Category Archives: Bite-Size Fiction

Quick, short works of fiction

NEGRITUDE part 9

As the two brothers entered the arena, they slowly spread apart, watching Koby all the time like big cats watch their prey- till he could no longer keep them both in the same line of sight. He sighed. That meant he would have to guess what one was up to even as he dealt with the other.

 That was fine by him. He kept his eyes trained on the George twin before him, seemingly ignoring the other, whom he was sure was advancing towards him at that very moment- the nostrils of the brother before him flared, and like a whirlwind he twirled, slashing with his weapon. It bit deep into the other brother, injuring him terribly. His brother roared and ran towards him.

 Quiet, tense, at the last moment he lashed out, but somehow the fellow dodged it and managed to land a terrible punch to his midriff. He inhaled sharply and stabbed the fallen brother in the foot, or rather he would have, but then just before it landed, he also dodged the blow.

The brothers were slippery. But one was injured. And from the look they gave him, they wouldn’t be underestimating him anymore. They knew what he was, and the uninjured one gave him a short, grim nod. There would be no more fun and games from here onward. Just two angry men trying to kill him.

He nodded back, accepting the silent challenge. And with a shout, the real fight began. It was a whirl of blades and fists, grunts and shoves as each man fought for his life.

Slowing from blood loss, considerably weakened by the previous fight, Koby held his own for a while but eventually fell to the brothers. They pummeled him mercilessly. He managed to get a few good ones in too, but for every blow he inflicted, he got two in return. Finally he was on the ground, beaten, done.
As he lay on the ground, eyes closed, awaiting the killing blow, he sent a prayer skyward to the supreme being *Eledumare to watch over Ewatomi and accept him to the great beyond. The cheer of the crowd faded from his ears. He felt every ache in his body and groaned. His only consolation was that it would all be over soon.

*Eledumare is one of the names used to refer to God in Yoruba land. Despite belonging to a basically polytheistic religion, adherents of Yoruba belief systems and worship, do acknowledge a supreme being who oversees the affairs of the entire universe.

A scream rang out, loud and clear, and in that moment he remembered the reason he was fighting in the first place- Ewatomi.

His eyes snapped open and he grasped his spear as it was being lowered to skewer him, and with the strength of the damned, he jammed it upward, ramming it through his skull with a sickening crunch and killing the other man.

As the life left it, the corpse fell on him but he kicked it away. He pulled his spear out and swiped at the other brother. He blocked with his blade and threw sand from the arena into Koby’s eyes.

Temporarily blinded, he spun, swinging the spear with one hand to create a fatal arc while he rubbed at his eyes with the other. With no time to spare he grasped his spear with both hands, and was able to parry a killing blow. He returned the favour. The remaining brother blocked it.

He attacked, again and again, driven mad with the desire to see Ewatomi safe and free, he was like a wildcat. Eventully the man brought his weapon up a fraction of a second too late and his spear sink into the meaty flesh of his neck.

Koby pulled it free and rammed it into his belly, ripping his innards free. He out paid to whatever vestige of life still clung to him by stabbing him in the heart.

As his opponent’s blood drained into the sands the crowd went mad with joy. They began to chant the name they had given him;

“Koby!”

“Koby!!”

“Koby!!!”

He slung his spear over his shoulder and walked out of the arena. Soaked with blood and sweat, he made his way to Ewatomi who shook visibly.

“We are free.”

“Yes Koby. We are free.”

And they were free indeed. Even though the freedom had come at such a steep price. Together they went to Mr Stone, where he was seated on a platform before the crowd.

“Set us free.”

The crowd went silent. This was an important moment. Feeling the eyes of the people heavy on him, he reluctantly produced a book and wrote them a bill of freedom. Then he took out the reciepts he had gotten during their purchase and tore it.

Hands intertwined, Koby and Ewatomi left the arena, stopping briefly at the slave dwellings to pick up their meagre belongings. Koby still held on to the ornately carved spear. No one asked of it of course, so he kept it.

Over the next few years, a series of misfortunes befell Mr Stone, until eventually he wound up dead in a ravine. The doctor took one look and declared it a natural death and no one thought anything of it. 

Life happens, after all.

Meanwhile, Koby set up a little farm and earned himself a reputation for honesty and hardwork. He and his wife led very industrious lives, working on both their farms and the larger farms of the folk in that area. 

As they got children, they trained them and when they were old enough, they also joined in bringing some form of income for the family.

He earned enough to buy a few black slaves, whom he promptly set free. But they often chose to remain with him, serving as labourers on his farm, members of his family. Gradually his farm expanded as did his family, and at the time of his death, he was considered wealthy.
“Did Koby kill Mr Stone?” I asked Grandpa. He smiled

“Well what do you think? Be a good boy and fetch me my walking stick, will you?” I hastened to comply, and when I returned, Grandpa got up. He asked me to follow him and together we made our way to the kitchen. I thought briefly of milk and cookies but stopped when we walked past the fridge. I followed him outside.

