7: Jose

I got to the bar and sat down on the long stool facing tens of different whiskey bottles turned upside down in a raft.
I looked carefully at them until I found the one I wanted to drink.

Since most of the portuguse middle class didn’t know english words, I pointed to a bottle of Chivas Regal scotch and asked the bartender to give me two shots while raising two fingers.
She ( a young lady) nodded, filled two shots and poured them inside a bigger glass. I gulped the entire contents once and asked for more two.

After payment, I took the second glass down to the hall where the snooker tables were located. I sat down and watched two people played the game.

I wasn’t good at snooker and table tennis but I liked them. I watched them play while I sipped my spirit slowly.

When it was about 10 pm, Jennifer called me. She wanted to know why I had not returned.
I didn’t tell her that I was going to meet with her madam at the Elephant Blanco.

I told her where I was and promised to come back in an hour. I wanted to waste as much time as possible before going home. Despite enjoying the Jennifer affairs, I was beginning to get scared.
I had wondered why miss madam had brought the two thugs.
Was she hoping to beat me into releasing jennifer? Or perhaps kill me; anything was possible.

It was time to play out my own card. I called miss madam and told her how silly she had acted. I was getting drunk and I knew that my words were not guided but it was time to play.

” I have enough evidence to show the police that you are trafficking girls to Europe” I said as soon as she picked my phone.
” I recorded our discussion in Rossio and I am going to the Police to give it to them” I said.
” I know where you live, Jennifer had told me. I am no longer interested in your 1000 euros since you want war. The price is now 4000 euros and I need it tomorrow” I said in a very calm voice.

” If you make one more mistake, you won’t see jennifer again and I will send the record to the Police” I said again and hung up.

My phone rang immediately but I didn’t pick it.

I knew that blackmail was a serious offence too but not when human trafficking was the issue.

On her second attempt at calling me, I picked the phone.
A male voice greeted me and asked how and where I would like to receive the money.

* Amateurs. So easily, no way. They were not ready to back down. The game had to change*

I hung up the phone without saying anything. They called back a few minutes later and when I picked the phone again, it was the Madam’s voice.

” Bros wetin I do you, I no know you before and you no know me, why you dey do this to me” she said.

” 4000 euros tomorrow or stop calling me” I said and hung up again.

One of the men playing snooker looked at me and continued what he was doing. I had called out the money loud enough for them to pick interest.
I went back to the bar for more drinks and as soon as I picked up my change to leave the bar, the man from the snooker table tapped me on the shoulder.

” You American?” he asked.
” Yea, American” I lied.
He nodded and introduced himself as Jose.
He was from Lagos area in the Southernmost district of Portugal called Faro. He had lived in Africa, Luanda precisely. He had decided to live in Lisbon and work after three years in Angola.
He liked Africa and the Africans and always wanted to chat with them. He was also interested in learning more English but since he didn’t have time to study it in School, he loved to interact with people in English. According to him, was a football player until he broke his legs on a game he played for Beira mar against Belenense in the Portuguese first division. He had traveled to Angola to work when it became obvious that he couldn’t play anymore.
He lived across the street according to him and asked the hotel where I stayed.
I told him that it was across the river Tagus in Hotel Madrid. I also told him that it was expensive and asked if he could show me a cheap hotel since I still had many days to stay. I had changed my accent to American but I doubt he noticed the flaws in it. He hardly spoke good english, so I figured he couldn’t differentiate between accents; I was wrong.

He took me to a one room student apartment where foreign students lived. It was a little noisy for my liking but it was better and safer than where I lived. It was a new house.

I rented a one-room apartment at the rate of 25 euros a day and paid for two weeks. I gave them 350 euros and went down stairs with Jose.
Jose was about 25 years, it was very easy to interact with him. I told him that I was going to get my bag and that we would meet at the bar the next day.
I took a taxi all the way to the train station and boarded a train back to Lisbon central area.

