Category Archives: Short Stories

Plane

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.

 

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PLANE

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“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.

“Nice one.”

“Thank you.”

“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.”

“Lies.”

“Truth. The women I’ve gotten with were either chloroformed or…” he was making her giggle,

“Or what?”

“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,

“What?”

“That shit is corny.”

“Damn you.”

“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!”

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Dream Again


2015.
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.”
***** ***** ***** *****

2013.
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.”
“How come?”
“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.”
“Stooppppp.”
“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.
*********************************

2013.

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.”
“Which is?”
“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.
Damn dreams.
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.
*****************************************

2013.

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.
***** ***** ***** *****

Okro’s Mole

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.
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“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.
Again.
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.”
“Who?”
“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.”
“Why not?”
“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.

The Misogynist

I wrote this as a sequel to another story. A sad story. I didn’t publish it because it got bad reviews all over the place. However, as a standalone story, I hope it fares better. I hope. Anyhow sha, enjoy. It might confuse you a bit cuz I left a few references from the first part but I’m sure you’ll figure it all out eventually.

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I hate women.
Seriously, you wouldn’t blame me if you heard my gist. Because women do stuff. First, they make you like them. Then you ask them out, then they say no. You contemplate suicide but by the grace of whatever deity you choose to worship, you get over it all somehow. Six or seven years down the road, you’re about to wed Miss Just-About-Right and guess who shows up to say they loved you all along but that you should have known that ‘no’ actually means try harder? Women! But my story’s a lot more pathetic. You’ll see.

**********
I couldn’t look them in the eye. Couldn’t bring myself to. The smug bastards! I turned from where I stood and began storming out of the airport. I heard her call my name. The gall. I practically ran out, actually. I drove off a mess.
Thirty minutes later, back at home and I couldn’t even begin to fathom what had just transpired. After a decent bit of thought, I decided on a course of action: let it all be ended. I was tired. I figured she’d have her local line on at some point during the day so I texted. You know, to clarify things.
And maybe, just maybe, I wanted to lay claim to being the one who broke it up.

“It wasn’t bad enough that you cheated on me, you had to bring Don Quixote into town to gloat. You mean bitch. I hope he develops Alzheimer’s at the bloody altar and Parkinson’s on your wedding night!”

That was a strong finish, wasn’t it? At least I thought so. I chuckled as I wrote it. However, I shocked myself by feeling worse than depressed when I saw ‘Message Delivered’ on my mobile phone display 30 seconds later. I had just terminated the best thing that ever happened to a living creature. I visibly fought back tears. She was the best. The greatest. She was just rad.
The next 24 hours or so saw me relapse into the lost-puppy-dispensation. Until she called…
I hesitated at first. What kind of conversation were we about to have? I allowed it ring for a bit while I tried to think. Finally… “Hello.”
“You called me a mean bitch!”
“I think it’s fair to say you deserved that. No?”
“Just thought I should tell you that I was, and still am, doing it for the money.”
Wow, did this chic go to the States to work or did she actually mean to procure a sex change? Because it took flesh-and-blood balls to say such a thing!
“But you forget you once told me how much you earn. How much more dough could you possibly need?” I scolded.
“Money’s never enough, boo. Besides, he’s got other qualities…”
“Apart from a wallet the depth of an industrial bore-hole? Let me guess: he packs more ammo in his camo than I do?”
“Whoa mister, someone’s perceptive today…” she paused for a second then continued, “…’cuz he actually is slightly bigger than you,” she sounded like she had her jaw arched up in thought.
“How can that be possible? He’s white. Plus, I’m a 10!” I probably sounded exasperated and she may have caught on to it.
“You mean like 10 out of 10?” she asked,
“No. I meant on a ruler.”
“Ewww Buster, how vain are you? And you’re now racist?”
Crap. Now she wanted to make ME the bad guy? She didn’t give me a chance to drop a comeback.
“Look that’s not the major reason I called,” now she sounded somber. Boy, I missed picking up on all her moods.
“Why’d you call then?”
“I wanted to tell you at the airport but you were too busy storming off.” She paused again. “Aunty K died.”
This time, the world’s most loved curse word came out from someplace under my breath. It was probably prefixed by the words “Holy”. And “flying”.
Aunty K was actually a friend of her mother who became a friend of the family. A really close friend of the family. I’d met and totally liked the amiable small lady. I wasn’t too shocked though: she was really old.
“Oh my… When? How?” She proceeded to give me some details. Her burial was the very next day and would I come? Of course I would. What other way would this story have gone? Have you NOT seen any bad movies lately?
Aunty K’s burial was not like most burials. Chic was almost a hundred years old. It was a total carnival. What was to be sad about?
Awesome old woman (who probably had grey butt-hair when Nigeria got independence) dies. Boo-hoo.
Darren was at the boisterous burial looking as stupendously neat as ever. I instantly regretted not coming along with a big comb and make-up kit in tow. I averted my eyes when I saw my ex-love start to whisper something into his ear. Well, ex-girlfriend. I still loved the big doughnut. Nuts, dough and all.
So there I am, sitting almost alone on a pew when someone shuffles in beside me and says: “Hi.”
It was Darren.
I foresaw another awkward convo in the offing.
“I heard you really took to Aunt K.” The bloody Yank couldn’t say “Aunty.”
“She was aii.” Huh?! When did I start saying “aii”? This was not looking good for me at all.
“Well you just hang in there and be strong,” as he said this, he took my hand and patted the back of it very gently. A red neon sign went up in my head: DANGER! Was this dude bi? And with all the nerve in the world! What? Did he have some twisted threesome in mind? Me, my ex and the next?! I instantly wore a disgusted look as I withdrew my hand from his. “I’ll be fine.” I mouthed.
Everything taken into consideration, the church service was probably pretty concise. Then it was party time.
Now, solve for ‘x’:
Rich woman=Rich children; Plenty of those children (6 actually) + rich woman’s inheritance=unrealistically ostentatious burial festivities. Therefore, x=buffet; a thing which I love greatly – as does my friend Chris, who threatened to kill me if he at least couldn’t show up for the grubbing.
He would ultimately regret that.
So, I’m greedily scooping stuff into my plate and behold: I see Darren chatting up my homeboy. After a while, he slips my man a card and begins to walk off. Once his back is turned, my friend – who I can see but the approaching Darren can’t – forms an imaginary gun and pops an imaginary cap into his real brain. Darren, oblivious to this, approaches me and whispers in my ear: “Your friend is pretty cute. I always like some flesh on my boys.” While my dark face turned alabaster in milliseconds, Darren walked away.
My mind was numbed! The girl of my dreams was giving me up for an amiable swinger? Oh my goodness! It couldn’t get any worse. I couldn’t breathe. I had to find her and then tell her. My poor, clueless flower. My eyes sought her out. They found her quickly for she wasn’t far from the action. As a matter of fact, I got the feeling she saw everything. I suddenly began to feel really sick. Devastatingly sick actually:
‘cuz she was holding her sides…
and literally laughing her ass off!

**********************************
“Why didn’t you tell me he was gay?!” I was almost yelling.
“Someone called me mean bitch. Remember?”
Still at the party, I had cornered her and was giving her a righteous old grilling.
“Well I thought you were cheating on me with Versace over there,” I answered. Now she turned flaming red. Angry outburst on the horizon. Watch out Lucifer, this’ll burn even you!
“Yeah, scumbag. I figured that out at the airport.”

