For what seemed like a century none of them spoke. It was not for lack of words that they were quiet, no; in fact it was because they had so much in their hearts that it became impossible for their mouths to say anything. It was a case of ‘where do I start from?’ For Olivier, as much as her mouth remained sealed her eyes were opened and pouring down her cheek in a steady flow. She had always thought that when she met Tony, she would shoot him, kill him, hack his body; now her hand was incapable of raising as much as a spoon. She had killed Humphrey but it was in a fit of madness. Her hatred for Tony at this point lacked murderous inspiration and aptitude. She turned to Iyke who was waiting and walked into his arms.
This infuriated Tony who clapped in disgust. ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ he hailed, ‘except that Juliet is underage. Hahahah!’
Iyke looked at Tony’s silhouette and shook his head. He had met bad people in Lagos street—hooligans and criminals, all—but hadn’t yet seen one who possessed Tony’s confidence, one who could stand firm and looked at the face he betrayed and jeer.
‘I can see that you are good-looking Romeo; you know Olivier has a way of attracting handsome guys. Handsome fast shooters!’ He pointed at Humphrey’s corpse. ‘He isn’t so good-looking, is he?’
‘Tell him to go away,’ Olivier whispered.
Iyke’s gaze at Tony crowded. ‘You have done enough harm to this girl. It’s time you let her be…’
‘Or else what? You will kill me as well?’
‘No, we won’t kill you. We will let your conscience judge you.’
‘He doesn’t have conscience,’ Olivier said.
‘I don’t have conscience. So also is Romeo! You live with an underage girl like husband and wife and you talk about conscience!’
‘He has never touched me,’ Olivier cried.
‘Oh shut up, you little whore. You are a disgrace to your family!’
‘If you cared about her family why did you abuse her? Why did you connive with your sister to drive her away and why do you want her dead?’
‘She is better dead then being in the hand of the devil like you,’ Tony fired. ‘See, I am bad and I appreciate it, I don’t hide it; but you are an evil wolf in the cloth of sheep.’
‘My only evil is trying to interfere in your abuse and attempt to murder your niece.’
Tony took one breathless step forward then pointed a finger at the corpse. ‘If you are doing the right thing, why are you hiding the body?’
‘What will not hiding this body change?’ Iyke asked.
‘It will mean you are just, thoroughly. It means you can’t do evil, see?’
Iyke nodded as though in agreement. ‘If we refuse to hide this body, if we bring the police into this, we will have clean hands, right? But how would you have clean hands, Mister? How would you undo the abuse of Olivier, the loss of her first issue, the rape in the hands of street people and all she has been through because of you?’
‘I don’t need to undo that because I am evil, I owe the monopoly to evil; but it pains me to see clean people like you dirtying your hands. For one, in whatever name it comes I didn’t know that you are capable of murder.’
‘Murder is something you don’t have monopoly on,’ Iyke said.
‘I can see that, you killed Humphrey, who is next?’
‘You,’ Olivier said.
‘What are you waiting for to kill me?’
‘Let’s kill him,’ Olivier said to Iyke.
Iyke shook his head. ‘Death is the easy way out for him. We are going to punish him with his life. He will remain alive and as long as he lives your memory will haunt him. He will suffer so much that he will be jealous of this dead.’
‘I hate him with all my life,’ Olivier said.
‘It is okay dear. Lagos is a big city; it is big enough to contain you and Tony.’
Olivier shook with emotion. ‘The earth is too small to contain me and this bastard.’
Iyke kissed her forehead. ‘This town can contain the two of you if you throw him to the dustbin of your mind.’ To Tony, ‘Now, if you will excuse us, we have work to do.’
‘You can’t move this body; you will leave it here for the police.’
‘I will physically stop you.’
‘I don’t fight with bare hands.’ And Tony brought something out of his pocket.
At the threat to Iyke, the crazy strength that carried Olivier through Humphrey began to come to her in halting waves, strengthening tendons and inflating veins. Iyke was busy weighing Tony he didn’t notice Olivier slip away into the room to get Humphrey’s gun. She didn’t find the gun on the table where she thought it was, she pushed the table this way and that; she didn’t find it. She checked the sofas, and the electronic area, no pistol. Damn Iyke, he must have hidden the pistol again! Always hiding things! Why should—?
Crack! Crack! Crack! Crack! Crack! Crack!…
The sound of gunshots exploded into Olivier’s ears. It must be Tony shooting Iyke! She remembered her dream—Tony on speedboat, grinning, she and Iyke on water, drowning! For an everlasting second, Olivier was gobsmacked then her entire energy powered her tongue and she let out an atmosphere-charging ‘NOOOOOOOOOO’ and made a mad blind rush to the door.
Earlier tonight, Black Owl had traced OBJ to a barber’s shop. OBJ carried a permanent skull-skin shave to which he visited the barber once in two nights. He had just had his bout with the clipper and was leaving the shop in the second floor of a cumbersome building when Black Owl crashed on him, stamped and pressed his heel on OBJ’s foot.
‘We haven’t met before, have we?’ Black Owl asked, grinning with disgust.
‘Who are you?’ OBJ rasped.
‘I am Iyke’s elder brother.’
‘Is that why you are staining my Gucci shoe?’
‘If anything happens to Iyke my mother will be to heartbroken to wear shoes, do you know that?’
‘You are harassing—’
Two of OBJ’s men came and stood in either side of him.
‘That’s Black Owl,’ said one. ‘Blacky! Na wetin happen now? OBJ na runs guy now; haba.’
‘OBJ threatens my brother and that makes me nervous.’
‘We can settle this case amiably,’ said the other of OBJ’s comrade.
‘Who does he think he is?’ OBJ was astounded.
‘People don’t quarrel with this guy,’ the first whispered to OBJ. The second took Black Owl aside and humoured him into reason. Black Owl shrugged. ‘I didn’t come here to fight him, I just want him to stay clear of ma little brother.’
‘We didn’t know Iyke was your brother, aswear!’
‘We won’t bother him, Owly.’
‘It’s okay then,’ Black Owl said. Then he made the last mistake of his life. He did something no one on earth would contemplate doing to OBJ. Not his mother. Not his girlfriend. As a mark of reconciliation, Black Owl rubbed his palm on OBJ’s oily deserted head. What happened next defiled description. OBJ reacted as though a soldering iron had caressed his head. Like a bull infested with ebola he charged forward with the speed of the hyena. Next Black Owl was across the balcony and falling, mouth agape, falling, falling… Thud!
One of OBJ’s men rushed downstairs to ascertain the damage. One look was enough. ‘He is dead,’ he announced to his boss, almost sorry.
Still fuming, OBJ turned to the other. ‘Chuka, look for Iyke and kill the bastard.’
By the time Chuka got to Iyke’s compound he was out of his mind with rage. The entire rain had emptied on him—him alone—and he had half-dragged, half-carried his motorcycle half of the way. At Iyke’s neighbourhood he gave up totally on the bike, his only resolve to kill the bastard Iyke.
Chuka entered the compound when Tony was saying ‘I don’t fight with bare hands’. He saw Tony brought out a sliding blade knife and he hastened his steps. That must be Iyke, the reckless fool. Few yards to Tony he pointed his pistol on Tony’s back and— Crack! Crack! Crack! Crack! Crack! Crack!…
Did you watch the Super Eagles’ match with the Argentines? The boys were awesome. We played bravely. We lost. We qualified to the next round. Hard Voices say hearty Congratulations to Africa!