Ness suddenly realized that he was an armed robber. He couldn’t blame himself though, – the general declining situation of the country had finally reached his side too. It paralyzed him gradually, until he began to consider himself as possibly, the poorest man in the country. The situation finally hit him so hard, until it indeed became a major threat to his daily bread too. Hence his hastened decision to join the notorious Wilx gang in carrying out terrible operations. Ness was convinced that a few months with the gang should bring the permanent breakthrough he needed financially.
“Guys!” Mossco yelled excitedly, “this operation is the biggest mission ever recorded in the Wilx gang. A successful outcome might imply total quitting for many of you.”
Ness hadn’t been interested in Mossco’s usual jests, since the day he joined them, he was in for serious business. He, so much desired that they got the deal over with already, with his cash in hand, anyone could joke. “Mos, please do away with your unnecessary exaggerations and let’s just talk business.”
“I am not joking Ness!” Mos yelled. “There is 2 billion naira in the possession of the madam we are robbing tonight.”
“TWO WHAT?!!!!” Everyone yelled.
“9 digits!” Ness imagined, he counted his fingers up till the ninth finger. He felt like breaking the last finger which was now obviously irrelevant.
“I’m too damn serious!” Mos yelled still. If he was joking, the others would see it on his face.
“What are we waiting for? Let’s start going.” Ness responded reflexively. Even if the others decided to give him just one percent of their harvest that night, he would quit robbing forever.
“Ness, not so fast,” Striker observed, “Guys, listen to me, if this is indeed true. I would suggest we keep cool. We need to study the security system of the house. We need to…”
“Ignorance is speaking through you Striker. Did you not hear 2 billion?” Ness winced, “Are we some rich Hollywood robbers who would need a multi million dollar machine to rob a company?
We are ordinary poor guys! – ordinary poor guys! Striker, we are peasants, hustling for survival, and no matter how, if there is such an amount in the house we already planned to rob tonight, we should damn the consequences and fire at anything to breakthrough.”
“Striker.” Mos added, “This madam is saving the money for some miscreant politicians. She buried it inside a most unsuspecting room in her house, she is very confident that no one could detect such huge secret, hence her deliberate decision not to engage suspecting security gadgets in her house.”
“How did you know all these, Moss? You sound so ridiculous. How can someone have such heavy capital in her house and not engage thick security gadgets?” Striker was still not buying it.
“Striker,” Mos felt he had reached the junction of confession, “The man who informed me is my father. You all know he is an herbalist…”
“And he is the sole confidant of the madam.” Mos confessed.
Mos’ father was a very powerful medicine man, needless to say a sure sole support for anyone willing to make him one. Ever since the entire Wilx gang patronized his service, he had not – for once, failed. The last expression was enough reason for the boys to trust him. The old man was gifted with the abilities to reveal mysteries, predict outcomes, possible challenges and issue out warnings about the gang missions. And just as he warned them when and where necessary, the boys were saved only when they took to his caution.
Taking the old man’s caution very seriously this time, the 5-man gang arrived safely at a moderate standard two bedroom flat that night. The only resident in it was a young woman. Politicians kept huge sums with her secretly, and she buried the monies in her house. The politicians obviously enjoyed her service more than the pesky banks. As the old herbalist had predicted, the gang members encountered no major challenge mounting her gate to gain entry.
Ness laughed at the way the woman wiggled and shivered, when she opened the door and saw them. She had obviously not expected seeing such strangers after the powerful herbalist – her only confidant, must have served her with assurance. As they had been told, her house posed no threats – no alarms, no traps. The robbery was almost predictably successful.
“How much do you have underground?” Rox requested, a confident finger caressed the trigger of his gun.
“Please sir, I don’t want to die.”
“I said how much?!”
“2 000 000 000 Naira Sir” She stammered.
Ness would not believe, “Open it!” He yelled.
The woman used a rusty key to open the underground door, none of the boys could trust not following, as she submerged herself into what seemed like an entirely new room below them, they all followed.
As they got to the open base of the wooden ladder that led them, the room seemed very dark.
