The Slippery Adventures of John Okro
This is an old series I discontinued. However, I’ve decided to drag it out from the depths and resume writing. But first, I have to put up the old ones before any new material can surface. Hope you like….
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It was a bright enough Thursday. The sun
shone just enough to keep you perfectly pissed till the humidity of the early
evening took over proceedings. And John Okro WAS pissed. It was bad enough that
his name was John Okro. The fact that he was a graduate of three years stuck ‘doing
conductor work’ did not particularly help his disposition. But the present cause
of his sour mood was the obese lady sitting in the back row of his classless Danfo.
First, she chose to sit at the edge of the
back row. This meant that everyone else who needed to get in would have to
shimmy through. This wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for her size… A 15-pound
newborn is pretty huge. John had met even met some teenager who cleared a
260-pound scale. But by proportions, this lady made them all look malnourished.
He figured he could probably balance a crate of beer on her butt and still find
enough room to hop on and practice his Suo
Eventually, the bus somehow got filled. The
second problem he now faced was the N50 note she handed him. It was the first
note John had encountered which actually stank. Plus it was really badly cut up
and John was sure even the dweebs at the petrol station wouldn’t accept such
horrid money. He had been trying to convince the hag to change it for him but
she wouldn’t budge. Entreaties became pleas, pleas matured into mild threats,
threats rarely go down well with street smart women and the ‘Duchess of
Ass-burton’ was winning a now one-sided shout-bout. He finally figured he was
going to lose 50 bucks from this trip and the driver was not going to be
pleased. Okro always lost these sorts of battles and the driver was always
calling him an Ole (weakling in
Yoruba). Problem was Okro sort of looked like a “butta”. People often wondered
how he got into the job he was doing but no one ever got any answers. Bottom
line was that people often took him for granted in his line of work and more
often than not, he did nothing to dispel the notion. He just always seemed like
he was imploding. For the most part, he loved to evade “Agberos” but when they
caught up with him, he simply chose to avoid a confrontation and paid up
promptly. One day, he thought. One day…
looked around from the side of the bus where he stood as Lagos conductors are
wont to do. They were approaching Ilaje
bus-stop so he craned his neck into the bus to announce, “Ilaje!” Customary cries of “o wa” reverberated back. The driver
didn’t even need to be signaled. Once they got there, the bus halted as Okro
got off first to make way and pretty much all the passengers alighted at this
point. Including the ‘ass-matic’ woman. Okro suppressed a chuckle at this
thought. As she got off, she started to curse at him again and Okro began to
take quick deep breaths. It was all he could do to keep himself from…
Suddenly, Eggnog was in front of him. “Man
yi, owo mi da?“ (Where is my money?) Eggnog was a classic old tout. He was
as rugged, uncouth, filthy and ready-to-clobber-your-ass-to-death as they came.
He even had the customary chipped tooth. Eggnog didn’t just look like a ganja
smoker. He looked like a weed himself. He was tall, thin and wiry. Plus he was
obscenely dark but he also looked like he packed a mean punch. Heck. Okro had
seen him throw a few at conductors who hadn’t dropped the cash with as much
alacrity as Eggnog desired. And those punches seemed to utterly devastate its
Okro had been successfully avoiding Eggnog at that stop everyday for the past couple
of days. Now it seemed as if some really dumb ass ‘fate’ had caught up with
him. Problem was Okro could still not bring himself to rationalize why in
Beelzebub’s brown bubble he had to pony up ‘ten fiber’ (N100) to this
illiterate marijuana junkie. He pursed his lips in defiance. Out of the corner
of his eye, he saw Lamidi, the driver, signal him to pay the tout so that they
could get a move on. He spoke back to Lamidi with his eyes: “Not today, buster.
Lamidi thought Okro was sometimes just a
perfect arse! Granted, he was really smart at times and was good at outfoxing
cops playfully every once a while. But Eggnog? Lamidi had been around long
enough to know that Eggnog was one of the more lethal hoodlums who walked the
streets by day, and toted guns by night. Eggnog was so revered that he was the
only one who taxed drivers at Ilaje. All the other touts around there defected
to Bariga market and Ladi-Lak to feed because Eggnog taxed even them. Of course
Eggnog couldn’t tax all the drivers at once but it didn’t matter to him. The
man was greedy and he didn’t care. And Okro wanted to stand up to him? Lamidi
brought out his mobile phone and began scrolling through his contacts. He was
looking for Okro’s uncle’s number… to tell him where he should pick up his
Okro was 5ft. 9” which made him roughly 3
inches shorter than Eggnog. He was of a rather slight build. You wouldn’t call
him fair skinned but you wouldn’t call him dark either. Actually, next to
Eggnog he looked like an advert for “bleaching cream”. Not that he was that fair
but Eggnog was that dark. Okro’s hair was low-cut that day and his face was
even more bereft of hair. The man hated facial hair and did a clean sweep every
morning. Okro had somewhat handsome features and Eggnog was half smirking at
the thought of having to bash it all in.
