The chronicles of a high profile gigolo
I should have been paying more attention I guess but with so much on my mind, who could blame me. It also did not help that I really did not know how to locate the address Yvette had texted to me, I however was very aware of the moment the cab screeched to a halt. Before I could not even ask what was going on the door beside me was pulled open. It all happened so fast. It was dark but from a nearby street light, I could see the man's face, physically he and my man Friday could pass for twins however this fellow had a long scar running all the way across his face, from his left cheek, across his nose, passing just under his eye and ending somewhere past his hairline. All in all, his face was not a pleasant sight to behold and I made a mad scramble for the door handle although I doubt I would have made it, half frozen with fear as I was. My feeble attempt at escape was halted when I felt a gun poke me in the ribs.
I've read and heard people say that a gun muzzle is cold against the skin. I've always felt that a gun muzzle would be at room temperature, or hot if it has recently been used. When a gun muzzle poked in the ribs, I didn't feel its temperature, I did not feel anything, well I felt the initial poke but that was it. My body felt numb, completely numb and I felt lightheaded and I did not need "Scarface" to tell me not to move. I let go of the door handle and sat back when he told me
"Relax, the boss needs you alive but he did not say I should not demobilize you." His stinky breath fanned my face, I felt myself throw up in my mouth, but it was not from the bad breath, the fear I felt was that intense. This man looked like he would have no qualms killing me, now or later.
"How far?" he hailed the "cab driver"
''I dey" he looked over his shoulder to smile at his partner before he continued speaking "Jackson lost him at Babalola so he called me, I was waiting to give him a ride." He burst into raucous laughter. Something he said must have been funny to him because neither Scarface nor I joined in the laughter. Scarface leaned towards me and I flinched as the gun poked me even harder in the ribs. Scarface was reaching for his phone with his free hand, the phone seemed to be caught in something which was also in his pocket but he was finally able to extract it. He punched buttons on it, he was confident that I was going nowhere, and I realized making a scramble for it at this point was a very stupid idea.
''I'm with him boss." he said and then listened for a bit before he spoke again.
"Yes boss, he is fine, no fight nothing, Musa is at the other location and they will meet up with us as soon as the asset is acquired."
I wondered what this “asset” was but I had more pressing problems.
"Yes sir, hold on for him." Scarface handed the phone over to me.
"Hello sir" I had a very good idea who I was talking to already and I was right, it was Pope.
"Faruk, what's your plan?” Pope sounded businesslike, bored even, but I was not fooled. I tried to come up with something but all I succeeded in doing was mumble.
“Speak up Faruk, be a man, you weren’t mumbling when you were telling me all about the money we were going to make from this contract, so why are you mumbling now?”
“Sir, I am working on…”
“Ahhh spare me all of that Faruk. You were planning to leave the country Faruk. With my money? Really that was your plan?”
Yvette had screwed me one more time it appeared. How stupid could I be I questioned myself? Was she working for Pope as well?
“Faruk” Pope brought me back to the present “I’m always a step ahead of you believe me. You really think I got here by just sitting around and getting screwed by little idiots like you. You’ll give me what is mine Faruk.”
“I’ll get your money sir.”
“Oh yes you will, believe me, I am working on something, and it will help you get my money trust me. Just get your ass over here.”
It was not as though I had a choice. I mumbled a subdued “Yes sir.” And handed the phone over to Scarface. He spoke for a bit and got excited at some point as he said, “Oh that’s good boss, that asset is very key sir, so do we let go of him?” He looked at me as he said this and I felt a glimmer of hope, stupid optimism yes but I was already grasping at straws. “Oh okay boss, we’ll be with you shortly.” I guessed I was not going anywhere anytime soon. The drive continued and surprisingly I became a lot calmer than when we were first joined by Scarface. I began to think about what this asset was that would make Pope consider letting go of me but I could come up with nothing so we rode in silence for a while.
