So… a while back, I wrote a piece for a friend’s site based on the theme “Pick Ups.” The idea was to create a story based on how to pick up a girl in a given locale. The locale I initially got was airplane. Due to certain problems beyond their control, the story I wrote had to be hurriedly edited for the locale ‘Bus’. Anyway, here is the original version of that story. Enjoy.
“YOUR SEAT IS BY THE AISLE SIR”
Bollocks. He’d asked for a window seat. This was about to be no fun whatsoever. Then he sat down. The lady on the window seat. Was. Hot.
“Jesus,” he cursed.
“Excuse me?” she said. He thought her voice was a little deep. This made her seem even hotter.
“I’m sorry. I was just… I asked the lady at the check-in counter for a window seat so I’m just a little miffed that I didn’t get it,” he offered.
“Oh. So do you always get what you want?” she asked,
“Depends. If we are talking about my six-pack, or lack thereof, no,” she smiled. “But If we’re talking about my bank account…” he paused
“Yes?” she asked sweetly even though she really disliked men who never missed a chance to flaunt their wealth.
“… then I never get what I want,” she laughed. She just might like this one.
“So what do you get?”
“Not much. So having a hottie sat beside me for the duration of a flight is a more-than-welcome bonus.”
“You think I’m a hottie?” she asked, pearly whites now out in full resplendent glory.
“I was talking about her,” he pointed to the right with his thumb. Across the aisle, a woman who was surely in her fifties was seated and looked straight ahead.
“I bet you’ve charmed your way into countless hearts with such well-aimed compliments,” she spat sarcastically. He found her angst cute.
“I’ll have you know that I truly suck at this.”
“Truth. The women I’ve gotten with were either chloroformed or…” he was making her giggle,
“Or clubbed,” he deadpanned. She burst out laughing.
“I refuse to believe that,” she managed between fits of laughter. “Okay, you know what? We’ve got roughly ninety minutes together on this flight. Woo me!”
“Really? And what shall I get? Cookies? A pat on the back? Or your old brassieres for parachute practice?”
“I don’t know,” she replied, “you might be surprised. I have surprisingly sturdy brassieres.”
He smiled. He thought this day would never come. He felt about his jacket. Time to break out the flashcards.
“CABIN CREW, GET READY FOR TAKEOFF”
“With great power comes great responsibility,” he looked at her for effect, “and access to bigger boobs!”
“Is that really what you’re starting with?” she looked shocked.
“I wanted to open with a joke.”
“Then you could have read me your bank balance.”
“Ouuuch! That was low. Even for you.”
“Isn’t that what the bank said?” she replied,
“Come on! Don’t be so mean. I’m making an effort here.”
“The hell you are,” she growled.
He discretely chucked the first of his flashcards to one side. Well mentally anyway. He did not walk around carrying them, but had those plays memorized. It was supposed to be some harmless fun but her endless stash of zingers coupled with her delicious scent and her hotness (dear Lord her hotness) made him want to give this a fair shot.
He could see that she had long shapely legs ensconced in some really fitted jeans. She was made-up but not excessively so. He could tell. Her eyes popped and her red lipstick and dark complexion really made her glistening teeth stick out every time she opened her mouth. Her mouth. Father merciful, her mouth. This was going to be a long flight.
“WE ARE EXPECTING SOME SLIGHT TURBULENCE…”
“Are we destined to be like the parallelogram? Tilted at similar angles but destined never to meet?” he offered. She looked at him while he spoke. He was lucky, she reckoned, that there was plastic airline food in her mouth. Otherwise, he’d get a dastardly reply.
“I’d like to think we are more like circles though. For what goes around, comes around,” he tried again.
And at that moment, she just thought he was a proper square. He’d started off great but had veered off into this horrendous territory. Why did men not know to just be normal when they had a girl’s attention? If only he knew that he was better off teasing rather flattering her.
“People are like triangles: we all have three sides. Our good, bad and horrendously ugly sides,” she chuckled beside him instantly.
“What?” he asked,
“I’m good-looking, you’re really bad at this and therefore this situation is about to get horrendously…” she opened her right hand and used it to cover her face.
“Crap,” he murmured.
“Is this a geometry lesson? ‘Cuz I’m beginning to feel like it is.”
“No. It is not.”
She was more than a little disbelieving when he came at her with his ‘I suck at this stuff’ line. This guy was clearly smooth once he took his foot out of his mouth. When she’d looked up and saw him approaching, she had hoped he would sit beside her. She had been sat beside a prayer warrior the last time she flew and every in-flight announcement had been met with invocation and the speaking of tongues. This was a fine brother right here. Apart from all the shape references, he spoke really intelligently and seemed so confident. And what was it about his mouth? She decided to see if she could throw a spanner in.
“You know what? Actually, I misplaced my ring recently but you should be informed that I’m engaged,” his reply was swift. “Nope. That’s untrue. I saw the attendant make you switch off your mobile phone.”
“I don’t,” she started, then paused as she caught his reference to telephone speak of the nineties. “You need help,”
“Or a violent sexual awakening. Either of which you look fully capable of providing,”
“What?” she was liking him again.
“CABIN CREW, PLEASE BE SEATED AS WE PREPARE FOR DESCENT”
He chucked the flashcards. Bloody load of good it had done him. Now, he was nervous. But he was sure. Having arrived with a screech at his wits’ end, he felt he had nowhere to run. This was as frustrating as it was exhilarating. Time to get real. This flight was about to end.
“You have to understand that it’s not easy for me to say these things,” she turned to face him. Stare quickly morphed into glare. He was unfazed as yet. “Expressing myself like this is difficult for me. It may come a lot easier for you but I…” he had to power through, “…I… I clam up most times,” now she looked bored.
“I don’t know how you got the same seat with me. Clearly I have a future in magic so please…” he could sense his honesty rising to the fore. It tasted like poop. His poop. And it seemed to be the only thing he had left now anyway, “… please let me finish the illusion. I think you are one of the smartest, clearly one of the prettiest women, I have ever met. You seem like a really genuine person too. I don’t know how I know this but I guess my magical prowess must really be taking shape. In, what, seventy odd minutes, I have been put down more times than all my previous put-downs combined…
“But I have never enjoyed it more. So when this plane lands, I just want a chance to maybe continue this conversation. Maybe you want to talk about cereal sometimes, or movies. Or maybe…”
She interrupted him by pressing her lips to his now reddening cheek. She lightly put both her palms to hold either side of his neck. Just as he closed his mouth to try to savour the sensation, she released him.
It was fleeting. But the message was clear.
“Happy now?” she said. He whistled faintly, clearly shocked. Then he put out his hand and tilted it from side to side.
“Well, I was actually hoping for just your number… so…”
She sat back laughing.
“What took you so damn long?” she asked,
“Don’t women like men that take it slow?”
“Not always. And I don’t believe you actually came at me with geometry references.”
“That wasn’t just any geometry,” he put out his hands and gestured a flying motion, “that was plane geometry!”
Silence for fifteen seconds. Then:
“Dude…” she started,
“That shit is corny.”
“You do realize we are going to need serious help if we ever date right?”
“Sure. I can’t say things right, you can’t stop…”
She looked at him in mock anger, “I can’t stop? You want to be alive long enough to get help or not?”
“What? You mean you’re going to cook for me?”
“Oh you are dead!”
“Not unless you baked the airline food! I knew it smelt like arsenic, I just wasn’t sure!”
She faced the window laughing but made sure to raise her middle finger at him.
“Wait, I thought your phone number started with a zero?” he suddenly feigned realization. “Oooh. You mean one. As in Lagos’ code yeah? Let me just grab my pen.” Still turned away, she put the base of her other palm to her forehead as she shook with laughter.
“LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, YOU ARE WELCOME TO YOUR DESTINATION. PLEASE HAVE A NICE STAY”
“Okay. Promise me one thing,” she turned to face him as she spoke. People were grabbing their luggage and walking hurriedly past the crazy, noisy pair.
