About 9am on the following Tuesday morning, Johnson called from Germany. He had bought the bus as we planned and had started buying goods to load it. He didn’t know how and what I planned to do with the bus but he knew that it had something to do with Mr Chukwudi.
”Let me know when you take it to the shipping company, then I will tell you what to do next” I had said.
Since the business of the day had started with the issue of Mr Chukwudi, I decided to call him.
”I told you to give me two weeks Azubuike. Why are you disturbing me. This is how you people make me lose concentration and blame me if the visa didn’t come out.” he yelled on the phone as usual.
”Why are you shouting at me” do you know why I called you”. I said calmly.
”Why else would you call me if not because of the chicken change you gave me” he said and cut off the line.
I bent down my head and thought about how to approach mr Chukwudi. The problem was that I didn’t know his house. He had no office at the Wharf like he claimed. He was just a sub agent who got business for the clearing agents, he would then be paid some small fees like all other sub agents/touts roaming the Wharf.
It was time to start the ”Operation Chukwudi” in full.
I hurriedly wore my cloth and went downstairs to my car. I didn’t even take a bath. My car was packed at the extreme end and another car had packed behind it.
”Issa, go and call the owner of this V-boot to come and shift the car for me” I said while pointing at the vehicle behind mine.
”Oga, I no dey go up abeg” he blurted out. I understood him. The last time I sent him out, he had been sacked. Little did he knew that it was me who moved the motion for his return. However, I didn’t have time to talk much that morning.
I asked him the flat of the owner of the Mercedes 300CE. He told me and I went up there and called him. He came down and shifted his car for me…
I Drove outside and headed for the Wharf. There were numerous scouts all over the place looking for car owners who needed clearing agents.
I walked to a small drinking bar and sat there with a bottle of medium Stout. Some minutes later two men came in. They bought their own drinks and sat down to chat.
They discussed about how the business of yesterday had gone.
It happened that one of them named Ifeanyi had gotten a deal for their main agent. He had even negotiated the price and had somehow managed to add N20,000 to the normal clearing price. Since the man had agreed to pay the money, Ifeanyi had decided to start buying drinks for his friend named Okenwa.
Somehow I managed to join them in the conversation about the deal. They were cautions with words but when the alcohol overcame their normal sense of reasoning, they flapped their mouths like parrots.
”Bring us more drinks madam” I said for the second time that morning.
When it was time to leave, I took Ifeanyi’s phone number and drove to Lekki beach. I needed to relax and cool my head. The coming days would be hectic.
There were few people at the beach that morning but of particular interest to me was two girls who sat under a small shed. Initially I thought they came with some three men throwing a volleyball down the ocean bank but when the men left without them, I raised my hopes.
As always, I was wearing a dark Eyeglasses. I walked up to them.
They were in swimming pants and bikinis. Apparently from a well to do family or families.
”Hello Ladies” I said and waved from Ten meters away.
One of them waved back and smiled. The other one just looked at me and said nothing.
”Mind if I join you”. I said again.
”OK, no problem, you can” the one that responded earlier said, while the mute one said nothing again.
Instantly, I decided that my attention and concentration would be on the talking one. Since the other one wanted to play the mute game, it would be appropriate to help her achieve that.
”I am Austin” I lied.
”As in Austin Okocha” the talking One said and started laughing while the mute maintained her straight face.
”I am not Okocha, though I play a better football than him” I joked.
One laughed as usual.
I stood beside the talking One and asked her name.
She said she was Maria. I didn’t bother to ask for her sister or friend’s name. She could have kept quiet as usual and that could stop the already moving train.
”Why are you on the beach alone” Maria asked.
I liked her type of girl, always coming forward with questions instead of the type that waited for you to do every talking.
”I am looking for a girlfriend out here. The one I had left last month because I had no money” I joked. Maria laughed as expected.
”Money shouldn’t be a factor in friendship” she had said.
She preached on how Love should be the real deal etc. She was trying hard to sound European but of course she was a Nigerian. Maybe she had heard the European accents on TV and wanted to talk like them.
Maria lived in Surulere And so was her friend. They were both from Edo state. She had a 1998 Model Toyota Rav4.
We talked for over an hour until they announced that they were leaving.
It was when I offered to drive them home that I found out she had a car.
We all headed to their car but since mine was closer to the beach, I asked them to keep going while I picked up the car.