’I need you to brief me on everything you have on this case. Leave out only your name, officer,’ the army commandant said to MaryJohn.
Though they were in the commandant’s cool office, MaryJohn was irritated. There was nothing he hated more than a big ass horse charging in where it did not belong, and right now, commandant Chike was the horse with the biggest ass. The man thought he was still a kid and could still play I-am-king-and-you-are-servant with everybody he saw. That not being the case, MaryJohn did not want to look like the bad guy, whereas Chike was the bad guy here, so he answered simply, ‘I put a copy of the brief and an update of the case on your desk yesterday. Did you not get it? I am sure I also sent you one at your own station.’
Chike was a tall handsome man. He was a nice man until he became the commandant. That turned him into shit. He now had a hard mouth that MaryJohn swore would never smile. He was getting wrinkles from frowning so much. He was so dark it bordered on pitch black. The funny thing was that he was Igbo.
‘I did get it, but I wanted you to give a personal update. I want to know about those things that you did not put on the file. And who the hell is Nancy?’
MaryJohn was tempted to let the man stew in his molten magma, but he did not have time for that. Commandants were always either full of themselves or full of shit. This one was full of shit and nothing more. He decided that it was even better if he should tell the man about what Nancy requested. If he had a good head on his shoulders, he would do something about it.
‘Nancy is the girl that is helping with the case. She was the one that found out about the organism and the other things. Presently, she said that she would not help us until we promise her and her brother free education to any level they want and in any country they want it, and fund to maintain it. I think…..’
‘Hold that your thought. Did you agree to this?’
‘It is not in my power to agree.’
‘You’d better not, because we can’t do that. Does she think that this place is a charity? I want to meet that selfish brat. She thinks that she can blackmail us. Why is she even this important?’
Chike did not want to know what would come next. He needed result and he did not want a slip of a girl to stand between him and what he wanted to get, and right now, Nancy was doing that. When he arrived, he promised his superior that he would get results for him and that was what he was going to do. He did not know why MaryJohn was being insolent, but he did not have time right now to deal with him. He was going to leave that one until they were through with the story, because John was not the only one having his ass heated by a superior.
MaryJohn looked at the man as if he had lost his head. How could he say such a thing? What the girl asked for was not for charity. She wanted to protect her family. She asked for something that she knew that Nigeria could do for her. She did not even ask for money. And where the hell did blackmail come from? He did not show any of his anger in his statements.
Feeling the need to protect Nancy, MaryJohn said, ‘She is the only one that really locates where the organism will strike next and how to catch it. She is simply indispensable.’
Chike flung out his hands. ‘Can’t they build one of those electronics that can detect where that nuisance is? I don’t like the idea of depending on a girl, especially a demanding one.’
MaryJohn stood up from where he was sitting and towered over the tall man. He was three inches taller than Chike. ‘I have told you all I know about it. You either use the information or do whatever you want with it. I suggest you pay a visit to Nancy if you want to clear this case. Good day.’
‘Wait, MaryJohn. Don’t get all puffy with me. I guess I can see what we can do about her request, but I am not promising. I think I would rather not meet this girl. In fact, tell her we agree with her. I am going to Aso Rock to know if I can meet the president. I am sure he can do something about.’
‘You do that, sir. I am in my office if you need me.’
‘You are doing a great job here John. Keep it up.’
MaryJohn and Chike were at the front door of Nancy’s house making idle conversation while waiting for her to join them. Chike did not want to go inside the house so Nancy had to come out.
When she eventually emerged from the house, Chike could not believe she was the one making such demands. She looked so young and fragile.
Knowing he could easily intimidate her and force her to reduce or remove her stringent requests, he said, ‘Why should I grant your demands? You are not indispensable, you know?’
Nancy glared at Chike. She did not like this man at all. Though he had the looks of a handsome movie-star, she wasn’t moved by it. She was not a sucker for ‘face’ so he could put his nice face in the closest dustbin. ‘You need me because I can tell you where to find this thing that is tearing down buildings. If you think you can find it on your own, then I am useless to you. In that case, you can leave my premises.’
MaryJohn almost smiled. Chew on that, Chike. More is coming.
Chike later decided that he wanted to meet the girl. He said he wanted to know the kind of person she was. Well, this was the kind of person she was; a very difficult person.
‘You are very insolent for a kid of sixteen,’ Chike rebuked. ‘I suggest you drop the attitude, little girl.’
‘Make me,’ Nancy challenged. ‘If I am insolent what does that make you? I don’t even want to find out. If you say you need my help, you do what I asked. If you think you don’t need me, then I am good with it. I am tired of this conversation.’
Chike’s face hardened. ‘I don’t like you, little girl.’
‘Then we are even.’
‘Hmm, I see that you are very stubborn and cannot be reasoned with,’ he said thoughtfully, looking pointedly at his shoes. After a while, he lifted his head and turned to Nancy. ‘I will get you what you asked for if you promise to obey and do what I ask you to do, until we are done with this case. Do I have your word?’
Nancy eyed him. She did not trust or like him, but she guessed he would not go back on his word.
‘He will do it, Nancy. I promise you that one,’ MaryJohn assured her.
‘I shall hold you, MaryJohn if he doesn’t keep to his word. I don’t like or trust him. That does not mean that I’m promising to obey you completely. So, don’t go getting ideas. Call me when you are ready to go find your target.’ She turned and left them.
Chike detested this kind of girls and the very idea that he would have to work with her made him boil. His jaw clenched but he did his best to hide his anger. However, he could not resist kicking the wall, which went a long way to show MaryJohn that he was very angry at the way the girl treated him.
‘I told you she was a fine piece of work,’ MaryJohn commented, laughing. He was just so happy at the way Nancy treated the infamous commandant. That should give him something to think about for sometime. ‘Do you plan to keep your word?’
‘MaryJohn,’ Chike snapped, ‘you did not tell me the girl is this insulting and spoilt. You forgot to tell me that she was arrogant too. In fact, you did not tell me anything about her except that she is young and demanding. As for my words to her, I plan to do that. I don’t like people going back on their words to me so I try to keep mine. I will get her what she asked. Now let us get out of here before I am tempted to go and find that girl and teach her a few things about respect and elders.’
They turned and left.
By the following day, Chike was still angry and John was still amused.