Mutual Nemesis

Posted on July 19, 2012



“Someone going somewhere, Huh?” The man said with a slight mockery.

That brought Topgun, whose real name was Okunu Adebambo, around. He was hunkered over a travel bag placed on the bed, his mind a million miles away from his immediate environment. He’d been packing yet his mind was engrossed in deep thought. The voice broke into his reverie.

“Who the hell are you and how did you …”

He stopped abruptly, his eyes went to the door and a ‘holy shit!’ look clearly formed on his face. For a criminal, he had been unforgivably careless that afternoon. The news he heard that Chief had again sent someone after his family back home had made him lose all his sense of security. All he wanted was to get out of the State and put a stop to all the trouble once and for all and that haste led to carelessness and his failure to observe almost all his security measures. He had even forgotten to properly lock his hotel room door.

“I was invited in” the man helped him “by the inviting door”. The stranger cracked a short but hysterical laugh at his own unamusing joke.

By now, he had had enough time to take a critical look at the stranger He was probably 6 feet some inches tall, well-built and there were scars on his cheek. Topgun could not immediately place the scary face but it seemed familiar in a strange kind of way. He was dressed in a black overall over a black trouser with matching shirt and shoes. He looked like those gangsters of the 19th century America, at least as portrayed by the movies. Topgun knew in his heart that the stranger was a criminal, probably an assassin sent to put him down, but he still decided to act tough.

“Who are you I ask again and what the hell are you doing here? How did you get this address? What do you want with …” He was asking in a stern voice before the stranger interrupted him.

“You are asking too much questions for someone with a reputation of no questions. So let’s go to the business of the day, shall we? ”

“What business? At least I need to know who you…”

“You don’t need to know anything” The stranger said with unnecessary emphasis on every word. He continued but now in a cool voice.

“And I think you don’t appreciate the situation you are in. Who I am is of little consequence but what I am about to do to you is. So you better do way with talking.”

Topgun reflexively realized that Mr Tough Guy was not going to work. He was certain the man sitting comfortably some 12meters away had a gun ready to shoot under his bogus overall. What could this man want? He was not certain if this could be retribution (retribution was one of the commonest causes of death among the men of underworld). He had not done any job for six months now. Except that job downtown, he recalled sadly. That would not even qualify as a job, some lousy labour leader who needed his mouth shut. He had taken the job only because there was no other one coming. And Chief did not know he was in the east. Or did he? Could it be Chief?

The job that landed him in trouble six months ago was supposed to be a low key job. Nothing special except the client was paying a lot of money to bump off his wife’s boyfriend. But the lovers were making out inside one of the rich man’s mansions and the damn rich man also had CCTV cameras in his own bedroom. What kind of a man had camera in his own room? The job had had no complications except that the unfortunate young man just happened to be the man’s own son! Topgun did not know this then and when he found out, it was simply too late.

The millionaire who simply identified himself to Topgun on the phone as Chief, a title Topgun considered euphemism for crooks in Agbada, had paid him via e- transfer. They didn’t even meet for once. The Chief just e-mailed a picture of his wife with instruction to eliminate anyone sleeping with her. The old man had suspected his wife was cheating on him and he knew people knew but wouldn’t tell him. He was too furious at his wife for daring to cheat on him having done everything humanly possible for his beautiful wife, a former Miss Osun. He was apprehensive that if his wife had other men she might conclude that the old man was sexually inadequate for her and consequently dump him. Before that could happen, the old man put the contract out on whoever was banging her.

On that fateful day, Topgun followed the two lovers from an eatery off Lautech Hospital road to a big mansion on the highbrow Mokola Estate. The house though completed in every sense was unoccupied and there was no security. He had waited for thirty minutes in his car after the couple had entered before entering the building. When he got to the room, the young man was on the bed virtually naked and the wife was in the bathroom. Perfect, he had thought. The young man was startled but not afraid. Topgun later found out that the young man had remotely turned the camera on. Ironically, the camera had been turned off by the love birds before they started their incestuous romance. That was the start of his problem as not only the Police had his picture; the Chief who had paid him for the job also ironically wanted him dead.

That was the job that turned him to a leper. Nobody would have anything to do with him again. He had to relocate to a new state and he chose Anambra which was reputedly the headquarters of criminal activities in the east. But change of location did not translate to change of fortune as the hunt for him had turned national with his picture on all the major papers and a One Million Naira reward on him. That was only official. Chief had also put a Ten Million Naira contract on him. That was even more than what was reportedly paid the assassin who assassinated the Seaside State governor a year ago. He was only saved by the unwritten rules of the underworld brotherhood and his own impressive survival instincts.

He was barely surviving on his savings in hiding when the labour leader job came around. Some stupid labour leader was giving some private companies problems over something that had to do with minimum balance or something. He couldn’t presently remember what it was. Details had always seemed unimportant to Topgun. He had taken the job most especially because he was jobless and also because he needed the adrenaline.

“Are you day dreaming on me, T?”

The voice of the stranger in his hotel room jerked him back to life.

