“Seno….na you be dis? Wia you go na?” Asked Janet, my roommate.
“Modeling.” I replied, falling on the cushion in an exhausted heap.
I had just returned from the hotel where the Don and Bongus had held me hostage for the past twelve hours. Getting home was not easy as I had to literally beg a tomato van driver to drop me at the closest bustop to my house. I had trekked for hours.
“Na wa ooo… I fear say 419 don carry you. I go dat place wia you tell me say una dey do modeling. I no see ant for dia sef.”
“You mean am?” I say closing my eyes and feigning sleep.
“Yes ke…” Janet continued but noticing my eyes were closing she nugged me and said; “ You wan sleep for cushion? Abeg lie down for floor jare…”
My eyes popped open instantly.
“Wetin be ya own? Na sake of say I dey crash for ya house ooo…if not, I go give you word dis night!” I shout.
“Ehn…senorita! You don grow wings abi? Na because of modeling?” Janet asks in surprise while placing her hands on her waist.
Ignore her totally as I close my eyes still lounging on her cushion. I could hear Janet’s labored breathing, she only breathed fast whenever she was angry and I knew that I had perked up the beast in her. Honestly, I was tired of being treated like a slave in her house, it wasn’t as though I wasn’t used to sleeping on the floor but I felt that I was bigger than that. I wanted to be respected and with the money I had tucked into my brassiere as soon as I left the hotel room, I knew I was covered.
“Tomorrow…you must comot for dis house kia kia… I no fit dey receive any kain insult from beggar like you. We no fit get two captains forr one ship.” Hissed Janet.
The word beggar got me mad, I jumped up from my sleeping position and ran towards Janet in frenzy. She was prepared for my attack, we rolled over in a big fight as pots, cups, plates, spoons and different worn-out furniture fell on us and scrapped our sides. Janet pinched me on my buttocks and I bit her on her breast. We fought for long before disentangling ourselves. My blouse was ripped and my bra was exposed alongside my breasts and the money I had placed inside. Janet spaghetti strapped top was also torn and left dangling to the side and even as we stared at eachother, I could see her eyes pop wide as she saw my chest area.
“No wonder! Ahhh…na dollars make you dey shine eye for me abi?” Janet asked in shock.
“Which kain? Na you get am?” I chortled angrily.
“Seno! Wia you from carry am come?”
“Idiot like you…come carry na…all ya maltreatment go stop by fire by force!” I shouted loudly as I brought out the money from my bra and licking my fingers, I begin to count dem.”
“Seno darling, Seno sweetie… abeg no vex for me. Come lie down for my bed ejo…” She pleaded.
“I no need to lie down anymore…as you can see… I don land money. Tomorrow, I go pack comot for here…who need ya wahala sef?”
Janet fell on her kneel and begged desperately.
“Abeg… I take God beg you… na my sister you be so. Abi you don forget?”
“Hmmm… u be dey take me for granted abi... dis na my time to shine… no yawa.”
Janet nodded vigorously as I dished out my commands;
“From now on, na wetin I command you go dey do for dis house. Number one, na me go dey sleep for bed, two… when I call ya name, ya answer go be Ma… number three….”
As I continued, I felt the surge of power fill my body; I remembered having this same feeling when the Don and his boys dashed out in fright at the hotel room earlier today.
The next morning, I was treated like a Queen. Janet prepared breakfast of yam and fried eggs while I lay lounging in bed, refusing to have a bath because of my hidden treasure nestled inside my bra. I dreamt of the house I would buy and the clothes I would shop for and joy burst through my heart. Janet kept cleaning, sweeping and dusting the small room we shared. I later got tired of lying idly on the bed and rose, preparing to go to the bathroom for my bath but there was a hitch. I couldn't leave my fortune alone in the house with Janet, I didn’t trust her one bit. Janet had just brought in my breakfast when I ordered her to leave the room.
“Why na? Wetin I do you dis time?” Janet asked in a pained voice.
“Who you be? You wan craze? Abi you want make I park comot for this house?” I shout.
“Abeg… no vex, na slip for tongue…” Janet said begging.
“Your own don dey too much ooo… I wan lock my money for inside house and I no fit baff well if you dey inside house with the money..”
“Ahhh…oya…lock am, I go sit for outside.” Said a subdued Janet.
I carefully removed the money again from my bra and counted it, Janet salivated as she watched me touch the crisp notes. I too, couldn't believe that I had become rich over night. Folding the money carefully, I order Janet to close her eyes while I hide the money.
“Seno…haba…shebi you go lock door? How I go fit touch the money when I no dey inside room.”
“You be proper thief…close ya eyes now or I go wooze you sound slap!”
Janet closed her eyes while I tucked the money under the mattress and satisfied that she hadn’t seen where I hid it, I walk towards her and roughly push her towards the door. We step outside the room and I lock the door firmly behind us. I had just slipped the key inside my wrapper when I heard my name.
I didn’t bother turning around, I knew who it was.
“Who be rat?” I shouted back.
“See dis babe ooo… na Frederiko.” Said Frederiko as he walked up to meet me.
“Who you dey call dis babe?” I say, turning around to face him squarely.
“Ahhh…wetin dey do you?”
“Na ya mama dey craze.” I insulted.
Frederiko’s eyes widened in shock, at that moment, Larry and Shade were stepping out of their room in a matching attire, it seem as if they were going for a wedding. They too, stopped to stare at me. Some other neighbours, had come out of their rooms itching for news.
“Na me you dey insult so?” Frederiko asked, stunned.
“You be useless man. I no wan see you again…lai lai.” I spit out.