We were already in the second half of December and everywhere had started being cold. Snow had started falling in Western Europe down to the Northern Spain and OPorto ( Porto) area in Northern Portugal. The cold breeze from the north brought down the temperature in Lisbon to about 13 degrees celsius, which was considered cold down there in Lisbon.

I figured that miss madam and her squad wouldn’t wait for too long around my house in that weather if they knew where I lived. I suspected they knew where I lived anyway because someone must have pointed her to me in the first Place.
I called jennifer to open the stairwell door before I arrived.
I took a taxi to my street and as soon as I stopped, I jumped into the house and closed the door. I waited at the door to see if I could detect some movements outside but I heard nothing.
We went up and I told her what had happened during the day. She was very sorry for putting my life in Danger.
She said she knew the two men who had come with madam to the elephant Blanco restaurant. She told me their names and said that they were the people who usually shake down Madam’s girls if they fall behind in weekly payments.
She said their names were Efe, a Nigerian and Abu A Guinean.
I wrote down their names inside my phone.

I told Jennifer that we were going somewhere in the morning. She asked where it was and I told her it was in the MONTIJO area across the River. She had no objection.
Early in the morning, I called a taxi and we loaded our bags.
I had woken Francis up and told him I was going to live somewhere else. I told him to call me if I received a letter from the Immigration people.

Since we lived in The AMADORA area of Lisbon, We took the shorter route across PONTE 25 DE ABRIL bridge across the River and got to ALMADA before going to the hostel where I had rented. The lady receptionist gave me my keys and we walked up to the first floor apartment.

There was no TV or Fridge in the apartment. Just a bed, a reading chair and table, a reading lamp, a window over-looking the Tagus river, an Electric cooker, an electric kettle, and some other useless items.

We settled down and made tea. jennifer was feeling cold and I could tell that she was also scared of how things were turning out. I was scared a bit too but I couldn’t show it. I had underestimated miss Madam’s powers.
We slept in the single bed afterwards and woke up around 10am.

I called Johnson, my master in Germany and demanded for 5000 Euros. I knew that the next few days would be critical and I needed to have enough money to run out to any country in Europe with Jennifer if things became more hostile.
I got the money through western Union an hour later and hid it from Jennifer. I also had over 2000 euros left from the money I had earlier.

In the afternoon, I called Jose, my snooker friend and told him that I was around. He was not around but promised to come as soon as he returned.

I took Jennifer to a mall and bought some canned foods that would be enough for us for a week or more. She insisted on buying two pots and a frying pan. We also got a 10kg bag of Basmati rice and some tomato pastes. We bought a Small TV and a video DVD player. Then we went back to our apartment.

There was no mood or appetite for sex, so we just laid on the bed and talked about Nigeria, Olokun, Germany and other unimportant talks.

Jose called me an hour later to meet him at the bar. I took Jennifer along and went to the bar. I ordered for a full bottle of Chivas at 60 Euros and took it to a table. Jose saw us and came. I had brought a glass for him. We drank two fills and got down to business.
I told Jose that I was not an American. He laughed and said he knew from my English accent. He said I was a Nigerian and there was no point arguing. I told him why I was at the bar the night before and why I was running from those people. I told him about Jennifer and how I intended to help her travel to another European country to take asylum or even go back to Nigeria. He listened carefully and was full of anger when I finished.
He said we will use the evidence to get the money from the madam and still report to the policia.

We went to my apartment and Jose called the Madam with his phone. He claimed that he was my close friend and that I was in his house at that moment. He said I had a recorded message that implicated her in a human trafficking crime.
He played the recorded message to the Madam and demanded for 10,000 euros.
He threatened to go to the Policia if she didn’t get back to him through the same phone number in an hour, then he hung up.

After the call, we went down and strolled into the district center. We took a taxi to The Lisbon Oceanarium located in the Parque das Nacoes. The Oceanarium had the largest collection of marine species – birds, fish, mammals and other marine organisms. There were hundreds of tourists at the Oceanarium; we mixed up and enjoyed our lives before madam and her thugs would make another unpredicted move. Late in the evening, we took a taxi and drove back to our apartment.

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