The day was cloudy and gloom – reminiscent of his mood.
It was a good day to kill.
He didn’t much go for the idea of performing his duties in the dead of night. Too many things could go wrong. Besides, these days with all the streets having some sort of security – from OPC to uniformed guards and in some cases; the police, getting in and getting out might be an issue.
But in broad daylight it was easier. Go in, do the job, come out and blend with the one thousand and one faceless hustlers trolling Lagos streets.
And another million in the account. Easy.
But as he watched the house he was headed into from the store window opposite, Seyitan couldn’t quite disperse the gloom hanging over him. He thought it was the weather – and then he realized it wasn’t just that.
Something no pure about this one; he thought.
He drank from the Orijin bottle and smacked his lips. And then, feeling his waist for his G43 Glock 9mm, he crossed the street and into the building, negligently tossing the bottle in the dustbin in front of the store.
The smartly-dressed security guard opened the door, waved him inside without checking for ID or anything – and then closed the heavy metal door behind him. He made his way into the lobby –
And he realized his instincts were right. They were waiting.
The first thing he saw were two heavily-armed soldiers leaning against the far wall of the lobby, making small talk and eyeballing him with hard, bloodshot eyes. On the raised landing in front of the target’s office, three guys in suits and shades that looked like wannabe CIA spooks were lounging – they couldn’t be any more obvious.
They hadn’t noticed him yet.
Damn that Collyde guy!
He knew his only chance of making it out was the element of surprise. Why they weren’t arresting or shooting him yet he didn’t know – but he would capitalize on that. With a grunt, he whipped out his pistol and shot both army guys in the head.
They went down smoothly – like they were taking orders to fall like a log. The suits scrambled for their guns; but only one succeeded in getting his out.
And it did him no good.
Six more times the gun in Seyitan’s hand coughed, six more times as he executed his would-be executioners with a move he learnt in a Keanu Reeves movie; one for the heart and one for the head.
He didn’t miss.
Jumping to the landing, he kicked the door open and dived onto the floor, expecting a rain of bullets.
He needn’t have bothered. The target, a slim light-skinned man in a business suit was cowering behind his desk, blabbing incoherently into a phone he could barely hold. He froze as he saw the killer rise from the floor – and he dropped the phone, raising both hands in supplication.
Seyitan shot him in the head.
As he made his way out of the door, something white-hot lodged in his neck – and then echoes of a gunshot rang in his ears. He fell forward, gun coming free of his loose grip. He held his neck as his lifeblood ran out – and as his sight dimmed he wondered who had shot – who had killed him.
Who did I miss?
His fast fading sight identified his killer – a killer whose shaking hands dropped the still-smoking pistol, Seyitan died with a smile on his lips at the ridiculousness of the situation – having not died from the hands of soldiers or professional bodyguards…
But at the hands of a bloody secretary.
It was a good day to die.
It would have been something laugh-worthy, lewd – and then mildly inspirational; a staring husband sporting an ill-concealed erection on his wedding day.
The problem was; the husband – Tade – wasn’t staring at his wife.
No. He was looking at the dark-skinned, wet-eyed long legged wide-hipped beauty with rubbery lips swaying towards him. Her gele – her headtie was exceptionally woven – and the shimmering gown she wore wobbled at her every move.Tade had a small fight with himself – to stare at her so-generously-offered breasts or – at her face and the simpering smile that adorned it.
The face won.
It was familiar, Tade reasoned. He swiftly sorted through files in his memory – files and faces of variously hued women; trying to remember which she was as he shifted in his seat to hide the thing growing between his thighs. He searched out his wife with the sides of his eyes – and then he saw her surrounded by her friends. Good.
Once again he gave his attention to the approaching beauty – at the off-shoulder gown she was wearing and the tattoos that covered her right arm from elbow to wrist. She was attracting stares and whispers – Tade chuckled as he saw some old women frowning in displeasure. Old women – and then he winced, realizing his new wife, Peju would sooner or later become one of them.
Such is life.
