05 Jun Thomas shaken as Kenny, His Gang Leader is Killed
The dark night sky flickered with the bright flashing lights on top of the law enforcement and medical vehicles that were now idling in front of the bank. Thomas and Fanni manoeuvred through the alley as quietly as possible until they reached the intersection. Thomas was about to step out into the street, but the sight of the police cars brought him to an abrupt halt, causing Fanni to bump into him. Fanni looked over Thomas’s shoulder and then moved further toward the street. He poked his head out from behind the building and let out a laugh.
“C’mon, Word Man,” he urged.
“The whole block is crawling with cops,” Thomas protested. “What if they see us?”
Fanni dismissed him. “It won’t matter,” he insisted. “They have no way of knowing that we were inside the bank. I wouldn’t be surprised at this point if they probably don’t even care.” He reached back and grabbed Thomas by the jacket sleeve. “Let’s get moving,” he pressed. “The longer we hide back here, the more suspicious it will seem if someone were to see us. We need to act natural.”
At that moment, Thomas was terrified, but he forced his legs to move forward and follow Fanni out onto the pavement. He was very impressed by how quickly Fanni assumed a casual gait and sauntered down the street. A police unit drove right by them without giving the two men a second look. Thomas did not realise that he had been holding his breath until he finally exhaled. So much air exploded from his chest that he thought his body would crumble all the way down to the concrete.
A crowd of onlookers had gathered on the pavement to check out the commotion. The riot police carefully shepherded them to the other side of the street and set up barricades. Traffic control officers directed vehicles in alternative directions so that they would not interfere with the law enforcement personnel. Fanni tried not to appear too conspicuous as he nudged Thomas toward the opposite side of the street.
Once there, they filtered in with the rest of the spectators and watched dozens of people in uniforms bustle in and out through the bank doors. Eventually, the large glass doors were held open and a team of medical personnel pushed carts out. Each cart carried a body — presumably dead — with sheets pulled up over the victims’ heads to hide lifeless faces. The bodies were large, just as Thomas had remembered his team-mates to be in life.
Finally, a cart carrying a corpse that was so long that its legs dangled over the edge was pushed out. A medical assistant grabbed the ankles to keep the heavy feet from dragging along the ground. The dead man’s arm hung limply to the side. Even on a dark night from his vantage point on the opposite side of the street, Thomas instantly recognised the wristwatch. Lying on that gurney was the body of the man who had saved him from being tortured in a jail cell and then rejected an order from a powerful government official to slaughter him in the street. Thomas’s knees shook when he realised that he would now be forced to survive the city of Lagos without the protection of Kenny the Boss.
A medical worker grabbed Kenny’s dangling arm and flung it up on the gurney across his chest. In one smooth motion, he yanked the expensive Rolex off Kenny’s wrist and slipped it into his pocket. Thomas felt his mouth drop open. Before he could shout out a protest, Fanni grabbed his wrist.
“Don’t act so shocked,” he said. “The guy probably does that every day of the week.”
Thomas grimaced in disgust.
“And you shouldn’t be surprised when I tell you that most of the cops and ambulance dudes probably snatched themselves some extra spending cash from the open bank vault while they were inside,” Fanni added. “Come to think of it, Kenny probably would have done the same thing if given the chance.”
Thomas grunted an inaudible response. No, he would not have been surprised if Kenny had done such a thing.
Thomas and Fanni watched along with the rest of the audience as the bodies were slid off the gurneys and packed into the ambulance that was waiting to drive them to the morgue. The spectators strained their necks in the hope of getting a better view of the carnage. There was a feeling in the air that the people were beginning to grow restless, so a group of police officers decided to put a halt to any problems before they commenced.
“All right, people!” an officer shouted through a megaphone. “We need to clear this area. Please disperse in a safe and orderly fashion.”
“Well, you heard that cop,” Fanni remarked. “Let us disperse in a safe and orderly fashion.”
A moment later, Fanni and Thomas turned their backs on the bank building and the bodies of their fallen team-mates and walked aimlessly through the streets of Ogba towards Ikeja.
