KENNY’S CONUNDRUM II

Kenneth heard through the grapevine, that trouble started when some kids got into a scuffle over souvenirs. One of the adults had gone to separate the fight. One of the kids had insisted on carrying on with the fight. The ‘guardian’ had knocked the belligerent kid on the head (a bit too hard).’Mickey Mouse’ pushed the tipsy guardian roughly to the ground and all hell broke loose.
‘Guardian’s’ friends quickly jumped up and attempted to ‘treat’ Mickey Mouse’s insult. During the altercation, one of them pulled a handgun. He released a shot in the air and Mickey Mouse ran awkwardly behind a school building. Four young men pursued Mickey Mouse. The mobile policemen who had piled themselves with food and drink were too slow in their reaction.

With the building as cover, Mickey Mouse withdrew a gun from his costume and shot at his predators. He was assisted by two ‘unknown’ youngmen who were behind the school building too. One of the pursuers clutched his chest and fell in a heap.
By then people were screaming and scrambling for safety. A woman and her child were caught in the crossfire. Mickey Mouse got shot in the gun fight, he bled and died from the bullet wounds, he was only 19 years old. A half drunk, over zealous mobile policeman was also killed, the guardian who knocked a kid’s head was shot but survived. A child’s face would probably be scarred for life as a result of a ricochet that grazed his chin. By the time police re-inforcements arrived, they met a playground devoid of merry-makers. The lifeless bodies of Mickey Mouse and the mobile police officer, an unfortunate woman and child were taken to the mortuary.

Rumour also had it that members of the Doctor’s family were part of the shoot-out. But no one was certain due to conflicting eye-witness accounts. Besides, B.K. and Hassan were not available for questioning. In fact, they were no longer in the estate. The Doctor maintained vehemently that they had left before the tragedy.
Nobody was arrested by the police except some eye-witnesses and concerned residents who were trying to assist the victims, especially those with bullet wounds.

Kenneth heaved a sigh of relief when Ndidi called to find out if he was OK, he was not surprised by her call, but he was surprised when she showed up at his place a few minutes later. She was without company. Sexy in a pair of leggings and t-shirt, her eye make-up made him want to believe everything she had to say. She said the Doctor had left earlier with his wife to attend another event, and that later, she too had left the playground with the Doctor’s three children. She was at home when it all happened. She added that B.K. and Hassan accompanied her home but went out again. She was sure they did not go back to the playground nor take part in the disaster that occurred.

“What a terrible thing to happen, why would people carry guns to a carnival?
There were women and children there, for God’s sake!” Kenneth lamented.

“It is hard to believe” Ndidi said.

While Ndidi was in the kitchen, Kenneth stepped to the balcony to wrap his head around recent events. He wondered if he should move out of the estate. “I thought this was the garden of Eden” he yelled at the Woji River, but the waters below did not respond. They continued their eternal flow unperturbed.

The River flanked the Northwestern part of the Estate and was bereft of fishermen on this particular sunday evening. The water sparkled like diamonds in the light of the setting sun. His discomfort was not eased by the pleasant sight before him.

Each step pulled him deeper, into the spirogyra-rimmed quagmire. They made his skin crawl, every slimy twig he grabbed at for balance gave way. Irrevocably stuck, Kenneth could perceive the smell of the mangrove. The stench of dead fishes, rotting between the exposed roots, it burnt his weary nostrils. It parched his irritated throat and made his eyes water. There was no water to drink and he was dying of thirst.
Trapped in the desolate marshes, blood-thirsty mosquitoes buzzing around him, Kenneth boldly faced swamp life. Mosquito bites kept him humble. With the earth closing in, he knew not if he was closer to the river bank or getting deeper into the bog. Anything was possible now. A diamond-headed serpent could suddenly bring an end to his world, a razor-backed crocodile could split him in two. If there was hopelessness, he felt it, if there was helplessness, he knew it. Mindlessness circled around him like a thick blanket in the sun. Sightlessness plagued him like a car without headlights, in the dark, careening down a steep slope, with no breaks.

