It never gets easier no matter how many times it happens. Healing is always scary but there’s no time for fear.
“I need to go to school and let them know I’m okay before going to see those boys.” She mutters to herself as she stumbles into her lone apartment with all the beautiful furniture that money can buy.
She drops onto her soft bed with nothing like sleep on her mind and counts the hours till morning.
Atinuke hovers around her classroom after fielding multiple questions from her classmates about her whereabouts. She assured them that she was fine and that a kind stranger carried her to safety.
“But we heard that they shot you” one wild unknown classmate exclaims from the back of the class
“Does this body look like what’s been shot ?”
She does a full 360 twirl that further accentuates that she screams sex at all times , even when she’s supposedly a victim of attempted murder.
“Guys, I’m fine. I’m just going to see my pharmacist for a sleeping prescription. See you all in tomorrow’s class”
She hurries out of the classroom and heads towards her supplier.
Joe is a pharmacist that likes the finer things in life, the only problem is that he’s not one of the fine things in life. 6’5 and built like a professional rugby player. You’d think this was a good thing but with the height followed the protruding belly and with the belly came the alcohol wrecked teeth. Atinuke always wondered how he managed to keep his job when he looked like an obvious drunkard.
A front tooth was missing obviously the result of his latest bar brawl but this country runs on people not asking too many questions.
Joe provided a service that was invaluable to her business, especially now that all drug enforcement agencies were cracking down on anybody selling behind the counter drugs.
As she stepped into the well-lit store he beamed the brightest smile he could muster at her and beckoned her to follow him behind the counter where the real drugs were.
“Babyim, hmm you still dey fine dey go oh”
“Biggie please I don’t have time for this today, I’m not in the mood just give me the usual thank you” the usual exuberance she could feign when dealing with the brute wasn’t coming rods and this struck a nerve with biggie.
“Person no fit talk say you fine make you just talk thank you ? I no do again. Go find person wey go dey sell you these kind drugs for this price. For this Lagos ? Make I twist”
The urge to sigh is withheld as she considers her options and knows her people won’t be happy if she loses this business route.
She knows he’s been trying to get between her legs from the very first day but the fear of what Jide would do to him always kept him at bay.
For that she has always been grateful .
“Biggie, don’t be angry. I’m just frustrated”
At the sound of that his ears perk up and his mind runs to all the dirty corners that they usually reside.
A vulnerable woman. The best type.
“Ehen? No worry I get wetin fit cure that frustration” he leers and points towards his nether regions.
At this retort she smiles, “ah biggie, you won’t kill me oh. You no see say I small well well?”
“No worry baby-m, I go gentle pass breeze wey dey blow fowl yansh.” A lascivious smile.
“About the pills nko? Won’t you give me again?”
She bats her eyelids and feigns shyness.
“No worry, I no charge you for this batch. E get one hang-out spot wey we fit go dey. E no good for this heat to touch this your fine body. Eh. Fine girl.”
‘Fat fool’ she thinks to herself.
He picks up his phone and dials a cab.
“Oga. Abeg dey come office now now. Come carry me go Rainbow.. ehn Rainbow. Okay. No waste time abeg.”
He puts the phone down and grin at Atinuke, trying to reassure the girl incase she’s considering a change of heart.
“I go treat you right baby-m, let’s just get there first”
“Biggie no problem, please pack the drugs for me first.”
She smiles at him to reassure him that she’s not changing her mind anytime soon.
He moves about this task with such youthful exuberance one would think he had just hit the lottery.
The cab finally shows up, yellow and striped as all cabs are in Eko city with a shrivelled, elderly man in the driver’s seat.
“Egbon make we dey go, you don make us wait tire. Your charge go reduce be that.”
The driver doesn’t even show the slightest interest in Joe. They get in and he zooms off towards Joe’s regular hotel spot. Where he brings all the women he pays to have sex with him to.
The ones he couldn’t get on a good day.
The ones not put off by his drooping beer belly. The ones that are paid to grunt and moan at every thrust, paid to endure the indignity of his belly pressing down on their lower backs as he attempts to find the right hole.
Today was gonna be different for him.
She came freely and like all men usually are stupid when it comes to matters of sex. He didn’t stop to ask himself why.
Atinuke at this point cannot stand another word coming from his mouth and leads him to the bed.
“Lie down, let me take care of you”
His grin is wide enough to split his face into equal round halves of varying shades of fat.
Atinuke shudders at the thought of the belly crushing her and decides to take a pro active step in this short encounter.
He struggles out of his jeans and flops face up on the bed .
Every emotion from disbelief to ecstasy washes over his face.
Ahmed met Tunji, Duru and Dabs at their Sabo lodge the day after word broke in the cult that Atinuke had been sighted in Lagoon University less than 48 hours after she’d been shot dead.
They assembled beside a large sliding window high up on the lodge’s 5th floor, conversing in low tones and permeating the long corridor behind them with cigarette and weed smoke.
