The pictures! There’s something off about the pictures Ben has sent of his sick father!
I rush back to the messaging app and tap on one of the pictures. I frown and bite my lip as I zoom in, towards his hand, on which a name and date tag are visible, right underneath a cannula.
The name is visible … as is the date. And the date reads 21/08/2017. That’s two years ago!
Ben is lying and trying to get money off me under false pretences!
I call him back, and he answers almost immediately. “You’re lying! You’re bloody lying!” I shout.
“What are you talking about?” he gasps. “Please, have you sent the money yet? My father is in a very poor state. Liz, he’s close to death unless he gets help …” His voice breaks. My, my! What an excellent actor!
“The pictures you sent me are from two years ago, you idiot!” I continue, unmoved.
“What?” Ben reverts, sounding quite normal this time and nowhere near sad or worried.
“I mean, is that even your father? Did you just pick some pictures off the internet and send them to me?”
“Liz, are you okay?” he asks. “I don’t understand what you are talking about.”
“The pictures are not from today, they are from two years ago!” I yell. “You don’t have a sick father in hospital — you’re just trying to scam me!”
“But … I took those pictures just yesterday.” “Well then you’re an excellent time-traveller!”
Silence. Then he says: “Oh … You know my sister sent me the pictures yesterday and she’s a little illiterate, so I think she just sent me the pictures she found in her phone gallery and didn’t quite read the date. But I promise you my father is sick in hospital.
“You don’t have a sister!” Now I think people in the other apartments can hear me. “You told me you’re an only child!”
“Yea … my cousin, I call her my sister because we were basically raised together. Anyway, she’s the one who took them.”
“YOU TOLD ME YOU TOOK THEM YOURSELF, YOU A**!”
Ooooh, I’ve caught him good! Now he’ll have to admit that he’s lying.
“Liz,” he says, sounding very measured and not at all in pain, “Why are you doing this? Are you okay? Are you suffering from stress or something? Because it’s not normal for someone to react to such poor news by accusing the affected of lying.
"I’m worried about you. Let me bring you lunch tomorrow and you can take all the time you need to offload your problems.”
“I don’t need to talk to you!” I yell. “Stop deflecting!”
“I’m not deflecting, but since you’ve refused to help, I do need to urgently find the money from somewhere. I mean, just because the pictures are old doesn’t mean my father isn’t in hospital. So please allow me to make some other phone calls. I’m not going to enjoy this …” his voice tapers off.
“Good luck with that!” I snap then hang up. A few seconds later a text comes in: “You were my last hope to help me save my father. Everyone else has refused to help. Now I’ll have to ask people who want things from me … You know, women like Fatma.”
“Ha!” I reply. “She won’t give it to you!”
“She will if I sleep with her,” he replies. Then he adds a sad face emoji to it. “Sigh,” he writes. “Let me sign off and do what I need to do for my daddy.”
I roll my eyes, delete the entire chat and go get ready for bed. Tomorrow will be a long day and I need to find a way to sanitise myself from this madness called Brian before I attempt to do any of the things I intend to tomorrow.
Before I sleep, I send a short message to Fatma: “I believe you,” I write. “He just called me, tried to scam me of half a million as well.”
Fatma sends back a shocked-face emoji. “Oh no, I’m so sorry Liz,” she pens. “Did you give it to him?”
I reply in the negative. “Details tomorrow. G’nite.” And on that note, I fall deep into a blissful sleep, safe and secure in the knowledge that all my money belongs to me and has not fallen into the hands of any con man.