He was mumbling to himself triumphantly as he walked down to the cellar where the fools were being held. How many times did they need to be told, beaten or killed before they knew not to mess with Uncle Terry. He spoke out loudly as he walked into the dingy, dank room.
“The name ‘Uncle Terry’ wasn’t given to me because I loved cartoons ,” he started. Two struggling people were tied up with black sacs covering their heads. A male and a female. Hands bound behind the chairs they’d been forced onto; legs tied together. The four others in the room wore balaclavas and held sub-machine guns. MP7s.
“So who’s the unlucky fellow?” As Uncle Terry asked, he took his Beretta out of its holster. One of the others answered:
“We heard him telling the girl his name is John Okro, Boss.”
“Whaat?!”Uncle Terry was clearly bemused and tried not to laugh. One of the others chuckled as well and replied:
“That’s what SHE said, Boss! It’s even the name on his National I.D. card.”As he said this, he held it up to display.
“Haha.” Terry laughed as he released the safety on the gun. He was now two feet away from the male. “Unfortunately for you Mr. Okro, I have no interest in idle bad guy chit-chat where I explain all my schemes and plans before leaving my incompetent hatchet men to finish the job. Tell God I said… ‘wassup?'” With a smile, he pointed the gun and released two bullets into the man’s chest.
“And as for you Miriam, deliver the same message to God in case your friend goes to hell.” Two more shots rang out.
Gbagada, Lagos. Four hours earlier…
Miriam was tense as she walked towards the pharmacy. It was a typical evening in Gbagada: save for the ambient purr of expensive generators, it was quiet. She’d left the house in a hurry. Her roommate was very worried. Bunmi hadn’t seen her period in a decent while. A decent while enough to warrant a pregnancy test.
“When your pant will be going up and down like the escalators at MM2!” Miriam had chastised. Bunmi had somehow contrived to smash her little toe against the bed frame when power had been taken the evening before. Miriam knew that if she avoided going to the nearby pharmacy, Bunmi would suspect there was something horribly wrong. Hence, clad in loose shorts and a nameless tee-shirt, Miriam had ventured out aiming to procure a test kit. Surely she was safe in her own estate.
She barely observed him stroll past her on the tarred street. He was headed in the direction she was coming from and was as nondescript as they come. Average height, faded clothes. She was surprised at how he smelt when he passed though: good.
Nothing expensive but given the clothes he wore, it was surely a pleasant surprise. That was all the notice she took of him till his voice stopped her and made her turn around.
“Hi.” Manly voice. A little whiny, yes, but manly.
“Hello.” she had turned and was now facing him, “Can I help you?”
“Err… well not really. I just wanted to tell you that you look good. Really good. Even though you don’t have a stitch of make up on.” She widened her eyes in disbelief. Did he just say ‘stitch’? He didn’t look like the kind of person to be familiar with such vocabulary. He had a rugged air that didn’t fit with those kinds of words. She immediately scorned herself for being so judgemental.
“And I’m not asking for your name or number. Just passing a compliment.” He added, pulling her out of her thoughts. She had barely been able to finish blushing – or at least a done the black female’s equivalent – and mutter a “Thank you” when he turned and continued walking.
Oh no you don’t. “Wait!” she half-yelled. Miriam was all kinds of intrigued. He stopped in his tracks and turned.
“You don’t just… do that.”
“I don’t know…” she struggled to gather her thoughts. “What’s your name?” He took a few steps towards her. When he was close enough, he spoke:
“My name is Okro.”
“Whaaaat?!” for the second time that evening, she was bewildered.
“Yes. Okro. John Okro.”
“Oh.” Miriam blurted.
“Thanks for ruining my James Bond intro, by the way.” She laughed heartily before apologising.
“Oh no, I’m so sorry. It’s just that…”
“Yes, I know. My name is weird. I get that a lot.” He interrupted. She stiffened suddenly and her sharp intake of breath made him turn around. Two burly men who had clearly been waiting in the shadows were moving quickly towards them from either side.
“Who are they?” John whispered. Suddenly brusque.
She squinted at him and almost seemed to smile while she put her hands out in resignation. “Well, I think they want to kill me!” Now it was John’s turn to feel surprised. “What???” From the corner of his eye, he noticed one of the men speak into a receiver. Calmly and defiantly, she looked straight at him.
“Run,” she said.
It was too late. In an instant, both men were upon them. Their heads were covered but their eyes and mouth were visible in the dimly lit street. The two men took a mark each. One of them already had his hand over Miriam’s mouth. The other wrestled Okro to the ground. Face down, John felt his assailant try to grab a hold of his wrists while trying to use his body mass to keep John down. John was now trying to twist free. And he was succeeding till he felt a heavy punch to his spine. Rather than yell, Okro’s instinct was to fling his head back forcefully. The other man’s grunt was evidence that Okro’s skull had indeed connected with his assailant’s nose. Okro couldn’t tell whether the dampness he felt on the back of his head was moisture from sweat, his cracked skull, or the enemy’s bleeding nose. He was at once sure it was a combination of the three.
“Labi, wetin you dey do there? Hold the guy down na!” It was his counterpart, the one holding Miriam. She struggled in his grip but he had clearly overpowered her.
“Osho, cool down. Mpph!!!” Labi was rocked once more as John Okro slammed the back of his head into his nose again. He lost his grip on John’s wrists as he tried to regain his bearing. A frustrated Osho was only able to look on as John tried to wriggle out from under Labi. In his head, Osho cursed the orders that stopped them from conducting the ambush with guns. He understood it was because they wanted to draw as little attention as possible but they did not expect to meet this hiccup.
Besides, Osho would be damned if he let go of the girl. He heard Labi stifle a yelp. He looked in his direction and saw John, still underneath him but now facing up, knee him in the groin.
Osho had seen enough.
A precise, calculated blow to Miriam’s temple knocked her out cold. He let her body slide to the floor as he walked towards the other two men. Once he got close enough to strike, that guy would be in for it, he thought.
Ooh, aah, ready to thump.
But John Okro was much too quick.
He pushed against Labi and used that as resistant force to propel himself across the tar towards Osho. He also led with his elbow. Osho buckled as his left knee felt the impact. That stunt felt ‘cool’ while he executed it, but Okro also felt his butt and lower back burn from the coarse friction. A second elbow made Osho buckle but he still managed to land a fist on Okro’s ribcage.
“Arrggh…” John Okro surely felt that one. He also felt Osho’s boot crash into his side again. But before the boot and the foot it covered retreated, Okro grabbed hold and obeyed his primal instincts.
He bit hard.
Osho’s muted groan was greeted, as if on cue, by the sound of screeching tires as a black moving-van hurled itself towards them at breakneck speed. The full on lights blinded both men momentarily. The van had barely stopped when the front doors opened and two men, dressed like Labi and Osho, stormed out of the van.
But these ones had guns.