Now hold. Before I continue, I have to say that, sadly, we have come to an inevitable cliché point. I tried to avoid it but I couldn’t: this is the terminus where all the little magic tricks novelists and scriptwriters alike use to complicate the plot are explained so that we minimize the letters from agonized viewers/readers pointing out all the noted flaws in the story. I shall thus implore thee to get over thyself and keep reading…

“At the airport? But you were guilty as sin when I met you…” she tried to interrupt me -presumably to explain – but I was on a roll. “…also explain to me your silence for a while before you sent that email and why didn’t you ever mention that Darren was gay over the phone?”
“I never mentioned that?”
“No. Why else would I get insanely jealous?”
“Cuz Darren’s taller and has a schlong so long, the UN could be tempted to hoist flags off it?”
“Yeah, how do you know about that?”
“What? Gay dudes are surprisingly open to straight women. And sorry I didn’t tell you about Darren. Oversight.”
“Colossal oversight. Relationship crushing oversight. Obasanjo installing a terminally ill dude as President: that was an oversight. But this… this…”
“Dude, why do you always want to make a huge deal out of everything?”
And there it was… the best part of our relationship was back: the arguments! Twenty odd minutes later though, we were done fighting and ready to make up for lost time.
“…so you see, I had to get off the grid for a while. I know it made you think all sorts but I really had no choice.”
“You could have shot him in the face for no good reason too, you know.”
“Of course. I’m sure that would have totally aided my chances of getting a green card in this millennium!” I laughed heartily at her wit. Boy, was I still whipped!
“And I couldn’t give you tongue at the airport. Darren’s boyfriend broke up with him two days earlier. Last thing he wants to see is me smooching some handsome hunk in the ‘Arrivals’ lounge.”
“Aww, you think I’m handsome.”
“Shut up.”
“Only if you kiss me now…”

So dear Mr. /Mrs. Reader, what the jeepers are you waiting to see? Whether or not we kissed? Course we did. Till my lips were dry. I’m now the poster child for chap stick.
And Darren turned out to simply be a nice guy getting away to get over a bad break up. However, I doubt that Chris would be his much needed elixir. Chris went on a diet after a gay guy hit on him. I know I would…

Epilogue…
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She was in the bathroom; I was in the bedroom waiting with bated breath.
“I’ve got a surprise for you!” she chirped between giggles. And I couldn’t wait. I could never wait. Plus I figured the ‘surprise’ was probably her dressed in some fancy lingerie she must have bought while out on her travails abroad…
A good five minutes later, she comes out and I almost, well, COME out too (if you catch my filthy innuendo). She had on the sexiest black lingerie that made it seem like you could see through to the most beautiful body ever while you, in fact, couldn’t see. Kind of like a dirty optical illusion.
“Wow…” I whispered as I licked my lips gleefully, “…what a surprise!”
She laughed. “That’s not your surprise, silly. This is!” As she spoke those words, her hands, which had been tucked safely behind her, came forward as she stretched the waistband of a delightful piece of men’s underwear: it was a g-string… and it was leopard print.
I convulsed with raucous laughter.
“Don’t laugh yet.” As she said this, she leaned back into the bathroom and brought out a pair of black cowboy boots. Ornamental stitching and all. “Put ’em on. It’s every girl’s fantasy.”
“Really?” I queried, my mood instantly souring.
“Nope. Just mine, but that’s what you get for calling me a…”
“…MEAN BITCH!” we chorused. I always knew I’d pay dearly for that stunt.
“Damn,” I muttered as I clambered off the bed and took the underwear and boots, “I really hate women…”

The Death of John Okro.

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Ilawe-Ekiti, Ekiti.

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He was mumbling to himself triumphantly as he walked down to the cellar where the fools were being held. How many times did they need to be told, beaten or killed before they knew not to mess with Uncle Terry. He spoke out loudly as he walked into the dingy, dank room.

“The name ‘Uncle Terry’ wasn’t given to me  because  I loved cartoons ,” he started. Two struggling people were tied up with black sacs covering their heads. A male and a female.  Hands bound behind the chairs they’d been forced onto; legs tied together. The four others in the room wore balaclavas and held sub-machine guns. MP7s.

“So who’s the unlucky fellow?” As Uncle Terry asked, he took his Beretta out of its holster. One of the others answered:

“We heard him telling the girl his name is John Okro, Boss.”

“Whaat?!”Uncle Terry was clearly bemused and tried not to laugh. One of the others chuckled as well and replied:

“That’s what SHE said, Boss! It’s even the name on his National I.D. card.”As he said this, he held it up to display.

“Haha.” Terry laughed as he released the safety on the gun. He was now two feet away from the male. “Unfortunately for you Mr. Okro, I have no interest in idle bad guy chit-chat where I explain all my schemes and plans before leaving my incompetent hatchet men to finish the job. Tell God I said… ‘wassup?'” With a smile, he pointed the gun and released two bullets into the man’s chest.

“And as for you Miriam, deliver the same message to God in case your friend goes to hell.” Two more shots rang out.

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Gbagada, Lagos. Four hours earlier…

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Miriam was tense as she walked towards the pharmacy. It was a typical evening in Gbagada: save for the ambient purr of expensive generators, it was quiet. She’d left the house in a hurry. Her roommate was very worried. Bunmi hadn’t seen her period in a decent while. A decent while enough to warrant a pregnancy test.

“When your pant will be going up and down like the escalators at MM2!” Miriam had chastised. Bunmi had somehow contrived to smash her little toe against the bed frame when power had been taken the evening before. Miriam knew that if she avoided going to the nearby pharmacy, Bunmi would suspect there was something horribly wrong. Hence, clad in loose shorts and a nameless tee-shirt, Miriam had ventured out aiming to procure a test kit. Surely she was safe in her own estate.

She barely observed him stroll past her on the tarred street. He was headed in the direction she was coming from and was as nondescript as they come. Average height, faded clothes. She was surprised at how he smelt when he passed though: good.

Nothing expensive but given the clothes he wore, it was surely a pleasant surprise. That was all the notice she took of him till his voice stopped her and made her turn around.

“Hi.” Manly voice. A little whiny, yes, but manly.

“Hello.” she had turned and was now facing him, “Can I help you?”

“Err… well not really. I just wanted to tell you that you look good. Really good. Even though you don’t have a stitch of make up on.” She widened her eyes in disbelief. Did he just say ‘stitch’? He didn’t look like the kind of person to be familiar with such vocabulary. He had a rugged air that didn’t fit with those kinds of words. She immediately scorned herself for being so judgemental.

“And I’m not asking for your name or number. Just passing a compliment.” He added, pulling her out of her thoughts. She had barely been able to finish blushing – or at least a done the black female’s equivalent  – and mutter a “Thank you” when he turned and continued walking.

Oh no you don’t. “Wait!” she half-yelled. Miriam was all kinds of intrigued. He stopped in his tracks and turned.

“Yes?”

“You don’t just… do that.”

“Do what?”

“I don’t know…” she struggled to gather her thoughts. “What’s your name?” He took a few steps towards her. When he was close enough, he spoke:

“My name is Okro.”

“Whaaaat?!”  for the second time that evening, she was bewildered.

“Yes. Okro. John Okro.”

“Oh.” Miriam blurted.

“Thanks for ruining my James Bond intro, by the way.” She laughed heartily before apologising.

“Oh no, I’m so sorry. It’s just that…”

“Yes, I know. My name is weird. I get that a lot.” He interrupted. She stiffened suddenly and her sharp intake of breath made him turn around. Two burly men who had clearly been waiting in the shadows were moving quickly towards them from either side.

“Who are they?” John whispered. Suddenly brusque.

She squinted at him and almost seemed to smile while she put her hands out in resignation. “Well, I think they want to kill me!” Now it was John’s turn to feel surprised. “What???” From the corner of his eye, he noticed one of the men speak into a receiver. Calmly and defiantly, she looked straight at him.

“Run,” she said.

