’Nancy, are you sure you don’t want to eat anything? It has been two weeks and you have not taken any proper food,’ Maria told her niece. ‘You need to eat.’
‘I told you that I am not hungry. I don’t want to eat. Leave me alone,’ Nancy retorted. She knew she was being bitchy, but then she hadn’t been herself since her parents died two weeks ago. She knew that the police had been looking for the cause of their death, but she also knew that they were barking up the wrong tree. They would not find anything if they kept looking at it from a normal perspective. It was not normal.
She was not trying to be stubborn, neither was she being rude to her aunty, but she hadn’t been hungry in the past six days, and had been on fluid since then. She knew she was losing weight, but who cared?
‘I want you to open this door this minute, Nancy. If you keep doing this, you will not have to mourn your parents again because you will join them. You are in my house and I want this door opened before I count half.’
Nancy went and opened the door immediately. She did not want to incur the wrath of her aunty.
Mariah looked at her with murder in her eyes. Nancy flinched from the gaze. She used to think that her aunty was wicked because of her eyes and she had not stopped believing that.
‘I want you to finish this food before I go up or I will come down with my cane. I do not care that you are in the university, Nancy. I will cane you to death if you do not eat this food. That one is a promise.’ She dumped the plate of yam porridge in front of her and left.
Nancy was tempted to leave the food just to see if her aunty would carry out her threat, but she did not really want to find out. She had seen Aunty Mariah flog her children. It was a pathetic sight to behold, and Nancy did not want to bring it upon herself.
She sat down and started eating, and found to her surprise that she was indeed hungry. She finished the food before her aunty came down. She asked her for more.
‘You want more? Such an Oliver Twist. I thought you said that you were not hungry.’
Trust aunty Maria to rub it in well. ‘I am now.’
‘You know, Nancy, you really need to drop the attitude. I know your mother is dead and you are sad. How do you think I feel? Your mother was my twin sister and I just lost her. I also feel bad, but life has to go on. We don’t die just because the people we love died. We move on. I am sure that is what your mother would want you to do. Move on with your brother and cousins.’
Nancy looked at her with incredulity in her eyes. Move on! How could she move on when fate had just dealt her a number? She did not bother trying to nod or answer her aunty. She dropped her gaze to the floor.
‘If you like do not answer me, but you know deep in your heart that you cannot give up. You have your brother to look out for.’
Nancy knew that she was right, but it would be a cold day in hell before she agreed with her. She took the plate from her and was about to go and sit on the bed to demolish the food when her aunty stopped her.
‘You are eating in the dining room, young lady.’
Nancy looked at her, then without a word, she went to the dining room.
It was a large room which could seat more than twenty people. Nancy couldn’t understand why her aunty had so many places for people. Her house was equally big.
Her aunty was not gentle with her children and she did not hide it. She had three maids, but all they did was clean the house and go for long distance errands. Her children did the rest of the chores.
The door bell rang. Nancy ignored it even though she was the closest to the door. It rang again.
‘I thought I had a human being in my dining room?’ Mariah hollered. ‘Nancy, get that door.’
Nancy grumbled on her way to the door. She did not like being treated like a maid. She opened the door and looked daggers at the two men who were standing there.
‘Jeez, girl! I am not the one that did it,’ Samson said.
‘Did what?’ Musa asked.
‘I don’t know. The way she was looking at me, you would think that I yanked the houses down. We are looking for Mr. and Mrs. Eze. This is their residence?’
‘As if you are the one that lives here? The Mrs. is inside. The man, you will have to find,’ Nancy threw over her shoulder as she walked to the living room.
‘Welcome, Musa. How was your journey? Oh! I forgot. You did not go on any journey. Come inside and sit down, please. Look Nancy, that is how my mother taught me to greet visitors,’ Samson said to her back.
‘You need to knock it off, man,’ Musa advised. ‘Her mother just died.’
‘Mine died before she was born,’ Sam said sarcastically. ‘Life goes on in slow motion.’
‘I have a great idea,’ Nancy, who had turned to face the, said to them with an impish smile on her face.