When we got outside, he stood, gazing at the house. Then he pulled out a brick. From the space within, he retrieved a long, thing parcel, tied at both ends with string.

Working quietly, he loosened the knots and upwrapped it, and sitting there in his hands was an ornately carved staff with blades on both ends, inlaid with iron and bound with iron rings.

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NEGRITUDE part 8

The time for the match drew close,  before then, Mr. Stone had successfully whipped the town into a frenzy.

First he started the rumors; tales making rounds of a fighter who had fallen in love and wanted a chance at freedom for himself and his love. In a town soaked in boredom, where everyone’s personal business was everyone else’s latest news, the gist spread like wildfire.
Then one day, while smoking at a public bar, packed full with patrons thirsty for both beer and gossip, he let slip the possibility of him allowing the fight.
At heart he was a hapless romantic, but then, he had gotten the slave at such a high price- a man had to recoup his investments did he not?
So, of course, the entrance fee was going to be on the high side. Only those who desired to watch beauty and love, faithfulness and date in action would be allowed to come and watch.
In the meantime, you could come see the negro if you had a few shillings to spare. With a swish of his cloak he left the bar, and almost three-quarters of the bar went with him.
He got home and had Koby put on display, with people thrusting money into his hands to see the fighter. That day, he made enough to buy another Koby.
Koby meanwhile, busied himself with preparations. A prince back in his homeland, he was intimate with the means and methods of dealing death.
A veteran of several tribal wars, he knew that half of what guaranteed success was the proper mindset. And also, preparation.
So he took deep breaths, exercised and stretched his limbs. He ate his meals and went for regular strolls, within Mr Stone’s enclosure of course. Then he took up running, and joined the household slaves in fetching the heavy jugs of water.
At night, he took up sticks and worked through the night, twirling and thrusting in patterns handed down from generation to generation.
Weeks passed and his hand grew even more calloused, limbs thickened and grew, and his endurance grew steadily.
Finally, the match was fixed and the day arrived.

The entrance fee was seven pounds, yet the spacious arena was chock-full.
For people to contend with, the prison happily contributed it’s prisoners on death row after  a lump sum of money had changed hands. Savage killers, murderers and psychopaths each, they had been guaranteed a pardon if they participated. Illegal, but in those times, records could easily be doctored. And they were, with blatant regularity.

For anyone who died, the cause of death would be ‘natural causes’.
 So of course, everyone in the ring had a motivation. When Koby stepped into the arena, people went wild, throwing roses and all sorts at him. Thanks to Mr. Stone and his publicity, everyone felt like they knew him.
A deadly, quiet savage, he had fallen in love with  beautiful slave girl; and now, he was ready to fight to keep what he had found. He was going to fight for freedom and love.
The housewives agreed as one that it was deliciously romantic.
The spinsters fantasized about him in their sleep and could often be heard muttering his name under their breath as they tossed and turned at night.
Men grunted and drank to his health as they gulped down mugs of beer in the evenings.

And each of these groups were fully represented in the arena.
He entered with just one weapon, a staff with a blade attached at both ends. Inlaid with iron and bound with iron rings, it was a bit on the heavy side, but very sturdy. It had to be, it would decide whether he lived or died.

Armor was not to be allowed.
As he walked to the center, people cheered, the noise loud enough to be heard and felt a good distance away.
His first opponent was released from a set of five cages of different sizes hanging suspended about three inches from the ground.
A mad murderer known as ‘Smiling Sam’ his weapon of choice was a cleaver, and not just any cleaver, the cleaver he had used to chop up bodies before he was discovered and arrested.
Armed with a manic smile and his wicked looking blade with brown stains, he advanced on Koby. Koby waited for him to get close enough, then quickly, almost a blur, he twirled, reached, sliced the inside of Smiling Sam’s wrist as the lunatic raised his hand to swing. The cleaver dropped to the ground. A sharp quick slice sent his head after it, and Koby stood as his lifeblood leaked to the ground.
Attendants rushed out and dragged the corpse away. Some others opened the next cage door and out of the separate spaces divided by a partition, two men stepped out.

One had a sword. The other had nothing. His teeth had been filed into sharp points and his fingernails were long and sharp, talons, in fact. They called him “The cannibal of the hills.”
Before capture, he would often go after people and kidnap them, before taking them with him to the hills, where he roamed. 
Then he would set them free and then proceed to hunt them down. When he eventually found them, he ate them.
The two criminals came for Koby at the same time. Koby kept his eyes on the one with the sword. The cannibal wasn’t much of a threat, he had to first get close to attack. So he went swinging and thrusting, forcing the swordsman to parry blow after blow after blow. Just as he got in, slicing into his belly, he felt a sharp pain at his back. The cannibal had clawed him! He had almost forgotten about him. Turning back with anger, he severed off his head.

