WILFRED CROSSFIRED II

Apologies my friends, I had intended to post the conclusion sooner than now, but I was distracted by some pleasant and less pleasant activities. Here is the final part. I hope U enjoy it. Pls put reactions, criticisms and marriage proposals at the comments section or follow me on twitter.
@jonnizap

WILFRED CROSSFIRED II

Just when you thought that you had everything down to a science, a blow to the face comes from nowhere to shatter that illusion.

Angela was deep in thought as she waited impatiently for Jeffery Asuqwo to answer her call. When he finally did, her heartbeat increased and she looked around self consciously.
“HELLO ANGELA”
His voice seemed to envelope her head like a dryer at the salon. She could hear loud music in the background, and female laughter. Her heart sank.
“Hello Jeff”
“HAVE YOU CONSIDERED MY REQUEST?”
“Yes I have and the answer is yes”
“GOOD…WE’LL GO OVER THE DETAILS TOMORROW”
Tonight’s fun was definitely not for her, Angela thought. Jeffery obviously had adequate female company, her swollen face and black eye would surely be surplus to requirement. If only she could capture him…and handcuff him to the bed. Just for tonight. Angela smiled at the idea as she walked to the bathroom.
By the time she called her friend Kachi, Angela Okoli was physically out of her matrimonial home. At Sophia Hotel, with only Jack Daniels to hug, her beautiful mind started to drift.

It wasn’t that Clement was a bad person, she thought. He was just a jealous man who married a beautiful extrovert…like her. Maybe there was something about her that riled him up.
Angela wasn’t sure if Jack Daniels was in charge at that point, but thinking of Clement that way somehow made her feel better.

Having made sure the three children were all sound asleep, Kachi was about to leave the children’s bedroom when her phone rang. She quickly darted out and shut the door gently. It was her friend Angela.

“Hello”
“Hello Kachi, how is she?”
“She’s fine, we really had a great time, but she’s asleep now”
“Thank you”
“Do you want me to wake her up?”
“No no no no no, I’ll come and pick her up in the morning”
“Your voice sounds funny”

Kachi was one of the few people who knew a bit about Angela’s frustrations at the home-front. She always provided a listening ear. This time she got an earful.
Kachi put a smile across her lips and snuggled up to Bobby in the sitting room. She kept the rictus on her face and said
“That was Angela, says she’ll be here for Ify in the morning”.
Bobby merely mouthed the word OK while giving her the briefest of smiles, before turning back to the television. Kachi leaned back to look at the TV screen. She couldn’t immediately identify the teams playing, so she paid attention to Bobby’s body language.
Kachi had completely mastered the art of pretending to be a football fan. No cheer shall escape her lips until Bobby’s team scores a goal.

At 4 years old, Ify did not fully comprehend why her mother was leaving her at uncle Edwin’s house.
“Is uncle Edwin your brother?”
“No, he’s my step-brother”
“Mommy, what’s a step-brother?”
Angela’s explanation wasn’t clear to Ify’s young mind, but like most children of that age, she was soon talking about other things. Angela was relieved. Her step-brother Edwin and his wife Nkem were quite capable of taking good care of her daughter till she returned from Lagos.

Angela worked at Servicom, a company that provided IT solutions to businesses that ranged from Oil and Gas, Banking, to Fire and Security. As a Business Analyst, her duties also involved using her good looks and sociability to the advantage of the company. In reality, she was a key part of the IT start-up’s objective of maintaining excellence and profitability.
She had to be present at the start of projects, to interpret the business challenges of clients to the Technical team. Her communication skills were also required to sell the solutions to the clients. She did not intend to travel to Lagos with her boss, but things were crowding her mind and she felt she needed the fresh air. Angela had fully made up her mind to escape, before Clement turns her into a beautiful corpse.

As the hotshot MD of Servicom, Jeffery Asuqwo at 38 years of age would be considered a catch by most women. Tall, with broad shoulders and perfect teeth, he was so complete. His winning ways were contagious, like he was the main character in a toothpaste commercial. He had everything that was desirable to the ladies, except he also had a wife and son in Vancouver.

