It was a mistake – checking her Instagram on her way to work.
All she wanted to do was take a quick look, but here she was at her desk unable to stop looking at Edith’s pictures. She wasn’t in the mood to work, she might as well have call in sick. She needed something to distract her.
She called uncle Tunji, news about her car would be welcomed at this point.
“Hello, Sir” she said when he picked up on the fourth ring, “I hope I’m not interrupting anything”
“No, dear. Was having breakfast. I was going to call you the moment I was done”
“I’m sorry to interrupt. How is Leke?” she asked. Leke was Tunji’s cook and steward, the only other person that lived in Tunji’s three bedroom duplex in Dolphin Estate. Each time she went visiting Leke made her the best pounded yam on the planet. It was simply indisputable.
“He’s somewhere around the house. We are celebrating”
“Do share, Sir” Zaneta said, noting an email just came in. She frowned at it.
“You should follow the news, Zaneta. Even if you won’t follow the traditional media, its all over social media – Twitter or something” he said
She sighed, “I have not checked my phone, I just got to work” she lied.
“You need to call your Dad, he was unopposed. Announcement came last night. Congratulate him” he scolded mildly. He’d never been a father, but he tried with her.
“Oh! Wow!” she said, “But I thought we already knew that would most likely happen?” she almost asked, but decided against it.
“Celebrate, Zaneta!” he said.
Zaneta knew if her Uncle, Dr. Moloku, got into that office, Tunji would become quite powerful and even more connected. And of course, wealthier. She wondered, as she often did, what her own life would be like. She could almost bet that she would have to move to Aso Rock as VP’s daughter. Why wasn’t she excited?
“You guys should wash it for me jooor”
“Your Honda is coming tomorrow or next” he said
“Still the Honda? That was coming already, why don’t we upgrade to maybe a Panamera?” she threw in
“Uncle Tunji!!! Porsche Panamera?”
“Listen, dear, you are speaking with an old man. I don’t know what that is, your car is coming tomorrow or next”
“Ose, Methuselah” she thought, then “I have a request, Sir” she said.
“Ok? What is it?”
“I want my name on the plate number” she said.
“Vanity Plates?” he asked. She could tell he was surprised.
“Is that what you people call it?” she asked chuckling.
“Ok. Shouldn’t be a problem to get, it might just take a little more time”
“I will wait, Sir. God bless you, Sir” she said comically.
“Call your dad” he said and rung off.
“What sort of a child are you, Zaneta?” she asked herself as she dialled her uncle’s number.
It rang out twice and she decided to let him call back when he was able. She launched TweetDeck, twitter was agog with the news. She shook her head. This was actually happening. Her uncle was running for the office of the Vice President of Nigeria!
She had to talk to Alice. She decided on a Direct Message:
“Hey! How’s the honeymoon going?” she sent.
She was surprised to receive an instant response: “We just did another one to celebrate your popsi. LOL”
“Ya sick!” she replied laughing out loud in her office.
“Are you at work?”
“Yes. Wish I wasn’t”
“Then go home”
“Dunno. How’s your hubby?”
“He’s doing ok. Are you sure you are fine?”
“Where is your bobo?”
“Zach! You fish!”
“I don’t know jare. He just falls off the face of the earth from time to time. Can’t be chasing man, abeg”
“Pele. Take yourself out. Where is Febi?”
“I will. In her office, I guess”
“Tell her you don’t feel too well, go home”
“I think I’m horny. Can I tell her that?”
Zaneta sent a sad smiley.
“Pray in tongues, call bobo, talk dirty over the phone, sext or sleep”
“LOL!” Zaneta sent giggling. “All together or any one”
“Don’t ask me”
“Ya a goattttttttt!” Zaneta sent back.
“Go home! I’m going back to bed, Bode must not catch me on Twitter”
Zaneta sighed. She had to at least get some work done today.
She looked at the time hoping it would be almost 4pm, it showed 11:37am.
She had achieved absolutely nothing all morning. Aside replying the mails that had come in, she’d spent most of it on twitter and IG following the hashtag #DanbazauMoloku.
