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My name is A-Zed:Episode 4

Azed!

Azzzeeed!

Wake up…

Get up…

Arrrggggggghhhhhhh…..

The sharp pain in my head throbbed like a heart beating and it stirred me awake. Sight blurry, I noticed the person bent over me, yelling, worsening the pain. She seemed to be crying as she shook me. In my head, I was telling her to stop but my lips could not move. My eyes finally open and the yelling stopped. It was princess. It took a while before I could process where we were and how we got there.

We have to get out of here..

They may come back

Here? Where? I tried to lift my head and the pain was unbearable. I tried to look round and noticed I was lying on the floor in some sort of swamp. Swamp…. Zino…Princess.. it was coming back to me…

Ye…. (my head hurt)

Sorry. Just try to get up so we can find a way out of here.

She held out her hand to me and I grabbed on it as I stood to my feet. I staggered a little and found my footing. I remembered the ride, the voices, the gun shots, Zino. But how did I…..

Zino said I should apologize for the pain.

Apologize?

Lets just get out of here first please

We hobbled through the dimly lit footpath which we hoped lead out of the swamp. I tripped and almost fell a few times but the more I walked the more the pain lessened. I noticed my phone was still in my pocket. My wonderful Nokia 1100 – with torchlight. I pulled it out and put on the torch. It seemed to make so much difference. After what seemed like forever, we made it to the road. It was a rough untared road in the middle of nowhere. We stopped then and wondered which direction to go

Everywhere is so dark. Where do we go, what do we do….. (she sounded like she was about to cry)

I moved close to her and tried not to shine my torch at her face. She still had on her very short dress, which was now torn in some places and had all sorts of leaves and thorns hanging from it. I reached out to hold her hand but she grabbed me into an embrace. She was now crying and I had to ignore the pain it brought to my head as I consoled her. It took almost another five minutes before she stopped crying. It was then she noticed how tightly she was clinging on to me and she eased off a little.

Ha…. Ma sukun mo. Olorun ti gbo adura (Stop crying. God has answered your prayers)

I turned around waving my phone frantically, wondering where the voice had come from. Princess clinged tightly to me again and I noticed an old man walking towards us. He was dressed liked a vigilante. He even had a dane gun with him. I was scared and happy at the same time. My ordeal with the OPC men from Badore was still fresh in my mind.

Baba Ibidun nko? (where is Baba Ibidun) he said as he finally got close to us

Baba Ibidun? (Princess and I looked at each other wondering what he was talking about)

Se kin se odo Baba Ibidun le tin bo ni? (Aren’t you coming from Baba Ibiduns place)

O ti Sir. A sonu ni sir. (No sir, we are lost)

I couldn’t explain how we had gotten to find ourselves there to the old man but he seemed very uninterested. He was very convinced we had come to see a certain Baba Ibidun. When he told us we were somewhere in Epe town I was so relieved. It wasn’t so bad after all. I begged him to lead us to the nearest bus stop and he agreed. The walk to the bus stop was long and slow. We had to walk at the pace of the old man. Princess was still obviously scared and my head was still throbbing with pain. I was still puzzled about what happened but I decided to save my questions for later. We finally made it to the “bus stop” which looked more or less like a clearing by the highway. I checked the time on my phone – 2:30am. As I pondered how we were going to get out of there, a car sped past us and I was glad, more hope. I turned to look at the old man so I could at least thank him but he was gone. Just like that. Princess held on tightly to my hand as she also noticed.

How are we going to get out of here

I’m sure we will find a taxi. Let us just wait somewhere in the corner. More cars sped past us then but my attempt at waving them down was futile

We waited and waited and waved and waved. Nothing. There was a make shift bench somewhere around the clearing – looked like a roadside mechanics workbench. We made our way there and she eventually sat after initially refusing because she felt I needed it more. Waiting was probably a better option even though I had to keep looking around to make sure we were safe.

Are you ok? (I asked as I noticed her evaluating the state of her dress)

I’m fine.

Can you please tell me what happened after we left Lekki.

*pause*

She took a deep breath…..

I always work alone. This is what happens when you make compromises.

Compromises?

Chief had some other girls at his place. Juves. Probably shipped into town. I had never seen them around before. They looked hungry and desperate. I wanted to leave. Even started dialing your number but he pleaded and pleaded. I backed down. I compromised. And look where it landed me. Landed us.

*pause*

One of the girls must have stolen drugs from Chief’s room. Chief is generous. Very generous with everything except his drugs. Especially his coke. I’ve seen him do things …..

Coke?

Yes… cocaine. I’ve seen him do things to people who get between him and his coke. But today was different. That was a lot of coke and they found it in my bag. I was too surprised to say anything. Chief was too furious to even hear me out. Before I knew what was going on, Mark and Zino had tied me up and they were taking me away when you came to the gate. Mark wasn’t comfortable with letting you go so they tricked you in and tied you too.

(I felt the throbbing part of my head) They must have hit me with something really hard.

It was a bat. A baseball bat. (she said as she looked at me apologetically).

They drove us here and Mark’s instructions must have been for them to kill us and dump our bodies in the swamp.

Yes I remember. Zino.

Yes, Zino. Thank God you were here. Zino made the other guy wait in the car while he took us to the swamp. Kneeling on the floor, all I waited for was the sound of the gun. I was so scared. (she burst out into tears again)

Emezino Nwachukwu. I remembered him from secondary school but he had changed so much. All the muscles. Eme was one of those I considered special back then. He was an Efiko. Always reading but he had nothing to show for it. It was something that puzzled us all. How could someone read so much, answering and solving all the questions minutes before an exam and then endup failing? It wasn’t until our final exams that I took serious interest in his case. I realized his problem was plain and simple – oversabi. Eme never read instructions. Answer two and he would answer all. Answer none and he would still answer all. I made sure I sat beside him during our mock exams just so I could guide him and the result was phenomenal. He passed all his exams. I didn’t think much of it but from the way he spoke about me to others, I knew he was more than grateful. How could I have possibly known that little deed would save my life years later. He hit you across the face. He said he had to do it just to slow us down a bit. Then he fired two shots into the bushes and warned us to get out of the swamp quickly and also not to come anywhere around Chief. He apologized and then left. It took me so long to recompose myself and then I finally woke you

Not to go anywhere near Chief? My car?

Im sorry but knowing Chief and his goons it’s probably gone by now.

