“Murder, like all great enterprises, repays careful planning.”- Simon Brett (The Nuggy Bar).
Planning is everything. Nothing gets done properly without strategy and efficient execution of schemes. It’s an art. Sublime plans. It’s like turning air into gold. And if you are involved in my line of work you get to appreciate and worship the art of solid planning.
I am in the cleaning business. I don’t particularly enjoy the work but I am good at it. One of those things one just finds that one has an aptitude for. Growing up, I was very good with two subjects in secondary school. Social Studies and Biology. I didn’t do too badly in mathematics and physics. I hated literature (never got the point in it) Real art is what I do. I studied Public administration in the University. Got a job in a Technological Firm as an Administrative Officer (funny I never really got round to understanding what that company did), left after a year and three months. You could say I got bored. Going to a bland desk every morning just became like the punishment of……of…. what’s that Greek guy that rolls a boulder up a mountain every day in Hades? Can’t remember, I should read more. Well, I wouldn’t say my current job is superb and would rock your boat and whatever words kids these days will use to describe the word, superb. The job is good. It has layers to it. It keeps me interested and occupied. The key word here is interested; I didn’t say the job was “interesting”. So many people really ought to take time and read more. Maybe the amount of muck I get to clean up is what keeps me…. what’s that word again? Ah….interested. Last week was low tide for me. I got just one job. The client wanted the clean up to be “done messily”. Curious expression wouldn’t you agree? That’s another thing that keeps me interested. Always room to improve one’s vocabulary. A messy clean up. I quickly wrote it down on my palm. Anyway the job was done according to specifications. I went in light. Didn’t take too many sanitizers, washing powder or disinfectant. Didn’t need to. Now this is where a good planning culture comes in. I consider myself a very careful person. Even though the health inspectors in this country are probably one of the dumbest and most inefficient in the world. Their uniforms; tasteless and unfashionable. Their Administrators are dishonest and greedy toads. I don’t like dishonest people. I have a strong revulsion for toads. Slimy, bloated and noisy things. Why on God’s beautiful earth would some people eat Toads? It’s just wrong.
Anyway I went in light. The client was a man, and he wanted a particular woman cleaned out. What do you think I have been all about? Washing cheap suits at a corner dry cleaning store? The mark was a woman, late 30s, medium build, average height, skin the colour of fresh egg rolls with dark eyes. She was stunning. She always wore a perfume that I can never seem to recall the name. Always lost in translation somewhere between my mind and nose. She always carried dainty bags, designer ones too. And God, were her shoes clean. I love a woman with “wake up shoes”. There is this tricky thing with her eyes. She had a way of making them look dull and intelligent at the same time. Neat trick I tell you. Wish I had eyes like that. But there is a cold cunning behind those dark balls. She was a lawyer after all. Recently separated from some obviously daft guy. She lived in an impressive and expensive two room apartment in Garki. Everything is expensive here. I came to the FCT early last year for two jobs. I needed a coil of rope. It was outrageous. I bought it anyway, from some very dark and toad like fellow in some rotten shop in an unimpressive-gutter breeding-shack sprouting village called Lugbe. The name always reminds me of motor oil. This is the sort of thing that makes one uninterested. Anyway the lawyer lived alone, which was a Blessing. I wouldn’t violate her- I am much too concerned about my personal hygiene to do that. Even if I did, the health boys wouldn’t know where or what to look for-it would be too messy. I am in the cleaning business. I don’t like messes.
I already toured her apartment. The isolation of these very expensive structures make it easier for people like me to slip in unseen. She was very security conscious. Her gate was secured with heavy locks and chains (not that I would go in through there). Same for the back entrances. I had been casing her. She was rather careful. Too careful. I realized she was spooked. It seemed she knew. She knew there was a hit on her. I was irritated. Why do Nigerians talk too much? Obviously the client had been blabbing. It’s hard enough to kill a man who isn’t expecting to get hit. But when a target is aware that a contract has been taken out on their behalf-we really ought to be civil about these things- it’s a nightmare. Nigerians are very paranoid. When they are scared, they get extra paranoid. Then they get religious and become religiously paranoid. That’s the worst sort of mark to take out. They develop a sixth sense for danger and harm. You may as well just drink a glass of rat poison. A great many of them get suspicious of their own dogs. The only problem with this theory is that the mark eventually becomes too careful for their own good. They will start to miss certain things, small things, important things. And in this business, small things can get you killed. Two ways round this. You either wait it out until they make a mistake or you make one for them or you could go in heavy and hope for the best. If the target has acquired the services of guards or the health agents, you may have a pretty messy scene on your hands. Assuming you make it out. Planning is everything. It has to be quick, clean and bloody quiet (no pun intended). If your first strike doesn’t decide everything, you are lost. I am a very careful man. I don’t like messes.