The presidential candidate was a younger man, a senator from Kano, Idris Danbazau. She’d met him a few times, his wife was actually lovely. Pictures of the couples were all over. It did seem the majority were in support of the opposition’s choice of candidates.
She called her uncle. Again, it rang out. She called Febi.
“Hello” Febi said.
“Hello, Febi, How are you?” Zaneta asked.
“That’s not your concern, madam! How you are is my concern” Febi said drawing laughter from Zaneta.
“OK. You want to know how I am?” Zaneta asked.
“Errrrr….. No!” she replied.
“Haba! Didn’t you just say that was your concern?”
“What do you want, Zaneta?”
“I’m off my game. Not feeling too good. Could I take the rest of the day off?”
“Are you ill or something?” Febi asked, concern in her voice.
“I’m not, but feels like I’m coming down with something”
“Ok. Its Ok. Get some rest. Let Gladys know, though” Febi replied.
“Thank you” Zaneta said and shut her MacBook.
Zach rang the bell.
It was a duplex on a prime patch of real estate. They had tracked Silas to this apartment. It was in the heart of Awka. They’d driven down in the Audi, still with the dealer plates and each time they had been stopped, they had flashed their cloned DSS IDs. The information they had acquired showed that Silas lived in Enugu with his family.
The moment they had learned that he was out here, with the Lawyer missing for 2 days, they knew they had to move fast. Malik had ordered Uche to have people watching every airport in the zone for Silas. The net had been cast. They suspected he would learn soon enough that the lawyer had disappeared and would take flight.
Going through Barrister Dayo’s email haf revealed Silas as the one who had found Chief Ndubuisi’s secret and sold out to the Opposition. Feeling quite untouchable, he had also left the party along with the others and was the mastermind behind the fire at the party offices in Enugu.
Silas opened the door with a jerk, he looked irritated. He was in a pair of jeans and singlet with shoes on.
“Mr. Tunji let me call you back” he said when Malik and Zach flashed their IDs.
“How may I help you?” he said to them.
“Good evening, Mr. Silas Nwankocha, may we come in?” Malik said with a smile.
“What is this about?” he asked, slipping his phone into his pocket. Zach kept an eye on his hands, no stupid surprises this time.
“Barrister Elegbede is in our custody” Malik lied.
“Am I suppose to know who that is?” Silas asked, looking unfazed.
“Are we going to get cooperation from you or do we slap the cuffs on you right here?” Malik barked.
Silas didn’t move or say anything.
“Sir, please, step out of the building. It’s best we have this discussion at our office” Zach said, reaching out and holding Silas’ arm.
“That’s fine. Can I at least pull a shirt on?” Silas asked.
“Sure” Malik said, seeing what Zach’s play was.
They didn’t expect what happened next.
Silas threw the door at them and ran off into the house. It took Malik the whole of 2 seconds to react. With one foot, he had stopped the door from shutting, regaining his balance, he kicked the door open with his other foot and charged into the house drawing his pistol. Zach hadn’t bothered with the chase, he had run in the opposite direction, and around the house to cover the rear exit.
“Shit!” Zach muttered as he ran, he knew they could easily lose Silas.
He stopped at the corner just in time to see the lights of black Honda Pilot parked in the garage blink. Silas was somewhere and had remotely opened the SUV for his escape. Zach leaned flat against the wall and waited. He had a clear view of the SUV, there was no one in it yet and there was no way Silas would get to it without getting in Zach’s line of sight.
Zach heard a thud, like someone had jumped down somewhere around the corner from him. He took the safety off his already silenced pistol and waited. Suddenly, he heard footfalls heading his way, pretty fast. Silas was making a run for the SUV.
Zach remained in the corner till Silas was just beside him. Spinning out of the corner, he swung his left hand with as much force as he could, catching Silas in the throat with his arm in a close line. Silas’ legs flew out from under him as his head headed towards the ground, his whole body almost turning 120 degrees in the air. He hit the ground head and neck first, his breath knocked out of him.
“Why did you run, Silas?” Zach asked, pointing his pistol at Silas’ chest.
Silas could barely move as Malik arrived on the scene looking furious. He kicked Silas in the ribs making him howl.
“Let’s get him inside” Malik said grabbing Silas by the arm.