“Anything. Although I can’t grow my foreskin back and I can’t afford the surgery. So…”
“What?! No. Promise me that once we get off this plane, you will never try this hard ever again.”
He laughed exaggeratedly and immediately began reciting.
“I pledge to Miss Window my new bae,
To be faithful loyal and horny,
To service Miss Window with all my strength…” that was when she punched him in the stomach.
“THANK YOU FOR FLYING WITH US. DID YOU ENJOY YOUR FLIGHT SIR?”
“Oh you have no idea!”
I am not a Lagos girl. Zinny now is and this post is from her. NOT ME. I REPEAT, NOT ME!!!
I am a Calabar girl, born and bred. I thought I’d always be a Calabar girl… until Lagos.
I was raised every inch a lady. How to walk, how to sit, the proper decibels at which to speak given the occasion, how to observe other people’s personal space, whether standing or sitting, how to observe rules of polite behaviour when speaking, like ‘please’, ‘excuse me’, ‘may I?’, ‘sorry’, etc. These all formed part of my home training growing up, at a time when formal etiquette schools had yet to make their entrance. And about the only abusive term I was allowed use of was ‘you are silly’. My dad was that particular! So it was that I blossomed into a lovely young lady who observed etiquette and frankly could not understand it when others wouldn’t.
This, until I was thrown into the cesspool that is Lagos… Thrown, because I was unprepared. Imagine my horror and utter confusion to find that everything which formed the basis of great relationships and a structured society was upended. I was introduced to a society where everything unacceptable is the norm. Even worse, unacceptable is considered cool. Death rides with conductors hanging out of buses whilst speeding through Third Mainland Bridge. Who does that?! Why would you want to do that?! Jumping out of buses that are still in motion. What are you trying to prove? That you are death proof? So was Humpty Dumpty…until he fell.
Lagos is the stuff nightmares are made of. For the longest time, going out was daunting. Why, oh why is everyone soooo angry and suspicious? And where are you all running to? Really! Sir, do please, pretty please, tone down your voice. We are perfectly capable of hearing you – thanks to the two ears the creator planted on our heads. And you might as well lose the viciousness while at it: some things are not worth the hypertension. Errrrrr, Oga, we want to go to heaven in our own good time; no point driving as if hell’s own hounds are giving chase. Ha! If only I knew I was practically alone in thinking this.
Gotta say, Lagos has done a number on me. How do I know this? I’m numb to most of the things that used to make my hair stand on end. Progress, huh? I think so too.
In Calabar, I would go to bed to the occasional bark of a dog and soft music playing in the background. Now I go to bed to the sound of blaring horns, screaming tires and humans who want to prove to each other that they know more abuses in the Yoruba language, and this at roaring volumes expected only in tunnels, so those of us who have nothing to do would be held captive. As it turns out, this is now music to my ears. As it plays on, I sleep on.
In Cally, I would awaken every morning to birds chirping, tweeting in the trees outside my room and the crunch of farmers’ boots on the way to their farms. Now I wake up at what is internationally recognised as an ungodly hour -4 A.M.- thanks to the loudspeaker in the mosque which is situated on the street directly across my house. During Ramadan, I am woken up at least three times a night by that darned gramophone. Oh who cares? I’m alive and it’s a new day, thank you Jesus!
One of my best features was my catwalk: a measured, somewhat seductive way of moving my hips in time to my feet. It was, if I say so myself, musical and paced just right. I am what people call shapely and my gait helped emphasize that. But noooooooooo, Lagos said it was snail pace and utterly unnecessary, when my job description did not read ‘model’. Buses zoomed off before I got to the spot where they had been standing. Conductors cursed and jeered. So I learned to gallop. It’s a cross between walking and running. Forget seductive, forget beauty. I need to get to where I’m going and do so in time. What’s the point of pacing yourself just so if it is lost on everyone?
In secondary school, in Calabar of course, we used to eat to time. If you hadn’t finished when the bell went off, you had to chuck your food. I was that girl who stood at the bins after every meal throwing away half my food because I couldn’t rush eating. There were times when students engaged in what was called massacre. They would rush at the servers with giant bowls and cart away huge quantities of food or an entire pot of meat or fish. The servers would be helpless to do anything because they were few and we were many and there were no prefects to bring order to the chaos. Even in those dire times, I would stand back and watch because I did not have the capacity for such violence. I was too ladylike for such extremities! I would be mauled! Not anymore. Now, when there’s scarcity of transport here in Lagos, I find myself rushing with the spring of an accomplished acrobat and the menace of a wild animal.
And don’t ask me what I do to my food.
Temperament wise, I have always called myself a melancholic. I won’t speak unless I need to. I enjoy my own company. I’m mellow and soft spoken; aggressive only when arguing a point (and that you can blame on my profession: Law). That’s all in the past now. I have undergone a whole personality change. I don’t remember what bedroom tones sound like. I scream at conductors with gusto. I am brash for no reason. I speak pidgin like an upcoming Warri babe. I even think in pidgin now (scary!). I tend to get bored of my company too soon. I look at me sometimes and I don’t recognize me. LAGOS!!!
Lagos is not just a place, it is a culture; an identity; a frame of reference. Lasgidi. Lagosian. It is an identity a lot hold dear and beat their chests loudly to in proclamation. It is an identity I loathe and embrace in equal parts. Think about it, what does Lagosian mean? It means one is tough, ready and able to do the necessary to achieve success, even if that means exerting grievous effort or taking on the lowliest of jobs. It means one is acclimated to traffic and its accompanying exhaustion and yet can still rise before cocks crow the next day headed for new traffic. It means one is aggressive enough to stand up to touts and their ilk and the quickest to head off in the opposite direction if a rape, beating, theft or murder is taking place. It means one can spot a cheat a mile off and never misses an opportunity to make an extra buck. It means one can live in filth without flinching. It means clubbing and working are one and the same and aso-ebis would never leave the no.1 spot on ‘trending’. It means strangers and beggars deserve the same treatment: ignore.
Lagos, the owners claim, is survived by only the fittest. Well, I have survived two years and counting and intend to do so until hubby dearest whisks me off to a destination island where we would spend the rest of our days. Come quickly honey, for although I am surviving considerably, the tell-tale signs are beginning to show. You see, all hustle and no fun, and there you have it – the perfect recipe for aging.
I just found my new tagline…
Lagos: Age Quickly.
First up, I was really bored in Owerri after my brother’s nuptials when I typed this.
Secondly, if you steal this and pass it off as yours without giving me credit, all your kids will look me… And everyone will know why. And me that I’m now ugly. No really, don’t steal this without permission. I don’t like it. Simples.
Football is really a perv’s game because…
10. The whole object is to score.
9. You have a bunch of men trying to get in the box…
8. And a bunch of burly, defensive men trying to stop balls from getting in there…
7. The best scorers might not be good with their feet, but all is forgiven if their head is fantastic…
6. Guys, getting your balls in low and hard is good…
5. Ladies, being high and wiiiiide is not…
4. Like your Twitter dates, if you perform poorly, you will be subbed…
3. If you’re good at handling balls, you’re probably a ‘keeper.
2. It’s better to play on a wet, slick surface than a dry one. (Okay, that’s just nasty)
1. And lastly, like a lesbian will tell you, ball possession isn’t everything…
I may have been bored AND high. Sorry…
You might not be familiar with some of the terminologies used if you haven’t read the first and the second editions of Crash Course. Try to enjoy. And subscribe. Tagging is a royal pain.
Devil dey work o. Who tell you say devil no dey work dey lie. Devil dey work pass ashewo wey get target.
I been dey house wen Napodia papa wan use cutlass do me like mallam suya.
“Open dis door! Make I see d tin wey you use give Napo belle! Wen I finish wit you, you go see woman run.”
Small time, him halla come turn to cry.
“Ooooh. My Napodia. My innocent Napodia!”
