Posted: October 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

After the burial of my father, Sparko told me I could take some days off. “No way!” I had told him. He then shrugged.
“I only did the poor thing and that landlady a favour and that was it” I added.
I was eager to cover up for the unexpected expenses I’d incurred. Sparko then told me to join them for a meeting later that evening to discuss a possible operation we might carry out in the coming days.
“What’s the operation about?” I’d casually asked
“When the meeting commences, you’ll find out” had been his response.

After several minutes of banters and a feast of gin and marijuana, the meeting commenced at exactly 8.30 pm. Sparko cleared his throat and spoke. “There is a big business on the table …” as he spoke on, I kept wondering if I was the only one in the dark about this said business. I glanced at the faces of other members in the dimly lit space but read nothing as they all had their eyes riveted on sparko’s. “A reckless federal minister is coming to spend the night with his girlfriend at the Wax Hotel incognito, next week and may be coming with lots of cash too because my informant who is  a driver to the family, told me he had overheard him telling ‘her’ on the phone to meet the minister at the Wax. He won’t be needing the usual entourage for this kind of an appointment, trust me. Besides, the fewer the people with him that night, the safer his secret would be from his adored wife and much less, the likelihood of a scandal.”
“I have checked the hotel out myself” Sparko continued “Not a big place, perfectly tucked away from the open, the hotel lobby is not well lit and it is not heavily patronized, ideal for that kind of rendezvous. All rooms are on the first floor of the single storey building which has only two entry and exit doors at the ground floor: one at the main entrance that led to the reception lobby and the other led to the kitchen and could also connect you back to the hall. The only stair case that led to the first floor where guest rooms are located is beside the enquiry desk. The only problem is that we don’t have the room number. So, that’s the situation and we have little time to brood on this” he paused and then continued “My suggestion is we hold the entire building hostage and ransack the whole place.”
Other members of the gang started to deliberate on the issue as if they had better plans. I asked if he could trust the driver-informant enough to know it wasn’t a trap and for a moment, Sparko seemed to be caught off guard but quickly regained his composure “Yes, I’ve concluded that he’s just a gas bag that would whistle at the slightest of a touch.”
Sparko went on to explain how they had met at a beer palour that fateful evening. Sparko had sat on the same table as the minister’s driver. The driver had bought a bottle of beer and gulped it till the bottle was empty then ordered for another bottle.
“That was when Sparko closed the pocket diary that he had been busy going through. The badge on his chest with his name and initial boldly printed ‘LEONARD .O’ caught Sparko’s attention. He gently placed his diary back in his pocket and continued with his beer. By this time the driver had almost finished his second bottle. Sparko said “hi” to him and he acknowledged the greeting with a nod. Sparko casually added “tough day at work?” The driver said Sparko could say that again.
Sparko said he looked like a nice guy so he called the bar man to give the driver another beer; he thanked him and opened it. The driver said he’d been on the road for seven hours driving nonstop.
“Oh, you work for these courier companies?”
The driver shook his head profusely and looked around to see if someone was eavesdropping “I work for the Minister of Finance” he’d said, his voice becoming slurry. Sparko said a low tone whistle escaped his lips and he quickly contained the amazement that had begun to register on his face. Sparko said he drank from his beer and pretended to be uninterested about what the driver had just said, hoping he’d spew out more but the driver was through for that night.
The driver hurriedly gulped down the remaining content of the bottle and thanked Sparko. He stood up unsteadily to take his leave. Sparko also quickly emptied what was left of my beer, paid the waitress, leaving her with a generous tip and went after his new friend who by then had staggered to the door. Sparko said he helped him out to the road and told him he’d enjoyed the driver’s company and would love for them to sit and chat over some bottles of beer whenever he was free again. The driver had asked for his name which he gave as Simeon being his real name. The driver, feeling somewhat important had said he didn’t know when next he’d be in town but whenever he was around, he’d drop by, Thursdays being the most likeliest of days. Sparko said he almost told him to be specific but caught had caught his tongue before the words tumbled out of his mouth.
