You have been to the watering hole on Lagos Road before but it was strictly business. You were selling to the matriarch Ewedemi. Curvy , earthy and acting all unsophisticated, she had her hook out to catch prey and sucker overly confident bastards. You know her type. Her stratagem did not work on you; you know no emigre achieves this much in such short time as she did , in this land that kills them young, without her learning how to eat her young raw and alive.
This time she is not around but the man she introduced to you as her husband is . You sense an unfinished story in that description but take him on at face value. He is manning the bar alone and serves you a cold lager. T.I is rapping on repeat like a broken record. You are the only customer so Mr. Ewedemi sits next to you. You buy him a drink because that brings good Karma. Then he starts to pitch you. Actually , full disclosure, you bait him.
“What business can one put a little money on in this little town?”, you ask. It is your one unfailing ice breaker with guys. This time, it worked like it should, again.
”You should try water transport business” he says, deadpan. ”What you need is to buy a barge. I know all about the business. You move stuff along the creeks and the lagoon, from other coastal states to Lagos.”
“What would I be buying and selling?”, you ask.
He shakes his head at you like you are stupid for not getting it.
“You don’t buy anything”, he says, “You ship. The traders come to you and hire your barge. They bring stuff from farms and across water is faster and cheaper than by land.
No bad roads, no terrible traffic, no police checkpoint. Just one Police or Navy checkpoint , that’s all”.
You are stare at him, incredulous.
‘Aren’t barges mighty expensive?”, you ask.
“They used to be and new ones are. But you don’t need a new one, you can get a fairly used barge for as little as one million.
See in the past, many of the barges were used for illegal crude oil smuggling.. Then the new regime came and now the Navy are going round, breaking boats, setting boats on fire. So the barge owners moved their barges to Lagos and parked them at a jetty near Apapa.
Some of them want to get out of the water transport entirely, they will sell their barge for cheap”.
“You still haven’t told me what goods they will bring to Lagos and what they will be shipping back.” you pressed.
“Anything. Just about anything from palm oil to firewood”.
“How does one find these parked barges?”
He looks at you with a triumphant smile, happy to finally get through to your thick blockhead. “I know a few people with barges to sell. Fact is, I used to be an crude oil bunkerer myself”.
When you live in a place like Noah Town where street muggings make front page news and pick pockets fill the crime section, a daring daylight kidnapping is a major escalation of crime. According to the town’s other tabloid ( the one not controlled by Barry ) , she was abducted right in front of her dad’s residence .
If you ever come to Noah Town, you’ll probably arrive by coach. The long buses come off interstate trunk roads from far and near, from smaller towns and villages were dreams of making it in the big city still has its allure.
The buses pour out streams of young men and women hourly at almost a clockwork rate. They come with their dreams and aspirations, their bags and little savings. They are drawn to a metropolis where the street lights never go off and there is money to be made with beautiful bodies, willing hands or daring minds. I know them. I was once like them.
My new novel titled Noah Town is now available on Kindle and Amazon.com.
It was meant to be a safe job. They fake a kidnap of the millionaire’s daughter, collect the ransom and share it with her. But then things started to go wrong.
As the body count continues to rise, Tony finds himself in the cross hairs of a deadly gang as he tries to save his best friend’s widow.