It was too late. In an instant, both men were upon them. Their heads were covered but their eyes and mouth were visible in the dimly lit street. The two men took a mark each. One of them already had his hand over Miriam’s mouth. The other wrestled Okro to the ground. Face down, John felt his assailant try to grab a hold of his wrists while trying to use his body mass to keep John down. John was now trying to twist free. And he was succeeding till he felt a heavy punch to his spine. Rather than yell, Okro’s instinct was to fling his head back forcefully. The other man’s grunt was evidence that Okro’s skull had indeed connected with his assailant’s nose. Okro couldn’t tell whether the dampness he felt on the back of his head was moisture from sweat, his cracked skull, or the enemy’s bleeding nose. He was at once sure it was a combination of the three.

“Labi, wetin you dey do there? Hold the guy down na!” It was his counterpart, the one holding Miriam. She struggled in his grip but he had clearly overpowered her.

“Osho, cool down. Mpph!!!” Labi was rocked once more as John Okro slammed the back of his head into his nose again. He lost his grip on John’s wrists as he tried to regain his bearing. A frustrated Osho was only able to look on as John tried to wriggle out from under Labi. In his head, Osho cursed the orders that stopped them from conducting the ambush with guns. He understood it was because they wanted to draw as little attention as possible but they did not expect to meet this hiccup.

Besides, Osho would be damned if he let go of the girl. He heard Labi stifle a yelp. He looked in his direction and saw John, still underneath him but now facing up, knee him in the groin.

Osho had seen enough.

A precise, calculated blow to Miriam’s temple knocked her out cold. He let her body slide to the floor as he walked towards the other two men. Once he got close enough to strike, that guy would be in for it, he thought.

Ooh, aah, ready to thump.

But John Okro was much too quick.

He pushed against Labi and used that as resistant force to propel himself across the tar towards Osho. He also led with his elbow. Osho buckled as his left knee felt the impact. That stunt felt ‘cool’ while he executed it, but Okro also felt his butt and lower back burn from the coarse friction. A second elbow made Osho buckle but he still managed to land a fist on Okro’s ribcage.

“Arrggh…” John Okro surely felt that one. He also felt Osho’s boot crash into his side again. But before the boot and the foot it covered retreated, Okro grabbed hold and obeyed his primal instincts.

He bit hard.

Osho’s muted groan was greeted, as if on cue, by the sound of screeching tires as a black moving-van hurled itself towards them at breakneck speed. The full on lights blinded both men momentarily. The van had barely stopped when the front doors opened and two men, dressed like Labi and Osho, stormed out of the van.

But these ones had guns.

 

To be continued…

 

Hello Dinner

I officially have no idea what made me write this. Try to enjoy…
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He opened his eyes. Awake. Finally. Beads of sweat lined his neck like a noose. A taut noose. About to snap. He clasped his neck with both his hands and groaned, willing the sensation to stop.

But it wouldn’t.

He looked around him. The room was dim. Clearly there was no power in his house. But he heard no whirrs from neighbours’ generators either. He walked to the window and touched the sill. It was dark outside. He realized it was the middle of the night.
Then he heard the screech.
It sounded like a bird of prey going in for the kill. But this was a well tended residential area. No room for that. Or was there? His blood curdled instantly. It sounded really close. Eerily close.
He turned around. His eyes scanned the room for any movement. He started walking towards his bed. He saw something and jumped; startled. He glanced around and saw nothing. ‘Must be my shadow,’ he thought. He moved towards his bed again. Tentatively this time.
A reflection of yellow caught the corner of his eye.
Power had returned.
He altered his destination and headed for the stairs. Exiting, he shut his room door behind him as he saw the glow from downstairs.
Click!
He stopped short as the beads of sweat became mini-streams, coursing down unbridled. Tension morphed into fear. He turned back and made for the door knob but he already knew. It was locked. He began to pant loudly. He closed his eyes briefly, trying to think. But he couldn’t. The tautness around his neck seemed to intensify. Grabbing his neck again, he lumbered towards the stairs. If he could just make it out of the house, perhaps… He figured the glow was coming from the bulb in the far corner of the living room. Above the television set. He trudged down the stairs one step at a time, suddenly weak from fighting what he couldn’t see.

And then his right foot hit the parlor’s carpeting.

As if on cue, he heard glass shattering all around him. His eye caught the last of television set as the tube exploded violently, sending shards towards him. He bent down quickly to avoid them finding rest on his skin. The bulbs had been exploding serially. The one above the remains of the tv was last. He stared wide-eyed as it left its socket. Still luminous, it sped towards him. Already prone, he crawled across the room trying to get away. He could see the light approaching him. He felt it smash into his side then…
Darkness.

By now, he’d lost his bearing. He couldn’t tell what part of the living room he was in. Panic!
He propelled himself atop the shards of glass that littered the floor. He was numb to the bruising. All he needed was to get out of this mess; this madness. Scrambling on the floor, he put his arms to work about him searching for something to latch on to: a couch, a stool, anything. He touched something and got a hold of it. It felt like one of the legs of the dining table but a lot bigger. And warmer. This was certainly not wood. He still couldn’t see anything so he reached up to get a better feel for what he was trying to get a hold of. An arbitrary flash of lightening illuminated the room for a moment.
It was long enough for him to see it…
Huge drippy eyes green as a young garden; vicious as viper’s. Long sharp teeth that converged at least three inches from its noseless face.
Its face…
It seemed to be sweating grime yet the rest of its body seemed feathery.
It screeched again. This time he couldn’t jump. Or run. Instead he felt the warmth on his lower extremities as he was bathed in his own urine.
Then it spoke. Half growl, half scream, full terror: “Hello dinner. It’s going to be a long night!”
It bent down and opened its mouth…

Darkness…

Okro’s Spark (3)

I don’t know when the next installment of the Okro series will be released so….

Anyway, here are the earlier episodes if you missed ’em:-

1. The Slippery Adventures of John Okro

2. Okro’s Spark (1)

3. Okro’s Spark (2)

 

****************

Lagos, Nigeria

****************

Dis work come be like say e go simple die,
thought Pinto. His mind was already circling in on what he would do with his
share of the goodies that was most definitely coming his way after this. He
looked at the two men standing in front of and beside him. The three heavily
built men faced each other as they talked.

Pinto had known Risky since they were kids.
They’d grown up in the same neighborhood and now, they were ‘handymen’
together. Pinto could kill (and had in fact killed) for Risky. Risky seemed to
be the smart one and kept moving up the underworld ladder. Pinto was always happy to
tag along. Risky was by no means lean or weak but everyone knew Pinto was the muscle
and Risky was the thinker. Eye Patch was a friend of the family. He was a fun
guy and they liked him tagging along. Plus, he was helpful when he had to be.

“Guy, wetin you tink na? Make we step abi make
we dey look till the place toast finish?” asked Eye-Patch (often pronounced
I-Pash by his friends).

“No o. We gats wait small o,” Risky intoned

“Ehn, but guy see time. After 2 in d
morrin. My baby don dey my house since around 7. She don flash me tire and I
sure say by now she go don dey crash,” Eye Patch pleaded.

“Ehen?” Risky again.

“Ehen? Guy konji wan tear my sumtin now.
Which one be dis ‘ehen’ wey you dey ask me? You be small pikin? No be your
fault now. Na because your babe no dey gree you rest abi?”

“Omo if na dat one ehn, Boma no dey gree me
see road o! Sheeeet! That babe ehn, if she don smoke weed come meet you ehn…”

Eye Patch interrupted: “God forbid, she no
go come meet me…”

“Shattap! Who dash you? I say if she don
gbana come meet me ehn, guy na die! I don dey find where dem dey sell correct
manpower drug sef. The one wey Oshogbo people dey do. Una get idea?”

“Manpower drug?” Pinto finally joined in
the conversation. The other two now stared at him incredulously like they just
found out that he was born fitted with female genitalia.

“Dis one na mumu sha,” Risky snorted,
“Anyway we gats go round just make sure say every every dey alright…”

“How every wan dey alright when we dey
TOAST person place?” Eye Patch butted in mirthfully.