On their second day in Lagos, Angela and Jeffery went out to celebrate. They had successfully added Nigerian Breweries Plc to their list of clients. Angela allowed the drink to assume control as she flirted shamelessly with Jeffery during their night out. Despite her outward merriment, Jeffery could sense that something was troubling her. He nevertheless kept his composure and regaled her with jokes and compliments. Soon he realised she was drunk, so he cut the night short and took her back to the hotel. Angela barely made it to the bed before passing out. Jeffery was baffled at how quickly she had started to snore, he just shook his head and left.
The next morning, Angela woke up with a blinding headache. Still in yesterday’s clothes, she vaguely remembered the events of the previous night. She was afraid she’d said or done something embarrassing. Her phone rang as she reached for it and she reeled back in mild shock. Her nerves were jumpy. The caller ID showed ‘Edwin’.
“Sister, I tried calling you yesterday…but your phone was switched off”
“Ok, what is the problem”
“Ify is missing”
Angela was speechless. She must not have heard right, she thought. But further queries only led to increased panic. She immediately regretted embarking on the trip.
Jeffery was very understanding, he kept reassuring Angela that her daughter will soon be found. He must have been talking to the car door. For Angela was in a trance-like state and did not register any of his words of consolation.
Prophet Ebenezer of the Lord’s Kingdom Church, situated off Psychiatric Hospital road Rumuomoi was the neighbourhood oracle. The founder and sole spiritual head of Solution Ministries was short, muscular and loud. He could cast out demons, see the future, and heal the lame. He was also available for the barren and the unmarried. Prophet Ebenezer could provide jobs for the jobless and probably raise the dead if need be…for a fee.
He had prescribed an all-night prayer session for Edwin and Nkem. It was to petition the supernatural to reveal the whereabouts of a missing child. They were to come with 40 thousand naira, a bag of rice, 4 tubers of yam and a he-goat. They duly complied. By dawn, their faith was rewarded.
Having returned from Onitsha, Wilfred had set about the task of arranging ‘new arrivals’ in his ‘boutique’ at Rumuola road. An unusual weakness had come upon him suddenly and he had decided to take a break. He closed his shop and went home. He did not pay much attention to the White Volkwagen Golf that pulled away from the shop next to his as he headed home.
He ate a little meal at home and fell into a deep slumber. He did not wake up till the next day, he even thought he was still dreaming when the mob attacked him.

The police laughed at his ‘statement’ and told him that his days of making penises disappear and kidnapping people were numbered. His swollen lips and ‘black eyes’ were even more confused as the police officers dumped him in a cell.

Edwin in his statement to the police told them that he sold electrical equipments at Rumuola road. That his wife Nkem had earlier left the child with him since she was going to the hospital for ante-natal care. That he was attending to customers when the little girl must have gone outside. He mentioned that he suspected Wilfred because when he went outside to look for the girl, she was nowhere to be found, and Wilfred’s previously open shop was closed.
The police received 5,000 naira from Edwin to ‘assist’ them during investigations.

Edwin told Angela on arrival that the culprit had been arrested in connection with the crime.Although she screamed and shouted at her step-brother, deep down, Angela blamed herself. She had not wanted to overburden Kachi and Bobby. If only she had asked them, she agonized.
The first ray of hope strangely came when the abductors called to make their demands. She was shocked that they had her number. She became a bit calm after briefly hearing her daughter’s voice. The scary voice on the phone warned her to cease further contact with the police. They also demanded 10 million naira as ransom before ending the call.
Now she has to face Clement. The thought brought fresh tears to her eyes. When Clement said “HELLO”, Angela thought she was going to have a heart attack. When he started screaming, she just sat on floor and put the phone in her lap. She allowed the tears to flow freely.
Clement had stormed off in his Acura MDX and driven straight to Uniport. There he picked up Sandra one of girlfriends. He was amused to see that some of Angela’s things were missing from the house when he returned home the next day. Where would she go, he thought. Her mom was dead and she had no relatives in Port Harcourt. He was sure that by the time he returned from duty off-shore, she would be back.
It was not easy being a Petro-Physicist at Exxon-Mobil. The risk of working off-shore, plus all that seismic data he had to interpret on location meant that whenever he was on land, he had to explore new ‘methods of drilling’ and enjoy himself to the fullest.
At work, his mind was not on Angela and her wahala, so when she called, it was a big surprise.

