An Ace For Oscar | Part 1

Genre: Crime

Number of words: 6,000
Writer: Larry Sun
All rights reserved by the author.

“I have a terrible news for you, Mr. Oscar DaSilva.” The interviewer said cruelly. He was tall and dark. He was solidly constructed. His neck, shoulders, arms and chest were thick with muscles, powerful. The muscles could have been gotten only from years of weightlifting. He could as well have subbed for Samson, pulling down pillars and collapsing roofs upon the Philistines. He was wearing a white shirt; the sleeves were rolled up, and his forearms were matted with hair. He had a mustache that looked as if it was drawn on his upper lip with an eyebrow pencil. His eyes were probing from behind the horn-rimmed glasses he strapped on his face. It was with these vicious eyes that he was drilling an imaginary hole into my skull; he seemed to be peering into my soul and discovering my innermost secret. But, judging from the significance of his statement and stare, he must have truly discovered one of my secrets—a secret as shameful as masturbation.

“What bad news?” Although I had suspected what the news was going to be, I still expected—even prayed—that the news was something far different from what I was thinking. Anything but what I feared. It would even be a relief if the ‘bad news’ was the rejection of my application. Deep down in my mind, I knew that I was in a serious trouble. The man smiled and the smile scared the bejezuz out of me. The smile was evil. Malevolent. It was like a snake smiling at you; such smile would not be assuring.

“What bad news?” I asked again. I could feel the trickle of warm sweat travel down my spine. The office was well-ventilated; there was a working air-conditioner and another big standing fan turned its neck to-and-fro close-by, but they did little to dry my perspiration.

The man could see the fear on my face, and I could tell that he was glad about what he saw. He took pleasure in seeing the horror plastered on my face. His face twisted into a smile and it was like the grin of a skull.

Smacking his lips, the interviewer said, “The bad news is that you’re going to jail, Mr. DaSilva.”

“What!” My incredulity could not be contained.

“Yes, young man. You will be spending fifteen years of your life behind bars. Did you honestly think we would not know that you forged the results? Forgery is a very grave crime in this country.”

“I can explain everything—”

“There is nothing to explain, Mr DaSilva.”

“If you would listen to me, I—”

“Like I said, you’ve got no excuse. You are a criminal, and you should be ready to face the consequence of your criminal acts. You are going to jail. All I have to do is call the police.”

I was surprised to hear that he hadn’t already called the police. Mr. Dada wasn’t someone who would hesitate to put another person in trouble. Surely, there was a reason behind his delay to make the call.

“Why haven’t you called the police?”

“I don’t want you to go to jail.”

The biggest lie of the century.

“I’m sure you won’t mind committing a little crime to keep yourself from being imprisoned.” Added Dada.

“How do you mean, sir?”

He shifted his huge bulk in the chair and said, “Be smart, Oscar. I have a little proposal for you. You can’t expect me to turn a blind eye at your crime for nothing. You’ve got to do something for me. It’s a little dirty. I don’t think you’re in many positions to refuse; except, of course, if you would rather be in jail for forgery of results and certificates. I’ve got some people who would gladly drag you to court.”

My sweat still refused to dry up. That expression ‘It’s a little dirty’ seemed very ironical. With a shaky voice, I asked, “What do you need me to do, sir?”

The evil smile came again. “We’re kidnapping the Managing Director’s daughter.”

The plan seemed simple enough, but the risk involved was quite dangerous; we could be put in jail for a long time if our plan was foiled. There was never a time I looked forward to a durance vile after spending two months in Kirikiri over a minor contretemps between myself and one belligerent bus-conductor. By sheer luck, I succeeded in breaking the arrogant man’s nose bridge and making him a deficient of three teeth, considering that he was bigger and possessed more strained veins than I was, or ever would. We had been dragged into the courtroom for ‘fighting in public’ (I still wonder if fighting in private is legal), then we were pleasantly escorted to that notorious prison to spend the next sixty days. It was hell! The sixty days felt like sixty-one years of terror. I wouldn’t wish such fate on my worst enemy; I would rather shoot that for dead than see him spend his holidays in Kirikiri.
On the day we were to kidnap Anastasia Oputa, the Manager’s daughter, I met Mr. Dada at the location he provided. He came in a black Camry absent license plates. The location was an old bungalow at the end of a very quiet street. The street was so long and quiet that I wondered if people were really living in those other houses. The gate of the house was locked; Mr. Dada brought out a bunch of keys and unlocked it before driving into the compound. The bungalow was painted in blue coating. The interior of the house was well-furnished; everything was spick-and-span. At a corner of the living room was a small refrigerator stocked with Coke, beer, and bottles of natural spring water, though not so natural that it came with dysentery, typhoid fever, cholera, or ravenous parasites that would eat you alive from the inside out.
“This is where we are going to keep Anastasia until her father pays up the ransom.”
“How much is the ransom?”
He gave me that revealing stare again and I almost flushed under the scrutiny of his probing eyes.
“We shall decide that after the package has been grabbed.” We? Why would he use that royal plural personal pronoun? Who were ‘we’? Surely, I couldn’t be among whomever he was using the ‘we’ on. I fight publicly, yes, but I don’t do kidnaps. I was only doing this because my refusal might send me back to Kirikiri.
We spent about an hour discussing how we would make the grab. Mr Dada did most of the talking. I listened patiently and nodded my head when the occasion called for it. I was soon nodding like one of those crazy dolls in the rear view of one of those cars with Abuja license plates. I couldn’t even shake my head in negation; the man seemed to have gotten everything in place. He had even taken the pain to get us some costumes and stocking masks to cover our identities. It was when he brought out two pistols that the gravity of what we were about to do dawned on me. Kidnapping is no beans; it’s a very grave crime the law frowns deeply upon. We could spend the rest of our lives in prison if anything went wrong. I wanted to advise the man against going further with the crime but my advice would be useless; the man’s face was set towards the task. Decided. Nothing in this world was going to change his mind. Still, I was expecting one of those Jehova’s Witness members to knock on the door and pass Mr Dada a copy of Watchtower.


