The Brotherhood sent Chike to deliver their message. Tunde could still remember….his memory of that afternoon’s discussion causing him to smile to himself as he hit his home-bound stretch.
“Tunde, my friend before before,” Chike bellowed as he barged into his office that Friday afternoon.
He was always doing that Tunde reflected as he continued his run. He had looked up from the legal deposition papers he was working on, the smile beginning to form at the edge of his mouth chasing away his feigned annoyance at the intrusion. It was evidence of his obvious pleasure at seeing his childhood friend.
“Chike, enyim. My brother from another mother. The only Igbo brother I can vouch for, who would not scam me.”
“Nna, na me be dat,” Chike replied as they clasped hands and engaged in their brotherhood embrace. “But na before before o. I no fit talk if you be my broda again.” The expression on Chike’s face changed to a serious one as he scanned the room. It was like he expected someone or something to spring out from some corner of the office.
The accusation though was delivered with a touch of mockery, supported with the sly look Chike gave him. It was so comical that they both burst into rapturous laughter.
“In fact, the rest of the boys feel so aggrieved that you have missed three straight weeks of our usual ritual.”
“Ha, but you guys know….”
“We no longer know anything,” Chike cut him off. “We thought we knew. But now, no one’s sure. There had been talk that we should remove you sef, as you seem to have found yourself some new friends and modes of entertainment.”
“Haba, Chyke. But, even Lamu knows that where I stay now is like in the bush. He should have at least explained to you guys. Getting home sometimes na mini-war. You guys know am not as rich as the rest of you na.“
He had tried to make light of the situation, but one look at Chike’s face had told him he was not going to get off lightly.
“When I say there had been talk, you should understand. In fact, I have been sent to talk to you about it. We have all come a long way, as friends, and now as brothers. I was mandated to talk to you and try and convince you to make amends for your abstinence. Either that or you are ex-communicated.”
Tunde had recoiled in his seat in stunned silence looking at Chike. He knew he had stayed away from the brotherhood for a while, but he had hoped they will understand. Considering how they all have complained about the distance and the state of the road to his new place during his house-opening party, they should understand he will need some time to settle down. To get his bearing and re-evaluate his schedules. Plus, work had been crazy lately. Not with all the cases flooding into his law firm. Things were looking up – and looking up meant more court appearances, negotiations and studies.
He could see Chike was not comfortable with his mission; he tried to avoid eye contact and continuously shifted around in his chair.
Finally, Tunde had sat back in his seat and roared with laughter. That reaction had totally surprised Chike, who looked at him quizzically not sure what to make of the whole situation.
“Let me get you something to drink.” He didn’t wait for him to accept before pressing a hidden button on his side of the large worktable. Chike beamed with pleasure. He knew the trick with the hidden button, a trick that amazed a lot of other clients and visitors who came to Tunde’s office.
A smartly dressed, beautiful young lady appeared a few seconds later. To the uninitiated. it would have appeared to them like she came without any apparent bidding.
“Bring two bottles of shine shine bobo. If the roast chicken from yesterday is still left, micro wave it and bring it along too.”
“You lucky bastard,” Chike chuckled after the secretary had gone. “When I didn’t see anyone at the front desk when I came in, I thought you were shagging your secretary in here. I wanted to catch you with your hands in the cookie jar, or your dick in the honey pot as it were.”
Tunde waved an admonishing finger at him.
“What?” Chike had feigned annoyance, “God saved you I didn’t catch you. Where do you find all these young and beautiful ladies from sef? This one is even new, fresh meat.“
“What? Don’t Chyke me jooor. You lucky devil.”
They had both laughed, sensible enough to tone it down when the drinks and chicken arrived. The secretary poured each a glass of beer and then retreated back to the outer office.
“Chike, you don’t cease to amaze me. See how your eyes were all over my secretary. Even in my presence ehn! I won’t be liable to any paternity suits or even be willing to represent you in one o. “
“Don’t worry. I know it when I am warned.” He shot a knowing wink at Tunde before sipping from his glass.
“Now, about this ex-communication business. You and I will leave here together to see the boys. It is not intentional. It is just that the reality of moving around between the geographical extremes of my abode and my work and social life is nothing short of daunting. But, tonight I’ll try and make it up to all of you.”