Then Scarface spoke “Chief, you dey watch American film shey?” I wondered where he was going with this, I also assumed it was a rhetorical question so I said nothing, he was not bothered by my silence at all as he continued “Na here we go cover your face.” I tried to place his accent, the pidgin he spoke was generic and I needed an accent to place him geographically. Why I needed to categorize him by tribe, I do not know, probably it was just an exercise to keep me from dwelling too much on what was happening to me and the fact that I had no control over it. He produced a small black sack, about the size of a pillowcase and then prodded me in the ribs with the gun. I needed no further prompting. The last I saw of the drive was our ascension of the third mainland bridge.
“Open up Abass, we’re at the gate.” He was on the phone again, the car slowed down and I heard gates being pushed open. We were at our destination. I reached for the covering on my head, Scarface hit my wrist with the gun barrel; “Keep it on until I tell you to remove it.” he hissed. So I sat still. I heard him open the door on his side and get out, then he came around to my side and pulled the door open, he proceeded to lead the way, I could not see anything and Scarface for some sadistic reason would not tell me when to lift my legs higher to avoid stumping my feet, when to brace for a step down or when to duck to avoid hitting my head. I was led through several doors and finally the covering was pulled off. I took in my surroundings, the room was sparsely but tastefully furnished, it had an un-lived in feel to it.
“Have a seat, the boss will be with you shortly.” He was in the company of two other thugs, my man Friday was one of them, he had somehow gotten here before us and he looked particularly angry with me.
“Do you want something to eat or drink?” Was he kidding? Scarface appeared to be the leader of this three as he did all the talking. He stood there apparently waiting for a response and so I told him no and that I was fine. He found that funny and his friends joined in the laughter.
“Okay,” he said when they were done laughing “make yourself comfortable, the boss will be with you shortly.” They filed out of the room, they didn’t pull the door shut behind and I could see their backs as they walked down a long hall. If I had expected to hear them lock and bolt doors behind them or leave one of them behind to stand guard, I would have been disappointed but the truth is that at this point, I was not expecting anything; I just wanted this nightmare to come to an end.
I sat for a while awaiting the pleasure of my “host” if you could call him that and he did take his time, so I had time to take in my surroundings; leather seats, a center table made primarily of marble, a regular sized television hanging from one of the wall, a large chest with a leather covered top stood in the further most corner and that was it. Certainly not a home, neither was it a love nest, judging from the kind of man Pope was, it was probably where most if not all his shady deals went down. It was probably also where he “skinned” most of those who crossed him. The latter thought made me shudder; I had after all crossed Pope and in the biggest way possible. I sat up straighter and tried to come up with a plan, a story, something, anything. I had nowhere to come up with the money, no plan whatsoever but I had to at least leave here with most of my skin still in place. I had no doubt that Pope’s goons would be allowed to have a go at me even if he would allow me to leave and complete the thirty six hour deadline, I could only hope that they would not tamper with my face, it was after all my greatest asset and if I was even going to come up with anything, not a lot of people would be willing to do business with or throw a lot of cash the way of a gigolo with a battered face; yes I said it, gigolo. It was time to focus on bigger issues and not what name was appended to me. Whatever I had to do at that moment to raise Pope’s money, I was willing to do, in fact, at that very moment it actually did occur to me to make enquiries about anyone who knew voodoo, black magic, whatever you want to call it, and get a witch doctor to make money rituals on my behalf.
I quickly discarded the thought; first because I did not believe in it and secondly for the practical reason that I did not think a money ritual no matter how potent could come up with the kind of money I needed and in so short a time. Let us not forget that time was running faster than usual and I had barely twenty four hours to go.
I heard pope long before I saw him, his voice was not raised, it was the same trademark rumble but still it preceded him and I quickly got out of my seat, standing with my head hung and my hands held humbly behind my back. He was on the phone and he casually waved me to take a seat. I did not take the seat indicated, how could I? I stood till he hung up the phone. He looked at me for a while, his look was unreadable,
“Faruk,” he addressed me finally, “take a seat, and take this as a business meeting please. What do I offer you?” Was he kidding? What was it with these people and offering people refreshments? I shook my head mutely in response to his offer..
