Here’s the fourth episode of The Bro Code by Great Opara. Click here to read previous episodes
Pablo’s phone started to ring as he walked out of the hospital entrance flanked by Ayo on one side and Obi on the other. They had finally decided to leave after Dr Odoh succeeded in convincing Ayo that there was nothing more they could do for Damilare from the bench and he was indeed receiving the best medical care possible. Ayo had promised to return early the following morning after a good night’s rest on her own bed and a change of clothes, Obi on the other hand had a different set of issues to worry about. His phone had been blowing up with work stuff ever since he skipped out on the late meeting with his boss, Stella Jide-Coker. Coupled with the fact that he had been absent at the office for a full thirty-six hour period with nothing more than “urgent family emergency” as an excuse, it would not be farfetched to assume that his job was currently on the line.
Pablo unlocked his car with the remote and Ayo got into her customary passenger seat while Obi took his usual place directly behind the driver.
“O boy, you no go pick your phone?” Obi asked as the device began to buzz loudly again. “Abi na only me dey hear this ringing?”
“Na your phone? If you like no go find wetin you go tell Madam devil. When dem sack you today today I go see how you go take chop.”
Ayo burst into tired laughter while struggling to secure her seatbelt and Obi glared at her as if to remind her that she was the reason he was currently in danger of losing his job. She swallowed the rest of her laughter and apologised with her eyes as Pablo put the car in gear and pulled out of the parking lot.
“No vex o Pablo, I go leave you and your phone you hear? No vex at all.”
“Thank you,” came the sarcastic reply.
“Besides, dem no fit sack me nw. Me na star boy, and Rainmaker Capital and everyone who walks there would be lost without me”
“Why you dey explain give me boss?” Pablo laughed as he swerved to avoid one of the many mobile fanyogo sellers on the road. “Keep all these details for the people that need them man.”
Obi hissed as he saw Ayo start to tear up with laughter again. He decided to ignore anymore of Pablo’s teasing and instead busied himself with replying select messages on his phone. Pablo, who liked to fancy himself as a Fast & Furious movie character, was zipping in and out between lanes, overtaking cars and generally ensuring that his speedometer never went below eighty despite the busy state of the roads. They arrived at the apartment at 11:25am, less than thirty minutes after leaving the hospital, a feat that would ordinarily be impossible if it weren’t for Pablo’s demonic driving skills.
Obi dashed into the apartment and into his room, surfacing with a towel moments later. In ten minutes he had showered, shaved off the 5 o’clock shadow on his jaw and was struggling into a fresh suit and an already polished pair of shoes. Ayo handed him a cup of steaming coffee that she had just brewed on the percolator and he muttered his thanks while adjusting his cufflinks.
Pablo meanwhile had finally answered his phone in his room and they could hear a barrage of expletives and curse words from his end as he showed his thorough displeasure with whomever was on the phone. He came out of the room and slammed the door behind him.
“Problem?” Ayo asked as she handed him his own mug of coffee which he eagerly collected.
“Nah. Just idiots being idiots, the usual stuff. I might need to head to the gym soon though, I’ve got a new shipment coming in. Are you sure you’ll be alright here alone?”
“Come on man, I just went through a stressful incident that’s all. I’m not suddenly a disabled person or some other shit.”
Pablo laughed. “Okay bro, whatever you say.” He reached into his back pocket and pulled out the package he had just retrieved from his room and tossed it to Ayo. She caught it in mid-air.
“The very best of my stash, only for my best girl,” he said with a grin.
“Oh so now I’m your best girl yeah?” She opened up the package and paused to inhale deeply. “Damn Pablo, this shit smells amazing. Is this that new sour diesel?”
“You know Ayo if this writing shit doesn’t work out in the end, you could always come work for me as my official weed sniffer. Your nose is incredible.” Ayo playfully hit him on the chest.
“So where have you been hiding this one my guy?” She walked into her room and came out with a pack of rolling papers, filter and her favourite lighter. “Obi, come see wetin Pablo don dey hide from us since o”
Obi came into the dining room, putting on his suit jacket just as Ayo finished rolling up a perfect fat blunt.
