Eghosa was sitting in a booth in the restaurant Frankie worked at. They had agreed to meet at 10pm but he had gotten there a few minutes early and Frankie was still on duty. While waiting, he had caught a glimpse of Frankie as he moved through the kitchen, but he was sure Frankie hadn’t seen him. He made effort to ensure that no one saw him. He had parked his car down the road and donned a grey cap and sunglasses. It was his best shot at a disguise. He didn’t actually have any reason to cover his face. At least not yet. It had just been two days since he reluctantly agreed to be a part of Frankie’s heist, but the idea of it already made him feel like someone could jump out any second and arrest him.
To him, all the years of internet fraud weren’t bad compared to actual hands-on theft. His father had normalized it by doing it all his life, and the fact that there was hardly any physical contact with the targets required almost made it feel like he was only performing daily hostile takeovers. But this, this was different. What Frankie wanted to do could require actual contact. He would actually get to see the effect of his actions and that just did not sit well with him. He tried to air his concerns when Frankie finally joined him at the booth but he wasn’t having any of it.
“Eghosa, It’s because your father worked for money all your life that’s why you don’t know how these things go? Which kain rubbish you dey talk?” Frankie queried angrily.
“I’m just saying that- as in what if the man dies or something happens?”
“If he dies, then he dies now! Abi you think he worked for all that money? I say he was a politician, they barely even allowed Nigeria to reach ten years before they started to suck the country dry. In fact, that money belongs to us. Our fathers and grandfathers. It is their tax that that old man is keeping in his house!” Frankie said. He looked like he truly believed it.
“What if something we don’t plan for happens? Have you thought about that or you’re already counting the new cars you will buy!” Eghosa asked.
“I did not just ask you to join me because I dey find crowd. I know say you na master planner. This is your area. So I have left the planning of the actual act to you. How we will enter the house, get to the money, open the safe and take it back to the car is your area.” Frankie said, his eyes darting about.
“What is your work then? ”
“Me? I’ll take care of the lookout, the getaway drivers and the meeting point after we don clear the money. ” Frankie answered, quite satisfied with his division of the labour.
“Please how is that work? Getaway drivers? Is it not you?”
“Me and someone else. Have you seen thirty million cash in your life before? It cannot enter one boot! So I’ve talked to this my guy. He’s one of those guys that parks cars for people in Ajah Market. They know him there. Just leave your car with him. If there like, let there be hundred cars, he will find space and park all. No scratch.” Frankie declared proudly. Eghosa looked at him. For a fleeting second, he chided himself for allowing his situation to get to this point. The thought faded quickly as the next minute he asked; “Someone who parks cars is your getaway driver?”
“I swear this guy dey drive. You know that I won’t play with money I’m going through all this to steal. He dey drive!”
Eghosa saw Frankie’s point. He wouldn’t be that reckless with money he was involving so many hands to steal; and so on that premise, he agreed to the suggestion of Wasiu, the locksmith who had repented of making replica keys for robbers but had been convinced to come back into the game for this last job as well. At the end of that “meeting”, they had a two getaway drivers, a locksmith for all the doors and a meeting point. Frankie and his source did not have a clue about the specifications of the safe. Eghosa, being the “master planner” he was, had the brilliant idea to contact the only other person who had access to the house besides its owner.
Mama Uduak was a sweet old woman. She had cleaned Mr. Tom- George’s house for years and despite his difficult nature had managed to keep her job and sanity. She was a widow with three children, the oldest of whom was Uduak, her twenty two year old daughter. Uduak was preparing to attempt JAMB for the fourth time as her scores seemed to get closer to zero with each attempt. Her mother had sent her to learn tailoring, but the tailor she was to learn from could barely recognise her if they walked by each other on the street. She was more interested in lounging at the restaurants near the University and posing as a student for any men who were gracious enough to buy her stories and give her some money. Uduak’s materialism was the cause of many midnight prayers for her mother, but it was an answered prayer for Eghosa.
After asking around, he knew Mama Uduak was much too chaste to get on board with the plan, but her daughter would prove much more valuable. He waited for her outside her house on one of the days she was supposed to go to her tailoring school and got talking to her.
It didn’t take much to convince her to get on board and get her mum to send her in her place to clean Mr. Tom-George’s house so she could get a good look at the inside of the house and more importantly, the vault.
Eghosa found Uduak to be a lot like Ngozi. Both with the unquenchable thirst for the finer things, but unlike Ngozi, Uduak was small minded. She had negotiated a cut of fifty thousand for her efforts and Eghosa had happily conceded. Her job was to gain access to the house on a day when Mr. George was away, to scout the house. The plan was that she would give her mother some laxatives that would keep her occupied in the toilet. She would then convince her mother that she would clean the house for Mr. George so she could rest. As soon as she was in the house, she was to take note of the positions of the security cameras if there were any, and make her way to the underground room with the vault. Without being spotted, she was to take pictures of it in every angle. She was to take pictures of the doors and anything else that would be an issue on the day of the heist, so plans could be made to avoid them before hand.
Uduak had to earn her pay though. Her mother, even with her stomach in knots refused to trust her with the location of the house key. It was only after her mother had returned after braving the drug induced stomach upset that she swore that should she ever have such symptoms; she would not dare leave the house. A week later Uduak gave her another dose. Her mother, very reluctantly, allowed Uduak to fill in for her and clean the house and told her about the secret compartment in the wall of Mr. Tom-George’s house where the spare key was kept.
On the appointed day, went golfing. Uduak deftly noted all the cameras outside the house and found that the control room was locked. She made her way through the house giving Eghosa real time updates. When she had taken pictures of all the room, she headed to the underground room for the vault. However, she could not get past a burglary proof gate, just outside the room with the vault. She opened everything searching for a key for the lock and couldn’t find one.
Motivated by the money she had been promised, she squeezed in between the bars of the gate and stretched at the risk of getting stuck in the gaps in the bars. Finally, she managed to get a blurry picture of the the top left corner of the safe.
Eghosa stared at the picture of the safe on his phone. The plan was coming together but the only issue was who would open the safe. Eghosa knew that there was only one person he could get to open the vault. He opened his laptop and unlocked an encrypted folder. An image showed on the screen. It was a picture of Eghosa, but with a clean shaved head and a crazed look in his eyes. He stared at the picture without flinching for a while. After what felt like minutes, he raised his head and tapped the phone screen to reveal the picture of the vault. With a thick igbo accent and the same crazed look in his eyes, he said ” What do you want me to open?”