Deji sighed as he put on his shoes and made his way out of the house. He was tired of staying indoors after so many days. Besides, he had received a weird text message that morning that he was due for his appointment that day.
He made his way to Oshodi market for whatever reason he couldn’t quite say, he just knew that he felt like it and so went. As he was strolling through the market still wondering why he was at the market and wondering if his joblessness hadn’t affected his psyche too badly, he suddenly heard a lady scream behind him.
‘Thief! My handbag!’ The distressed lady screamed. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a figure taking off, and without realising it followed suit after the bag thief. He was the first to react and strangely, the thief had a free pass to run as the market was sparse thanks to development work done by the state government.
He cursed under his breathe as he gave chase at full sprint following the thief through Bolade to Shogunle, the guy was in top shape and seemed to be taunting him by periodically slowing down so Deji could gain ground. He was determined to catch the thief who crossed the road made it through the rail tracks and ran into the army barracks.
Angered, and cursing his laziness to exercise, Deji felt a rush of adrenaline course through him, and he became re-energized, as he chased the thief into the Cantonment. It didn’t occur to him to cry out for help, he followed the man through the garage, past the primary school extension to one of the warehouses in the area. As he caught up with the guy stretching to reach and grab him, a door opened in front of him.
It was all he could do to stop himself from crashing into the man and the door he opened. Deji was indignant, peering beside the man to see if he could still spy the assailant who had disappeared into the bushes.
‘You just allowed a thief escape!’ He was seething, breathless.
The man smiled at him, ‘I’m terribly sorry, I just wanted to see what was making happening outside, sorry I allowed the thief get away.’ He apologised sincerely and patted Deji on the shoulder, ‘why don’t you come in a take a breather, then, you can go home and rest.’
It sounded like a good idea, so Deji went into the warehouse with him unhappy he had run for close to five minutes in vain. They entered into a spacious office that was akin to interrogation rooms he had seen in movies, difference was, this room was fully air conditioned and there was a stack of books at the entry.
The man offered him a seat and gave him water from the office dispenser. Deji was about asking the man why his office was so bare when another man entered the office reading a file. Immediately, he became alert.
‘Impressive.’ The second man said, ‘impressive.’ He was walking towards them, a thoughtful look on his face.
‘Where are my manners?’ The first man said smiling, ‘I’m agent Tunde and this is agent Smart.’ He pointed at the man that just walked into the room.
‘Ayodeji Enoch Oladele, born 18 July 1987, attended Command Children’s School Ikeja, Command Day Secondary School NAFRC, before proceeding to Unilag to study accountancy.’ The man identified as agent Smith was reading the contents of his file out loud.
‘Whoa, stop right there,’ Deji was clearly spooked. He rose to his feet, ‘who are you guys?’
Agent Tunde the man who brought him in just kept smiling whilst agent Smith continued reading out loud.
‘He dated five girls between SS3 to his final year in Unilag, coming out worse in a bad break-up that has made him steely and unromantic. He now preys on hapless girls for sex…’
‘Stop right there,’ Deji had a menacing look and his tone had changed from that of surprise to calculated anger. ‘You continue reading that out loud and amma kill you.’
Agent smart regarded him as one would regard an annoying mosquito (briefly) and spoke to him for the first time since entering the room. ‘The next time you use the word kill in a statement directed at me, I best be half dead already.’ He looked at Agent smart who rolled his eyes, shrugged and moved imperceptibly out of their way. Agent Smart continued reading. ‘He served…’
Like a pistol fired at close range, Deji charged, his speed was lightning, still, Agent Smart had enough time to ward of his initial attack, both of them trading fists and hand chops like in a Chinese movie, it was epic. When Deji realised that the other man may also decide to join in and that agent Smart was a tough opponent, he did the unthinkable and used a move he hadn’t used in a fight before. It was a round house kick, a la Chuck Norris, and that broke their proximity as, though the agent saw it coming late and tried blocking, he didn’t react quickly enough to stop the kick landing perfectly on his chest.