She – the approaching beauty – was close to his seat – and he was sure he knew her. He had seen her face before, but where? Across a table, at dinner? Across a pillow, after dinner?
And then she stood before him. “Tade darling,” she purred. “You look so good in a suit.” She took his right hand and leaned over it, presenting him an uninterrupted view down her gown. Tade swallowed, fettered monster in his pants rearing its head in anger, fiending to be let loose. He cleared his throat. “Ah – I’m sorry. Do I know you?”
The smile widened – and she let go of his hand. “Ah, Tade. You’ll never change.” Her hands reached behind her, fiddled with something – and came away with two handguns. “This is for Onye – my best friend who killed herself after you broke her heart, for the baby you made me abort and all the other women.”
Tade remembered her then. Yemisi; her name was. He remembered her as a geek who spent all her time reading books. He remembered he’d only seduced her because he was dared – and he remembered being surprised at her skills between the sheets. So surprised he had been unable to stop – not even after he impregnated her.
His mouth fell open – but all speech failed him. The last thing he saw were the tattoos on her right arm. They seemed to glow.
‘That’s not normal,’ he still had time to think.
The twin guns winked, and Tade’s lights went out.
She caught his eye as soon as she walked in the door.
If this was at a place like Rapsody’s – or Beerhugz; or even maybe Chicken Republic – or any of the other outlets, clubs and joints that litter Lagos streets like so many bad billboards; a man noticing a woman – especially a woman like the one that just walked in the cliché door – would be nothing out of the ordinary.
But because it wasn’t in any of those places, it was noteworthy.
She had just walked into her apartment on the first floor of a three-storey building. He was hiding in the ceiling of said apartment, sweating while waiting and watching for someone – her; it would seem, though the reason for his watching and waiting wasn’t immediately clear.
From his vantage point, he could see her clearly – as clearly as though she was on the largest screen in the largest viewing room at the Silverbird Galleria.
Which was saying much, considering his view point – a small hole hastily carved into a corner of the ceiling boards.
His glance one again involuntarily sought out the picture his left hand was holding – and he whistled silently. He would have liked to think it was taken without her consent; but her smile and the unabashed way she was looking directly into the camera put paid to that assumption.
It was not fair to her – the picture was not fair to her. Not in the least.
Taking a last look at it, he shoved it into his chest pocket, moving awkwardly from his chest-down position – and continued to stare at her. She was on the phone, giggling animatedly. The soft bubbling streams of her laughter permeated the stale air around him and pulled at some invisible strings in his chest area – strings he would have sworn before now no longer existed.
He ignored the feeling; shoving it down into a place cold, still and hard – and concentrated on his quarry. Now, she was shrugging the silk wrap off her shoulders, playfully wriggling shoulders that looked like soft chocolate. Slowly she kicked off the black stilettos, leaving a strip of glimmering silver around her left ankle. And then she took off her earrings; one after the other and dumped them on the table beside the Samsung phone.
He swallowed thickly as she stood on tiptoes and stretched languidly, humming a tune he recognized as Banky W’s Strong Tin. She twirled as she hummed, waving her arms around and smiling happily. She looked like you and I looked the first time we realized the funny feeling in our stomach wasn’t hunger – but love.
She stopped dancing suddenly and moved her arms behind her neck. Before he could do more than blink, she was standing clad only in a lace bra and panties – dress falling around her legs in a slow cascade of black. He carefully craned his neck so he could look further down into the room; unwilling to lose sight of her as she started walking towards him –
And then, she disappeared.
A moment later, the sounds of running water came to him and helped him conclude she was going to take a bath. Ignoring the sweat running down his face – sweat as a result of heat; internal and external, he crawled forward slowly on hand and knees. He was carefully to avoid the joints of the ceiling – the last thing he wanted was to fall into the room with the gun in his other hand.
The reason for the gun was clear.
He was there to kill her.
Seun Odukoya Presents:
“What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”
Who tell you? What about what happens in Peckers?
You think there’s a difference?
Oh! Think different!
You’d be surprised! Old shit smells recent!
I act decent
But my thoughts are disgusting
50 colours of one shade can’t paint the full picture
There’s a war for my mind
Who will be the victor?
