NIMROD, GLEN & THE GANG
ALLEN ABU was very distressed. The gang had carried out an operation last night and it had been unsuccessful. They had lost two men in a shootout with the police and one of the deceased was his good friend, Bulus.
They had gone to rob a top politician after a tip-off by an informant that the moneybag had in his possession the sum of two million naira in cash and would be taking it away first thing the next morning.
The gang had decided to strike before it was too late. However, something had gone wrong during the operation. Badly wrong.
Glen, who had led the operation, had given instruction that no one should shoot anybody for any reason. This had led to the escape of one of the security men who alerted the police. They would have shot the man if not for Glen’s stupid directive.
Now, Bulus was dead and there was confusion and fear among members of the gang. Thank God that none of them had been caught alive by the cops, which would have been more disastrous than the situation they were in now.
Allen was one of Nimrod’s faithful loyalists. The psycho had proven beyond reasonable doubt that he was a competent leader. Allen didn’t understand why Glen kicked against the idea of Nimrod taking over the gang four years ago. All Nimrod’s operations had been successful, but most of Glen’s had been a total failure.
Yes, it was true that the gang had been Glen’s idea. Glen had become a thief because of his excessive love for money. He had always loved to meet up to the expectations of his immediate society. He loved to show off and let people know that he was rich and comfortable. He loved the respect money gave people in the society and desperately craved for it. He would do anything to get money, and robbery had been one of his best options.
Glen used to have a way of getting firsthand information and had shown so much bravery in leading them on their operations in the beginning, but back then, his leadership was due to his being mettlesome and intrepid. Characteristics that had caused the gang to venerate him in the past, but now, the coming in of Nimrod had made Allen realize that Glen lacked so much in so many ways.
Nimrod had proven to be a master planner with no record of any unsuccessful operation. Allen loved Nimrod’s ruthlessness, his charisma and the fact that he always seemed to know what he was doing. He saw that the gang’s future would make more sense if left in the hands of Nimrod, which was why he’d been able to convince more than half of the members to support Nimrod as their leader when the leadership tussle between Glen and the latter was heating up some years back. However, Nimrod’s indictment had scattered their plans.
Allen had been aware of Nimrod’s plan to do away with Glen and had even asked to assist in the act. But Nimrod had objected, saying that he wanted to do it alone. Allen was very surprised when the news came that Nimrod had been arrested and sentenced to jail for four years, yet Glen was still very much alive.
Funny enough, it was Glen who came and put things in order for the gang after Nimrod was sent to prison. Since then they had had more unsuccessful operations than any other time in their entire history together, and were constantly losing members. This could only buttress the fact that Glen was incompetent.
Funny enough, the idiot seemed to have forgotten that Nimrod had only four years to stay in prison. He must be thinking that four years was eternity since he had always acted as if Nimrod never existed all this while!
Of course, Allen knew that Glen was aware that he visited Nimrod occasionally but chose not to talk about it. He also knew that this temporary leader of theirs was aware that they were watching Michael, and yet chose not talk about it. That was the basis for his incompetency. Always neglecting little details, thereby making silly mistakes.
Nimrod had to be made aware of Bulus’ death and Glen’s recent activities as the leader of the gang. He must know what to expect when he comes out of jail so that he wouldn’t come out unprepared. Allen wasn’t taking Glen’s silence for granted, since the guy could be nursing some plans in his mind, and probably might have already prepared himself very well for Nimrod’s release in a few weeks time.
Hence, he looked forward to visiting Nimrod that weekend. They had many things to discuss.
* * *
Brenda was in the sitting room when she heard a knock on the door. She was sure it was not Jane because Jane had gone shopping a few minutes ago and the knock pattern was not right.
All through the other day, Jane had tried cheering her up by telling her different stories, but she had only succeeded in making Brenda smile a couple of times, thereby saving the day’s tears. Brenda had formed the habit of crying bitterly whenever she was alone, but today she’d discovered that this was not the case. And she kept wondering whether this had anything to do with her mysterious nightly encounters, which were getting more interesting and adventurous. Good thing that Jane didn’t know anything about it, else she would have started pushing her to go see a doctor by now!
