Something for November

So November is my best month of the year… (not June?!) No, not June. There’s just something about November, the harmattan, the promise of Christmas… and new year!! the Christmas carols, Thanksgiving, black Friday!!!

*hyperventilates*

So. I thought I should do something for the month.

I first wrote this back in 2014… when I was younger, and free… 🙂 and well… Happy Harmattan!

***************************************************************************************************It was a place, a dirt road, dark and dusty—the government funds didn’t reach these parts, the tar wasn’t enough. An unnamed street, just a right after the farmers’ market, the citric smell of lemons and oranges forever in the air. It was in the time of harmattan, when children would go to bed with petroleum jelly in their nostrils and wake up parched, their nostrils thirsty for a little moisture.

It was in the time of Christmas carols and wish lists and pot-bellied Father Christmases with fake beards. The school calendars had been restructured so that all schools would be on vacation by then. It was in November, the streets awoke to the sounds of excited children—on their bicycles, on bare feet, running and walking children, both naughty and nice. These weren’t streets that never slept, they had slept through it all.

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John Dio woke up to a very ordinary Saturday morning. He had cereal for breakfast, picked up laundry by noon, got wine at Spar, and at exactly 5pm, he was at the front door of his mother’s house. He knew the door was open but he’d knock anyways. His mother opened the door and squished him in a big hug, retrieved the wine from his hands and placed it in the wine bucket. She was perfect, his mother; always chirpy, always beautiful, always the life of the party, in spite of his father’s death two years back.

He took off his denim jacket, embracing the rich smell of good food. His tummy rumbled as he pulled out a chair. There is a kind of hunger that cereal can’t manage.

He sat opposite his sister, Teelé and her husband Nkoyo Elkan the third who spent the better part of dinner on the phone, tapping away on his iPad at the same time. Beside him was Mr Ado, the TV presenter who could no longer tell the difference between screen and off screen, who was now spending too much time around his mother, who was the reason why John had to work hard to maintain his appetite.

Two hours, four beers and a smoke later, John decided it was time to leave. Teele and Nkoyo were still around, Nkoyo was still on the phone. He hugged his sister and waved his mother goodbye, she was in the sitting room with Ado.

John got into street 148B singing along to no worries. He just sang his favourite line: I just know your life’s gonna change— when he felt the impact. A car had run into A car was running into him! He felt anger as quickly as it evolved into panic. This was no accident, this was deliberate. John sped up, tried to outrun the car but it was no good, there was only so much his Peugeot 406 could do against the attacking Tundra. Eventually, his engine gave up. These parts of Lagos used to be safe… John thought to himself as he arranged all his valuables: wristwatch, money, car keys, he didn’t want to be found uncooperative.

A tall, lanky man opened the car door and dragged him out, there was a gun in his free hand, John could see the silencer.

“Please, I’ll co-operate, please. Everything I have, I’ve placed them on the passenger’s seat.” John begged, trying and failing to sound calm.

The man just looked at him, his face devoid of emotion—he almost looked bored—as he pulled him towards the truck.

If he wasn’t armed for robbery, what was he armed for then?! “Please, please, I’ll give you anything, everything I have! Just don’t hurt me, please!”

“Shut up!” The man hissed, pushing him onto the back seat of the truck and placing duct tape over his mouth, binding his hands as well. They had company, another man in the passenger’s seat. All John could make out was his bald head, with folds around his neck. The lanky one got in the car and started the engine.

They drove for what seemed to John like eternity—and stopped. They both got down, the lanky one placed blindfolds over John’s eyes and they continued on foot, shoving him in this direction and that. John would have cried if his brain wasn’t working overtime trying to figure out what the hell was happening. The frustration of it all, the silence, the darkness, was mind-numbing. There was a dull pain in his wrists and an offensively strong smell of oranges.

They stopped. The bald man was panting somewhere in the distance. John could tell it was him because he could recognize the scent and the skeletal hands of the man shoving him as the lanky one. The lanky one then got out a polythene bag and duct tape from his backpack, binding John’s feet and laying him flat on the ground… John could feel the sand.

The lanky one looked at the bald one “You can leave.”

There was a moment of silence, followed by receding footsteps and more silence. Why was nobody talking?! Finally, the lanky man took off his blindfolds, the cold wind of night assaulted John’s eyes.

Without a single word, he moved away and sat beside John on the ground, his gun in his lap. Minutes passed into what seemed like hours, John sat thinking about his life, and possible death, his mouth had begun to itch. The lanky man sat, motionless, his unwavering gaze far off into the distance. Surely, morning should have come by now.

Footsteps… there were footsteps approaching! Slow and unsteady, like the owner was limping. The lanky man quickly got a blanket from his bag and covered John with it. He had his eyes trained on the distance, waiting for whoever was approaching. The footsteps got closer and closer, until he could see him: a thin, haggard man, his torn shirt clinging to his bent back. He got to them and stopped abruptly, surprised. Then walked on.

“Hey!” The lanky man called out under his breath, standing up.

The haggard man stopped, looked back and continued walking. The lanky man reached out, grabbed him and placed his hand over his mouth, pulling him to the ground. Like a well-practiced ritual, he bound the man’s hands and feet, placing duct tape over his mouth. The haggard man struggled weakly and finally gave up, watching the lanky man apprehensively. The lanky man then went to get the polythene bag and in one swift motion placed it over the haggard man’s head and tied it. The haggard man struggled, gasping for air then went limp.

He took off the blanket that covered John and he saw the man. He froze. I’m next he thought, I’m dying next! The lanky man bent over, taking the bag off the lifeless head, using a knife to cut off the duct tape. John was breathing so hard, he thought he would soon have an asthma attack. The lanky man squatted in front of him, his gun in hand, his index finger to his lips. He peeled off the duct tape from his mouth and unbound his hands but not his feet.

“Am I next?” John’s whisper was shaky.

The lanky man pulled out a cigarette “Hand me your jacket.” He said, lighting it up.
John hesitated. The man flexed his gun. John took off his jacket.

In a dense cloud of smoke, he bent over the corpse and passed its arms through the sleeves. He grabbed the corpse and dumped it in the well, got an iPhone out of his pocket and took pictures.

The man packed up, discarded the tape, the polythene bag, everything—and walked.
John stood on frozen feet, too tired and too scared to breathe. Now that he wasn’t going to die, he wanted to go home.

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The streets awoke to the sounds of excited children—on their bicycles, on bare feet, running and walking children, both naughty and nice. Nobody knew what happened last night, nobody will ask. When If the smell of decay finally gets noticed, when if they finally see the rotten corpse in the well, they’ll call the authorities to handle it. But nobody will cry, nobody will mourn, nobody will ask questions.

Nobody cares about dead mad men.

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