“I am not quite sure that I’m satisfied with your answers, Mr. Okwuike. May I call you Comfort? Of course I can. At this point, I can do virtually anything I want!” The man smiled as if he found the statement amusing.
Comfort breathed through his mouth. He thought his nose might be broken but wasn’t certain.
“Good. Let’s begin again.”
The Nigerian State Police officer was a bulky man with café-au-lait skin. He had removed his Armani jacket, unbuttoned the top of his white Caleche shirt and rolled up his sleeves. He had big hands and two pinkie rings, one set with a diamond, the other with a ruby, and a heavy silver and gold watch on his left wrist.
There was one chair, one table, one lightbulb, no windows, a bucket of water on the floor. The NSP officer occupied the chair. His elbows rested on the table. Between his elbows was a child’s ruled school notebook and a Lacrosse pen. The room was blindingly hot. Comfort was naked and tied ankles and wrists to four iron rings set in the wall. Two wire leads ran from his limp penis and testicles to an old-fashioned crank generator the man held in his lap.
Both of Comfort’s thumbs were broken and his hands had swollen so they looked like winter mittens. One of his eyes was closed, the lid bruised and bleeding.
“We shall begin again.” The policeman seemed to ponder a moment, then gave the generator’s crank a vicious turn. Comfort jumped, moaned.
“My god, that looks painful.” the officer said. “Personally, I don’t think I could take it.” He turned the crank two more times. The shocks made Comfort whimper.
“Now that I have your attention, let me say that you may be Comfort, but my middle name could be Patience. I have all day, Mr. Okwuike. As a matter of fact, I have all week. I’m on leave, you see. The government gives me twenty days a year. I have spent two of those days finding you, which was longer than I anticipated. I would prefer not to spend any additional vacation time in such a hostile environment, but if is to be, Insh’ Allah.”
He sighed, turned the crank. “You know,” he said, “your case is positively unusual. People pay me vast amounts of cash so I might help them leave
Comfort’s speech was blurred by his thickened tongue. He said, “I’ve told you everything.”
“And I do not believe you, which puts us in a quandary. So we begin again. You’re name is?
Comfort’s breath rattled in his throat. “You know my name.”
A turn of the crank made his back arch.
“Your name is...”
“And you came from...”
Comfort hesitated. The man’s hand pressed lightly on the crank.
“Good,” said the man. He stood, took a cupful of water from the bucket and threw it in Comfort’s face. Comfort tried to catch some with his tongue, got a few drops.
“The $136,000—which, incidentally, is contraband. We have strict laws in