“Smell it,” She said, waving it right under his nose.
“So why no dey give us this one Oga?” He addressed Pablo first, and then to Ayo, “I thought you don’t ever roll fat blunts? What happened to “slim and sexy are the only words to live by” ehn bro?” He tightened the knot of his tie and pulled his briefcase behind him.
“We’ve been through a lot recently, I wanted to roll a family sized blunt that we can all enjoy” She lit it up, took a long puff, and swallowed all the smoke, sighing deeply as it hit the right spots.
“Not for me man, I have to rush to the office. I’m already super fucked as it is,” Obi said, refusing the blunt being passed to him.
“Obi Okorafor rejecting weed? I thought this day would never come.” Pablo laughed with her as Obi hissed, walked to the apartment door and slammed it behind him. They continued to laugh at nothing in particular for some more seconds and Ayo paused to ash the blunt. Suddenly the door opened again and Obi walked back in, headed straight for the dining table where they were seated and collected the half-smoked fathead from her.
“I’m already late, I might as well enjoy one or two quick drags. Lord knows the shit storm waiting for me in that office.”
Pablo and Ayo looked at each other, looked up at Obi, looked at each other one more time and then burst into another round of uncontrollable laughter.
Stella Jide-Coker swayed gracefully across the hallway as her heels made an elegant click-clack sound on the marbled floor. She responded to the greetings from people in her way with regal head nods as they parted like the red sea before her. Her two PAs shuffled behind her, tying to keep up with her pace but at the same time being careful not to get in front of her. Normally she would take the private elevator straight to her office on the top floor or whatever level she was going to, but occasionally she liked to walk through the crowd like any normal executive at Rainmaker Capital and observe the daily business of the firm from a more personal level.
The trio walked into the empty elevator car and one of the assistants pushed the button for the top floor. The doors shut and swung open again moments later and Stella walked into the foyer of her very plush office space with its thick wine coloured carpet, muted décor and overall pleasant ambience. Her secretary stood at attention as she too received another nod and Stella walked into the inner office which was easily the size of three others put together.
She sat in her chair, switched on her Macbook, checked her makeup with her phone screen and then looked up expectantly at her two assistants standing before her.
“Okay so, you have that 2pm lunch at Oasis with the Governor’s chief of staff,” began the younger one without any ceremony whatsoever. He had done these briefings a thousand times and knew exactly what was expected. “We’re pushing for an increased stake in the Dalai Manufacturers deal and he is our way in.” He placed a file on her solid brown mahogany desk. “From the financial boys, it contains all you need to know and the particular bait we’ll be dangling for the Governor and his team.”
Her second assistant continued from there as Stella busied herself with applying a fresh coat of bright red lipstick. “At 4pm you have a meetup at the Fin-tech expo with several other top hunchos from the big twelve. You’ll also be addressing a plenary session on Integrated Capital. The research was sent to you last week so whatever else you might need to add would be the usual adlibs and off the cuff financial markets knowledge. Most of the people there will be industry insiders so you don’t have to worry about dumbing down the information for them to understand.”
“At seven you’ll be addressing select members of the International Polo Club. We’re trying to get them to triple their investment in the latest sport venture so you’ll have to go full charm on them.”
“Then at nine you have…well that’s not confirmed yet but Alhaji Tanko sent over dinner plans at the usual spot. You said you’d get back to us on that…”
Stella closed her makeup kit and thought of Haruna Tanko. She was not in the mood for boring conversation that usually preceded sex that was a four out of ten at best. She couldn’t understand how a man so rich and powerful and who had apparently travelled to every country on earth could not speak for ten minutes without telling her how much he wanted to make her his third wife.
She shook her head. “No. Inform the alhaji that I’ll have to reschedule. Something came up…I’m not in the country, whatever. I don’t care.” She decided that she was better off hitting up one of her other regulars if she really needed some companionship after convincing the old goats of the polo club to give up more of their money. Maybe Pascal or Giwa or anyone else really.
