September 1st caused great anxiety to the couple living at No.29 Bellomo Avenue. The school fees were due, and the house rent had to be renewed. Mr. Doublar’s messages were becoming less professional and more threatening. Before the couple defaulted on their repayment plan, Mr. Doublar would end his reminders with “thank you for choosing instant loans, remain blessed”. Now he would say “Mr. Kene Achu, I don’t joke with my money, FYI”.
Mr. Doublar was a notorious loan shark. Lending money to the needy was his idea of giving back to the community that had made him a wealthy cocoa farmer. His farms thrived despite stifling government policies because he was a go-getter, and he didn’t mind ruffling feathers to get what he wanted. Make no mistakes, Mr. Doublar never lost sleep over extracting every dime loaned to his unsuspecting ‘beneficiaries’ including interests.
Mr. Kene Achu had taken out a huge loan and invested it in a project that would have quadrupled his annual income. The project plummeted even before its completion. The coronavirus year had become the death of would-have-been profitable ventures.
The Achus had lived long enough in Bellomo Avenue to know that it was a safe and serene environment. However, recent dealings with his neighbors had left him and his family feeling anxious and vulnerable, contrary to the peace and sanity they were accustomed to. His neighbors, the occupants of numbers 28 and 30 Bellomo Avenue were like pawns in the hands of the devil. Living at No. 29, Kene felt like he was sandwiched between the devil and the deep blue sea.
No. 30 housed Mr. Doublar’s outlet for his refined cocoa powder. Doublar was one to keep an eye on his investments, so he visited the outlet frequently. On each of these visits, he would make a quick stop at No 29.
“Kene, my guy, I was passing by, thought I should say hello”, he would say with a sly grin on his broad face.
Kene always thought of his visits as a scheme to intimidate him and his wife.
Then on No. 28 Bellomo Avenue lived Nachi, an estate agent, who was even more avaricious than Doublar. He helped Real Estate owners sell properties for a handsome reward. Nachi had promised Kene a 10% commission on the selling price of a luxury duplex. The latter found a buyer, the duplex was sold. He took his reward including Kene’s commission.
In addition to his job as a salesman, Kene also drove for Uber and Bolt and made deliveries for Parcel Exchange Ltd. He was ready to plunge himself into anything legal to raise the money needed to offset his bills and fulfil his monthly loan payments. His last delivery for the day was a Megaphone.
The receiver had called last minute to reschedule the delivery, which was okay by him. He was tired and burnt out. It had been a busy day. Relieved by the amount of money he had made that day, he decided to reward himself with a chilled bottle of beer in a bar within the avenue.
Vincent, a well-known car dealer was having drinks with two of his friends in the same bar. It looked more like a celebration because he had made a big sale. In his chatty nature, he bragged to his friends about the deal he had just concluded with Nachi.
“Nachi is loaded, he paid cash for two brand new SUVs. One for his wife, and one for his daughter. Real estate is paying off”, Vincent said while clinking glasses with his friends.
Kene could not believe his ears. He felt his grip tightening around his glass of beer out of anger. So Nachi used his 10% commission from the Real estate sales to finance his expensive lifestyle. These thoughts made his chest tighten. Kene jumped to his feet and stormed out of the bar. He resolved to prise his money out of Nachi’s hands at any cost. The next installment of the loan repayment was due in a few days.
He drove straight to no. 30 and parked his car in front of Nachi’s gate, blocking the entrance. There was a sudden rush of blood to his head. Remembering the undelivered megaphone in his boot, he took it out and climbed the roof of his car, facing Nachi’s house. He drew the megaphone mouthpiece close to his lips, and spoke into it furiously.
“Nachi, pay me my commission, You just bought two new SUVs, so you have the means. I know you can hear me”. A car pulled up behind him and tooted its horn. Kene turned back, and it was Mr. Doublar at the back seat of his grey Jaguar. He winked at Kene, wound-up his window, and drove off. Doublar’s quick appearance reminded Kene that he had just two days left to raise the next loan repayment. With this reminder, he was further infuriated and almost lost his balance.
He struggled to regain balance and composure on the slippery car roof. He faced Nachi’s house again, and resumed his chants.
“Pay me my commission…” A small – excited and somewhat angry – crowd started to gather. A security van was approaching.