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.




Like a thief in the night, they came in three vehicles and hit the culvert at the beginning of Raffia Street. Dust, sand and pebbles flew in all directions as people froze in shock, petrified at this after dinner-time invasion. Two black Pick-Up trucks were closely tailed by the mobile prison known far and wide as ‘Black Maria’. The vehicles barely came to a halt before anti-riot policemen equipped with guns, batons, torchlight and tear gas hustled down and fanned in all directions.

The football match between Chelsea and Zenit St. Petersburg was about to kick-off in Russia as scheduled. Football fans were casually making their way to the only Viewing Center in the neighbourhood located on Raffia Street. There was a large turn-out occasioned by the usual NEPA induced black-out. The policemen were also on their way to the Viewing Center but not to watch the match.

There was major confusion as people were seized and forcefully dumped into the foul smelling ‘Black Maria’. A blast of Tear-Gas increased the pandemonium as people ran into the darkness to escape the noxious fumes. Most succeeded in running into the waiting arms of the AK-47 totting policemen who assisted them into the gaping jaws of the menacing ‘Black Maria’. Gunshots were fired severally into the air to discourage those who tried to resist capture. The make-shift benches at the ‘Viewing Center’ were broken as all the customers fled.

“Officers, what is the problem, did someone commit a crime?” Reuben the owner of the business asked politely. The answer was a vicious blow from a police baton, Reuben grunted in pain as another blow to his knees sent him crashing to the ground. “Where is Skipper?” the policemen demanded as they kicked and clubbed him like an off the ring mayhem from an episode of The World Wrestling Entertainment. Except there were no cheering crowds, and Reuben’s bruises and dislocated shoulder was real.

He agreed to lead them to Skipper’s house, not because of the excruciating pain in his shoulder, but because of the murderous glint he saw in Sergeant Aliyu’s eyes. He could endure pain, but he was not willing to die for his best friend. The broken benches will be fixed again, the smashed decoder and ripped cables will be replaced, the business will be restored and the customers will return but he desired to be alive to witness that revival.

So he allowed himself to be shoved and prodded towards the mango tree, where more policemen waited with guns, batons and torchlight.

Lucky was not a ferocious guard dog, it just looked dangerous because of its size and loud bark. It loved chasing kids up and down the street but was never known to bite anyone in its two years of existence. Lucky initially thought the police was its friend as it was barking excitedly under the mango tree. The policemen could not tell where it came from, they had been through that compound already, everyone had fled. “Somebody shoot that dog!” Sergeant Aliyu bellowed as he came into view. But when one of the policemen shot in the air to scare the dog away Lucky pounced on him. They could not shoot at the dog now for fear of hitting their comrade. Lucky had bitten the man several times before a nasty blow to the ribs sent it whimpering into the night.

Tom also known as Skipper was a local football hero. In his youthful days he had captained the local football team to many victories in State wide competitions. Nowadays he coached a youth team in the small town. Still a bachelor at 38, he lived alone.
“That is Skipper’s house” Reuben pointed with trepidation, an AK-47 poked him in the back “Next time you will mind your own business, let’s go!” The policemen chorused. Sergeant Aliyu and his team marched Reuben to Skipper’s door and broke in. The living room and bedroom was turned upside down but there was no sign of Skipper.

As Reuben was being led to the ‘Black Maria’, a careless beam from a policeman’s torchlight picked out an unfortunate Skipper perched at the top of the mango tree, his seventeenth ‘hail Mary’ ended at that instant. “Come down my friend!” Two pokes with a bamboo pole sent Tom also known as Skipper crashing down to earth. Boots stomped on him, batons cracked at him, gun butts struck him as he was battered and dragged into the waiting jaws of the dreaded ‘Black Maria’.

The Divisional Police Station had a carnival atmosphere that night as the policemen congratulated each other for a successful raid. The detention cells were packed to capacity as the victims smelled the rust of the iron bars and the stench of the urine, some of them for the first time. They were all charged with assault and battery, disturbing the peace, conspiracy and stealing.

‘Statements’ were obtained, ‘undertakings’ were signed, friends and relatives paid cash the next day to secure the release of the captives. Case closed.

Arit John was fortunate not to have been arrested. She was not a resident of Raffia Street, neither was she a Chelsea fan. Information about the raid only reached her the next morning at the market place as she was buying foodstuff. She immediately hurried home in fear and was not seen outside for several days. It did not matter to the Police, they had exacted their revenge. However, it mattered a lot to Arit John. She was never to be seen hawking smoked fish again. Tired of looking over her shoulder whenever she was outdoors, she began studying feverishly for a ticket out of town to pursue her dreams.