Risky continued, “Me, I go go round this
side. Pinto, you take this other side. Eye Patch, you just relax here. When we
do finish we go begin step. Me sef don tire gan. D work dey boring na.”

“Ehn o, no action, no action! Ahh! Remember
that job wey we go do for Benin last month? Omo I never fight like dat for my
life. Wallahi tallahi.” Eye Patch was becoming slightly more animated now,
memories of a nighttime melee flooding back.

“Omo boy dat racking too mad. See where
bobos dey break bottle like say na egg. Omo I need dat kind moves o,” Pinto had
apparently regained the use of his tongue.

“Of which, eyin boyz cool down make we
yan,” Risky seemed to bring calm with his whisper and they all almost huddled
in close as he began to speak once more but in an even lower register.

“You see this envelope?” he started,

“Ehen. We dey see am,” the others
practically chorused. They’d been befuddled by it since the evening started.
While they had set about getting the flame up, Risky had stood back clutching
the envelope as if for dear life but they knew not to ask. If they needed to
know about it, they would get to know eventually.

“Oya make I yan una wetin dey inside…”

*****************************************************

They had dispatched themselves and were now
circling the building. Risky, still clutching the envelope, moved rather
briskly: money on his mind. This was going to be the easiest money he’d made
all year! When he’d gotten the text from his contact in the East, he’d thought
it was going to require more men and more planning. However, his preliminary
surveillance revealed that the place was completely uninhabited and there was
no security as well so two others persons was simply overkill. He just thought
to bring them along for companionship and to allow them partake in an easy
payday. He kept switching the manila envelope from hand to hand always feeling
that one hand was safer than the last hand that held it. He slowed down as he
approached the back of the building. It seemed like there was movement up where
he saw something like an opening in the wall for an air conditioner. However,
he couldn’t make it out properly even though he was almost directly beneath the
said hole. He now remembered that they had left the one and only torch brought
on this operation in the hands of Eye Patch who was manning the front. But wait
o… Risky thought. He remembered now that his mobile phone had a torch light. He
began to check his pockets with his free left hand. Realizing it was not in any
of the pockets on his left side, he moved the envelope to his right hand and,
head down, continued fumbling about for his handset.

He heard a swooshing through the air and
then looked up but it was too late to sidestep as an extra hard, extra
aggravated, extra desperate ultra high speed knee collided with his head and
neck… thus breaking Okro’s fall.

Risky went down almost without a sound,
collapsing in a heap under the weight and velocity of his assailant’s attack.
He was still conscious but only just. As he moaned unintelligibly, a torrent of
fists rammed into his lungs stifling even his whimper.

Pinto was at the right side of the building
daydreaming when he heard the noises coming from the back. His first instinct,
which he obeyed, was to call out: “Risky, wetin dey para?” When he got no
answer, he called out again. This time, he was louder, “RISKY, WETIN DEY HAPPEN
FOR DERE?” Still no reply, he began to run to the back. He found Risky sprawled
on the floor and writhing in pain. He quizzed his boss for the day furiously,
trying to find out what had just happened. Risky could barely mumble any words.
Pinto began to look around frantically suddenly realizing that someone else was
out here and worse yet, the person was dangerous enough to incapacitate Risky.

“Eye Patch! Eye Patch! Eye…”

“Wetin, wetin, wetin?” Eye Patch was
already bounding round to the back when he heard Pinto yelling his name. He now
knelt beside Risky. “Wetin happen here?!” he screamed.

“Omo, I no know. I just hear something come
pick race only to reach here come see Risko for ground level,”

“Who go dey here? Wetin him do Risky sharp
sharp wey we no hear on time? Why anybody go wan do am like dis sef?” At this
point, they looked at each other suddenly realizing one possible reason.
Quickly, they frisked Risky. They found it underneath the injured man. Still
sealed, seemingly untouched. Risky seemed to gain strength seeing the envelope
in Eye Patch’s clasp.

“W-w-w-w one boy. E w-w-w wear only b-b-b
boxers,” he whispered in a stutter blinking furiously as he tried to battle the
pain.

“Where him go? Where e dey?” Pinto inquired
obviously agitated and ready to rumble.

“I no kn-know,” it was obviously a struggle
for Risky to even speak.

“We go get am. Boss, u just manage. We dey
come. We go get am.” Pinto now looked at Eye Patch, “Guy, give am d tin back.”
As he said this, his head motioned towards the man lying on the ground. Eye
Patch obeyed and Pinto continued, “As u dey front, anybody commot dis place?”

“No.”

“Correct. Dat bastard fit still dey unless
e commot as we dey here.”

The time for words was over. Pinto and Eye
Patch rose, eyes fixated on each other as they came to a wordless
understanding.

They both reached down into their shoes and
drew knives. Both were ensconced in leather which they almost simultaneously
peeled off and pocketed. Pinto hooked his finger indicating where Eye Patch was
to cover. He moved in the opposite direction. Both of them would go round every
inch of the grounds if they had to. The boy, whoever he was, was about to
breathe his last.

The midnight sky was blocked from view by
the smoke rising from the inferno which in turn created a sinister backdrop to
what was about to transpire. Pinto’s glistening blade reflected the devouring
flames as he crept around the side of the house Risky had initially asked him
to check. Adrenaline was coursing through his veins as were the marijuana he
did a few hours ago… and the ‘shepe’. His allegiance to Risky was
unquestioned and possibly unrivaled. Somebody had messed terribly with him and
that person, if he was still in the compound, would not live to mess with anyone
again.

Once again, suddenly seemed that he was
hearing sounds of a scuffle but he couldn’t be sure.

Then he unmistakably heard Eye Patch’s
blood curdling scream…

John Okro knew not to mess around with
people who were armed with sharp, lengthy, glistening knives. It was fortunate
to be given the advantage of seeing them before they saw you. And with Lady
Luck being fickle and all, you had to take full advantage of her when she came
around to your side of the bed. Out of the shadows, his knee came hurtling
towards an unsighted Eye Patch’s unprotected groin. The man yelped almost
quietly as the limb hit its target. Again. And again. Okro moved swiftly
clutching the man’s wrist that was attached to the palm holding the knife. He
then lifted one of his own legs till his thigh and lower leg formed a number
seven. He moved Eye Patch’s stretched arm into the corner of the seven till his
elbow and Okro’s knee were aligned. In one swift motion, Okro flexed his leg
muscles squeezing the arm while he dragged the wrist skywards instantly
snapping Eye Patch’s elbow.

And that was when Eye Patch screamed.

He bent down and picked up the knife that
had inevitably fallen. He heard running footsteps on the concrete floor and
looked up waiting for his next opponent to turn the corner.

As Pinto rounded the corner in full flight,
he barely had time to take in the scene before he saw the flying knife,
identical to his, making its way towards his neck. His reflexes were good. But
not good enough. The knife missed his neck but still managed to lodge itself
proudly in Pinto’s clavicle.

And then he screamed.

Okro sneered at the silhouette emptying his
lungs into the night sky. Pinto’s bloodshot eyes now assimilated everything on
ground. The boy with boxers, a crying Eye Patch, the knife in his shoulder.

He screamed again.

This time with anger, with venom, with
untapped vengefulness, with loyalty to his injured cohorts. He glowered at Okro
and tore the knife from his skin. Now he had two weapons. One knife smeared
with his blood, the other about to be drenched in this bastard’s.

Okro looked at Pinto’s expression. He knew
pissed when he saw it.

“Oh crap,” he thought out loud, “Here we go
again…”

Okro’s Spark (2)

Check out the earlier installments of John Okro before you read this one:

1. The Slippery Adventures of John Okro

2. Okro’s Spark (1)

****************

Lagos, Nigeria

****************

The volume of their speech seemed to
increase as abruptly as it had reduced. Now it seemed Okro could make out at
least some of the conversation. They were speaking in pidgin. He quickly came
to the understanding that there were three men involved in the discussion. The
fire had not abated so that meant he had bigger problems right now: he needed to
stay alive and not fracture half the bones in his body by jumping possibly 30
feet down. And he still needed to pee!