I exited her compound and found a boy operating a pay phone system. The client answers after the first ring.
“She knows, you have been talking too much”
“I may have told some of my people around” the hoarse voice at the other end replied. His voice was bad. Like he had a mixture of polish, mentholated balm and gin to drink. It gave me the feeling of being locked up in a cell with twenty toads humming out Ohm. I wanted to end the conversation.
“I am going to Zaria for a few days, there is something I need there for this job.
“When will you return, I can double it if there is a problem” the fool replied. His voice was killing me.
“No. Its fine, I won’t be long. She is visibly scared. Besides, she has a dog”
“A dog?” Infernal voice.
“Yes a dog, what I need to quieten it can only be purchased in Zaria.”
“Can’t you just shoot it?” the idiot asked.
“You serious?” I asked flatly. The fool was quiet.
“Maybe you should double it after all”
“No problem there at all” he was really stupid.
“It will be in the news “, I said.
“Better, so that any……….” I hung up.
His voice was making my ear drums bleed. I hailed a cab to Wuse. Zone three. Close to the specialist hospital. The traffic here was never bad. Unlike Lagos. Almost missed a mark once because I was stuck in traffic. I hate that city. It reminded me of a mathematical equation we were taught in school. Total chaos was all I saw. At zone three, I searched for some restaurants surrounding a large parking space close to the hospital. There was a woman whose vegetable soup was excellent. I found it. The food was still good. Igbos. Niggards with fine broth. I liked a meal before a kill. I watched a certain man while I ate. He rolled gigantic balls of fufu that would dwarf watermelon fruits and then swallowed them with an irritating relish. He seemed determined to eat himself to death. I could have done it for him. With much less inconvenience. He would have to pay for it Of course. Nothing is free. Arranging a clean out job that looks like a suicide is tricky work. But thanks to our brilliant health inspectors, loose ends bring no worries there. Although I am a stickler for excellence. The man in the restaurant was tall. His lapel pin showed he was a banker. His suite was tight and he poured with sweat while he ate. Like some hidden contraption in the suite kept him soaked through. He reminded me of a job I did once. I have seven jobs in my personal hall of fame clean outs. This is one of them. The mark was one of those investor-stocker broker-equity kind of a guy. I have never really understood all that stock market thing. Anyway, he made away with a large-and I mean a Goliath sized kind of large-sum of money belonging to some investors who were naturally unhappy. One of them, a woman, was less than unhappy. Enter yours truly. I found the mark in a hotel in Dubai sipping a glass of iced tea. That was stupid. I would have found him if he ran to Australia. Now I have a set of rules in my ‘How Not to Do It’ pamphlet on cleaning contracts and deals (I think it would be a seminal work for hitmen and aspiring hitmen. I feel so proud about it, writing is tough work). If you must play fast and loose with any serious business deal, make sure when you cut and run, your destination of flight is well thought out. You better don’t pause when you move. Run to the arctic if you must. This is simply because an extremely minute number of people manage to out run hitmen who are dedicated to delivering vengeance on behalf of their very displeased clients. Most people on the run end up one way. They die tired. Also, don’t start spending money and visiting expensive places in a foreign country. It’s just daft. So many people acquire ridiculous tastes overnight at the first whiff of money. People talk. You would be amazed at the numerous ways someone can be tracked beyond borers. The case with the Dubai guy was peculiar. The client didn’t want him dead. The investors wanted their money back. But the mark was to be taught a lesson. One not to be forgotten in a hurry. So I broke both his legs after I leaned on him to give back the money. Most of it at least. I enjoined him to appreciate the quality of the deal he got considering his deal making profession. At least he won’t forget the lesson ever, since he won’t even have a need to be in a hurry. And he could still drink iced tea. A fine deal I tell you. The moral here; never get greedy. This is vital. In my line of work. I have seen many people bite the dust just because they wanted more. Everything in this world is business. Greed and business, like water and oil, don’t mix. Marriage is business. Insurance is business. Government is business. Cleaning is business. Bless the poor soul that would engage my services and then renege on what is due to me. I feel extremely sorry for the individual. I feel so sad thinking about it.
Anyway, I went back to Garki and glided into the lawyer’s apartment. Surprisingly the locks were easy to pick. I went into her bathroom, it smelled soapy. A sweet fragrance. There was so much sweet smelling bathing gels and toiletries I wanted to take a bath.
