My Ivorian friend looked at me with hurt in his eyes. “I thought you were my friend.” The nephew handed him a bowl of water, and without saying anything further, the Ivorian pulled a syringe from the trunk, squirted something into the water and all in the same motion plucked one sheet of bills and placed it in the water.

We all watched as he pushed the sheet into the water, and then began to swirl it around and crumple it as it began to soak up moisture. Slowly, one at a time, each of the four bills that made up the sheet began to separate from the others until there were four separate bills.

The Ivorian requested a dry cloth, which the nephew promptly produced from the next room. He pulled the first crumpled sheet from the water, smoothed it out and dried it off, first one side and then the next, as if this was the most natural thing to be doing with money. He handed the sheet to Mr. Johnson, who took his new treasure and began to admire it, holding it up to the light, looking at first one side and then the other.

Soon a second bill was wiped dry and was handed to the nephew, who followed his uncle’s lead, giving this bill the most serious examination. The third bill was dried and handed to me. I had to admit that it had a look of authenticity about it and I wracked my brain to remember the various tell tale signs used to determine a real from a counterfeit bill.

The 8 Million Dollar BMW

I did not put too much effort into remembering. There were other much more compelling reasons for me to question this apparent windfall. Once again, I reminded the nephew that he should be alerting the authorities. However by this time, he and his uncle seemed  quite satisfied that they each held in their hands true American bills, each worth one hundred US dollars. “These are real”, Mr Johnson enthused with apparent glee, his nephew nodding in fervant agreement.

It was at that moment that I realized that the Ivorian had accomplices. I rose from my seat, “Well, gentlemen, I think I will be leaving now” I injected. I started for the door, wondering if I would be challenged as I passed in front of the nephew.

“But what about our business? What about the car?” the uncle responded.

“Well, the car is still for sale and if you can bring me cash on a day that we can take it to a bank to guarantee that the money is authentic then we can talk business.”

The uncle expressed his surprise, “What are you saying? Are you saying that we would give you false money?”

“That is not what I am saying at all,” I edged closer to the door and the nephew followed.

“Are you accusing us of being thieves?” he shouted.

By this time I was beside my car and I remembered that I was locked in the compound. I  looked over to the watchman, “Wofa, mepa wo kyew, can you open the gate?” As soon as he started towards the gate I was in the car and turning the key. The compound was too small to allow me to turn around. I backed out carefully over the threshold, hoping my car would not get hung up on anything.

Moments later, I was through the gate and on my way out of the back alley, still not willing to look in the mirror because I did not know what I would see. Another hundred yards and I was back onto the paved street and moving away as quickly as the traffic would allow me. The area was unfamiliar to me and I was forced to stop to ask directions, all the while watching the rear view mirror to see if the car with the dealer plates was following. Five minutes and several blocks later, I was breathing easier, relieved to be 8 million dollars the poorer!

Part 3 to follow