Innocent ko, flourescent ni. Napodia wey like Patrick pass pure water. I wish say I been snap picture wen Napodia dey show me skill wey she see for blu feem. Abi u tink say na ordinary eye dey turn Crash Course to Credit? No be only innocent. Small time, Napo papa vexation return.
“Foolish boy. Come out now!”
My guy wan break dis door sha.
I remember d oyinbo wey Pastor been blow on Sunday. Wetin Crashito dey find for church? You dey mad? Where I wan see offering tiff before? “When God closes a door, he opens a window!”
I look my burglary proof again. Omo dis window lock die. I come hear noise inside ceiling. Idea. E no reach two minutes wey I use remove ceiling board, enter roof begin dey run. As I dey up dey run, I see space for down where anoda ceiling board don remove. I tink say na inside person room I dey go land. As I jump down, I see myself for d corridor of our face-me-I-slap-you.
Also, one man (wey ugly pass gorilla wey smell crase man armpit) carry cutlass dey wait me. “You must marry my Napodia or else I will feed you to wild animals.” I no tink. I just look him cutlass answer, “Sir, which day make I come pay dowry?”
Devil dey work.
I dey do construction work. My company dey send for us anytime wey work dey. So if I no dey house or my friend place, I dey site. One day, I dey site for Lekki. We dey build one big house. Dat day my oga say I no go carry load. Na only to supervise one small tin so I wear beta cloth come dat day. I dey work my own jeje when horn sound outside gate. I look but d gateman no dey.
“Heyss! Ol boy! Oga pikin don land. Go open gate.” Na one of d boys wey I dey supervise dey open him mama gutter dey follow me yan. No fear. Normally we dey follow work sha. So no yawa. And I reason say na me neat pass so I first threaten him life before I go open d gate. One fine, clean motor enter d yard. D motor park, and oga pikin come out. I tink say na man. Omo na babe. Finest babe.
Money good o.
See as d babe skin fresh. Goddddd! Her face too fine and her body make sense. She get front but back no too full. Like 504. And na small pikin o. She no fit pass 22, 23. I senior am for sure but I no kno when I greet am.
“Aunty good afternoon.” see wetin bobbi dey cause.
“Hello, good afternoon. How are you?”
“I dey fine ma,”
“There are some things in the back seat. Please help me carry them.”
Make I explain give una small. This work no be new house. Na renovate we dey renovate. Dem break one side but the people wey get house dey live another side inside the same compound. I carry some small small things then follow madam go where she dey go. As we dey pass, some of the boys dem wey dey work begin shout give me.
“Crashito, dis one wey you follow madam for back, no too near am o. You know say you dey smell,”
“Yes na,” I answer d guy, “na me do mistake borrow your papa perfume!” D babe troway face like say she no dey hear but I see am dey laugh small small.
“Crash Cos!” Another idiot. All these yeye boys can sabi misbehave once dem see babe. “Why you tiff my shirt wear come work na?”
“No vex. Your sister open your wardrobe dash me after I give am Patrick chop!” Me sef sabi shout. Boys dem just dey laugh as we waka pass. Madam just face front. We waka reach back of their house na im she open their back door from kitchen side. She show me where to drop d tins dem. After I drop them, I see her face. She dey smile.
“What is your name?”
“Crash Cos,” as I dey answer, she dey bust laugh.
“I was afraid of that,” her foné no be here. I no too dey hear am sef.
“My name is Colette, by the way,” I shock.
“Sorry ma, you be D’banj pikin?” She bust more laugh.
“Why do I always get that? It’s Colette not freaking ‘cocolet,'”
“Yes. Colette. Now could you do me a favour?”
“I’m an English major doing my thesis and I’d like to ask you some questions about broken English.” D only tin wey I hear na ‘question’, ‘broken’ and ‘English’. But trust mumu wey I be. I just answer.
“Yes ma,” next tin wey I know, d babe collect my number come tell she say she go buzz me. Jesu mi. My life don beta na. Levels don change. Dis kain babe collect my number, na happiness and joy and hammering remain na. As I wan commot go return my work, she come ask me JAMB question.
“So I have to ask. What’s does it mean when you say ‘Patrick?'”
Wallahi, I know say baba God dey my side, but devil dey work.
Devil dey work but sometimes, e be like say God dey work too. My phone ring the next day and na Napo.
“Hello. Napo, na wetin?”
“Hello. Crash Cos, na so u dey ansa your future wife?”
“Make thunder use old crayfish solder dat ya mouth. Who be your husband?”
“Wait first. Who dey pursue you?” D only tin be say devil dey use dem family. If not, Napo voice sexy die. Temptation.
“Pursue? Dem no tell you say ya popsy wan take my bloqos do dog food?” D idiot start to laugh. Dem don swear for dis one?
“Crash Cos, no vex. If na your daughter, abi our daughter, you sef no go vex?”
“Which one be our daughter? Napodia, you follow ojuju dance for dream?” I don dey vex. Which kain nonsense?
“Crash Cos relax. My mama don follow my papa talk. Me and you no go marry. Money you no get. And no be say you too fine. Plus you no kuku get respect for elders.”
To start d matter, I happy say Napo dem people don free me. Na d insult wey she follow join for back na im dey pain me.
“Napo, who no fine? Me and you who fine pass. Na only yansh you get o. You wey do face like burnt offering,”
“Oya e don do, e don do for you Crash Cos,” she sef don dey vex. Make she see as e be to collect insult na. Idiot.
“No be d tin wey make me call you sef. No dey use my credit curse me,”
“I don hear. Wetin make you call me?”
“I tell you say my mama follow my papa talk. But before we do anything about dis pikin, dem say make you come house make we follow talk.” Which house? To go die? I answer Napo straight.
“Ah. Una don see cheap market abi? E be like say your papa don see buyer for d dog food atink?”
“No o. No be so. My popsy don calm down. True talk. Just come. Me sef I know where him dey keep d cutlass. I go hide am. Trust me.” Napo voice come sexy again.
“Which day make I come?”
“Next week Tuesday. Around 6 when you go don close work,” I tink am small.
“Okay. I go try. But I no go wear shoe come o. Na pam slippers. In case I need run,” Napo start laugh again.
“Okay, I don hear. Bye bye.” She cut phone.
On Tuesday, I jam Colette for work again. That day, she come where we dey work come find me. All those boys come begin jealous me.
“Crashito, madam dey find you,” I do go meet am where she stand.
“So I was thinking we could do that interview today,” Interview? So all d grammar wey she dey blow since na for interview? Well, I no too complain. She fit be d future Mrs. Crashito. Baba God abeg.
“Which time?” I gats tell am say I get waka for dem Napo house but I no tell am wetin d waka dey about o. I sha tell am say we go meet after I finish for dem Napo side. She come call d name of one restaurant say make we meet there. Before she go, she press 2k inside my hand say make I use am join taxi.
For evening, I surprise for Napo dem house o. Dem papa don mellow. Na d babe mama dey look me like say I carry dustbin for head. Dem tori no too plenty. Story no too long. Dem just wan know my face and dem tell me say na me go drop money for anytin wey Napo need do for hospital. I just dey remember Napo papa cutlass dey answer “yes sir, yes ma.” When I reason say yans don finish, I stand up say make I dey go. Na Napo voice I come hear:
“Crash Cos, you must chop na,” Chopology. Awoof dey cut spirit for Orile o. My guy Kajeta, na awoof finish am for area. Im tiff for the place wey im dey work houseboy before. D people know say e tiff. D next day wen im come, dem mix juju and cement give am chop inside ogbono. My guy chop am finish dey happy. Since dem sack am, rumour be say na only Julius Berger gree employ am.
Because im dey helep dem shit block.
Devil dey work.
But last week, wen I dey ‘collect’ church offering, I hear dem pastor dey preach.
“The devil is liar!!!” Na so church shout “AMEN!”
