The sound of the window shattering wouldn’t have been heard in the loudness of the home theatre but the stone had danced right to their legs, startling most especially Michael. When they looked up at the direction from where the stone had come, they saw the window broken, shards of glass everywhere; someone had thrown a stone.
It was Majeed who ran out first, others followed him and there was the boy at the porch of their house, a catapult in his hand, laughing.
“Ayé e dè ma bàjé ni,” cursed Majeed as he rushed across the lawn on him, but the boy only jumped inside their house and locked the door from the inside. So Majeed began to hit the door.
“Majeed! It’s okay! Just leave him alone, we can replace it,” urged Michael.
“No, Michael, that’s not how we train children here, I’m going to fuck this boy up today.” He continued to bang on the door until it opened and the plump short man who Majeed had seen with the bottle of water the other day came out looking confused. The first accented “Wetin happen?” he said gave him off as an Ibo man.
“Look at my window, over there! Tha—that one! Look…” he was very angry. “A boy from this house shot a stone at it with a catapult. He broke that window with a catapult and still laughed when we saw him.”
The man’s facial expression changed as he shook his head and wailed, “Lucky! Lucky! Lucky, are you deaf?”
Then came the shaky “Sir” from far inside the house.
“Come out here! Idiot boy! Onyezuzu!”
So came the boy, sagging his shorts this time around; military material.
“Sir?” he said, scratching the back of his head.
“What happened? You break their window or you no break am?”
“Huh… about that… I—I…”
“E be like say something dey worry your head. You no fit talk? If I slap your face here ehn, na for inside Atlantic ocean you go find yourself.”
Olawunmi wanted to laugh at this point but the man looked serious enough, she wouldn’t want to be rude to him. The part where a slap would throw someone from Lekki to Atlantic Ocean amused her.
“They is too noisy in this hood and—”
“Shut up! What is hood?”
“Pop, they just too noisy, that’s all. I is… I’m fed up. Chiny has exam pop… and she ain’t finding reading easy. She told me! So I buzzed these guys up, told them, but they just found me funny, jes like that, so I showed them I ain’t no Charlie Chaplin.”
“So, you broke their window, is that right?”
“Yes, that’s right, I maced their ass.”
“I go wound this boy today,” swore Majeed.
“Calm down gentleman, you see, it’s because of you that I come outside now. We’re neighbours, we no suppose dey fight like this.”
Just then the door opened and a woman came out, looking at their faces one after the other.
“This is my wife. Mama Bella. Come see wetin your son don do again. Look that window, no, that side, you see am? You see am? Na your son break am because dem dey play music.”
Mama Bella looked everyone up and down, and then smiled at Michael, waved his hand at him to say hi, quite seductively. Her breasts were pushed up and half of their mass was revealed. She was in bump shorts and although she wasn’t young, she looked quite eye-catching.
“I am Lucky’s mum and I am the mother of this great Nwanyanwu family. You can call me Aunt Janet, what’s up y’all?” she blew the gum she was chewing and made an explosive noise with it.
“Mama Bella, your son broke their—”
“I know—I know. I don’t like repetitions. Òyìnbó, what’s your name?”
Michael must have known he was the one being called òyìnbó, so he said his name was Michael, Michael Livingstone and that she could call him Michael.
“Michael? You mean like Michael Scoffield in Prison Break?”
“Poor sweet Michael, Prison Break is a TV series.”
“Oh it is?”
“Yes, and Michael Scoffield is a major character in it.”
“Yes, I guess yes then, like Michael Scoffield, yes.”
Mama Bella smiled then. “Me son break you window?”
They nodded in rhythm, astonished with the way she spoke English.
“His pop’s gonna mace his ass now, you’ll see. But to be candid, you too was making too much noise with that tape of yours, wasn’t you? I was gonna come and break it with my baseball bat sometime soon and probably beat the hell out of y’all but… I didn’t know you’ve got a handsome Michael in your house.”
“Mama Bella!” shrieked Papa Bella.
Then a girl appeared at the door behind them all, eyes looking domineering like an Egyptian queen’s. She had moderately sized body with tiny lips curved at the edges, a black dot on the right side of her upper lip, birthmark most assuredly. She’s got moderately sized bosom too and bump shorts like her mother’s sat firmly on her skin, below a sleeveless undergarment revealing the roots of her cleavage. She wasn’t looking like a nice person but she was beautiful. The moment Majeed saw her, the frowns on his face began to wane.
“Mum, you have a call,” she reported in a normal girl’s voice and handed a phone to Mama Bella.
She collected the phone, screamed at whoever was calling, cut the call and returned the phone to the girl. “Chinyere,” she said, “we was just talking to our neighbours about their noise, and they has promised to behave so you can read happily.”
The girl’s eyes went up and she looked at Michael first, found a smiling face, at Majeed, another smiling face, and then at Olawunmi, attacking looks as if they had had a disagreement over something before. She went back inside after the brief survey and closed the door gently behind her.
“Please, I’m doing something inside. I’ll invite you over tomorrow for dinner, will you come?” asked Mama Bella.
“What’s wrong with y’all? Will you come or not?”
“We’ll come, definitely. Thanks Mama…”
“Poor sweet Michael, just call me Janet, okay?”
