TTT Stories    A Triumphant Thief

A Triumphant Thief

At exactly 4:55pm that fateful Friday evening; almost close of work for Mr. Stone, a software developer with Best-Data, a multinational I.T. firm owned by his highly influential and extremely wealthy uncle Dango, a mail came in. Scanning the subject and sender, he discovered it was from Hill, his close friend and accountant that managed the finances and monetization of his new app – Daily Overlook. The mail read “Meet me around 6pm for a speedboat ride, I’ve got something very urgent to tell you”. With accelerated heart pulses and audible breaths, he wondered what could be the hush-hush from Hill. Almost immediately, he got a text message from his fiancée, Miss Fish, a medical doctor, tech enthusiastic and savvy businesswoman. The text read “Honey, I’m at my house, please we need to talk”. This invariably catalysed the free flow of hot sweat from his temples, at his back, and underneath his buttocks. What was going on? Why the almost simultaneous messages from Hill and Fish?

It all seemed perfect, the weather was cool, and the slow music touched the deepest part of his soul. Stone’s excitement could not be hidden as his face glowed. The thought of the great idea he had brought a smile to his face as he yanked the lap of the cow meat in his hand just after sipping his pepper-soup. He eagerly awaited the arrival of his friend Hill at the popular Elegushi beach restaurant in Victoria Island, metropolitan Lagos in Nigeria. Stone periodically stole a glance at his Rolex wrist watch and wondered what was delaying Hill since their appointment was slated for 6.00pm. He decided to rest his nerves a little bit as he ordered for the punch drink; delicious fruit shake combo of apple, watermelon, pineapple, blackcurrant, and cucumber. “Stone, the genius!”, someone shouted behind him. His face brightened up immediately as no one else called him that except Hill. “Hill, the great accountant”, Stone responded as they hugged and greeted. They chatted on so many things before finally discussing the business idea Stone had. Being a software developer, Stone had developed a mobile application and invested generously in it as he was absolutely sure of its success. However, he needed someone to manage the finances which he unfortunately was not knowledgeable in. This was why he called Hill, an accountant and close friend to handle the financial aspect of the business. Hill readily jumped at the proposition and told Stone that he would have no cause to regret. They both toasted to the new business relationship before they headed to their respective homes.

Six months prior to this meeting, Stone, the genius started working with Best- Data immediately he came back to Nigeria after graduating magna cum laude in Information Technology and Network Security at the Jaypee Institute of Information Technology (JIIT) in India. Five years earlier, he set the record which was still unbroken of the highest score of 98 in the entrance examination to JIIT; an inconceivable feat by a foreign student in an examination famed to be the most difficult in the world. He had turned down numerous offers from top I.T. firms all over the globe including Fortune 500 titans Alphabet (parent company of Google), Apple, Facebook, IBM, Microsoft and Oracle. This was probably due to the mouth-watering packages offered by his uncle; a Ford Mustang and Porsche Cayenne as official cars, a starting salary of $180,000, residential apartment at Banana Island (home of most of Nigeria’s multi-billionaires and crème de la crème), one-month annual vacation, comprehensive family health insurance and the promise of being CEO within five years if he excelled at work coupled with a quick grasp of business management skills.

It was Hill who took him on a comprehensive tour of Lagos within his first month of arrival when he observed a lot of potential multi-million naira businesses, opportunities, and news overlooked daily within Lagos. Immediately, the wires of his brain cells started sparking as he ruminated deeply about developing the mobile app, Daily Overlook to serve as the platform to market such businesses to potential investors, partners, and clients. The app would also inform the populace on never-to-be-missed opportunities and deliver fresh, exciting news overlooked daily in the commercial city. Hill created the revenue model whereby the app would get 5% of each business’ profits once they had 1,000 clients. Mobile ads would also contribute significantly to revenue generation.