Clement arrived that night with 4 mobile policemen. Being an acquaintance of the Commandant of the MOPOL Squadron in Port Harcourt had its advantages. Edwin and his wife Nkem were arrested. Prophet Ebenezer was also arrested as he was about to have dinner with his family. He assured his family members and a guest that it was a misunderstanding, and that he will return to them soon.
The prophet’s attempt at conversation, his proclamation of innocence and threats of “touch not the lord’s anointed” were completely ignored by the men in bullet-proof vests. They slapped him around a bit before bundling him into their truck.
Even in police custody, Edwin insisted that Wilfred was the culprit. Wilfred maintained that he knew nothing of what Edwin was talking about. So to extract the truth, Wilfred was handcuffed to a chair and beaten to pulp.

Perhaps it was the excruciating pain, perhaps it was the shock of finally coming face to face with his accuser. Suddenly Wilfred could recall that Edwin was a passenger in the white Volkswagen Golf that drove away as he was going home. He also told the police that he had noticed a little girl on the backseat.

The police now turned their attention on Edwin. He explained that a friend of his named Lucky had paid him a visit that day. Wilfred must have seen them when they were on their way to pick Nkem from the hospital.

“But your wife says she came back to Rumuola road in a taxi…and you told her the child was missing”.
Edwin soon confessed after being beaten severely by the policemen. He promised to lead them to where they had hidden the child. They police promised Edwin that he would be set free once the child was rescued. Edwin claimed that it was the work of the devil, that his friend Lucky had talked him into it.
“I would never do such a thing” he cried.

Lucky Amadi lived alone in the house his late father had built at 13 Robinson Close, Rupokwu. The last house on the Close, it was secluded and formed a perfect hideout for various illicit activities. With police hidden in the shadows, guns trained on his back, Edwin knocked on Lucky’s gate.
He came outside wearing a faded green T-shirt over a pair of khaki shorts.
“Who is that?”
“It’s me, Edwin” in a harsh whisper.
Lucky was relieved, they had earlier agreed not to communicate using cellphones, he had even discarded the SIM card he used to call the woman. Perfect timing he thought, Edwin was wise. He smiled and opened the gate.
Ify was still asleep when she was rescued. She was delighted to wake up in her mother’s arms as both parents fawned over her with worried faces. They were relieved to find her hale and hearty.
Wilfred was set free the next day, but not before parting with a ‘bail’ of 10,000 naira. They threathened to rope him in if he did not co-operate.
Despite being caught up in the crossfire of Angela and Clement’s marital conflict, nobody offered him any apologies or showed appreciation for the part he played in solving the case.
Nkem was also released from custody due to her health condition. She also had to bail herself despite being an unwitting participant in her husband’s evil machinations.
“I knew she was going to give me a lot of trouble and I was prepared to handle her like a man”
Clement told the marriage counselor.
“Her own mother deserted her father while she was still very young, so that she can fulfill her sexual urges”
Angela was furious at Clement’s accusations and angrily turned her gaze on him.
“Now I can see that wife-beating runs in your family”
“Didn’t one of your uncles kill his wife in the seventies?”
“My mom had warned me about you from the beginning,
She even said I was crazy for marrying you and she was right!”
The City of David pastor had his hands full as he tried to instill marital responsibility back into the consciousness of the warring pair. Eventually they both agreed on a separation. Due to the demanding nature of his job, Clement grudgingly accepted that it would be better for Ify if she stayed with her mother. Angela had to promise not to make any travel plans in future without including her daughter. Clement was quite free to visit whenever he returned from off-shore duties.
Wilfred refused to testify during the criminal trial of Edwin Madu, Lucky Amadi and Boniface Okoro also known as Prophet Ebenezer. He however showed up in court occasionally to observe the proceedings.
The court decided that Boniface Okoro was eligible for bail. Edwin Madu and Lucky Amadi were remanded in custody.
Wilfred Ejezie made sure that he was always updated with adjournment dates as the trial progressed. It helped him sleep at night.
After a period of 11 months, the magistrate set aside a day for which judgment shall be pronounced. After going through the charges on that day, the magistrate read out the sentences for the accused persons. On the charges of conspiracy, false accusation, abduction, kidnapping and civil disturbance, Lucky Amadi and Edwin Madu were both found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. Before presenting the court’s decision on Boniface Okoro, the magistrate admonished the court about how the neglect of family structures , greed and intolerance has led to the decay of moral values in the society. Then she turned her gaze upon the wide eyed form of Boniface Okoro.
“Prophet Ebenezer” she said with a glint in her bespectacled eyes.
“Have you been close to the lord lately?”
Boniface Okoro nodded his head energetically an expectant smile forming on his face, hope rising in his sunken chest.
“Prophet Ebenezer, what do you foresee to be the ruling of this court?”
Someone’s open file rustled with papers as a hush fell in the court room. All eyes were now trained on the hapless prophet who seemed to be having speech impairment.
“I believe the court will set me free since I am innocent” he mustered.
“ORDER IN COURT”
Kept the murmur to a minimum, it soon died down completely.
“On the charges of false testimony, fraud and civil disturbance, the court hereby finds you Mr Boniface Okoro guilty on all charges, you are hereby sentenced to 6 years imprisonment”.
“Court adjourned”
The gavel fell once, but it was deafening to the ears of Boniface Okoro also known as Prophet Ebenezer.
Everyone was on their feet as the magistrate calmly made her exit. No one noticed a smiling Wilfred, staring cross-eyed at the magistrate with unabashed admiration.