Shade? Who knows?
Killed and murdered innocents
Buried the corpses, covered the doors
Forgot the windows
Slept with the office secretary
Made her a widow
Walked away, didn’t console her
Smoked a pound of indo
Bricked up my closet
That didn’t still the skeletons
Didn’t think someone would come
To steal the skeletons
Now my bullshit is in the open;
And it’s a truth so bitter,
Guess what happens in Vegas stays on Twitter
She smells of Imperial Lather.
I hug her firmly, squeezing her chubby-fat nine-year old frame. Her thick arms circle my neck and she squeezes back. In this moment I’m as young as she is, giggling and laughing and holding on for dear life. The way we are behaving you would think we haven’t seen each other all her life.
But I was here yesterday. Not that it matters.
Inhaling, I draw in the sweet-smelling scent of her ‘shukued’ hair – hair her mother spent quite some time making. I breathe in my daughter, trying to close my mind to the image that keeps intruding; image of her lying down, tubes attached to her arms –
“I’m okay. I’m okay now, daddy.”
I open my eyes and she’s looking at me – looking in my eyes with her beautiful brown ones. I want to ask what she means – how she knows what I was thinking – but she just smiles and leans her forehead against mine.
“You can put me down now, daddy. Mummy’s waiting for you.”
I kiss her nose gently – and grin as she giggles in that cute way she has. Looking over her head, I try to pierce the dark corridor behind her with my eyes. Her giggle floats up to me and wraps itself around my head – pretty much like a dust cloud – and then gets into my heart.
I go on one knee and pull out a box from the white nylon bag I had placed beside my leg before carrying her earlier. I watch her face as I open the box, grinning proudly as her expression goes from raised eyebrows – simple interest – to widened eyes and open mouth.
Chubby fingers crawl; hesitantly, much like a snail peeking out of its shell to see if the coast is now clear – and reach into the box for the white-gold bracelet gleaming against the deep-red velvet inlay. The fingers touch, prod – but do not attempt to move the bracelet.
And then they withdraw.
“Is that for mommy?” a hushed voice asks.
I nod, still grinning. “Think she’ll like it?”
“Think I’ll like what?”
I nearly knock my daughter senseless as my head swings – at the same time with hers – towards the source of the voice. We turn and freeze; looking very much like kids stealing meat from the pot in the middle of the night – and suddenly; the kitchen lights come on.
But I’m sure we froze for different reasons.
My daughter probably froze because we had been talking about a gift for her mother – something that was supposed to be a secret – at least till I give it to the owner.
I froze because – well; I still cannot get over how beautiful she is.
Her arms are behind her head as she walks forward, doing something to her hair, small movements that send ripples along the multicolored gown she’s wearing and sets my heart racing. The gown shimmers and ripples along her thighs; thighs I know are a shade lighter than her ready-to-drink Milo complexion.
Slowly, I close the box and rise as she comes to a stop in front of me, head bent, looking at my – our daughter who is giggling and trying to hide behind daddy’s legs – then she looks up into my eyes.
“Hello, dear. Think I’ll like what?”
My eyes drop to the still open box in my hand and hers follow like north and south poles of different magnets. Her face is very much the reflection of our daughter’s from minutes ago; from polite interest to surprise –
Her eyes dart back to my face, mouth hanging open like the cleavage area of a low-cut blouse. I clearly see her throat muscles work as she tries to swallow past something in her throat – I see her liquid eyes become even more fluid – water starts to overflow.
“Is that…is that…” she swallows and tries again. “Is that…for me?”
I don’t respond. I just push the box into her hands – hands that are suddenly softer than wet biscuits. I hold onto the box till her hands firm around it – and then I let go and step back.
She steps with me, throwing herself into my arms and wrapping hers around me. Her head nestles against my chest and I feel thirty feet tall. If she asks me to storm Borno all by myself to take on those guys – I wouldn’t hesitate.
God help me.
“I love you,” she whispers, strength in her voice putting the tears wetting my shirt to shame. She moves her head and kisses my jaw softly. “I love you, you hear? With everything I am and hope to be. I love you.”