Well, at least she now knew why all her ex-boyfriends had left her in the past, and that was really helping her fight this impossible depression of late. Giggling, she wondered how Jane could find it possible to sleep in the night with all the ecstatic screaming and ribald talk that went on in her room every other night! It was all so…daring and new!
This morning, Jane had asked her not to do anything. “Don’t worry, I will serve you throughout today, all I want you to do is to have your bath, look nice and relax.”
Brenda was also surprised at her friend’s insistence that they go to the saloon and get themselves a complete makeover.
“I am okay like this; I am not interested in any makeover.”
But Jane wouldn’t take no for an answer, so she had accepted.
Now she opened the door and was surprised to see Michael, looking devilishly handsome in front of her. He was the last person she was expecting. She’d berated herself for some days afterwards when she succeeded in turning down his request to pay her a visit on the phone. Now what was he doing showing up in her front door?
“Mr. Black, I am surprised to see you. Please come in,” she said, casually.
Michael followed her into the living room and sat on one of the empty sofas. He wasn’t there to talk much. He’d come to observe.
She was neatly and casually dressed in a black three-quarter and a small pink-colored T-shirt. Jane was right; she had emaciated and looked so fragile. He warned his instincts not to allow sympathy to take over empathy.
The sight of her as she opened the door, her gentle feminine voice, the way she’d walked to the sofa and her whole attitude all got the whole receptors in Michael’s sense organs alert and excited. He deeply felt he was falling in love with this girl.
“Forgive my visiting you without prior notification. I was just passing by and decided to check on my patient,” he said.
“You didn’t have to bother yourself. Like I told you on the phone, I have long recovered from the faint and since then, have remained in sound health.”
“Yes, I wanted to see for myself and…”
“I hope you are satisfied Mr. Black,” she cut in, smiling.
He looked around the apartment, obviously bent on ignoring her pleasant rudeness. “Please call me Michael. Nice apartment you’ve got here. Where is your friend, Jane?”
“She went shopping,” she said.
Michael had expected this kind of reaction from her. He looked into her eyes – they were empty, far away and disinterested. “Honestly, Brenda, I am not satisfied with the way you look…so pale.”
“Thanks for your observation, but I don’t think you should allow it to concern you,” she said, still pleasant but very rude.
“What do you do for a living, Brenda?” He changed the subject.
She didn’t expect the question. She was actually expecting a reaction to her rude answers. “I teach in a primary school while on job-hunt. Right now the schools are on holiday.”
“Holiday, right? So how do you spend your leisure?” he gently asked.
“All alone. I like being alone, Mr. Black, forgive me, Michael.”
“Alone? Isn’t that unfair to so many people out there who would have benefited from you company?”
“Michael, I must appreciate you for your help a few days ago. I am afraid that that is all I can do and can’t pay you back in any other way,” she tried to assuage, again hating herself for the rude nature of this reaction.
“I am not asking you to pay me anything, I…”
“What do you want from me, Michael? Friendship? I can’t even afford that now!” Brenda was beginning to wonder where all the rude remarks from her were coming from.
He continued to observe her. God, she was beautiful. Then he said. “Brenda, people meet people at different circumstances. Ours was very unique. I can still see you falling by the side of that road. I remember being so alarmed and carrying you to the car, and since then, something deep within me wants to reach out and be there for you. I don’t know what you might have gone through in life but I want to be your friend, a real friend. I want to carry your burden just the way I carried you to that car.”
“I am not in need of help,” she replied. He sounded very honest and true. But isn’t that how they all sounded at first? She must be on her guard for this one. “You can actually help me by leaving right now, Michael. I want to be alone.”
Of course, she was reacting exactly the way Michael had expected her to. “Yes, I already wanted to leave.” He stood up. “Tell Jane I called and have a nice day, Brenda.” He was just about to open the door when Jane walked in. “Hi, Jane I was asking Brenda about you. She had been nice company. I am just about leaving, see you some other time. Bye.”
“Alright, Michael. Sorry I wasn’t around. Bye,” said Jane.
He walked out of the house. He was going to map out a new strategy after talking to Jane on the phone again.
