This will be the last time. But that was the same thing he said the last time and the time before. Yet, he is determined never to walk down this road again. He has been remembering the faded memory of his mother too often of recent. Sometimes she wears a wig like she does in the photo his father has displayed on the mantelpiece and sometimes she only wears a smile with the rest of her body blacked out. Her eyes tell him everything he wants to know. Her smile is one of dissatisfaction. Today will be the last time.
They had planned everything. It will be simple enough, entry and exit will be clean. This is what bothers him. He hated plans that were easy and straight forward. The more complicated, the better. But he had neither a choice nor a say in this matter. He wonders how the rest of the crew will react later tonight when he tells them he is done. It has been five years. They were fam, blood but he has to stop.
Sting walks into the room, his diamond studs twinkling on his right earlobe like a star in a dark night. Even if he hadn’t seen him, he would have smelt him. He had a distinctive body odour. That was the first thing that had struck him that day five years ago when he had rolled under a packed “danfo” to escape the chasing mob. The five minutes he spent waiting out the crowd was enough for him to get used to the smell for lifetime “Ready?” Sting asked.
There were murmurs from around the room and he had an overwhelming urge to tell them he wanted out. He didn’t. “Let’s go!”
They shouldn’t have any problems. They had stalked the target’s social media page and knew he would be away for at least a week. He still posted pictures of he and his family from their Dubai trip a few hours ago. He had tweeted at someone that his younger sister would be home. AY had run into her and they had quickly become friends. He will be letting them in.
All they wanted was the content of the safe. Sting hadn’t revealed how he found out about the safe and its contents. It was worth five million naira. This was the largest heist they had ever been part of and they had to bring in two others to make five. AY was one, the other was the man’s driver. The driver lived in the Boy’s Quarters and his job was to leave the gate open and stay out of the way after. The Mai Guard would be praying at this time. They were to complete operations before he completes his prayers. Nothing could possibly go wrong.
Sting had the gun. He never carried a gun. Ake carried a knife which he hardly ever used. They never resorted to violence… There was just this one time, but it was the only time. He had taken a walk round the compound earlier in the day and he knew the terrain quite well. Once more he felt that tug, the urge to back out. He ignored it.
He looks at his watch, it is exactly 8pm. He can hear the muezin call in the distance as they make it towards the gate. He was to act as the sentry at the gate, just in case anyone chooses to pay an unexpected visit in the ten minutes they will be in the house. Sting and Ake will go in tie up AY and the girl; get the jewels out of the safe and walk right out. It suddenly occurred to him that he hadn’t asked if Sting knew the combination for the safe …It was too late to ask.
He tried to get his thoughts together. Perhaps he will go back to school. At 22 it isn’t too late for him to try to get a degree. His father had tried to talk him into getting one earlier but he hadn’t been ready. He remembers that day, under the danfo when he first met Sting, how he levitated between holding his breath and holding down his morning meal due to the stench coming out of Sting’s body. He should have been in school that day but he had chosen to try out something he had watched in a movie and make some fast money. He had waited out the angry mob and when he wanted to leave, Sting had stopped him, saved him actually, he was older in the game and knew there was always that one person who would not leave with the crowd. The man had finally left convinced that he had vanished into thin air. “Sting,” Sting had said as they rolled out from under the bus and they had become friends from that moment.
The sound of the gun shot brought him back to reality. It had come from within the house leaving him quite confused. They had agreed no shooting. The sound of a scream from the house reverberated forcing the Mai Guard to abandon his prayers and start running towards the house. He watched him go, hoping his comrades will be running out any moment. Instead he hears AY screaming. It took him a while to realise what AY was saying then it registered.
He slips out of the compound as soundlessly as he can and then begins to walk away leisurely at first as the crowd begins to gather, no one pays him any heed. He stops himself from breaking into a run, that would be fatal. He gets to the car. Ake had left the key in the ignition. He gets in and drives off slowly. He would drive towards Seme and then disappear. The only hello they will be getting from him will be from the other side of the border.[color-box] Abigail Anaba is a writer, teacher and thinker. She has been in the writing business for about fifteen years where she worked mostly in the movie and TV industry with writing credits to “Eve”, “I Just Came Back”, among others. She recently published her debut novel, SectorIV. [/color-box]