Kulala Bodega had not experienced the sort of peace he was experiencing in a long time. He was on the terrace of his house reminiscing about the good old days of ease and peace but he knew that the battle against Chief Timbabu had to be fought and won, no matter what it required.
He had succumbed to Awiti’s idea of prayers done the old way, just so that it isn’t said that he did exhaust all the options available to him. He has spent the night undisturbed with Awiti but it was time to continue the brawl.
His phone which was silenced all through the night had about 23 missed calls in all including some from a private number. The number would call again and this time, he would answer it. The unknown caller wanted to meet with him in a secret location to get information on the Chief, but not without letting him know that the Chief was after his life. The information wasn’t astounding to Kulala Bodega because he knew what the chief was capable of.
As much as he wanted to trust this person, he was also distraught. He did not know for certain on whose side the anonymous caller was, he thought it might be a ploy from Chief Timbabu himself but he eventually followed through with meeting the anonymous caller who was masked at an abandoned facility.
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One thing the meeting assured him of, however, was that he wasn’t the only one who wanted Chief Timbabu down and away from looting the country’s treasury dry, others were on the same mission as he, and as the saying goes, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. He had his wife’s gift of a recording device hidden within a pen as a valuable tool. He was going to bring down the chief and he had the perfect tool, recorded conversations. An interesting time it was.
The last night had been full of surprises for Bodega. He had said yes to Awiti’s idea of having a prayer ceremony at his home, then had sung to her, and they had laid on the terrace under the stars and talked until their eyes had refused to stay open. He had woken up to the chirping of birds and after lord knows how many years, had he actually seen the rising sun. The orange sun wrapped in a bundle of soft white clouds spreading its light and warmth slowly to the world looked absolutely breathtaking. The lake under it sparkled as if it was filled with diamonds. When they had first moved into this house, Kulala Bodega and Awiti used to watch the sun go down in the lake every evening, but then life and work pressure got to him.
The day was still a little cool, and the breeze felt good on the skin. Kulala Bodega turned to look at Awiti who was wrapped in a blanket and was now stirring a little. He smiled gently at her and turned his gaze to a tiny green bird jumping on one of the flowerpots placed on the terrace near to where he was standing. “Hey, little guy! You all are disturbing my beautiful wife’s sleep.” The bird ignored him and kept poking the edge of the pot with its tiny beak. Kulala Bodega smiled even harder and told his servant to bring him tea on the terrace through the intercom in his room. He then went inside the bathroom to take a shower.
As he came out of the shower dressed in a bathing gown, he grabbed his cell phone before going to the terrace once again. He had switched his phone to silent mode last evening, and he was sure that there must be heaps of missed calls and messages even when he had told Akachi to take care of it. There 23 missed calls from different people at his office but what caught his attention was seven missed calls from a PRIVATE NUMBER. Kulala Bodega could not think of who could that be since he rarely got such calls. The phone started ringing once again, and PRIVATE NUMBER flashed on the screen. Kulala Bodega answered it instantly.
“Hello?” His tone was cautious.
“I have been calling for a long time. For a minute I thought you were dead.” The voice, on the other, replied in a cold tone.
“Who are you?” Kulala Bodega could tell it was someone influential, or he wouldn’t be talking to him that way.
“Doesn’t matter, and you will never find out, especially if you are dead. The chief will make sure that you soon are.” It was like the person on the other end really did not care of who lives or dies. His tone was of an extremely bored person.
“What are you..” Kulala Bodega tried to sound casual too but failed miserably.
“You listen to me. If you wanna live, trade any information about Chief Timbabu and we will make sure that he is destroyed. Your name will be kept under the wraps, and you pretend as if you have no clue about anything. No shitting. Got that?” The person said in a business-like tone.
“Yeah, but how do I know this is no game?” Kulala Bodega sounded cautious again. It could be a trap. The chief had been after him, and he was no kid to fall it.
“You don’t!” The voice taunted. “You just have to take a risk or umm maybe die?” It was obvious that the person was in a mood to tease Kulala Bodega now.
“When and where?” Kulala Bodega suddenly had an intuition that it was no game, no trap.
“The old warehouse on the farthest corner of the city. Show up alone at 4 pm.” The line was disconnected before Kulala Bodega could ask another question. He felt a surge of adrenaline rush. He had to take this risk, whoever that person was. He would go see him.
Kulala Bodega ate his breakfast in a rush feeling more and more restless with each passing second. Nothing could keep him distracted. He went to his office and even attended a meeting about the descending situation of the economy, but his eyes were glued to the people in front of him, but his mind was somewhere else. After a quick lunch, he asked Akachi to cancel his next meeting. Akachi freaked out big time as Kulala Bodega was in and out of the office these days and there were issues that needed his instant attention. Akachi was a great help for Bodega, he had always been from day one, but now even he could not manage the piling up work.
The warehouse was an hour-long drive, and Bodega left even before three because he couldn’t wait to meet the stranger who was on his side.
