’t people say that blood was thicker than water?
If they had the same blood flowing through them, was she justified in snitching on her own biological father, no matter the degree of his betrayal of his boss and the extent of his culpability in a complex scheme of fraud and misappropriation of funds he may have committed against Edozie Express?
Rain had less than twenty-four hours to decide whether to bury all she had uncovered about Donald Wakama in the course of her diligent investigation into his activities as accountant and now CFO because he was her father, or to expose him for the crook he was to Chief Edozie because it was the right thing to do.
Deep down inside, she questioned her motive. If she went ahead and revealed everything she knew, and Mr. Waks got into trouble with Padrino and the authorities, would she be happy that justice had been served and he was being punished for what he did to her mother and for abandoning her even before she was born?
Annabel scrolled through her phone and dialled his number for the umpteenth time since her conversation with David. She knew it was switched off. It had been turned off for so long, but her predicament made her hope for a miracle.
After talking with David, Annabel felt lost and completely bereft of ideas on how to take away the stumbling block standing in the way of her happiness and the life she wanted with the man she had fallen madly in love with in the last few weeks he camped in her house. She had absolute faith in Reverend Ebizimor’s ability to deal with these kinds of situations that was why she thought of him.
He had done it for her before with prayers and fasting. That case was even more complicated than a guy merely asking her to hold on while he got married to someone else, with the promise of coming back to her after some years of fleecing that other woman dry. Reverend Ebizimor would have known the kind of prayer to initiate and how many days of fasting was required to bring madness upon the thief of her lover’s attention.
Annabel didn’t want Rain dead; she just wanted her out of the way and incapable of marrying anyone, let alone David. Twenty-five thousand naira, one 20-litre jerrican of anointing oil, and maybe a taste of one of her nipples or both for fifteen minutes, would have been more than sufficient down-payment to accomplish the outcome she wanted from the man of God. She knew this well, but it was wishful thinking. The man was gone for good.
No one from the church had been able to reach Reverend Ebizimor since he fled Yenagoa like the proverbial thief in the night the bible spoke about, abandoning his flock and all the congregants of Fire for Fire Ministries.
Annabel was mad at him for absconding as he did, when she looked up to him like a confidant and father. Since his departure from the city, things in her life took a turn she never anticipated. Every day she watched her fortune spiral downwards to unimaginable depths and she knew of no other preacher, apostle or prophet in Yenagoa powerful enough to do the things she had relied on Reverend Ebizimor to do for her for so many years.
Annabel knew she was dealing with depression, but no one would believe that a pretty girl with boobs the size of an average watermelon and a backside Nikki Minaj would die for could be depressed? But the truth was that she was sad and in need of a steady man in her life.
For a long time, she hadn’t dated the kind of men that flocked around her during her undergraduate days and even when she first concluded her NYSC and began working. She couldn’t even remember the last time she had a reasonable boyfriend or even sugar daddy that spent on her and took care of her bodily needs at the same time. In the last year alone, her standard had gone from close aides to the governor, members of the State House of Assembly, commissioners and permanent secretaries, to directors and assistant directors in the civil service. In the month before David, it was a headmaster in Southern Ijaw, a lecturer that thought mathematics in Niger Delta University and the owner of a kiosk he called a supermarket along INEC Road that hovered around her. That was how low she had fallen.
When David and her first started exchanging raunchy text messages, she didn’t know it would end up with them sleeping together; she thought D3 was too devoted to Rain to look at another woman. But her overtures worked and soon David was hooked – or so she believed.
Being with David made Annabel rethink her priorities. Since men with money weren’t showing up at her doorstep anymore, the smart thing to do was to tie down the handsome young man with prospect that was within her grasp
Now she had given her heart to him, she didn’t trust him enough to allow him go along with his plan. Once he married Rain, she knew he would never come back to her. She would have lost him forever because Rain’s profile in her company or anywhere else she decided to work would keep rising and D3 would have one more reason to hang on to the marriage for a little longer and she didn’t have time on her side.
