Money! money!! money!!! – Part 2
The next morning, he quickly had his bath and headed for his place of work. In his pocket was N220 (two hundred and twenty Naira); it was all the money he had in the world. Before now, he worked at the Lagos Railway Station as a booking clerk. Although he knew his absence from work the previous day would earn him a query from the station manager, he was not bothered in the least.
In the breast pocket of his white shirt was his resignation letter. Nobody had ever heard of a millionaire working at a railway station.
He stopped at the vendor’s stand to see whether the newspaper carried the news of the result of the Lagos lottery. It did. It was front-page news in all the papers.
‘Railway Clerk Wins Fifty Million Naira!’ screamed the headline of the story on the front page of The Post. ‘Winner of Fifty Million Lagos Lottery Emerges’ declared the front page of The Daily Mirror. ‘Clerk Becomes Millionaire’ bellowed The EKO Times. He bought The Post and went on his way. He walked on clouds. Fortune had finally visited him at the age of thirty-five. In his wildest imagination, he had never thought he would become a millionaire.
When he got to the station, he was surprised to find that a small party had been organised for him by the station manager; his colleagues planted shouts of celebration in his ears. The manager, a short, plump fellow with thick rolls of fat on his neck, was outside his office waiting for him as usual. He had a cigarette stuck between his lips and was puffing away like a railway engine.
“Welcome, my boy,” he said.
Oladele Daniels was taken aback by the warm reception. As if the station manager read his mind, he said jocularly: “Hey come off it, will you? I’m not about to issue a query to a man who is worth fifty million Naira!”
The other workers laughed at the joke. This was the first time the station manager shared a joke with them. Oladele Daniels relaxed.
After the party, he bade them goodbye and boarded a taxi to the lottery office situated on the Island. He was now a very rich man; his days of riding in molue and danfo buses were over. Perhaps, this was to be his last ride in a taxi, too. His first port of call when the fifty million Naira was paid to him would be to buy the Benz 600 S Class, he thought.
“Oga, we don reach de place and ya money na two hundred Naira,” the taxi driver said, jolting him out of his daydream.
“Two hundred Naira!” he exclaimed in shock.
‘‘Hey, take it, easy boy,’’ he told himself. How much was two hundred Naira? It was not even up to a drop of his ocean of newfound wealth.
He brought the cash out of his pocket and paid the driver. He quickly alighted and half-walked, half-ran to the gate of the Lagos Lottery Service. The official who brought him the good news the day before was already at the gate.
“Welcome Mr Daniels, come quickly. It’s twenty minutes to one already, we haven’t got much time.”
The official led him through the gate into the premises of the Lottery Service. Canopies and chairs were neatly arranged outside. Some invited guests were already seated. Many people had turned up for the ceremony to catch a glimpse of the lucky railway clerk. News crews from different television stations were already setting up their equipment.
The lottery official and Oladele Daniels entered the office complex. They climbed a flight of stairs before stepping into a small hallway that led to the office of the manager of the Lagos Lottery Service.
The manager, a middle-aged man with towering height, wide and powerful shoulders beneath a black jacket, welcomed Oladele Daniels into his office with a broad smile. He showed him the documents to sign. After he had finished signing them, they all trooped down to the presentation venue.
Oladele Daniels was a little disappointed when a fifty million Naira cheque was presented to him; he had expected cash. Nevertheless, it didn’t dampen his joyous mood. A cheque was as good as cash, he remembered. Moreover, the manager of the Lottery Service had assured him that the money would be paid into his account as soon as he presented the cheque to any of the branches of Broad Bank, the official bank of the Lottery Service.
At the end of the ceremony, a tight cordon of policemen guarded Oladele Daniels, to protect him from any criminal in the crowd.
Despite the cordon of policemen, he did not want to take chances, so he held on tightly to the cheque.
As he was being escorted to a waiting police van, suddenly a man from the crowd of onlookers broke the police cordon, grabbed the cheque from his hands, and took it to his heels. “Ole! Ole!” the people screamed.
There was a melee. The policemen, Oladele Daniels, the lottery officials, and several others were hot in pursuit. The man was racing away like Ben Johnson. The security men at the gate, seeing what had ensued, locked the gate to prevent the thief from escaping, but there was no stopping him. As soon as he got to the gate, something strange happened. He changed into a big black bird and flew away with the fifty million Naira cheque firmly held in its beak.
“Ole! Ole! Ole! My fifty million Naira is gone O!” Oladele Daniels wailed.
“Your fifty million what?” The voice of the station manager rolled down on him like thunder from the mountaintop.
Oladele Daniels was instantly aroused from his midday sleep. (What you just read is an excerpt from my collection of short stories entitled Once Upon A Monday. A second edition is set for release in September.)
When he saw the station manager standing over him, he quickly got to his feet.
“S-o-o-r-r-y sir,” he blurted out.
“Sorry for what? You incompetent worker, you are sleeping again on duty. This time around you won’t go scot-free. I’ll make sure I suspend you without salary for three months,” the manager bawled and stormed off in arrogance.
The other clerks in the office broke out in uncontrollable laughter as soon as the station manager walked out of the door.
(What you just read is an excerpt from my collection of short stories entitled Once Upon A Monday. A second edition is set for release in September.)
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