They travelled several blocks without saying a single word, each deep in his own thoughts. Every once in a while, Thomas glanced over at Fanni walking beside him, but his eyes were focused directly ahead. His jaw was tight and his expression was so intense that it started to make Thomas nervous.
“That bastard!” Fanni finally blurted. He stopped walking and kicked the side of a lamp post in frustration.
Thomas watched him tentatively. He looked like he was about to explode.
“Are you mad at Kenny?” Thomas asked cautiously.
Fanni shook his head. “No,” he cleared his throat, “I’m totally pissed off at that guy… you know… that old punk who showed up at the meeting.”
Thomas recalled the older man who had been sitting next to Kenny at the conference table, the man he had simply known as The Client. “Do you mean the guy who hired us?”
Fanni spat on the ground. “That bastard didn’t hire us, Thomas!” he exclaimed. “He set us up!”
Thomas was not sure how he should respond, so he simply looked back at him.
“Think about it,” Fanni pressed. “The cops showed up at the exact moment that the vault was rolled open! That was no accident.”
Thomas shrugged. “Maybe we tripped an alarm or something.”
“No way!” Fanni insisted. “I disabled all the alarms and the security cameras. I even cut most of the electrical lines inside the building just in case there was a back-up system in place. Trust me on this one. I’ve knocked out systems that were much more complicated than this one.” Fanni paced in a frantic circle on the pavement. “The timing was too perfect, as was the execution. Didn’t you notice that?”
Thomas let out a wild laugh. “I’m afraid I didn’t absorb too many details once the bullets started flying,” he remarked.
“My point entirely,” Fanni countered. “They brought plenty of men to overtake us with more firepower than your basic militia would ever use in an assault. It wasn’t as if we ran into a stray security guard. They knew exactly how many of us would be there, exactly how many guns they’d need to take us out, and exactly the moment when most of our guys would be trapped inside the vault with no avenue of escape. Think about it, Thomas. How could the cops produce an instant SWAT team to launch an offensive with such immaculate timing unless they were tipped off about it first?”
Thomas tried to make sense of what Fanni was saying. He didn’t know enough about police manoeuvres to make that type of call.
“One other thing,” Fanni continued. “You and I are the only ones left standing, right?”
“We weren’t trapped in the vault,” Thomas pointed out.
“True,” Fanni replied, “but when the guns started blazing, they were only pointed in one direction — Kenny’s. Certainly, if they were concerned about rounding up all the thieves, they would’ve scoured the building and we never would’ve had a chance to escape.”
“Thomas, this was a contracted hit!” Fanni exclaimed. “The cops were tipped off that this was their chance to wipe out Kenny and Sadoki, as well as anyone else who got in the way.”
Thomas thought for a moment. “Are you saying that we were allowed to escape because we didn’t get in the way of Kenny’s execution?”
Fanni folded his arms across his chest. “That is precisely what I am saying.”
Thomas bit his lip and paced for a few steps. The more Fanni spoke, the more sense he made. The cops’ timing was perfect, and almost all of their bullets managed to hit their targets. Nobody is ever that lucky.
“So,” Thomas wondered, “what can we do about it?”
Fanni threw his hands up in the air and finally resumed walking. “I don’t know!” he growled. “I’d like to hunt down that old bastard and gut him like a fish! In the meantime, I need some satisfaction.”
Thomas had no idea what that meant, but when Fanni began stomping down the pavement at a maniacal pace, he automatically followed.
“Someone has got to pay for this!” Fanni snarled. “We’ll see who that turns out to be.”
Thomas followed Fanni to an intersection near the Ikeja Roundabout, where he stood poised like a rattlesnake ready to strike.
The actual time the two men spent perched at the street corner was probably less than one minute, but to Thomas, it seemed like more than an hour. Soon after, a black Toyota Camry pulled up to the intersection and stopped at the red light. Time instantly moved forward once more.
Fanni pulled his gun from his waistband, and in one powerful and fluid motion, smashed the car’s passenger side window to pieces. For a man who had spent most of his time on Kenny’s team working as a computer nerd, Thomas was astounded by how strong he suddenly appeared to be.