The swordsman was still coming for him, one hand clutching his stomach. With ease, Koby finished him off.
Attendants came and dragged away the corpses and another set of attendants opened the third cage door. This one they opened after all the attendants had left the arena, and they opened it while standing on a raised platform. The moment it was open, they took to their heels.
Gingerly, like it was testing the floor, a clawed foot came out. Then another, and gradually a leopard slinked out.

Koby held his breath. No one said anything about fighting a leopard. But then, he was asking to be free, wasn’t he?
It would not come cheap.
He and the leopard stalked each other, moving round in a circle. Koby mirrored it’s steps, watching for the bunching of muscles that signalled a pounce, there! As it came for him, he was already in motion- he shifted a bit to the side and sliced.
Enraged it came for him again. He sliced it across the about, and it caught him just below the knee with a claw. He drove the blade into it’s shoulder. They separated, bleeding. 
The beast staggered a bit, and fell to the ground in a heap. Attendants, unwilling to come near it quickly opened the fourth cage and hurried off. From the two partitions, three hefty men came out. One clutched a club, another held two knives, and one held a spear.
Koby watched them, wary as they advanced. Then he noticed something, the leopards head shifted a fraction. It wasn’t dead! 

Just as the trio raised a war cry, it turned into a shriek as the leopard got to it’s feet, shook off the effects of blood loss and pounced on the spearman.
They rolled to and fro, and his screaming was cut short. He wasn’t quite dead when it lowered its head and feasted on his innards, pulling juicy bits and gulping them down
The remaining two kept a respectful distance between the beast and it’s prey. Then the club wielder noticed how preoccupied it was with it’s meal, for the leopard hadn’t been fed for three days prior to the match to out it in the proper frame of mind.
He snuck up behind it and clubbed it to death. Satisfied, he came for Koby. At this time, Koby had several cuts and gashes from the knives. Slowing, the knife user was gaining an upper hand. And now, his friend had joined in.

He gritted his teeth and offered a prayer to ogun, the yoruba deity of hunters and war and fought on. Finally, he managed to kill the two criminals.
The last cage swung open, and spilled its contents. When they came out, the entire arena went quiet. People whispered to one another;

“Aren’t those the ‘George twins’?”

“Lord that’s insane.”

“Some say they’re not even human.”

“I agree. Sixteen men between them, sixteen good men.”

“Monsters, the both of them”

And then soft feminine whispers of

“Oh, Koby!”

“The poor darling” 

“Oh he’s gone.”
Ewatomi meanwhile gripped the railing from where she was sitting, a side attraction.

Some fingers pointed in her direction. Tongues wagged. They knew she was the woman Koby was fighting for, after all, did he not offer his life to set them both free?

Buxom housewives were green with envy. They didn’t have anyone willing to do anything so romantic for them.

Ewatomi didn’t hear the whispers, didn’t see the pointing fingers, her mind was filled with fear for Koby’s safety.
She called to mind the legend of the ‘George twins’. At first, they had been hunters of big game, quite good at what they did, but with the price of meat being what it is, they didn’t get the life of luxury they desired.

Then one day, someone stole from their hunting lodge one night. They tracked him, hunted him and killed him.
At that point they discovered even easier prey- people. So they closed the lodge and held themselves out as men-killers for hire, assassins.

Slowly, their came spread, no one earmarked by them ever got away. Everyone who ‘did business’s with them came back satisfied.

Poison, accidents, stabbings, they prove proficient in every scenario given. People feared them.
Eventually, the officers of the law got fed up with their notoriety and went to arrest them. First, three officers were dispatched. They never came back. Then five went after them. They didn’t come back either. Eventually the entire barracks emptied itself into the streets and armed to the teeth, they went to the house of the ‘George twins’
A lot of officers died that day, but eventually they won thanks to the sheer force of numbers, and captured the brothers, binding them hand and foot before taking them to jail.

They were shut in a solitary cell, and at first, the wardens decided to starve them to death, but the brothers broke out of their cell and broke into the kitchen. They killed the cook, ate a lot of food, killed two officers and returned to their cell with some food items. After that, they were fed regularly and on time.
For years, they lived in solitary, never seeing the sun. And now, they had come outside for one more hunt…

NEGRITUDE part 7

 When his eyes finally cracked open, the first thing his brain registered was pain.

A whole lot of it.

Next, it registered light, or rather, the absence of it. The room was pitch black. With no idea how long he had been unconscious, Koby could not tell if it was night, or the room was just shut tight.
There was a creak, and with it, a sliver of light, stretching from a- door!

Someone was coming inside. Koby closed his eyes and pretended to be asleep. Whoever it was had a light tread, he almost couldn’t hear whoever it was approach.

The person dropped the load he or she was carrying. There was a short striking sound, loud in the silence that reigned supreme- an accompanying flare, and light flooded the room.

