The Toyota Corolla stood out like a sore thumb, or more like a shiny Schauss pink one. It was way past 2 a.m. and Apóngbòn Under Bridge isn’t the usual hanging out spot for blinging Toyotas, especially not at foolish-o’clock.
The driver brought the car to a stop just at the ascent to Èkó Bridge by a cluster of makeshift sheds that looked deserted. In the dark, two forms peeled themselves from the shadows and approached the car. The thugs wondered at the audacity of the person who had dared wander onto their territory without invitation.
One of the thugs went over to the driver’s side and grabbed the door handle, trying to force it open. When he couldn’t, he slammed the tire iron he had with him into the window in anger and it shattered.
“Ògbeni, cooperate, àbí you wan chop bullet!” the thug said to the driver, his voice hoarse like stones scraping over slate.
One by one, like moths drawn to a flame, more thugs slunk out of the shadows, surrounding the car and before long, there was more than a dozen of them.
The first thug thrust his gun in the driver’s face, ready to start spewing more threats. His gun stopped a hair’s breadth from the driver’s nose and they stared at each other for a few moments, one face registering a mixture of shock and fear, the other deadly calm and unflinching.
“Kílónselè? What’s happening now?” one of the other thugs demanded, already impatient.
“Ask him to bring out all his money.” another said.
“Abeg give am bullet if he no wan cooperate jàre!” someone else said, slamming the metal rod he had in his hand on the side of the car and denting it.
“Shey he get powder àbí booze?”
“How much we fit get for the car? Na tear rubber!”
“Commot am for the car before you shoot am oh, make him no dirty the seat.”
The gunman didn’t reply his cronies. He simply slid slowly to the ground with his free hand clutching his shirt over the bullet hole in his chest and his lifeless eyes forever frozen in their shocked mask.
It took a moment for the others to register what had just happened. Blame it on the rounds of weed they’d had earlier. Blame it on the excess Apeteshi they’d already consumed. Blame it on the fact that the script had never gone that way before. But that tiny bitty moment saw another three thugs hit the ground in quick succession. The others scattered then, scrambling for safety but not quite fast enough. Another one took a shot to the head and one in his kneecap. He dragged himself over a low barbed wire fence, screaming for his mates to help him. Of course, no one waited to offer any help.
The driver sat calmly in the car and watched them scamper away. With the same unhurried movements with which he’d shot at the thugs, he disconnected the silencer and put it and the Glock into the glove compartment. The whole thing had taken less than five minutes. He got out of the car and surveyed his handiwork. He took one disinterested look at the body lying about three feet in front of his car and blocking his path down the road.
As if nothing had happened at all, the night remained dark and quiet and not a soul stirred. Absently, he took out a pack of Mentos gum from his breast pocket and popped a couple into his mouth. He got back in the car and started up the engine, Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze starting to pour out of the speakers. He hummed under his breath as he cut the wheel all the way to the left. He drove on towards Ìgànmú, his front right tire narrowly missing the sprawled body in his path.