An hour and a half later, we drove out of the house to kidnap another man’s daughter. We drove to her school, University of Lagos. As we drove on, I wondered how Anastasia would be located among the multitude of scholars in that institution. But still, it seemed like Dada had everything under his control. We were dressed in black attires; our sartorial tint complemented the color of the vehicle. It was a sheer miracle that we didn’t encounter any police officer to pull us over for driving a vehicle without license plates.

When we got close to the school, Mr. Dada stopped the car and relinquished the driving to me. All I had to do was drive; he would grab the girl. I was all too glad to oblige. The time was already 4:15pm when we finally stopped at a quiet spot, somehow awaiting the arrival of our prey. The plan seemed dumb to think about. How would a prey just walk towards its predator? Where we were parked was even one of the least plied roads in the locality. I suggested that we drove to a more likely place we might find our subject but, as usual, Mr. Dada was adamant. He was convinced that this was the route Anastasia always took after the lecture. I didn’t dispute that; evidently, the man had done his homework well, but I wondered why the girl would choose to take the road, of all the roads that led to the school. There was only one reason for that: this was the shortest route to wherever she lived. In life, even the shortest routes are less paved. 

It was already many minutes past five but Anastasia was not spotted. I had been given the picture of the girl, so I knew whom to expect. I scanned the face of each female that passed by but none looked even remotely like Anastasia. The girl in the photograph was fair-skinned and had a somehow pointed nose. The clothes she had on in the photo accented her hourglass figure, and the smile plastered on her face was genuine and beautiful. For a moment, as ridiculous as it might seem, I think I was falling in love with the photograph I was holding. When I’m not near the person I love, I love the one I’m near; in the case though, I was near a photograph. Go on, call me a cad. See if I care. 

Just then, we saw the image from the photograph approach us.

We were parked at the side of the road. We quickly reached into the car and pulled out our stocking masks. Donning the mask, I sat behind the steering wheel. Mr Dada was already at the back seat; his gun was drawn and he was ready to attack. Anastasia walked slowly towards us. She seemed totally oblivious of our presence because she had earphones in her ears and was somehow gyrating to whatever music was playing from her BlackBerry. One word for Anastasia: Gorgeous! She was dressed in a yellow shirt and a pair of blue jeans trouser, a flat-soled yellow and blue Prada adorned her feet. She had the curves any man could die for. She was totally adorable. She moved gracefully, she could as well be walking on air.  When she reached close to us, Mr Dada stepped out of the car, yanked the earphone off of her, pressed the nozzle of the pistol against her temple, and ordered her to enter the car. Anastasia’s face immediately registered fear and she was already weeping, begging my partner to spare her life. Mr. Dada gave her a nasty slap and ordered her to keep quiet; quite an unnecessary thing to do. Within seconds, the left side of her face turned red from the assault. He sat in the back-seat beside the girl and ordered me to drive. The man was becoming too authoritative for my liking. 

It was hard trying to focus clearly on the road with an oversized mask occasionally veiling my vision. But when I checked the rear-view mirror and saw Mr. Dada take off his mask, I did the same. The two sat together in the back like a couple, and I felt like a common driver. The man had his gun pressed against her side, and the girl continued whimpering—scared. Mr. Dada was busy smiling at something funny I failed to see. Soon, I stopped pondering over what could be hilarious to Mr. Dada and occupied my mind with the hope of arriving safely at our destination. A vehicle without plate numbers would make us too conspicuous than one with. What was Mr. Dada thinking to have gotten rid of the plate numbers in the first place? A dumb precaution, actually. 



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