By Ogbewe Famous Amadin
I am not guilty. What’s more I absolutely do not ‘feel’ guilty. I do not have guilt induced insomnia, certainly not in my 500 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets. I don’t wish I could change what happened, I don’t tear up when I remember it, I have no regrets, I’m too rich for that.
I dine with presidents, I advise monarchs, I have more Bentleys, Benzes and Bugatti’s than I can count. Did I mention my private jets, mansions all over the world, my designer everything? I know you all think I’m guilty and that’s because you’re all mediocre. The banality of your suburban lives disgusts me. I am great and you’re simpletons, so I don’t expect you to understand my genius and boldness to strive for and achieve greatness.
7 years ago when my business hit a reef and I needed a lifeline, I knew that was my turning point. I would be made or broken by the challenges I faced. Nigeria’s foremost publisher with nothing to publish, isn’t that just sad? My editors were all complaining “there are no good writers anymore, Mr. Maikori” … “print is dead Mr. Maikori” but as a visionary I saw the way out.
You see the writers who usually brought in the big bucks were all rich now, they had no fire left in them. They were too fat and lazy to hire ghost writers anymore. A couple of wrong investments had left me on the precipice of bankruptcy. I didn’t need good books, I needed one good book with proper promotions and I would bounce back and further. The gemstones were not on the hills, they were underground. The writers I needed were good but came with a few eccentricities of their own though they were rather cheap. I called my friend Audu who incidentally had an eye for such things.
A week later I had it. The perfect book. It had been written by a teenage single mother addicted to cocaine. She had written the masterpiece in rare moments of lucidity between episodes of drug induced lunacy. Munirat was a great mind who could never recover from abandonment by her dad, brother, her daughter’s father -basically anyone she ever loved. It seemed her creativity was enhanced by tragedies which was really no problem for me, she was just a tool for my greatness. She had the perfect background to make the book a success. Classic grass to grace story for which people were gullible. The intrepid author who built the foundation of her success upon the rock bottom that was to be her doom. Suffice it to say that I was excited.
As I predicted Munirat’s book was a hit as result of my strategic exposure of her past amongst my other skillful maneuverings. “I’m so grateful for everything you’ve done for me and little Zuliyat, I’m forever in your debt Mr. Maikori, thank you so much” Munirat said in tears.
She’d signed a contract with my company and was rather grateful for the peanuts she got from her book sales. I ensured she had been rehabilitated to make good on her rags to riches story. She really did well for herself with the little I let her have. She managed to stay sober for a year and counting, became a role model for young women like herself even while taking care of her precious Zuliyat zealously.
She wrote more books for me which enabled me to expand my business drastically, what with all the endorsements, more writers, movie adaptations and what nots, the sky was the limit. All was well…for a while.
I was rich but not quite as much as I wanted. I was big in Africa but I wanted to go international. I wanted to – as these kids put it now a days – stomp with the big dogs. Fortunately, I was still a genius… a genius with a plan.
At this point in my career I now had the means to put any books I published into circulation with other bestselling novels. I needed to break into the world scene with a bang. Even though I had several great authors then, Munirat was the only one with the potential to do what I needed. Munirat had become a regular writer as a result of her stable lifestyle. I needed more creativity and as always the public needed more ‘saga’ to accompany the release of a book. I concluded that we both needed tragedies… tragedies unfortunately for poor Munirat.
I had Audu find the father of Munirat’s daughter. Turned out the fool was worse of than ever, still an addict living hand to mouth. With a meal, a place to stay and cash to keep up his filthy habit I convinced him to file for his daughter’s custody. Jolade was pathetic and jumped at the chance to cause Munirat pain. I ensured the whole story was carefully in the public eye.
“I won’t let him take my daughter! He’s a monster, I don’t even know where he’s gotten the money for lawyers!” Munirat screamed in my office distraught.
“Don’t worry I’ll make sure you have the best lawyers , Zuliyat is not going anywhere. No court on earth will grant him custody” I told her reassuringly.
After weeks of court proceedings with Munirat’s fans always in attendance the unexpected happened … “I hereby grant Mr. Jolade Balogun full custody of Zuliyat Abu” the judge decreed to the eruption of Munirat’s fans and well wishers. Everyone expected a slam dunk case with Munirat as the victor never suspecting the judge was amenable to some extracurricular sources of income which I happily provided for the desired outcome. I had gotten the tragedy I wanted.
Munirat relapsed. Her addiction taking over her again and went on to write her best work ever. The night before the book was to be published I had a call from Jolade. “Come over now or I’ll spill the beans” I rushed over and was shocked to see Munirat comforting a crying Zuliyat, I looked up to find a crazed Jolade pointing a gun to my face.
“You brought me here and got me this useless child while Munirat got richer. She claimed to love me but didn’t bother to find me when she became rich..Well it’s my turn now . Y-y-y-you’re gonna get me 10…20, n-n-n-no I want 53 million naira right now or I-I-I’ll kill your precious author and her little whelp” Jolade said pointing the gun with his wobbling hand at the crying pair, staring at Munirat with blazing hatred in his eyes.
My mind was racing, what was Munirat doing here? How did the fool get a gun? What was I to do? He’s whole body seemed to be shaking. He was too unstable probably had more cocaine in his veins than he did blood which made it easy to manipulate him. I would give some spare cash in my wallet and promise to get him what he wanted as soon as the girls were safe.
He wouldn’t think much past a quick fix the money I gave him would get him. He’ll go on his way to get more drugs and I would promptly get Munirat and her daughter to safety informing the authorities of our encounter. Jolade would go to jail, Munirat would go back to rehab and all would be well. Yes, you’re right … that’s not what happened. It was much better…for me anyway.
“Don’t make waves boy, how do you expect me to get that amount of money, do you think I’m Pablo Escobar?” I asked flippantly. I looked over at Munirat and Zuliyat, and I knew that this was a very rare opportunity. The price for greatness was costly but the reward was worth it. The public needed tragedy, well what was more tragic than a dead hero.
“You know technically you’re Munirat’s next of kin, if anything were to happen to her, you’ll suddenly become rich, so I guess 1 day you might inherit all she owns but that’s beside the point…I can get you some money but you need to let them go first” I said boldly. Jolade watched Munirat like a cat does a rat just before devouring it. He dragged her to the backyard, put the gun to her and pulled the trigger.
Zuliyat screamed herself sore but her mother was gone. I was a little surprised to see Jolade crying over Munirat’s body, it seemed what I had mistook for hate might have been fierce love. I sneaked up behind him to pick the discarded gun but he noticed me, we struggled with the gun… it went off. I stared ahead as Jolade’s dead body slumped to the ground.
To this day, the image of me bloodied and holding a crying Zuliyat while dedicating my life’s work to the memory of her mother is one of the biggest promotions Munirat’s book ever got. Her book debuted on New York Times as number 1 bestselling book. A book written by a single mother who was battling addiction, lost her child, died for said child and then rescued by her publisher …it sold faster than Harry Potter! I became a famous billionaire from and I deserved it.
As I said I am not guilty. I have everything I ever wanted. I don’t have time to feel guilty. I did what you all would have been too weak to do. I saw an opportunity; I took it… that’s all. I didn’t kill Munirat…she was a tool for my success. I ensure her daughter is well taken care to this day. I might not be a good man but I am a great one. I am not guilty…no no…I’m not guilty… I’m not…I’m not guilty…I’m not…am I?
All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
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