Inside, they found a packed bag with a 12:25 Asaba-Abuja ticket for the next day.
“So, you were going to drive to Asaba tonight and leave for Abuja tomorrow, eh?” Malik asked Silas who was split between rubbing his throat and ribs.
“What charges are being levied against me?” Silas managed through teary eyes, clearly in pain.
“Bribery and corruption? Blackmail? Arson? Resisting Arrest?” Malik said.
“I want my lawyer” Silas croaked.
Malik laughed long and hard before saying “Which one? Dayo Elegbede? Or Tunji Akinsanya? Thieves and rogues like you?”
Silas made no answer.
Zach made a call, once it connected, he said “Clear out the airports, we have him” then hung up.
“Here’s a question for you, Mr. Silas Ogbonna Nwankocha” Malik began, “why did you sell out Chief Ndubuisi?”
“That illiterate has no ambition!” Silas spat.
“Or you were just jealous of him because he had Isioma, a woman you had made advances at in the past without success?” Zach put in.
“Who told you about that?” Silas asked looking from Zack to Malik and back.
“My problem with your type is you guys think you are smart, you protect yourselves and throw others to the wolves” Malik said.
“Let’s get you to your laptop so you can write your confession then mail it to this journalist friend of yours who has been helping you plant stories in the media” Zach said, indicating with his pistol.
Silas stood up looking at both pistols as if trying to ascertain if they were real. “You guys are not DSS” he said stopping between both men.
“What size should your LASTMA uniform be?” Zach almost asked. That was something he had picked up from Zaneta, but instead said, “For a Masters degree holder, you are pretty dense” shoving him along.
As they ascended the stairs, Zach hoped Silas would not do anything stupid, they needed him alive to send out his confession. Their bosses were insistent on that, they needed everything they could get to taint the opposition at this stage.
Other useful documents found on Barrister Dayo’s laptops had been sent back to Lagos. The PR people there were pouring over them looking at how to make best use of them to hamper the chances of the opposition in the coming weeks.
About an hour later, they were satisfied with Silas’ statement. Malik had held his pistol to Silas’ head all through, making him drink straight from a bottle of Hennessy while Zach had dictated it from his phone. Once Silas was done, with gloved hands, Zack took over the laptop, composed a mail to a long list of journalists and news houses, attached Silas’ confession and hit “Send”.
“Now, let’s get back downstairs” Malik said, with a slight nod at Zach.
Zach picked up the bottle and followed behind Malik who prodded Silas along with his pistol.
“Please, can I make one last call to my family?” Silas pleaded, he knew it was over for him.
No one answered him. At the top of the stairs, Malik asked “How many minutes’?”
“Just tw-” Silas was saying turning to look back when Malik shoved him hard down the stairs. Silas screamed as he flew downwards, landing halfway down the stairs and rolling down the rest of the way to the foot of the stairs where his body rested in an awkward position.
Malik marched down the stairs to the body, he felt for a pulse, it was there, faint. He held Silas’ head and twisted violently, snapping his neck.
Zach walked down, splashing alcohol on the stairs at intervals, with about 3 steps to go, he tossed the bottle not far from Silas’ lifeless body. It shattered on impact, spraying alcohol on the body and it’s immediate surroundings.
“Let’s go” Malik said.
As they exited the house through the back door, Silas’ phone began to ring.
“Bloody reporters” Malik said.
Zaneta looked at her phone, it was almost 10pm.
Her uncle had called back about 2 hours ago with apologies, he’d been in a caucus meeting all day and would be back home tomorrow. He was excited and Zaneta had to find some excitement as well to match her uncle’s.
The rest of her day had been a drag. “I should have stayed at work” she thought.
She got up, picked up her shopping bags and headed to the car park. She had spent the day at the spa and the mall. What started out as window shopping after two movies had turned into real shopping.
As she got in the car she looked at Edith’s message again, it was still valid, the week hadn’t ended.
“Take me to Maryland” She said to the driver. “I refuse to over-think this. Let me just go” she thought
“Yes, Ma’am” he replied just as her phone rang.
She looked down at it, it was Zach. She sighed.
“Hello” she said.
“Hey, dear” Zach said.