THE END

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

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)

CHIMA’S MEDICINE III

What the police and hotel security saw when they entered the hotel room was a naked girl covered in cuts and bruises and blood.
“He raped me, he raped me! Please tell him to leave me alone”. Vivian kept mumbling.
Chima was arrested and detained at Area F Police Command Ikeja, Vivian was taken to Duro Soleye Hospital for treatment. It was not how Chima planned to spend the weekend and public holidays, becoming a captive of the public was not in his itinerary. When the cell bars shut behind him and he breathed in his first lungful of urine scented air, his beards grew rapidly as if it had just received a fresh boost of fertilizer.

The 6 weeks Chima spent as a detainee at Area F Police Command were the most telling. He was often stripped and ‘interrogated’, with batons and boots, curses and starvation. He had nothing to confess, nevertheless the police went about extracting it religiously. By the time he released from detention, Chima knew he would always perceive the yellow-green smell of Area F forever. The pungency of it had clung to the ceiling of his nostrils like cobwebs in an abandoned building. Taken straight to the Magistrate Court, he was charged with assault and rape. Bail was set at a 100,000 Naira and he was transferred to KiriKiri Prisons. The journey to KiriKiri Prisons Apapa was in a rusty old truck, seatbelts were an abomination. Safety was completely ignored like the dental care of a Fulani cattle herdsman.

He was hobbled into KiriKiri, 20kg lighter than when he made love to Vivian. The scars he now bore both physically and mentally did not make him immune to the hazing that ‘Alejos’ or newcomers received when they arrived KiriKiri. Alejos ranged between the ages of 17 to 50, all at the mercy of the ‘Orientation Officers’, inmates who had arrived before them. FEAR THE RICH MAN AND THE POLICE was the most poignant inscription inside the prison cell.

Compared to his Area F incarceration, KiriKiri represented peace after the first night, a peace of the graveyard. It was an Eden of sorts, the prison grounds were full of ‘wildlife’ and fresh air. Lush vegetation combined with regular farming activities and serpents (in uniform and without) made for a more benign passage of time. And time stretched out like the limitless ocean in that inhabited but lifeless world. The inhabitants were like effigies, zombies with seemingly no purpose but hopelessness and a resignation to fate. The emptiness was infinite, the nothingness was unfathomable like the universe before the creation of light. So Chima was now a mere number, he felt like an astronaut of an undisclosed mission trapped in space. Gradually he was running out of oxygen.

The 2 weeks he spent at KiriKiri felt like a decade and he had aged accordingly albeit psychologically. Like a sailor who had survived a shipwreck, he was now fortunate to have been washed ashore. But his Island of refuge was populated with savages. Chima had a hard time re-integrating with the ‘outside’ world. Victor had disappeared initially but made his presence felt through surrogates. He hired a lawyer for Chima and contacted his neighbours, one of them was Humphrey who volunteered to help secure Chima’s freedom. Humphrey who was built like a basketball player but believed it was his duty to save everyone. The bail conditions were somehow ‘perfected’ and Chima was ‘free’ again. His trial continued like frequent asthma attacks, he had no idea if he would survive the continuous onslaught. Physical contact with Victor was impossible. He had skated back to the United States. Phone contact with Victor after KiriKiri eventually tapered from infrequent to non-existent.