“Okay. I’ll get the message across. You said you wanted to see Mr Ajibola later today and go over specifics for the deal his team just negotiated…”
“That’s true, I almost forgot. Buzz him now, tell him to come up as soon as he’s done with his meeting”
“Yes ma,” they answered together.
“If that’s all…” her assistants nodded again and turned around to leave when a thought suddenly occurred to Stella. “Wait a minute, what about that young man I was supposed to see about a day or two ago? The guy that Ajibola said basically brought the new deal together?” She was addressing her younger assistant in particular.
“Mr Obi Okorafor?”
“Nigga I don’t give a fuck what he’s called, where is he? Why haven’t I seen him yet?”
“Well ma, I checked with his secretary earlier today. She said he still hasn’t been in the office since he left that day on some family emergency.”
“What! Has anyone tried to reach him yet? Does he know that this isn’t a game where he can just disappear and reappear whenever he fucking feels like it?”
She received no response from either of them so she addressed the younger assistant again. “And you say that you didn’t meet him in the office that day you went there? That his secretary told you he had already left on this family emergency?”
The younger man shifted uncomfortably before nodding. “Yes…ma, no he wasn’t there”
Stella eyed him suspiciously for what seemed like an eternity before relaxing her face and giving both of them one of her rare, sinister looking smiles. “Alright, you may go. Please inform his secretary that I want Mr Okorafor or whatever he is called in my office the moment he sets foot in the building. Thank you”
The two assistants hurried out of her office.
Pablo parked in his usual spot, locked the car and walked into his gym through the customer entrance. He shook hands and bumped fists with several regulars working out at the various machines, weights and other fitness equipment. One of his instructors walked over to him and whispered in his ear that there was some new chick who had requested to speak to the owner to discuss a specially regimented fitness plan. Usually, Pablo let his instructors or office manager handle such requests but occasionally there would be a particularly stubborn customer who demanded to speak only to the owner and would not take no for an answer.
He dumped his duffel bag on the floor and walked over to where the instructor had pointed. The first thing he noticed about the woman was her height. Anyone standing beside Pablo in all his six feet four inches glory would normally look short but this woman looked even shorter especially in proportion to the heavy breasts and thick ass she was carrying on her small frame. Pablo estimated her height to be anywhere between 5’2 and 5’4. She was wearing a sky blue tank top with a plunging neckline that revealed more than a healthy amount of her light-skinned cleavage. Her yoga pants hugged her lower body so intensely that it was almost as if a perverse Michelangelo had painted it over her ass.
Pablo walked up to her and stretched out a muscled hand. “Hi. I’m the manager slash owner here. Bashir said you asked to meet with me…” He could feel her eyes hungrily roaming his entire body as she looked up to meet his gaze. Then she gently placed her petite hand in his and left it there.
“Hey hey. I’m Vanessa. What’s your name?” Her words showed the tiniest hint of a foreign accent. Probably one of those ‘I just got back people’ Pablo thought.
“Just call me Pablo, everyone calls me Pablo.” He noticed the shining diamond on her ring finger and shook his head internally. Another married woman who would no doubt eventually cause problems in his gym.
“Oh wow, nice to meet you Pablo. Okay so I just moved into the area and I asked around. I need a really nice place to work out and lose all of this excess fat.” She cupped her hands under her breasts and pushed up as if to show him exactly what she meant. Pablo was almost certain that the action would cause her sizeable assets to come flopping out but by some miracle, the tank top was able to hold them in place.
“So yeah, I asked around and everyone says this is the best place to be…so here I am.” She flashed him a killer smile showing all gleaming white teeth.
Pablo nodded. “Cool cool. So what can I do for you?”
“Well I’d like to know about your plans and subscriptions or whatever, and then maybe we could work something out.”
“Okay. If that’s all the information you need Bashir could help you out. He’s the head instructor around here and he’s pretty much the go to guy for all…”
“I don’t want to talk to any head instructor. I want to talk to the big guy.” She placed her hand on his chest and very slowly slid lower until she got to his rock hard abs, just above the waistband of his joggers. “I want to know what I have to do to get as buff as you.” The flirty look in her eyes was unmistakable.
