Friday, December 24, 2010
Santa Claus the Maga: A Christmas Tale (pt. 2, concluding)
Everyman is born a Scammer
An hour later Santa alighted from the driver’s seat of a Mercedes GLK. He was huge and the car suited his size perfectly. He checked his watched; he still had few hours before his skin colour changed. He was noticeable as he walked into the bar especially when he screamed for the waiter. He ordered for the most expensive drink available. Although his attention was on five guys who occupied the table close to him, he pretended to ignore their presence. After his first bottle Santa shifted his attention to the guys beside him. He initiated small talk and minutes later they were all talking about things that made sense in bars, women, politics, and sports. Out of excitement Santa declared for everyone on that table, so far he had portrayed the image of a big shot. A phone began to ring and everyone eyes were on him. He brought out the phone and there was a smile on his face. “Excuse me,” he said as he got on his feet. Few minutes later he hung up still maintain the smile, the manager had deposited his supposed share of the money back to his account. He got back to his table,
“Chairmen it looks like this year is going to end on a great note. I just received a phone call and I have to be on a plane out of this country. He called the waiter to give him the check. When he was about to pay he searched for his wallet but didn’t have the cash to pay. He made him known that his wallet might have been stolen or in his car. The waiter followed him to check his car but they found nothing. The waiter demanded for the car key when he saw the possibility he might not be able to pay but Santa refused. He explained the situation he was in, he had the money to pay for the drinks which ran into hundreds of thousands of naira but must have misplaced his wallet. He asked the waiter in good favour if he could give him an account number for him to pay it in cause he was in hurry and had to get to the airport. The waiter refused and had to call others to intervene on the matter.
Santa was in a situation and he knew the only asset he had was the Mercedes GLK. The car was obviously expensive but that wasn’t a guarantee he was going to pay the money if he drove off. The waiter threatened to involve the police but Santa was adamant to use the machine as collateral. He kept explaining how he didn’t have much time to spare and needed to be in a plane out of the country within the next two hours. Sensing a dead end the waiter involved the guys he had been buying drinks for to pay up but Santa refused, “That’s the last thing I would allow. Abi wayre se e ni?” he said. “I would rather sell this car here as scrap and give you the money. Where I’m from asking someone to pay for their drinks after you invited them is unacceptable.” That statement caught the attention of so many people there even Kunle Discussion that benefitted when he declared, he saw it as a chance to have a Mercedes and he anticipated it was going to be ‘street price’. He called Santa aside, he wanted to make an offer.
The manager was still in his office waiting for the FBI agent that approached him earlier (Santa). He rememberd what transpired in the fast food restaurant earlier in the day. The manager was able to make a brief phone call and get the location of Kunle Discussion. Santa thought about the situation, the most important thing was getting the money back. He looked straight into the manager’s eyes. “I would have loved to let you go like that but it isn’t my decision to make alone. I was sent here to track you down and unless I can’t provide evidence that none of the money is in your possession then I can let you go. Because looking at the situation, it might as well be you are the one using your position collecting bribes to fund terrorist activities here in Nigeria. After all the monies are unaccounted for and you know these fraudsters are willing to compensate you.”
“No, I am not sponsoring terrorist activities.”
“But you have $10,000 in your possession; tell me what you do with the money?”
“Honestly I don’t ask for that much I just needed to make part payment for my car. I actually borrowed $5,000 from Kunle Discussion.”
“Nigerians and cars. What do you do with a car worth over $10,000?”
“It’s a Mecedes GLK 2010 model.”
“I see. So how do you drive the car in jail?”
The manager finally burst into tears. “I’ll give you the money, that should prove I’m not a terrorist sponsoring person.”
“Don’t be stupid,” Santa retorted. “Everyone would see that as bribe. What I’m here for is much bigger than that. What you can do is return it back to where it came from. You should be able to do that right?”
“Sure, no problem.”
Santa took a deep breath. Santa pointed at an Accord parked opposite the bank. “You see that car over there. I drove it here and it’s being tracked and everywhere I go it is monitored. If I move that car from this location I’ll receive a call from my superiors asking to know if I had made contact with you and what was the outcome. But I want to help you cause like I said I believe you are a nice man caught in a bad situation and I have to get to Kunle Discussion. I need you to provide a ride for me, do you have any?”
“It’s only my Mercedes I’ve here.”
“The same GLK, that would do. I need you to do this for me, go to your office and transfer the money back to the account it was sent from. That should cover your ass. Once that is done I would call you and verify it’s back into our system. I’ll also need your car key to get to where Kunle Discussion is. Don’t worry I’ll take care of your car.”
The manager took a deep breath. He didn’t know what to believe but he knew he had nothing to lose except $10,000 and as long as he wasn’t giving the hefty man in his presence he didn’t feel he was being cheated. The consequences were too great if he doubted the guy. Also his car had some really expensive security features. With a simple phone call he had more control than the person behind the driver’s seat. “Here, you can have it.”
