11: Hide And Seek

On December 27, Business returned to Porto.
I took Jennifer to the Banco Espirito Santo along the Rua Augusto.
I sent 500 Euros to Nigeria; 400 euros to my Younger brother and 100 Euros to Jennifer’s mother in Benin city.
Jennifer was surprised at what I did. It was the first money she had sent to Africa.
I called my Younger brother and told him how to distribute the money.
Jennifer called the mother and told her that the money was sent by her boyfriend.
The woman thanked me and pleaded with me to take care of her daughter.

Madam Grace had called them in Nigeria and announced that Jennifer ran away with one Igbo man.
The mother had asked me what happened. I told her that I didn’t run away with her daughter. I made her understand that her daughter didn’t like what she was doing and had decided to look for something else.
I hung the phone before she could ask me more complex questions.

When we finished with the African issue, we went to the bus station across Rua Augusto and boarded a bus to the Musica center. There was a cinema hall near the mighty Musica house. We went in to watch a film.

Twenty minutes into the movie, my phone rang. It was Francis from Lisbon. He wanted to know where I was. I told him I was in Faro, a Southern coastal city in Portugal. I asked him if there was a letter for me, he said no.

After the film, I called Jose and told him that it was time for our next move. He was so happy. He had made 1500 euros from the other deal and was ready for the next one.

As soon as we got back to our hotel room, I called Madam Grace. She didn’t pick the first call. I sent her a text message that I was going to the Police.
She called me back a few minutes later and said she wasn’t with the phone when I called earlier.

” have you heard about Abu and Efe” I asked. She kept quiet.
A strange kind of calm had taken over me. I had lost all conscience and I was ready for whatever madam Grace was prepared to dish out.

” Why did you call Jennifer’s mother to report that she ran away with me” I asked again.
She responded this time.
” She no run away with you before, eeh” she fired.

” I see” I said.

” I want us to end this whole thing once and for all. My friend had gotten hold of the recorded message. He said you must buy the message together with the phone” I said and kept quiet.
She didn’t say anything and she didn’t hang up either. I expected her to hang up but she didn’t.

” My friend will call you anytime. Make sure you settle with him” I said .
” What about Jennifer” she asked.

” She is no longer your property. As a business woman, you must expect to lose sometimes” I said and cut the line.

I Called Jose and told him that I had traveled from Algarve to Porto. I told him to come up to Porto. He was excited. He said he would come the following day.

There was nothing else to do for the rest of the day, so we walked down to a betting house near our hotel.
Some English Premier league games were about to begin.
I placed some single bets on the teams I believed would win.

-Manchester United to win Portsmout.
-Liverpool to beat Middlesbrough-
-Arsenal to win Fulham-
Tottenham to win Aston Villa-

When the whole games that I betted on finished, I won three and lost one. I made 120 euro profit, divided it into two and gave Jennifer 60 euros.
She had been worrying me while we waited for the matches to finish.
As soon as she got the 60 euros, she was all smiles.

At about 8pm,, we went back to our hotel room. We had bought Whot/cards outside. We played and drank scotch with ice until late in the night.

One round of sexxx closed the day for us.
We took our bath and slept.
The next day was going to be exciting.

Jose called me before 9 am and said he was on the way. I told him to call me when he got to the Sao Bento train station.
I didn’t want to tell him the name of my hotel on the phone.
There was a possibilitity that madam and her squad tapped into my phone. I didn’t want to take chances.

Jose arrived in Porto a few minutes after 11am. I was in the station before he arrived. I had found a spot where I could watch everybody going in or coming out of the station.
I wanted to know if he came with someone else or if he was followed from Lisbon without his Knowledge.

*In the dangerous game of blackmail, one can never trust anyone totally*

I saw Jose came out of the station alone. He called and asked how he could locate me.
I told him to enter a taxi to cafe VELASQUEZ.
I jumped in another cab and followed him. He stopped at the cafe and called me again.
I told him to enter the bus to AVENIDA Das ANTAS. I watched him enter the bus and then I asked my taxi driver to follow him.

My taxi driver was suspicious of my moves. I guessed he thought I was a drug dealer. It wasn’t his business since the price meter in the taxi was running up.

Jose stopped at the ANTAS Bus station and called me again. I told him to look behind him. He did..
I asked him to come towards the cream coloured taxi standing 120 meters away. He approached us and entered the back of the taxi.

We drove to the building next to my hotel and stopped. We entered a bar and bought two bottles of Sagres beer. We finished our beers and walked to my hotel.

We rented room 211 for Jose in the same second floor. It was directly opposite mine.
We got to the new room and sat down. It was time to discuss business.

” Jose, I want us to get more money from the woman” I said.
His face lightened up instantly.