“Good evening” she said. She wasn’t going to rush an apology for not calling him since the last time he had called; the same day he had complained about the stomach upset.
“How are you doing?” he asked.
“I’m doing okay. You? How’s your tummy now?” she asked.
“Fine. Nothing that a few pills of flagyl couldn’t solve” he said.
“That’s good” she said, letting the silence descend.
“Sorry, I have not been in touch, I have no excuse” he said, knowing as he spoke that he had purposely kept his distance. He had told himself the cold truth – Zaneta’s call had caused his blunder with Barrister Dayo. He didn’t need a repeat.
“It is ok. I’m good” she replied.
“Don’t be like that” he pleaded, sensing she was being cold towards him.
“Like how, Zach? You disappear then go silent for days, then suddenly call and expect me to be jubilant?” she asked.
“Jubilant? No. Receptive? Yes. See, I am sorry, Zaneta”
“I hear” she replied
“Babe, it’s not about hearing, that’s a given. Do you comprehend and agree?” he pressed.
“Please, leave me, Zach. I don’t have power for this argument this night” she said making him laugh.
“How was work?” he asked.
“Work was ok. Left early” she said.
“Nothing, just kinda tired”
“What you need is some good old pampering. I’ll bring you some in a box tomorrow” he said.
“Hmmm, are you trying to tell me you are coming tomorrow?” she asked.
“I promise” Zach said.
“I won’t hold my breath” Zaneta said.
“Given some thought to my work anniversary getaway?” he asked.
“Not really” she said recalling, for the first time since he had mentioned it, that he had proposed they got away together for his third year work anniversary.
“Please, do” he said.
“You really want us to go away together?”
“You know I stay with my parents, yeah?” she asked
“Yup! But I’m sure you can make it happen”
“Daddy Raiden, you are funny”
Zach laughed.”You won’t stop calling me that will you?” he asked
“Can’t wait to see you” he said
“Stop it!” she said, this guy was playing with her head.
“Whatever it is you are doing”
“I don’t know what you are talking about, Miss”
“Na so, be forming innocent there”
He laughed again then said “I have to go now. Need to prepare for my trip”
“When is it?” she asked
“I told you, tomorrow” he reaffirmed.
“I know. Just wanted you to say it again, put yourself well inside my trap” she said.
She hung up while he was still laughing. She looked around, the Maryland traffic lights were just up ahead.
“Mr. Joel, please take me home” she said. There seemed to be a relationship possibility with Zach, “why jeopardise that?” she reasoned.
“Changed your mind?”
“Home it is then” Joel replied, switching lanes.
Zach put down the paper he’d been reading as their boarding was announced. The story was in every newspaper, blog and all over social media. Silas’ confession and implication of top party leaders as well as exposing Chief Somto Ndubuisi’s affair with his sister-in-law. It was a mess. The police were reportedly in search of Silas himself for masterminding the razing of the ruling party’s offices in Enugu and Owerri as well as a certain Barrister Dayo Elegbede.
According to the paper he had read, Chief Ndubuisi could not be reached for comments on the allegations as he had been admitted a few days earlier on account of a worsening pre-exsiting heart condition that had suddenly gotten worse barely 24 hours after he had announced his own retirement from politics.
Zach was cleared to board by smiling hostesses, took his seat in business class, got comfortable and promptly closed his eyes. He was about drifting off when he smelt something familiar, he opened his eyes to find a lady walking past. He closed his eyes once again with a smile, the lady was wearing the same perfume Zaneta wore.
He knew he missed her.
As he and Malik disembarked in Lagos, they met one of the boss’ driver in arrivals. They were whisked to the boss’ house on Banana Island. As he and Malik waited in one of the dining rooms where they had been served food and drinks, Zach pulled out his phone and sent Zaneta a message:
“Back in town. More meetings, though. Will call once I get a chance”
The reply was almost instant:
He knew she was surely disappointed, but he couldn’t help it.
Seven hours later, Zach was still at the dinning table. Lunch had been served and he knew supper was soon on its way, but his boss had still not had the time to see them. He was really beginning to hate this job. He looked over at Malik who was across the room sleeping in a couch.