The woman sitting in the passenger seat let out a shriek that was so high-pitched it almost made Thomas’s ears bleed. Fanni ripped the car door open and jammed the nose of his handgun into the woman’s throat. “Turn off the ignition and give me everything you’ve got or I’ll blow her damn head off!”
The man in the driver’s seat fumbled with the keys, but his panic-stricken fingers could not get the job done. Angry and exasperated, Fanni jumped on top of the woman and reached over to turn off the ignition.
“Go around the other side!” he yelled to Thomas.
Thomas dashed around to the driver’s side and yanked the door open. He noticed that cars behind them were beating a retreat. “Hand over everything!” he screamed. “And I mean everything!”
The man held up his hands in surrender. “Take whatever you want,” he whimpered. “Take the car. Please don’t hurt us!”
The woman cried hysterically, which quickly irritated Fanni’s already surly mood, so he slapped her across the face. “Shut up, woman!”
The sight of a woman being struck startled Thomas, but he did not have time to argue with Fanni about it. “Let’s just get their stuff and get the hell out of here!” he yelped.
Fanni snatched the woman’s bag and dumped its contents onto the pavement. He pocketed her wallet and a gold key chain, and left her cosmetics and breath mints rolling around on the concrete. He then pulled off her jewellery — a gold necklace, a pair of gold earrings, and a diamond-encrusted watch. Meanwhile, Thomas reached inside the man’s suit coat and extracted his wallet and pocket watch. He was just about to step away from the vehicle when he noticed the beam of the streetlight dance off something on the man’s left hand. He took a second look and saw that the man was wearing what appeared to be a very expensive ring. It had a gold setting with glittering stones mounted on it. Thomas grabbed the man’s fat wrist with one hand, squeezing until his hand went limp, and ripped off the ring with his other hand. He wondered if Fanni had seen him drop it into his front trouser pocket.
“Let’s go, let’s go!” Fanni commanded as he darted around the corner.
Thomas quickly followed him into the shadows.
á á á á á
Thomas was completely out of breath by the time they came to a stop near the railway line. He had no idea how far they had gone, but he felt as if he had just sprinted a marathon. Oddly enough, Fanni did not appear to be the least bit winded. Thomas thought he must have been in better physical shape than anyone on Kenny’s team had ever imagined.
“Where the hell are we?” Thomas needed to know.
Fanni let out a small laugh. “Relax,” he answered. “My place is just around the corner, somewhere near the golf course.”
Thomas had a difficult time getting his tired legs to follow as Fanni resumed walking.
Safe in Fanni’s flat moments later, the two men collapsed onto the sofa. For the first time that night, Fanni actually appeared shattered. He rubbed his weary eyes and emptied his pockets, dumping his stolen loot onto the table. Thomas was amazed by how much he had collected in what had amounted to a mere matter of seconds.
“Okay, let’s be fair, partner,” Fanni said. “We’ll split everything up evenly. What have you got?”
Thomas winced. “I don’t think I did nearly as well as you,” he said.
He dropped his victim’s wallet and watch onto the table. He felt the ring roll around inside of his pocket, but he could not bring himself to retrieve it. There was something about it that convinced Thomas that it was probably worth a great deal of money, and with Kenny and the team out of the picture, he had a feeling that he would need all the money he could scrape together for the future.
Fanni emptied the cash out of both wallets, counted it out, and split it up into two equal piles. “I’ll trade you the earrings for the pocket watch,” he then said.
Thomas shrugged. His body was too exhausted and his nerves were too rattled for him to scrutinise the goods.
“C’mon, Thomas,” Fanni pressed. “You’ve got a lady, don’t you? I bet she’d love these earrings.”
Thomas nodded wearily, sealing the deal. “And the team is dead?”
“Yes, it died with Kenny. We have to lie very low until no one remembers what the team ever did. Do not contact me again; it will be too dangerous for both of us. Whoever perpetrated this set-up will eventually get to know that there are two people missing from the body count.” He looked at Thomas and paused. “Keep your wits about you Thomas and leave Lagos as soon as you can. Leave the city before it totally devours your soul.” He glanced down at the watch. “It’s very late.”
Fanni’s warning scared Thomas. “I hope I can catch a cab home?” he asked.
“Sure. This is Lagos!”