As he pulled over near the abandoned warehouse, it was 3.54 in his watch. He rolled down the window and took his sunglasses off scanning the surroundings of the place. There were huge bushes around the building and shards of glass could be seen everywhere. The paint was peeling off from the walls, and he could see bats nesting in the dark and cold corners of the old building. There was no human insight. Kulala Bodega opened his dashboard and pushed the stack of papers aside to reveal a shiny silver revolver. He hid it inside his belt and buttoned his coat. He stepped out of the car and wore his sunglasses again. It was a scorching day.
He took every step cautiously, and with big quick steps he went inside the building. The warehouse building wasn’t in bad condition at all. It looked like it had been cleaned and taken care of. The walls were painted with spray paints, showing enchanting images of African children and older people. Kulala Bodega could not help but marvel at the sight. He slowly walked to one of the walls and read the quote written on it:
He that beats the drum for the mad man to dance is no better than the mad man himself.
He remembered his mom saying this when he was a little boy. African proverbs were so wise, he thought. Suddenly, he felt as if there was someone right behind him, but before he could pull the revolver out, he heard the person mutter.
“Easy, James Bond.” The same cold unbothered voice he had heard on the phone sounded even more bored now.
Kulala Bodega swirled to find a funny looking person standing right behind him. He was wearing an old-ragged jeans with a black leather jacket and Ski mask. Yes, a Ski-mask. He looked so spooky, like a bank robber or a serial killer.
“Oh, you.” Kulala Bodega tried to conceal the discomfort in his voice. “I was expecting someone..”
“Someone in an expensive suit and a cigar?” The stranger taunted in a sarcastic tone. “We don’t have as much money as you or the chief. I feel sorry for myself.” He added with a dark chuckle.
“I didn’t mean that.” Kulala Bodega said quietly. “Who are you?”
“I am the central character of chief’s nightmare. You can say I am the mastermind behind the underground paper. Heard of it?” He sat down on a broken table.
“Oh, yes. Of course.” Kulala Bodega’s eyes widened. He wasn’t expecting that.
“Yup” Added the stranger scratching his leg. “Isn’t it too hot these days? Man, climate change is killing this planet.” His tone was so casual that Bodega blinked twice before his sentence sank in.
‘What is your name?” Kulala Bodega fired.
“Let’s just say it ain’t your business. Okay?” Said the stranger. “Let’s get to my business now. Sit down so we can talk.” He pointed towards another three-legged stool laying in the corner.
Kulala Bodega hesitated a little and then sat down. “What is your business?” he questioned.
“Well, I want information, proofs that I could publish in the paper. Solid proofs no shit.” The stranger picked his nails.
“What would that do?” Bodega narrowed his eyes. “Many papers publish stuff, but the chief is too powerful.”
“This is no ordinary paper, and I am no average enemy. I will not sit on my ass peacefully until I am done destroying Timbabu.” He scratched his leg again, violently this time. “These fucking bugs are getting to me, man. You better start talking fast.” His voice wasn’t bored now; it was annoyed.
“What do I get in return?” Kulala Bodega was not going to give him everything easy.
“Your life. What else do you want?” The man clearly was annoyed now.
“He won’t kill me,” Bodega said in a calm voice. “Not until he gets his money.”
“You mean, never?” The man taunted again. “We all know the treasury is empty and you don’t have that kind of money.”
“Yeah,” retorted Bodega.
“Do you come here often?” His question took the stranger by surprise.
“Why would you say so?” He for once, looked surprised.
“This place looked pretty well maintained.” Kulala smiled at the artistically decorated walls.
“Hmm. This ain’t taking us nowhere, my dear Kulala Bodega.” The man snapped him back to the moment.
“What exactly do you want to know?” Sighed Bodega.
“Everything,” The stranger opened and closed his fist. “The more we know, the harder we can screw him.”
“His account details, black money, illegal business activities. Where does the money come from? Who is involved? All the names.”
“I will tell you everything. Even I can give you a recording.” Kulala Bodega smiled. “If you promise me my name would not be revealed. You know I have a family that I love a lot.”
“Recording?” The stranger now clearly looked impressed.
“Yes, my wife once gifted me a pen, which had an incredible tiny camera inside it. So, I used to take it with me in each of the meetings I had with the chief.” Kulala beamed, He looked proud of his Awi.
“Smart.” The stranger replied. “Send me the recordings on my PO box.”
“I will.” Bodega started explaining to him how it all started and how the chief had everyone in the political arena by the balls. “He simply has something for everyone — the material to blackmail them all. None of us just can’t put our foot down. It isn’t just possible.”
“Hmm. And?” The stranger asked, lost in his own train of thoughts.
“Is there a way to turn the tables on him?” Bodega looked at him hopefully.
“I guess.” The stranger still was in deep thoughts.
“How?” Questioned Bodega.
“You shall know.” The stranger stood up hurriedly. “I have to go now, but I will text you my details and PO box number. Just be careful and do not roam around alone. He is after your life.” He rushed out of the door leaving the gaping Kulala Bodega behind.
“What? Het, wait.” Bodega called behind him, but the stranger was already gone.
Kulala Bodega sighed in an exhausting way and dragged his feet to the furthest corner of the warehouse where there was a painted picture on the wall, where a short-haired African woman was hugging her child, both covered in festive colors, laughing carefree laughter. This was how Kulala Bodega wanted to see his people, Living their lives with peace and joy.
He now knew that his dream for his people will come true soon now.