He was now hearing nothing. At least not
voices: footfalls. His breath caught in his chest not for the first time that
night as he began to try to piece it all together. He didn’t know how it looked
like from out front but given what he saw inside, the fire must be pretty
visible from where they were standing. And they were obviously not calling for
help.

That meant they were in on it.

But he still needed to pee. And really
badly at that…

*************************

Abia State, Nigeria

*************************

“General F. O. Uzodinma (Retired)”

That’s what it read on his complimentary
card. That a partisan politician without any other discernible source of income
had a complimentary card was a source of befuddlement to most of his friends
without ties to politics. But those within the mainstream political circuit in
Eastern Nigeria knew that a ‘compli cardi’ (always said in a heavy Igbo accent)
was as necessary as having a Special Assistant for Carrying Air Freshener. As
for the air freshener bit, no politician who wanted to be taken seriously
risked leaving a stinker at any toilet he visited in public. Granted, there
were many other pitfalls one could step into in this political terrain but it
seemed that the hole you trapped yourself in when you stole money was within
your control: you could siphon sensibly. And basically, everything else you
could do in moderation.

But the call of nature had a mind all its
own.  Whether it was at eateries, hotels
used to host the odd public dinner, higher institutions’ auditorium
conveniences, wherever. No one could tell where his political detractors were
hiding. They might be next in line to use the cubicle one stepped out of and
those evil doers stopped at nothing. The importance of those assistants came to
the fore most recently when Chief Egbukor was scandalized.

This was around 2002 when the United States
had intelligence people scattered all over the country, and the world in fact,
searching for even a whiff of terrorist activity in the wake of the September
11 attacks. In Abia State, for example, random politicians were being called in
for questioning at State C.I.D., Aba.

For some reason, Chief Egbukor was called
in as well.

The next thing Chief knew, the rumor mill
began spreading news that the Americans had uncovered Chief as one of the
financial backers of the famed ‘Bakassi Boys’ who, at the time, the United
States classified as a terrorist group. Essentially, that made him a terrorist
as well. Chief issued several press statements denying any ties to ‘Bakassi’
but no one seemed to believe him. Finally, the Commissioner of Police held a
press conference – with Chief in attendance – at which he unequivocally said
that Chief Egbukor was not a suspected terror monger.

When the conference in question ended,
Chief found himself to be ravenous. Consequently, he gallantly marched into a
nearby eatery to grab lunch. Still feeling boisterous from his recent victory
of sorts, he ordered large. Two servings of jollof rice, two servings of dodo
and the biggest chicken thigh his stubby fingers could point at from where he
stood. He sat while his bodyguard stood over him as he ate. When he was done,
he was still feeling peckish.

“Wetin dat?” he asked his bodyguard as he
pointed to the big transparent container the ice cream was swirling in. Moments
later, he was enjoying a cup of the white stuff. Then the reporter stepped up.

As he rushed towards Chief, the burly piece
of beefcake (also known as Chief’s bodyguard) stepped in front of Chief
blocking the reporter.

“Leave am,” Chief said almost
instinctively. He knew when trouble came calling but this man seemed like a
harmless one right away. Autobash 2000 moved aside slightly, allowing the
reporter access.

“Sir, my name is Simon Agu. I’m with the
Daily Clarinet.” As he said this, he held out the name-tag hanging from some
flimsy rope slung around his tiny neck.

“Gini ki cho?” (What do you want).

“Sir, given that you have just been sort
of… em… vindicated…”

“Sort of?!” Chief yelled. “Ya mother is
SORT OF smelling. Ya father is SORT OF stupid…”

“I’m sorry sir…”

“No o! Don’t be sorry for me. Be sorry for
ya mother because her armpit SORT OF reminds people of ahurun!” (Ahurun = fart)

“Don’t be angry sir. Please sir. I meant to
say that since you were thoroughly and absolutely vindicated by the
Commissioner within the last hour as per your non involvement in the terrorist
hoola-balloo…”

“ Ehen?”

“…what do you have to say to your
detractors, sir?”

“Detra- gini? Nna, I don’t have farm now…”

“No sir,” he winced slightly then
continued, “I mean your enemies, Chief.”

“Oh, those foolish people? Well, tell them
that I feel, eh, very happy to have been cleared of all this stupid nonsense. I
am innocent and anybody who doesn’t, eh, like me can go and, eh, jump inside
Imo river.”

“Imo river, sir?”

“E ji’m mili n’onu?” (Am I carrying water
in my mouth?)

“No sir. Thank you, Chief.” He scampered
off before Chief could direct another missive his way.

“An’ofia,” (bush meat) Chief intoned as he
looked into his ice cream cup to see it had all but dissolved completely. He
silently cursed the reporter as he resolved to drink it. It still tasted great.
He decided to relax in the eatery for a bit. Partly to allow his food digest
and partly to see if any more reporters would happen upon him in the eatery.
After about ten minutes, Chief felt his tummy rumble… and he instantly felt the
need to go. And go viciously. He couldn’t figure out what could cause him to
metabolize the food so quickly and so thoroughly. He suddenly realized he was
sweating heavily. Even under the immense attention of the air-conditioners. He
contemplated holding it in. He had a tiny feeling somewhere that the moment he
stepped into the toilet, he would be missing another journalist. And to him,
all press was good press at this time.

Little by little, he began to lean on the
table in front of him more and more till he was suspending practically all his
weight on his forearm and elbows. His rear end was by now almost completely off
the seat.

Auto B spoke: “Chief, you know we can go
and come back in a few minutes. Anyone who comes to eat can’t be in and out all
that quickly.” He could read Chief’s mind like a book with giant print.

“Don’t worry. I’m ok.”

Chief now realized he was becoming a bit
obvious. However, he figured he still had to hang around for a bit longer
because from here he was headed to the Owerri airport to catch a flight to
Abuja. He would return first thing the next day but by then, the story would
have broken everywhere. He had to do all the press now and enjoy the discomfort
of his enemies. He changed his posture.

He now planted his fists into the space
around his buttocks on the chair using them to prop himself slightly as he
tried to ease his own suffering. This was not worth it at all at all.

Chief looked at Auto B and nodded in the
general direction where he imagined the toilet would be. Wordlessly, Auto B
helped Chief out of his chair.

Twelve minutes later, Chief was flushing.
He noisily let out air from his nostrils while he kept his mouth shut, afraid
to inhale the first-fruit of his savage onslaught on the toilet bowl. He shook
his head at himself. He should have known not to eat here, he thought. The place
was smelling Izal, Izal. Now see his tummy. And see the result. Rubbish.

He came out of the cubicle and promptly
proceeded to wash his hands at the faucet. As he did so, he heard quick
footfalls approaching the toilet. Autobash seemed to perk up like a guard dog.
The steps quickened and Simon Agu practically ran in the door. As he rushed in
the smell that assaulted his olfactories made him hit the brakes. As did Auto
B’s outstretched arm. He skidded to a halt as he expressed his discomfiture
with a loud: “Hmmmmmm!” He squeezed his face disgustedly, immediately seeking
out where to spit into.

“Auto, throw this fool out of here. Idiot.
Don’t you sh-sh shit?” Chief’s stutter was clear evidence of his embarrassment.
Auto obeyed.

The next morning, as Chief strode into the
Owerri airport – back from a succesfull trip to the nation’s capital – his
aide, Chigozie, came to greet him. “Chief they want to finish you o!”

“Haven’t they tried enough already? They
should have learnt by now that nothing can spoil my name or scatter my image.
What is it, Chigo?” Chief asked,

“It’s all these foolish press people o!
They want to ruin you upon all,”

“What is it?”

“Chief they said you wreck soakaways and
public rest rooms o!”