“No weapon fashioned against you shall prosper!” As I dey commot d money, na so I dey use style dey shout “Amen!” Baba, I believe.
Juju no dey kill herbalist.
“Bring am make I chop,”
Omo dem give rice and beans chop. No be say d food no sweet. E sweet die. D yawa be say I suppose see Colette after I commot here and na egg and bread I chop since morning. D food sweet. Wella. I chop am one time clean mouth. Small time, I move.
I reach d place wey Colette say make I jam am. One fresh joint for VI. D people get restaurant inside come get joint outside for open air. She been don dey wait me sef. Chai.
“Hey Crash Cos, why are you sweating?”
“Nothing ma,” Omo na something o. Wen I dey inside bus dey come, na im my belle begin turn. I just dey hold myself since.
“Would you like something to eat?”
“No ma,” dis one want make I die? I just dey under breeze dey sweat. E be like say she tink say na fear wey dey make me sweat.
My hand been dey on top table. I no know wetin push d babe: she just carry her hand put on top my own.
“Relax,” omo as she talk dat tin, see as joy full my heart. I no know wen laugh catch me. And na dat time yawa come gas. Well, na me actually commot gas but d smell na yawa. And d breeze dey move well. Chineke God of Orile criminals. Which kain mature mess be dis?
“What died in here? Crash Course, did you fart?” D tin smell na instant.
I swear, cry dey my eye as I dey confess. I no fit lie dat kain lie: everybody know say I no get weight, “Aunty I no fat. Na mess I mess.”
“Oh my God!”
Since she run go dat day, she never call me again.
Devil dey work.
A short story: the list of how many girlfriends I’ve had.
A long story: why I’m not with any of them.
A sad story: one day, I looked in the mirror…
A funny story: one day, I looked in the mirror. While naked.
A sadder story: while staring in the mirror naked, my high wore off.
A smart story: I got dressed. Fast.
A stupid story: and what do you think you’ve been reading for the past minute or so?
A dumb story: It took you a full minute to get this far?
A war story: one day, I went to the toilet…
A crime story: you should ask the poor guy who went in after me.
A romantic story: so as I was eating a large helping of spaghetti…
A coming-of-age story: like that of King David and Uriah, I realized that my romantic story led to my war story and then my sad story.
A tragic story: so I wrote my account number and signed. Two minutes later, the lady at the desk wrote some figures she was looking at on a computer screen.
A never-ending story: so the other day, I tried to figure out women.
A fantasy story: seeing as we now have electricity 2-4-7…
A happy story: yeah. Didn’t I just say I put my clothes back on?
Baby steps now, I’ll have more on the blog next week. Been a lazy lazy writer in 2014…
Wow. 9 months since I first penned Crash Course. I’m awful at this. And yes, this is also in pidgin. And this is also raunchy
I like my landlord. Na correct guy. Him build dis im house well well. You don see ‘Face Me I Woze You’ wey carry burglary proof for window before? Omo dem fit dey but na Island yard dey get all dat one. You nor fit see am for dis we Orile. For me to pack out of dis yard go hard. Sotey landlord build toilet reach two for backyard. Anyway sha, dat evening I just baff dey fresh dey expect person. Me and Napodia been get appointment. She suppose come yard come see Patrick. I know say una don begin dey tink who be “Patrick”. If you remove the ‘at’ inside im name, you go know say Patrick na our best friend for area. We dey pamper am and everything wey we dey reason na to benefit Patrick.
U don kana am?
My mainest man na one boy wey dem dey call Credit. Him dey sell chemist for area. After I go gist una why we call am dat name. Me and d idiot get appointment so I reason say make I call am warn him papa spirit not to near my house today as per say because babe dey come.
“Credit, how far now?”
“Crashito! How paroles na?”
“I dey. Which levels?”
“Omo, I go soon begin come your side o. Make I just free small for shop. Boys broke die. Shebi if I come you drop for me ba?” Dis fool dey always beg money but no be im make I give am dat name sha.
“Drop ke? I resemble your mama bobby?”
“Guy no dey cuss my mumsy bobby o!”
“Why I no go cuss am? Una dey buy broom? No be d tin wey una dey use sweep yard?”
“You don start o, you don start! Na wetin na?” I smile where I dey. Any small yabis dey can sabi pain Credit.
“Guy calm down. No vex. I say make I call you tell you say make you no show again o.”
“Ah ah. Make I no show? Why?”
“Napodia dey come,”
“Ahhhhhh! My chairman!” Nothing dey sweet boys pass to hear say woman dey come find man. Credit just continue to dey hail.
“Guy, she go visit Patrick side?” Which kain stupid question dis boy dey ask me sef?
“Na because of am wey she dey come na,” I no dey kuku fall hand.
“Ah. Sure boy. Tidy am well o.”
“Guy, my name no be Credit na. I be original Crash Cos!” Okay, make I tell una why we dey call am Credit. Credit na d shorten of “Hundred Naira Credit”. And I give am dat name because, according to him girlfriend, our guy “no dey tey before him finish.”
One hour later, Napo dey my room and I wan remove her blouse.
“Crash Cos wait,” Oooooh god! Which kain wahala be dis? Why dis babe dey slow my movement?
“Wait say wetin happen?” I don dey vex where I dey sef,
“I never do dis kain tin before.” Napo come dey hide face for me.
“Which kain tin you never do before?” Napo come shame for face as she use hand point my ‘extension cable’. I shock.
“Napo, dem never take Patrick slap you before?” Napo shake head.
I don die for Lagos!
“Jisos! So you dey try tell me say as your yansh big like cinema television so, you never see Patrick?”
“Crash Course, I never see…”
“Why? Why? Patrick is good na! You must try to dey see am from time to time. Ehn. Napo give me one good reason why you never visit Patrick at this age. You nor dey see your mates? Crash Course no dey tear label o! No be me dey open shop!”
Omo na lie o. Dat day I open shop by force by force. Patrick cannot live by garage alone… e must to dey visit sardine container once once na.
When I dey with Jolomi, I fit control myself. But if Napo na sardine container, Jolomi na airport. I no know when I turn to Credit.
“Ahn ahn. Na wetin? Crash Course, you don finish?”
My eye don roll go back. E don sweet me die. I just manage get myself abuse d girl. “Common sharrap dia!”
After my eye don clear, I realize say problem dey. I forget to wear Patrick im shower cap. I no know why na me dis kain tin dey always do. I tell Napo make she relax for house. I come go meet Credit where him dey sell chemist. When I reach, customer been plenty dia. I just waka cross the counter because Credit na my guy. I first greet am so dat dose people no go know say I come buy market. As I greet Credit finish, d idiot rush ask me.
“Guy, how d waka go na?”
“Waka go well but I need sontin,” I begin talk small small. “Wetin be d name of dat drug wey dem dey use commot belle?”
“Which one? Postinor?” The volume wey d bagger use call d name vex me. Na so I near am come pinch am for belle codedly.
“You want make everybody for area know say Crash Cos carry woman?” Credit squeeze face as d tin pain am wella.
“Na im make you wan wound me?” Him don get sense begin talk small small.
“Just give me d melecine joor.” Make dis guy no make me vex o.
“E don finish.” Him dey answer me as him dey waka go pick another drug wey customer ask for.
“You say wetin?” I nearly piss for body.
“E don finish. You no know say na ashewo girls full this area? Orile girls dey drink Postinor like Vitamin C.”
“Kaiiii! How I go do na?”
“I get another one.”
“Wetin b d name?” Credit sell d market wey e dey sell finish come face me.
“Which one be dat?”
“Na like Postinor but na different people make am.”
“E go work so?”
“E supoose work na. Trust your boy.”
I been trust the fool. My mind be say e go work.
But after like one month na im Kajeta call me dat yeye call:
“Hello, guy how far na?”
“Guuuuy! Yawa don gaaassssss o!”
“Ahn ahn. Wetin happen again?”
“Napodia don get belle!”