Then the sound of cloth being squeezed damp- and the person leaned over him to clean his sweaty brow. He caught a whiff of a familiar scent…

“Ifá, I know I haven’t been the best worshipper. But if you bring him back to me, I promise to kill a white cock in your name. I swear it.”*

*Ifá is one of the dieties worshipped by practitioners of the Yoruba religious belief system.

Ewatomi.

His eyes flew open. She saw this, gasped and almost dropped the lantern clutched in her right hand, at the last moment, she regained control and calmed down.

“Koby, you’re- you’re back!”

“Will take more than fight to kill me. I make you promise, no?”

“Yes. Yes you did. Oh Koby!”

“Shhhh. Where am I?”

“In clinic. Mr. Stone has a new fighter now. Bigger than you. Stronger. He abandoned you here to either live or die.”

“I live.”

“True. But I’m afraid. What if he finds out and makes you go back to the fighting?”

A tear pooled at the end of an eyelash, hung suspended for a while, then fell to splash against his bare chest. In a voice so small, one who is an arm’s length away would not hear without straining, she added
“I like you. I cannot lose you.”

Both hands clasped together in supplication, eyes bright with unshed tears, she looked at him. Really looked at him.

And he lifted his hand to cover hers. His gaze met hers, steady and unwavering.

Her breath turned ragged, like she was having difficulty breathing- and Koby’s breath caught.

A thought passed between them, wordless, yet crystal clear.

Her eyes were burning with desire, her bosom heaved with every breath.

With his palm still covering her hands, he pulled her down.
She came willingly.

As she came to him, she knocked over the lamp, and it was overturned. The flame flickered and died.

That night, Koby knew Ewatomi, fully and after the manner of men.
_____________________________

That morning, the lovers woke up, limbs entwined, breathing in unison. The soft rays of dawn caressed their bare skin.
Ewatomi looked down at Koby, and smiled a shy, satisfied smile.

“Thank you.” With a finger she liked his chest playfully. Then his armpit. He laughed. Encouraged, she continued tickling him till laughter filled the clinic and he joined in, returning the tickles with interest. Finally, they tired, and were once again calm, content to have each other, sharing this one stolen moment.

“Again this night?” Ewatomi asked, tentative.

“Yes. I will wait here for you.”

And with this promise, after a sweet but brief embrace, Ewatomi slipped out of the clinic before her absence was noticed.
That evening, Koby felt strong enough to stand and walk around a bit, so this he did, strolling even though he did this with a slight limp. His leg still hurt.

He made his way to the Cook’s corner for a ladle of soup, a chunk of bread, and a fistful of berries. Finding a clean spot close to the clinic, he sat down and had his dinner.

As he ate, he contemplated the clinic- it wasn’t a clinic persay, just a ramshackle abandoned building. So much for Mr Stone.

As he polished off the last few berries, he made to get up but saw Ewatomi coming towards him. He had not forgotten their meeting of course, and his face cracked into a huge grin.

Ewatomi saw him too, and her heart was filled with happiness. No, that’s too small a word. More like unbridled, unfettered joy.

Caught up with each other, she put up a display. An extra sway with her hips, nimble dainty steps as she carried the water pot on her head. When she got to the huge water drum, she poured the water and managed to spill some of it on her dress. The result was that it clung to her skin, revealing curves and contours otherwise hidden.

Dropping the pot aside, she gave a flirty wink, drawing up the dress to display even more.

Koby swallowed with difficulty.

She laughed, covering her mouth with her hands as she did so, a hearty, throaty laugh.

Consider this happiness dear reader, the joy of a woman who teases her man. A man whom she also desires, deeply. Consider how she puts everything she could use to seduce him on display, showing off nature’s bounty with careless abandon.

How enticing it is, how it draws a man. 

Particularly the other man, who had been watching from the door of the wagon, and did not see the man she was displaying for, and frankly did not care.

We’re they not, after all, his property by law?

The wagon door swung open.

“You! Girl!! Come here!!!”

The effect was instantly sobering, like a bucket of ice cold water thrown in the face of a drunkard.

She looked around, desperate to see someone else, anyone else being called. But the other slaves hurried to and fro, and she was, despite being surrounded, alone.

“Come. Here.” The tone had turned threatening. She complied, out of fear, with wooden steps she closed the distance to the wagon.

Koby watched, a silent but impotent fury burning in him. He knew well the consequences of irrational action, so he kept his seat and gnashed his teeth.
Now Ewatomi was in front of the wagon, timid as a mouse. But Mr Stone was not to be deterred.

“Sir? You called me?”

Rather than respond, he grabbed her and pulled her roughly into the wagon, slamming the door.

Inside the wagon, she screamed, helpless, prey to a predatory appetite. Mr Stone pushed her to a rough pallet on the wagon floor.

Heedless to her sobbing and pleading, indeed spurned on by it, he grabbed her cloth and forced it up to her waist. The fabric ripped and tore. He did not care. With a brutal thrust, he forced his way into her. She screamed.

He kept plunging into her, as she squirmed and struggled and prayed to her native gods that he would soon end.