They both walked out of the restaurant and he made sure he was in the bank before approaching Charles. He noticed Elvis was no longer with him, “Where is the boy?” he asked.
“He had to leave, I believe it was an emergency. The guy isn’t as bad as you think.”
“What made you believe I had any opinion of him it’s just that I can only describe him with negative words. How good are you in getting documents and stuffs like that?”
“Original or fake?”
“If it’s that then it depends on how fast the printer is.”
“I need to find a guy, name’s Kunle Discussion. What kind of last name is Discussion.”
Charles laughed. “That would be the type of car he’s driving,”
“Nigerian and cars.”
The conversation occurred hours ago. The manager had long deposited the money and even received a phone call from Santa confirming the money had been paid. He had no idea what next…oh! His car. He stepped out the bank and noticed the Accord was still there. From where he stood he noticed there was a paper pasted on the rear windscreen. He walked closer, ‘FOR SALE’ and there was also a phone number. He called the number and it was a male’s voice at the other end of the line. “Haalo,” it was a typical Yoruba man. The manager enquired about the Accord and he sensed the man’s voice became lively. The man explained that he was the owner of the car and had parked it there two days ago hoping to find a buyer. He told the manager his house was two days away and he could come over there so he could negotiate. Still confused and curious the manager walked to the building. “Manager, eyin ti a ni,” the man said as he saw him. The manager also realised he knew the man, he was one of his customers that transacted with the bank. From that moment he knew something was fishy. He called the police and began to track his car.
Charles couldn’t believe what just happened; Santa was able to get his money back and he was driving him straight to the
airport. Kunle Discussion was able to fall for the bait and offered Santa $15,000 for the machine and also paid for the bill. Santa hesitated a bit and only agreed on the condition he got ‘his car’ back on his next trip to Nigeria when he would be able to repay him. He opened the dash board and brought out car documents which Charles had faked and given it to him. Kunle Discussion was glad he was going to be one big yahoo boy on heavy wheels.
The manager was able to track his car down to the beer parlour and his doubts were cleared when he spotted Kunle Discussion behind the wheels celebrating with his friends.
“Officer, arrest this men,” he said.
The guys there were confused and had to explain the situation to the two police officers present. The manager had to tell them the papers they had were fake and he was able to prove it. At that point they knew that had been scammed. Kunle Discussion wasn’t ready to give up. “He had lost a lot and beaten on his own game. He explained to the officers about the huge dark man with white beards and the possibility of finding him at the international airport.
By then Santa was already at the airport. Before Santa alighted from Charles’s car he gave him a small bag, “Give this to Elvis and tell him Merry Christmas.”
“No wahala man. You must feel really lucky, getting your money back in one day. Even EFCC no fit do that one.”
Santa smiled, “That one sef dey.”
“Charles exclaimed. Na pidgin sweet for your mouth like this.”
They waved goodbye and Santa walked into the airport waiting for his plane. Thirty minutes later he noticed rapid movements at a distance and spotted Kunle Discussion’s face with policemen behind him. He got on his feet and began to walk towards the opposite direction with the hope of finding a place to hide. Even under the hood of his extra large bright red top, Santa could hear the footsteps which became louder as the men moved closer in the busy airport. He began to panic knowing he was close to escaping. He pulled up the sleeve of his right arm, “Just a few seconds more”, he thought. His head was raised when he felt a hand grip him on his right shoulder. The few seconds he felt he needed now seemed like hours or even days because he had vivid awareness of all that happened within the last 24 hours, was it too good to be true? He turned and saw a surprised look on Kunle Discussion’s face. The policemen panting behind him said, “This is a white man.” Kunle Discussion found it hard to believe he wasn’t facing the same guy, the resemblance was striking.
“Was los ist?” Santa asked in German. “Konne Sie erklaren sich selbst?” he added pretending he didn’t understand the English language.
The policemen along with the airport security held Kunle Discussion and his friend. “No problem sir.” They told Santa. Kunle Discussion had to prove he wasn’t involved in the theft of the manager’s car and they were already tired of driving round Lagos. Santa held his smile as they dragged them away, it wasn’t his business. He knew he would have to explain how $15,000 got missing from the account but he had to give it to Elvis. He found out from Charles the motivation behind his act. His brother had a kidney condition and he had been trying to raise money for the treatment. It was that frustration that led him into what he did. It was a call he received from the hospital that made him leave earlier, that was the emergency. After hearing that, Santa couldn’t help but give it to him. He felt he deserved it more that those kinds that sent him mails demanding for ipads and laptops. What he did was what Christmas was all about. It wasn’t just about sending gifts but what the gift symbolised, LOVE.