“Have a seat.” It was not a request or suggestion this time, it was an order. I sat down immediately, on the edge of the seat.
“Your plan was to run away? Leave the country? Really?” he laughed, a short mirthless laughter, I shuddered, making a mental note not to ever trust a woman again.
“Anyway,” he continued without waiting for a response,
“like any business, there has to be a motivation for either party to perform and perform to the satisfaction of the other party. In this case we need the kind of motivation that will ensure that you do not abscond. I have her in my possession.”
I hid a very secret smile. “His plan is to use Yvette to force my hand” I thought to myself. He would pretend to kidnap Yvette? That was it? How stupid could this people think I was? Not only were they biting me twice, they were doing it in quick succession, all I had to do now was get the hell out of this place and follow dad’s plan. But first, I had to pretend to be truly stricken by the fact that he had kidnapped Yvette.
Pope reached for a remote control on the arm rest of his chair, he switched on the screen; I did not have to pretend to be stricken, I was indeed stricken, almost to the point of a heart attack. Right there on the screen, looking as calm as ever was my mum, her hands were tied in front of her and she was sitting on a lone chair in a bare room.
I choked and coughed severally to clear my throat, “Pope, please…” He raised his hand to cut me off, “I’m not planning to kill her, well not unless you do not return with or without my money in…” he paused to check his watch “twenty two hours and twenty eight minutes. If you return with my funds, we are all good, if you return without my funds, I’ll gladly let go of her and take your life, if you do not return at the set time, then you would have killed her your fucking self.” He switched off the screen. “You can go.” It was yet another order and at that exact time, his goons filed in, I stood up to go and Scarface raised the black hood to cover my head once again. “Faruk,” we both turned to face Pope before the cover came on, “the police can’t help you, the DIG will handle that, no one can help you Faruk, get my money.” The cover came on, I heard pope get on the phone, starting another call.
My face was finally covered. I felt a murderous rage, it was an alien feeling but I was sure I could have killed Yvette if I laid my eyes on her at that very moment. Now that my mum was involved, everything that had happened prior to this moment seemed like child’s play. I still had no plan but I was already at a point where if all else failed I would walk up to Pope at 6.15pm tomorrow secure mum’s release and get what was coming to me.
Eventually I was dropped off by Scarface and the “cabman”; they actually dropped me off at my house, and waved goodbye. It was all so surreal. My phone had been ringing, the DIG and Alhaji Bukar would not let off, and neither would my dad. I needed to speak with my dad urgently but I couldn’t speak with him in the presence of Scarface so I waited till I got dropped off. I pulled out my phone to dial dad, but it rang before I could tap the buttons, it was Yvette; I almost smashed my phone on the concrete side walk that ran past my gates, so angry was I , but I still needed the phone to make calls so I cut the call off mid-ring. I was waiting for dad to take my call when my phone beeped, it was text from Yvette;
“Are you there yet?
I was tempted to respond to the text with a death threat but before I could dad picked up the phone. I took a very deep breath before holding the phone to my left ear.
“Faruk!” he yelled before I could say anything else. “Where the hell have you been? James said you did not come to him. What did you mean by you’re handling this yourself?” The rest was lost on me, I let him vent and run out of breath before I spoke.
“Dad there is an even bigger problem, I am on my way to you.”
“What bigger problem Faruk, what could be bigger than this, what stupid thing have you done since you left here?”
“I’ll tell you when I get there dad.”
“No you’ll tell me now on the phone or don’t bother coming here, I gave you precise instructions, you refused to follow them and now you’re telling something else has gone wrong, what did you expect you bloody fool?” One again I let him finish before I spoke;
“It’s not something I can tell you on the phone dad.”
“Then I don’t want to hear it!” He hung up.
Continues next week Friday. Stay tuned for Episode 9. Please like and leave a comment below.