“Where do you think you are going son?”
Poor Kenneth did not have the slightest idea. He however recognised the voice, it was the son of God. The Lord approached the poor wretch, unbothered by the unfriendly terrain. Kenneth thought he could hear the footsteps on the swamp, he was not sure because he couldn’t see. The Lord struck a swift blow to Kenneth’s worried face, he never saw it coming. He felt no pain as his nose broke. Whatever blade the Lord wielded was sharp, it cut through Kenneth’s face. From left to right, skin, orbit and nose bone split with a loud report. Tears and blood rolled down his cheeks. His ears quivered at the strange sounds of the wetland. Briefly, he could see the Lord’s ‘videosome’. Kenneth was no longer blind.

“Why do you like staring at those muddy waters?” Ndidi cut sharply through his senses.
“Because they remind me of you” Kenneth replied with a smile.
“Are you saying I’m muddy?”
“If you want to do some fishing…” Kenneth said as he returned to his living room
“…go down to the river”
She chuckled, that little laugh that made his loins wake.
“Idiot!” She said and slapped him. He collapsed on the carpet clutching his face like Sergio Busquets. He won’t be attending ‘house fellowship’ tonight.

As she approached him, he grabbed her ankles and she fell giggling.
Soon he was kissing and undressing her. He gently caressed her exposed breast, teasing the nipple with his thumb before covering it with his lips. She closed her eyes and moaned. He massaged her thighs till he was near the sheer material of her lace panties. He pulled it aside and slipped two fingers in.
She gasped and
“Hassan stop!”
escaped from her lips.
Her eyes flew open. Her hands covered her mouth.
Kenneth stopped and stared at her with a mixture of surprise and disgust.
He stood up immediately.
“Leave my house!” He said.

THE END

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KENNY’S CONUNDRUM I

“Target in sight, roll in!” A voice whispered harshly in the dark. Soon a motor boat appeared on the river bank. Three men jumped into the knee length water and waded to dry ground. They dragged a rope and a ‘tiger’ generator with them. With the boat secured, one of them activated the ‘tiger’ generator. The low hum it sang however, suggested something different from a mobile electricity generating device.

Circuit channels of all Base Transceiver Stations within 2 Km radius became occupied. Outgoing calls were met with the annoying “beep beep beep” that was common to all GSM operators in the country. The device known as the Universal Revolutionary Companion, URC for short, had the capability of breaking locks, influencing the decisions of victims etc, the body unit, an electronic bracelet, was a remote bullet-proof device, deflecting bullets from the vicinity of the wearer. The URC could also be programmed to cause blackouts, but that night it was unnecessary, PHCN had already taken care of such duties.

“We are ready” someone said.
“Let’s do this” the harsh whisper came again through the head set of the three men.

The policemen were rudely awakened from their slumber by five rapid explosions. Shrapnel from the grenades exacted screams from suddenly conscious policemen. The faded yellow paint quickly turned brown like the rusty roof of their dilapidated station as the building caught fire. Automatic gunfire split the night air as the few policemen who survived the initial blast fought back, but their aimless shooting at moving shadows yielded no results. More of the half asleep officers crumbled into permanent slumber under the unrelenting hail of the marauders bullets. Overpowered by the sophistication and formlessness of their foes, the remaining officers escaped into the night alongside their former detainees.

Having removed the policemen from the security equation, five armed men marched unhindered towards Sunshine Estate.
With brutality and bloodshed, they dispossessed several residents of cash and other valuables, torched a couple of houses and several automobiles. An hour later, eight men piled into the motor boat and melted into the Woji river.

The death toll exceeded forty, and it included women, children and policemen. Such previously unknown wanton destruction of lives and property left Sunshine Estate in the fierce grip of indescribable terror.

Kenneth Amadi rarely attended Residents Association Meetings, he felt it was the exclusive preserve of dishonest landlords, but this one was an emergency. Although his house was not among the homes raided by the robbers, he was seriously affected by the events of the previous night. The vulnerability of their once peaceful enclave having been so ruthlessly exposed, he was afraid the robbers might strike again.

