Welcome, my dear friends. Our journey starts at Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company Limited, where every year, millions of Naira notes are printed and then issued by the CBN. The money then makes a lot of rounds and checks through banks and employees that I could elucidate on but I am sure the reader could do without.

Our story, then, starts at a bank, the name of which, really, isn’t important to the story. What is important however is the man waiting in line inside the bank to withdraw money — he doesn’t own a debit card, doesn’t trust them. If angst had a face and a body to match, it would be this man. He itches his neck and taps his leg as the line moves slower than Lagos traffic on a Monday morning. After a painful half hour, he gets his money and the cashier looks at him funny as she hands him the 1k — all the money he waited in line for. The man smiles at the note and dashes out of the bank to his home where he’s going to wait for night to reach. And then, he’ll leave for his meeting.

It’s just… my guy,” his dealer was telling him with the package in his hand. He was a man who had watched far too many American movies and wore all black and sunglasses, though, at night, traditionally, there was no sun. They stood underneath a bridge shrouded in thick darkness. “You need to slow down,” he said.

The man looked at him blankly as he scratched his neck. “What?” he asked.

“Guy, you’re taking too much too fast, ahn ahn,” the dealer said, the nylon bag still in his hand, “it’s not every day.”

“Can I just have my stuff?” The man said, bringing out the 1k from his pocket.

“Bro,” the dealer shook his head sadly, “drugs aren’t the answer.”

You sell them to me!”

“I know, I know,” the dealer said, nodding, “but me, I’ve found a different plug,” he said, winking as he handed the man the nylon bag and a pamphlet containing an invitation to a spiritual three days of worship organized by The Church of Holy Blood Ministries.

The man looked at the pamphlet, then the dealer, then the pamphlet again. Deciding that he had better things to do than stand in this conversation i.e. get high, he gave him the 1k and left the dealer who was looking at the money and smiling. He was heading to church after, tomorrow was a special blessing day and he was going to give a special offering.

In the Church of Holy Blood ministries, there is shouting, there is praising, and there is worshipping. There are also the huge amounts of money that enter the church every day. As the drug dealer nods and shouts “Amen!” as the pastor condemns all drug users to hell, he drops the 1k note into the collection box. And that’s where it stays, in the dark cramped box with its counterparts.

Pastor Philemon opens the box in the early hours of the morning and he looks to make sure nobody is around, then he shuffles the money into his bag, licking his lips. There’s a knock on the door and he stands to open it and sees Sister Brenda standing there, in all her voluptuous glory.

“Sister sister,” Pastor Philemon says, smiling as he beckons her into his office. Again, he looks around and then closes the door, locking it after.

“Pastor,” she said, tears in her eyes as she sat down, “it’s been six months since me and Jide have been trying and still, no child.”

Pastor Philemon took a seat opposite and nodded, his head down. “The devil is hard at work in your life, madam. Hard. At. Work,” he said. “We need to cast and bind him, that’s the only way.”

Sister Brenda leaned forward and so did Pastor Philemon’s eyes. “How do we do it, pastor?” She asked. “How do we cast the devil away?”

And Pastor Philemon smiled. His eyes still on her chest.

What we just did was a cleansing ceremony whispered in my ear by God himself,” Pastor Philemon was saying as he zipped up his trousers, “don’t worry, God will give you a child now. The devil has been casted out of your womb, I have made sure.” Sister Brenda wasn’t so sure but as she clasped her bra, she shrugged, who was she to argue with the Man of God?

“Come ehn,” Pastor Philemon said removing money from his wallet. “Take this one, for transport.”

And he handed her the 1k note.

Sister Brenda took the money, got to her car, and drove home where she and her husband tried again for a baby, her for the second time that day.

Jide needed cash.

He needed cash and he needed it badly. He had bet their month’s rent on the Chelsea game and the Chelsea bastards had lost. They had had one job, just one. Play and win, that was all. But no, they just had to lose, they just had to make Jide scour his apartment at 12 in the apartment, looking for money, or anything. Anything would do, all he needed was…

Didn’t Brenda say that Pastor Philemon had given her small money yesterday?

He went to the room, found her purse and brought out the 1k note and he smiled. What he needed now was to rest, to relax, to recuperate and re-plan. He needed to go on a cruise, and he knew just who could help.

They met under a dark bridge with just the darkness to cover them. The dealer was standing there, waiting. And when he saw a new customer, he smiled, reached into his pocket and brought out the pamphlet.

Anthony Azekwoh is a Nigerian-based author and artist. He has written five books so far, and is now working on the sequel to his fourth book Ṣàngó, Oya.