My prayer be say na Jolomi way wey dis one go go. Maybe she no really get belle or na another bobo plant am. But Kajeta never drop phone finish when my phone begin ring again.
“Oooooh! Kajeta na wetin again?”
“No oh. Na Credit.”
“Ah. Credit. Dis one wey you dey breathe fast fast, hope say you dey okay…”
“Ol boy no vex ehn, but somebody dey carry knife come find you for house.”
“Shooo! Who be dat?”
“I swear na force him force me to give am your address.”
“Oh. So na you give am my address?”
“How I for do na? Him been nearly make me swallow the knife first!”
“Ahn ahn… why dis person dey find me?”
“Hin dey find you kill because him say you spoil him life!”
“Whose life I spoil na? Who be dis person?” I never talk dat one finish when I hear wetin be like crase person outside my dommot.
GBA! GBA! GBA!
“OPEN DIS DOOR BEFORE I BREAK AM!!! OPEN DIS DOOR!!!!”
“Kajeta who be d person?!” Fear don dey catch me already. D person outside still dey shout:
“OPEN DIS DOOR!!! I WILL KILL YOU TODAY!!! BASTARD!” GBA! GBA! GBA! GBA! GBA!
Credit come answer me with bomb: “Crashito, na Napodia popsy o.”
As I dey hear the noise, I begin reason my next movement. Omo, na to fly window sure pass. I open curtain come jam thick thick burglary-proof…
Na god go punish my landlord!
I’m definitely making this into a song!
For a time my whole world was but perfect
It was shiny and bright. It was gold
Never thought I’d once be broken-hearted
This is ugly and dull: yes i know
And the smile I was once had, my old twinkle
and the way that i glowed in the dark
and the knowledge that love was so simple
seems a rocketed blast from the past
Can I drink lots of wine and sleep it all off
Can I laugh at a joke and forget for a day
Can I hope that you’ll snap out and suddenly call
Can I open my eyes and not watch it all
For a time I lived life how I dreamt it,
With no limits, a hug and a smile
But now someone is dearly departed
So I’ll shower for longer to cry
And I’ll sit and I’ll mope and I’ll never go out
I will grieve for eternity’s spring
Then I’ll weep and I’ll scream and i’ll tear my hair out
Cuz I know I’ll remain unfulfilled
Wish I could drink lots of wine and sleep it all off
Can I laugh at a joke and forget anyway
Can I hope that you’ll wake up and suddenly call
Can I open my eyes and not watch it all
So I went through the things that you left behind
Seeking answers and comfort and hope
Do I feel better? Am i suddenly fine?
The answer is always a ‘no’
And this wholesome soul is now incomplete
This body is drained of all fight
Wish I flip change time for exorbitant fees
A small price if it makes things alright
Because I can’t drink much wine: I’ll just throw up
And you told the jokes best anyway
And no one will wake up or reach out to call
So I’ll open my arms and try to fall
As I fade away
The husband was upstairs in the study. He reckoned the wife was downstairs somewhere. Probably watching TV in the living room or rustling up some lunch in the kitchen. He’d been holed up in there for the better part of the afternoon. He had just acquired a new gadget – a ‘toy’ if you were listening to the wife rant about the cost – and the manual obviously wasn’t going to read and master itself. But after all that time, he’d decided he was feeling hungry. He got up and walked out of the den towards the stairs. He felt he was in a rather polite mood so he held the banister, bent his neck downwards and yelled: “Bitch, I need food!”
His reply came from the kitchen. It was swift and equally loud:
“What the flying fuchsia are you asking me for?”
“Did you not hear me say that I needed to put something in my mouth?”
“Seriously, you should repeat that in a gay bar!” The wife was out of the kitchen and in the living room so she could look up at him while they traded loving insults.
“Screw you to damnation!” he cursed.
“Awww. You kiss your wrinkly mother with that potty mouth, sailor?” the wife asked,
“My mother? I kiss you all over your nasty nasty body with this mouth. Seven days a godforsaken week!”
“Exactly. Now you know why I cry myself to sleep every night.”
“It’s your father that makes your mother cry herself to sleep every night. In that case, some people aren’t getting late-night head ever again!”
“Ehn? Don’t try it o! God will punish you severely for that. How can you deny me my God-given right to mutter incoherent gibberish thrice a week?”
“Deny what? Uncle Sir Mallam Bunny Rabbit don finish for market?”
“No. But I prefer Major General Tonguey Tonguer.”
“Story. Sweetie could you microwave some of that jay-rice for me? Pretty please?” he pleaded genuinely.
“Already did that.” as if on cue, the microwave testified with a ‘DING’ “Say you love me or you’ll starve to death,” she threatened.
“I love you… But I’m still retiring Major Tonguer.”
***** ***** ***** *****
The first words he’d said to her were probably not the cutest: “Eh eeeehn… is that so? Shebi after giving me gono and cut-cut and staphylococcus you now come here to spend my money abi?” he scratched eagerly at his groin for effect. “God will not do you well for this thing you have done to me o…” his fake Yoruba accent was terrible but it was good enough to make the elderly man who’d been pestering her aggressively at the bar get up and leave in a hurry.
As soon as he was he out of earshot she proffered her thanks amid laughter. “Oh my God, thank you so much. I thought I was going to die here.”
“Yeah. I could see the elderly guy was looking pretty desperate to get into your knickers,” he said in his natural tone of voice. The utter lack of an accent when he spoke took her by surprise. She laughed heartily.
“Hello, I am man. Pleased to meet you,”
“Hi. My name is man. Wo-man,” she said while paying homage to the James Bond movie character. It was his turn to laugh. Five minutes later, they were enjoying a nice conversation when:
“Smooth. You know I’m going to ask for your number, right?” he said,
“What? Hey! You just saved me from being hit on only so that you could hit on me yourself?” her words were dripping with sarcasm.
“What can I say? Man giveth and man taketh away,” he smiled while mentally crossing his fingers.
“Give me one good reason why I should give you my number…”
“’The reason’ is probably going home to tell his buddies how God saved him from catching genital herpes from a skank who at first sight he thought was an…” he paused and seemed to sober up, “… unbelievably attractive, smart young woman.”
She tried to look unimpressed, immediately put on a straight face and seemed to be looking past him as she deadpanned:
“Zero eight zero one, three five seven…”
Three weeks later, they were officially dating.
Once, he was driving her home in his car after a nice evening out.
“You almost ran that red light. LASTMA in this area doesn’t joke around oga,” she said
“I know. It’s just that my brakes are almost always funny.”
“My mechanic says the genuine version of my brake pads and lining aren’t in the country. I have to make a special request and order them in from wherever.”
“Ah. Risky biz. You should change mechanics. Or cars.”
“I should. By the way, you look smoldering hot,”
“Thank you. Makes you think of hitting that. Right?” he paused for a second but answered anyway,
“Intensely. Viciously. Like you owe me something,” she tried to suppress her laughter. She failed.
“See, I like that about you. You’re so real.”
“Oh yeah. My pot belly is definitely for real.”
“Hahahaha. Stop joking around. You know what I mean.”
“I’m serious. Here,” he pushed his stomach out toward her, “Feel that. Hundred percent natural. All me. No silicone.”
“Okay. I just like you though. Just like that. You get me. You’re probably smarter than I am though you don’t like to make it seem that way. And minus those nails, I think you’re pretty real as well.”
“My nails? You’re a dead man!”
“Still breathing,” he goaded
“I’ll fix that in a moment.” She tried to act like she was fuming.
He saw that he was close to an eatery’s parking area. He pulled up, parked, unbuckled his seat belt and proceeded to kiss her until she was convinced that she had feathers and fins in lieu of human toes.
June 30th 2015; 6:30 AM
She woke up and reached for him. He wasn’t there. Disappointed, she stretched out her left hand and fumbled around the night stand for her mobile phone. Once she’d touched it, she pressed a button at the top of the device to unlock the touchscreen and make the display come on so she could read the time… 6.35am.