Ha. Gone ke. What will I tell Uncle Mufu.

I’m sorry.

We got a taxi a few minutes after 6am. The look in Princess’ eyes when I tried prizing the taxi was enough to know she didn’t care. I felt awkward sitting at the back seat of a taxi while someone else drove. I couldn’t shake the thought of losing my car. I didn’t even know where to start from, even if by some form of miracle Uncle Mufu doesn’t kill me, the hunger from not being able to earn a living would definitely do it. I was tired, bruised and my test. Oh my God. I exclaimed, as I remembered the test I was supposed to have. I was in no state to think. When we got to the Parkview Estate gate, Princess got down and asked us to wait for her. Minutes later, a young girl who I guess was a help came to the cab and handed me some money. Ten thousand. In a normal state I would have been excited to handle so much money again but with thoughts of Uncle Mufu chasing me around the taxi park in my head, it was impossible. It was 8:34. I knew Dare would soon call me to ask where I was so I turned off my phone. I just couldn’t deal with all of that. By the time I got to school, it was past 9 and I knew Dare would have gone for the test. I paid the taxi man and still had six thousand with me. I went into the room, cleaned up a bit, changed my shirt and went out before any of my roommates came in. I needed to go somewhere I could think. For some reason, the thought of going to the lagoon front came to my head. I had been there just once before and swore not to go back. As I was trying to makeup my mind I felt my phone in my pocket and for some reason, I decided to turn it back on and almost immediately after I did, a call came in. Unknown number.

Hello

Azed.

Who is speaking please

Its Princess, are you busy?

Oh Princess, are you ok, is everything ok?

I’m fine. Can you come to Ikoyi

Ikoyi? Are you sure you are ok.

I’m ok. Just come to the Parkview Estate gate. When you get there, meet the security guards and tell them to direct you to Amazing Grace House.

Amazing Grace House. Ok.

I wondered what was going on. Why she wanted to see me. Maybe she had gone to report to the police and they wanted me to make a statement. I hoped so. Chief needed to be thought a lesson. I walked out of school, biked to Yaba, bus to Obalende and then biked to Parkview Gate. I was there in less than an hour. I met the guards at the gate and they directed me to Amazing Grace House. As I approached the building, I realized it was some sort of hotel or guesthouse, or so I thought. It was huge and beautiful even from the outside. I walked to the gatehouse and told the guard there I wanted to see Princess. I waited a few minutes while the guard made a phone call. He then ushered me in and asked me to sit just beside the gatehouse. I continued to marvel at the beauty of the hotel or house or whatever it was. There were several cars parked in the compound. Two Range Rovers, a Mercedes S Class, Toyota Prado, and one car I couldn’t identify and a Toyota Corolla, like the Fashola taxis. That’s what they called them at the park. The Fashola taxis that had come to steal all our customers.

Azed.

Princess cut into my thoughts as she called my name. She had cleaned herself up. And was looking beautiful as always.

Good morning. I hope every….

Good morning. Daddy, this is the person I told you about….

I wondered who she was talking to but as she turned to look up, I noticed a man standing at the terrace overlooking the compound. He was an elderly man. Maybe in his 60s, a little bit of gray hair, dressed in white caftan with huge red bids dangling from his neck and his wrist. I heard Princess whisper “greet him” and I responded…

Good morning sir. (I prostrated)

How are you young man

I’m fine sir.

So, Princess told me you are going to be her driver. (I turned to look at Princess, still puzzled)

How old are you.

I’m 24 Sir.

That’s good good. Princess is my princess so please drive her like the princess she is.

I will find time to talk to you later.

Thank you daddy (Princess said with a broad smile on her face as we both watched the man turn away and walked into the house)

Before I could ask questions, Princess turned to me, threw a key to me and said. That’s the key to the Corolla. Warm it up and get it ready. I’ll be out soon. With that she ran into the house and left me with the key to the Fashola taxi Corolla in my hands. Me, Corolla.

My name is A-Zed: Episode 3

I have dropped a copy of the practice questions with Jelilee at the photocopying centre. See him for your copy and answer the first ten questions, which must be submitted unfailingly by Tuesday morning.

Dr. Okeke’s announcement was met with a huge roar of displeasure from the crowd of students that filled up lecture room 106. Moments later, a very unperturbed Dr. Okeke calmly strolled out of the room in his very famous bouncy strut. Dare and I joined the other students on the mass exodus out of the poorly ventilated and body-odour filled lecture room. Still tired from the activities of the day and night before, I barely heard Dare as he rambled on about how unfair Dr. Okeke’s assignment was. All I wanted to do was get to my room and jump on my bed.

I slept all through Saturday and most parts of Sunday. I slept so much I even missed the Arsenal game on Sunday. Thank God we won though, I couldn’t bear another bout of embarrassing comments from those guys at the taxi park. I wasn’t even in the mood for work. I had more than enough money to last me for two weeks even as I remembered I needed to send some money to Mama as well as change some foreign currency. I decided to rest through Sunday and resume work on Monday.

Work was smooth on Monday. I picked up the car after my lectures as usual. Uncle Mufu wasn’t around so I had to see him later to give him the money for Mama. I changed the $100 with me at Sabo – FOURTEEN K. Yekpa. All this money! It’s even good I didn’t see Uncle Mufu, I’ll have to send more money to Mama. I went round the mainland and took a few trips with some passengers then I drove down to the island. It’s funny how one night can change so much. It was a little over 8pm and even though I had no passenger, I took my time to familiarize myself with names of the streets on Victoria Island. Just as I decided to head back home, I took the round about on Ajose and headed towards Ahmadu Bello and I was flagged down by a young man. He was wearing a suit and had his tie slightly loosened – banker, I thought. He had a laptop bag with him and was heading to Akoka in Yaba. Perfect. We settled on 1k and despite the traffic I was more than glad to make some money on my trip home.

We chatted briefly and he confirmed my guess. Young banker. Well-spoken and good looking. I dropped him off and he took my phone number after asking if I could take him to work early in the mornings. He leaves home at 6am so that works for me. I could drop him and be back in time for my first lecture. I agreed to the deal and promised to see him the next day. By the time I got to the park Uncle Mufu had left, I parked the car and returned to school. I didn’t see Uncle Mufu till Wednesday evening. A lecturer had fixed a test for Thursday morning so I decided to close early so I could get some reading done. I parked in my usual spot at the cab park around 5pm and I walked into the park office I hailed some of the drivers and went in to see my Uncle.

