Story: The Diner by Arinzechukwu @Nofstnme






Senator Zahir sank comfortably in his favorite chair- a butter color cushion that sat facing the wide-screen television that hung on the wall. He was a craggy but handsome looking man with a dandyish mustache. Sitting in that position Senator Zahir looked like he was fast asleep, but his eyes were wide open and looking through gold-rimmed glasses that rested on a bulbous nose. He had so many random thoughts.
In a haze of smoke and alcoholic tang of whiskey in the air, Senator Zahir analysed moves he had to make to win his gubernatorial elections. On his pot belly were his hands, a glass of whiskey on his right and a burning Cuban cigar on his left, and then on the table were his legs crossed at the ankles. Around him in the room was grandeur, the furniture and fittings looked like they cost an arm and a leg, the paintings on the wall, the awards arranged carefully on mahogany room dividers, gold filigrees and then chandeliers that hung from the ceiling. As far as winning the elections was concerned Senator Zahir felt like he had played the major part, handled business by greasing the right palms but, only one thing was missing, and it was the most important. Happiness money might not buy gave him sleepless nights.
Senator Zahir sat up, he put off his cigarette on the tray in front of him and dropped his cup of whiskey, and then he picked up his mobile phone from the table. Key tones fill the room and afterwards, he put the phone to his ears.
“Hello Bruno how are you doing, I’m anxious. Have you been able to find someone willing to cooperate with us, it doesn’t matter the cost, a lot of money has already been spent but we need to win this,” Zahir said. As he listened, his furrowed brows loosened up and a big grin drew across his mouth. Senator Zahir laughed richly. “I trusted you, Bruno- I knew you can do the job.” He took his cigar and lit it. Senator Zahir took a drag and nodded his head as he listened. “Send me a text message with the address for where me and the boy will meet, yes, yes- I remember, I have to disguise myself to go unnoticed, thank you, Bruno,” and then he hung up. Senator Zahir set the phone on the table and almost immediately it vibrated. He looked at the screen and then clapped his hands joyfully. Bruno made good on his word with the text message, Zahir thought- I should get ready for the meeting.
Senator Zahir got up- he did a boogie and then finally proceeded up the staircase that led to the upper part of his house, one at a time, the sole of his leather shoes hitting the floor, koi-koi.
Senator Zahir parked his Range Rover and then alighted. He looked like an old professor dressed in a simple polo shirt, a fedora and palm slippers. He looked both ways before crossing the street- he watched for cars and also surveyed the area- he had to get to the diner opposite his parking spot and also had to go unnoticed because his opponents had spies everywhere. When he was sure, Senator Zahir walked briskly across the road and slinked into the diner.
It was a Tuesday night and the weather was cool outside, but inside the diner was cooler due to the air-conditioners placed strategically at corners. Now inside, Senator Zahir looked both left and right and spotted the person he felt he was there to meet seated at the end of the room on the left. To be sure, Senator Zahir took out his phone and read the description Bruno sent (a young man in his early twenties wearing a Blue shirt, Black jeans and a Baseball hat). Senator Zahir went in and sat facing to the boy.
“Let’s not waste any time, do you have it with you?” Senator Zahir said, in a hushed tone.  “Yes, it’s in a file with me somewhere, and do you have my money?” Fallana said, he was only in his early twenties but his face looked seasoned with his eyes the shape of putting your thumb and index finger together, eye bags, a strong chin and facial beards.
“Yes, I came with dollars because the amount you requested for was too much to be brought here in Naira,”
“I’m selling my life to you- don’t ever say the price is too much,”
“Just have it and give me the file,” Senator Zahir gently placed an envelope on the table and Fallana took it, he looked inside. “It is fifty thousand dollars in cash- count it if you want,”
“How do I know its real money?”
“Don’t insult me, little boy, just give me the damn file,”
Fallana placed a file on the table and Senator Zahir snatched it. He opened it and drew out laminated pieces of paper. He nodded his head in approval, “You are a very smart child, namesake,” Senator Zahir stood up to leave and then stopped. “One more thing, what new name did you choose?”
