THE FINISH LINE: CHAPTER 3 by Hazelnuts0501
The day was not as interesting and fruitful as I had expected. All the contacts I made yielded nothing. The responses were not giving me any hope. That evening, I went over to The Porch – a bar-restaurant ran by one of my friends, Kenny, where I usually spend the evening. I had hardly sat down when Bob, one of my friends and my barber as well walked in. he said he had been looking all over for me. “I have a proposal that I think you would be interested in.” He began as he sat down. I ordered for two bottles of beer for both of us. “What sort?” I inquired. “Well…” he paused and gave me a stare. I knew immediately that it was not something that cool. “…it’s gonna involve some computer works.” He continued. “And all I need you to do is handle that part and leave the rest to me.” However, I was not satisfied. I insisted on knowing all about the deal before venturing into it. He gave me a breast of everything. It appeared he had promised some people that he would help them get clearance papers for their goods at the wharf. He had lied to them that he had an uncle that was a custom officer and could help him easily. He wanted to forge the papers since I was very good with computers. They were ready to pay as much as three hundred thousand naira for the papers if done. He was ready to part with two-third of the money with me. I gave a deep sigh. I thought it over. I knew it was a very dangerous venture, one that could possibly land me in jail if all went wrong. But the dough I was going to make out of it tempted me more. I was going to get two hundred thousand. That was a lot of money. I took another deep breath. I needed the money. It would go along way to solve most of my problems if not all. “I am down.” I answered him. “But I will need some money to carry out the work, you know some sort of mobilization fee.” He smiled. “You will surely have it.” He dipped his hand into his pocket and brought out two one thousand naira bills. That was a big money to me at that time. I had not seen that kind of sum for more than six months. I took the money from him. I would be spending at most five hundred to have the work done and keep the remainder for my spending. Yet, I didn’t show any sign of gladness. How could I? I knew it might spell doom for me. But I was going to be optimistic and believe it was going to turn out well. He sensed my mood and knew I was a little afraid and encouraged me as it seemed, “Hey, don’t worry about nothing. I believe the deal would work out well. I know you need the money, so put your heart to it and see the best come out of it.” I smiled. What more could I do? “Yea, I know.” I answered. I took another deep sigh. “I am going to give you a perfect job.” I assured him. We had another round of beer and left the bar. That night I couldn’t sleep. It was like I kept hearing a familiar voice screaming in my head Mateus, what are you doing? Don’t blow up this second chance the Lord is giving you, don’t! The voice warned vehemently. But I still had my eyes on the money and was blinded from seeing the impending dangers that awaited me. All I kept telling myself was, Relax boy nothing is gonna happen. This is your chance to make some good money for you. I decided I was going to leave town as soon as the deal is closed and I have been given my money. That way, I thought, I would not be haunted by the guilt. At last I struggled to sleep. The next morning, I went over to my computer and began work on the papers. Within, the space of two hours, I was through with the work. It was perfect beyond description. I smiled at myself. I thought I was a genius. The feeling of guilt rose up in my heart once more. But I didn’t entertain it. I allowed my mind instead to ponder on the things I would do with the money. That way I felt cool. I rushed up to meet Bob. He saw the work and smiled. “I knew I could depend on you.” He said. “So what’s next?” I was curious to know when the money would be coming. My question aroused some other things I didn’t know which further aroused my fears. Bob gave me a very stern gaze. He took a deep breath. “Well, I didn’t tell you the other night. I had lied to the guys that my uncle in staying in Calabar and I had traveled to him to get the papers. So they would be expecting me from Calabar some time tomorrow.” Calabar was a city over seven hundred miles from the city I was. I knew the deal was becoming shady, but I was bent on being optimistic to the end. “Anyways, tomorrow is just a couple of hours away. I’d wait.” I answered him a little disappointed. I thought we were going to have the money that very day. I went back to my room and allowed my mind to drift. I have resorted to daydreaming as the only way to console myself. What other way could there be.
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