He was alone which was very strange but then I noticed he had some money on his table and that explained it. He quickly put away the money and responded to my greeting. Uncle Mufutao can sometimes be very nice but most times, he’s too stern and disciplined for me. Not my biological uncle, my dads best friend who vowed to see me through my university education after my father died. He taught me how to drive and gave me one of his taxis to use in making a living. Unlike all the other cabmen, I only had to deliver ten thousand every week. Any other thing I made was mine. Most weeks I managed to make just about 13k after taking out the cost of fuel and little car repairs. But this week, I had managed to almost triple that figure thanks to my Friday night ordeal. I gave Uncle Mufu my money for the week with an additional 10k for him to send to Mama.

TEN THOUSAND? Ibo lo ti ri owo (where did you get this from)

I’ve been saving ni Sir. I just want to do all I can to get Mama up and running again.

Uncle Mufu never talked much, he gave me a questioning look and that was all. I told him to send my regards to his wives and kids and with that, I dropped the key and made the short walk back to my hostel. I bought some apples just before I entered the hostel and munched on one as I walked into my room. Dare, my closest friend and one of my seven roommates was in the room studying for the test already. He’s the dictionary meaning of a geek. Always reading. He didn’t even notice me come into the room – busy differentiating and integrating. I hit him on the head with the nylon bag of apples and he almost fell off the chair he sat on.

Ha, Azeez, bawo. Ma binu, I was deep into the world of dee y and dee x

Daaaarrreee. Life doesn’t start and end with book o. I’m sure you’ve not eaten all day. Sha take apple and relax your brain

Its not kuku my fault. You know some of us are not blessed like you. You only need a few minutes to run through all these things and you’d understand, he said as he helped himself to an apple.

But wait oh, you’ve been buying apples on your way back since Monday. Are you fasting or has business been that good?

Hmmm…. Dare. It’s God oh. That is all I can say. Na papa God send me good Samaritan. Imagine a passenger paying me in foreign currency. In dollars.

DOLLARS? Did you take her to the moon?

In fact where we went was farther than the moon…..

Just then, my phone rang and it was a number I didn’t recognize. I wondered who it could be even as it occurred to me that I hadn’t heard from Kassy since I dropped her off that Saturday morning. It was probably better that way. I picked up the phone, said hello and a cautious voice responded on the other end.

Hello. Is this AZed?

Yes, this is AZed.

My name is Princess, I got your number from Kassy. I need a ride for later tonight. Will you be available to work?

Erm…. Later tonight. Where is that ma.

Will you be available?

I checked the time – 5:48pm. I saw the puzzled look on Dare’s face from the corner of my eyes.

Yes ma. I will be available.

Ok. I will call you later to tell you where to meet me.

Even before I could drop my phone, Dare asked

What are you going to be available for? Aren’t we supposed to go to the library together this night? And who is AZed?

It’s one of those customers I can’t say no to. I’m sure I will be back in time to meet up with you at the library.

Before Dare could respond, I dashed out of the room and quickly walked back to the Taxi park. Uncle Mufu was out by the time I got there. As I got into my car, my phone rang and it was Princess again.

AZed. Do you know Parkview Estate in Ikoyi?

Yes I do ma.

Ok. Meet me at the estate gate at exactly 7pm. If you get there earlier, you’d have to find somewhere to pass time but please make sure you’re at the gate by 7pm. And please stop calling me “Ma”.

Yes Ma. I mean… Yes Princess.

It was just about 6pm, I quickly cleaned my car and hit the road. I was lucky, traffic was light. I got there about 5 minutes early so I took the long drive round Bourdillon and turned around at the end. By the time I got back to the Parkview Estate gate, it was exactly 7pm and almost as if she was there waiting, a young lady casually dressed in jeans, tee shirt and heeled slippers walked out of the estate gate carrying nothing but a simple hand bag. She noticed the cab almost immediately and she walked to the car and sat in front beside me. I tried not to stare but God, as simple as she dressed, she looked remarkably beautiful.

As she put on her seat belt, she mentioned Kassy didn’t tell her I drove a painted cab. I asked which way we were heading and she told me to drive towards Lekki phase 1. As I drove, I noticed she kept on stealing glances at me, as if she was sizing me up. She kept to herself all through the ride. She only spoke when she directed me. A little over 7:30pm and I parked in front of a massive house somewhere deep inside Lekki Phase 1. High fenced with electric wires running round the top. Princess asked if I could give her a moment outside the car. She moved to the back seat as I exited the car.

Moments later, she came out looking totally transformed. She now had on a very very short dress that showed off her gorgeous figure. She had let down her hair and all of this made her look even more beautiful. While I was still caught up with her “new look”, she snapped her finger to get my attention and I noticed she had on a smile.

It’s almost 8, please meet me back here at exactly 11pm. Once you get here, just press the bell and tell whoever attends to you that you’re my driver and you’re here to get me. But please don’t be late.

She didn’t even wait for my response. In a matter of seconds she had pressed on the little knob by the gate, the smaller door on the gate opened up and she vanished into the huge fortress. I stood there for a few minutes wondering what I would do till 11pm. If only I had brought along my Engineering Mathematics textbook. I got into the car. I listened to the radio. I drove down the road. I bought a drink from a roadside Mallam. I drove back to the building and it was still only 9:44pm. I didn’t want to risk going on another trip while I waited. She was very specific about me not being late.

I reclined my seat and laid down even as I replayed the events which opened me up to this new world. I remembered picking up Kassy and Debby, the trip to Badore, the wait outside YNot, Kassy giving me 10k, the long drive back to Badore and ….. Kassy. Yes, Kassy. When we got back to their place at Badore, she invited me in but I declined and told her I had to rush somewhere as I had my assignment on my mind. She tried to rub the back of my head but I held her hand away and pleaded for her to let me leave. That was when she looked at me and said:

AZed. AZed. Me I like you oh and if you come inside, you will enjoy all of this. (She said this as she used her right hand to point out her breast)

She then caught me unawares as she rubbed my chest down to my groin area. I almost jumped off my seat. She laughed and laughed and said:

Are you a ‘firgin”? Come on. AZed, don’t disappoint me oh. Anyway…. Let me not keep you, just think about what I said… (she said as she put her hand into her purse to produce $100 which she handed to me)

I hesitated initially but she more or less stuffed it in my hands and told me it was my payment for the night.