Pablo smiled politely, “Alright then, no problem. Are you looking for a one-person plan? Or will your husband be joining us later?”
Vanessa’s eyes immediately darkened and her hand dropped from his body. She eyed him shortly before she answered. “No, he won’t. It will…it will just be me.”
Pablo spent five minutes going over different plans and subscriptions with a noticeably less enthusiastic Vanessa before handing her over to Bahir, picking up his duffel bag from where he dropped it and walking into his office. He had had his fair share of married women and a host of all others hitting on him repeatedly as if in a bid to fulfil some crazed porn fetish. Even if he wasn’t currently on his longest run of what he liked to ‘celibacy meditation’, he still never mixed business with pleasure by having sex with customers or tampering with the merchandise in any of his businesses. Although the temptations were always bountiful and never ending, the discipline he had learnt from bodybuilding was applied to every other area of his life and he was still yet to come up short so far.
He retrieved his computer from his duffel bag, placed it on the office table and fired it up. A minute later, he was going through an Excel spreadsheet of a list of transactions and invoices, carefully mapping out his financials. Satisfied with that, he took two short steps to the back wall of his office where at his eyelevel was hung a picture of a much younger Arnold Schwarzenegger collecting his first ever Mr Universe title.
Pablo pushed the picture to the side to reveal a panel in the wall which housed a keypad. He typed in the correct code and to his right the wall slowly slid open to the size of a doorway to reveal a hidden inner room, about the same size as his office and completely unreachable from anywhere else. He walked into the inner room, the white fluorescent lights coming on automatically the moment his feet touched the floor. There was a small table and three chairs right in the middle of the room. The place didn’t smell at all damp or musty, evidence of the perfectly functioning cooling system designed to keep the room at the same temperature at all times to protect the content it housed. All around its walls to the left and right, there were shelves from the ceiling to the ground placed side-by-side and painted black in perfect contrast with the white coloured walls.
Pablo walked to one of the shelves and picked up a stack of one hundred naira notes from among the rest. All of the shelves on this side of the room were filled with stacks and stacks of naira notes of different denominations but nothing above five hundred naira. Four shelves, neatly packed to bursting point with bundles upon bundles of naira notes and he slowly swept his gaze over it all, as if in admiration. He crossed the room to the other side and stood before an identical group of shelves, although these ones contained an entirely different subject matter. The first shelf had neatly labelled jars of cannabis, grouped into their various strains from top to bottom. The next shelf was for pills. Little white, label-less bottles of different pharmaceutical delights graced this shelf, again all very neatly arranged; from ref to, tramadol, molly, LSD and everything else in between. The last two shelves held the powders, his major source of revenue. Double wrapped in see through plastic bags, purified cocaine was delicately arranged on every inch of space the shelf had and it was all a very remarkable sight.
Pablo took a step back and admired his stockpile of drugs. He had come a long way from the engineering student who dealt out of his backpack after class and was now one of the major dealers and movers of product in his own part of the city. Buying the gym to properly launder the proceeds of his drug trade had been the wisest investment he had ever made as the ultramodern building served numerous purposes and provided him with a steady stream of multiple incomes, both legal and illegal.
He took one last look around, smiled to himself and walked out of the room and back into his office, the lights automatically going off behind him. As he watched the false wall slide back into place to conceal his ministry from prying eyes, Pablo faintly considered getting out of the game now while he was still ahead. Then as soon as it came, he banished the thought from his head. There was still so much money to be made, both for him and for the man whose tune he currently danced to.
Obi walked into his office and was met at the door by Funmi, the secretary he shared with certain others on his floor. She collected his briefcase, placed it on the floor and grabbed his face in both of her hands.
“Why are your eyes so red?”
“Nothing,” he answered, cracking his neck. “I’m just really tired.”
Funmi looked at him as if she didn’t believe him but decided to let it slide.
“You need to go up to Ms Jide-Coker’s office right now, as in, right fucking now. I think that PA boy covered for you quite well but still, you have been out of this place for hours and hours”
“Yes! Just go up there and get it over with.”
“And if I’m fired? What happens then?”