“Ah ah… Who?” A solitary drop of sweat
danced from the back of his head, dropped on his spine and gave him mild shocks
while it coursed down, ending its journey down the back of Chief’s briefs for
he seemed to have an inkling almost instantly of who was responsible.

“Chief…” Chigozie trailed off as he handed
Chief the copy of the day’s Daily Clarinet. Then he saw the awful headline on
the front page:

“EGBUKOR
NOT A TERRORIST…

But
drops bombs”

Generally, when people told this story,
they always omitted the fact that Simon Agu was no longer in a job. They also
omitted the fact that his house was soon confiscated for seemingly no reason
and his civil servant wife was transferred to Adamawa without warning.

Well, the General thought, why not avoid
all this rubbish instead? Anyways, the General thought to himself, he had more
important things to worry about. He picked up his cell phone to dial…

***********************************************

“Onyeujo, you are welcome. Sit down… Not so
far away now. Come closer. Mgba nu, sit on this chair right beside me.” The
General still could not wrap his mind around the fact that this frail looking
vegetable of a human being was supposed to be the number one hit-man in the
East. The man wasn’t feared. No. He was revered. Because he left no traces. No
links, no evidence, nothing. And he did even the most well guarded people. But
today Chief did not want the Angel of Death to pay a visit to anyone.

“Onyeujo, I have called you here for a
reason.”

“Yes sir. What is it?” Onyeujo whispered in
reply. His voice (if you wanted to call it that) was more like a whisper. A
raspy, creepy whisper. It sounded thin, yet coarse and grainy at the same time.

“I have a different sort of assignment for
you this time. Fire. Can you do it?”

Onyeujo seemed visibly repulsed by that
question. “Can politicians tell lies? Please get to the details, General. I
have an appointment at a massage parlor that I wish not to miss.”

“Emmm… No problem. I will get to it. Do you
know any Mr. Uche?”

“Is that the man vying for your constituency’s
seat in the state house?”

“Yes. But he is up against my candidate.
You see the problem?” Onyeujo nodded and the General continued.

“Well, I don’t really see the need to, you
know, end him. He is a small boy. He doesn’t even have money but some people
like him because he uses big big English. The idiot doesn’t even have property
here. I could have sent you to burn his father’s house but I hear he is not so
close to his parents and it might not pain him very well…”

“So what’s the plan?” Onyeujo interjected,

“I learnt he is paying rent in a flat in
Lagos. I also learnt he will be in Aba here for Mike Ebere’s coronation. When
he goes back home, I want him to meet his house in ashes.” As the General said
this, he handed Onyeujo a piece of paper.

“That is his address.”

“Anything else?”

“Emmmm… No.”

“You know my rates and you have my account
number, right?” The General nodded as he groaned out an “Mmm hmm.”

“Keep your eyes in the papers then… or I
might call when I’m done. Okay?”

“Okay.”

“I’ll see myself out then, General.”

Onyeujo eased into his Datsun Laurel 2.0.
He had found out long ago that a low profile was best. In his line of work,
innocuous was the watchword.

Nothing bespoke that better than an ageing
Japanese automobile.

He drove slowly while he pondered over the
General’s latest request. Crap. Irritating, mediocre crap. Meanwhile, his
massage appointment was not to be missed at any cost. It helped that the owner
of the place was hot beyond reasonability but he also needed those tense
muscles relaxed. The workload of a terror monger was pressure-filled. He pulled
his cell phone out of his pocket (a Nokia 3310) and sent a text message to his
friend Risky in Lagos. He suddenly remembered something and opened his glove
compartment. He took out a plastic encasement. Keeping his eyes on the road, he
extracted a small device with two knobs on the face of it. He depressed the
larger button.

On the 5th floor of Gozie Towers, which
also happened to be the offices of Jobitex Incorporated, three blocks of C-4
exploded.

******************************************************

Had to break this up in two so y’all wouldn’t get bored. Part 3 out on friday… Pls come back!

Okro’s Spark (1)

They were walking to her house…

She wasn’t strikingly beautiful but she was pretty in
an understated way. You had to know her to appreciate her. Or at least that was
how he figured it. She was about his height which made her a tall-ish specimen
and she wasn’t skinny. “Hello Perfection,” thought Okro

Skinny was not Okro’s definition of sexy. No. His
experiences made him form the opinion that skinny women obsessed about their
figure and were too concerned about what they ate and didn’t eat. He didn’t need
that type of fussiness in his life.

At her door, she put one palm on the handle and turned
to face him. He was standing barely a foot away with his hands behind his back
wearing his favourite tee shirt, new jeans and a childish grin. Words somehow
didn’t seem necessary at this point. She looked around as if to check that no
one was watching – somehow Okro figured she didn’t care either way – and then
took a tentative step toward him. He met her halfway, encircling her with his
arms as he did so. She interlocked her delicate fingers at the back of his
neck.

Then they kissed…

Oh shoot, he thought. The countless onions in the suya
they had shared was coming back to haunt them in the worst possible way. Or at
least back to haunt him. It was a weird vibe he was getting off her lips and
breath. He began to wonder whether she’d had beans earlier in the day. Or eggs.
Or both.

He tried to avoid being the one to pull out of the
kiss. A task made all the more difficult by the fact that he was somehow unable
to hold his breath long enough. Bleeping cigarettes must have snuffed the air
out of his lungs. Was today World Repercussion Day or something?

She finally pulled out but obviously something was
wrong, thought Okro. Because she had a look of content in her eyes. Oh wait,
was it content or longing? Content meant she had enjoyed that awful kiss: bad.
Longing meant she wanted another: worse.

She let out air and Okro thought his face would melt
from the sheer heat of it. And the stench. Dear oh dear. His desire to get laid
must have deadened his nostrils for a bit, he thought. She’d better have the
genius of Ghandhi in the sack or he would do everything even super-humanly
possible to ensure that the National Assembly passed a law banning onions at
all suya joints. He suddenly became very uncomfortable, shifting slightly in
her embrace. Then she closed her eyes and leaned in again. So what he saw was
longing. Dear God, he thought, this would be a fabulous time to visit vengeance
upon me for my sins: kill me. Kill me now. Then again, he figured this was as
malicious as the heavens could get. From warm to uncomfortably hot, the heat
from her mouth seemed to amplify as she got closer. And she had her mouth half
open. How could he escape? Their lips were almost touching now…

 

****************************************************************

He opened his eyes and the first thing he
observed was the sweat he was covered with. He had to blink spuriously and dab
lightly with his hand to get the sting out of his eye because some sweat had
trickled in. The second thing he observed was that he needed to pee really
badly. As he got up from the bed, he silently cursed the architect of the
building who put a toilet and bathroom to serve two bedrooms making him have to
walk to the corridor to do his business. And why was it soo hot, anyway? He
opened the door.

The third thing he observed was the fire.

 

Vicious flames licked the apartment like a
giant kid going at a tiny lollipop. It appeared the living room had been
completely consumed. He couldn’t be sure about the master bedroom but the flames
had entered the corridor and were now grubbing their way toward his room. The
toilet was out of the question now. He could barely make out an opening where
the door once was. He suddenly realized he was getting mildly scalded. He
scampered back into the bedroom, panicking. All at once he tried to think many
thoughts: how did the fire start? How could he put it out? Who could help? Was
there an escape route? He was suddenly thankful that his uncle had taken his
family to the village for some chieftaincy thingy. That meant all Okro had to
worry about was himself. At the same time, he became concerned; even scared. What
would his uncle say when he returned to meet his house in whatever state it
would be when this was over. No chance of getting water now since the toilet
and bathroom had been turned into brick toast.