Finally, he was done with her, his seed spilled between her legs. He got up, and wore his shorts. The wagon door swung open again, and he kicked her to the ground.

It swung shut behind her. Struck with grief, she lay on the ground crying, shedding bitter tears and cursing the world for being so unfair. She beat her fist against the ground, a woman deprived of her dignity.

Someone was standing in front of her. Whoever it was, wrapped a blanket around her. She melted into an embrace gratefully, at least there was some good in this wicked world, no matter how little.

Koby’s voice rang in her ear, soft and reassuring;

“No matter what happens, you will always be beautiful to me.”

He took her to the stream, to wash off the dust and clean the injuries, to wash off the hated seed from between her thighs.

That night they shared a bed, but nothing happened.
The following morning, while the early cock had just begun to crow, as Mr Stone snored, there was a knock on the wagon door. It swung open, his henchmen looking out at the knocked with enough menace to choke even the bravest speech.

Koby, cap in hand was undaunted. 

“I wish to speak to master.”

“What?!”

“The silent negro! He talks!”

“The monkey speaks English. Unbelievable!”

“Who taught him? How? Where? When?”

All this noise woke Mr Stone from his sleep, and he inquired to know the cause of the racket. His men cleared to show the negro who had come calling at such an unholy hour.

“Master Stone.”

“Koby. You can talk.”

“Yes sir. I pick up the language.”
“Not quite well, but that is to be understood. What brings you here?”
“I have something to ask. You want money sir? Plenty of money?”
At this the cabin went silent. Speaking of money there was like invoking the name of God when amongst bishops. A reverent hush fell on them. Koby seized his opportunity to further his case.

“Sir, if you do a match, one man. He fight as many men as are willing to fight him, to the death. A fight for love. To ensure freedom for him and another. A woman. People will pay anything to watch it. Any amount.”

Mr Stone’s eyes shone with greed. He was already counting the pounds in his mind. Then he asked

“Which man? I don’t have anyone to pin that on.”

“You have sir. Me.”

STORIES FROM THE HUNT

Just a moment before it hits its target, one of the hunting dogs caught a whiff of the predator and smoothly slid into action.

With a loud bark that alerts Ogunjimi and probably saves his life, the brave hound launches itself headlong to meet the approaching threat. A heartbeat later, the other hunting dogs follow suit.

It’s a bloody, drawn out battle. Snapping teeth, scratching claws flashing here and there, with Ogunjimi shinning his flashlight and trying to get a clear shot at his assailant with his dane gun.

A chance! Quickly gone. Still anticipating- another, the barest flash of black and BOOM!!!

The silence that follows is deafening. Carefully, gingerly our hunter makes his way to the corpse of the big cat. Limping and whining, the dogs move away.

 With the muzzle of his gun, he prods it. It moves just slightly- quickly he fires again, this time at the head. He prods it once more. It does not move. Now satisfied that it is dead, he fetches a cord of hard leather and binds it’s feet with it. Binds it really tight.

Then the muzzle follows, or really, what is left of the muzzle after the bullet has shattered the skull and torn fur and flesh apart.

The skin of the beast will provide a befitting covering for him. The meat could be eaten or sold to the highest bidder. The claws made into amulets and charms.

Nothing will go to waste.

This is the life of a hunter in the forests of mother Africa. 

Kill or be killed.

REDEMPTION part 2

I know Anu said not to look for her, but in his one thing, I can’t respect her wishes.


It hasn’t been easy, and I have spent a lot in time and finances, but I know where she is now. Or where she will be by 5:45pm tonight.

The thing is, after she left me, Anu went back to her old ways, standing in street corners and getting picked by strange men. I always went after her but somehow, someway, just as I got there, she’d be gone.

But I never gave up.

Even now, I’m still after her. The thing is, life is hard as a prostitute. It’s no easy life, the life they lead. And Anu found a terrible vice which she clung to with the desperation of a man drowning. Drugs.

 And now she’s in serious debt to the biggest drug pusher in this country. His real name, nobody knows, or perhaps those who know would  rather not attract his attention by showing it.

Irregardless, he’s known as ‘the dark one.’ People whisper it and look at you sideways if you ask about him. Those who offend him have a habit of going missing. Government officials, policemen, even soldiers.

Mysterious deaths trail his rise to power and his location is rarely ever known beforehand. He simply pops up somewhere and vanishes again.

But today, I know where he’ll be. At exactly 5:45pm.

And that brings me to the reason why I’m been chaffeured into the seediest part of town in a taxi.

There’s a small hotel not to far away, named ‘birds of paradise’ and that’s where I need to be by 5:45pm sharp.

The taxi pulls up and I alight. Quickly I pay the driver and glance at my rolex- 5:42pm. I’m just in time. Quickly I cross the street and enter into the building.

It’s dimly lit, with smoke clouding the ceiling, everywhere is hazy and strobe lights are flashing. It’s not the kind of place I would frequent, but I’m a man on a mission and as such, I’ll do what has to be done.