Okro spoke: “Guy, I no get money today.
Since morning na so so…”
Lamidi started in shock at the sound. He
looked out from the driver’s seat but he couldn’t make out what was happening
so he made for the door yelling “Ejo, sir!!!
Ma binu joo. Okro fe pa mi ni Eko sha!!”
Eggnog hadn’t bothered enough to allow Okro
finish his sentence before he’d swung. He looked away as his left fist swished
through the putrid air and he waited to hear the conductor’s yelp of terror. It
was forming a pattern these days and he was getting bored. Maybe the time had
come for a change of punishment.
when his fist connected it felt as though the bloody conductor’s face was
harder than he’d imagined. He looked to see that he had punched the door of the
bus and a huge dent had formed there. The loud noise was an open invitation and
a crowd began to gather almost instantly. Eggnog’s bloodshot eyes roved as he
searched for Okro.
Okro had seen the punch coming a mile away.
He moved before he could think, shuffling back as the evil fist swung past him
at neck level. As he moved, instinct took over. He leaned to his right; almost
as if he wanted to crouch but he kept his palms open as adrenaline made his
fingers flutter. Eyes fixated on Eggnog, he awaited his assailant’s next move.
Eggnog’s eyes finally found its target and he wore a bemused expression as he
contemplated what was about to happen. He shook his head as a creepy growl
emanated from his depths. His eyes narrowed into slits as he moved swiftly. His
fists angled downwards as they zeroed in for the kill.
Apparently, he should have moved quicker.
Okro interrupted Eggnog’s footstep as his
right fist plowed into the shocked tout’s rib cage. The “CRRRAAACCK!” was as
loud as if amplified by a megaphone. Eggnog cowed in pain as his mind blacked
out for a bit. He was not pleased before but now he was angry. He blinked
several times as he tried to regain his composure, once again scanning to find
that snotty conductor. Instead, the conductor found him again. This time, he
mailed his knee into Eggnog’s groin swift and hard twisting it slightly as it
hit the mark.
Eggnog did not even realize that he had
just farted. He just curled up and barely felt the air rush out as an even
stronger wave of pain clouded his sensibilities.
Okro put his fists to his nose in a typical
boxer’s stance. Partially in preparedness for his adversary’s next move,
partially to quell the stench from the tout’s ass fumes.
Eggnog tried to steady himself. He couldn’t
think. The pain. Ooooh the pain. Was this what it felt like to be a conductor?
As he attempted to regain balance, he stumbled forward. Okro thought Eggnog was
making for him again and he was shocked at how much pain this sinewy dude could
take. This time, he’d make sure. Images of his turbulent childhood flashed through his mind all at once as he sent another
flashing fist into Eggnog’s rib. It was probably the very same spot where the
first punch landed. But this time, he hit out with more venom. Enough to send
his victim hurtling into the side of the bus from the impact.
Blood spurted out of Eggnog’s mouth as the
tout began to whimper. Too out of breath to even beg for mercy. Onlookers began
to scream: “Won fe pa Eggnogi o! Jesu! Won
fe pa Eggnogi o!” (They want to kill Eggnog. Jesus! They want to kill
Okro blinked a few times in quick
succession. It felt as if he was fresh from sleep. He looked up and saw Lamidi.
A very shocked and speechless Lamidi. He looked very pale and very ready to
drop dead the next second.
“Lamidi, wo ninu moto j’a ma lo” (Get into
the bus and let’s go), Okro commanded.
Without a word, Lamidi got back in and
started the ignition. His hands shaking as he did so. Okro got in and shut the
door firmly as he now allowed the gravity of what just happened to sink in.
“You know say we don die sha,” Lamidi
“Who kill us?” The confidence with which
Okro said it scared the driver more than it shocked him. He spoke no further.
The bus chortled round a corner into
Jaiyesimi street and Lamidi negotiated another right bend into Laolu Haruna
Street. Okro sighted a familiar frame towards the end of Laolu Haruna. As they
drew closer he observed that it was indeed who he thought it was and the person
also had a tune on her lips. The tune was “Won
kere si number wa” by Fatai Rolling Dollar. Okro began to laugh really
He knew the touts would track him down and
try to kill him. He knew this bus would never be safe to ride in again. But he
was also sure that this particular battle was over and he’d won.
Because the fat lady was singing…