Still too early to get up.
He was a car and gadget lover, read PC Pro religiously and enjoyed board games. She could never get her head around the toys he always obsessed about. She was only glad to have a car because it made her commute to work easier and meant less time in his ride with the funny brakes. He was cute, spontaneous and eager. She was supportive, accommodating but a little unsure. He’d long ago figured that she was probably in love with him but was unwilling, for some reason, to declare as much. And though they weren’t exactly on the same page on a few matters, they agreed on political issues:
“Sweetie, did you hear that our lawmakers are hoping to pass a bill that pretty much attaches a jail term for being gay in this country?” She lifted her eyes from her iPad where she had just been reading something pertaining to that story.
“Sweetie…” she tapped his shoulder. He seemed fixated on something showing on the TV screen in his pad.
“Oooooh…. what about it? This lion is about to eat this zebra like the zebra ate his mama.”
She rolled her eyes. “What do you think about this anti-gay bill business?”
“Ughh.” He lowered the volume of the television and turned to her. “It’s stupid. Very stupid.”
“Oh really? I think so too. It’s like the dumbest thing ever. I’m a little glad we agree on this, dear.”
He wore a puzzled look on his face. His thumb was hovering close to the ‘volume increase’ button on the remote. “Wait… we agree on this issue?”
“I thought we did,” she answered sweetly, “Didn’t you just say you though it was a dumb idea? Well, I think so too.”
He cursed himself for even desiring to see this conversation through and put the remote down. “Why exactly do you think it’s a dumb idea?” he queried.
“Well for one, we have way bigger problems for our legislators to focus on. Plus I feel that all the furore is a bit overblown…”
“Ah.” He breathed. She knew that move.
“What?” she asked, “You have a different view?”
“Well, I have something to add.”
“Assuming homosexuality, for example, is really a problem in Nigeria, I think jail would be counter-productive. Surely, there are better ways to punish a man who likes men than to throw him into Penis Central! I mean gays’ll go to prison and smile at the entrance once they observe how much premium tail is available!” She was already laughing.
“For real. It’s not funny. Send those guys to jail and they will never be able get a grip on their bars of soap. Straight dudes will have to get denim boxers. It’ll be even more of a madhouse in there than it already is… Stop laughing…” She didn’t.
They also had fun a lot of fun talking about sex. One day, that led to a very good thing.
“So what’s your take on role-playing?” he’d once asked,
“I could do that. Depends on the role though.” She smiled.
“How about you be Dame Patience and I’ll be Berlusconi?”
“Berlusconi? Why him?”
“I’ve always wanted to be Italian.”
“Sure. And I’ve always dreamt of playing Nigeria’s most eloquent First Lady ever,” she sighed
“What about oral?” he switched.
“Ooh. I’d like that,”
“Like that? You’d better love Major General Tonguey Tonguer! How else am I supposed to make your unbelieving spirit speak in tongues?!”
“Major who? Don’t tell me you just made that up?!”
“Of course I did. Thank me now. Now I say!”
“Dirty perv!” she laughed but then she became serious as she thought about something, “Given the purpose to which you just put it, isn’t it ironic that the language is called ‘tongues’?!”
He laughed heartily before replying:
“Okay, it’s confirmed – we’re going to hell.”
“Yeah but I’ll love you still.”
“You’ll what?” He’d told he loved her countless times in the past but made it clear he wasn’t in a hurry to hear it back. Now he was hearing it back. Sooner than expected.
His next move was to break into song:
“Joy, joy, joy, hallelujah joy…”
June 30th 2015; 6:35 AM
Apparently, she’d been having one of those dreams again.
She smiled. There was a time when she resented those dreams. But after a while, she started to feel less bothered and now, she found herself even looking forward to them. She’d speak to him about it though.
Talking to him about stuff always proved to be cathartic.
He bought the ring 6 months after they had started going out. He was convinced they were surely on the road to a happy married life with picket fences or whatever was left after their toothy kids would have gnawed away at them. Spontaneity was his strength. That evening, it probably proved to be his undoing as he popped the question while they were having dinner at a lively restaurant.
For some reason, she was taken aback.
“No… I’m so sorry but I’m not sure. This is happening so fast. Too fast. I’m not ready… I don’t think we should get married… I…”
“But…” he was too stunned to say more. Too numb to think. His charm always worked. His style always won. Of all days, why not today? Why not now? He could feel the others at the restaurant begin to look at him with pity. Tiny ‘aww’s everywhere. All he wanted to do was make the fastest possible exit.
Watching him leave was possibly the most difficult thing she’d ever done. At first, she thought it was for the best. She loved him but she wasn’t sure as yet if she wanted to get married. At least that was what she told herself as she watched his slouched frame amble out of the restaurant dejectedly.
While she drove home herself, she thought about what had just transpired. She missed him already. She wanted to talk to him on her drive home. Sometimes, she called him and he ran commentary for her as if she was a Formula One driver. He’d name her Michelle Shoemaker. She never got the reference but according to his commentary, she was always second. She’d been miffed at that outcome initially, and she let him know.
“Sweetie, I’m a dude with a lazy waist and an abhorrence of condoms: I always come first!” he’d replied. And again she had laughed. God, she never got tired of his commentary.
And in that moment, she rationalized that her real problem was fear.
“But what am I afraid of? He’s the one! Ugh…” she chastised herself.
She got home and called her bestie. She told the bestie all. The bestie was always helpful. “So what are you afraid of?” the bestie asked,
“The term ‘marriage’ I guess. Being tied down. The ceremony… I don’t know,”
“Exactly. You don’t know. Is there someone else?”
“What? No! I almost went mad when I couldn’t call him on the drive home. I love that fool to death. I cannot live without him. I…”
“Say what now?” Bestie interrupted.
Then realization hit.
“Oh crap, oh crap… Girl, let me call you back…”
“Sure thing.” The bestie said and clicked off.
She dialed his phone. It rang but he didn’t answer. She tried twice more. Still nothing. She knew he’d come around. Eventually, they would have to talk and she would fix this. Damn right she would fix this. Whatever it took.
She began to make plans in her head. She needed a big gesture: something to catch his attention and make the situation ultimately memorable. She wondered whether to involve his friends. The ringing of her phone interrupted her thoughts. Her face lit up: he was calling her back.
“Hello ma… hello…” but it was not his voice on the other end of the line. She was a little alarmed but kept calm.
“Yes… Who is this?”
“I’m sorry ma, I’m sorry but do you know the owner of this phone?” He must have misplaced the phone somewhere. She began to wonder where this man on the other end of the line found it.
“Yes, I know him. He’s my boyfriend,” her voice was already shaking
“I’m sorry ma, but I’m calling you from accident site…” the person on the other end said in passable English.
Apparently, his ever ailing brake pads, when thrown in the same mug as his disastrously sour disposition that evening, mixed very poorly. He’d been wracked with emotion on his way home and having to fight back tears made his vision blurry at best and non-existent at its worst.
His bonnet was already under the trailer when he noticed. Stupid brakes didn’t help. It was gruesome but relatively quick. He wasn’t even crazy about fighting for his life anyway. Not that day. Not in that state of mind.
June 30th 2015, 6:37 AM
Left to her, she would grieve him for eternity. However, she eventually came to terms with the fact that it really wasn’t her fault.
She smiled again. Because the dreams were all she had left. Perhaps dreaming of the marriage they never got to have was her own coping mechanism. It had been a while since they’d talked anyway. She turned on her side and before setting herself up for a mild snooze, made a mental note to stop by his tombstone on her way from work in the evening. She closed her eyes. Maybe she would dream again.
***** ***** ***** *****
She heard the husband in the shower. Whistling.
She thought “why not?” and immediately began stripping. The shower curtain made a noise as she pulled it open and stepped in. His face lit up as he broke into a song he obviously just made up:
“Mr. Man I wed your daughter,
She follow me enter the water,
No be fight but I go rush her,
Baby say shower shower!”