Anu is in trouble. Big trouble. Her supplier works for the dark one, and she owed him a whole lot of money. So he told his boss what happened and then he came for her. He licked Anu off the streets and initially planned to do away with her. But then he had an idea and decided to have an auction instead. So he’s​going to sell her off to the highest bidder.

She’s a pretty woman, well versed in pleasuring men. For any of the crime lords that show up, she’ll be a good catch. All they have to do is simply bid high enough.

I have also come to bid.

Just as I get a seat, a bright light comes on and Anu walks onstage. As she walks towards us, seated in a ring at the end of the stage, the spotlight follows, showing everything. My breath catches in my throat and I have to struggle a bit to breathe again.

That’s my wife, dressed in nothing but a short dress and makeup. The dress is tight and clingy and it’s obvious she’s not wearing anything underneath. Her hair is all made up to look pretty but her eyes tell the truth. Even from way over there I can see the pain in them. She knows what she has gotten into.

Someone comes on stage after her. He’s of medium height, a vague dark shadow only distinguishable by being darker than the other shadows that form the background.

“Gentlemen, this is the moment we have all been waiting for. I’m giving out this young, delectable sweetheart for a price. But only if it’s reasonable. If you want her, then let your money speak for you.”

There’s abiut thirty seconds of silence while the men take it in. Then a voice rings out.

“I’m willing to pay fifty thousand naira.”

Quickly I speak up “One hundred thousand naira”

“Two hundred!” Someone from the back.

Soon the price goes up to a million and gradually people drop off till I’m left with the gentleman from the back. He shouts “I’ll pay one million, five hundred thousand naira for her.”

Fairly desperate, I reply “I’ll pay three million naira for her and I’ll pay now!” The room goes quiet. We don’t know exactly how much she owes him, but we all know it can’t be that much.

I hear whispers

“He’s mad. Three million for a woman?”

“I hear she’s even a prostitute. I could get another one on the street for far less.”

“Yes, but you can’t keep her can you? This one is for keeps.”

“Why does he want her so bad? He’s not even one of us.”

“She means something to him, I can tell.”

There’s a satisfied chuckle and then the dark one speaks up for the first time since he made the introduction

“Any other offers?” I hold my breath. No one talks. 

“Three million it is then. Sold. Please come with me.” I release the breath I’ve been holding and follow him. He leads me into a small room. Then he sits and offers me a seat. There’s better lighting here, and I can see him clearly. He’s nothing spectacular, an easily forgotten face. Just one among thousands, but this man has the one thing I want most in this world.

He extracts a pack of cigars from his suit pocket. He offers me one. I decline. I don’t smoke. The door opens and Anu comes in followed by a thug.

“Here it is” says the drug pusher. “Now make good on your bid.”

“Can I have an account number?”

“Of course. Tade?”

The thug gives me a piece of paper. Quickly, I get my phone out and make the transfer. A few seconds later, a phone beeps. The thug produces a small phone, looks at the message and nods.

Oga the alert just came in.”

The dark one nods and says “You can have her.”

Fifteen minutes later, I’m flagging down a taxi.

A year later…

 It hasn’t been easy. I had to check Anu into a rehabilitation center. She cried everytime for a whole week and her eyes were red each time I came to visit. Soon she was clean and drug free. I also had her checked and treated for a few STDs. Luckily enough she didn’t catch anything that couldn’t be gotten rid off.

When she was through with everything, she looked like her old self again. And I asked her if she would  mind coming back to me.

On hearing that I intended to still keep her as a wife, she fell to my feet and cried a whole lot, begging for forgiveness. I was moved to tears too and soon joined her on the floor where we hugged and cried and hugged some more.

But a last, she’s back home, once again in charge of her business- I had someone manage it in her absence and proud mother to my two wonderful kids.

REDEMPTION part 1

Do you know how it is when you really, really love someone who doesn’t love you in return?

Someone who doesn’t care?

Let me try to explain it to you. It’s something terrible. They hurt you, but it really doesn’t matter, because it’s them.

Its like gripping a sharp knife, and it’s cutting you to the bone, and you can see it, feel it, feel the blood trickling down your wrist, your arm. But you cannot let go, because losing them is a fate worse than death.
Anuoluwapo.

When I met Anu for the first time, it wasn’t really the best of first impressions. I was driving past the red light district a few blocks from my house- a necessary evil, the only other alternative being to take the long, arduous road that trailed the back of the estate, an extra 35 minutes of driving, not to mention the fuel consumed.

Some of us who owned property in the estate had picked offence at prostitution taking up residence at our front door and time and time again, we petitioned the government to have them do something about it.

We kept getting the same answer

“We’re working on it.”

But then, the girls weren’t too forward about what they did, they didn’t call out to customers or build brothels nearby.