What a night that was, I shook my head as I snapped back to reality. 10:54pm. I got out of the car and stretched. Lingered a bit and at exactly 11pm I went to the gate. I pressed the little bell button and waited. Instead of a face, I heard a voice asking who I was and who I was there to see.

I’m Miss Princess’ driver. She said I should come and pick her here.

…………

……………..

…………………..

I heard nothing for a while.

Hello.

Did you hear me.

…………………………

Miss Princess says you can leave. She will be in touch.

Leave? After waiting this long? Just like that. I said thank you, shook my head and walked towards the car even as I silently murmured my protest. Before I got to my car, I heard the gate open. I looked back and I saw a hefty looking man walk out of the gate. He was about 6 feet tall and very well built. He looked like one of the bouncers I spotted at YNot the previous Friday. He gestured at me to come. I cautiously approached him and noticing my caution, he looked at me and said, “Please come inside to wait for Miss Princess”.

I walked past him, through the gate and began to marvel at what I saw. Lush green lawn with beautiful flowers everywhere. I looked up and noticed a small bungalow far off in the middle of the compound. I turned to ask……..

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAM!!!!!

My eyes fluttered open as I felt a sharp pain in my head. Arrggghh… Everywhere was dark and I heard voices around me.

HEEEEELLLLLPPPPP.

Shut her up

*slap*

It was at this point I realized Princess was beside me. I moved around and tried to make sense of where I was. We were in the backseat of a car, blindfolded. The voices around me kept talking…

Go with Zino. Make it fast. I want you guys back here before Chief leaves.

Ok.

With that, I heard the sound of two doors slamming shut. The car started and then zoomed off.

Bootycall?

Hello

Hey, how’re you doing

I’m alright, just been here, you?

I’m ok, had a long week at work, so stressful

Eh yah, pele. Me too oh, it’s not easy.

So, what are you up to this weekend, I was hoping we could hang for a bit.

Hmm… what do you have in mind

Well, I’m just so tired, can’t even bother about going anywhere. Was thinking, just staying in, movies, food… you know.

Awwww… that woulda been nice but I already have plans for the weekend.

Oh

Yeah… I have quite a bit to do actually

No, no, its okay. I was just hoping that since its been quite a while we’ve seen maybe we could just…..

I know, how about we hook up during the week – see a movie or something

You know how my work is – very unpredictable…that’s why I made out time this weekend cuz I know how crazy my week can be. Are you sure you can’t even stop by – even if only for an hour or two?

I really don’t think so. I have some errands to run for my mum and I’m kinda broke too

Ahn ahn, just take a cab now, I’ll pay for it, no big deal.

It’s not even about the cab, there’s just so much…..

It’s fine, it’s ok, I guess we’ll just have to wait another month before we see

No now, don’t be like that. Except….maybe…ok, lemme see if I can work something out

Nah, don’t stress it, lemme not get in the way of your mums errands oh… but if you can sha, just let me know cause I don’t have plans of going anywhere….

Ok then, I’ll let you know

Ok, see you later then – hopefully. Bye

Bye

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Hello

Femi, yoooouuuuu. Ha. Na wah oh… that’s how you just fasheeeed me

No, it’s not like that now

It’s not like what

You know how my work is now and it’s been really crazy the past few weeks, you know we’re approaching the end of the year and there’s just so much

Hmmm…. Mr. engineer… well done oh

*laughs* … Thank you, thank you…. How have you been now

I’ve been ok oh, where you left me, battling lectures and all

Eh yah, sorry, I knew you’d be mad at me, that’s why I just said this weekend, I must make it up. What are you up to, lets hookup now, shey you’re in school?

Yeah I’m in school. Even supposed to have one stupid lecture this morning.

Lecture on a Saturday… na wah oh…. Anyways, what time is the lecture for

It’s from 9 – 11am

Ok, so can we meet up at my place for noon then.

Hmm…. well, I guess so

Ok, then…

But I’ll be hungry oh, hope you have food at home

*laughs* what do you want to eat

I don’t know, I’m sha not eating indomie like the last time I came oh

Ok, ok, I’ll get something….. is that all ma?

Make sure you’re home oh cuz I think I’ll just take a cab and my ATM card sometimes messes up.

Ok, I’ll be home. See you later then

Bye

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Hello

I spoke to my mom, I think I might be able to squeeze out some time

Na wah oh, so you’re now squeezing out time for us, ok oh. When?

Around 1pm maybe

1pm, wow, nah, I already made plans to go watch the Man U game with my friends since you weren’t sure before. Except we reschedule for tomorrow

Sunday? Lets see how it goes sha

Ok.

Bye

My name is A-Zed: Episode 2

I quickly folded the money and put it into the smaller inner pocket of my jeans. I didn’t even know I could get that much in. I took another good look at my surroundings and I still couldn’t believe I was out that late, on Victoria Island. Before I could bask further in the euphoria that was slowly taking over me, the soundtrack supplied by my grumbling stomach reminded me that I still hadn’t had a full meal all day. I thought twice about looking for food, it would be wise to save all the money Kassy gave me but then again, what if I hadn’t made it, I thought to myself. One meal won’t kill, especially as I have more than enough for Dr Okeke’s textbook and still enough to send to Mama and yet still enough to fuel my cab and also survive on through next week.

Na wah oh. Ten thousand naira. I wondered what owning a million would feel like even as I locked my car and began to sojourn the street corners of Adeyemo Alakija late into the night, abi early morning looking for something to eat. As I walked forward I saw more girls lined up along the road, some alone, some in groups of two, three, four, some tall, dark, others, not so tall, light skinned. At first glance they all looked the same… in their very high heels and very exposing outfits – transparent tops, very very short skirts and I even saw a girl in just her underwear but I think she was changing though. Cars drove by, some pressed their horns and drove off, others stopped, chatted with the girls for a while and then drove off, while some stopped and the girls just almost instinctively got into the car which then drove off.

This is a crazy crazy world I started to think …..

Ahn Ahn. You no dey look where you dey go

Ha. Please I’m sorry, please don’t be annoyed.

Caught up in my thoughts, I hadn’t looked in front of me and I had barged into one of the girls who stood displaying her wares for prospective customers. She was one of the artificially light skinned ones. Medium height, plus sized, heavily made-up, especially with the red lipstick and very loosely dressed. As I tried to apologize, a similarly dressed but much more fatter girl came out of nowhere laughing.