“Japheth, do not concern yourself about all of this, focus on the campaign”
“Focus? The nation is agog with news of our members committing every crime in the book! How am I supposed to focus in all that racket, Tunji?”
“All of them involved in this recently cross-carpeted, it still tells on them not us”
“And your man, Dayo? How did he get into all of this?”
“I’m still trying to find out. We can’t reach him”
Zaneta listened, just outside the door, uncertain if she should interrupt or go away quietly. Her uncle and uncle Tunji were surely having a rough time. She had seen news of all the stuff happening in the east. She had found and read the confession online. She didn’t know any of the names mentioned, but it was obvious, from what she was hearing that her uncle and his adviser knew them.
“Listen, Japheth, trust me, by tomorrow some drunken policeman will shoot a conductor and they will move on to that and forget all of this” Tunji said.
“That’s not even funny, Tunji” Japheth replied.
“Sir, I did not intend to be funny. That sort of madness is exactly why you are running! We need sanity, the nation needs you” Tunji’s tone had changed “Now, you are far removed from all of this, focus on the campaign, if anyone asks you, simply say it is an ongoing police matter and you therefore can not comment at this time”
“I hate this” Japheth said.
Zaneta could hear her uncle sigh long and loud. She saw her chance and walked into the study.
“Good evening, Sirs” she greeted cheerfully.
“Young lady, how are you?” her uncle replied mustering a smile, he looked spent.
“I’m fine, dad” she said, taking a seat. “Uncle Tunji, what’s wrong?” she asked looking at Tunji where he stood before her uncle’s table.
“Nothing, dear. I was about leaving” he replied, picked up a few documents and left.
“Pour an old man a drink, Ogechi” her uncle said with a tired smile. She got up and did as he asked.
“Congratulations, once again. dad. You’ll make a great VP” she said handing him a glass of wine.
“They didn’t let me enjoy my celebrations”
“Who?” Zaneta asked, feigning ignorance.
“This nonsense all over the news” he said waving a hand in the air.
“Oh, that! I’m just glad no one has accused you or the Senator of any wrong doing” she said.
“Yes” he said, then “I’m on the morning show at CTV tomorrow, I need to prepare” he said shuffling some papers.
“Ok. When is mum coming into the country?” Zaneta asked.
“You know her; unless its absolutely necessary, I don’t expect to see her” he replied.
“I’ll leave you to it then” she said making to leave the study.
“I hear your car is almost here, what did you finally settle on?” he asked.
“A red 2014 Honda Accord Coupe” she said
“Used?” he asked without looking up at her.
“Yes, dad. Very used” she said walking out of the study. “This man should not just piss me off, ah! Am I his problem nii?” she thought as she walked to her room.
It was almost lunch time the next day. Zach and Malik were having a game of cards when their boss walked into the room they had been given. They had effectively been waiting for over twenty-four hours.
They both rose to their feet.
“You look tired” he said. He was a tough man with a reputation that well preceded him in political circles.
They made no reply.
“I must say, you guys did extremely well” he said stretching out a hand for a shake. Both men took it, Malik first, then Zach while expressing their pleasure.
“So, we all know what is next?” he asked. It was a rhetorical question but both men answered in the affirmative.
“Zach, how are things with the girl?” he asked locking eyes with Zach.
“Things are on track, Sir” Zach replied.
“I know it must be tough, but hang in there. Once the time is right, you will be given the green light to execute your mission”
“Understood, Sir” Zach replied.
“Good job, guys. Your field bonuses should hit your accounts shortly” He paused as if contemplating whether to say something or not, then said “It is almost prayer time,” with a glance at his watch. “You are dismissed”
Zach and Malik slipped on their shoes, picked up their jackets and exited the room. A few seconds out, the boss called Zach back. He doubled back while Malik kept walking, took the stairs and disappeared from sight.
“Sir!” Zach said coming to attention before his boss.
“Zach, everyone is trusting you with this girl. I personally trust you with this”
“Thank you, Sir”
“Do you know why you were chosen for this?”
“All these years I’ve known you, you have never shown a weakness for the weaker sex” he said, patted Zach’s shoulder and walked away.
It was a mistake – checking her Instagram on her way to work.