“Okay, Janet. Thanks. We’d be excited.”
“I am gonna go back inside now. Uncle John will punish Lucky for his… erm, glass breaking? And you guys better change, I am your biggest problem if you don’t. Okay, Michael?”
She went inside, showing off her bum’s massiveness.
“So, gentlemen, sorry for everything, I apologize. He no go do such thing again. Now Lucky, go grab some buckets for bathroom and wash my car.”
They all looked at the direction he had pointed, no wonder they didn’t notice any car there. It was an old Volvo car, cruelly panel beaten. Papa Bella offered to repair the window for them but Michael said he shouldn’t bother, that he was gonna have it repaired. So they left the great Nwanyawus and returned to their flat.
Few minutes later, Lucky came out with water-filled buckets, he had changed into a white vest at the back of which the picture of a clenched hand raising the middle finger was printed. It was Olawunmi who firstly saw him and called Majeed to come and see.
Olawunmi had asked, “What is that can in his hand?”
And Majeed had responded astonishingly after looking, “It’s Trophy! That boy is drinking beer?”
They crowded at the window and watched him in amazement.
* * *
President David Imoukhuede just came off the phone with his sister, Deborah who was the Nigerian Ambassador to the United States of America. For months now, the president had begun to regret ever making Deborah an ambassador; she had instead of supporting him protested against every decision David had make concerning the China-US politics, and she was quite bolshie.
The Chief of Staff to the President, Bolarinwa Olabode had called the president just then to inform him that Director John Penn of the CIA was at the Aso Rock to see him.
“Alone?” David had enquired anxiously, never expecting to see him without Bankole Ayotomide, the NIA Director by his side.
“Yes, on his own,” Bolarinwa had responded in one of his stressing undertones.
“Come with him. I can’t be alone with…”
“I understand sir,” he had said and cradled the phone.
In a minute, John emerged at the president’s office in Bolarinwa’s company and progressed inwards to shake the president’s extended hand.
“Have your seats,” directed the president and John sat tamely.
John looked over his shoulder to see if the Chief of Staff was still standing behind him but just then when the president asked him to take the other seat too, John knew the president wasn’t going to send Bolarinwa out for him.
“Mr. President,” John said finally. “I know you probably would expect me to have phoned you instead of coming here but—”
“No, I expect you to have called Abubakr but it’s okay, you’re here now.”
“I apologize sir, but… this may sound resoundingly funny but I must tell you, I don’t really trust people, especially people of certain military statuses. With my experience, they’re always the ones behind… evil plots. I trust only you and that’s why I’m only going to reveal info that matter to you alone.”
“But I’m confused, what am I to do with such info if I can’t tell my military chiefs, wield a weapon myself and go after the criminal? Or did I get you wrong?”
“We’ll involve them, we definitely will. All I’m saying sir is that I seek your authorization first before I share any intelligence. Francis Whyte is not just any criminal, he’s a powerful man with enough resources to assassinate anyone.”
“The Ikeja police station killing. We have gone down there to see what happened and I’ve gathered some white men had been seen wandering around the missing man’s house before the incident actually happened. Three police officers dead in a single day, one of them killed in the station itself, this is not something that would normally go down in a country like Nigeria unless someone like Francis is in it. And I tell you sir, all these are just distractions to get us busy beating about the bush, he is here for something more.”
“And Director Penn, deducing from what you have said, I figured you’re proposing that this Francis man is connected to the Ikeja police killing?”
“Yes, it’s a pattern we know only too well.”
“So what do we think now?”
“I actually should’ve said this first but the reason why I came is originally to tell you that we’ve found him.”
“You found him already?” David leaned forward in his seat.
“Yes sir, we know where he is. We’ve found him.”
“Lagos. And… sir, with due respect, I’m not supposed to divulge the details in the presence of someone without the clearance to…”
“Are you kidding me Director Penn? I’m the Chief of St—”
“It’s okay, Bolarinwa. Let him do his job as protocol commands him. Is that all?”
“No sir. Your Excellency, I want you to lift Lt. General Ali off the direct supervision role, our chances of success can only be stably increased if the CIA alone performs this operation, only with the help of the NIA alone.”
“But why would you want that?”
“We don’t trust him.”
“I hate to break it to you Director Penn but he doesn’t trust you either, so, it’s a balanced scale. We can’t lift our eyes off you if truly you’re here for our safety, can we? Isn’t it most sensible that to protect you, we must monitor you? You surely can’t know our land more than we do, can you?”
“I’m a professional security per—”
“The answer is no, Director Penn. We can’t remove the Chief of Defense Staff off your radar. He’s a professional security person too and he’ll do nothing but protect you. I trust him.”
“Okay then. I have to catch a Lagos flight now. We’re locked on him. We’ll close in as soon as possible.”
“We trust you will.”
“Most assuredly, Mr. President,” he rose and saluted.
“Safe flight back to Lagos, Bolarinwa will show you out.”
“Thank you sir, I’ll be in contact soon.”
“I trust you will, Director Penn. Keep us updated.”
“Sure I will.”
He went outside with Bolarinwa. David resumed to phone calls. What would come next, nobody could guess.
...to be continued.
(C) Lord eBay (and his action series, 2017)