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Chapter 1:The houseboy
Nigeria hadn’t been my first choice for an assignment, and it certainly hadn’t been my wife’s. In fact she said that it was the last place on earth that she had wanted to go to. I pointed out that there were plenty of places more dangerous, and with worse socio-economic problems than Nigeria, but that didn’t seem to help. The problem was that, for an up and coming junior executive such as myself, the job was simply too good an opportunity to pass up.

My wife had always been a clingy woman. Even when we were dating. She was not a particularly adventurous, or social person, preferring a steady man and a few good friends to the social butterfly network that many of the corporate wives that the oil company seemed to attract. Wealthy little socialites that seemed to exist for fashionable little gatherings organised by either the LA or New York offices. She was an attractive, five-five who knew how to dress well and kept her blonde wavy hair long, however she often wore an innocent yet worried look on her face, which had endeared me to her and brought out a defensive, paternal streak in me.

Jane was from a bit of a conservative background, an only baby she had been the apple of her daddy’s eyes until he had died. That was just before she met me and I had often thought that perhaps she had been looking to replace the strong masculine figure in her life. We married fairly quickly after we were introduced by one of her cousins, a former colleague at one of the company socials. I often felt that perhaps there had been a slight hint of disappointment that I wasn’t always capable of giving her the attention that she was used and that our sex life had suffered for it. None the less she still craved attention from me and I gave her as much time as I possibly could.

She had seen the sense in the move, even if emotionally neither of us thought she wasn’t ready for it. Travel was organised, a small walled villa was organised in the port city of Calabar close to the oil rich eastern districts of Nigeria were the company was establishing an office.

There were three couples travelling, all of us up and coming young execs hoping to make a name for ourselves in the competitive business of emerging markets. Calabar was an intense place to live. We soon discovered what heat meant, what Aibu meant and why this was such a lucrative contract. Jane became a recluse overnight. Sarah and Pippa, the wives of the other two Americans would be chauffeured around to our little compound every few days and they would talk over coffee, generally to reinforce their stereotypes and various fears they held at being in this ‘horrible little place that no American should have to be in.’

Two months later Pippa’s house was broken into and robbed. Not too much was taken but the place was messed up. Pippa and her husband left two later after staying in a hotel down town for the night, preferring to go back to the US without a job.. Sarah and her husband left that weekend, having secured a transfer in the company, albeit to a lower role.

This series of events were to change everything for Jane and myself. Having her home violated had always been one of Jane’s biggest fears. Firstly, this was the best opportunity of my career, secondly, I knew how she would react when I told her the news. I prepared my case on the

Jane had finally agreed that if we could arrange appropriate security then we would stay. If she was satisfied then she wouldn’t insist we go home, and thus let me take over the reigns of my own regional department and the tender age of 28.

The new role meant that we could now afford a more spacious, upmarket villa with its own pool and spacious, high-walled garden. Security cameras and razor wire round the top. The windows were blacked out and the garden was covered with a @@@. A security guard was the final, yet most difficult requirement.

We saw 22 different men come. Most of them I didn’t trust myself to be honest, however there were none who were up to Jane’s impossibly high standards and expectations. I had all but given up, and we had to spend a further week in the hotel we had moved into. Then we had a bold from the blue. One of the managers of the Pilton told us about a security guard who was back in the market after taking a bullet for his previous employer. He had been a Nigerian singer who had employed him and him alone, dispensing with the usual vast entourage that many of his contemporaries had employed. He had been shot three times but had successfully brought down five men who had attempted to kidnap him. Jane’s eyes widened. She looked impressed and with the manger’s help we finally managed to track him down.

Mohammed was huge. He must have been six-three but his shoulders were extremely wide. He still nursed a bandage around his chest and occasionally winced with pain. We didn’t so much interview him – we seemed to automatically know that he was the right man for the job. Instead we gave him instructions, toured the house with him. He seemed to take it all in. Speaking little and with single words when necessary. He wasn’t a talker. No bullshit with this one. I could automatically tell from his demeanour and facial expressions exactly what sort of man he was. Innocence, sincerity and seriousness poured from his youthful eyes. I read from his profile that he had been an orphan raised in the north of the country. He had been involved in a militia as a boy during some of the troubles that occasionally passed up there before being disarmed by a UN peace force that tried to send him to school. He seemed to have developed strong, almost parental attachments with a number of his former employees, which had made him so devoted. A northern politician, who had died of a heart attack in his early sixties. The eldest son of a senior military officer who had been studying his doctoral degree in Abuja, who had dispensed with him after university, and finally the singer. A man had gained a vast fortune over his twenty year career but had been forced to take on other security measures whilst Mohammed recovered in hospital.

The question did briefly go through my head about what nature of relationship would he form with our little family, however I was too glad to have found somebody that Jane was happy with, which would allow me the opportunity and freedom to build my career.

Chapter 2: