Nnelim followed the fat man up the dusty flight of stairs that had a rank smell. She could hardly breathe, but she needed the money. She wrinkled her nose at the unpleasant smell that clogged the stairwell and began to ask herself if she really needed the money.
The climb was difficult because of the smell. She paused beside the fat man who had stopped earlier to catch his breath. He was wheezing like he was about to die. Nnelim rolled her eyes impatiently, grateful for the dimly lit stairwell.
“You dey okay so?” She asked in a controlled voice. She was beyond irritated with this one.
“Continue, I dey come,” He said to her without looking up, he swung his right hand in a sweeping upward movement to signal her to continue up the stairs. She continued on without a word and had not gone three steps before she remembered she had no idea where she was going to. The smell was becoming too difficult to ignore.
She turned to him and inquired which floor they were headed and he held up four fingers to mean the 4th floor. They were on the 2nd Floor and the lecherous pig was already too tired to continue, Nnelim mused. Maybe this could work to her advantage, after all, she thought; a wicked smile formed on her thick lips, smeared with cheap lipstick the color of a garish red.
Nnelim was not a pretty woman and she knew it. She did not flatter herself or try to make up for it in some way. But what she did lack in looks, she more than made up for it in wits. She was a woman with a quick mind, hidden behind the demeanor of an indifferent nun. Nnelim also had an unconventional way of doing everything, and this made her very unpopular among her comrades.
She was on the 4th-floor landing when she paused to listen for the fat man. She heard his heavy footfalls on the thinly carpeted stairs, as he made the climb laboriously. She adjusted her eyes to the darkness and she could make out the outline of the doors that lined the dimly lit corridor that faced the 4th-floor landing.
She was getting annoyed that the fat man was taking so long to climb the remaining flights of stairs. She was wary of someone running into them on the stairs. One of the invaluable lessons she had learned early, was to always limit exposure to the barest minimum. This suited her perfectly as she made no efforts to spend time with people more than her misanthropic nature could bear.
The fat man finally made it to the 4th-floor landing, out of breath and barely able to stand. He supported his copious frame on the wall as he kept on wheezing. Nnelim looked at him with a blank look on her face, grateful that she didn’t have to work hard to hid her disgust and irritation.
“No vex abeg, this kine esacise dey quick taya me!” The fat man said breathlessly when he saw her standing on the landing, patiently waiting for him with that blank expression on her face. There was something about her that made him uneasy, but he pushed away the thoughts, and instead decided to focus on all the things she had told him she could do for him