The interior of the bank was a cool respite from the scorching heat outside. Sam walked to the water dispenser, gulped down three cups of blessedly cold water, and smacked his lips with pleasure. He felt good. He had already decided to deposit forty thousand naira in his account and go with ten thousand; make e no be like say im dey wicked, say im no wan share the money. Ten thousand would be more than enough. Besides, he had to get back to work before the guys got unnecessarily worried.
Sam glanced at the queue and took a seat, eyes roaming across the counter, absently studying faces, his mind on the money. He waited until there were just two people in line for the counter, and then he joined. He brought out the money, counted out forty thousand naira, peeled it from the bundle, folded the rest and put it in his back pocket. Slowly, his attention focused on the lady in front of him. She smelled superbly nice, and he let his eyes drift downwards, and when the person in front of her walked to the counter and she moved two paces forward, her hips swayed in a hypnotizing manner. He loved the way the way her blue jeans hugged her plump ass and the way her pink shirt hugged her body, showing off all her ample and well-rounded curves. Damn, he would love to know her; he had money, wasn’t much, but now it was something, just a night, or two, or even a week with her, and he knew his life would change for the better. And when she walked to the counter, it was all he could do to tear his eyes away from that ass and walk to the cashier beckoning him to come.
“Good day sir,” the cashier, a female, said.
“Good day my sister.” Sam filled the deposit slip and passed it on to her, along with the money, with a twinge of regret (he would have loved to spend the money, but he knew he was doing the right thing).
The lady fed the money into a counting machine which made its usual ‘trrrr’ sound as it counted the money. Upon completion, the cashier signed and counter-signed on the slip, gave Sam his own copy and the control copy, which he put in a box for it. Smiling, he bade her goodbye and left the bank, sparing Miss Nice Ass one last glance.
Outside, the sun hit him hard and he put on his sunglasses. His body felt like it was slow-warming in a large microwave. He was sweating already, and he had barely walked out of the bank. He put his hand in his pocket fishing for a handkerchief…………
………… and brought out the money!
The whole bundle!
Sam felt like he had hit a brick wall. He held the money, staring at it, not comprehending one bit of the whole thing. He removed his glasses, rubbed his eyes, blinked just to make sure, and there was the money, fifty thousand naira, in the flesh (or should I say, in the notes?), big as life, in his hand. Sam tried to speak but could only manage a gagging sound.
He looked like a fish out of water.
No, his mind screamed, this cannot be.
Oh, another voice, vaguely familiar, said, but it is.
Sam stumbled back into the bank and walked straight to the lady with whom he knew, HE KNEW, he had deposited the money.
“E-excuse me,” he finally managed, eyes wide, “I think I deposited money with you here.”
“I’m sure I deposited money with you here, didn’t I?”
“Oh, no sir, you did not,” she replied, looking at him with a ‘you want to scam me?’ look.
“Huh?” he asked stupidly.
“I said no sir,” her voice firm, “you did not.” She was beginning to look irritated, but Sam was too lost to care. A billion questions stormed through his head.
He looked around for Miss Nice Ass. She was nowhere to be seen.
Probably she just left.
Somehow, he wasn’t sure.
“Um, sister, please help me check my account balance.” He dipped in his breast pocket… and brought out the deposit slip.
“Huh?” Sam blinked, and it was just a piece of paper. He let it fall on the counter as if it had stung him.
“Mhmm?” Sam looked up.
“Are you alright?”
Am I alright? AM I ALRIGHT? I can’t seem to deposit this fucking money, let alone spend it, and you ask me if I’M ALRIGHT?
“Uh, yes, yes I am.” With shaking hands, he drew the piece of paper to him and wrote his account number with shaking hands. He slid the piece of paper across to the cashier who took it and went to work on her system, verifying his account balance, but not before looking at Sam, alarmed. Sam smiled weakly at her; to him it felt more like a grimace.
A moment later, she wrote down his balance on the other side of the paper and passed it back to Sam. He looked at it, drew his head back, looked at the cashier, his eyes wider than ever, and then he looked at what she had written again, closely, just to make sure.
“No,” he croaked, “it can’t be. This cannot be.” He heard someone cackle and he turned to look. Nobody was even looking at him.
Oh, God, now I am going crazy.
He turned back to the cashier. “Didn’t- didn’t I come here? I did, I came, I deposited forty thousand naira YOU COUNTED IT! YOU!” Now heads were turning, alarmed, but Sam was too far gone to care. “AND NOW I’M STILL WITH THE MONEY! HOW! HOW!!”
“B-but sir, y-you just sat there on the chair all along, looking at me, and then you got up and left. I even thought you were waiting for someone here-”
“LIAR! IT’S A LIE! A BIG ONE!”
That cackle again, and then on the heels of that,
You’ll regret this.
Something seemed to click within his head.
“Oh shit, oh no,” Sam blurted. “So-sorry.”