Four months into the big idea, the app had astonishing traction and scaled far beyond the pre-launch analyses and predictions of the revered Intuitive Consulting Group, a digital business management brand boasting of alumni from Harvard, London and Lagos Business Schools with additional digital marketing certifications in Google AdWords, DoubleClick, and Inbound Hubspot. Daily Overlook had over 100,000 downloads from Google Playstore, gross revenue of over $5,000,000. Daily Overlook was a hit application; the most downloaded application in Nigeria, 99.9% of five-star reviews, 5,897 businesses (about 94% had above 1,000 clients) and average of 700 hourly downloads! This was largely due to excellent marketing strategies of staff, called “Overlookers” who literally combed all streets in Lagos to discover businesses, opportunities and report fresh news. The alluring material design, excellent quality of the app, rich content, and aggressive digital marketing strategies by Intuitive were also critical such unprecedented success for a Nigerian-based mobile app.

At the Christmas party his father organised that year, Stone sighted a young lady from the corner he sat. This lady, Miss Fish, was an epitome of beauty, classy in her purple dinner gown with silver accessories, he soon found himself walking towards her direction like a magnet pulling him, and her smile was heavenly which almost rendered him speechless. He pulled himself together and summoned courage to talk to her. One hello, two minutes of introduction, three hours of conversation led to the discovery that Fish was a true beauty with brains, a medical doctor who graduated from Stanford University overseeing Hovering Physicians, a fast-rising medical start-up providing emergency healthcare services using helicopters fully equipped with state-of-the-art gadgets to provide medical first aid by highly skilled anaesthetists, internists, cardiac nurses, physiotherapists, and pharmacists while the patients are flown to top-quality partner hospitals for more advanced medical management. Adrenaline and testosterone triggered the magical moment of falling head over heels in love.

It seemed as though God had ordered his steps when Stone discovered that she had interned at University of California’s medical division for a year. She quickly developed savvy business and technological skills when she voluntarily opted for extra four months posting to work with Doctor on Demand and Medscape (two of the best medical apps globally) in Silicon Valley, the hub of global technological innovations. She had for a long time been keen to learn the application of business and technology in healthcare. The arrangement was made possible by the founders of both apps when they discovered her keen interest during internship since they doubled as clinical consultants and academic instructors in the university. It was during that period the eureka of Hovering Physicians occurred.

Stone’s love for Fish was no infatuation as it blossomed like the bright red petals of highly photosynthesised roses. Stone gave Fish a surprise when she celebrated her birthday three months later. He drove her to popular Whispering Palms close to the Atlantic Ocean after work. He parked close to a sitting area. He closed her eyes as he led her from the car. “Sweetheart you can have your seat now”, Stone said. “Honey, finally!”, Fish mumbled with a sigh of relief wondering what Stone had up his sleeves. As she opened her eyes, it literally seemed she had died and gone to heaven. The beautiful sight of the brightly rainbow-lit garden by the seaside with the cool breeze, star- studded sky, speedboats driven expertly alongside the ocean tides, blending harmoniously with the various hues of headlamps of cars in the typical choked six-lane Lagos traffic beaming from the road beyond was breath- taking.

Stone clapped his hands and the orchestra group Hill helped him arrange began to play slowly. Based on pre-information by Stone after he had done personal research, the orchestra played various selected songs which Fish really loved from her childhood to years schooling at Stanford. A second clap and an exotic meal was served. A third clap and a cute Pomeranian with a small box tied to its neck was brought to his feet. All these had been arranged for Fish. The lovely songs ongoing in the background made gentle affectionate tears to drop slowly from the side of Fish’s eyes. Stone bent down, took out a 12-carat gold ring in the box tied to the puppy’s neck, knelt in front of her and spoke softly asking if he would be his wife. Temporarily frozen, flabbergasted, skipped heartbeats then racing and pounding, she hugged him tightly as she whispered a yes to his ears. Elatedly, he immediately carried her, swivelled thrice, then placed her gently on his laps as he fed her. They were a match made in heaven.

Wedding preparations commenced in earnest. On one of their outings, Fish suggested to Stone if she could assist in handling the finances of Daily Overlook bearing in mind that he knew close to nothing about the finances of his business. Stone agreed stating it to be his weakness. He was contented with coding and design which sincerely were no mean responsibilities. In fact, Stone had employed two trustworthy colleagues from JIIT earlier that month. Later that evening, he called Hill to inform him of the recent development. Hill’s voice sounded cold on getting the information, however Felix dismissed the thought.