If her breasts didn’t sag or her ikebe give way, younger girls with even more enhanced boobs and bumbum were being unleashed on to the dating circle every day. Her chances of finding a man to settle down with therefore got slimmer and slimmer by the day.
In the end, Annabel Ndukeri decided not to wait for any man of God to do for her what she could do for herself.
David pranced the living room like a lion captured from the wild and locked up in a small cage. Like that caged lion, David wanted so badly to roar and swallow the irritant prey that had stepped on his tail. He wanted really bad to stretch out his claws, grab Annabel and devour her whole for threatening him to his face as if he was a helpless antelope.
He wanted to hurt her for standing in his way and thinking that she could insult him and get away with it.
It had been many years since he graduated from the University of Calabar, in Cross River State, but he still kept in touch with his comrades from the Wounded Lion confraternity. D3 joined the group in his second year in that institution when some members of a rival cult group raped his girlfriend and two of her friends. They had been on their way back to the female hostel in the wee hours of the morning after studying all night for a test when they were attacked.
David rose rapidly to the position of second-in-command in the group because from the get-go he was out for vengeance. The second-in-command was the chief executioner of the group.
Lion Slayer as he was called then, swiftly and completely imbibed the blood-for-blood philosophy of the Wounded Lions and was responsible for the death of several members of rival secret cult groups in offensive and reprisal attacks on campus. In a number of these battles for supremacy, even innocent students were not spared. It was not unusual to have collateral damages whenever David and his minions went on rampage.
The position of collegiate commander or commander-in-chief was one that was held for life, so it was obligatory for David to make himself available for consultation and mentorship whenever newer members in any of the Nigerian universities the group had its membership had their initiation ceremony.
Not only did David have a violent past, he also knew dangerous people. And he actively engaged with them even though his days as a deadly frat boy himself was long behind him.
In his reincarnated state as a modest chef working in restaurants while waiting for his big break, he endeavoured to stay out of trouble. He didn’t envisage going back to the Wounded Lions for anything but the ties were unbroken and Annabel pushed him. She crossed the line when she boasted that back in her university days, people called her Anniemal because of her ruthlessness. She stepped on dangerous territory and he wasn’t prepared to let it go. Quiet David was gone and he was about to show her what real ruthlessness was.
“Aroar!” David Spiff III roared.
“Aroar!” came the response from the student from the University of Benin sent to meet with him when he made a request for an executioner to the Grand Patron and Prime Lion of the group, the acting Inspector General in the Nigeria Police Force. The zest, with which he shouted the chant invented in 1982 by the founders of the deadly confraternity in the inaugural initiation ceremony, was all the conviction David needed that he got the right guy for the job.
When they spoke on the phone earlier in the day, the guy had introduced himself as Demon Curb. He was bearded, dark and diminutive, and looked like he couldn’t hurt a fly. But as was in his own case, David knew how deceptive looks could be.
“You carry car come?” David asked him. They were in a dark corner in the back end of Club Bara where no one could see them or overhear their conversation.
“Yes. I drive come from Benin but I leave the car for hotel. Na okada I take reach here because I no want make people too sabi my movement,” Demon Curb replied.
“Bros, I hear say person make you vex.”
“Yes. An Antelope has crossed the lion’s den,” D3 said in coded speak.
“A lion is a predator, never a prey,” Demon Curb’s response was cold and emotionless. His accent was indistinct. He could have been Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba or any of the other minority tribes in the country for all David cared. His prime concern was that the guy came highly recommended. Of him specifically, the Prime Lion said, ‘he consumes antelopes for breakfast.’
“A lion must swallow an antelope. This night or tomorrow but e no pass this week.”
“Roger that. Wire the location. You go fit upload one correct recent picture of the domestic animal to my phone?”
“Sent,” David said.
“Received. Boss, make you no worry yourself because of any yeye mugu oh! As you don involve me for this matter so, make you just go sleep.”
“You sure say you no go need any help?”
“Boss, I can do this on my own. Make you no worry yourself at all. In fact, just consider it done.”