‘What is it?’ Sam asked with all sincerity that came with an idea.
‘Shut up!’ she shouted at Sam.
‘What an idea. I will think about it.’
Mariah walked in. She was removing her apron as she walked. ‘Shut up your mouth, Nancy, before I maim you.’ Looking at the policemen, she continued, ‘I am so sorry about my niece’s attitude. You know she just lost her mother so she is very cranky. Do come in.’
‘That explains the killer eyes she was giving me. I am sorry about your loss,’ Samson said with false understanding.
‘Are you? I wonder,’ Nancy said underneath her breath.
‘Apologize to the man, Nancy,’ Mariah demanded.
‘What am I apologising for? Maybe I should apologize for opening the door for him. I should do that.’
She made to leave the room.
‘Please, young lady,’ Sam called, when the heat was too much. ‘I do not need your apology. What I need is for you tell me everything you remembered the day your parents died. Tell me everything. The only thing you should leave out is the colour of the panties you wore that day. Nothing else.’
‘Why would I tell you anything? I don’t feel like talking.’
‘I think you have lost your mind. I know it is somewhere out there stranded. That is no way to talk to your elder but I forgive you. I need you tell me so that I can help find your parents.’
‘I have already told you guys what I know. Do you want me to make things up just so you can go on with your case?’
‘I know you told us everything but I want you to tell me that again. Maybe you might remember something new. Miracles have happened.’
‘What my partner is trying to tell you is that you should tell us again what happened that day so we can know if we missed anything,’ Musa cut in politely. ‘Please, we need you to help us know what is going on. You watched the house. Was anything off?’
‘Oh, you talk?’
‘Don’t be sarcastic, Nancy. You are above that,’ Sam rebuked, trying hard to hold his temper in check.
‘Let’s all go into the living room,’ Mariah invited, leading the way to a spacious room.
Nancy found a convenient seat far from the men and sat down, grimacing.
‘Okay?’ Sam prompted, looking at her expectantly.
Nancy recalled that day in her mind. Though it was weeks now, the memory was still fresh. ‘Everything was off. I did not know if anybody felt it in my house but I felt the earth shake. It was very odd. I told my dad but he didn’t believe me. Said I was just giving him reasons for us to return to our old house.’
‘Were you?’ Samson asked.
She glared at him. ‘I would not joke with something like that. I went ahead with what I was doing. My brother and I went for my friend’s birthday party and my parents went for their friend’s wedding ceremony. We were still in the middle of the party when I felt that we should go home. I knew something was off. It’s like that kind of chill you get when you know that something is not quite right. We asked the driver to take us home. He did. We came just as the house was crumbling. My mum and dad were in their bedroom. They were there. I saw them just before the house collapsed, and then they weren’t there anymore.’ She looked from one person to the other to know if they thought she was mad.
‘What do you mean that they were not there?’ Samson asked. He tried to beat down the excitement that was building in him.
‘I mean that the ground took them.’
‘I am so sorry to ask you this but are you on drugs? I promise to keep it a secret,’ Musa said.
‘I speak the truth but I guess that is a formal language to you all. The doctor put me on a tranquilizer but I did not take it and I am not on drugs. I am clean. And before you ask, I am not mad.’
‘If you are not mad or on drugs, why would you want me to believe that the earth swallowed your mum and dad?’ Sam queried.
‘I don’t know why I should want you to believe. I just told you what I saw,’ Nancy said, sounding tired. She hadn’t talked this much in a long while.
‘From where exactly did you see all this?’
‘I am very tired and I want to sleep. You guys will have to excuse me. I am quite dizzy.’ Nancy stood up to go to her room.
Musa and Samson looked at her with panic in their eyes. Musa was the first to speak, ‘Miss, we do not mean to offend you. We’re just confused.’
‘I know you are confused. I am, too. I did not know why I should feel it in my bones that the earth just took them. I did not know what they did but I do know that my parents were not saints. They did so many bad things I was not aware of, but that is not a reason for the earth to take them.’