“It was exactly after two weeks of patronizing that beer parlour without any luck that my Judas finally walked in, this time with no badge on.” Sparko continued “I almost ran forward to hug him but again held the table firm with both hands till they ached to resist the urge of getting up. He scanned the joint and noticed me at the far corner where I sat and smiled. He walked up to the table I had constantly reserved for two for the past two Thursdays. We exchanged pleasantries like two old buddies. This time he ordered two bottles for us and we chatted over the drink catching up on events of the past week at our various workplaces. I managed to cook up a story plausible enough for him to fall for. I offered to buy us another beer but he declined the offer and instead requested two more bottles on his bill. “That dirty boss of mine treats me like I’m shit. Yet he spends loads of money on his mistresses. Whenever I ask him for a little favor all he says is that he’d see what he could do about it. The wait might take weeks, months, and sometimes in vain.“ He shook his head and continued “someone called him right in my presence, this morning, on our way to the office and he told her to meet him at the Wax Hotel, Friday night, next week, he’d see what he could raise before then. Can you imagine that? I work so hard, yet I’m remunerated poorly. Damn the damsels of this world!” he had concluded, taking a swig from his bottle.
Sparko nodded in agreement and said to him “so Mr. eh, eh…”
“Eko” he helped me out
“Yes, Mr. Eko wants to help another mistress of his within a few days of request in a hotel huh?” we both laughed. The driver went on to explain about similar escapades of his boss and how the Minister had usually driven himself to rendezvous spots alone to avoid suspicion.
“Smart man, but even better for us that way” I had thought as Sparko continued his narration
“The driver went on rambling about things that were not of great interest to him but I managed to pretend I was listening until the driver noticed I had in fact not been paying attention. The driver glanced at his wristwatch and sighed
“Time to go”.
Sparko got up first and waited for him outside the bar while he settled with the bar man. He walked up to Sparko and said “So we’ll see again, my friend” we shook hands and went our different ways.”
By the time Sparko finished his narration, everybody had clung to every word dripping out of his mouth and deliberations and further questions were buried there and then.
I thought plans were made in a cursory manner with too many loose ends left untied. This worried me but again, I trusted and respected Sparko’s judgement, if he could single handedly coordinate the plans that far, then he must have figured out what I was thinking – how do we get out of the place quickly if the plan failed?. Since he didn’t make mention of it, and others members didn’t ask, I decided to let it pass… I didn’t want to upset ‘big brother.’
The next morning, two top members of the gang were sent out to go down to the neighborhood where the hotel was to get a feel of the environment, observe anything unusual that could impede the success the operation and to locate possible escape routes around the hotel neighborhood. This they repeated two other times. One of my fears was put to rest.
At exactly 7 pm, that fateful Friday, we gathered at sparko’s room for the first time since I joined the gang. Down stairs, a blue Nissan bus was parked, the license plates missing. Sparko, said if anything goes wrong and anyone of us got caught, that person must not divulge possible whereabouts of escaping members.
Cold shiver ran down my spine at the mention of the word ‘caught’, I wasn’t the only one with a funny look registered on their faces. We were getting involved with a top government official for the first time. Sparko then added that cowards were free to back out if they wanted to. The funny looks vanished immediately and worried faces became fearless hearts. Sparko retrieved a little bag from under his bed and four pistols were brought out. They were checked to ensure they were in good condition. Three of the guns were given to top members of the gang with extra rounds. Sparko retained the last one for himself. We prayed and we filed out downstairs, each of us introspectively searching our selves. We got into the bus with my short thick set friend manning the wheel of the bus. Sparko sat beside the driver and the rest of us sat on the rear seats. I settled for the first row and was bordered by two of other members, one to my right and the other to my left and the journey began.


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