“Turn on the light!” Striker commanded and a bulb obeyed by instantly illuminating the room. The boys didn’t need to search critically; big bundles of hay covered some sacks which were not tightly knotted. The boys pushed the hays aside and large bails of money seized their gazes as contents of the sack. Everywhere was cash filled! None of the boys had seen such money lying at their fingertips in their entire lives, they stared absentmindedly for minutes and then started throwing and spraying the sacks so that the cash rained on them.
“We are rich!” They yelled, “We are f**kin rich!”
They started packing after few minutes of the party. It was very difficult deciding how much to pack, each man therefore decided to carry as many sacks as he could back and forth to their packed Space bus. They were in the process of packing when some gassy substance began to emerge from the roof.
“Where is the woman?” Striker yelled, realizing that he had not even seen her since they entered this new room.
“The gas is a trap!” Someone yelled when the light suddenly went off, and they all made their way towards the top of the ladder with their bags still tightly clutched to themselves.
With a single hit, Rox broke what had served as the door to the underground room and the others bolted after him. In their haste, bails of cash dropped from their bags. The gas was now pouring from every corner of the house, it tasted like raw pepper when the boys perceived it. They kept running towards the exit.
The door through which they had earlier entered the main building was narrow, the first man to get there was lucky to meet it open, he squeezed through it with two sacks. Two others followed immediately, with their bags. The gas had entirely filled the house before Mos got to the entrance. Striker held unto something he felt in front of him, he was still in the house, now completely buried in the peppery gas, he couldn’t see the direction to the door but he still held tightly unto a bag of money. The other thing he held was Mos’ leg as it leapt towards the door. In a hope that Mos would help him out. Mos yelled for freedom, he knew that the gas had chocked Striker out and he himself was close to death too. He was held in between the door and the house by Striker’s unflinching grip. Mos held his hands tightly in a grip and moved it forcefully towards Striker’s peppered face. Striker gripped still, but a second punch weakened him. Relieved, Moss bolted out narrowly.
The first man that had been lucky to reach the door was also the first to reach the main gate, he – Rox, didn’t stop running towards it, but when he came in contact with it, a mysterious force sent him back with an unexpected response. His sack flew in a different direction, spraying its content everywhere, while his body – still in one piece, flew in another direction until it landed on a big ceramic flower vase and parted ways. Blood trickled the edges of his divided limbs.
Ness realized that the gate had been powered to electrocute anyone who came in contact. He stopped short after Benson. Benson had hurried after Rox, he too could have observed that the gate shocked, but his mad speed didn’t stop until his body imitated Rox’s, except that after his head hit the same vase violently, his unconscious body was still in one piece.
“Where is Striker?” A shivering Ness asked his approaching mate. Mos was still staggering, while simultaneously trying to get the peppering off his eyes by rubbing it vigorously. But with everything he did, he didn’t let the bag off his other hand.
“You shouldn’t stop running, Ness!”
“The gate is electrified!” Ness warned.
“I can’t see anything Ness, where are the others?” The way he staggered showed that he really couldn’t see. Ness approached him.
“You really can’t see,” Ness concluded, “Let me help you.” Ness yanked the bag from him, Mos tried to fight it, but Ness had been too quick, hence Mos’ miscalculation. “Don’t fight Moss. I am only helping you.”
Ness walked off with two bags of money now in his hand, ignoring Mos’ curses. He didn’t give the challenge of how to vacate the compound a serious thought, Ness hoped he would be able to jump over when he discovers any safe part of the fence.
Mos couldn’t get rid of the pepper in his eyes quite easily, so he didn’t see an approaching woman who crept from behind and hit him hard with a baton. Mos fainted – or died instantly.
Ness found a long plank in the compound, he threw it over the barb-wired fence and jumped over it safely. He had found a way of tying the two bags of money around his shoulder, so that it would be easy to pull once across the fence. But when he landed, he came in direct contact with fiercely looking heavily armed mobile policemen – big as sphinx pointing the round ends of their weapons at him.
A popular saying in Yoruba goes thus; “Irunmu lowo, kose fa tu.” Meaning that ‘Money is the hairs inside one’s nostrils, and it cannot be pulled out!’