A PRINCE IN SHINING ARMOUR
I came awoke with a start. I felt
the rattling of the panes of the window from the rumbling thunder fading away
into the distance. That was what has awakened me from my sleep. I drudgingly
reached for my phone by the bedside to check on the time; it was 6. 30 A.M. and
it was still raining sheets outside.
I jumped out of the bed, ran my
finger through my hair as I stumbled toward the kitchen. I could feel an ache
in my head. I glanced briefly at the dining table littered with papers and
files. It was one hectic night I had last night. I barely shut down the laptop
before sliding under the sheet of my bed.
The past couple of weeks have been a
nightmare-like for me; leaving home very early in the morning for the office to
deal with the staff.
I am always there to arranging for
personnel and equipment for the job, with Engineer Adigio breathing down my
back like a slave driver, that we have not left out any detail of the activity we will use at the site.
I have been liaising with the Human
Resources Department, and shuttling to and from Ottablecie Holdings, then
packing all the paper works and loose ends to the house to tidy up on my
My house has become an extension of
Dowels Investment. I made a mental note to ask engineer Adigio for a commission
and an overtime allowance.
I was going through my chore in the
house like one in a trance; outside, there was no letting go of the rain. I
would not even contemplate going out to the office in this weather if I could
help it. There will not even be a taxi or Keke Napep to take one to the office.
By 0715 AM, I dressed up and
was waiting for a break in the rain. I used to have a light breakfast in
the mornings, but yesterday, I could buy nothing from the roadside kiosk.
A cup of steaming tea would just be
all right for the weather; which means, I would have an early lunch in the
office, that would also be subject to, if I could have a break in the
I opened the window to see if any of
the neighbors were ready to go out so I can hike a ride to the office. But all
I could see was the drenching rain, and all the cars still parked in their
I think I would have to call Mr.
Andrew if he could come to pick me with one of the official cars. I then
remembered that I have used up all my airtime on my phone last night.
Well, I just have to brace up to
this rain. I packed my shoes into a nylon-bag, went into the bathroom and put
on my shower cap lightly over my hairs. I will have to brush the hairs when I
get to the office.
Next, I came out to the porch in
front of the door to open the burglary proof. I had left my umbrella there last
night when I came back to the house. But as I collected it and turned around to
go out, I saw the security guard at the gate going to open the gate for a car
that was honking its horn.
For a moment, I prayed for a
miracle; I thought it was Andrew coming to pick me to the office. Probably,
Engineer Adigio had asked him to come for me; what would that man not consider
But as the gate opened, I saw a
white-colored Honda car drove into the compound. My breath seized as I saw that
the car has the logo of Ottablecie holdings and not Dowels.
What is that company’s car doing in
this compound? I could not make out the figure of the person driving the car
because of the heavy rain. But as he came out with an umbrella as big as a
canopy, my legs wobbled under me and I have to, instinctively, reach for the iron
bars for support.
What has Tony come in here to do in
this blinding rain? I watched him going to the Guard to inquire about
something, and I noticed the guard pointing in my direction. Tony turned around
and our eyes locked together in the misty space between us.
He smiled and started plodding
toward me with his trousers folded up to above his ankle. He was wearing a red
polo shirt with a tiny embroidered logo of his company above the left-hand
“Tony! What are you doing here?” I
asked, opening the protector for him to get out of the rain.
But he stayed right outside, covered
with his canopy of an umbrella. The white sandals on his feet already soaked in
“Hello, Miss Queen,” he greeted me
loudly, above the sound of the rain, as if everything is just normal, and that
he did not hear any of the things I have said. “I knew that the rain will
be too heavy for you to leave for your office, and since I was passing by this
way, I took the privilege to stop over to give you a lift to the office.” He
said it matter-of-factly, without a smile, but I could see he was bursting
inside to do so.
“How did you know where I am staying
Mr. Tony?” I could not believe that he could drive up here under this weather
just to pick me at the office. “And there is no way the route to your
office at Abacha road would bring you all the way to Abuloma where I’m
staying.” It should alarm me he so easily knew where my house is, but in the
present circumstance, I am kind of thrilled that he did.
“Please, Miss Queen, are you ready
to go to your office now? Do you remember that I said I do all the odd jobs there is to do when the guards are not available? And as far as I can see now,
there are no guards here,” he stopped and deliberately looked around the
rain-covered compound. “Can I use the opportunity to escort and drive you to
the office?” His smile was so infectious; he had me laughing out loud.
“I’m so grateful to you Mr. Tony,” I
said as I came out and locked the protectors. “Your timing is so perfect; I was
just about swimming all the way to the office.”
“You’d got our job fluttering if
that had happened. You would have ended up in the hospital or in the worst
scenario, in the morgue and our job would have been the worst for it,” he said,
opening the door of the passenger’s side of the car for me.
I cannot place him anywhere to what
I had thought about him at the moment, from the Tony I had known in our initial
meeting at Ottablecie Holdings compound. He is young, about 35 years old, but I
may be wrong. I watched him as he walked across the front of the car with that
big umbrella almost covering his face.
He does not look, in the slightest
way, like the office clerk I had thought of him. Here, he appears like a man
who knows what he is doing; polished and elegant were my first impression of
him, but I think he is more than that; though that I cannot tell now.
“I’m sorry Miss Queen, I bet you’d
be wondering how I got to know about your place,” he said it not like a
question, as he pulled the car on to the road, heading toward Odili Road and to
“Well, I’m waiting for you to tell
me that, and a lot of other things about what you’d want me to know about
“Ah Madam, what do you think I have
to tell you about myself?” He asked, glancing sideways at me.
“Okay, first, let’s start with how
you came to know about my house, then we can get to know what your work at
Ottablecie Holdings is all about, not the bogus tale of you doing all the odd
jobs. Pardon my choice of words, Tony, no prejudice, but I have not seen you
again on the premises since after our first meeting, and I have been regular
these past weeks.”
“Now, this is a multiple-barrelled
interrogation of a sort, but let’s just say, you’ve not been seeing me lately
because you’ve not come looking for Tony. You have been coming to process the
normal official documentation about the contract and you have been very
professional in that regard.”
“I commend you and your
professionalism in that regard. Dowels Investment has not realized what they
have in you, yet. You are good at what you do, and ...............”
“Tony!” I shouted, hitting the
dashboard with my fist. “You’re stalling. You aren’t answering any of my
questions, but taking me on a wild goose chase.”
“Madam Queen,” he said, turning to
look at me. His eye opened in surprise.
“I’m sorry Tony, but I can’t
understand you, and I’m trying so hard to do that. I’m sort of confused to know
why you would come all the way from where ever you are living, to my house so
early in the middle of the torrent, to drive me to the office, and you are
stalling,” I said and instinctively touched his arm on the steering.
“You will not believe me if I tell
you how I got to know where you are living, and the questions you’ve asked
about me,” he said with a grin. “You’re doing a nice job for your
company. Let’s complete the job we have at hand. I will give you answers
to much more than you’ve asked. I’m giving you my word.” He stopped the car and
started honking on the horn.
I looked up and there we were, in
front of Dowels Investment. It was surprising, but I cannot imagine we are there
“Thank you, Mr. Tony, for your
thoughtfulness,” I said as I opened the door to step out.
Our Security Guard came to the car
to cover me with an umbrella.
“It’s been my pleasure, Miss Queen.
You know it would have been painful to me if you’d left your house under this
rain with no one coming to help you out. I would never have forgiven myself.
Hope you’d not hesitate to call ‘Tony’ whenever you think I could come in to
help,” he said as he rolled up the glass and drove out of the gate onto the