The thickset bodyguard led him into the VIP room in the lounge. It was cooler than the first room, and the air was dense with the smell of smoke, lavender, and body sweat. He didn’t let his guard down even for a minute as he took the chair opposite the one the Honourable sat. He kept shooting careful glances at the four armed men that stood behind the Honourable.
The Honourable took a brisk drag from his pipe, and began, “I never asked you to sit.” The Honorable had a missing front tooth which looked like a passage to a lightless hole whenever he opened his mouth.
“I have a back ache,” he gave back, staring daggers at the Honourable. A few moments of quiet passed, and the Honourable burst out laughing, his bodyguards joining him. They looked like a pack of hyenas cackling over a dry joke.
“Mr. Black, right?” The Honourable wanted to know.
“Yes sir,” the guard that brought Mr. Black said. “He is fresh out of jail for beating his landlord to coma. He has been ruthless ever since then, storming into malls and making off with months of groceries.”
“Have you killed anyone since then?” The Honourable asked, but Mr. Black remained quiet, his eyes fixed at nothing in particular.
“Well sir, this would be the first time he kills for the money, but he is ready. Everyone in the ghetto is afraid of him.” The bodyguard explained again.
“Can you do this job?” The Honourable asked, a cold, hard glare in his dark eyes. The bodyguard began saying something again, but the Honourable waved him to silence. “Allow the devil speak for himself!”
“Your Excellency…” Mr. Black began to say, but turned quiet when the Honourable sprang to his feet and began pacing about in brisk steps.
“Did you guys hear that?” The Honourable stopped in his tracks to ask his henchmen. “He called me His Excellency! This man right here knows that I am getting into the Government House. He understands that the Opposition has nothing on me. He knows this is a clear win for me even if I don’t axe my enemies.”
“Your Excellency, your enemies don’t have to be axed,” Mr. Black said, in his low voice.
“That is someone that has brains!” The Honourable beamed. “So, what do you think, Blackie?”
“Your enemies need to be crushed,” Mr. Black said. The Honourable’s eyes lit up a fairer shade as he retook his couch.
“You are definitely the right man for this job,” the Honourable said. “All I want is Ajah out of the way. He, and not the candidate, is the backbone of the Opposition in this state. Ezeanya is just parading like he knows what he is doing, but it’s Ajah that is the main brain. Ajah does the work, Ezeanya takes the credit. I cannot forgive that Ajah for releasing my hotel photos on that blog even after I knelt before him.”
“What exactly do you want to be done to Ajah?” Mr. Black asked.
“Blackie, I want him dead. Four weeks to the election and the Opposition’s campaign Director-General is dead. What can be more fiendish?”
“Consider it done,” Mr. Black said. He took out a stick of cigarette from the pack he had in his breast pocket and asked the guards for a lighter.
“One point five mill,” the Honourable said.
“Two mill or nothing,” Mr. Black gave back, lighting the end of his cigarette. He took a lengthy drag.
“Greed will get you nowhere,” the Honourable said.
“I am just as greedy as you,” Mr. Black quipped.
“Okay, two mill it is. We have your bank details and will make the first deposit before sunset today. You get the other half once the job is done,” the Honourable said as Mr. Blackie made to his feet. “Blackie, one more thing. I want a clean job. If you are found out, you are on your own. Let nothing lead back to me.”
“One more thing,” Mr. Black said. “It’s Mr. Black to you.” He turned and took his leave.
“Honourable, this guy just insulted you. Let us rough him up a bit to show him who is boss,” one of the guards said.
“Mugu!” The Honourable cussed. “Will you do his job?”
Two nights later, Mr. Black had been given the first cut for the job, a Beretta 92 with a silencer, and the layout of the house of his target, Lawrence Ajah. He put on his favoured leather black jacket with a hood, black strides, and boots and set out in the rain. He took a taxi and stopped behind the house. His employers had told him that there was an underground tunnel which would lead to the window of the family’s last girl. The Ajahs were a big name in town, and that was why all the toughs the Honourable had employed to assassinate Lawrence Ajah in the past were either nabbed by the guards or torn to pieces by police dogs that were bred by the family.
Mr. Black went through the underground tunnel and came up behind a long row of neatly trimmed ixora bushes. A few steps further stood the gigantic house where the Ajahs lived, and surely, there was a window just as his employers had informed him. He looked around, and after making sure that there were no dogs or guards around, he tiptoed to the house and began clambering the edges of the wall. He got into the room successfully and it was silent and dark. He could hear the voices downstairs. The family was having dinner, perhaps. He made to walk to the door, but it swung open, and a girl of about eight years stood stock-still, gaping wide at him. She surely should be the owner of the room, Mr. Black thought.
He took one step towards her, and she whimpered. She was obviously scared of the five-feet-ten-inches, brawny stranger in her room. Mr. Black placed his index finger on his lips in a pleading gesture to the girl to stay quiet in order not to alert her parents. He waited a while and he could see the shiver in the girl’s lips, the kind of shiver that came before a loud scream. Mr. Black bolted to grab the girl’s mouth, but he was not quick enough to stop her from bellowing. He grabbed her still, and with a great effort, and without wanting to, he broke her neck. She was fast dead. He could hear adults calling out the girl’s name from downstairs, and he knew how grave a trouble he was in. He let go of the body and raced for the window through which he stole into the house. He could hear the growls of angry dogs and the flashes of torchlight behind him, but he didn’t stop running until he got behind the ixora hedges and made his way through the hole. With great effort, he wriggled out of the tunnel.
It was a damp, cold, moonless night. He waved down a taxi, and the driver, a man whose face had been hardened by hardship and terrible experiences asked him where he was going to. Mr. Black was about to say his home address when the hard face melted into a soft, innocent face sitting on a broken neck. It was the face of the girl he had killed a couple of moments ago. He flinched and cowered back from the taxi. The girl’s neck remained bent, and her mouth cocked into a sinister smile.
“Are you getting in or not?” She asked. Mr. Black made a quick turn to the opposite direction in an effort to run away, but he rammed into an old, haggard woman who held a wooden tureen in her hand, seeking alms. Heaving, he drew a sharp breath and was about to say something to the beggar about watching where she was going when her neck bent, and her face morphed into that of the little girl. Mr. Black shrank back from her and turned again to run away, but collided with a car and crashed to the floor.
Somewhere in his mind, he knew he was bleeding, but he couldn’t locate the wound. He lay still on the road, and the driver of the car that hit him down, sticking his head out of the window, demanded that he stepped out of the road. Mr. Black looked and he saw the girl again. He saw her face in cars, he saw her face in the traffic lights, he saw her face in the wind, in the moon, in the darkness. It was a face sitting on a broken neck, and then, it became a headless body, and then, a jawless face. Mr. Black cried out in pain as a lorry ran him over. The driver just didn’t see him.
Johnson Onyedikachi is a teenage Nigerian creative writer who has unpublished manuscripts of poetry and plays. He recently picked interest in crime fiction and in August 2019, enrolled in an online course where he gained proficiency in article/journal writing including the use of referencing formats (MLA and APA style). He wrote in via firstname.lastname@example.org