“Shower shower!” she squealed gleefully while his nude form moved his pelvis in time to a non-existent rhythm. She joined him in dancing. She loved the way his random quirks popped up at the oddest times. He abruptly stopped dancing and spoke:
“Honey, you know I think you’re –to suffer a cliché – three times a lady, right?
“Yes I do.”
“Great! Just keep that in mind while I treat you like the exact opposite and viciously defile you for the next thirty minutes. Cool?”
He didn’t even wait to get an answer before he pounced.
***** ***** ***** *****
This one’s long. But I reckon I owe you… Meanwhile, please subscribe via email to all my posts from here on up. Tagging isn’t easy… The link to do so should be somewhere at the bottom. Thanks.
“Enter with your change o! I don warn una. I no get time for story. Enter with your change! I don talk am now. Five hundred, two hundred, one thousand: mi ni change. Wole pelu fifty naira yin,” John barked. He really was not in the mood to go hustling for change this hot afternoon. Also, most of his fellow conductors were rarely ever forthcoming when approached for assistance. He cajoled and courted passengers till the bus was full. Well, almost full. He made sure he reserved a seat for himself at the end of the middle row. The last seat on said row was a pull-out seat that was simply attached to the rest of the row by two strips of metal. Also, unlike the others, it lacked a backrest.
“Oya pilot! Jade be! Go on soun!” Okro said. At first, he’d found conductor-speak rather repulsive. All the yelling and the yelling and more yelling. All that yelling irrespective of the punching that touts were constantly meting out to one’s vulnerable midriff. Your lungs had to be in tip-top shape. No wonder the conductors that smoked weed regularly had raspy voices, he figured.
Lamidi had driven for two minutes when John began to collect his money. Passengers generally started getting off around Famous bus stop and they were approaching it. John did not want a situation where he had to collect money as the passengers were alighting. It was more often than not a frustrating ordeal. Especially if he had to give them change…
They were approaching the final stop where everyone would have to get off. John looked around the bus. There were only three passengers left now: a tired-looking middle-aged woman seated beside him in the middle row who had two baskets of tomatoes in the boot, a chatty fellow seated up front who had managed to make Lamidi’s driving experience rather enjoyable – John could tell that Lamidi would have loved to have the man follow him around for the rest of the day without paying – and a gentleman in the back row who hadn’t raised his face from the newspaper he’d started reading as soon as he got on. He sat at the extreme left; behind the driver’s seat.
In his line of work, especially since he’d started working on the Palmgrove to Bariga route, men in suits were not uncommon. Especially in the mornings and late evenings. Most of them, he’d figured, were bankers or other professionals going to work or returning home. There were a lot of banks and white-collar institutions on Ikorodu road and Ikorodu Road was parallel to half his route.
So he couldn’t figure out why something about this gentleman just seemed off. Uncomfortable even.
Then he began to piece it together: John glanced at his N200 wrist watch. It was 12.30pm. It was neither closing time nor time for resumption for most banks or law firms. In truth, this was the period of the day when transportation experienced something akin to an ebb in these parts because most people were at work. Then there was the issue of the man’s suit: it was impeccable. And expensive. He’d spent enough time working at Trytek Nigeria to know what a bloody good suit looked like. This was a bloody good suit. John shrugged it off: the man had paid his exact fare without any fuss whatsoever. His kind of passenger. Maybe he was a rich dude off to a clandestine location to hang out with his mistress.
At 4am earlier that day, Magnum 365 woke up and entered the five-star hotel’s bathroom for his morning rituals. He peed, shaved and then sat on the loo. Thereafter, he had a bath and while dressed down, took a few minutes off to re-read the details of his latest assignment. All the necessary info was there: the plate number of the vehicle, the photos and bio of the man he’d be transacting today’s business with and the location where he would most likely find his soon-to-be acquaintance. He looked at the time: 4.20am. Way too early. He was always ready too early. He sighed then turned on the TV and immediately was on to National Geographic. Nothing gave him more simplistic joy than the sight of a lion tearing into a speeding gazelle. It resonated with him. It seemed like the lion was saying “Run all you like. I’m still gonna get you.” Two hours later, he was hungry. Being a vegetarian, he ordered a salad. It was great. After exactly 15 mouthfuls, he pushed the rest of his breakfast away and got dressed up. When he got to the hotel’s exit, the doorman greeted him cheerily.
“Good morning sir.”
“Good morning,” he replied and sent a plastic smile in the doorman’s general direction. He walked out of the hotel and hailed a taxi.
“Onipanu bus stop sir,” he politely told the taxi driver his intended destination. He was actually headed for Palmgrove but he preferred to walk there from Onipanu. Just because.
“Two five!” the taxi driver yelled in Magnum 365’s direction.
“I can’t pay you two thousand five hundred. One five. Nothing more.” Magnum liked to haggle wherever possible. He could easily pay a hundred grand but these moments made him feel like he was actually normal. Like he was really blending in. He stood back and waited for the driver to mull it over.
“Two thousand sir,”
“One five,” Magnum was almost sweet.
“Oya one eight. Let me just manage that one sir,”
“One five oga. Or I can call someone else.” Magnum stood back and acted like he was scanning the street for alternatives. After a moment’s thought, the taxi driver beckoned him in with a hand signal and reached across to open the backdoor from within. Magnum was quickly settled in. He leaned back and allowed himself a brief smile. It was going to be just an ordinary day, he thought.
After all, all he had to do was kill a guy.
A guy named John Okro…
He’d timed his entry into the bus to perfection. The devil was in the details. He knew he would stick out of the crowd dressed as he was but he knew he’d stick out. However, most of the people who plied that route were unlikely to ask questions of a person whose looks instantly intimidated them. And the less he had to say, the better.
He sneaked a look at the conductor when he’d asked for his money. The photos given to him by Intelligence were accurate save for the lack of contact lenses. The target was 5 9″, dark-skinned and of average build. For a conductor, he was reasonably well-built. He had a cynical but enlightened look in his eyes. Magnum 365 was also very well acquainted with the mark’s story and thus knew why John was stuck in a bus rather than a 20-storey building in the heart of Lagos. The target looked like hard times had fallen upon him since the photos were taken. His misery would be at an end today.
Normally, the easier way would be to kill the mark in his sleep. But Intelligence found that he rarely slept in the same place twice. He seemed to be almost destitute at times. They needed something predictable. This way would be more open but they were left with rather limited options.
Depending on when the bus got empty, Magnum 365 had various plans. Before today, he had cased the area for a week entering various other buses but compulsorily avoiding the mark’s. Just to get a feel for how things worked in the area. The worst case scenario for him would be if the bus didn’t get empty till he arrived at the last stop. He’d simply make his move when alighting. However, it seemed that Lady Luck was smiling upon him. Two stops before the last, Magnum 365 pushed the newspaper down just enough to allow him observe the lady seated in front of him get off. He listened without turning as the conductor got her tomatoes out and slammed the boot shut. The passenger in front wasn’t going to be a problem but he’d gotten off as well. Tomato lady had been the last of them. This was going to be easy.
Magnum 365 raised the newspaper again as he saw the conductor re-enter the bus. The bus began to move again. Magnum 365 reduced his eyes to slits so that he could barely see as he concentrated on counting to five in his head. When he got to four, he reached for the silenced pistol in his jacket. At five, he fully lowered his paper, eyes wide open and extended his arm as he made to shoot.
But save for the driver, the bus was empty.
Still seated, he asked rather calmly: “Driver, where is your conductor?” Lamidi, the driver, turned and almost lost control of the vehicle as he experienced, for the very first time, what it felt like to have a pistol aimed in one’s direction.