Sam blundered out of the bank.
In a space of thirty minutes, Sam had aged thirty years. His face looked like a slab of rock that had spent a season too many in the rain and in the sun. There were dark circles around his eyes, and his beret was slightly askew. In addition, he was talking to himself as he walked as though on autopilot.
“No way no way it can’t be it simply cannot be I deposited that money that money that forty thousand naira and now it is in my pocket as if I didn’t even touch it Oh God Oh Jesus help me help me help-“
A car horn jerked him out of his soliloquy. He looked up, dazed, and saw that he had stepped onto the road. He hurriedly climbed back onto the sidewalk, and the driver cursed and raved at him as he drove past. Sam stood still, looking at him as he raved and cursed, giving him the finger.
But Sam wasn’t seeing any of this.
No. Sam was seeing the driver of THE CAR, the Red Honda Accord, smiling and saying ‘How do you like it, huh? How do you like the money Sam; spent any yet? Huh? You want some more? YOU WANT SOME MORE?”
Alarmed, Sam turned to run……
…… and came face to face with the driver. His face was sober, as he said, “Where’s my money Sam, I need it back.”
Sam’s alarm turned to fear, morphed into hate, and then transformed into rage, as he tottered on the brink of madness. “NO!” he screamed, spittle flying from his lips, and people turned to look at this screaming nutcase. “GET AWAY FROM ME! IT’S MINE! NOT YOURS, YOU HEAR ME. MINE!”
The driver’s face broke into a savage grin, and Sam saw his teeth.
They were so many, and filed to sharp points, like the teeth of a shark.
With a scream of pure, unadulterated rage, Sam charged the driver, head down, shoulders bunched… and ran through him. The driver had disappeared, like a puff of smoke.
All around Sam, came the sound of a deep, throaty, malevolent laughter, not unlike thunder. Someone screamed.
Sam ran all the way back to his ‘office’.
Sam stood in the sunlight, watching his friends work.
And I’ve been fucking up all day, just for fifty thousand bucks.
Time to get back to work.
They were only ten paces away. Traffic had reduced.
Later, after everything, when they would interview the driver, he would say that he didn’t understand what had happened; it was like someone… or something extremely strong had gripped his hands, mashing them on the steering wheel in an impossibly strong vice, wrenched the wheel to the left, and stomped on his foot which was on the truck’s accelerator. There was no way he could have sounded the horn. Two days later, his hands and his right foot would swell to the size of small pineapples.
Sam heard a deep, guttural growl, and he turned, expecting to see the largest lion ever known to mankind. Instead, he saw a big, shiny, red (beat that) MACK truck suddenly swerve to the left, narrowly missing pulverizing a Toyota by mere inches, and speed up. He saw the direction the truck was going in, and screamed.
Ikenna turned, saw Sam, and shouted; “SAM, WHERE YOU GO SINCE?”
It was the last thing he ever spoke.
It was the last thing Steve and James heard.
The truck hit their duty post with all the force of a two-ton battering ram. Chunks of concrete flew everywhere, and a fairly large one knocked Sam sideways, bloodying one eye and damn near closing it.
When Sam found his feet again, it was already over.
Ikenna, of part of him, was lying on the hood of the truck, arms out flung as if he were embracing the truck; blood from his cracked skull gleamed deeply and dully against the shiny red surface of the hood.
From the buttocks down, he was non-existent; it was as if his legs had been passed through a meat grinder.
Steve looked okay, as if he was lying on the road and staring up at the sun (at great risk to his eyes), and he did look okay, except for the rapidly spreading pool of blood beneath his head.
James’ head was practically mashed beneath a large, broken chunk of concrete; Sam could see bits and pieces of his skull and grey matter.
And when the truck’s driver crept out of the truck through the passenger door, Sam’s knees buckled underneath him, and he fell onto his knees, even as vehicles braked and crashed and horns blared, nothing but a chain-reaction of slam-n-bang accidents. Sam took no notice; he wasn’t seeing them. No, he was blind to all but one thing; the face of the truck’s driver.
He was the driver of the Red Honda.
He was grinning, a malicious rictus that was nothing but a rude parody of the human act.
Sam let loose from the depths of his heart a wail of pure agony, and the driver turned to look at him, and he was just an old man with a bloody gash on his forehead, with sorrow on his face, and pain in his eyes.
“TAKE IT!” Sam bellowed, fumbling in his pocket and bringing out the fifty thousand naira. “C’MON, TAKE IT! JUST TAKE IT AND GIVE ME BACK MY FRIENDS! BRING THEM BACK!! TAKE IT! PLEASE SIR, TAKE IT!! TA-” He let loose another hoarse cry of pain. “OH GOD NO! PLEASE TAKE THIS THING AWAY FROM ME!”
Sam flung the money up in the air, and the bundle’s paper strap tore loose in the air. Five hundred naira notes fluttered everywhere, like dry leaves in a harmattan wind…