In this part of the story, you are a young man; a go-getter who takes every opportunity to make money — scrupulous or not — and where there is no opportunity, you create one. Born and bred in a Mushin slum, you have learned that in life, you either make it or you make it. Failure is in no way an option, and this knowledge has always influenced your decisions. It is why you have a reputation of taking the crudest of rackets the street has to offer; rackets the best of Mushin’s conmen wouldn’t dare take.
Your fat tendency to make an enterprise out of the least of things is why you don’t have any principled friends, but a bunch of folks who claim to be “hustlers”. One of such friends of yours is Dom, the CEO of Dom Motors. Despite being a promising car dealer, Dom loves getting involved in rackets, and that’s why he is your bosom buddy. Together, the both of you have pulled some sleek swindles and gotten away with them.
And so, it is Friday, and there is no better way to start such a blessed day than calling at Dom’s dealership. You breeze through the glass doors and leaning on the counter is your man, stocky and fat as ever, his beady black eyes lighting up at the sight of you.
“So, because of 15K, you have refused to show your face here for weeks,” Dom says as you walked up to him and extend a thin arm for a handshake.
“Keep your filthy hands to yourself!” Dom blisters and grabs you by the collar. “Where is my money?”
“I got this shirt for 28 kilos,” you inform him. “If you ruin it, you will be the one owing me.”
Biting his lip hard, Dom lets go of you.
“Oga, stop overreacting.” Staring back at the car dealer, you adjust your shirt. “What if I told you I have a way to help you recover your money and even make more?”
“That is what you do all the time. When you owe me, you will go and bring some stupid job,” Dom blurts.
“Tell me if there is one time I have brought any job that you don’t eventually cash out,” you want to know, “I will take that as a positive answer. Now, I have this job.”
Seeing the look of interest gleaming in the car dealer’s eyes, you begin to give him the details of the racket and just how much you could make out of it. You go on and tell him that you have a friend who has a client looking for cars to buy, and that from the information you have obtained, the client is a simple expatriate who only recently moved to Lagos, the perfect example of what you call ‘Johnny just come’ in local parlance. You explain to Dom that all there is to do is take advantage of the client’s naivety.
“So, when trouble comes for me, won’t it be easy for this client of yours to find me here?” Dom asks.
Looking around the lounge, you return, “You may have to close down here for a few weeks.”
Dom flushes a mad red. “You are sick in the head, you hear me? Sick! For how much should I close down my business? I am not interested!”
“You don’t wait to get the full gist, that’s your problem. If we get this job done, we are made. You can even quit this cash-strapped business.”
“I will never stop dealing cars,” Dom protests.
“We are talking about 25–30 million!” You announce. “All the cars you have here, are they even up to 15 million?”
Dom lifts an accusing fat finger at you. “Don’t dare insult me!”
“I am telling you that this job will fix us up.”
“How will you get the three Mercedes that this client wants?” Dom wants to know.
“I know more successful car dealers,” you tell Dom who starts to bluster again. “You don’t relax, and that’s why you don’t ever get the point. Just play along with me, and we will make money. The car dealer I have contacted will give me the three Benz, four Range and any other five SUV’s he can lend us to give this place some serious look. Our client shows up for test drive, pays us, and then we deliver three bad Mercedes to him, and run out of town. You can start your business again when the heat goes off.”
Dom has been listening with keen attention. He clearly still has doubts. “When does this client show?”
You glance at your watch. “In an hour and half. I booked him for 11:00hrs.”
At 11:00hrs, a Lexus finds parking in Dom’s automobile dealership. You have arranged for the cars to give Dom’s dealership a new look. Five young men spill from the Lexus and come into the lobby. You can tell that these are conmen, “Yahoo boys” as they are fondly called, from the look of them — their dreadlocks, jeans ridden with patches on purpose, bright yellow socks and flip-flops said a lot. They seemed to have worn a uniform.
“I was expecting a foreigner. An Indian to be precise,” you tell the five young men.
“That would be me,” one of the young men informs, but from the look of him, he is as Nigerian as you are. “Now, you know I am no Indian. You can’t scam me.”
“Well, you didn’t have to go all that way to make sure I don’t scam you,” you tell the men, and lead them to the lot where they check out the three Mercedes C-Class cars which you have borrowed. After several minutes of bargain, it is agreed that they will take the three cars for 28 million naira. They take Dom’s bank details, and inform you that you will get the money by bank transfer, and that once you get it, you can deliver the cars.
The young men leave, and Dom begins to nag you for wasting his time, but you assure him that you can still make money out of this.
“They have my bank details!” Dom blusters. “Even if you run off with their money, you won’t be far gone before the police get you.”
“Relax!” is all you say to your car dealer of a friend. “We will deliver the cars by trailer. We leave town afterwards.”
Two days later, you receive an alert of 95 million naira. Within a couple of minutes, the client calls.
“The 95 million is a mistake,” he says. “Just take the 28 million for the cars and send the remaining money to me.”
“That will be difficult o!” You return.
“Okay, take thirty million naira,” he insists. By instincts, you can already tell the jam it is you are in: that whooping sum was no mistake. Those conmen have scammed someone and have used Dom’s account to make a deposit, so that when the heat is on, the police will only be looking for Dom, but 30 million is not something you will say no to, and these guys would even get two grounded cars, and they will not be able to come for you or Dom because they plan to stay out of the scene when the police will be searching for the owner of the account into which 95 million was deposited. So, you say yes to this conman.
“Fine,” you say to him. “Send your account number.”
“No, you will give it to me in cash. I will come to the dealership tomorrow.”
Now, you see it more clearly. This is a whole jam to leave you in the hands of the police and without means to trace the actual criminals, but you don’t ever say no to 30 million gain. And you think you may as well make more money if you arrange a bunch of counterfeit notes and put it along with real cash — say, 20 million real cash and the rest would be counterfeit, and if this pulls off, you are certain of 75 million, and you have the right man to make counterfeit notes for you. You reason that the client won’t have enough time in his hands to check all the notes. You are thrilled by this idea, so you say yes.
About 20 hours later, same group of guys come in their Lexus, come into the lounge, armed with Glock pistols and a note from the man who had arranged two bags of counterfeit bills for you, informing them of every detail of your transaction with him.
“The thing is,” one of the young men begins to tell you while aiming the barrel at your forehead and hooking the trigger, “most conmen in Lagos that deal with counterfeit answer to us. Now, you will have that whole 95 million arranged for us along with the three Mercedes.”
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