He scanned the bus with his eyes in utter disbelief. Where was John? “ I… I… don’t….” he stuttered. His sentence was punctuated when out of seemingly nowhere (in actual fact, ‘nowhere’ was the open bus’ doorframe) a foot shot in and kicked Magnum’s wrist at full velocity, knocking the gun out of his grasp, out the nearest window and into the street. Lamidi, scared that the gun would go off both ducked and stopped the car at the same time.
The tell, for John, came when the man had lowered his newspaper. John saw the mole. It was an artificial mole placed precisely two inches above the left eyebrow: The Mark of the Magnum. He had shared bosses with that crew of assassins while at his previous place of employment. He had shut the boot after giving the lady her tomatoes and re-entered the bus. He knew the Magnum would make his move anytime. As soon as he saw the paper go back up, John noiselessly climbed to the roof of the bus. He was surprised that the Magnum hadn’t noticed at once. Sloppy. Moments later, he’d heard the man speak. John then swung from the edge of the roof and aimed his foot at the man’s wrist perfectly. If he’d aimed for the hand, the gun might have inadvertently gone off. The wrist possessed the control. Luckily, the gun fell out of the bus and out of immediate reach. Pivoting on the edge still, John swung himself back up on the bus and was about to roll to the other side of the vehicle so he could get the gun. However, a burly hand reached up and began to pull him down by his arm.
It was a really strong hand.
John landed on the road with a small thud.
He sprang to his feet and was instantly face to face with the Magnum.
“Hi, John,” the Magnum almost whispered, “I’m here to kill you.” He said confidently.
“You don’t say! And here I was thinking you came to admire my cologne.” John quipped and instantly sniffed his underarm. He regretted that last move because it immediately quashed the cologne theory.
Immediately assuming the role of aggressor, John aimed several quick punches at his midsection. But they were all blocked. Easily. In truth, the punches caused more pain to John than it did Magnum 365. Each block more painful than the last as forearm clashed with forearm.
“Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow!” John Okro winced every time he tried to land a punch. Finally, Magnum made his move as he trapped John’s arms to his sides, making John unable to move. John was breathing rapidly from the exertion. Magnum 365, however, was respiring rather evenly. He cocked his head to one side peering at John Okro as if he was seeing his face for the first time. He flashed one of his plastic smiles at John for the briefest of moments before sending his forehead into the bridge of John’s nose sharply.
And once more.
John was dizzy and in pain. He gasped as he felt his breathing become even more strained. The wetness spread quickly from his nostrils to his chest as blood spilled freely from his nose to his shirt. His eyes could barely focus but he noticed more movement as Magnum tried to head-butt him again. This time John evaded, shifting his face to the other side and then putting it on Magnum’s shoulder so that the bigger man could not connect with the front of his face anymore.
Around them, John Okro could hear a crowd gathering. This was Bariga after all. If you scratched your head too loudly, people gathered. Now, there was actual violence. If Lamidi had any business acumen, Okro thought, he would gate and start selling tickets.
John Okro was at his wits’ end trying to figure out how to come out of this alive. His primal instincts took over as he sunk his teeth into the shoulder before him. He could tell that the bite was causing the Magnum little or no pain but Magnum tried to shake him off nonetheless. When John wouldn’t let go, Magnum raised both fists quickly to punch John on both sides of his head. That inevitably eased his grip on John who immediately extracted his teeth and made to turn.
But Magnum 365’s fists connected before John could escape.
It was dizzy-time once more for John as he fell onto one knee. His assailant was about to knee him in the face when he heard Lamidi’s voice.
“Lea… lea… leave him alone or I will shoot!” Lamidi was stammering again. Some of those in the crowd gasped. A few began to retreat for fear of a stray bullet. Lamidi was now in possession of the once fallen weapon and was pointing it at Magnum 365 from point blank range. The Magnum turned, looked at Lamidi and frowned.
“You can’t shoot that.”
“I s-s-s-s-say I will shoot!” Lamidi was backing away as the Magnum left John, who was still reeling, and started to walk towards the man with the gun. Lamidi was trembling and sweating profusely. Obviously scared. The Magnum could smell that part. Another plastic smile as Lamidi, not watching where he was going, backed himself into the side of the bus. Panic set in as he scrambled to move away. But the Magnum was quickly upon him. With his right hand, he grabbed Lamidi’s wrist as he twisted it to collect the gun. Then he planted his knee into Lamidi’s groin with such force, the poor bus driver couldn’t even scream. His mouth formed an ‘o’ and his eyes widened with brand new pain. Lamidi crumbled to the ground.
While Lamidi hadn’t been able to stop the Magnum, he’d distracted him long enough for John to pounce.
John, finally able to once again see past his nose, leapt on the Magnum’s back. He tried to disable the assassin’s right arm, the one with the gun, from behind with both his legs. He managed to squeeze both legs around that arm limiting its range of movement. Then he began to work on his head.
John wrapped his left arm around the Magnum’s jaw and put his right hand on top of his head. Then he snaked his middle finger down…
And began to scrape at the mole.
Now it was Magnum 365’s turn to panic. Not the mole! With his free hand, he reached up and tried to prise John’s fingers away from the mole. Then he felt John’s grip around his jaw tighten and he knew he’d been had. John wasn’t after the mole. He knew the move. He’d executed it countless times before. But there was no time to react. He felt John’s fingers snake back up as his palm moved quickly to the back of his skull. John pushed it viciously sideways and upwards. The resistance offered by the arm around the jaw was enough to elicit a ‘snap’ as the Magnum’s vertebrae got dislocated from his skull. He barely groaned as he fell to ground. Unconscious.
Lamidi, eyes still red, managed to blurt: “You don kill am?”
“No. But e fit no waka again. I no sure but I no go wait to find out. Make we move abeg.” John was sure this was going to be the end of his time conducting for Lamidi. He’d gotten the innocent man into enough skirmishes as it was. John couldn’t bear to put his life in danger again.
And he was sure that whoever sent this Magnum would be sending a few more soon.
“Oh dear! What happened to your nose?” Miriam asked with more than a hint of concern. She’d invited John over. Now she could see why he’d been reluctant to show up
“I was tracked by my former employers.”
“My former employers. They got to me.”
“Why?” Women and questions, Okro thought to himself. Must she know why he almost got killed?
“I’m not sure but I probably have something they want.”
“Not sure? Probably?” She stressed that last word. Full-on sarcasm.
“Okay. I know why. But I can’t tell you.”
“It’s a loooong story.”
“I’ve got time.”
“Well, I might have to kill you.”
“You’ve tried before,” she rolled her eyes with a smile. John shook his head.
“This is no time for sex jokes,”
“Yeah yeah. Start talking buster. I ain’t scared and I’ve got time.” Of course she did. John rolled his eyes and winced.
“Ugggh. Crap…” he began.
Hey Ma I wrote you, you ain’t write back,
E don bad reach so? No be like dat,
Your son write you, you suppose reply sharp-sharp,
Meanwhile, where you been dey buy those rat traps?
E get some small tins wey you need to know:
We still dey wait maga – him never show,
I don make new songs but I never still blow,
And now you fit port your MTN carry Glo!
Your husband dey: hin never change much,
E still dey wait im bad son make e change much,
But you know say your son no dey gree fear God,
E still dey job Popsy upon say you don mud.
Johnny wife fit get belle but we no know,
Your granddaughter too fine – she don dey grow,
She resemble your Vivienne wey been don first go,
Speaking of Vivi, una don reunite so?
We don vex, we don crase, sotey we face turn blue,
We wan kill d driver wey make your bus tumble,
We still dey feel d pain, we still dey cry for you,
But we dey strong small small, abi how we for do?
We still dey miss your way, we still dey find your food,
Anytime we see your pix, we dey just turn confuse,
Yellow sisi, nobody fit fine pass you,
But Bible talk say “All things work together for good…”
The last letter wey I write na so so phon-eh,
So I say make I use pidgin wey u go hear,
Hey Ma, what’s it like? How’s it up there?
Mma Dan, reply na, dis tin is not fair o!