Ruth tentatively stood before her parents door. A sudden nostalgia came upon her. She remembered when she was a child and there was a storm, how she would run scared, barge into their room and run into the comfort of their arms, how her mother would coo and her father would say "Its just a storm baby, daddy eats storms for breakfast." and she'd fall asleep giggling. Now here she was, two decades later, reluctant to go in.
"You know dear, it's really unsettling to see a shadow lingering beneath your door."
Ruth walked in and smiled sheepishly.
"Sorry Mamma, I didn't want disturb you."
"Is that why we live under the same roof but haven't had a single conversation in the past eight days?" Mrs. Akinyola asked with a genial smile.
Ruth dropped her weight unto the edge of the bed and said. "I hate this mamma, I hate us being like this, you hear alone, dad at work, Jude off doing one manner of evil or the other, it's awful, it's nothing like an actual family."
"Ruth, come here..." She said softly, and her daughter crawled onto her lap, it brought back fond memories.
"Do you remember the time, in primary six, where that sick teacher of yours was making passes at you?"
"Yes, I do, he tried to corner me in the restroom during break time and I called you to report it."
"Yes and I called your father, and he left a business deal hanging to rush and come to your school, do you remember?"
"Yes, he threatened to sue the school if Mr.Ade wasn't fired effective immediately."
"Yes, he was really angry, but that's papa for you."
"Exactly, and his still that way, and I'm still that way, you're a big girl now and the Mr.Ade's are a lot fewer, but if ever your in a pickle you know he'll bring the hammer down on whoever caused it."
"Yes, but what about Jude?"
"I was getting to that."
"He didn't even care about what happened, his secondary school was in the same compound and he didn't even come to see how I was doing, he just continued with his budding recklessness and a week later he was expelled."
"And your dad scolded him first and foremost for not protecting you, and for being a bad example."
"Yes!" Ruth asserted indignantly."
"But we never told you and your father the truth. Jude wasn't expelled for fighting with a teacher, no, he was expelled for fighting with a teacher, Mr. Ade."
"Yes, the school was going to wait till the end of the month before firing him, so that they could get a replacement in time, prompting your big brother to take things into his own hands and defended your honour."
"Why didn't you tell us?" Ruth asked raising her head.
"Because your father would've rebuked him anyway, and fighting a teacher would've gotten a more severe punishment than fighting a friend."
"Why didn't you tell me?."
Her mother smiled a knowing smile.
"Because you love your brother so much that, in the weeks of punishment to follow, you would've inadvertently told your father, so as to spare Jude, but it wouldn't have worked.
"Your right, I loved him a lot back then."
A short pause.
"I still do."
"Yes, and he loves you. Because Family isn't the people that are always around, treating you like a fragile egg, no, family is the people that band together when your broken, put you back together and rain hell on the hand that dared drop you."
Mother and daughter laughed together, and nothing but clear blue sky's seemed to loom over the Akinyolas.
"The real work starts with Layering, you can't expect a small business to turn profits in the millions without arousing suspicion. No, you have to Smurf the cash flow, that is , convert a little at a time, and that takes patience, so you must understand that you won't be able to spend on your girlfriends over night." Mr.Stanley said to the gentleman sitted before him. He seemed like a straight arrow, an exception in the slew of customers that Jude got him.
"I completely understand, I have enough to cover my expenses indefinitely, it's my other parties I'm worried about."
"Yes, Jude told me you have a penchant for the Ladies, unfortunately that is one vice I do not indulge in so I am ill equipped to render advice, however! I will say it might be wise to keep this inflow of wealth to yourself for the time being, the devils in the details as they say Mr.Ojo."
"Yes, I suppose you're right." He picked up the cup of coffee offered him and blew softly then took a sip.
"As you know we will need the cash hand delivered to us in its entirety for safe keeping..."
Mr. Ojo dropped the cup gracefully on the edge of the desk, calmly crossed his leg, and firmly clasped his hand on his protruding knee. "If you think I'm just going to hand you 6 million Naira with no insurance you are clearly mistaken."
Mr. Stanley smacked his lips, he enjoyed the banter of the deal, it was to him the most enjoyable part of the money laundering business, a part his son had sullied with nit wits and sloths. "Mr.Ojo, right now we are both in precarious situations, you can leave here and take your business with you, but then you'd have to trust me enough not to take it as an offence."
"Take it whichever way you want Mr.Stanley.." started Mr. Ojo getting up, "I'm not giving you a dime." He continued, and stepped toward the door.
"You have two daughters, and a wife..." Mr.Stanley said just as Mr.Ojo's hands graced the handle of the door. "You went to Igbobi Boys college after which your Father sent you abroad to study ISD, you have high blood pressure and your doctor thinks you should play some non tedious sports."
"Are you threatening me?..." Mr.Ojo asked with his brows drawn together in aggression.
"No Mr.Ojo, I'm simply assuring you, we know what we are doing, we are thorough and effective, and there's a reason you've never heard about us from your colleagues or in the papers. We are extremely discreet."
Mr. Ojo considered this and slowly returned to his sit. After a few minutes of contemplation he looked up at Mr.Stanley with a smile."Very well then, we have a deal."
The two middle aged men shook hands.
"It'll be a pleasure Mr.Ojo."
"I'm sure it will. May I borrow the privacy of your office? The music outside is too loud and I need to make an urgent call."
"I'm deeply sorry, but it's of a delicate nature."
Mr.Stanley took the hint and left his new customer, an undercover Eagle agent alone in his office.