Before a kill I go through my days trying to find a reason to hate my victim. Something, anything, to reduce their humanity.
It was ridiculous and outright hypocritical but I was a killer and it was what made my job a little bit more easier.
I made some men into rapists. Painted a few as wife beaters. If it was a girl, I create a back-story for her that made it seem as though she needed to die, and some, some I just killed plainly because they had to die.
First time I ever killed a man was 6 months after my initiation. Prior to that, I, as well as some other six boys were kept hidden, sequestered in the thick jungle of the ancient Benin Kingdom where we left for days. Broken down and re forged again through the fire, fed nothing but dry gin and marijuana to toughen and blacken our hearts. We were meant for special operations, the assassinations and top government jobs. You might have heard about the assassination of the Lagos state governor aspirant, the SAN, no? Well, the news didn’t give me much credit.
Two months after being left alone, bound by our feet to a tree, we were let into the civilization, back into University department blocks. We were the quiet and noiseless students who watched and observed and said mostly nothing. First person I ever killed, first person I was sent to kill was the buccaneer Capone, it was seven of us sent to take him out. Seven is always the number.
We stabbed him, sliced and riddled his body with bullets but; he had fortified himself, cooked himself whole in a cauldron pot at the bank of the Ugbor River and nothing could penetrate his body, no steel, no edge, no hollow point. We could only use honest brute force. We maimed and dragged him out of his two-bedroom apartment to the courtyard outside. Broken CD plates splattered with blood, cracked tiles and walls smeared with even more blood trailed in our wake.
While outside, we took the large slab used for covering the gutter, it took five men to carry it and two men to hold the Capone in place because despite all we had done to him he was still a very strong man. In unison we lifted the slab and forgot it generously on his head, his skull opened with a sickening crunch and leaked out Jollof spaghetti.
I remember the chill that went through my spine as he shook out the last fight in him, watching as his legs spasmed violently and then came to a final stop. I remember the way my eyes rolled to the back of my head as I drank and smoked myself into a fog, the estranged feeling that marked me out of the rest of the human race; I had taken a life. But the sadness eventually went away as with most things in life, do it long enough and it feels like taking a shit in the morning. Easy.
Efosa, the Esakhor boy, I loved his brio and bravado in the face of adversary, we didn’t just kill and then walked Scot-free, we were also being targeted to be killed. That hot Wednesday afternoon we were eating eba and egusi at the cafeteria was when Efosa earned my love. A rival gang member came in blasting with a pump action, two shots in the air to disperse the students and then he kept firing at us afterwards. Efosa crouched beside me behind an upturned table laughing and counting, he had his pistol on him but he wouldn’t shoot yet and didn’t let me shoot either. I crouched there wondering why he was laughing and counting; when he got to ten he got up and put a bullet in his attacker’s eye with a single shot.
It was later he explained to me that he was counting the bullets in the gun, and that his father was a deputy in the police and they had the same type of gun on a shelf at home.
There were other attacks on our lives since we took out the Capone, friends of the fraternities, friends of the Capone, and other power drunk killers like ourselves.
It was an “eyes at the back of your head” life to quote some famed cultist that’s probably dead by now. We all slept with one eye open ever since that night we stood out shoulder to shoulder in the dark, in the dead of the night, hands tied at the back and eyes blinded with a rag, wearing nothing but our hearts on our sleeves and our undergarments. Chanting! Chanting!!Chanting!!!
Since we endured the pain of initiation, the kicks and boot stomps, eating nothing but hard punches to the abdominal, we knew it was the life we had chosen. And even if you didn’t chose it you probably would have ended up like Ananse, he was at the wrong place at the wrong time and got initiated, and he fell victim and caught a machete to his neck shortly after our first operation. He was the first to die. But some of us who came willing, some for power, some for protection, some for a sense of belonging, and me, curiosity and thrill brought me, we knew it was kill or be killed, dog eat dog. Apparently we had been bred for that one operation, to take out the Capone, after that the consequences were left for us to bear, blood oaths didn’t cover body guarding.
It was simple. All I had to do was escape attacks on your life, enough for you to graduate and when you do run. Run and never come back.
But with all things in life it’s always easier said than done, there were people plotting and steady scheming on how best to end my life. Then as if that wasn’t enough I had the man ‘o’war, the vigilante groups, and the police to think about.
Efosa was bullet riddled at his house just as he was about to go inside after coming back from having a good time, being that he was always prepared he took some men with him, he was in three hundred level, three years after and we were still being sought after.
Hayechukwu, the hyperactive delta boy in four hundred level, that one was lured out to buy suya with his girlfriend who had been threatened with death and probably gang rape, he was tasting the meat the aboki cut out for him and rubbed in pepper when he they accosted him. A brutal stab to the head with the knife left hanging halfway out of his neck and then the gutter slab was dropped on his head, just the same way we killed the Capone.
Can’t say about the rest, after being in hiding mostly, sorting my courses and using machinery to write exams, it was my final year and final paper. I and Ekene coldblood who was aptly bush named cold blood because he lived exactly as his name suggested. He was cold enough to go to school every day and if he happened to be attacked that day he shot it out. He was heavily fortified too after cooking himself in various shrines but they had planned him out. They surrounded him and nailed his head to the ground through his eyes.
I only managed to escape after my final exams because I had already kept my bags at 21st street junction where the bike men used to be.
I wore running shoes and had a bike waiting for me outside the school gate. After submitting my paper I went outside, had one last glimpse of the sky and started running. This had been my home for the last four years so I knew the apian routes and the most likely places I would be attacked from. I only came to a slow stop as I approached the school gate, I observed the mood at the entrance before slowly walking out with my head low and eyes hooded by the face cap I had on. It wasn’t until I got on the bike and it zoomed off that the guns went off. Four shots rang out. Two stray bodies dropped to the floor.
BY RODNEY PATRICK