“That’s not so bad, it’s Meta, and have a nice life,” Senator Zahir said, and then he left the diner.
Zahir returned home to his tiny apartment and felt the weight of the whole world resting on his broad shoulders. He slumped on his small mattress and began to wonder if what he had done was the right thing, working with a politician stank nothing but trouble. Or was it not, was trouble looming not the feeling he felt in his chest? Either way, it was too late and there was nothing he could do, whichever was life went, the course of his life was changed forever. Fifty thousand dollars, Fallana thought, was it worth my soul? Fallana took out the envelope Senator Zahir gave him (he had tucked it tucked in his belt), he peered into it and then used his thumb to peruse through the wad of notes confined and pressed together to fit. He could start a new life with the money, buy a bigger mattress and even a bed, rent himself a bigger apartment in a better location and then get himself the car he always wanted, a new life, a girlfriend, a fresh start, not bad after all. Fallana stared at the money for a long while and then finally put it away under his mattress. He looked at his wrist watch, it was too late to convert the money to buy food to eat and he was hungry. Fallana laugh softly and then he smiled sweetly to himself. Damn the food, he thought, he will sleep on an empty stomach until morning, and after all, it was going to be the last time such will happen.
The next morning, Fallana woke and used his hand to shield his eyes from the bright orange rays of the sun that came into his bedroom- he turned swiftly to his side to avoid the brightness and tried to go back to sleep but to no avail. He was having a dream about the good life when the light, intrusive as always woke him up. Fallana tossed and turned on the bed, and then finally he kicked the duvet off his body. He sat up, yawned and stretched hard, still with his eyes closed- relishing the last of that sweet languid feeling sleep gave. He still had that smile he went to bed with on his face.
Now out of bed the first thing Fallana did was raise his mattress to check if the envelope he put there hadn’t grown legs, satisfied with what he saw he put the bed down and stood up, and then he went into the bathroom to brush his teeth and take a cold bath. When Fallana came out of the bathroom he primed, wore fresh clothes and then shoes. He was ready to start his day.
Still with a smile on his face Fallana knelt on the floor and raised his mattress, he took out the envelope and then looked inside it, the smile on his face disappeared again and that weight he felt when he arrived home the previous day returned and sat on his chest, Fallana didn’t like it one bit. Despite how he felt about the money or working with a politician, Fallana took the wad out and counted it- it was complete and real, just like the senator said. He put it into his jean pocket. Fallana stepped out of the door and before he locked it behind him he took one long last look at his apartment, and then he put the keys in his jean pocket. A startled look appeared on Fallana’ face as he stood outside his door. He looked down, used both hands to feel his jean pockets, and then a smile reappeared on his face.
Fallana left, walking away from his old life.
[Three months later]



In an intimate room, walls covered with panels of white silk and oak. Tall windows overlooked a big city filled with cars running to and fro in top speed, horns blared and the tiny buzzing of voices filled Fallana’s ears. His new life was animate. Fallana took out his mobile phone and dialled a number. “Hello, Bruno, I’m sure by now you must be aware that I and Senator Zahir finalized three month ago and I gave sent him the rest of the documents, he also gave me the cash like you said.” Fallana listened with his eyes closed and then he opened them. “I know I should have called you ever since I changed my phone number but I needed space to think about my actions, but I’m fine now, and so let’s keep in contact until after they announce the election results.”  He hung  up.
Fallana moseyed back to the bed from where he stood by his window and lay down. He thought about how best to spend the rest of his day, cooped up in his apartment or roam the city. With the money he got from Senator Zahir Fallana’s life was filled with indecisions. With that thought, Fallana decided to go out and shop a little, have a drink here and there and then return late at night to his apartment. But first he was hungry, Fallana leant to the side of the bed and picked up the receiver of the black landline that sat on top of the side drawer, he called a food place and then he placed an order.