They just stood outside, striking seductive poses in skimpy clothes, waiting patiently for business. When someone interested came by, he’d pull up to his pick, they’d bargain through a lowered window and when a deal is struck, she would get in and drive off.

Being a busy person, I often return home by 7 or 8 in the evening, just in time to witness the start of the skin business. 

On that day as always, I drove slowly past, careful to dodge the people milling about and picking girls up when I saw a girl sitting on her own in a corner. Unlike the others, she wasn’t up and about. For some reason, that drew me like light draws a moth.

I pulled up and killed the engine. 

“Hi. Why are you on your own?”

“Nothing. I just like it here. Do you want a girl for the night?”

“No. Not really.”

“Oh.” She sounded so disappointed, I felt I had to make it up to her someway. So I checked the glove compartment and gave her a small bundle of cash. She collected it and counted it then turned to me with a big smile

“Ten thousand naira? That’s a lot! Thank you.” Then she turned coy, eyeing me from under lowered lashes as she hid the money in her bra

“Are you sure you don’t want some company? I can make it worth your while you know. I’m really good. Everyone says that.”

I smiled and handed her a business card and a pen.

“How about you write your number here and I’ll call you if I need you.”

She gladly took the pen and scribbled her number across the back of the card. From somewhere, she produced a stick of gum and started chewing it.

“Call me.”

“I will.”

Over the space of two years, I got to know Anu as more than a walking fleshlight. We talked a lot over the phone, and she often confided in me. Busy as I am, I always have a listening ear for people I call friends. Anu’s case was no different.

Gradually we became close. And one day, I asked her out on a date. She agreed. By 5pm that evening, she alighted from an okada (a commercial motorcyclist) in front of the eatery I invited her to.

She was dressed in a very, very, short dress. So short in fact, it covered almost nothing. Quickly I gave her my suit to wear. She gave me a dubious look and I coughed softly

“It’s cold inside.”

“Oh. Okay. Thank for the suit then.”

It indeed was cold inside, but it wasn’t the real reason for me giving her the suit. As she followed me to our table, men turned to stare at her. They were almost drooling.

But we had a quiet uneventful dinner. Time, as it is wont to do, flew from us. Before you could say Jack, it was late and she had to go.

I offered to drop her off. When she got into my car, she took off my suit and started to unzip her gown and loosen the clips binding her hair.

“What are you doing, Anu?”

“I’m getting ready. Aren’t you planning to have sex with me? I’ve done it in cars before, you don’t have to worry about me. Just adjust the seat so you can-”

My hand wrapped around hers shut her up. Leaning forward to look directly into her eyes, I said slowly

“Anu, I’m not planning to sleep with you. I mean it.”

“Why are you so nice to me then?”

The question hit me like a runaway train. Different thoughts and emotions swam in my head and I stuttered.

“I, I think I’m in love with you.”

“Harold. You’re a business mogul, a respectable person. What would you want with me?” Her voice broke.

“I’m just a common whore.”

That night I took her home and we talked for a long, long period. She finally admitted to loving me but quashing it, because she felt nothing productive would come out of such. I assured her that she was worth a lot to me.

Anu is a person. A beautiful person. She has been through so much, and she’s a bit jaded and distrusting of people but deep inside, she’s sweet and caring and in her own way, better than a lot of the girls that walk around with their heads up in the clouds like they’re not as human as the rest of us.

Gradually we started dating. We eventually got married. A small quiet court wedding. My friends raised hell over my decision, some honestly thought I had gone mad. Even now they think it was insane of me to have done what I did. But I’ll do it all again if I had the chance.

Anu moved into my house and became my wife. I changed her wardrobe and got rid of the skimpy clothes, remainders of a past that no longer bound her. I bought her jewellery and dinner gowns. I bought shoes and sandals from Italy and Paris.

Nothing was too expensive. Then one day she told me she was pregnant. I almost died of joy. When she put to bed, it was the most beautiful baby ever. A chubby little angel. I named him Oluwagbemileke. or as we called him around the house, Leke.

Four years after Leke, Anu got pregnant again. When she announced it, I was so ecstatic I kissed her right there on the kitchen counter. 

“Daddy, why are you using your mouth to touch mummy’s mouth?”

That brought us back to earth real quick.  I ‘discovered’ a box of biscuits and soon distracted the boy. A few months later, Oluwafunmilomotodarabi was born.

It was all nice and dandy, a picture perfect family. Anu had a thriving business as a makeup artist and my business was going good and strong.

Then one day I got back from home and met a note on the bed.

Harold.

Thank you for everything you’ve done for me. But I can’t continue this life we’re living. 

I need excitement. Thus marriage is nice, but its boring. I need to feel like a woman again. I’m leaving. I’m not right for you.

There are a lot of other women out there, respectable women. Go after one of them and settle down.

Please don’t try to find me.”

ALONE?

Remi has a simple, easily predictable lifestyle. 

As a working class woman, the  official closing time from work is 5pm. So once it’s 5 on the dot, she’s done for the day, and thats it.