The fat one: Why you just dey shout like that na

Red lips: Why I no go shout, she as he just hit me carry body touch all my goody goody (she said, as she adjusted her very transparent bra)

The fat one: But no be so dem dey do (she moved closer towards me). You know wether na first time customer (standing infront of me). Fine boy, you wan fuck? You want us to show you a good time? (she said with the most ridiculous forced American accent I’d ever heard)

I stood there almost too surprised to talk. Before I could force words out of my mouth, the fat one pulled out her breasts from her top and hauled them right before my face. Yes I said pulled. They were huge and the stretch marks, which ran all the way from her neck continued almost to the top of each nipple.

The fat one: I’m gonna give you a gooooooooood time (she said, as she jiggled and wiggled her breasts at my face)

I snapped out of my self-imposed trance, turned a corner around them and briskly walked away, half running and not looking back. A few buildings ahead, I came across a couple of Mallams with what looked like food stands setup in front of them. I quickly walked towards them expecting to see things like biscuits and maybe even gala. To my surprise the first mallam had various brands of condoms displayed on his table. My God! I never knew they made so many of those things. I quickly turned to look at the second Mallam and he also had packs of condoms displayed along with some funny looking packs with naked men and women images on them. No, they weren’t condoms. They looked more like drugs. Most of them with funny names: Energy 2000, Adams Desire, Nackam etc.

I couldn’t hide the disappointment on my face, neither could I hide my hunger any longer but before I could turn away, one of the Mallams asked:

Mallam1: Oga, which one I wan buy

Me: Aboki, abeg, na food I dey find

Mallam2: Kai, oga, that one go hard for this time walahi. Why you no go for that flace go buy (he said, pointing in the YNot direction)

Me: I no fit get like gala and coke?

Mallam1: Why I no talk that one before…. Which kain coke I want.

Me: Just give me two gala and one coke or if plastic dey bring plastic coke.

The Mallam disappeared almost immediately and I was too hungry to check which direction he went. I looked up to see a few girls casually strolling on the other side of the road. I recognized one of them – Kpekpeye girl from earlier that night. Her jacket was off again and security lights from the nearby building showed her in her “not-so-glory”. Just then, a car pulled up beside them and I watched as Kpekpeye girl more or less ran ahead of the other girls towards the car.

My attention was then drawn back to the Mallam. A man had just run to him. Breathing heavily, he waved a N500 note at the Mallam and more or less yelled: give me one fantasy. It was at that point I noticed the man was a security guard. His uniform had the logo of a large and popular insurance firm embroidered on it and he kept looking back towards a building, which I later realized was the head office of the insurance firm.

Security man: Aboki, I say give me 1 Fantasy.

Mallam2: (reaching to pick one of the packs of condoms on his display table but then stops) Who send you come buy Pantasy?

Security Man: I say I wan buy something, you dey ask who send me

Mallam2: Abeg, oga, no vex but I know why I dey ask pha

Security Man: Ehn hen… (he said as he turned to look behind him again) ok, na Princess. Shey you don hear now. Oya bring wetin I ask for

Mallam2: Kai shege, you see why I ask. Frincess no dey use Pantasy pha. (he reached for one of the packs) Na Rouph Rider Frincess dey use, take am.

Security man: Aboki I hope say you sure. If I need waka come back here and my tenant go start another round wey I no count, na die oh.

Just then, the other Mallam returned with a pet bottle of fanta and two galas.

Mallam1: Oga, wahlahi na only this coke remain, shey I go manage am.

I couldn’t bring myself to argue. I collected the drink and food just as the security man ran back towards his building. I paid the Mallam, crossed over to the other side of the road and more or less jogged all the way back to my car.

I closed the door of the car, wound down a bit and settled to my breakfast lunch and dinner, all wrapped in two delicious packs of beef sausages. I hadn’t taken the second bite from my first gala when I heard a noise towards the back of the passenger side of the car. Before I could turn around to see what was happening, two people were lying on the backseat of my car. Man and woman. The woman who was on top, I quickly recognized as Kassy but this time, her top was almost off.

The man was of Arab origin but I couldn’t really make out his face as her plum body covered him. She unzipped his trouser and then looked up at me. I made to leave the car but she used her right hand to hold me down by my shoulder while she somehow managed to use her left hand to dig into the man’s trouser and produce his private. She then smiled at me, while still holding my shoulder and then bent her head towards the man’s private area. I immediately turned my head forward towards my dashboard and managed to swallow the bit of gala I had been chewing.

The man made all kinds of noises for the next thirty seconds or there about and the noises climaxed into one final loud “arrrgggghhhhh”. This was followed by sounds of someone spitting. I couldn’t take it, I turned around and saw Kassy spitting on the floor of the back seat area. Chei, I didn’t even want to imagine what cleaning that would take. While trying to control my anger, I flung the half eaten gala on my dashboard and heard as they both exited the car. They both leaned on the car and got talking. All I could hear were giggles and bad English. And then:

Arab man: But how much

Kassy: (giggles) same price, just one

Arab man: Ahn Ahn, me customer, Kassy

Kassy: Yes, that’s why its still one, others wont get it that cheap.

Arab man: Kassy Kassy. Kassy Kasandra. Na because say na you o.

I listened on in absolute shock even as I heard the Arab man speaking more pidgin English. He then pulled out his wallet and produced some crisp notes – US Dollars. He handed them to Kassy and said:

I add sometin extra for you to take care of my baby (he said as he tapped her breast)

Kassy giggled yet again even as the Arab man walked away. She then got into the front passenger seat, looked at me with a broad smile on her face and said: A to the Zee. Fine boy toh bad. Lets go home

I checked the clock on my dashboard. It read 3:35am. I turned to her and asked: how about the others?

They will meet us later. (she said smiling even as she proceeded to rub the back of my head with her left hand)

Kassy: A Zed, A Zed – fiiiiinnnnee boy.

My Name is A-Zed: Episode 2 Teaser

Ahn Ahn. You no dey look where you dey go

Ha. Please I’m sorry, please don’t be annoyed.

Caught up in my thoughts, I hadn’t looked in front of me and I had barged into one of the girls who stood displaying her wares for prospective customers. She was one of the artificially light skinned ones.  Medium height, plus sized, heavily made-up, especially with the red lipstick and very loosely dressed. As I tried to apologize, a similarly dressed but much more fatter girl came out of nowhere laughing.

