To read part 1 go HERE
To read part 2 go HERE
Now, he had a new family. The boys were his brothers and Olori a father figure of sorts. He didn't go anywhere without one of them being with him; most often, it was Tunji. He didn't have to worry about anything bad happening. When he got into any scrapes, the boys were there to fight with him. Every night he went to bed, he had food in his stomach.
One evening after a day of scavenging, Kola went into the communal outdoor lean-to bathroom to wash up. A nightly ritual, he liked to wash off the dirt and stench of the dump that seemed to permeate his body and clothes. One habit he'd learned from his mother. No matter how broke she'd been, she'd always insisted on cleanliness.
He unlocked the tap for the outdoor storage tank that Olori made sure was filled up whenever the water tanker came around the neighbourhood. There was no running water in this slum.
After scrubbing his body and rinsing off the soap from head to toes, he towelled off and got dressed in clean shorts and a cut-off sleeve top he wore to sleep. Then he hand-washed his dirty clothes before hanging them against the low brick fence to dry.
He grabbed the soap dish and turned to return to the room he shared with the other boys when he saw Olori talking to two men he didn't recognise.
Huddled together, the men spoke in low, rumbling voices. Although curiosity tugged at Kola to find out what they were saying, he wasn't stupid enough to eavesdrop on Olori who had shown him more kindness than anyone else had done since his mother's passing.
When the men turned to look at him, he bowed his head. Both men looked so similar they had to be brothers. Both sporting dreadlocks, they wore loose-fitting washed jeans although one wore an Arsenal football shirt while the other's blue t-shirt had a large D&G logo on it. On their feet were tan-coloured Timberland boots.
"Who is this?" the one with the Arsenal shirt asked. He looked not much older than Olori but there were more lines around his hardened dark eyes.
"This is my new boy," Olori said and crooked his fingers for Kola to come forward. "Kola, these are my friends."
"I'm Stinger," the first one spoke.
"And I'm Stone," the other said.
Kola sucked in a sharp breath. He'd heard of the two of them from the other gang members. They were indeed brothers and very notorious criminals, according to the rumours. They'd never been caught in the act or perhaps there'd never been any proof of their guilt, so they were free men. When the other boys had spoken of the two brothers, there'd been awe in their voices. Some of the gang aspired to be like them.
"He looks very sharp," Stinger said.
"Yes, he is. And a hard worker, too," Olori said proudly.
"Then perhaps he's just the right boy we need for the upcoming job," Stone said.
"I don't think he's ready for that." Olori looked at Kola with a frown.
Kola wondered what the job was about but he had the good sense to keep his mouth shut.
""I agree with Stone," Stinger said."Kola will be the perfect boy to use. He's good-looking and looks sympathetic enough."
Olori nodded. "Kola, go inside. I'll talk to you later."
He nodded and left the men, going inside to find Tunji who was with another boy, Osei.
"Yes, I know," Tunji said.
"What's going on?" Kola asked.
"Did you see the two men talking to Olori?" Tunji asked.
"Yes. Stinger and Stone," Kola said.
"That means there's a job coming up."
"But we already have jobs at the refuse dump."
"Ah, this one is a better job. There will be big money involved."
"Yes. I've had my eyes on the latest sneakers I saw in the market."
Kola made just about enough to feed with and half of it went to Olori, anyway. So he couldn’t imagine even having enough money to buy a new pair of shoes. But since he had a roof over his head, food in his belly, and the gang around him, anything else would be a bonus.
To be continued.
Come back tomorrow for more.
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