There were at least two dozen sweaty
faces behind me. The line ahead was
nearly as long. I wondered if there was
still money in the machine. The
headache was growing up to be a
migraine. Sweat beads dribbled up and
down my skin like soccer players at
“E be like say ATM na to carry mat come
o!” Another voice said.
It was forty-eight hours to the new year.
It was either I was going to remain a law
abiding citizen or I was going to go to
jail for savagely beating someone to
death at an ATM.
I was seriously leaning towards the
The fat woman at the machine had more
than three cards with her and seemed to
be receiving a how-to-use-an-ATM-
machine tutorial from another fat
“Abi na MMM she dey do?”came the
radioactive breath of a girl close me. I
didn’t bother turning around. If the
stench was that bad from behind, I
wasn’t optimistic my face would survive
a frontal assault.
I considered going into the bank again,
but then I remembered the unholy
stench of body and mouth odors inside
coupled with coffin-like heat. I decided to
wait it out.
Eventually, the fat woman and her ‘tutor’
The next eight people were mercifully
fast. It looked like I was finally going to
use the ATM after all.
Then came the smallish man.
I firmly hold the view that trouble-makers
are born, not made. That being said,
they’re easy to spot. Not like they come
with stickers or anything(which would
actually make life easier) but you can
pick them out in crowd on sight.
Ever seen a total stranger on the street
and thought, Him/she dey like pesin wey
go like wahala oh?
Well…this smallish man fit the bill. He
looked like someone who could cause a
fist-fight at a church service. With his
grey oversized jacket–or coat, he
stepped up to the machine as if this
were his coronation ceremony. He made
quite a show of bringing out his ATM
card. Then he paused to stare at the
crowd as if expecting an applause or
“Na craze-man b dis?” Miss foul breath
I covered my nose and wondered the
The Racoon-like man typed in slow-
motion; tapping the buttons (five
seconds apart) like he had all the time in
the world. On top of that, he was singing
“…my bank alert na Kpakam…!”
I’m pretty certain we all shared the
same flabbergasted expression.
After five minutes (that seemed like fifty)
he brought out his card from the
machine and just stood there.
Was this guy nuts?
I and the rest of the mob were beyond
He popped out another ATM card from
his pocket and switched to another
“…I no be Casanova, but I like woman…!”
“Bros if dat card near d machine, I go
carry teeth chop you,” said the
traditional-wrestler-like man in front of
Mr smallish threw him a quick Jason-
Statham glance and returned to the
“Youngman, respect yasef!”
The air was thick with impending
violence. If the size of Mr Wrestler’s
arms were anything to go by, the
chances of Mr Smallish seeing the 2017
were slim. Unless he was actually Jason
Statham in disguise. In which case, Mr
Wrestler was screwed.
Mr Wrestler was a bomb about to go off.
I’d noticed him earlier; his eyes were
blood-red and I was fairly certain he
could chew and swallow a hand grenade
if he were hungry enough.
And he looked pretty hungry to me.
He took a measured step towards Mr
“Bros, you wan fall ma hand?”
Mr Smallish was either deaf, suicidal…or
stupid. He fished into the pocket of his
coat and produced three more ATM
cards. “Do your wors–.”
Mr Wrestler shoved him aside like he
were made of cardboard paper. Smallish
stumbled and crashed into the nearby
“AH….!” Smallish was shocked scared
and angry. “Are you crazy?”
WHACK! Came a slap from the wrestler.
A slap from any another person might’ve
rocked Mr smallish a bit, but one from
Mr Wrestler’s hand was like being hit by
The next few seconds went by in a
brutal blur of heavy blows, body slams
and screams. It ended with Mr Smallish
sitting on the ground with a busted
nosed and the front of his shirt torn-up.
He’d lost one of his shoes. Coupled
with the harmattan,he could’ve passed
for a homeless person . Mr Wrestler
huffed and puffed over him. “You wan
fall ma hand? YOU DEY MADT?”
Mr Smallish didn’t seem capable of
responding. He slowly rose to his feet
and limped away leaving about five ATM
cards littered on the ground.
Weirdest thing? No one gave him a
As he limped passed me, we caught
“Sorry…” I said.
His broken lip managed a smile, then he
slowly made for the road.
“Abeg, who dey line?” Toxic breath said.
“Do make we comot from here!”
Mr Wrestler proceeded to use the
Believe it or not, he had three ATM
cards. He must’ve stood there for
another twenty minutes. After seeing
what happened to Mr smallish, no one
was inclined to complain.
The Muscular man worked in silence.
When he was done, he went off to a
corner and lit a cigarette.
I’d just inserted My card into the
machine, when I heard the first
Say what you will about fire-works i.e
Knockouts, but everyone knows the
sound of a gun any day.
I caught a glimpse of Mr Smallish and
three armed men charging towards us.
“IF YOU MOVE, I MOVE YOU!” The lead
I heard another gunshot.
A woman screamed and I embraced the
ground. When confronted by armed men,
this was the universal gesture for
I heard bodies being kicked, I heard
women and girls whimpering.
I was shaking all over.
“Dat guy!” I heard Mr Smallish say.
Something cold and hard pressed
against my neck. I froze.
Strong arms hoisted me to my feet. Mr
Smallish had a merciless expression on.
“Go,” he said.
I stood there unsure of what I’d heard.
One of his companions waved a
handgun at me. “GO!”
I made a mad dash for my car and
drove off faster than you could say,
I was five minutes out when I realized I’d
left my ATM card in the Machine.
Trust me, I didn’t go back.
I wasn’t sure why I was spared but
I learned later that after robbing the
crowd of people, Mr Smallish and his
crew beat Mr Wrestler almost to the
point of death.
Well, thankfully queues have reduced
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