“No” He replied in a firm voice.

“Good. Because that would be insulting, you know. You want to know how I got here? Ok, I will tell you. It was not that complicated. Although I have to admit you have been difficult. I spent weeks before I could locate where you hang out. Remember yesterday when you went to the beach and had fun with those beautiful damsels. Well, one of them wasn’t exactly only a damsel after all. She was an operative of mine” A mischievous grin formed on his face as he uttered the last sentence.

He continued, grin-less “She planted a bug on you. So that gave me your location. But I knew that was not enough to get you since you will always be extra careful and maybe change hotel every now and then. That was why I put word on the street of Okipupo being after your family. I was certain the rush of wanting to leave the state will lead to a mistake. And was I right!’ The man paused, puffed hard at his cigarette and released heavy smoke to the atmosphere and continued.

“I think that answered your question. So, my own question begs for quick answer: Why did you shoot him thrice? That was totally unnecessary, don’t you think?” He said this as casual as someone offering her visitor a cold drink.

“What are you talking about?”

“You know exactly what I’m talking about. I understand why you kill him. A job is a job and a man got to eat and live. But what I don’t understand is why you shot him thrice in his goddamed face” His voice was no longer calm; it was taking a steady rise.

“Man, I think you got yourself a wrong man. I didn’t…”

“Right. Aren’t everybody a wrong man when they are in trouble?”

Déjà vu. That was exactly what he had told the young man who was screwing his beautiful step mother. The step mother, who was in the bathroom, was saying something like ‘why do you have to go now?’ He was about to answer when Topgun entered calmly with a gun in hand. By then the lady had turned the water on and was oblivious of everything.

The young man had shouted at him to leave at once as if he was some kind of untouchable.

“You got the wrong man, pal” He had said.

“Seems to me like everybody is a wrong man when they are in trouble.”

“Why don’t you get the hell out of here now when you have the chance? You don’t want to be robbing off …”

The mere implication that he was a mere robber angered Topgun. He had instantly shot him on the chest; he removed his mask before shooting him again. Had he waited a bit for the young man to finish his statement, he would have learnt that he was about to execute his client’s only son. And he wouldn’t have pulled the trigger if he had known that. Chief Okipupo was not only rich but he was also once a ruthless Niger Delta militant ‘general’ who made millions in the early 2000’s and more millions as a government contractor and consultant during the Amnesty programme that followed. He was now involved with supplying arms to the Boko Haram militants in the North. But by the time Topgun learnt that, it was too late for him. He subsequently fled the west for the east. It seemed now the hand of law, even that of blatant retribution was long after all.

“T, will you please answer a gentleman’s question? Please?”

That abruptly jerked him back to life. He, however, intentionally ignored the question but rather chose to consider his limited options. To try to get to his guns which he had already parked inside the bag would be the stupidest act of the century. His favourite gun was strapped to his left leg. Trying to reach it beneath the tail of his pant could only spell suicide for him as the keen eyes of his assailant followed him like a hawk. He was fairly certain that the man had his gun ready to shoot within three to five seconds of any stupid move by him. The only other thing he could do within second is… Topgun banished the thought before it could even fully form. He would have to move for his gun. Though stupid, it is the only thing he could do. He wasn’t going down without a fight.

As Topgun dropped his hand into the bag, he gave a small short cry of ‘Damn it’

“You don’t have to do that”

Topgun said, looking fiercely at the stranger who just injured him. He looked at his bleeding hand and the small knife that had done the damage. He felt anger rising up in him, but it wasn’t only anger rising up, fear was also gripping him. That was a fast draw. He was fairly certain the stranger didn’t have knife in his hand when he started dipping his hand inside the bag, so for him to be knifed that fast meant trouble. Only few people in the underworld could draw knife and throw it that fast. Very few people could do it with that accuracy and speed and most of that very few people were dead legends. Only one man was alive that was also known for his speed and accuracy in shooting and knifing. And that was a man every man in the underworld respected and dreaded crossing path with. Though he had never met the man before, Topgun had a feeling that this stranger might be D Devil, the king of the underworld, slayer of the mighty and rich and assassin of international standard. Could Chief have gone to the extent of hiring D Devil?

‘Sit down on the bed. Slowly’ .The stranger who might be D Devil commanded.

Topgun now gently sat down on the bed. He carefully took out the knife, and slowly dropped it on the floor. He removed a cloth and wrapped it on his wrist. He knew he was in trouble if this was D Devil. D Devil had a reputation of never taking a prisoner, he simply eliminated them all. You couldn’t bribe him and he listened to no plea. If you were marked for death, then you must die. The guy reputedly killed his own parents when he was young, later staged a jail break in a delinquency home and since then had rose to become Nigeria’s most notorious criminal. Most of the high profile assassination is credited to him.

“What do you want?” Topgun in a defeated tone asked.

“I just want a question answered because I have been battling myself over it. I can’t just explain it. Why would a man shoot someone thrice on the face? Why?”

