They were back on the boat sailing away from the beach back to the mainland. Gloom hovered tentatively over the boat as all four of them sat solemnly each minding his thoughts. The captain oblivious to their dire situation was whistling as he steered the rudder navigating away from the beach towards land.
Justin heaved a deep sigh, moved his lips, but no words came out. His actions were as though he was in a trance, hallucinating about terrible events to come.
Segun placed a hand on Justin’s back and looked meaningfully at his friend. Both men stared at themselves for a bit, then Justin averted his eyes looking to the floor of the boat. Segun recalled how he had felt when his friend said those foreboding words. ‘Segun, my life is over.’ He shrugged involuntarily as the next few minutes replayed he couldn’t shake the feeling, their lives had inadvertently been altered.
‘Dude, stop being melodramatic, what do you mean by that?’ Segun queried.
Ugochi got off the floor and dusted herself. She didn’t mind that Segun had sprayed her with water earlier. She was happy to see Justin up again. Then he made that declaration and she frowned. What the heck? Segun echoed her exact thoughts and she was suddenly grateful he was there with them. She didn’t know how she would have managed the crises alone.
Justin threw up his hands. ‘It over, it’s all over, I’m dead.’
Segun shook him vigorously. ‘Dude, what’s suddenly come over you?’
‘Remember Mr Adams?’
‘Sure the man your boss introduced to you. You said he was the best client you had.’
‘Key word, had! He’s suddenly become my worst nightmare.’
‘How?’ Ugochi managed, she covered the distance between them.
Funmi came in and took a seat by the door. She didn’t know what was going on, their antics told her that things had suddenly gone south. She thought of the missed chance to spend the night on the beach, the intimate memories she would never have with Segun that night. Then she hissed and stood up, went into the room she shared with Segun and allowed the trio continue their discussion, albeit hush hush.
‘How?’ Ugochi asked again. This time simmering.
Segun folded his arms across his chest. Whatever Justin felt, he would have to spill now Segun thought. Ugochi had activated crazy. He almost smiled, then caught himself.
Justin threw up his hands. He opened his mouth, then shut it again, he performed the act again two more times.
‘Speak!’ Ugochi glared.
‘I made a deal with Mr Adams, it was how I got the funds, why I got promoted.’ He slumped. ‘I made a deal, and now my life is over…’ He found a chair and sat. Burying his face in his palms.
Segun was confused, he stood still. ‘What deal?’ His mind screamed, his lips remained shut however. He looked to Ugochi for help and she obliged him.
She went to Justin and sat with him on the chair. She placed a hand gently on his back and used the other to raise his head. ‘Tell me what you did dear. Talk to me.’ Their eyes were locked.
Segun felt like the third wheel. These two always made him feel left out he thought, always sidelined him. And the only time he got to enjoy their company without being sidelined, tragedy had struck, or had it? He wanted to know what the melodrama was about. He shifted involuntarily.
‘I helped him raise an IPO for a non-existent company. They need the money to fund a new company, so we altered the books, pretended we were selling for one company when in actuality we were selling for the other. We generated ten billion naira from two billion ordinary shares, now the money is in the wind.’ He threw up his hands again. Surrendering.
‘Wait, what? You did what?!’ Segun did not think finesse was in order anymore.
‘I believed in the company, all I had to do was help generate the funds. We all do it.’ Justin shrugged, then he continued. ‘All that money, jobs were supposed to be created, a real company built and shareholders getting really cool returns after five years. That was the plan.’
‘You’re such a philantropist,’ Segun sneered.
‘Oh, I forgot, I also get to sit on the board of the company.’ Justin smiled bitterly. ‘That’s all in the wind now. Gone.’
Ugochi felt the overpowering urge to slap Justin. Queerly, her hands stayed by her side. ‘How did that happen?’
‘A backdoor into the account. A fraud’s been committed and I’m the one holding the bag. Ten billion naira, where do I start from, how can I repay that?’ He lowered his face in his head again.
Segun went to his friend then, and stooped. He placed a hand gently on Justin’s shoulder, ‘don’t worry, we’ll find the culprits. Just promise me you never took a dime.’
Justin raised his head, his eyes bloodshot. He observed the resoluteness on his friend’s face. ‘I didn’t. The plan was good enough for me…’
‘Then there’s nothing to worry about. I know a guy. First things first, we need to get off this beach.’ He rose and stalked out of the beach house. He reentered seven minutes later to meet Justin and Ugochi moping. Damn these two, he thought. Then, in a controlled tone, ‘we need to go, now! Get your things.’ He went into his room.
Funmi sat quietly on the boat and observed the trio. Their body movement was in tandem, they had an unspoken understanding. Though Segun had explained to her that Justin had been set up and they needed to get back on the mainland, she found that staring at them, she wanted in on the juicy story. What could have been so damaging that they had to leave immediately without any regard for money spent. She gazed upon Segun and willed him to look at her.
Segun raised his head, caught Funmi staring and he smiled nervously and waved. Why did I just do that? He admonished himself, then he went back to staring at his shoes. The guy he knew had given them a two hour window.
When the boat docked at bonny camp, Justin was the first to jump off. Segun followed suit, and they helped the ladies off the boat. Justin and Segun walked briskly ahead with the ladies bringing up the rear. When they got to the car, Justin got in and turned the car around.
Segun on his part stopped Funmi. ‘I would seriously like for you to come with us, but I can’t allow it. What we’re about doing may be criminal, and implicating you would be unfair. I’ll come by your house tomorrow.’
Funmi rolled her eyes, hissed, then she started leaving. Suddenly, she turned round again. ‘I hope he would do the same if the situation were reversed.’ She left him standing there wondering.
Justin honked, Segun snapped out of his reverie and got in front of the car. ‘We’re going to Iyana Ipaja Justin, remember the way?’
‘Good, then let her rip.’
Justin didn’t need any more encouragement. He was certain the vultures were already on to him. He needed to prove his innocence and fast too. Segun said the unknown guy could help. How, he didn’t specify, and Justin found he had to trust his friend. Better to have a plan than to grasp at straws. The car zoomed away from the park onto the road then the bridge. Justin’s life had suddenly gotten another mission.
© Derin Gbadebo 2013.