Okro coughed loud and painfully. The smoke
was unbearable on its own not to to talk of the fast approaching inferno. His
thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the flames tearing at the door. They
made short work of it. Barging into the room like an overbearing trespasser.
Okro figured ‘panic mode’ would be of no help right now even though he was so
close to freaking out. He slid a glass window open cursing as he saw the
burglary proof fittings his overly paranoid uncle had deemed fit to install at
every door and window. Great. Now what? He couldn’t grasp why the compound
wasn’t fenced while the owner thought it necessary to place burglary proof
fittings everywhere.

If he didn’t figure a way out, his obituary
wouldn’t say he died following a ‘brief illness’ or a ‘ghastly motor accident’.
He figured it would say: ‘John Okro. Home cooked.’

He resented himself for thinking humorously
at a time like this. “Nice going, dude.” He muttered to himself as he looked
around for an option. He jumped on the bed as the rug was being eaten beneath
him. He figured the bed would ignite momentarily. Was this how it would end?
“I’ve not even gotten the chance to shag Serena Williams,” he whimpered. Then
he saw it.

The 1 horse-power A/C unit had been making
an awful noise lately so his host had called the repair man to have a look at
it. The verdict had been ugly. It appeared there were a lot of faults. So much
that Okro couldn’t be bothered to take stock of what precisely those faults
were. Bottom line, the A/C repairman got his uncle’s blessing to take it away.
To avoid mosquitoes, his uncle’s wife had used an old calendar and masking tape
to cover the hole left at the bottom corner of the room. And today, that would
be his escape route.

Amidst more coughing, he raced off the bed
at tearing off the calendar and putting his legs through in one swift movement.
In his haste, he forgot that he was climbing down a two-storey building. With
his body facing outward, he let himself go and in the same moment realized he
was going to plunge into the hard concrete ground. His breath caught in his
throat and all his ultra sharp reflexes kicked in as he somehow managed to turn
180 degrees in mid-air barely catching the same frame he’d just jumped out of
with one hand. His breath quickened considerably as the realization of what
could have happened hit him full blast. He steadied himself by bringing his
other hand up to hold the frame as well. His breath was now coming in sharp
bursts He flexed his neck muscles before looking downwards. He began to
contemplate his next move. Should he jump down all the same or look for a
ledge? He scanned for a ledge below.

He saw a window but it was shut and the
available space… well there was none left. He wouldn’t be able to cling. His
eyes kept roving, searching out a solution. Suddenly, he began to feel the heat
on his fingers.

Inside, the flames crackled with pleasure
almost like it was belching after a sumptuous meal of bed-post. It had guzzled
up the mattress and its frame and was now beginning to roast the walls. Thus,
the heat Okro now felt. He began to really panic now. He didn’t want his
fingers scalded; he couldn’t just jump down; he couldn’t…

Okro stopped in his thoughts – for he was
suddenly hearing voices…

They were clear and muffled all at once.
One moment it seemed like there were people yelling, the next they seemed to be
whispering. The sounds were coming from the front side of the compound while he
hung out the back. He couldn’t at once tell how many voices he was hearing; how
many people were speaking. They seemed to be arguing and conspiring all at once.
The voices abruptly subsided. Okro stiffened from where he hung, holding his
breath as the fear of the unknown began to seep in.

 

To be continued…

 

 

 

Tissues and Tissues

He was watching the Discovery Channel. Something about dolphins. It was quite absorbing. He began to marvel at the awesome wonder of creation. He took a minute off to pray; to thank God. The structure of earth and its inhabitants was indeed the work of a Genius. He finished praying and resumed watching, wistful smile intact. He barely noticed when she came in. More like stormed in.

 

She was literally foaming at the mouth. That was due to the fury. The unshed tears were a direct result of the feeling. The immensely painful feeling of betrayal. And heartbreak.

 

He didn’t sense her till she was standing right beside him. Dolphins were that much of a delight to watch.

“You lying, cheating bastard!” she screamed, waving her mobile phone at him. He looked up at her; shocked. She stared at his beautiful face. Well, it was beautiful to her no more. Perception was such a fickle substance. Alterable at will.

 

In a split second, his face registered guilt. “Guilt!” she thought, as her heart – already broken – now shredded. He’d broken that most sacred of sacred pacts: infidelity. They’d scaled through the lies that popped up every once in a while. Most of them even turned out to be for a decent cause. Ultimately. But this?

Once again, for the five hundredth time in her most grief-stricken hour, her mind replayed the images on her phone. Sent to her by a P.I. that was never hired. She didn’t know whether to thank the snooping bitch or curse her.

 

But she knew exactly what to do to the scum-bag that was no more on his seat but was weeping on his knees, saying things while he clutched at her pelvis. Things she wasn’t in the mood to hear. Things she DIDN’T hear; her mind and heart were now cordoned off by an immovable, unflinching resolve.

Quietly but poignantly, amidst sobs of her own, she murmured: “I want a divorce…”

*                             *                             *                             *                             *                             *

Being a ‘Lagos lawyer’ is not easy. Especially if you come from where I come from. I am the only lawyer my village has produced. Those folks would rather harvest yams than learn the English alphabet. Subsequently, everybody from my hometown now figures that they have an inherent license to steal, kill and cheat: for Chibuike is now a barrister.

So, yes – I have responsibilities. Did I mention the financial implications of being called to the Nigerian Bar? Let me: they are always at my door – home and office. Especially home. I figure owning cable tv and a really comfy leather sofa must be the feathers tipping that particular scale.

But don’t get the wrong picture: I’m pretty well-off if I may say so myself. The damsel who I deliberately knocked up (in order to force her father’s hand) gets to dress all fancy on Saturdays and Sundays. You know, for church and parties. Having walked her down the perilous aisle, she also gets to bear my surname. That’s gotta be a perk, right? Anyway, the rest of the week, she’s at home. On my shelf. Displayed nicely!

Today though, I’ve got a different set of priorities. I heard about this ultra modern bidet that just came into the country. For the very few who don’t know, a ‘bidet’ (pronounced “bee-day”) is a plumbing fixture that automatically washes your bum and other hidden parts after you’re done using the toilet. Suffice to say it is not common in Naija. This one is definitely going to cost me.

But I am ready to put my money where my arse is.

The current plan is to skim some money off the top of this merger my firm assigned me to oversee. Nobody is going to know. The companies’ MDs and I have a solid deal. Once it comes through, that’s going to get me at least 10 bidets and a grand piano in the foyer. It’ll just take a few weeks to complete the process. I can wait. Unfortunately, my wife can’t – she asked me to bring home a six-pack of tissues.

I wonder where I got the idea that six-packs stopped at canned beers and chiseled abs!

My phone rings. Oga Bode. Bode was my classmate in university. He now works for this really cool law firm that specializes in land matters. He’s also a ‘Lagos lawyer.’

“Lord Bodacious!” I hail – I love to patronize.

“Chi Bweeksy!” he yells back. I loathe the name but love the man.

“Whaddup, dawg?” I ask,

“Guy, I have some sharp-sharp paroles I think you can handle,”

“Oh yeah? Give me the info abeg…”

“Nothing major. Just a routine divorce settlement. Collabo style. Are you busy now and will you be in the next two hours?”

Collabo style’ is Bode’s title for Collaborative Divorce Practice which is simply an out of court settlement conducted as peacefully as possible. It’s closer to a negotiation than a tussle. It’s also new in town. We Lag wigs like to stay on point, thank you very much!

“A bit. But I can move stuff around. When do we see?” I ask,

“How about twenty minutes from now?”

“No problemo.”

It turns out that Bode just got me in on this gig to represent the husband in said settlement while he (Bode) caters to the wife. It’s one of those jobs neither of our firms is really down with. So we take them privately. Just some cool money on the side. From what Bode is saying, this couple is super loaded. It seems my b-day has come early – I mean my bidet.

I ask the mandatory questions: how did he land me this engagement? Does the unhappy couple know we’re friends? He says they’re aware and have no problems.