“Good, very good”
It was how Tunde had found himself at the newly opened Las Vegas club at Opebi link that Friday night with the rest of the brotherhood crew; Phillip, Lamurin, Baker and Wole. Six young guys who knew how to party. Guys with the whole world before them. They had been friends right from secondary school and carried it on since then. Even through university and now that each was making minor waves in their respective fields.
Lamurin Odutayo is an upcoming neuro-surgeon, with considerable talents. Thirty years old, he is tall at six feet one inch. He has dark, glistening skin and his fashionable medicated glasses always give him a distinguished look. In their circle, strangers tend to demure to him more. He had that sort of academic look that brooks no argument.
Phillip Nkwocha is short and clean-shaven and thirty. His eyes sometimes bordered on the verge of perpetual squints. Narrow and piercingly cold when he really stares down on people. As a contractor, they were his greatest assets. In negotiations, his eyes have won him more lucrative deals than he could count. He jokes about how people shit in their pants when they seat across him at negotiation tables. Of course, his successes were only due in part to his eyes; in larger parts they were due to a retinue of girls he has at his disposal.
Pawns has he liked to call them. They help smoothen the way with key stakeholders in whatever deals he is engaged in, while fat cheques he is willing to part with does the rest.
Baker Fapoki is a banker. He was not born in the country. His parents were actually African-Americans, but the kind who staunchly believed in their African heritage. They had migrated to Nigeria when Baker was two, taken up a very original Nigerian Yoruba name – Fapoki. They however retained the oyinbo name Baker, as a courtesy to their son who was after all an American. The idea was to allow him make his own choice to change it if he so wishes when he is of age. Baker is a handsome thirty three year old, of average height and that skin complexion commonly referred to as half-caste.
They had all been in awe of Baker from when he came to join them in class four at St. Thomas Aquinas Primary school, a small but well run school in Surulere. No one of them had seen a boy with such white skin and wavy hair. The respect had firmly been established by his readiness to part freely with money and gifts, and also his ruthless way of dealing with those who thought they could take advantage of his soft features.
Chike Onwume, twenty-nine and almost as tall as Lamurin at almost six feet. He was their champion orator while in primary school and secondary school. Very fluent with the English language – written and spoken. He works with a local advertising agency and had easy access to beautiful girls. Alongside with Phillip, they most often supply all the side kicks they need at those times when they need female companions on their hangouts and can’t be bothered with fishing.
Wole Orimofe is the flashiest of them all. He runs a number of landed warehouses and haulage trucks. He is also the fattest in the group. Almost in the Rick Ross mold. Because of his size, he had an unusal advantage over the rest of them when it came to their drinking fests. But, they all try to keep up. Where they cannot beat him to the lagers, they punish him with the spirits.
He, Tunde Badmos made up the last crew in the brotherhood Crew.
Their own brotherhood was peculiar and with very specific, non-negotiable codes.
Every time they went out together, the drinking was no holds-barred. Each one had to drink whatever was ordered by any of them. And the ordering was done in round-robin fashion. Depending on how they started the drinking, each round of drinks comes to an end the moment one of them finishes his. At that point every one has to gulp his own drink, awaiting the next round of orders. No one left the table until the de facto leader, Baker called for adjournment.
Another part of the code was that none of them ever went home alone. To do so will be to attract a hefty fine. All brotherhood members had to have acquired a sidekick, a female companion, by whatever means in the course of the evening.
And since they usually left clubs, parties or whatever social engagements together a defaulter was easy to spot. The fine being that such defaulter has to go away with two sidekicks on their next night out.
It was a crew they had started when they got into the University. They had all been in different universities, except for Tunde and Chike who had both being admitted to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. It was while there that Tunde had gotten into trouble with some boys. It had not been pleasant, threats were issued and he had to leave the school for a while. But, Baker had smoothened everything out. No one knew how he did it, but he did. It was him that also suggested the idea of the brotherhood, and from there on they had come to each others aid. Their bond just grew stronger and somehow they developed codes and ethics, and even a brotherhood embrace.
It was fun with the boys, Tunde thought to himself. He took another time check, it was almost five thirty and he had better start heading back for home. He likes to take the path by the small stream home.
As he took the short footpath that will lead him to the stream, from where he will climb the wooden bridge across thereby cutting his return trip by half, he smiled inwardly to himself.
It was another Friday. Another time out with the brotherhood.
He was back in the grove.