Agent Tunde clapped, clearly amused at their senseless bickering. He leaned on the table in the room watching on with interest as both men breathed heavily. An objective judge, he couldn’t call an outright winner. Round two, he thought to himself.
Both men stared menacing at themselves. Deji felt a strange sensation coursing through him, he tried moving but felt numb; a coldness ran down his spine. He worked his muscles, moved and fell. He began drowning in his own blood, as he began to lose consciousness.
Agent Smart had watched him with real intent, wondering if he could beat the sting attack. He sighed as he watched Deji hit the floor. The boy really deserves his rating he thought. He turned towards agent Tunde who still had that annoying look on his face agent Smart began to implode.
‘Not bad for a rookie,’ agent Tunde said. ‘It’s amusing he actually caught you.’
‘What are you talking about?’ Agent Smart asked, irritated.
‘Oh,’ agent Tunde mocked, ‘you have…’ he touched his right eyebrow, the smile firmly fixed on his face.
Agent Smart touched his brow, felt a wetness there and realised he had been cut by one of Deji’s attacks. He realised then the reason why agent Tunde had continued smiling in his eyes, the contest was a draw. Smart got angry and turned towards Deji to finish him off. As he completed his turn, a heavy blow landed on his temple. Then, blackness.
Deji stood breathing heavily. He had gone to dark places he hadn’t been in years to pull out of that sting attack. One down, one more to go. He gauged the other man, this would be a tougher quarry to rein. He started calculating.
‘Now that we’ve taken that out of the way, let’s get to real business.’ Agent Tunde was suddenly businesslike. ‘Everything that got you here was premeditated, so you’re here because I want you to.’ He paused gazing straight at Deji.
Deji reeled. Everything, including that near accident, the fist fight just now, including the text message he received earlier. All had been tests and he had played right into their hands. He was distraught how could they have profiled him that perfectly?
‘We are an intelligence agency operating from Nigeria, our name? Don’t even bother. You applied to one of our window positions and so, in a nutshell, we’re here.’ Agent Tunde was suddenly stiff.
Deji had thought to rush the agent whilst he spoke but the remembrance of the knocked out agent and the fact that if he stepped away from the man on the ground, he might actually be compounding his troubles. His mind raced, what to do?
The man on the floor stirred, instinctively, he kicked hard at the man’s head knocking him out still. Deji considered the man in front of him, his bemused look had returned.
‘That was uncalled for, but, it was a wise move. Supposing you were to take me on and make it out of here alive, you’ll need to take me out in a minute, then make your way out of here in another minute or you’ll be courting trouble.’
What the man found funny, Deji didn’t know as he regarded agent Tunde, and it finally struck him, the man could kill him anytime he wanted but was talking and offering him fellowship into an intelligence community. He blanched as the thought that he was at the man’s mercy finally occurred to him.
‘I thought you guys recruit people passively, against their will. This isn’t so, I’ve been overcoming hurdles for almost half an hour.’ He suddenly realised that it was all the time he had taken, and it felt like a lifetime had passed since he gave chase. If only he hadn’t given chase, he cursed his damned hero complex.
‘Relax.’ Agent Tunde assured him, ‘I mean you no evil son, thank me later. Now, I wanna move you into the Nigerian James Bond. A super spy…’
Deji didn’t hear all the man was saying. It made perfect sense to him then, his hero complex, his love for superheroes and the fact that he had wished to become a spy for all his teenage years leading him to train like a maniac in martial arts; collecting black belts in Wushu and Karate and a brown in Aikite. It made sense.
‘… so if you will, give me a day, I’ll show you why consenting to this is a great thing to do. You get to enact all your favourite superheroes, what’s more, you’ll be the super spy.’ The look on agent Tunde’s face had changed to that of persuasion. ‘What say you come with me?’
Deji thought about it for all of two seconds, ‘lead the way.’ He said and followed Agent Tunde on his way out. At the door, he turned and spied agent Smart still lying on the floor. He hoped he hadn’t killed the man, or worse given him a concussion. He stepped into the daylight and felt free and alive again. Something told him then that he had already been reeled in.