We stood near the agency i had visited and talked. Sule said he had brought $500 for the ticket but like i had suspected, said that he want to buy the ticket by himself.
”It is Ok, here is a travel agency. Lets do it fast so that she can return today, its Christmas” i said as i pointed to the glass door of the agency.
We walked in there and sat in a waiting chair. Somebody was being attended to. The agent had seen me and had recognized me instantly. He had tried to stare at me but i was fast enough to turn away and looked at a large calendar of Royal Maroc airline on the wall.
When it was our turn, i decided against going there at the desk. I had prepared Audrey pretty good.
”We need a ticket from here to Dakar and back today” Sule had said.
The agent pressed his computer keyboard several times and announced that it cost $500.
”No, it is $499.99” I shouted from my seat.
”Na the same thing” Sule turned and said to me.
There was no need arguing more. Apparently Sule was smart enough to know that $500 and $499.99 were the same while Ozoigbondu didn’t know that. I was apparently a novice.
After writing the ticket, we all got outside. The Dakar flight would leave HB international airport Abdijan by 1:25pm. The time was still 10:15am. Mathematically, Audrey still had over 3hours before her flight. As a result, we walked around until Sule got a call, wished Audrey safe Journey and left.
When Sule left, i told Audrey to take a cab and return to the hotel while i stayed back at Le Plateau and monitored things. I figured Sule could return. I had taken the ticket from her and returned to the agency who refunded me $450.
At about 12pm, Sule called. He said he wanted to talk to Audrey before she left for the airport. I told him that she had already left for the airport.
Then i switched on the recording application on my phone and started probing Sule.
”But while we wait for her to return from Dakar, where can i see this Chemicals for the washing of the currency” i asked.
”You cannot see it. The owner said that we must bring the money complete before he can take us to where it is” he said.
”But how are you sure the man is not going to run away with the dollars” i asked again.
”I trust him, he can’t do that” he said.
Trust: Such a strong word. Most of the bad things that happened between us and the people we knew was as a result of that word ‘trust’. It made people vulnerable to cheat, deceit etc. The best defense against that word was suspicion.
”Ok, i understand but remember that if we give you the $5000, the total of our money in your hand will become $11,000” i said and quickly cut off the phone. I didn’t want to record the last thing he was going to say. I was looking for evidence to implicate him if he managed to track us down after he must have found out that we counter-scammed him. I sat at a restaurant and wondered what must be going on in his mind. I had switched off my phone. He must have been calling
Back to find out what i meant when i mentioned $11,000.
After lunch, i took a cab to the hotel. Audrey was sleeping when i returned. I opened my phone and called her, she said she would come to my room when she was ready.
Three beeps had come to my phone while talking to Audrey, they were text messages. All three from one person. A certain Nigerian named Sule.
”Why your phone no dey go again” read the first message.
In the moment of stress, we use our familiar language. Sule had switched from Queens to Pidgin English.
”Na wa, wetin do your phone naa” the second message said.
Meanwhile the third one was more of a threat. I had anticipated that anyway. One problem with the amateurs was that they got worked up easily and lose their tempers.
”Wetin be this rubbish, why you come switch off your phone again, abi you people no dey follow for line again” it said.
I decided not to send him any message. Text messages were very implicating.
He called back as soon as i finished reading his messages.
”What kind of messages did you sent to me” i asked before he could say anything.
”Sorry, where are you now” he said.
How on Earth did he intend to cover the messages with just a ‘sorry’?
”I am going to the airport to wait for my friend” i said.
He hesitated a bit before telling me to call him as soon as i got there.
When a knock came to my door, i figured it was Audrey but still i had to be extremely cautious. I had committed an offence and the next thing was just to be very careful.
I dialed Audrey’s number and heard it ringing at the door. I opened the door and let her in.
”Did you get the refund”she asked as soon as she sat down.
I nodded and brought out the money.
”How much do you want from it” i asked.
”Nothing, i don’t need it” she said.
”You know baby, i wanted to punish these scammers. That’s why i did that” i said.
All along, i had been thinking that Audrey and I were on the same boat over the money but i was ashamed and disappointed when she declined taking any money. She obviously participated in the scam because she believed she was helping me.
I folded the money and threw it on the table. Then i called Okey in Lagos.
”Tell me where you are, i want to give you your money back” i said.
Okey asked what money i was talking about but i hung the call up.
Then after two minutes, he called back.
I told him in Igbo language that the call was meant for another person. He was at the village for Christmas.
I only made the call to Okey simply to make Audrey believe that i was returning the money to Sule.
I wasn’t going to return the money. We Africans were silly sometimes. If i return the money to Sule, he would definitely demand for the $50 the agent had taken or even start a scene.
Let him pay for attempting to scam me. I would be watching my back from then on. I would avoid public places and would also move alone as much as i could. If he ever caught me, i would find a way out…
And he caught me, yes, Sule ran into me.
” The world is so competitive,
aggressive, consumive, selfish and
during the time we spend here we
must be all but that.”