It sounded distant at first. The now familiar sounds of footsteps moving closer and closer. This time though, it was louder. Probably more people. Maybe they’ve finally come to take me away, maybe they’ve found the right ritual to use me for or the right slave camp to sell me to. Slave? What was I thinking, I was finally losing it and for good reason too. For what seemed like endless days I had been moved up, down, pushed around from one vehicle to another till I finally got to my current position with absolutely no idea of where I was. I had been blindfolded from the moment they threw me into the back seat of that jeep. It must have been days since then.
My kidnappers – no, I doubt that I have been kidnapped, for what? what? who could possibly pay any ransom placed on me. I sat on the floor in the darkness, eyes still blindfolded thinking, wondering, asking questions I had no answers to. I initially tried yelling, screaming out for help with the hope that someone, somewhere around could come to my aid. But it seemed my abductors couldn’t careless; once the door to the room I was being held was shut, that was it. They kept me well fed though. For kidnappers or whatever they were, the quality of food they fed me was impressive. Almost as if this was a twisted kind of fattening room. As if I was being buttered up for a special event, a special day.
A special day like this one perhaps. When I heard those footsteps coming towards me, my heart began beating faster. I thought the time had come for me to meet my fate. As I said yet another silent prayer underneath my breath, thoughts of people – loved ones – Mama, Fadeke, Uncle Mufu and even Princess flashed through my mind. I had replayed the events of that night over and over again and I was so sure the kidnappers were out to get Princess. I prayed they didn’t get her. Just then the door opened and I heard the sounds of feet shuffling. The kidnappers never said much, if anything at all – probably some kind of training. And then, it flickered – lights? Through my blindfold, I could tell that they had turned on the lights. It instantly made me more conscious of what was going on around me. As I was trying to adjust to this new condition, I heard a scream and a loud thud. It sounded as if someone was being shoved against a wall – someone female.
Moments later, I heard the sound of my abductor’s footsteps fading away and they were replaced by the silent sobs of my new co-occupant. I tried to listen, hoping the sounds weren’t familiar, hoping it wasn’t Princess and then…
Who is that… who are you…
But I knew who it was. Oh no. If they got Kassy then chances are, they got Princess too…
Where is Princess? How did they get you?
Her sobs began to reduce and I heard her move closer to me. I could almost make out Kassy’s figure as she stood before me and began untying my blindfold. The blindfold came off and as my eyes fluttered trying to get used to the light, I felt Kassy checking my bound hands trying to see if she could untie them too but as I knew I had handcuffs on, there was certainly no hope. The men had put them in hours before they brought in Kassy. My eyes cleared up and I looked at Kassy, she looked ok, safe for her slightly ripped top; trust her to put up a fight. She looked sad and defeated – like a prisoner who had been sentenced to death. Maybe that was what we were. Sitting cows waiting to be slaughtered. But I didn’t want to think about that. I still had too many questions floating uncontrollably around my head; maybe Kassy could answer some of them.
Before I said anything, Kassy walked to my side and more or less slumped to the floor sitting right beside me. I had never seen her so downcast – not even when I said no to her offer of running away with her.
Kassy what is going on? Did they get Princess too? Is she ok?
Kassy’s response was a mixture of wild laughter and loud tears, which vanished almost as immediately as it started. Is she ok? Have they injected her with something or what is wrong with her, I thought to myself.
Isn’t life just a funny bitch? She said as I turned to look at her.
If only you had said yes. If only…
What are you talking about Kassy…
I’M TALKING ABOUT OUR FUCKING ESCAPE – our escape from all of this. And why do you keep asking me about Princess – Why? She said, yelling.
What are you talking about, both of you got into Senior’s car – that was….
So it’s always been her – not your little girlfriend. It’s her isn’t it? She said as she looked me straight in the eyes.
What are you … are you ok Kassy?
Kassy then broke out into another bout of sobs – it lasted longer this time and the sobs slowly became tears and crying. She was a mess. Nothing I said got her attention. I sat there beside her, watching tear drops fall from her wide eyes and concluded that she must have been drugged or something. This wasn’t the Kassy I knew.
I told her…. I told her it would go wrong… Kassy started saying, then she looked at me, shook her head and said:
I’m so sorry Azeez. Princess isn’t who you think she is…she’s not…..
What? Who is she….
Kassy took a deep breath and….
It started months ago. Princess was just like the rest of us – we weren’t prostitutes or call girls like some prefer to be called. We merely had Aristos – wealthy older men who took good care of us. Despite being the daughter of the famous Chief George, Princess wasn’t directly a beneficiary of his wealth. She lived with her mother who was a simple woman but Princess longed to be identified with her father’s wealth. When I and some girls moved into her room in Moremi as part of our plans to act as students, it was as if that was all she had been waiting for. Her curiosity got the better part of her. She wanted the clothes, the jewelry, the cars… We became friends and in no time, she became a member of the crew. All the other girls hated her. It was more like jealousy – Princess used all her assets to get what she wanted and in no time, she was far better off than some of the other girls that had been in the crew for years.
