Damilola got to her rendezvous on time. She had dressed the part just as her contact had warned. She was wearing a pair of jean trousers and a body hugging top that accentuated her figure. At thirty-two, she had a body that was to die for. It was a shame it would be wasted on her fool of a boyfriend. She banished the thought of Damilare before it consumed her.
He came. At the stroke of the hour, her informant appeared. A dying cigarette nestled between his lips. He threw down the cigarette when he got to her. He crushed the cigarette with his left foot.
‘First things first; where is my money?’ The man did not trust the journalistic types.
‘Haba now,’ Damilola chided. ‘You too like money sef.’
‘Well, you no go get time to pay me later.’
That should have been her clue to abort her mission; however, she did not get the hint and so produced an envelope which she handed over to the man.
He weighed it in his palms as if he could determine the number of notes in the envelope by so doing. He pocketed the money and commanded, ‘keep close and don’t you dare talk to anybody. You’re going in as an observer, observe leave. Otherwise…’
There it was again, the veiled threat, a promise things would not be well soon, still she forged ahead undeterred. She was close to the biggest story of her life.
She followed the man through a maze of alleys and backstreets. They avoided the major roads and soon, they came to a secluded area after about ten minutes of walking. She was temporarily disoriented geography wise and had no idea where they were, all she knew for sure was that they were in Ikoyi. She followed his lead.
He walked with purpose; spoke in low tones with the security men outside the building. They eyed her suspiciously; he pulled their heads to him and whispered conspiratorially with them. He obviously knew what he was doing. Another minute passed, before they allowed her pass.
He went through the gate with her; she was immediately repulsed by what she saw. Walking into the building from the courtyard was a nude lady. Damilola felt like puking. She hadn’t believed the rumours, now she was seeing for herself. She took a step forward but the man’s hand shot upward.
She stopped. Her eyes dilated, her lips pursed, she regarded the man with an icy stare. Did he just try to grab her breasts?
He was unruffled about her state of mind. ‘We part ways here, you wanted an in, I just provided it. Remember, do not engage anyone here, you’re overdressed as it is.’ He left without waiting for her reply.
She watched him go, a mixture of feeling swept over her. Suddenly, she realized she had been set up. There was no way she could enter the house fully dressed. She drew close to the building and boldly posted there were the house rules. One of them was that she had to strip. She grimaced, what self-respecting journalist would strip nude for a story, she thought.
She struggled with herself for a bit, smiled ruefully and she went to a storage box provided by the management of the club. She took off her shoes first, then her jeans. Her top was the last to go. She felt naked already, a bile rose in her throat. This is what ladies do for money?
She dropped off her belongings into a box, and locked it with the key at the lock. She took only her phone and the key. No way would they be able to wrest those from her, she had shed her dignity, she would not part with her business tool. She proceeded into the den of perverts.
Charles woke up with a start. He felt weird and constricted, something wasn’t right. As he began to acclimatize to the darkness in the room, he noticed he was in a hospital, ergo the weirdness. There was an IV tube growing from his arm, his spasm had severed the tube from the solution it was supposed to be passing intravenously into his body.
He removed the tube from his arm, set it aside gently and spun round to sit up. He winced the second his feet touched the ground. It was as though he had stepped on sharp needles, the pain signal sent to his brain was so powerful, he felt woozy.
He waited for the wave to pass before attempting to stand. It all came flooding back, the events that consigned him to the bed. He remembered the mobile policemen, he remembered the ambulance, and he remembered the doctors injecting him severally. And now he felt groggy yet, something inane was urging him to get out of the hospital in that condition.
He felt light-headed. He sat down on the bed, wondering the reason for his urgency when it suddenly occurred to him, the hospital was in darkness, his assailants were still after him. He understood then, he had to move. He scanned the room for any sign of his clothing or weapons, none. Either the policemen or the hospital staff had confiscated his belongings. He swore under his breath.
Determined that he was not going to die that night, he went silently to the door. He listened for signs of activity outside his room, none. He took a deep breathe, he remembered the commanding officer assuring him that there would be at least one police officer outside his door. He listened again, nothing.
It was either the policemen were dead, or they were corrupt and had being bought, which was more likely. The scenarios in his head weren’t comforting, he needed to move, and immediately. He opened the door a crack, nothing. He pushed a little further and waited, still no movement outside his room. He peered out and observed the hallway. It was all dark.
He stepped out of the room, moved towards the doorway but felt uneasy, he turned round, and went towards the backdoor. He was almost at the end of the hallway when he saw light rays, he ducked into a room, but it was too late.
The men coming to assassinate him caught a glimpse of his shadow up ahead and opened fire. They had been warned he was extremely dangerous. The death of three of their colleagues had buttressed that fact; they had made a silent pact to kill the agent from a distance.
The men advanced cautiously, wary of any sudden movements. Their guns were trained on the door as they looked out for any telltale sign of movement.
Charles felt sharp pain course through his body. His whole body burned, there was a throbbing in his head and he blacked out for a few seconds. He realised he was not in the best state to be dueling, but the men did not think so. He forced himself awake. Failure to do so would be resigning to death: he had no desire to die just then, he looked around.
He saw a policeman lying into the far corner of the room. Ah, the gods still favoured him, he thought. He crept to the man, turned around the corpse and searched to see if the killer had left any weapon on the dead man. None, whoever killed the man had taken every weapon he had. Even his belt was gone. Charles cursed his luck.
He knew he had to move fast. The respect the men accorded him would soon pass if he didn’t act quickly. He studied the dead policeman a while, then muttered under his breath, ‘sorry.’ He took off the man’s uniform, wearing his trousers first. The men were already at the door, scared to barge in.
Good, he thought as he forced his feet into the dead policeman’s shoes. His feet were bigger; he ditched the shoes, made to crawl away, then noticed that the hospital window didn’t have any burglar proof iron at the windows. He thanked his stars, things were looking up.
He grabbed both shoes of the man, and weighed them in his hands. He threw the one in his left hand nonchalantly towards the door as he stoned the one in his right with all his might at the window glass. He didn’t wait for the explosion as he covered his head with the policeman’s shirt and jumped.
The explosions were simultaneous. The shoe dropped in front of the door, causing the men to open fire immediately. The glass shattered sending thousands of shards flying through the air. Charles’ head was out the window in no time. He wriggled out.
The men realising their folly rushed into the room guns blazing. The dead mobile policeman was shot several times as they moved towards window. One man stood in the center of the room whilst the other climbed up and peered into the darkness. He couldn’t believe the agent would plunge to his certain death. They were on the second floor of the hospital complex. He realised too late.
As he turned around, a first shot rang out, he felt his side rupture as he gripped it biting his teeth to stop the pain, a second shot rang, this time it was his neck. He was sucked backwards, gripping his neck, he fell, headfirst out the window. As he sailed through the darkness to his end, he wondered what would have happened had he stayed on at the brothel instead of looking for money. Too bad, it had all ended suddenly; he smiled as his head hit the tarmac, his skull bursting open. His body rolled into the water drainage in front of the hospital.
Charles struggled to stand. It had been a desperate move but it had paid off. He was still alive. At least for a little longer: he had thrown himself at the window the let the shirt fall. He jumped back into the room and was out of sight by the time the trigger happy men rushed in. They didn’t notice him as he crept up behind them, and when the one had jumped on the wall to look out the window, he had seized his opportunity.
Two more men dead, his resume was looking as bloody as Tunde Smart’s he thought, and he was nowhere near the agent of fire’s lethalness yet though. It was time to go out again, this time, he was armed. He prepared himself for the worst and moved. Death would have to be damned fast to kill him.