“It’s with a heavy heart that we convene this meeting, may the souls of the departed rest in perfect peace” Chief Bernard Chikelu, Chairman of Sunshine Estate Residents Association said in his opening remarks.
“It appears we are not as safe as we thought we were. This attack on innocent people is despicable and we shall do our best to ensure it does not happen again”.
Not a master of elocution, Chief Bernard always had a way of alienating his audience. His next statements enhanced that reputation.
He stated that the Special Anti-Robbery Squad shall be conducting regular patrols around the estate and that the proposed Sunshine Estate Carnival shall take place as scheduled. He further mentioned that he possessed reliable information that some Sunshine Estate Residents were conspirators in the attack. He declined to explain further. Despite his efforts, Chief Bernard Chikelu sounded unconcerned, probably due to the high level of security in his private residence. Kenneth, like those residents who do not fancy snoring in public, quietly walked away.

The invaders did not return. Apart from the irritating police patrols, some normalcy had returned to the area within a couple of weeks. A month after the robbery incident, the Estate Carnival took place. Wizkid (from the large speakers) urged the kids to dance Azonto, D’Banj also encouraged them to ‘shakey bum bum’. Other artistes who took advantage of the speakers also introduced their own dance steps. Everybody was entertained and satisfied. A recent visitor would have had no choice but to conclude that Sunshine Estate was the happiest place on earth.

Children particularly enjoyed the merriment, there was enough music, food, drinks, souvenirs and clowns in the open air of the Sunshine Estate Elementary School playground. Adults were not left out despite the air of suspicion that swirled around their head like an african woman’s stiff head gear. The presence of mobile policemen added a foul smell to the atmosphere, it was perceived by many but acknowledged by few.

Kenneth Amadi spotted her in the distance and whispered to his friend Bassey. He could not hear what was said due to the din of the speakers, but he nodded his head anyway. She was in the company of Dr. H. D. Attah, the vice chairman of Sunshine Estate Residents Association. When she saw him, Ndidi left a group that included her uncle Dr. H.D. Attah, his wife and two unidentified youngmen and approached Kenneth. Tall and attractive, her platforms accentuated her height and perfect curves, held together by sky blue stretch jeans. She turned heads as she smiled brilliantly and gracefully floated towards Kenneth and Bassey.

“Kenny! It’s so good to see you!”
She exclaimed and shook his hand. Kenneth briefly wondered at the absence of a proper hug, the handshake with his girlfriend was very awkward. Even her smile appeared forced.
“N.D. what’s going on? U’ve been scarce” he queried.
“Since the robbery, Doctor insisted that everyone must go out with a chaperone, I can’t come to your house with bodyguards”
“What?
Your uncle is paranoid!” Kenneth laughed.
“I knooow! But try arguing with the doctor”
“Is it those 2 guys?”
“No oh! That’s my cousin B.K. and his friend Hassan”
“Oh Ok”
“I’ll see U tomorrow evening, babe” she said hurriedly and left.
Kenneth looked up and saw that B.K. And Hassan had been heading in their direction. He looked at Bassey, who just gave a shrug and looked away.

Ndidi met her cousin halfway and together they walked towards a clown in a Mickey Mouse outfit. The clown seemed to nod and posture in front of the trio, B.K. mockingly shot him with his fingers and he staggered back. They later high-fived like old friends. Ndidi and Hassan laughed heartily at BK and ‘Mickey Mouse’s antics.

Kenneth had met Ndidi at last year’s carnival. She was in charge of the Doctor’s three kids, who were busy having fun. She had appeared to have her hands full with the youngsters, so he assisted in getting them under control by telling them he was a police officer. He smiled at the memory, she had looked so pretty and flustered, he loved a damsel in distress. Chatting her up was so easy. She became his girlfriend soon after, their relationship had been going strong until recently.

Kenneth and Bassey felt they’d seen enough ‘carnivalisation’ so they left the playground. EPL and beers were a suitable therapy. Newcastle was giving Sir Alex Ferguson palpitations at Old Trafford when they heard the gunshots. Could it be firecrackers or fireworks from the carnival? After 15 minutes, they realised something was wrong. The carnival was about half a mile away, but they could hear noises and vehicles roaring past. A peep out of the windows revealed cars driving by at top speed and a few people running on foot. They all looked scared. The commotion was unreal. Football immediately forgotten, Kenneth said,
“Let’s go out and see what’s happening”
“Dude! Are U maaaad, those were gunshots! People are running for their lives, we had better stay here” Bassey cautioned. Kenneth had called Ndidi to ascertain her safety and that of her family members, she did not answer.

(to be continued)