She came back by 8:26pm. She hardly stayed out late these days. I was waiting in the closet in her room. So much soft silky clothes. She walked in and I stepped out as soon as she turned the lights on. She froze instantly. Like a bolt of lightning hit her. She ought to be. A man steps out of your closet in your room pointing a hand gun at you; you really will freeze. I told her I loved how well she adapted. She was silent as a stone. I told her to sit on the bed. She obeyed. It makes things really easy if we all work together. She was so pretty, her perfume so intoxicating it filled my nostrils and my soul. I think I swooned a little. That was careless. It was such a pity her world had to end permanently. In fact, it was almost unforgivable. Her name was Roli “The Bee” Bakare. The “Bee” business had something to do with her tenacious and often irksome status as a lawyer. Which is how she came to be in this sticky situation. She was 37, never married, recently out of a bad relationship, had two siblings. A female doctor and a lowlife brother. Her dad was a politician and she was his favorite child but they were estranged at the moment. And the reason I came to be tasked with unplugging her is because the client-a brother to a corrupt state governor- did some very untidy disposal of a young boy. The toad liked boys. He favored their company to one of a voluptuous woman. I must say I found that exceedingly revolting. Long story short, the boy’s family put a lot of twos and twos together and my fine toady client ends up in court for murder. He gets out on a bail and the first thing he does is to put a hit on the prosecuting attorney that happens to be the daughter of his brother’s political rival. Classic case of a fine mess. I could almost write a book about it. But you see, you don’t get a reputation like mine in the cleaning business if you develop a conscience. Hitmen are like injection needles. Cold, clinical and impersonal. A certain target cried for three hours when I found him. I almost fell asleep. He offered me a million naira so that I could develop amnesia on his existence. I shot him three times in the chest after I got the money. Never lose focus. Customer satisfaction is the priority. Reputation is key. A job is a job. Someone wants someone else put out of the picture, you simply put out a job advert on a certain web site or on the job vacancy page of Guardian Newspaper on a certain day of the week asking for the services of a; “professional Human Resource Officer with a power firm. Employment immediate, salary attractive”. The advert has to be done right. You get contacted by a certain associate of mine who weighs the job and calls me if it’s doable. For a very right price of course. Cleaning business is expensive business. I have worked for politicians, doctors, military officers, the occasional disgruntled spouse who wants to remove their competition (lot of women here, but I only do this kind of job once in like 30years) and businessmen. You may have read a few high profile cases in the papers.
Back to the mess at hand. Roli is crying quietly but she is dying slowly. She isn’t tense anymore, her movements are weaker and her eyes look dreamy. She is beginning to notice. I knew she would, she was a smart one. I told you before, I am a very careful man and planning is my mantra. I study my mark carefully like I am writing a doctoral thesis. I know their families, their habits, likes and dislikes. I become their shadows. I have a remarkable talent for tailing someone. I get results. I never leave messes. I clean up good. And in all these years I have found that humans are really robots. They do the same thing the same way every day except something comes along and upsets the balance of their universe then they break protocol and lash out. Sweet Roli wasn’t any different. I knew what time she got home and what she usually did the first fifteen minutes after she dumps her dainty bag and files and whatever on the leather couch. She always went for the orange juice in her refrigerator first. A cold and relaxing drink after a hard day’s work. She drank without a cup. She did this two weeks in a row. It was almost like a script. So when I broke in again earlier in the day, I took the liberty of adding “a little something” to her orange juice can. This substance I bought from a woman in Zaria once. It had the effect of a neurotoxin before it stops your heart. Everything ends in five blissful minutes. And I chose it specifically because it was painless. Almost like falling asleep. Already decided against the “clean mess” the toad wanted. Pretty Roli. She deserved a simple, quick and painless exit. None of the thrashing and gurgling. I am a stickler for fairness. I believe in justice. Roli is getting justice. No pun intended.
She is sprawled across the bed. I watch her. So beautiful. Even in death. So still, like a marble sculpture of a long forgotten princess shinning in the sun. No sun where Roli is going though. Need to stop getting poetic at this age. What a waste.
But, business is business. I get my fee; the toad goes free. Everyone is square and happy. I exit her apartment. The estate was a little alive. No hassle. I can blend in. A man with lips as thick as tree trunks almost flattens my right foot with what the bastard called a car. A damn Volvo. I hate Volvos. The oaf opened the bucket he called lips and said; “watch where you are going”. I looked at his lips briefly and thought about peeling an orange with a blunt knife. That would have been deeply satisfying. I walk away. I place a call when I am out through the estate gates.