After his meal, Fallana prepared to step out wearing a Black shirt tucked into black jeans and black boots. He stepped off the elevator and into the lobby and took stock of his surroundings, months ago and he could never afford to be in an environment as he was in. The ground floor was alive- a lot of well-dressed people strolled in and out. With brio, Fallana walked briskly through the lobby and towards the exit. When he got out he hailed a taxi, got in and they drove off.


Bruno’s smile was wider than Senator Zahir’s- he was a bald headed man with dark wild eyes with no hint of emotions in them. Bald-headedness made Bruno look even graver, his dark three-piece suit and then his red tie. He stood beside of Zahir, who equally had a smile slashed across his face as they stared at news being read on the Television. “You won the elections, you are the Governor, and how do you feel about it?” Bruno said. He stirred the whiskey in his glass and in one swift gulp it was empty. He smacked his lips.
“I feel great, really good. I want to say it makes my cock hard to sit in that office because it had been my dream for a long time, you have no idea,” Zahir said, he smiled from cheek to cheek.
“A dream that will not have come to fruition had it not been for Fallana who sold you his hard-earned educational credentials, you should send him some more money,”
Senator Zahir’s countenance changed, his face looked cold and his mood morose. He gulped the whiskey in his glass. “Yes… that Fallana… I am barely in the office and I’m being reminded of how I won the elections,”
“Such is the game of life, and politics, but don’t think too much about it, and know I always have your best interests at heart,”
“I know Bruno, but now is not the time for best interests, now is the time for you to prove your loyalty to me,”
“You of all people should know I am loyal to you, so what do you mean?”
“Well… I don’t feel like Fallana can’t be trusted, at our meeting he mentioned how fifty thousand dollars was cheap to sell his soul,” Zahir scoffed, “That small university boy,  and so I suspect he might return when I’m Governor to squeeze more money out of me,”
“So? Then you pay the small university boy the money,”
“And for how long will I pay him? We have to do it,”
“What do you mean, “Do it” Governor?”
“Kill him, Bruno, and make his body disappear forever.” Senator Zahir looked directly into Bruno’s eyes as he made the statement, he wanted to see if suddenly life will appear in those icy eyes of his personal assistant, maybe empathy, but they looked the same, emotionless.
Bruno cleared his throat and adjusted the tie on his neck. “How can we find him, he could be anywhere at this point in time,”
“Do you have his number?”
“Yes, he called me a few days ago with the new number,”
“Then we find him like we did the first time, with money,”
“I don’t understand you, Governor,”
“Make him an offer of a hundred thousand dollars, same location but to meet at night, and then you send someone to shoot up the place, it’s that simple,”
“It sounds simple, Governor, but consider it done.” Bruno took out his mobile phone from his breast pocket and made a call. “Hello Fallana, have you seen the news? The new Governor and I are happy for your little gift that we want to show appreciation, y-yes, twice of what you got initially,” Bruno looked at Senator Zahir and he nodded approvingly, “Same place, the diner off your campus road, and text me what you will be wearing so I can locate you.” He hung up.
“Don’t fuck this up, Bruno,” Zahir said.
“Trust me.”
Fallana sat at the corner table in the back of a restaurant wondering why he felt such uncommon sensations in his stomach, he was anxious ever since he got a call from Bruno arranging a meeting similar to the first. More money more problems, Fallana thought. He sipped his drink and glanced momentarily at the entrance, anticipating nobody, he wasn’t where he was to meet Bruno and yet it felt as though at any moment in time he might walk through those revolving doors. Dealing with a politician bothered Fallana and since the whole business started there was one angle that bothered him- he should have gotten more money out of it, at least to soothe how he felt inside like his soul was missing like something was going to go wrong. Anyway, if things went wrong he could always run away, disappear, he thought and then sipped his drink.

Fallana took out his phone and texted Bruno what he was wearing (A black V-neck shirt tucked into Black Jeans). Afterwards, Fallana hailed for the waitress, paid and then left.