The fat one: Why you just dey shout like that na

Red lips: Why I no go shout, she as he just hit me carry body touch all my goody goody (she said, as she adjusted her very transparent bra)

The fat one: But no be so dem dey do (she moved closer towards me). You know wether na first time customer (standing infront of me). Fine boy, you wan fuck? You want us to show you a good time? (she said with the most ridiculous forced American accent I’d ever heard)

What becomes of A-Zed in this new world he has found himself, find out 10:00am 12/11/10 on an all new My Name is A-Zed!

The Marcus School

Eyes from Tolu
Lips from Jennifer
Face… hmm… definitely Sarah
Hips from Oge
The Booty has to be Shola
Leg’s from Ngozi
Jugs from Aisha (But the nipples can come from Lizzy)
Feet…nails and even fingers from Yetunde
Hair. Hmmm… I think Jennifer too
Yeah, I think that about does it. She’ll work just fine….hmm….wait, wait, what about:
Voice?
Kissing abilities?
Bed skills?
Cooking skills?
Confidence?
Attitude issues?

Sit most guys down and ask them who their perfect/near-perfect gurl would be and they’d probably say stuff like what you have up there. Well, some might run through names of gurls they’ve been involved with in the past while others will form this near-perfect voltron using lions made from celebs such as Nicki, Halle…. you get the point.

As a kid, I’d say I grew up really fast. By the time I was ten I knew a lot of stuff many sixteen year olds didn’t know (thanks or no thanks to my older cousins who I grew up with). One of the movies I saw many many times before I turned ten was Eddie Murphy’s Boomerang. Now, for those who haven’t seen Boomerang, I’ve included a trailer, well, it was the only one I could find online but trust me, it didn’t do the movie justice. If you’ve seen or heard about it, let your mind travel back to the early 90’s and imagine a young boy watching the movie over and over again.

 

I loved Marcus, Eddie Murphy’s character. No, I idolized him. I wanted to be able to run through gurls the way he did all in the process of finding my “ Miss near perfect” and for most of my early dealings with members of the opposite sex, I took cues from him. I had the picture of this perfect gurl I wanted and once she didn’t fit – perfectly, it was on to the next one. Some of you are probably wondering, what’s he talking about, isn’t that what we all do? Well, sometimes, when you engage a friend in a conversation about a near miss (a err… “thing” that almost led to a relationship), they’ll probably give reasons like, well, she’s an AS and I’m also one, or maybe my mom doesn’t like her or something almost reasonable.

There were times, I asked myself that question and all I came up with was, her toes look funny, she’s gap-toothed, her laugh sounds funny, we took a picture together and I didn’t like it or wait for this….. her name doesn’t sound good with my surname. Crazy? Well, it took me a long time to realize just how crazy some of these excuses were… why? Cause around some guys (depending on the type of friends you keep) it would sound absolutely normal.

In Boomerang, Eddie Murphy ended up with Halle Berry but in real life, that never happens. Most times when you see a reasonably good looking guy married to a chic who’s far from “good looking” (yes, we are all beautiful in our own ways but we can’t all be beauty queens), he’s most likely to be a member of “The Marcus School”.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have preferences and certain ideals you look out for in members of the opposite sex (yes, this doesn’t only apply to guys), but the truth is, the possibility of you finding that guy or gurl who fits perfectly the description of your ideal partner is almost negligible; especially in the world we live in today.

Am I asking you to compromise? Well, somewhat. The question is what to compromise on. Don’t train your mind to believe you can’t get involved with people from one part of the country. Neither will hooking up with someone who isn’t light skinned kill you. Think of the 80:20 approach, for some, 60:40….. if  60% of what you want is present and the remaining 40 is made up of stuff you can live with then that might just be good enough.

Some might disagree with me on this one but I guess that’s why we are here.. have your say in the comment box below. Have a great week guys….

My name is A-Zed: Episode 1

Hey guys, today I’m glad to introduce a new category. This was totally unplanned but I think y’all will come to love it. Posts under  this category will pop up from time to time so enjoy the err…season premiere … lol ….

Eight o clock and I still haven’t made one kobo today. Perhaps I should have just settled for that 1k to festac. Oh Lord, please let something come up, I cant possibly survive one more week without buying Dr. Okeke’s textbook. I’m sure he wont even let me into his class. But maybe I can come up with a good excuse – ha, I must have used them all. Mama’s health can’t possibly get worse than it already is, maybe I’ll just tell him she had a heart attack, a near-death one that also lead to a stroke and ….

Heysssssss – TAXI! TAXI!
Good Evening..
Yes, Badore.
For which side ma?
You don’t know Badore, after Ajah?
Em I don’t.
Nevermind then….
No, no, I can go ma, just direct me
How much?

(After Ajah, at 8pm, from Yaba, that’s almost three hours on the road and I still have to make it back in time to finish my EEG201 assignment and get fuel….
Are you not going?
Two thousand ma.
Two thousand?
Yes ma.

With that the twenty something looking, slightly plum and very light-skinned lady turned around and gestured at a similarly young girl but much slimmer and much more attractive who I hadn’t noticed. She had with her a small leather travel bag which she gracefully carried as she made her way to the car.
From the moment they both got in, they buried their heads into their phones – probably those blackberries I see a lot of people going around with on campus. Occasionally, each one would look up, giggle and turn to look at the other – and they say this isn’t partial insanity. Sabo – Alagomeji – Third mainland was free, thank God. As I approached Lekki phase one, the big one burst out into wild laughter that got me wondering what kind of joke she must have read off that thing.

The skinny one: Kasandra wish one na. This one wey you just dey laff like say chop winsh.
The big one (still laughing), she hands her phone to the skinny one: You sef take read am.

A few seconds later the skinny one also bursts into wild laughter. As much as I try to stay out of my passengers business, I was curious about this. I wanted to hear this ridiculously funny joke.
The skinny one: This stupid man think say you no dey watch news. How many months now dem don reverse him election wey he still dey behave like say him dey state house.

