He had been sitting in the waiting room for about thirty minutes. The disrespect as he sees it is getting to him. Whatever the king might think of him or wherever he is grading him, he knows who he is and that is a lesson he is not going to sit there for anyone to re-educate him on no matter what the person thinks of himself or the position he is occupying. King or not. He sighed loudly as he got up to go. Just at that moment, the door opened and the king walked in.
He smiled silently to himself and shake his head at a lesson he is yet to learn as a human. To think he has that problem of impatience and snap decisions taking for half of his 56 years now did not escape him. “your highness, may you live long” he greeted.
“ Mr. Thompson, I hope all is well. For you to visit so early today sent shivers down me when they told me it is you. You are not a person that visits people without serious reasons”
“ Your highness, so sorry to invade your privacy this early. But I considered the issue of urgent and critical importance that is the reason I came this hour.”
“ what can that be to warrant this urgency?”
“ It was what I discovered this morning at Mazi Ugwu's farm in our neighborhood while at work there raking the farm and after viewing it, I decided it fall under your responsibility that is why I am this early”
Mr. Thompson was an ex-Biafra soldier of middle ranking during the civil war with Nigeria. He has little knowledge of most implements of the war especially the types of guns and boxes used in the war. He can tell the shape and size of most locally made guns even with his eyes closed.
This morning as he was at work trying to rake the remaining portion of the farm he started yesterday, he was only into it for five minutes when his rake hooked on something that needed him applying force trying to free it without success and on closer examination, he found out that it was on a handle of an old gun that it hooked. He kneeled to see more and it took him a little time to realize that he was seeing the same gun he used like others for three years during the civil war.
He quickly stepped back knowing that most guns were buried with bullets loaded by runaway soldiers that couldn't withstand the sounds of bullets and bombs and once they see an opportunity, they took off. Most buried their guns along with their uniforms while on the run to avoid arrest or attack. He saw that it was on top of a box that the gun was, he could not recall his town being an outpost for Biafra or Nigeria soldiers. There is no way it could not be bombs and grenades that full the box the guns were on. He shifted back more and after contemplating, found a stick and rounded the area before heading to the king’s house to inform him and let him know the danger his discovery posed to the neighborhood.
He had taken to farm work and other manual labor for ten years now after being relieved of his gateman job at the town's maternity hospital by the management.
Maybe it was even God that prompted that laying off and channeled him to farm work for occasions like this.
Many in his community are poor, illiterate, and ignorant. They would never have known the danger the gun and the box poses had they been the ones that discovered it.
Their poor minds would have been too inquisitive to know what is inside the box and Boom! That would have been the death of a whole family or more.
The King was eyeing him with trepidation as he was narrating his discovery that early morning and was wondering whether he dreamt up what he was saying for he could not recall the town being the base for any nation’s military or Biafra soldiers. the gun they used was described as locally made AK 67, meaning it housed many bullets and too heavy. Nigerian soldiers did not even penetrate the town before the war ended. How come the box and the gun ended up in the interior like his neighborhood?
“How is what you are telling me now possible, this town was never been the base of any soldiers”
“ I am surprised too but the reality is that I know what I saw and better if we focus on it fast and seek the how later”
“ So, what do you suggest we do now, call the authorities or what?”
“ Which of the authorities, Biafra or Nigeria?”
“ Nigeria of course. They have the expertise to handle it. We don’t have men to do that from this region”
“ Where did you hear such a thing? Let’s call the local government chairman only if you are into government things, he would know who to contact until we figure out what is inside the boxes then the federal government might be interested”
“ Why I said authorities is that it is my responsibility as the king of this town to report things like this to the authorities to avoid suffering for it later. At my age, I am not sure I will last nine months in prison”
“ There is no prison risk here only the death of people am worrying about. We can always come out with a valid excuse of trying to know what we are dealing with before contacting the authorities”
“ People here talk like broken records and once we gather there, they would become suspicious and would gather to know what is happening, and afterward, the whole local government area will hear it”
“ your highness, it will be better if we handle this among ourselves first before contacting the government. I suggest since you are worried about your position and prison, let’s pretend I never informed you about it and was going about it alone.”
“ worrying about my position? How do you mean?”
“ I mean I never saw you today or even this week. It is better that way, right?”
The King eyed him for a long time contemplating whether he is safe around the man sitting before him. The man is known to handle things his way whether it was his military training disturbing him or the psychological problems many of those soldier developed during the three years of war. His erratic behavior was the reason he wasrelieved fromf his job at the hospital.
After about three minutes, he concluded he isn't safe around the man. Some of these ex-soldiers still feel that they are not Nigerians. Why report state secrets to your enemy? That is still their stand in most of the things going on in this country.
“ Why not call the chiefs and hear from them first? Then we proceed from there”
“Secret is secret when it is between two people, not the whole town. I came to you as the king and I will appreciate it if we pretend I never came. Leave the chiefs out of it”
“ I am managing his town with them. I have always informed them of everything I am involved in and I tend to do so again”
Mr. Thompson eyed him weary and said as he was getting to his feet. You are the king, do as you wish. He turned and left without greeting the king or looking his way.
On his way back, he stopped in two locations long enough to inform the people he went to see he was there. Both were ex-soldiers like him and both followed him with implements in sack bags.
They were halfway into the digging up of the box that happens to be two in number when about five noisy illiterate old chiefs came, with about ten or more inquisitive villagers at their tail. Thompson and his colleagues ignored them and were loading the boxes in a tricycle they rented when one of the chiefs asked one of the villagers to take the place of the rider and ordered the boxes taken to the king's palace.
On the man mounting the tricycle, what sounded like a shovel sound was heard, and the next thing the people heard was a piercing scream and a man writhing on the ground.
The ex-soldiers turned their attention to the direction of the chiefs, only their back they saw for they had taken to their heels. They took their time covering up the ground before mounting the tricycle to where only they can tell.