For fourteen minutes I sat there just staring at the screen. The coffee in my left hand had gone cold. Only just realizing that, I set it down and proceeded to light another cigarette. The fourth in those minutes. Squinting my eyes as the smoke began to swirl and obscure my view of the screen. In that moment, in that dingy room, it came to me. That moment of clarity, the spark of genius. I knew what I was going to write.
As I set my free hand to the keyboard and began to type, the words came rushing as creative and convincing as my brain could conceive. See, I never had a good education and although I showed some promise and intelligence, I dropped out of the community school before the senior certificate exams.
It wasn’t just because of the finances, but my father knew I was a no-good sonofabitch and figured he should save the money and I join him on the fishing boats. I’ve sure come a long way from being a poor fisherman’s son. I had employed my intelligence by other means .
Yes, I sure have and I have proved my father wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I still am a never-do-well, but I did amount to something more than what he was. Smiling with a goodly amount of personal satisfaction as I recalled this and setting my cigarette down on the saucer that served as my ashtray, I continued to type with both hands this time.
They were eagerly waiting for me in the other room with our new client, a foreigner as usual, waiting for me to finish. This wasn’t the first time I would have to do this. I wasn’t great, but I was the best writer in our line of business. In fact, my style of writing had become somewhat of a signature and was well recognized by those unfortunate enough to have read them as well as those who hadn’t. My colleagues can’t work without me.
I completed the note and crosschecked it with the demands I had jotted down earlier on a crumpled piece of cardboard, I wasn’t confident about the spellings, but I was satisfied. Not that it would make any difference to the untrained, drug dazed eyes in the next room. I picked my cigarette again as I started to print the document and took a few drags.
When the printer was done humming and shuddering, I picked my gun from the side table and slid it into my belt. The reassuring weight of the weapon ensured the coldness pressed against the bare skin on my lower belly. I snatched the already printed ransom note from the printer and walked to meet the rest of the gang who were watching the 9 o’clock news with our newest kidnap victim in the next room. This is the most exciting part of our operation . Wish us luck.
Folabi Ogundipe is a poet and short-story writer!