‘Why didn’t you tell the DPO this?’ Sam asked, looking sceptical.
‘I did not feel like it. If you are looking for a lead, look at the earth around the house. You will find a clue.’
‘What will we find there?’ Musa asked.
‘What I just said, a clue.’ With that she stood up.
‘We will be coming back, Nancy,’ Sam promised, getting to his feet.
‘That’s your kettle of fish. And by the way, the colour of my panties that day was pink.’ She stared at them as though she wanted to say something else and then left.
Musa could not help laughing. She was a handful, that one. He knew that she was into rap songs. He was into that when he was younger. Not so much so now. He really admired the way she quoted so many rappers. Who knew rappers could also philosophize? He liked it a lot and he liked her too, but not in the way his wife would assume when she heard her name.
‘I am sorry about her attitude. My sister brought her up to do better than that,’ Maria apologised.
‘It is alright, Mrs. Eze. I totally understand.’
It happened at the highway. The Abia governor was going home with his girlfriend. Well, not really home. He was going to a house he bought just for their use. He was tired after the East governors’ meeting. He just wanted to go home and rest in the warm and sweet hands of Elisa. He smiled at the girl across the car seat of the latest Infinity Jeep. She smiled back.
He paid her well for what she did for him. It was only natural that she smiled at him. If not, he would really hate it and when he hated something, nothing good came out of it. He just didn’t like hating people but people seemed to go out of their way to make him hate them. The funny thing was that, whoever he hated, something bad happened to that person. It was just that way. He really liked that fact that she was not making him hate her.
‘What will happen when we get home, my sweet little thing?’ he asked Elisa. He liked girls that were very wild and forward. He did not want to beg for his pleasure. He wanted them young and eager.
‘Chief, you are asking as if you are a stranger. I am going to make you scream for me. I am going to make you very happy. All you have to do is wait and be calm,’ she said as she licked her blood-shot lips in a very sexy way.
But he was mildly irritated. The president did not even like him waiting. He did not like the idea of her telling him to wait. He was not a man born to wait for anything. He learnt early in life that you had to make things happen if you want anything to move for you. Which was why whenever he was a deputy or an assistant, something awful usually happened to the chief. That was how he got where he was today and he was going to go further.
But he would allow Elisa some liberty since she was his whore. She could say that and not fall off a stair the next day and be confined to a hospital for more than three years for whatever must have come from the nasty fall.
He felt a nasty bump shake the whole car. He did not like the roads in this country, but he wasn’t going to use his money or the one set for the roads to repair them. He was not that mad, so he had to endure the endless bumps.
The next bump was so hard that for a moment, all he could do was hold on to the car seat belt like his life depended on it. He felt like the earth under him was vibrating. He did not like that sensation one bit.
‘What is going on, Chief? Is the world coming to an end?’ Elisa asked, clutching the arms of the seat.
He did not know what to say to her. She must be stupid to think such in the first place. How could the world come to an end? It was just plain stupid. He knew that she had no brain in her head. ‘The world is not coming to an end so just shut up and hang on to your seat belt. I don’t know what is happening but I don’t like it. I certainly do not like it.’
Just like he usually saw in Hollywood films, his car tumbled off the road like it weighed not less than air. It was airborne for some seconds before it landed on the ground with a wrecking sound that scared the hell out of the two occupants. By the time they were on the ground, they were clinging to each other like the last survivors of Titanic.
Just when the governor thought that he was okay and that the accident was over, he felt something like vine creep up his legs. He neither knew how it came into the car not did he want to think about it. What he knew was that he was becoming afraid, and he did not like it at all. Thinking he was going to pass out from the fear, he felt himself being sucked out of the car and into the ground. The bimbo beside him was already unconscious. He struggled to hang onto the steering wheel but his hands couldn’t reach it. Before he could open his mouth and scream for help, he went into the ground and passed out from the shock of it.
It appeared in the evening news that the governor of Abia went missing after he was involved in a ghastly motor accident on his way home. They also showed to the world and his wife that he was a faithless man.