The big one: See me see trouble oh.
The Skinny one: See, make I just tell you my own, wetha he dey or he no dey the price na still the same
The fat one: wish kain same. Mscheeeew. When him successor don raise stakes. Ik per gurl or nothing.
They both laugh and almost simultaneously return to typing on their phones. “1k per girl” I didn’t even want to imagine what that meant. It could mean all sorts of bad or even good things. That was one of my least problems, it was now past nine and we just went past Lekki phase two. The traffic was there but was moving.
As I watch several hawkers walk past us in traffic displaying various snacks, my stomach grumbled and rumbled but I turned my mind to my assignment – every dime I had now had to go into savings for Dr. Okeke’s textbook. A few minutes after that, the big one beckoned to one of the Gala hawkers. The boy came running.
The big one: Debby you go chop?
The skinny one: Kassy stop all this thing na, I don tell you say Chris talk say make I dey watch my weight. Na you dey always tempt me with all these nonsense.
The big one: (laughing) No be only watch weight, lepa like you. Biko, no vex, so na bad thing say I offer you food now, God go deliver you. Abeg bring four gala.

FOUR! I couldn’t help taking a look at her through my rare view mirror. And it seemed my stomach was also interested in the conversation as it grumbled once again, louder this time. So loud, I think the big one heard. She turned to look at me at that point and said:

The big one: Abi you sef no mind?
Me: Err.. I’m ok ma.
The big one: Ah, you sef dey watch your weight abi na over fine boys dey worry you. Better collect and eat. Give him two and call that malt boy for me.

She proceeded to buy two cans of malta guiness for both of us and I thanked her over and over again. She didn’t know she had just saved my life.

At about 10:30pm, we got to the Badore turning with the help of directions provided by the big one. A few minutes later we got to the front of an unpainted building in a somewhat scarcely populated area. I wondered if I could even find my way out of there but I guess I’ll cross that bridge later. Both ladies made their way out of the car and instead of proceeding to pay me, the big one turned around and said:

Ehen, just wait for us, we’ll be out soon. You’ll take us to V.I.

EHN! V what? Before I could even speak up to respond, they had disappeared into the compounds black gate. V.I? At almost 11pm. I have died today. I still have my assignment and I have to get enough rest before my 8am lecture tomorrow. This is why I never take these Island trips. Always one drama after the other. I only pray they just want to change and come back out.

10:45pm

11:00pm

11:15pm

11:30pm

I can’t take this anymore. I need to get out of here. I proceeded to knock on the gate but just then, I noticed a couple of vigilante patrol men coming my way. I went back into my car and started the engine. When they got to me, I noticed they had on all black attires with red headbands – OPC. One of them peered into the car.

OPC man1: Ekaale o (Good Evening)
Me: Ekaale Sir
OPC man1: Se iwo nikan lo wa ni abi awon iyoku e nko? (Did you come alone or are there more of you?)
Me: Ehn. Sir, I’m just a taxi driver, I’m waiting for some ladies I brought here

OPC man1 started to laugh and turned to look at the other man. They both laughed for a while and then the second man looked at me and asked me to come out of the car. In fear, I came out wondering what was going to happen.

OPC man2: Na people like you dey spoil this our country. See young boy like you, you go pretend say you be taxi driver come dey look for house wey you fit sneak inside go thief for night
Me: Err… Me? Sneak? Thief? Nooo oh sir there  ….
OPC man1: Will you sharrap there. You think say we no see you when you wan jack that gate. Na God catch you today.

In one swift move, OPC man2 swept me off my feet and held both of my hands behind my back.

Me: Sir, ejo ejo… mi o se nkan kan. Passenger ni mo gbe wa. (sir, please, please, I’ve done nothing wrong, I only brought passengers here)
OPC man1: O ri ole ara e, o ti e gbo Yoruba o wa n so oyinbo. (look at this thief, he can even speak yoruba and he was speaking English)
OPC man2: You go talk all that one for cell. Oya, lets go.

OPC man2 began dragging me away and just then, the black gate opened and out came four young ladies, among them, the big and the skinny one.

The big one: Baba Paro wetin be all this one now. Una don come this night again. Wetin this man do una now ehn, wetin.
One of the other ladies: No mind them. Na only small boys dem fit they use show power. Una go talk say una no know say na taxi man.
OPC Man1: ehn ehn ehn… sharrap there. Everyone here fit talk but you this dirty one with that your kpekpeye mouth just shutup.
Kpekpeye girl: Ehn, na who be kpekpeye girl. See this old shameless man.

She moved forward towards OPC man1 and it was then I saw what she was wearing – err pretty much nothing. Underwear? Bikini? I don’t even know how to describe it. She had on these ridiculously high heels which made it hard for her to walk and she also help something that looked like a jacket or something in the other hand. Before she could get to us, the skinny one held her back and told her to calm down. She then came towards us and spoke in hushed tones to OPC man2 who then let go of me. The girls then made their way into the car where I already sat as I had moved swiftly immediately I was released. In a matter of seconds I started the car and began to drive off even as I noticed OPC man1 hurling curses at kpekpeye girl.

The big one sat in front with me while the other three sat behind. All the bottled up anger in me had vanished and as I check the clock on my dashboard which read 12:13am, all I wanted to do was just get back to my room in school. Just then, I felt a hand on my face. I flinched a bit and then noticed it was the big one; her left hand was rubbing the back of my neck and then she said:

The big one: Eh yah, fine boy, shey dey no too rough you sha.
Me: I’m ok ma.
The big one: (laughing) Ma ke? Na who be ma. (she turned to look at the others who were also laughing). Abeg oh, my name is Kasandra, Kassy for short.
Me: Thank you …. Kassy. I said, even as I eased her hand off my neck.

It was at this point that I first took a glance at my rear view mirror to take a proper look at my passengers. The skinny one sat directly behind me. She had on something that looked like a sleeveless short black dress, the ones they call boob tubes. Simply but beautiful. The other two gurls that sat beside her were clearly the opposite. The girl who sat in the middle was of average size, light skinned and heavily madeup.

She had on some sort of see-through/netty red material. Beneath which she had on silky black underwear. Kpekpeye girl sat behind the fat one and even though she now had on her jacket, I still couldn’t bring myself to understand why anyone would dress like that to a club- oh yes, I figured they were one of those party club heads I hear about in school. What’s my own, as long as they pay me for my trouble and I get back to school in one piece.

12:40am I went past the Mobil building back into V.I and I asked the big one, Kassy where we were heading.
The big one: Adeyemo Alakija she said, turning to look at the others for confirmation. The netty one replied yes. In a few minutes I turned off Ozumba and Kassy asked me to go in through Idowu Taylor. As I turned back into Adeyemo Alakija, I noticed it was about 12:50am, I also noticed a handful or emm.. gurls of the night sprinkled alongside the road. Wow. I had never been on the Island this late since I came to Lagos two years ago. For a second I was happy I had obeyed Mamas instructions as regards staying out late – well, up until now that is.