Fallana arrived at his apartment, a three-bedroom flat in a three-story stucco building.  A better place compared to the shack he used to live at. His rooms were huge with exquisite wood panelling and most of the floors were covered by a rug. Being at home gave Fallana a mind to take a shower and then have a change of clothes, and so he did that. After his shower Fallana put on a Red shirt, Blue chinos and then he left to his meeting with Bruno, he was almost late. A saloon car parked across the diner in the same exact spot Governor Zahir did on his first meeting with Fallana, it seemed a good spot to stay because it stood directly opposite the diner across the street. In the front seat of the car were two thick-set men who watched eerily the coming and going of individuals in and out of the diner, at the backseat of the car was Bruno.
“The target is a young male wearing a V-neck tucked in Black Jeans, the moment you see your mark go in for the kill, and also kill a few other people so the media doesn’t call it an assignation and make the judge lunch an investigation.” Bruno said, from where he sat in the back seat.
The men grunted their response to Bruno and said nothing.
The second man in the passenger’s seat took out a black valise from under his seat. He placed the back on his thighs and with leather hand gloved hands he opened it and brought out gun parts. Carefully he pieced the parts together, Sig/Aug style forward charging handle on the left side of the forend of the pistol grip, AR magazines, triangular bolt head and twin recoil spring rods. After he was done piecing the guns T2 Mk5 Semi-auto military style weapons were sitting on his legs, all Black like his outfit, from the head down to his shoes. The man tossed the empty bag away and passed one of the guns to his partner- they cocked, almost in unison and then set it back down on their thighs, surveying the area, looking at exotic cars that drove past, and the people that trotted in and out of the diner.
“Are you sure he will be here, he is taking too much time to arrive,” The man in the driver’s seat asked.
“He will,” Bruno said.
“How much long do we have to wait?”
“As long as it fucking takes to nail that bastard so shut up and wait, I paid you to do a damn job.”
Bruno took out his phone from his pocket and placed a call. “Hello, where are you I have been waiting in this diner forever, it’s a lot of cash on me.” He hung up, his voice was calm but his facial expression registered agitation. “The boy is just around the corner, just a little longer and then you go in.”
Streetcars rattled past the tarred roads and passers-by passed the diner and minded their business. A car came to a swirl stop several yards down the road and then a young man got out, it was Fallana.
As Fallana got out of the car the weight he felt after his first exchange with governor Zahir came back. But then he dismissed it, he thought it over too much and overthinking caused a tightness in his chest. From where Fallana stood he saw the diner and everyone going in and out of it. Opposite the diner, Fallana also saw the saloon car parked. Bruno? He guessed.
As far as the tight feeling was concerned Fallana knew that it would remain until he received the money from Bruno and was home in his apartment. With that, Fallana began making his way down to the diner. Halfway down the road and Fallana hesitated, he turned around. “I need a drink,” he said, then decided to go for a bottle of gin, something to keep his mind at ease as then a young man got out, it was Fallana.
As Fallana got out of the car the weight he felt after his first exchange with governor Zahir came back. But then he dismissed it, he thought it over too much and overthinking caused a tightness in his chest. From where Fallana stood he saw the diner and everyone going in and out of it. Opposite the diner, Fallana also saw the saloon car parked. Bruno? He guessed.
As far as the tight feeling was concerned Fallana knew that it would remain until he received the money from Bruno and was home in his apartment. With that, Fallana began making his way down to the diner. Halfway down the road and Fallana hesitated, he turned around. “I need a drink,” he said, then decided to go for a bottle of gin, something to keep his mind at ease as he spoke to Bruno, men detest the look of insecurity in another man’s eyes.
Fallana bought gin from a nearby kiosk. He opened the bottle and gulped all the contents, and grimaced with his eyes closed. The gin heated Fallana all over, making his head whirl and his mind quiet. Fallana tossed the bottle to the curb and began heading to the diner when he heard several rounds of gunshots that sent him ducking behind a car. He peeked and saw two men leave the diner with war type guns and then turned and ran away for his life.



The next morning, Fallana scanned the headlines – In what was termed as “Senseless Murder” two unknown gunmen randomly storm a diner and killed a young.


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