  With about 15 minutes needed to pack her things together and get to the parking lot, she’s always out of the company building by 5:15pm.

She immediately turns right, and driving at a constant speed of 50kph, it takes her 20 minutes to get home. Exactly 20 minutes.

Everyday.

And then she pulls into the driveway, gets her house keys and walks up to the porch, house keys in her left hand. By 5:37pm on workdays, she’s to be found in front of her house, unlocking the door and slipping inside.

She doesn’t go anywhere on weekends, except when she has to replenish her store of foodstuff and that occurs every third weekend, during the market days.

You see, Remi’s life is quite nice and cozy, comforting in it’s consistency. So today, like every other workday, she’s at the door by 5:37pm, just turning the lock when she hears a rustle. She doesn’t pay it much attention, infact she doesn’t pay it any attention. She knows the neighbours have a pet of some sort, and it’s most likely the animal was slinking about in the decorative shrubbery. Nothing to bother about. How much damage could it do?

It’s at that precise moment that she feels the touch of something cold and heavy in her side. Involuntarily, she is rooted to the spot, quaking with fear. Her eyes travel slowly downwards and she finds a gun pressed nicely to her waist. Like it wants to give her a big hug. Muzzle-first.

Shielded between her lithe frame and the stranger holding it, the gun isn’t obvious to anyone nearby, and besides, she hadn’t gone to any trouble trying to establish any level of camaraderie with her neighbors.

They wouldn’t even notice if she went missing. The thought hits her like a brick between the eyes. Unbidden, a hot tear makes it’s way out and trickles down her cheek.

The stranger holding a gun to her side orders her with a rough voice:

“Lock the door and come with me, no funny business now. I don’t want to have to do anything stupid.”

Docile, fearful, she obeys, twisting the key in the lock and hearing the sharp ‘click’ as the tumblers slip back into place, the door once again, locked.

With that sound, all hope abandons her.

She’s walking quietly towards her car, destination unknown when she sees her new neighbor wave to her. He’s a handsome, muscular young man, about the same grade with her. Sometimes he waved to her when he saw her over the shrubbery. Often he’d shout a greeting. But she’s​ never replied a greeting before, and not replying one now wouldn’t be anything new. She prays fervently in her heart that he notices something out of the ordinary. That he calls her back. Anything.

But nothing happens. She’s in front of her car now. When suddenly she hears

“Hello sir, do I know you?” She turns quickly. It’s her neighbor and he’s talking to the stranger.

“No sir, you don’t. I’m Remi’s brother, and I need to take her back home.”

“Back home? She lives here.”

“I mean ‘home’ home. Our mum is sick and she’s been wanting to see Remi for so long. It’s been a while since they’ve spoken. So I’m taking her home to see mummy.”

Time passes as her neighbor considers this tale. Meanwhile Remi is firmly chanting in her head- Please don’t believe him, please don’t believe him, please don’t believe him, please don’t believe-

The neighbor nods, apparently satisfied. So the stranger steers her away from safety. Her eyes widen.

Suddenly, like a cat, he pounces at the stranger and knocks him down, slamming his hand once, twice to the ground. He loses his hold of the weapon. Then his head follows, with one heavy hit against the pavement, the stranger is unconscious.

“Call 911. Do it quick woman, before he comes around.” Even as he talks, he’s producing something shiny from his pocket. It’s a pair of handcuffs. He snaps them around the strangers wrist.

Task complete, he turns to give Remi a long hard look. 

“I’m Chibuzor by the way, your new neighbor. It would do you a fair bit of good to be more friendly to people in the future.”

Soon the police men arrive and bundle the suspect. Chibuzor exchanges a few words with the officers, they salute him and come for her. A few questions and then it’s all over.

Later that week, she gets the details. The stranger was interrogated and the police are able to get his house address. They get a warrant and go in for a search. His house is covered with photos. Photos of Remi. Leaving her car. Entering her car. Eating at a restaurant. Talking to a guy. The guy’s face is peppered with holes, holes made by something being jabbed into the picture repeatedly. There’s a pencil nearby. The photos are all tagged with time slots. 4pm. 3:13pm. 12pm.

When she sees the picture evidence, she confirms that yes, at that precise time, she was doing just that.

But that’s not even the most disturbing thing. Far from it.

In the bedroom, there’s a full wardrobe of clothes, all her exact size. Shoes too. And underwear. Fancy, lace stuff. The windows are  covered with thick red drapes. There’s scented candles at every point in the room. Small heart-shaped pillows litter the place.

There’s a sheer nightgown laid on the thick king-size bed in the center of the room. It’s almost transparent, doesn’t really cover anything.

In one of the locked drawers, they​ find a wrap of cocaine and several packs of condoms and lubricant. Several ‘toys’ are there too. Things would have gone real bad for her if she had been taken back there. But she got lucky.

Thanks to a neighbor who just wouldn’t mind his own business.