The big one: You can park here.

She pointed to a dimly lit spot opposite a brightly lit building with a signage that simply read “YNot”. I noticed a lot of activity at the entrance of the building – hefty looking men, probably bouncers, guys and a handful of girls walking into the building. Hmm.. this must be one of the happening clubs, I thought to myself as I parked. The girls got out and this time, I made sure I also got out and stood by my door. The big one walked towards me even as the others walked towards the YNot building.

The big one: Fine Boy, sorry again about those men. Wetin be your name sef.

Me: My name? My name is Azeez.
The big one: Azeez? No o… I will call you A-Zed. Don’t you like that? Fine boy like you should have fine name. Ok, so we’re going to be inside for a while. Shey you’ll wait for us so when we’re done you’ll take us back.
Me: Ha.. err.. Kassy, I have another appointment, I really have to…

As I tried to find the right words, she produced a purse from only God knows where and brought out some notes from it which she stuffed into my hands. I looked down and noticed they were all one thousand notes. My estimation? About 8 of them. Yekpa.

The big one: Look, you are a fine boy, you should be taken care of even while you’re working. Take that and go and find something to eat somewhere. We will soon be out.

With that she walked swiftly into the YNot building. On closer examination, I realized she had given me ten thousand naira. TEN THOUSAND NAIRA. Mogbe.

What women want?

To begin with, if you came here looking for answers to the question posed in the post title, I’m sorry, but you can stop reading now. Yes, now. Truth is, if I knew the answer to this question, I would be either, (a), very rich, or (b), very dead. Seeing that I’m neither, you can rest easy knowing I’m just as confused as you are.

That being said, I shelved my initially planned post for this cause I was out with a bunch of friends on Saturday and on our way home, whilst stuck in traffic, conversation swayed to this topic. What really got me thinking was how everyone seemed to have their own opinion but before we arrived at our destination, one opinion seemed to have towered above the others.
So what do guys think women want?

A: Attention
As far as I’m concerned every woman just wants and needs the right amount of attention for her. Yes, it’s not the same for all women. Some are definitely more independent that others. While some want you calling them every chance you get, others just need to know that you’re alive. Does it have anything to do with age, upbringing, education or level of exposure? Probably. More like definitely. I don’t think most working women would require the same amount of attention as women still in the university.

Well, they shouldn’t, except for special cases where her work isn’t so demanding and she has so much time to kill. The bottom-line is, a simple phone call/text message/BBM message (depending on the level of the relationship) just to say good morning, one to see how the day is going in the afternoon and one last one (preferably a phone call this time) to wrap up the day, goes a long way. A lot of women hate the fact that guys only pay them attention when they want that poom poom. Even if that’s the plan, please try not to make it so obvious. Don’t call her out of the blues today and ask for her to come over to your crib the next day (well, except she’s err.. that kinda gurl).

B: Comfort
I just think it all boils down to comfort. Give a girl what she needs, when she needs it (maybe how too ☺) and you have her sprung. Agreed, it could be very costly depending on your taste in women. In fact, I hear the going rate for university gurls nowadays is no joke. Gone are the days when you just buy them a drink at Insomnia, have an amazing night and leave some change for them to get home with. Nowadays, a year two unilag gurl lets you know from the get go that she has to leave your transaction with a Bold 3 – nothing less.

However, this is what things have come to. Call it buying happiness or love or whatever but that’s reality. You’ve got to pay your way through the many movies at the cinema, the many lunch and dinner dates, the several comedy and music shows, don’t forget credit, money for fuel when you go pick her up and sometimes food and gifts for her friends too.

C: Future Security
Is this really that hard? I mean, if I was a woman I would want only one thing too: to secure my future. Period. She could go at it alone but since society and culture have more or less made it compulsory for her to get married, she might as well pick a man that would help further secure this future. Before you get all defensive and liken this to Mr. B above, selecting a man for the purpose of future security doesn’t always have to mean picking the currently richest guy on your case. Women have a gift some of them don’t even know. A woman can meet a guy for the first time, look into his eyes and see years into his future. Every woman can smell prospects from a mile away and that’s what they want.

She doesn’t event care if the wedding isn’t the one she dreamt of as a little gurl, when things are right, she could have another one. They even have a name for it (renewal of vows). She might not have a car as at the time of the wedding, but she knows that Bentley GT is coming. And for her kids, the best of the best of the best education. Trust me, if you have all of this covered, she will become totally blind to every other thing you do.

D: Control
Well, everyone has given their opinions and I guess I pretty much agree in one way or the other with all of you. But you see, all that you guys have said boils down to one thing – control. Every woman wants control over her man, over her brother and her son. Now when I say control, some might be quick to think of it as power. Well, power, yes, but not in the obvious (or manly) form. If a woman snaps her fingers and three men bark, that’s probably jazz. The kind of control I’m talking about is subliminal. The type some mothers use to convince their sons to take other wives or the type a wife uses to get her husband to pay for things without her asking.

This control is systematically gained over a period of time (the how? Is the big question here).  Some have said it’s through good sex, others have said through good food. I honestly do not know. But, women from the older generations learnt how to gain this control and also keep it. This is what women from our generation haven’t mastered, hence the huge amount of divorces out there.  I’ll give you an example:

A wife picks up her husbands BB and sees a message from him to another woman:

“please don’t break my heart”.

Upon returning, she questions her husband about the message. Husband responds and says:

“Its nothing really. Why all the fuss”.

Wife continues to pester husband and he says:

“but woman, why are you disturbing me, you know I’m naturally promiscuous, you’ve seen me with several other women before and you have never complained so what then is the issue this time”?

Wife answers:

I don’t give a damn about your other women. It’s her I want to know, and how come she has you talking about heartbreak.

This little excerpt was a true-life story. I’ve heard several others where women openly admit to knowing about their husbands cheating but really don’t care as long as they come back home to them. Now that’s control.

Well, so, there you go people (even though there was a lil’ voice between C and D that said: They just want to rip your heart out of your ass). Like I said, I really don’t have an answer to this question so maybe you can help me out, do you think any of my friends are right or you have your own answer, please let me know.  Cheers.

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