“Drugs,” said Comfort. “Heroine.”
“Which you obtained by...”
“Theft. From my boss. From the Zulu.”
“Earlier you said it came from a man named Herbie.”
Comfort nodded. His legs had gone from unbearably painful to numb. “Herbie. Yes, I’m sorry. The drugs came from Herbie, but he got them from the Zulu.”
“So you took the drugs from Herbie?”
“No. Yes. No. Herbie stole them from the Zulu. But it was my idea.”
“You’re confusing me, Mr. Okwuike.” The crank turned half a circle. Comfort’s legs spasmed.
“Herbie stole them from the Zulu. I told him how to do it. But he didn’t, not really. I had switched them. He stole a bag of flour. Flour and lactose.”
“What a resourceful fellow you are, Mr. Okwuike.” The man’s voice dripped sarcasm. “And what a stupid man this Herbie must have been...”
“Not stupid. I tricked him.” Comfort tried to swallow, couldn’t. He asked, “May I have some water? Please?”
“In a moment. How did you trick him?”
“I gave him some heroine. From an earlier shipment. It made him very sick.”
“And why was that?”
“Rat poison. A tiny amount mixed in. Less than one percent. It was his first time with heroine. And he thought...”
The man nodded. “He though all heroine might have the same effect.”
The man dipped another cupful of water and this time held it to Comfort’s lips. Comfort drank too greedily, choked, coughed. The man jumped back, wiped at his shirt angrily. Comfort closed his eyes, steeled himself for another turn of the crank. It didn’t come.
“So you sold the heroine, the real heroine.”
“Two former policemen. They bought it. A good bargain for them.”
“Lactose. Flour. He died.”
“From the fake drugs?”
“No.” Comfort shook his head. “No. Zulu. Zulu had him killed. After he found out.” Even in the midst of his pain, Comfort knew better than to admit his participation in a murder, or his role in engineering it.
“This is getting to be a fascinating tale, Mr. Okwuike. I’m enthralled.” He placed his hand back on the crank. Comfort stiffened. “I’ll put this away now.” He unclipped the leads from the generator, let them fall to the ground. Comfort felt his entire body go soft.
“You’re quite welcome. Please do go on. So the Zulu killed your poor friend Herbie for a bag of flour. There’s something almost Biblical about that, isn’t there? And how did he react when he discovered the subterfuge?”
Comfort tried to stand up straighter but his legs were without feeling or strength. “Will you untie me, please? I couldn’t escape, even if I wanted to.”
The officer smiled but shook his head. “Perhaps in a moment, when you’ve finished your tale.”
Comfort took a deep breath. “Herbie gave the drugs for safekeeping to some other people. The Zulu never learned of the switch. Until it was too late.”
“Your idea, of course.”
“Brilliant.” The officer shook his head in admiration. “Simply brilliant. Now. Let us talk about your foreign assets.”