Nwabueze had been Otike Abakpo’s
collector now for the past six years. At the age of twenty-six he had taken the job because it was a good avenue for earning a living, and his material condition since then had visibly improved. He was also proud that he had been selected as Otike’s collector because it showed that the boss trusted him. Well, perhaps not quite an absolute trust since the man rarely trusted anybody. Besides, Dike’s presence was part of a fool-proof system against fraud.
Nwabueze was given a sealed envelope containing the money, and Dike a sealed envelope containing a signed letter stating the amount involved in the transaction. The paur only learnt of the money they were carrying when they reached Otike’s office and stood around while the money was being counted. With the receipts that were later issued, the accountant would take no time to detect a fraud.
Nwabueze heard people laughing and was quickly jolted back to the present. Some idle traders and hangers-on were making fun of him and taunting him.
‘Hey, Nwabueze,’ some joker called out, ‘don’t lose the money or you’ll be in mourning!’ The others laughed.
Nwabueze was now sweating profusely and tried to quicken his pace. They had two more calls to make before it would all be over and they would get into Dike’s car. Only then would he relax and heave a sigh of relief.
Still watched by the crowd, they walked into Val Obi’s cosmetics supermarket. Val, his handsome face beaming, already had the envelopes ready. ‘The sales have been very poor this week, ‘ he said to Nwabueze. ‘But inform Mr. Otike that next week might be a bonanaza. December 23rd! Quite a lot of people in town would need our products since that would be the last Saturday before Christmas. Tell Mr. Otike You’ll need a truck to bring the money in.’ Nwabueze nodded, took the envelope from Val and put it in the bag.
‘And Dike,’ Val said, handing Dike his envelope,
‘might be a good idea to arrange a tighter security for the money next week. Talk it over with Mr. Otike’ .
Dike also nodded. He wasn’t a man of many words. He moved straight into the street followed by Nwabueze. They made the last call and headed for the car.
Ast they reached the place where Dike parked his car, Nwabueze looked nervously around before he got into the car. The handcuffs around his thick wrist were chafing his skin. He hated being handcuffed to the bag of money. He knew it was possible for some desperado to attempt chopping
off his hand in a bid to grab the money. If
that happened to him, he told himself, he would be without a hand. He shook his head vigorously as if to shake off the thought.