“I don’t think it’ll come to that. Remember she wanted to see you before you went ghost on everybody for almost two days. Besides, do you really think she’d have you come up to her office just to fire you when she can have Mr Ajibola or literally anyone else do it? Nah man, she might be the devil and all but you are simply not that important.”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence babe,” Obi replied sarcastically, turning around.
“You’re welcome. Now get out of here.”
He took the elevator straight to her floor and was received by the secretary who made him wait a full fifteen minutes before telling him to go in, under the pretext that “madam is on the phone”. He could feel her eyes on him immediately he opened the door, closed it and stood before her. Obi was usually the coolest kid on the block and the weed added an extra layer of calmness to his presence. He looked Stella Jide-Coker right in the eyes and smiled.
“Good afternoon. You asked to see me…”
“That was almost two days ago, and apparently you’ve been handling some sort of family emergency…”
“Yes, I was”
“That wasn’t a question. Explain to me though how it came to be that it was your secretary who delivered the message to my PA when he came to your office, and then that same secretary suddenly could no longer provide any further details of your situation”
In his high state, Obi had almost forgotten how he’d convinced the woman’s PA to lie for him and tell her that he hadn’t met him on sit. He was almost surprised that he had actually come through.
“Well it happened exactly as he explained. I left to sort out a family emergency, he spoke to my secretary, she communicated to me that you wanted to see me and now here I am. A bit late, but still here.”
“And how did this family emergency of yours go?”
“No one died, so I’ll have to say pretty well.”
Stella eyed him once more. “Have a seat Mr Okorafor.” As he lowered himself into the one of the vacant chairs, she told herself that she would have to take staff relations a little bit more personally. How had this incredibly good-looking young man been working in her firm for almost two years and this was the first time she was really noticing him? Of course she had seen him once or twice, had even been in meetings with him where she was sure he had contributed perfectly, yet this was the first time she was really noticing him. Especially as he was so wonderfully noticeable. From the beautiful face to his strong, manly jaw, the lips that stretched so easily to reveal that playboy smile and then his suit game; he looked like he was born to model Tom Ford suits. Stella shook her head internally. The young man was obviously trouble, but so was she. And she was going to have some fun with him.
“Mr Ajibola has all good things to say about you. Apparently you’ve really blown his head during your time here and are fast becoming one of our top closers.”
“What can I say? Mr Ajibola is a great guy and an incredible mentor. He’s given me a lot of room to spread my wings and fly, I’m just trying to repay his faith.”
“And earn huge amounts of money in the process…”
Obi laughed. “Sure, why not? Money does make the world go round. I don’t think my allowances can be described as “huge” just yet though.”
“All in good time.” She paused then continued. “So I take it you’re enjoying yourself at Rainmaker Capital? Job satisfaction and all?”
Obi was still quite baffled at the direction the meeting had taken. He had come in expecting a thorough tongue lashing at the very least but here he was, practically being congratulated. “Yeah, it’s a great place to work. I can’t wait until I start doing really big things.”
“I’m glad you said that. I have a 7pm meeting with certain select members of the International Polo Club and I’d like you to come along. We trying to convince them to triple their investment in our latest sport venture and I want to see the angle you approach the financial outlay projections from.”
“Sure thing, no problem.”
Stella fixed him a stony look. “Why would there be a problem?”
“No…no, there’s not. There isn’t a problem. I mean…”
“It’s fine. That will do. Collect the information from my secretary as you leave.”
Stella returned to typing on her macbook while Obi linked his fingers and sat wondering whether he had been dismissed and if he could go or something else. After about a minute, Stella looked up and seemed surprised to find him still sitting there.
“Is there anything else Mr Okorafor?”
“No, nothing at all.”
“You can get out of my office now.” Obi jumped out of the chair and hurried over to the door just as she added “We leave here 6:30, don’t be a minute late”
He safely made it out of the office, closed the door and rested his back against it to catch his breath to the amusement of the secretary watching him. Stella Jide-Coker wanted something from him, he knew it. But for the life of him, he had no idea what it could be.
To be continued