* * *
Jane was confused. She didn’t know what happened between Brenda and Michael. She wished she had come home earlier to witness their conversation. She looked at Brenda who was just staring at the television. She looked angry.
“Are you alright?” she wanted to know.
“Yes. I am okay.”
“I wish I was here when he came. I hope he did not upset you?” This as she walked over to sit down close to her friend.
“As a matter of fact, he did.” Brenda was holding back a smile, but this her friend had no inkling of. Served her right for setting her up with Michael! she thought, thinking that Jane was trying to make them lovebirds.
However, Jane was alarmed. She had trusted Michael not to upset Brenda. This was a big disappointment. “How?”
“I asked him to leave,” Brenda said, ignoring Jane’s question. “I don’t want him to come here again.”
“What happened, Brenda? Why don’t you want Michael to come back again? I thought he was a nice guy and he said you were nice company.”
“I don’t want him or anybody to come around. I just want to be left alone.” And all of a sudden, she began to sob! That was surprising even to her. What in the world had gotten over her?
“Brenda, can you please tell me what Michael did to you?” pressed a very anxious Jane.
“It’s not about Michael. It’s about all men. I am tired of falling victim, I am tired of being used and dumped. He was being so nice and that was more upsetting because I know he will want to deceive me again.”
“Did he ask you out?” asked her puzzled friend.
“No, he said he wanted to be a friend, but I know he has a hidden agenda. He acted so real and I hate him for that. Please I don’t want him coming around anymore.”
“That’s alright,” said Jane, bringing Brenda to her bosom. At least she was communicating with her. “Let’s forget about Michael for now and talk about something else. I bought you your favorite biscuit.” She searched through her bag and brought out a packet of Cream Crackers.
“Thank you, Jane.” Brenda collected the biscuit, opened it and picked one out. “Can you get me a cup of water, please?”
Nodding, Jane immediately left for the water. She was puzzled. She wondered what Michael might have really done to her friend. It had gotten Brenda angry, yet it had brought her out of her shell.
Handing her friend the glass of water, she watched her drink and eat the biscuit with appetite for the first time since the breakup with Adam.
“He said that I looked pale and I am sure that he might have noticed that I have grown thinner!” complained Brenda.
“He said that? What else did he say?”
“He said he wanted to take away my burden, he sounded so caring.”
“And what was your reaction to that?” Jane probed.
“Nothing. I just want to be left alone.”
“Did he tell you how beautiful you looked?”
“No.” Brenda looked up at her, puzzled. “Why?”
“Nothing.” Jane was lost in thought. After some seconds she said, “Brenda, don’t you think it’s time you put the past behind you?” I know it is not easy but you just have to try. I know you loved Adam, but given what he had done to you, isn’t it obvious that he is not worth all this stress? You shouldn’t be antagonistic to guys especially someone like Michael. Be friendly to him at least for his kindness towards you. I am not saying that you should just open up to anybody but you need to stop acting like a child and be the nice girl you are. God knows what you want and I am sure that he will give it to you. I don’t like the idea of you wanting to be alone; it shows my Brenda has accepted defeat. Everybody needs love. Show me anyone who rejects love and I will show you a disturbed person. Don’t you have hope that sweet love might come some day?”
“I do.” Brenda’s reply was innocent enough.
“Then fantasize about it instead of dwelling on the past.”
“What do I do, Jane? I am so confused. I….” And she stopped short of opening up about her new nightly experiments.
“You are now more experienced than most girls out there. Use your discretion, carefully make friends and follow your heart. Open up your heart and I believe true love will come.”
“Oh, Jane, why can’t I have a perfect relationship like you and Brad?” mused her friend.
“Now there you go again. You must have to stop complaining and be strong.” Jane had made sure that her relationship with Brad was seldom mentioned since the breakup. This had been one of the reasons she had not really encouraged Brad to come around. She had hoped that Brenda does not take the fact that her relationship was more successful into cognizance.
That evening Brenda was different. At least, she cheered up a little. Jane didn’t know if she should give the credit to Michael or herself but she was sure something about Michael had influenced the change.