” Last time, you told me that you wanted a vacation in Sao Paolo Brazil. If this last deal happens, you will have enough money to go to Brazil” I watched his face as I said the above words carefully.

” Are you in or not” I asked.

” No problem boss, lets do it” he said.

” Jose you understand that this could go wrong this time. You remember what happened last time with the two thugs. Another surprise may surface again, so you need to pay maximum attention to the plans” I said and brought out a small map of Porto and a piece of paper where I had written down some names.

” This deal will happen here in Porto” I said once more.

”This is Boavista avenue. It is a large square that has four major exits and two minor exit routes. We will get the woman to the square and watch her for several minutes before making any kind of contact” I said as I showed him the places on the small map I had purchased some days ago.
I told him that we would need one other person to make us three.

I laid down the entire plan to him as he watched in awe.

We were to lure Madam Grace out of Lisbon where she knew the areas very well and bring her to Porto.

At about 12:30 pm, we got down and took a taxi to the Sao Bento train station.
During my first visit to the station, I had noticed several lockers where people keep their belongings before venturing into the city.

We got to the Bento station and hired a Locker. We put the Motorola Razor phone which I had used to record madam Grace’s conversation inside the locker and locked it. It was a phone I bought 100 euros a week before leaving Germany.

We went back to the hotel. Jose called one of his friends who acted as a police officer during the first ransom collection. He told his friend to follow the next available train to Porto. His name was Nuno.

Nuno arrived in Porto a few minutes past 6pm in the evening. Jose went to welcome him at the Sao Bento station.
When they returned to the hotel, we sat down around the table in Jose’s room and reviewed our plans.

The price this time was going to be 20,000 Euros.
After perfecting our plans, I called Jennifer and we went into the city and had some fun.

At exactly 11pm, Jose called Madam Grace. He told her that he had purchased the recorded message from Me and that it was for sale to the highest bidder between her and the portuguese authorities.
He told madam Grace that she had only 1 day to come up with 20,000 euros or forget about the record.
Madam Grace didn’t say anything. She just kept quiet and listened. The phone was on speakout mode.

After the call, we drank a bottle of Jack Daniels: I took Jennifer to our room and retired for the night.

The next morning was a Saturday. Four of us went down to the hotel restaurant for our Breakfast. A lot of people where there as well.
When Jose’s phone rang, he went outside to take the call. He returned a few minutes later and nodded towards me.

I followed him upstairs to his room. Madam Grace had called. She wanted the recorded message for 10,000 euros. There was no mention of Jennifer, she just wanted the recorded message with the phone.

Jose asked me what I wanted to do about it, I asked him to call her back and demand for 15,000 euros. I told him not to agree on anything less.
After much pleadings and counter pleadings, Madam Grace agreed to pay 13,000 euros for the recorded message. She begged us to leave her alone after that. She asked where the exchange would take place, When we told her that it was in Porto, she was speechless.

She agreed to come to Porto with the money on the 30th of December.

In the afternoon, we hired a taxi and went to the Boavista Avenue where the exchange would take place. It was a large round avenue with six roads linking it from all sides of Porto. There were tens of shops ranging from bars, pubs to phone shops, boutiques and more.
We located an Irish pub at the north end that overlooked the entire avenue and entered. They specialized in selling guinness stout; a black beer that lacked every kind of sweetness.
We took a litre of the guinness stout each and sat in a quiet corner.
From the pub, we could see five of the six roads that entered the avenue. I pointed to the road leading to the Douro river and told Nuno that he was going to be at that spot with a hired car. Nuno said he had no drivers licence, so I re-assigned Jose to the spot.
Nuno would be at the pub where we were at that moment and monitor every suspicious movements.
I would go to the station to know when madam Grace arrived and to find out if she came with another entourage.
Jennifer would stay back at the hotel.

We finished our bitter guinness stout and entered a nearby phone shop. I bought three cheapest phones in the shop with three new sim cards. I gave one each to Jose and Nuno. We recharge the airtime and went back to our hotel. From then on, every new contact between us and Madam Grace would be through the new phones.

I and Jennifer retired into our room.

” Jenny” I said.
” Pay attention carefully. Tomorrow is going to be a dangerous day for us. Your madam will come here” I said. She looked sharply at me.
” I don’t mean here in this hotel, I mean here in Porto. We want her to pay more money for what she had been doing to Nigerian girls. When we get the money, we will find a way to leave Portugal” I said.

When I finished, She had nothing to say. She just stared at me. I was sure she admired my courage but she didn’t know how to approach the topic. She had suspended her life to me.
The responsibilities of her feeding, accommodation, clothing, fun and general well being had been given to me unconditionally. She was just helpless.
It was a good lesson to me too.

When we finished our discussion, we slept. The next day was an hour away.

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