“I didn’t shoot him thrice and not on the …” Then it dawned on him. This isn’t about Chief’s hit. This is about the lousy labour leader. Oh! God I am not going down for a hypocritical son of a bitch. Of all the jobs I had done why should I die for a hundred thousand naira job? The job isn’t worth dying for, God. Topgun was thinking. A simple job that he had wondered why everybody wouldn’t take. Nobody told him anything and he asked nobody why they weren’t taking the small time job. So it was that small job that was going to get him killed now.

“Why did you have to do that?” The man continued “you didn’t have to do that. You don’t kill people in that way. One shot is enough to kill any man. One shot! Why three shot from a shotgun on a goddamned face? ”

“What do you care, D Devil. You are a killer yourself. You have killed thrice the people I have. So what do you care that I had shot some stupid person three times? What difference does it make, D.?”

A smirk started to form on his face. “So you guessed at last. You are smarter than I thought”.

He continued but now in a very serious tone “I will tell you what I care. I have never killed anybody with more than two shots. Most times a shot would do. Death is a sure thing for all, but it does not have to be cruel. Three shot on the face is inhumane’. The last word was pronounced as if it was read straight from a book.

He continued “It took just a bullet to kill Murtala, Ahmodu, and even Lincoln. You don’t kill in that way unless you are sending a message. Were you? ”

“I wasn’t sending a message. I was just getting a job done.”

But that wasn’t entirely true. He had let anger taken hold of him that day. He had met the crusading unionist on top a teenager. That scene brought back the memory of his childhood when his big sister (the only person he ever bonded with) was impregnated by her 40 year old school teacher and the teacher got her killed by forcing her to have an abortion. When Topgun saw the unionist on the girl, he was simply emotional in his own screwed-up way. He sent the girl away and gave the pedophile the beating of his life. He tied him up and went to his car to remove his shotgun. Instead of using his pistol, he used the shotgun and shot the man thrice blowing half his face away.

“That wasn’t getting a job done, man. You know that. That was simply cruelty in the crudest form”

“Stop this self-righteousness. It was death all right. One bullet, two or three; it is still death. And what do you care? For someone who has a vice president, a governor and consular on his endless list of victims, you lack the moral standing to criticise me

“Don’t get yourself all worked up’ He replied with a wave of hand. “Can you remember me ever killing someone the way you killed Ernest? But that is even beside the point. This is not about me. This is about your own ‘why’.”

He stopped, without taking his eyes off his captive he dropped the butt of his cigarette, removed another from his chest pocket and lighted it. He puffed hard, and then continued his how- not-to-kill lecture.

“You see, when his poor wife found him in the pool of blood and without his godammed face, the wife lost it. She lost it totally, not only from the shock of his death but also from the manner he was killed. Then I started to think about it, the only conclusion I could come up with was that someone was sending me a message. I received your message, T. But I didn’t know it was you. I thought after that fucked up job you incompetently did back home, you will know when to ask questions. It was typically you.”

By now D Devil had brought out his left hand from the overall. All along he had been using only his right hand to knife, light among others. With the left hand came a silenced pistol. He slowly raised the gun, pointing it at Topgun who by now was profusely sweating. He was certainly afraid to die.

Topgun was thinking hard. He had absolutely no doubt that he was going to die. There was absolutely nothing he could do. This is it. This is the end. But it was a glorious end at least being killed by a world class assassin. Decades after his death, people would still be saying that it took the slayer of the high and mighty to kill Topgun. The previously banished thought crept back into his mind. Would it be wonderful if he could also… but that would be suicidal, He cautioned himself. He wanted to dismiss the thought but he nonetheless stealthily put his hand into his breast pocket and removed a small plastic that looked like a lighter.

He stood up and blurted a plea out.

“D Devil, you are not going to kill an unarmed colleague …”

Maybe it was the patronising way he spoke or his referring to him as a colleague that made D Devil to shoot; he shot him once on the chest.  When he was already on ground, D Devil moved towards him and asked again:

“Why did you have to shoot his face off?”

But Topgun wasn’t going to use his last breath to answer a nonsense question. He was almost sure D Devil was going crazy if he was going to kill a brother in crime over some lousy labour leader. So instead he said with all his remaining strength:

“D Devil, I would have asked you to get yourself medically checked if you are not …”

Maybe Topgun would have understood D Devil if he had known that the lousy labour leader was the only son of D Devil’s late boss and mentor. The only person D Devil ever felt he owed something to. He had made the security of the boy his job since his childhood till he was 30 and the young man had also succeeded in taking care of himself thereafter. Maybe that information would also have explained to Topgun why nobody in the underworld would take the job. But what was done was done.

When D Devil saw the stubborn killer wasn’t going to answer his question, he bent a little to shoot the him again, this time on the head in between the eyes. He resisted the temptation to shoot a third time. Then as Topgun breathed his last the small plastic that looked like a lighter dropped from his hand. D Devil bent down again to pick it up and before he could read what was counting down on it, an explosion went up. The two dare devils were blown into smithereens.


Mutual Nemesis has earlier been published on, it is reproduced here for archival purposes only.