“Ehen…dis girl don shack ooo….shebi na me… a whole Frederiko, you dey yan yawa. God forbid!”
“Na ya papa forbid you…Mugu!” I lash out at him.
“Abi you wan hear slap? This no be the Senorita wey I know. So na how you wan pay me back abi… I no be Larry ooo wey you dump like banana.”
“Gerrout of my sight!” I shout.
“Oya…give me my one thousand naira…” Frederiko shouted, creating a scene.
“See dis Ode! My money no dey in naira again…na for dollars.” I boast.
Everyone standing around me gasped, except Janet who knew my claims were true. Suddenly, they burst out laughing, Shade laughed hard till she fell on the floor and tears rolled down her eyes.
“Una wan try? Una dey doubt me? Janet…tell dem wetin you see…give dem gist.” I say to Janet.
“No be lie ooo…Seno don turn model, she just try am once and the money wey she carry come ehn, e full one bag and na so so dollars.”
“Talk true…” Said Frederiko.
“The money dey inside house….if you like ehn… I go show you..”
“Sharrap….show wetin. Na you get the money?” I say to Janet.
“No ma!” Janet replied hastily.
Shade stood up from thee ground and stared at us in wwonder.
“Janet…na true you talk? Senorita don hammer so?” Shade asked.
“Na true my sister… you know me na. Na sake of say she bring money ooo…for dat reason ehn, I dey loyal till death do part.” Janet supplied.
“Waoow….this is good baby!” Shouted Frederiko as he lifted me up in his arms.
“Abeg abeg…carry me come down! I no want ya dorty hand for my body.” I shout in anger.
“Sweety…shebi you know say na me be ya first love for dis Lagos.” Said Larry walking up to meet me.
“You dey mad? I go scatter ya teeth for hia now if you talk dat tin again.”Warned Frederiko as he faced Larry.
“Wife thief! Ole! Na you steal my Senorita.” Accused Larry.
“You wan die? If you wan die ehn, call her name again.”
The two men grabbed eachother in a fight, I ignored them and walked towards the bathroom with the neighbours on my heels and Janet ahead of them, she held my bathing bucket in her hand.
I reached the bathroom and entered while the neighbours and Janet waited patiently for me to finish having my bath. I stepped out ten minutes later to see that my onlookers had increased, I handed the bucket to Janet and she clumsily let it slip from her hand to the floor. In rage I slapped her hard on the face.
“You wan break my bucket?”
“No ma…abeg no vex.”
“I swear, I go demote you ooo.” I warn.
“Aunty Senorita… I fit do Janet work wella…” Said Shade who had stepped up to me.
“Who dis wan be? Na animal or ghost? Abeg carry ya small yash comot for my front.” I say.
I walk to my door step to still see Larry and Frederiko, fighting frantically. Ignoring them, I open the door to my room and enter, closing it firmly behind me and leaving Janet, my lovers and onlookers, outside.
Thrity minutes later, I emerge in my blue top and red flowered trousers which Larry bought for me from Ore. The spectators were still waiting where I had left them, the only difference was, Larry and Frederiko had stopped fighting. Fumbling through my brassiere, I bring out the dollars to the awe of the gradually growing onlookers and count them again. Placing it back into my bra, the umpteenth time, I walk away from them and sit at the entrance of the compound, bringing out the cash again and recounting. My onlookers had once again, followed me outside.
“Aunty Senorita…shebi you go call Mallam Nuru…he dey change money ooo.” Said Shade.
“I no wan change am.” I reply.
“If you no change am… you no go fit use am do any tin. This na big money and you need to change am, infact, open account sef.”
“Wia the Mallam Nuru.” I ask.
“Sekia…abeg go call am for the other compound.” Said Shade to one of our neighbours.
Sekia dashed off, while I kept counting my money and drawing attention from people on the street. Our compound had no gate, so it was easy to see what was going on. Frederiko and Larry stood beside me, their eyes were puffed and their cheeks bruised, Larry seemed to have sprained his knee because he was limping badly. In a few minutes, Mallam Nuru arrived with a friend of his.
“Mallam…abeg we want make you help us change money.” Said Shade.
“Shut up! Na you get am?” I shouted.
“Sorry ooo…no vex.” Shade pleaded.
“How much you wan change?” The Mallam asked.
“I no know how much I hold…” I replied.
“Bring am make I see am.” Said the Mallam.
“Lai lai…” I refuse, shaking my head from side to side.
“If you no bring am, how I go change am na?” The Mallam asks.
I reluctantly delve into my bra for the money and hesitantly hand it over to Mallam Nuru.
“Ahh….na who give you dis money?” Mallam Nuru asks.
“Na for wia dat one take consign you na?” I retort.
He gives the money to his companion who laughs and stares at me absurdly.
“Auntie…this money na original fake dollars!” His companion says.
I look at them in confusion, my neighbours gasp in shock.
“Wetin…wetin una dey talk?” I whisper.
“Dis na counterfeit and even law talk say, anybody wey dem find with dis kain money go sleep for jail….” Said Mallam Nuru.
I open my mouth but no sound comes out…suddenly I feel a huge slap land on my back, then another and a few other blows… I hear Janet, Shade, Larry and Frederiko rain abuses at me.
“Good for nothing! Idiot! Mumu! Waka-about, Na God go punish you!.....”
They keep beating me while the neighbours walk out on us, Mallam Nuru and his friend, drop the fake money beside me and walk away while I receive the beating of my life. Deep down I wail at my failure at being a model and hurl insults at the Don and his men. Quietly, I say to myself;