The court case lasted for about 13 months. 13 months of jargon, procedure, adjournments and magistrate vacations. Finally, “Commissioner of Police vs Chima Okafor” was dismissed “as the court pleases”. However, the real circumstances that necessitated the termination of the case remained a mystery to Chima.

“Would you like something to eat?” Vivian asked after returning from the ladies room.
“Sure” Humphrey answered
“Who will foot the bill?” Chima asked suspiciously
“I will” Vivian said.
Vivian fawned over them like a mother hen and made sure their gastronomic needs were catered to that afternoon. Later she would joke about Chima’s fine cheekbones. Humphrey would laugh heartily at the joke, Chima would grit his teeth and keep his composure. She would mention that she regretted everything that happened, she will say it was due to an unforeseen attack of delirius tremens.
“That’s what the doctor said it was. He said it was possible through alcohol abuse.
“I haven’t swallowed a drop of alcohol since then, but I think that it is due to something else entirely.
“Do you remember this?”
She waved something in front of them. Humphrey was fascinated, Chima was stunned, for between her manicured fingernails were the remnants of the LSD strip she was holding the morning he was arrested.

“It looks harmless” Humphrey said
“It is harmless, at least to some extent” Vivian responded.
Chima who had lost his voice just stared as she went into a long narrative.
“I found it in my handbag after I was discharged from the hospital”.
She told them how she was upset and ashamed at what had taken place, but that one day while doing some research for her final year project, she had stumbled across an article on LSD. “I realised that I had blamed you wrongly for having it, but for what it’s worth, it may have cured my alcohol addiction”.
Chima and Humphrey who really had no idea what she was talking about just nodded and she continued.
“My parents had forgiven my reckless behaviour but my conscience was killing me. I had to do something”
She told them how she had confessed everything (except the LSD) to her father’s Personal Assistant, and how together they were able to convince her father to drop the charges.

“I’ve had your number since that night but I’ve been afraid to call.
“Please don’t hate me” she implored with tears in her eyes.
After a moment’s hesitation and an awkward moment of silence, Chima decided to unburden his mind. He quickly related the events of that fateful night and his struggle since then.

“It’s good to see you again” she said when he had finished his story. She marvelled at his resilience not knowing he had contemplated suicide several times without the will to carry it out.
“I am really sorry for all the pain I have caused you and hope you forgive me” she added.

Chima knew the pains of the past will never be undone, he also knew he had to allow himself a chance to heal. He tried to ignore the rise of her breast, her female scent and the seductive sound of her voice. Instead he chose to ignore the alarm bells ringing crazily in his skull. The desire that was growing inside him every time she spoke, everytime he caught a whiff of her perfume was driving him insane. A complete recovery from his affliction was only possible if he took the medicine that was before him.

His voice was hoarse when he asked “Are you saying that you still have feelings for me like you did then?” She shook her head.
“I had no feelings for you then, we had just met and it was purely sexual”.
Chima sighed in disappointment. The boner he had been carrying since Vivian returned from the ladies room was suddenly very painful.
“But I have never stopped thinking about… what might have been…”. She let her voice trail off.
“Me too” Chima said a bit too quickly, making both Vivian and Humphrey to stare at him sharply.

She produced a piece of paper with a phone number written on it.
“That’s my fathers Personal Assistant, he will help you to recover some of the things you have lost, it’s the least I can do.
“I have to go now, it was nice seeing you again”.

Suddenly it became clear to him why he’d not been able to move on. Why he had not been able to maintain any relationship since his ordeal begun. His illness had been cardiac all along and Vivian was the remedy. But Chima just sat there as she stood up and walked out of Mama Cass.

His arousal eased finally and after a speechless glance at Humphrey, he ran outside after her.
He approached her tentatively. “Vivian wait!” He said
“I no longer blame you for what happened.
“I’ve always thought about you and also what might have been if you hadn’t gone crazy that night”.
“Thank you” she said without even looking at him.
“Don’t you want to know where I live?” Chima asked carefully sensing an opportunity for complete freedom.
She looked him straight in the eyes and said matter of factly.
“I thought you’d never ask”

THE END

SMOKED FISH (pt.3)

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.

THE END