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A sketch of nemesis

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For over two decades, “Sad Sam,” a kingpin in the South American underworld was widely regarded as invincible. The taciturn Brazilian had a hard-to-fathom capacity to make himself virtually invisible to both national and international law-enforcement agencies, all the more so after pulling off one of his numerous heinous exploits against an increasingly vulnerable humanity. Sad Sam and his tribe held sway in those parts, rendering the job of law-enforcement on the sub-continent practically impossible. That cold-blooded operator had once again appeared on the shortlist of prime suspects by U.S.-Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), following the mysterious disappearance of visiting African dignitaries from a world-class hotel in New York. A crack team of Israeli ex-paratroopers had for weeks been on the hunt for Sad Sam with the task proving more insurmountable by the day. Preliminary report on the investigation suggested that the fugitive was as likely to be in “transit”, meaning some obscure little town where no one knew about him or his dark trade. Then…

At about 7:35 p.m. Bolivian time an athletic lone figure was seen casually stepping out of Pedro Place, donning a red Tee shirt over dark trousers; his foot-wear could not be as soon made out. Seconds after stepping through the revolving glass door the figure was swallowed up by the surrounding pitch-darkness, outside, the last traces of light having ebbed from Sacaba’s sky some forty minutes earlier. But the powerful floodlights overlooking the hotel’s gate compelled the overwhelming darkness to excogitate the lone figure a couple of minutes later. Still maintaining his pace, he, as was expected, turned to his left as he crossed the gate; it could not be ascertained whether or not he saw the two jeeps parked less than fifty meters to the right of the gate.

But he strode on as though, saving himself, the ill-lit street was as clean as a whistle; he neither changed his pace nor looked over his shoulders, not even when distinct sounds of two pairs of foot-falls reached his ears. One of the men in the jeeps looking through high-resolution binoculars silently gave thanks to Yahweh for lending His unfailing hand to their present mission. As far as the stealth watcher was concerned the athletic figure was already as good as his personal prisoner.

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In less than the time it took to exchange fleeting pleasantries, the owners of those distinct pairs of footfalls were abreast of the lone walker, each on either side, causing the man in the middle to impulsively dither his stride. But it was all too late! His fate had been sealed no sooner than he had left Pedro Place grounds, but his arrogant confidence in his knowledge of his transit town had rendered his professional antenna wholly unresponsive to signals, which even a Johnny-come-lately in his trade would have picked up. Arrogance, someone had said, had the effect of shutting out the senses.

In fierce but precise movements two determined hands grabbed the sandwiched figure by the waist of his trousers as he beheld reflected lights from the muzzles of revolvers.

‘‘What!…What; what do you guys want? Okay, okay, okay, take it easy, take it easy…’’
‘‘Shut up! Shut up, and put your hands behind your back!’’ one of the attackers was ordering in military fashion when two Toyota Land Cruisers practically flew to their side. Moments later, one of the most feared kidnappers in South America was sitting in the rear seat of one of the jeeps, sandwiched between David and Jacob, with his wrists in cuffs as the hunting party took its hurried departure from that seeming innocent town. A handful of pedestrians and motorists glimpsed the abduction of the master-abductor but regarded it as nothing out of the ordinary; that, after all, was the world’s kidnapping continent.

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It was a measure of Sacaba’s tranquility and seeming innocence that one of the most wanted men in the world could stride its streets without a single weapon on his person. It was an unbelievable lapse in a seasoned operator like Sad Sam which David, still frisking the master-kidnapper, could not come to terms with. No doubt, thought the Israeli, the hand of Yahweh was in control all the way. As the Land Cruisers rolled and pitched from side to side on their axles the youngest of the hunters was having a hard time fixing a perfect blindfold on their quarry, who enquired for the umpteenth time in a disarmingly calm voice, ‘‘What do you guys want?’’ apparently convinced that his abductors were no other than professionals like himself; at worst, he reasoned, a ransom was as likely their ultimate goal; the entire South America was known for little else outside their common profession and trafficking in hard drugs.

Donning a yellow baseball cap and dark spectacles and sitting next to the driver with his back to the door, Marcos, the Israelis’ South American partner, closely watched what could be equated with the taming of a wild creature.

‘‘Look guys, I don’t care to see or know who you guys are, but the earlier we begin to negotiate the quicker we can reach…’’
‘‘Now! You will shut up and remain quiet until we want you to talk, just shut up, ok!’’ David snarled no sooner than the blindfold was finally in place. Marcos removed his spectacles and again looked beyond the rear seat; only the jeep in which his staff rode could be seen, hot on their heels. Satisfied, he gradually unwound the one hundred and eighty degrees which his head made with the vehicle’s direction of motion. While he was thus unwinding his eyes caught a glimpse of the deep concentration on David’s face, it was the concentration of a man determined to successfully complete his mission against all odd, mused the ex-police officer. ‘‘Angel don’t forget, we want to arrive alive,’’ security conscious Marcos reminded his assistant, settling down for the rest of the journey as the proverbial curtain fell on the blood-tainted career of a notorious kidnapper…
•Nkemdiche, an engineering consultant, wrote from Abuja.

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