After Ahmed had given his update, assuring Duru that the ghost girl would be finally dealt with, Tunji directed a question at him.
“alright, so the Alfa says he’ll see us and clear this Atinuke mess for us,” a brief pause “..Ahmed, you’re sure he can do it?”
Duru’s words followed on the heels of TJ’s question just as Ahmed made to answer.
“first question man. Because,” he turned red eyes to Ahmed who was all clad in black, “..the bitch got shot in the HEAD. Guy, in her fucking head. So you see, whoever is running her jazz is a bastard. Is that Alfa strong enough to handle her?” After repeating the question, he flicked a cigar butt out the window into the street below and sat down on a battered couch’s armrest. Dabs lounged lazily beside, fine-tuning a rolled blunt of weed before lighting it.
Ahmed tackled Duru. “Guy, why you dey ask that kind mumuquestion? I go dey here if I never get correct solution to this gobe? I won’t be here now. After all you were there when TJcalled me yesterday. You heard what Chiefo told Dabs yesterday too after some of our guys saw Atinuke on campus earlier. That the fucking girl had even died about 2 times before you shot her on Wednesday. Once in Benin sef. Sò ó ye? This girl fucks and rolls with some real bastards BUT..” He shook his head boisterously.
“..you wan know who I call, ba?” Ahmed demanded. He turned his black cap backwards. “TJ dey here na. Ask am. Last year when Chiefo and some guys went to arrange that bastard VIKINGS leader, Shogu, that they blocked him at University Road and wasted him, who do you think arranged the jazz? The same Alfa now.”
At the same time Dabs turned his head to look at Duru, flakes of white ash floating down to his Rastafari sleeveless and blue jeans.
“bullets never killed that guy.” He drawled.
“Pass me the joint, captain obvious.” Duru shot back at Dabs. “everybody knew Shogu had jazz against bullets..”
“exactly!” Ahmed interjected, spreading his hands. “that’s why they had to hold him still and cut his neck like the fowl he was.” The rings on his fingers -all skull-shaped- glistened in sunlight as he raised them to his neck to draw an imaginary slash.
“the same Alfa,” he continued addressing Duru “no come dey ask me questions like say…. I’m part of this too. Chiefo says we’re all involved in this too. ALL clan members. Atinuke and the people behind her will regret crossing our path. You relax. She’ll soon be gone for good.”
These words seemed to reassure Duru and his head bobbed with solemn nods, as he inhaled and exhaled the Kush.
Tunji spoke again, hands buried inside dark blue polo shorts. “alright,” he often began statements with ‘alright’ especially the ones that had questions in them. “the Alfa says we can see him, and today too. Good. So when do we move, Ahmed?”
The tall, black, chubby boy from Kebbi who had lived all his life in Lagos and could pass for an indigenous Yoruba fellow, looked at his iPhone. “its.. 10am now. Let’s say.. We move in 2 hours.” His eyes scanned the group to see if they approved. Duru was still nodding.
Tunji lit a Benson. “alright. Ahmed you mention the place is after Lekki; Oko village or so? This is how we’ll move; we’ll hire Aburo Kunle to take us as far as third mainland. Has anyone even seen him today?”
Aburo Kunle drove a commercial three-wheeler but sometimes used it to run errands for the management and so he was given a place to stay in the Lodge. Duru, closest to the window, stretched his neck and looked down at the street. No yellow Keke Marwa with a blue windshield was parked beside the gate.
“the guy isn’t around” he said. “his Keke isn’t parked by the gate.”
“we’ll use someone else then” TJ said, turning and walking into their room.
Two hours later as the four of them filed out through the open gates of the Lodge, they encountered the bow-legged Aburo Kunle striding into the large compound, his kneecaps almost knocking against each other.
“egbon..” Tunji started to greet.
“ah! My oga.” the driver hailed in return, raising thick arms and exposing sweat patches underneath his faded black shirt.
“Kunle where you been dey since?” Tunji inquired, feigning irritation. “I don find you for like 2 hours now.”
“aburo, ma binu.” The other man pleaded with a smile, exposing tobacco stained teeth. “I get work for management this morning na why. I never even finish. I still dey go Maryland now go help dem get diesel.”
Tunji was already heading outside to catch up with the others. “is that so?” He asked.
“yes o! Serious work like this.”
“No wahala then. We go see later.”
Aburo Kunle’s dark face widened further. “my oga! You get mouth!” and he hurried into the Lodge.
Outside, Tunji could see Kunle’s Keke Marwa but it had been parked further up the street, partly obscured by cars parked in front of the Assemblies of God Church. He wondered briefly why it hadn’t been parked by the gate. Perhaps the guy was in a hurry and needed to get out of the street as quickly as possible. He joined the others and they got into a three-wheeler hired by Ahmed and set off.
By Temisan and Tony