“My brother, I am really grateful for……… I hang up before he could croak some more. He had already paid extra for a trip I didn’t make. And what was that brother business all about. It made my skin crawl. I ought to think about tracing my genealogy when I got back home.
I hailed a cab to Protea Hotels, Asokoro. I never stay in the same hotel for more than two nights. Occupational principles. I never carry luggage. A back pack at most. I buy all I need at the job location and dispose of everything once the job is done. I don’t leave loose ends and breadcrumbs.
The client calls the next morning. He isn’t very happy. The job was done but he had wanted to make a statement with it. I told him there wasn’t enough time. I wasn’t about to get compromised. The fool hung up. I could almost smell the alcohol on his breath through the phone. A drunk toad. A murdering toady sodomite. His brother was a criminal in power and in Nigeria, we know how that plays out. Senators get indicted and still stay in government, crooks win elections from prison, judges get killed off blatantly and presidents rob the nation blind. People like me just help to keep the balance.
The police found her. I made sure of that. An anonymous message. The police; the health inspectors. They took almost three hours to arrive at the scene. They didn’t disappoint. Exceptionally inefficient. They couldn’t solve a crime if their lives depended on it. They made my job easier. They ruled her death a medical case. Heart attack or something. Overwork they said. But they went ahead and picked up her ex-boyfriend. They beat him up really good. Said he should “confess”. I must say I commended them there. It was all really laughable. Roli’s father was a high roller in the society. That always got the men in black on edge.
Well, all this was last week. I got three jobs this week. One in chaos Lagos, one in Calabar (looking forward to this one, need a long holiday, always wanted to visit Cali) and I am currently tasking the third. Been following this man for some days. Snaking through Ibadan. The client wanted him “questioned” before disposal. Apparently the target was a professional confidence man. He had already pulled his last act of prestidigitation. He just didn’t know it yet. That’s what happens when you get careless. The target is at a fuel station. I stop at a Newspaper Vendor’s stand. My eye catches a story on the front page of one of the dailies.
“Brother of Governor……
Found dead in his home”
The report said he was found dead in his Asokoro apartment slit ear to ear. He had been dead for three days before he was found. I smiled. Toads. Repulsive and stupid. His security culture was terrible. A blind beggar with a club would have gotten to him. He received a UPS package at his home in Asokoro. He invited the UPS agent in for a quick drink. The package was hand delivered. He was preparing to go to a lounge. Probably to celebrate his “victory”. He was in his briefs and a small towel was slung across his shoulder. The UPS man hit him powerfully at the side of his neck once his back was turned. He slumped forward. There is a level of pain so final, so complete you won’t find the wind to scream. The delivery man drew a six-inch carbon steel knife from his package and slit the fat bastard ear to ear in one smooth fluid motion before the toad could hit the ground. I was very impressed with myself. It was good work. And he got the mess he wanted. Now this is art. The papers had conveniently neglected to mention that the house wasn’t really his house. It belonged to a fellow businessman friend of his who was out of the country. The toad used the house as a “staging” area to ensnare boys. He thought he was hiding his activities. It wasn’t smart. The high and mighty always know each other’s secrets. It’s only a matter of time. I forgot to mention, Roli stirred after twenty-four hours. The mortician fled. The papers say it’s a miracle. I wonder how she would react when she woke up among cold corpses. The substance I used on her, I must have miscalculated the dosage. Less of it will induce a death like coma. Tetrodotoxin. Depending on the quantity a person could either die or wake up after few hours, a day or three days. I don’t understand. I am usually a very careful man. Well, that’s that. She got lucky. It was good work all in all. No loose ends. I had a mask on with Roli. I didn’t need one with my toady friend. Not like he is going to tell anyone. He had a lot of enemies. The Governor can take his time. There is no record of my activities. I have a face that is hard to remember.
My mark is on the move. I hail a cab. Ibadan is such a change from Abuja. That poet was right. So many rusted roofs. At least that’s what I think he meant.
David Iruoje hails from Owan west local government area of Edo state, located in the south south region of Nigeria. He had his primary and secondary education in Command Children’s School and Christ Ambassadors’ College respectively, both places in Kaduna, northern Nigeria. He proceeded to the University of Benin where he obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Literature from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities in 2012. He has worked as a magazine editor, teacher and radio presenter.
He is a writer of prose-psychological prose thrillers-and poetry. He loves to read, listen to music, watch movies, meet people, and travel. He also loves animation.
He lives in Benin City, Nigeria.
CreativeNaija handle: @david-omogbare-iruoje