“I love you too,” I answer, and clasp her to myself – as though I want to pull her through my chest and into my heart. She sighs peacefully and buries her nose in my chest, closing her eyes.
“Mummy? Daddy? It’s getting late o – shebi you’re still going?”
Our eyes open and we look at the grinning elf standing by our feet. My sweetheart – the senior – kneels and kisses my other sweetheart – the junior – on the forehead. “Go on inside baby,” the senior urges. “Go and meet grandma. We’ll be right back.”
Junior nods. “Love you daddy!” and runs inside, shuku flying this way and that. I lean to nuzzle senior’s neck – and at the same time whisper in her ear. “Grandma’s here?”
She nods. “Someone has to babysit na.” She changes the box into her left hand, holds my left in her right one and looks up at me with always-wet eyes. “Shall we?”
I have to be honest. I’m one of the people that think mums go a certain school to learn the art of slapping.
Or maybe it’s a woman thing.
But it seems as though mothers have it on lock the most. I mean, they so understand the art – they know what effect to create by hitting you with a particular part of their hand. They know how to shock you, hurt you, jerk tears from your eyes and so on.
The Art Of Slapping.
The first time; (as far as I remember) I ever got intimate with the flat of a woman’s hand was via my mum. It was also the day I learnt that the human mind also receives static – just like the TV used to; back in the day before the multicolored lines appeared; before the National Anthem was sung.
Anyways, that fateful night she’d sent me to go get something for her from a neighbor’s store. I hurried out of the house because the store belonged to one of my friend’s mum and there was always some gist to catch. On arriving the store, I met my friend and a couple of girls.
Now, it’s important you understand; I was still in my teens and something was really worrying me back then. I think it was around the time a senior in school had pointed out to me that the thing on females’ heads was not fire or flames; it was just hair – just like I had. So I was raring to practice my newfound confidence on every available female.
You can imagine my delight when I spotted the two ‘victims’.
Without much ado I began to flow and postulate and…I was sha yarning a lot of what I realize now must have been dust; but neither I nor the girls noticed.
Something else I forgot to notice?
I was so carried away with what I was saying and the looks on the girls’ faces that – I had entirely forgotten someone was waiting for me at home.
The first inclination of trouble I had was an eerie feeling that someone was standing behind me – and I guess that was what made the whole thing worse.
I turned – and therefore what should have been a slap; something designed for just my ear ended up hitting my ear AND eye.
I think I tuned in to the satellite that gave NTA feeds that night. NOTE: It was night, and there was no power.
But all that made no difference. I was receiving static loud and clear.
Somehow, I staggered from that store and made it home without bumping into anyone or anything. How I did that, till now I haven’t figured out.
But this is my point. That slap set me straight.
And that; the ability to slap the sh*t out of any living thing, was the least of my mum’s talents. She definitely slapped a lot of nonsense out of me – not to talk of the other things; the caning, flogging…
She saved my life.
She died two years ago (August 27th) – a day to her birthday. And in spite of the pain that hasn’t diminished even the slightest – it’s as though she jumps out from behind the shadows of every naughty kid being chastised by a loving mother – I still have so many reasons to be thankful she was my mum. The above was just one of many.
I just wanted to wish her a Happy Birthday; and maybe take her out to Chicken Republic like I did, on her last birthday alive – and feed her ice cream while the other customers looked offended; thinking I was there with my sugar mummy…
Happy Birthday Momma!
That was the sound;
If only it wasn’t so loud
If only it had landed on bare ground,
And there had been nobody around
If only we as a people did our jobs well and proud
Did the right thing; not afraid of the crowd
If only we still had our consciences intact
Hadn’t sold it cheap to the real ratpack
Torn eardrums and battered corpes
The result? Abuja needs beefed up security!
Why now? Why not wait and see what happens next?
A simple case of medicine after death
But who cares? Life goes on! After a while, we’ll be quiet
Until the next one
and the next one
and the next
And the tears will never. Stop.
Until we start.