“This couple is weird-ish sha,” he adds. I tell him I’m on my way and hang up. Before I leave my office, I call Sarah to confirm our appointment.

Sarah is what you’d call my side dish; my trimming, if you will. And a hot trimming at that! Why do I ‘do’ Sarah? No reason in particular. Seriously, my wife is great. Aside from the fact that she refuses to do anything other than tend to my kids and I, my wife’s actually quite the treat. Sarah just likes my money, I think. Plus, my shlong is really a shlONG. Not a ‘shlORT’. In other words, my wiener is a real winner: I have a large penis, ok? Once again, that’s has to BE a perk, right?

Forty five minutes later and I have been fully briefed. Hubby cheated, broke it off, but couldn’t ‘fess up to Mrs. Wifey. Wife’s friend shows her damning pix – because man turned her (wife’s friend) down. Old story. Truthfully, I’d have screwed them all and kept my marriage. If ever there’d be a truer definition of win-win!

Bode and I are now sitting as we await the intending divorcees at a neutral venue – first settlement meeting. It’s your generic conference room. One table, three chairs on either side. As soon as they’re both in (husband arrived first) I begin to sense why Bode called them ‘weirdish.’ They are a pair of genuinely beautiful people, but they look a mess. Also, for a couple on the brink, they belong in a classroom teaching science; because their chemistry is absolutely palpable.

It’s in the subtleties. Once wifey has taken her seat opposite her soon-to-be ex, they involuntarily reach for each other’s fingers across the table. Midway, they catch themselves and seem to remember where they are and that they hate each other.

Or are supposed to.

After the preliminary introductions, Bode takes the reins: “Was there a prenup?”

“Heck no!” husband answers. What’s up with the ‘heck’ is what I think to myself. A simple ‘nada’ would have straightened everybody out.

“Okay,” Bode continues, “that’s settled. Ummm… what assets are between you two? You know, the major stuff – houses, cars, businesses, stocks, shares, money?”

The husband starts to think out loud, “Well…”

And his wife interrupts: “I don’t want a kobo!”

Hubby suddenly becomes loquacious, “No. I cannot have that. She can have whatever she needs. Whatever she wants. Look, I have twelve sedans and three jeeps. I own two houses. As at yesterday, the money in all my accounts totaled roughly…” he seems to be doing some math upstairs “… two hundred and fifty million naira.”

Hello, Dr. Bidet! I cannot help but whistle slightly. This causes Bode to toss a sharp look my way. Even the missus is taken aback. He continues as if nothing happened.

“I own twelve factories across the country, and one filling station in Abuja. I simply ask for half of my accounts’ worth. She can have all the rest.” For all of this guy’s proficiency at arithmetic, he seems to be lacking heavily in plain logic.

My next problem is how well this particular settlement is going. The squabbles are because one person is offering and the other doesn’t want to accept. From my experience, it ought to be the other way around with one willing to take stuff but the other unwilling to give stuff up.

Then the Mr. gets thirsty.

There’s a jug of water on the table complete with 6 glasses. He picks one up and fills it up. He’s a little klutz. Maybe not every day, I guess, but today he is. He lifts the glass to his lips and spills quite a bit of it. It’s like his mouth leaks! But that’s not my problem. My newest problem is the wife’s reaction: she rushes to his side. And I could tell it wasn’t pity – it was instinct.

Oh snap! Because this camel’s back has gotten the bejesus broken out of it. Some couples deserve to be apart, others don’t. Try to guess what I’m thinking.

“So, big question: do you STILL love this guy?” My question shocks her. Heck, it shocks everyone. She stutters as she answers but her eyes speak clearly and fluidly because they glistened a little.

“W-w- what?” as she says this, she resets in her chair, finally realizing her give-away. I widen my eyes but say nothing.

“I g-g-guess I-I-I still  do,” she finally blubbers. Surprise, surprise.

“You do, good ma’am. In spades,” I confirm.

“But he CHEATED on me!” Now she looks pained,

“Yeah yeah,” I deadpan, “that makes him a dumb fool without question cuz I gotta tell you, you are a remarkably attractive woman,” truth is that, in my head, instead of the last three words that actually came out, I said ‘decent piece of ass’. I’m in a polite mood is all.

“However, before you kill me, ask yourselves: did Moses in the…” I snap my fingers trying to recollect. Bode is on my page but clearly not on my side. He cups his chin in suppressed anger as he says “Bible,” completing my line. He also shakes his head slightly and subliminally calls me ‘heathen bastard!’ We’ve been friends a decade now and I know his thoughts.

“Yeah. Bible. Did Moses lie about the source of the water when he hit the rock? Yes. Did God consider it a big deal? Yes. ‘Cuz homeboy never saw the Promised Land. But does that mean that when we get to the pearly gates we won’t see Mo’ and some angel sipping cappuccino while reading out our verdicts of “guilty as charged, take thy sinful butts to hell”? Yeah, we will. I’ll bet God even lets him wear Armani!”

I know I’ve made a point, so I wait for everybody to digest. The room is now silent. Hubby is looking at Miss Ma’am with those soppy eyes. I seriously wonder where he found the guy who loaned him the balls to cheat. Not so fast. Our scorned Mrs. doesn’t look quite softened up. She tears away from her husband’s remorseful mope to ask:

“So, you can live with a cheating spouse?”

Ah. Bitch done gone sucker-punched me. I actually don’t know what I would do if I was to find out that my beautiful trophy wife likes a midday salad quite as much as I do. But I have never lost me an argument and I’d be damned if I started now.

“Maybe I can,” I retort.

“Oh really?” she looks bemused. Bode looks at me with deliberately widened eyes, lips pursed and his head cocked 30 degrees to one side as if to say: “You got yourself in this, get yourself out.” Well, this is no time to punk out.

“Yeah, maybe I can. Because I don’t think that’s the worst crime in the world. Has he… I don’t know… punched you in the stomach recently? Bashed your face in?” As I say this, I begin walking slowly to where she’s sitting.

“Of course not,” her expression seems to ease up, “He’d never.”

By now, I am already around to her side of the table. I squat in front of her and smile weakly. “Think about your two kids as well. You know what this’ll mean, don’t you?” I can see she’s buying my furniture little piece of wood by little piece of wood. She nods feebly.

“Look. Clearly, you know he’s still mad about you but you’re stung. And with good reason. He did a horrid, horrid thing. To forgive is divine, you know.” Somehow, my second reference to religion cracks her up. She giggles. Very cute.

“I’m not asking you to turn a blind eye. I’m just asking you to put a bit more in. One last push. Therapy, church, you could bang me for revenge, anything!” I say this playfully enough for everybody to realize I’m joking around. Everybody laughs. Bode, once again, shakes his head at me. At least he’s getting a chuckle out of this one. I look up myself. Just in time to catch a glimpse of my bidet as it quietly slips out the window. At least for another few weeks. I wave.

*                             *                             *                             *                             *                             *

Sitting in my car, it’s time to take stock of what just went down. Mrs. took a bit more cajoling. However, considering that she and Hubbity Hub Hub came separately but are now leaving in the same ride, I think my work’s been done did. Bode is predictably displeased since I just cost him some decent cash with my mini-drama but he’ll be fine. I always make it up to him.

I saved a marriage today and I deserve a gift. “And tonight’s winner will be going away with our star prize of…” I bring out my phone and dial it.

“Hey. Be at the venue in an hour and a half… And dress extremely naughtily. I’ve been nice enough for a Nobel peace prize!” I pause while she talks, then it’s my turn again. “…Ok. That’s fine. Emmm… could you bring along some condoms? I’m out and I can’t seem to find that particular brand you bought the other day… Yeah, with all those crazy contours and stuff…” I think for a second: I might not be able to hit a supermarket on my way home. Why not kill two birds with one obnoxious phone call?

“Ummm Sarah, could you also bring along a six-pack of tissue paper?”

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