Chapter 3: A pack of lies

I did not want to interfere and it appeared that as they were dragging the conversation, we were going to stay awhile without making progress.
“I go pay yu extra, just dey go.”
“How much evrytin go come be?”
“I go giv yu N500”, answered the thief. “Time dey go na.”
“N500!”, the driver exclaimed. “With the box wey you carry for boot, the money tu small.”
“Na 500 yu call small moni abi? Na thief yu be! No be yur fault!”, the thief said with a loud hiss. So far, none of us had interrupted as they continued their argument.
“Na yu be thief”, the driver replied hotly. “Abeg make una help me see this kain tin. This man enta from before tollgate and I no know say the box wey him put for boot na dollars dey inside. Infact, we dey go police station”, he said making a pretense of starting his car.
“Em driver, drop us where we are going before you go anywhere because-“, the passenger in front started. The thief cut him off.
“Abeg no shout o driver”, said the accused covering his mouth with both hands. “Wetin go apun be say we go share the money-if yu no cari me go police. I run comot one woman haus when I si say she wan cari me do ritual. She say she dey fain houseboy and I apply but this morning she lock me insyd rum make I take am as ‘sugar mummy’. She tok say if I service am well, she go do me well. As she comot go wok na hin I run comot wit ha money.”
“Okay as yu don tok true, wetin go apun be say we go share the moni. Yu go take 50% and me wit the remaining passengers go share the remaining 50%. Yu gree abi yu no gree?” the driver asked him.
“I get choice? I gree but e get one red rope with some shells wey dey inside the box…”
“Na juju na. which kain problem be this?” said the woman sitting in the middle to my left, speaking for the first time. She spoke as if it were her personal problem.
I was yet to speak because everything sounded too good to be true but the story sounded plausible enough so I sat quietly. Thinking. So this juju was going to bar us from getting the money I thought to myself. It appeared that it was now a collective problem and so they wanted my opinion.
“Aunti wetin make we do as yu no tok? Abi yu no go share fo the moni?”, asked the driver sarcastically. I did not know that he wanted to find out if I was in or not.
“Errr make we carry the moni go where them dey change moni…”, I trailed off miserably not knowing what to say.
The man in the front seat spoke. “I suggest we get a man of God that can help us break the spell.” Spell? Where did that come from I thought. It seemed as if some parts of my memory were wiped or that I had been in a trance. But the thought of getting dollars for the first time in my life sounded appealing and it was coming at a time that I really needed money. Perhaps, this was God’s way of answering my prayers.
“Okay if all of us gree make we go”, said the driver. No one objected and he kicked his car and we left our spot.
All the usual alarm bells in my head were turned off that day and I failed to ask how the driver would know where to find a ‘man of God’ around that area. All we had been passing for miles was grass and herds of cattle. I figured that even if a car broke down where we were, other motorists would not stop as evidenced by the way they all sped past us without bothering to slow down. The driver turned on to a narrow track that was covered on both sides by tall trees. Because of my life I was accustomed to the dark but that did not mean that I was comfortable with it.
The road looked dark and when I looked back, the sunlight coming from the major road did not enter the track we were on as bright as it was. No one spoke all through the drive and it still did not click in my head that the driver knew the road so well. I looked from one passenger to another to see if they were worried or tense but all I could see were their faces shrouded in darkness, blank. I could not guess what was going on in their heads. We drove in silence till we got to one uncompleted building and even before the driver parked, one middle-aged tattered looking poorly dressed man came out and stood watching us. As soon as the driver parked, he and the thief alighted immediately at the same time. The fat woman sitting down by me pointed to the door and I opened it so the rest of us alighted together. The ‘man of God’ stood looking at us and started his own pack of lies.
“You”, said the man pointing to the thief, “you did a bad thing and ran away. True or false?”
“True.”
“We need to pray to break the medicine or else that money would be useless. You would not be able to spend it and the curse would be on you. But”, he paused, “I can help.”
“Please help me sir. Help me.”
“I will, first let us pray then I will tell you what is needed to break the curse.”
He started to pray and I could not make out the words as the others dragged me closer so we could form a half-circle. I was drawn into a web of lies that has had not ended. What next?

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