I straightened my body as I continued listening to Kassy…
Then sometime early last year, a friend got us a gig as escort girls for politicians during a huge party meeting somewhere in Gombe. Princess was reluctant but I made her go. We were drafted to rooms and someway somehow, when Princesses’ mark walked into her room, it turned out to be … her father.
Kassy paused and turned to look at me … maybe she expected some kind of reaction.
That was when everything changed. Princess disappeared for a while, only for her to return as a true Princess. She had moved in with her father, had a brand new car to herself and moved to a room in High Rise. We all thought her Daddy had finally decided to be a part of her life and she would no longer roll with us. We were wrong. Princess selected a handful of us and formed a new crew. She got invites and passes to high-end parties and events. The prices were higher per girl and some even came in foreign currencies. When I asked, she simply told me she was thriving on her Dad’s connections. That was until the incident at Otunba’s house.
Otunba Adebayo…. His guards almost killed you and Princess in that swamp…
I was supposed to work with Princess that day but I had to travel to Cameroun – my mother died the night before………. I recommended some girls for her. Princess didn’t give me details – not until it all went wrong….
Princesses’ Dad and Otunba belong to the same political party but it’s no secret where their allegiances lie. While Otunba is a strong supporter of the present government, Chief George supports the opposition within the party and is hell bent on ensuring Mallam Abubakar wins the party’s presidential primaries. When Princess walked into his hotel room in Gombe that day, instead of dirt, he saw opportunity.
What do you mean? His own daughter?
What was the best way to infiltrate the enemies’ camp? A traitor. Princess was already selling her body, Chief thought she could as well sell it for the right price and in the process, help her father gain some dirt to use against his political enemies. Chief could get Princess everywhere and anywhere – especially his party events as long as she posed as an escort girl. But for that, she needed an agent – that’s where you came in.
I sat up again. What? Is this all true or is Kassy reacting to whatever drug it is they must have given her and making all of this up? My thoughts were everywhere but I continued listening…..
Once she could get to Otunba and get something incriminating enough to use against him, they could make him sway his delegates at the convention to vote for Mallam Abubakar. Princess had been seeing Otunba for a while before he eventually invited her over to his house. The girls I sent to her were to pose as distraction while Princess got whatever it was she needed but one of the inexperienced girls was way too greedy and ended up stealing some money and even some drugs from Otunba. Princess lost all the trust she had built up with Otunba and he ordered his boys to have both of you killed.
Yes. That near-death experience shook Princess but she still did not wake up from her foolishness to realize just how much her father had been using her. He told us to both fake HIV test results and he introduced us to Senior who got us into the party at Abeokuta and consequently gave us another opportunity at nailing Otunba.
Wait… wait what?…. Fake HIV test results? It’s fake?
Yes, a former customer of mine who works at Wellington Hospital got them done for us. We needed something credible….
But for what? What were you going to do with…
It didn’t matter. After the incident at Otunba’s house, Princess thought it was all over as there was no way Otunba could find out she was still alive but Chief pushed us, using Senior, to go to the Abeokuta party. He needed Otunba to trust Princess again and his plan was simple. Princess was to save his life from an assassination attack – a planned assassination attack.
Debola almost ruined our plans when she cancelled on us hours before the party and Princess was skeptical about using inexperienced girls. But she had no option but to change her mind when her father wouldn’t budge. Tomi was young, impressionable and eager to please. It wasn’t hard to set her up to look like she wanted to poison Otunba and who was there to save the day? Princess. Otunba made her fire the shots herself. The sick bastard …
I watched as Kassy’s face tensed up and I tried to imagine the party at Abeokuta. While I was with Senior and Balogun, Princess was firing shots at Tomi – and that could have been Debola. I prayed secretly in my heart then that Kassy was making all this up. It was all too much to take in at once.
It was at that point Junior came into the picture….
But he’s also against his father’s political position isn’t he?
Yes he is. Still a member of the same party but he and his father are estranged because Otunba would not support his ambition to run in his states governorship elections. Princess met Junior on one of her numerous visit to Otunba’s house and he offered her a way out. A way to pay back her father for all the wrongs he had gotten her involved in and also help him get to his father. It was suicidal but if we could pull it off – it would mean vengeance for Princess and a lot of money for me.
And what was this way out?
Junior wanted us to leave out Chief and Otunba and strike at the top.