By the Monday of the next week, Fish diligently studied Daily Overlook’s financial records. She noticed some discrepancies which suggested Hill was covertly diverting company funds for personal use, unduly exploiting Stone’s ignorance. She however wanted to give him the benefit of doubt. so she approached him and asked him about it. Immediately his countenance changed to a fierce look of indignation. He breathed heavily as he walked quickly towards her with so much anger. At that moment, Susan knew her life was in danger but there was no escape route. He roughly but firmly gripped her neck until she almost choked and he quietly told her that the day she reveals his secret is the day she will be dead. She needed no one to tell her that he meant what he said. She shivered in fear as she hurriedly left his office struggling to contain hot tears rushing with great trepidation at the thought of the threat. Throughout the week, Stone noticed the communication distance between his friend and fiancée. He asked them what the problem was, but they both denied stating that nothing was wrong. He kept on with the wedding plans and earnestly commenced invitations oblivious of the impending doom.

On the fateful evening of the Friday of that week, Fish was lost in thoughts, she was in a dilemma. Several questions kept popping in her mind with no one answered. She was madly in love with Stone and could not imagine life without him, but how could she get married to him with this secret that she could not reveal or should she just risk her life by telling her fiancé? She became frustrated and broke down in tears. It was at 4.55pm of this fateful day that Hill sent the mail to Stone requesting to see him by 6pm on a speedboat ride. Just as he shut down his MacBook Pro, he got another message on his iPhone 6S from his fiancée. Fortunately, she had thought against waiting for the arrival of her soon-to-be husband. This was a longer message. It read: “I want you to know that Hill has been covertly diverting revenues from Daily Overlook for personal use. Honey, please be very careful”.“What!”, Stone screamed. He quickly took a pocket-sized pistol he bought in India from a hidden briefcase as walked to his Mustang and drove at breath- taking speed to the speedboat rendezvous with Hill. He really struggled to contain his anger as he met Hill. Immediately Hill saw him, he ran and dropped on his knees weeping at Stone’s feet holding onto his navy blue denim trousers. Angrily, Stone shouted that he should stop shedding crocodile tears, quickly removing the pistol from his pocket, pointing it at Hill with his index finger firm on the trigger ready to shoot, trembling in indignation. “I know all about your financial misconduct”, Stone barked! Hill was momentarily speechless at the realization that Fish had let the cat out of the bag before he could confess his wrongdoing. He really wept, stating his reason to be because of the news that his mother had developed breast cancer which he had been financing her treatment as he was the only son. He however attended a crusade organised the previous day by a megachurch where he heard for the first time in his life that stealing was wrong. The Pastor preached so passionately, Hill believed and repented. He sincerely wept and kept asking for forgiveness from Stone. Stone could not believe his ears. He dropped to his knees beside Hill also weeping. He cried and hugged Hill. He told Hill he had forgiven him. Hill led Stone in prayers to God. They hugged again and went together to Fish’s home.

Fish was really surprised seeing from the window her fiancée and Hill walking towards her door chatting happily, even holding hands. She slapped herself twice to be jolted from the supposed dream, but it was true. Her doorbell rang. She ran downstairs to open her door to the unbelievable sight. She tried pulling Stone from Hill’s grip but she could not. Her fiancée tried to calm her by motioning that she should offer Hill a seat. He then requested that Hill repeat his testimony. It sounded incredulous in her ears. However, on listening to the account of her fiancée and the drama that ensued at the speedboat, she also broke down in tears. She wept uncontrollably till she was calmed by her heartthrob.

Hill was completely forgiven. However, an injunction was made that 30% of his salary be deducted till he repays all the monies he stole which he completed within two years. He worked tirelessly to ensure the success of his friend’s marriage standing as the best man. Now, six years have passed and Stone and Fish currently have a four-year old baby girl and six-month old baby boy. Stone is the CEO and President of Best-Data. Best-Data bought Daily Overlook which still trends as the top downloaded mobile business app. Hovering Physicians is also owned by Best-Data with Fish as its CEO. Fish is also the Chief Financial Officer of Best Data while Hill is the Chief Marketing Officer of Best-Data and Executive Vice President of Daily Overlook. Hill’s mum is still alive as a cancer survivor and has served as an inspiration for the top website, and app Cancer Fight. Stone’s trustworthy best friends from JIIT are Chief Technology Officers of Best-Data and Daily Overlook respectively.

By Emmanuel Osinaike from Nigeria