Read Part 1 HERE
Read Part 2 HERE
Read Part 3 HERE
He waited patiently as the other boys carried on talking about all the things they would buy with big money. He would wait to hear Olori out when he got back inside. He joined the boys to eat dinner of beans and yam that they'd bought from the local mamaput roadside kiosk.
Olori called Kola and Tunji aside later and told them about the job they would be accompanying him on the next week. The following day, he took Kola to the local bend-down boutique at the market and picked out some second-hand clothes for him—two t-shirts and trousers and even a new pair of shoes. Apparently, the job required for the boys to be smartly dressed.
Kola was so excited about the new clothes, his apprehension about the job receded until the day in question. He had to wash early and get dressed. He and Tunji didn't go to scavenge. Instead, they got on a bus with Olori. Kola had never been outside of the area that he'd grown up in until that morning. So he marvelled at the sights and sounds around him.
For one thing, the perpetual stench didn't follow him. The air smelled fresh albeit fused with exhaust fumes and the smell of food from roadside vendors. The buildings he saw were made of bricks and painted in beautiful colours. They went past residential homes behind gated compounds as well as towering office blocks. The roads had fewer portholes than the unpaved ones in his locality and the cars were a lot newer and sleeker than the rickety ones he was used to seeing.
The journey seemed to take forever and they changed buses a couple of times. Olori even bought them snacks to eat on the way. Eventually, they got off the bus and walked the rest of the way until they came to a gated house. Olori spoke to the gateman who let them in.
Inside, they met Stinger who had a roll of marijuana in his hand. He waved for them to sit down. "Stone will be back soon and then we'll be off."
The house turned out to be a one-bedroom ground floor flat. But it had nice furniture and a functioning kitchen which was a lot more than Kola had seen. Where he lived, the kitchen was outdoors, as well as the bathroom. And they were communal. For him, this was luxury. There was even a fan circulating cool air in the room as opposed to the handheld plastic discs they used to keep cool in their house.
If big money brought this kind of life with it, no wonder the other boys aspired to be like Stinger and Stone.
While they waited, Stinger finally told him what his job would be. He was to be a decoy. Kola was confused about what it would entail even after Olori said, "Just do as you are told and everything will be fine."
Before he could reply, Stone arrived, carrying a black bag which he dumped on the wooden coffee table.
Stinger unzipped it as the young men gathered around. From the bag, he withdrew a shiny black metal object. It took Kola a few seconds before he realised it was a gun.
He shrank back into his seat, heart pounding in his chest as Stone and Olori pulled out more. Guns? No one had told him there would be guns. He'd watched enough movies on their old neighbour's TV to know those things were designed to kill. Only armed robbers and police carried them.
Although no one offered him one, did that make him an armed robber now?
The men turned around to look at him. Even Tunji eyed him up.
"Of course you can," Olori said. "You're not going to handle the guns so don't worry about them."
"But people could be killed. What about the police? We could be shot." He'd seen it happen in the movies.
"Nobody is going to get shot," Stone said. "This is just a precaution to make sure the people do what we say."
"Exactly." Stinger pointed his gun in Kola's direction. "People are always scared when they see a gun and they will do anything you tell them."
The weapon levelled at him didn't waver. Kola tried not to pee in his new trousers. His heart thudded painfully against his ribcage and he found it difficult to breathe as he stared into the barrel of a gun for the first time. Was today the day he would die? He didn't want to show any fear and tightened his grip on the seat to stop his hands from trembling.
To be continued.
Come back tomorrow for more.
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