BLOOD ISLAND (FINALE)

We come to the end of this series. It’s actually two episodes this, but I didn’t want to break my promise of not exceeding November with this, so I fused them together for your maximum enjoyment (no one will accuse me over a short piece today). You may break it into two and read it twice if you wish. If you are just dropping from Mars, seeing this for the first time, read the first episode here. If you missed the last episode, here.

This is season three of Sade. Read season one here, season two here. Better find time for this or it will take your month away.

I wish to say a big thank you to all who read this, enjoyed this, shared this and talked about this. I wrote every single sentence for you. Because you cared, I am here. God bless you. See you when we see.

Episode Eleven
Sade lifted the pistol, it was unusually heavy. She rolled to her back and placed the barrel on her forehead. Her finger closed on the trigger, she shut her eyes. ‘Do it,’  she urged herself, trying to ignore the pains, the loathing, the depression. She just wanted to do it, to end it now, to end her dirty business of nearly two decades across five continents. But she didn’t feel any sort of relief in the bullet she prepared for herself. And every second she delayed added wood to her emotional pyre, until it burned with vengeance and vindiction. It burned furiously, it burned calmly, it burned her deeply, enough.

Sade removed the barrel of the pistol from her head. She wouldn’t die alone. She would go, but not alone. Killing herself would please the authorities, the patriarchal, evil system that had been manipulating her since her late teens. She was done, fully used, ready for the bin. No one would miss her, the fall of a wornout spanner. A violent urge to do harm gripped Sade. Russians, Nigerians, Islanders, she would hurt anyone. She would hurt Mark, kill him.

Sade rose to her elbows and began to crawl out of the room. Away from Valencia’s corpse, away from the nurse’s corpse  away from the cogitating pool of blood.

She picked up the cell phone outside. She dialled Mark.
#                    #
Mark stood, helpless, watching the Reverend die on the bed slowly, watching his only hope for destroying the Russian satellites die. Ideas, thoughts, emotions shot through his mind, clashing in metallic jam. Chief of his thoughts was contemplating torturing the man in the man’s dying minutes, to get the information he needed. But the thought of torturing a man of God who was just about to go be with God, in the house of God, didn’t excite Mark. He knew he ought to do whatever was within his power to gain the information he needed but he couldn’t just lift a finger….

Sade. He thought of her, what would Sade do in his shoes? The Sade he knew would grab Father Juan and drop her knee on his gun wound. ‘You are dying already, tell me where the Russian satellites are located or I would make you experience hell here. Talk or I would make you go to heaven a burnt offering.’ Or something similar. Or even worse. Sade was built to hurt people, anyone, anywhere, in the name of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Or was he sure?

Sade, she must be mad at him. She was his lover, something he never encouraged, spies dating, it was forbidden, unspoken but forbidden. He had broken the rule he preached, helped form. Now it had hit the expected rock. It was over, where was it really heading to?

Mark looked down at Father Juan. He felt his pulse, the man was dead. Mark covered him with the sheet, sighed and crossed himself. Mark began to leave the room. The assignment was over, a failure. He would get to the Nigerian Embassy, call Abuja and report the whole thing and let them commission a bigger spy-net. As for Sade… Oh Sade.

He brought out the cell phone and made to dial the number he had used to communicate with Valencia/Sade. A call came in.

‘Mark.’ His heart stopped beating as blood rushed to his head.

‘Yes, Sade.’

‘I want to see you, it’s important.’

‘I’m leaving Father Juan’s Parish. Where are you?’

‘I don’t know where I am. Wait for me, I will come to you.’

Mark said no. ‘It’s dangerous staying here. The Russians might return, the local police too.’

Sade sighed.

‘Let me drive out. I will call you in a couple of minutes.’

Sade said ok. But she knew it wasn’t ok. She knew she was about to do something ridiculous, final, killing anyone wasn’t a joyful thing. Planing to kill someone she had loved was more joyless, but she needed it, Mark needed it. He had to go. He was the symbol of organised terrorist authority. But first she had to survive the pains, she had to reach him… Herculean tasks.

Mark called Sade after a quarter of an hour.

‘Where are you?’

Sade’s head was imploding, her hands shook on the sterling. Something inside her was giving way, painfully splitting. She should let him look for her, drive to a sign board and tell him where she was. But she was determined to meet him. ‘Where are you?’ she returned the question. ‘I just entered Obasanjo Road via Mandela Avenue.’

Obasanjo Road. It was two turnings away. ‘I will be there.’  Obasanjo. The man who had begun her Camus Island woes. He had restored democracy for them and chased the soldier boys as he referred to them. They rewarded him by naming an expressway in his honour. The honour had survived two military rulers.
#                  #
Obasanjo Road had a light traffic even though it was 3am. The thought of meeting Sade turned Mark’s stomach. Waiting in the car made it harder for me. He had spotted an open door that looked like a pub in a score of metres away, he drove towards it. It was really a bar. Bog Sobstvennogo Salón. He stopped the car and dialled Sade. She said she knew Bog Sobstvennogo. ‘Meet me there.’

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‘Copy.’

The bar save for a sleepy white barman was empty. Mark took his seat backing the wall, facing door. The barman gave Mark a wicked look and began to approach him. His telephone rang. He scooped it in massive fist and spoke a hushed language that Mark couldn’t place. He spoke for a two long minutes and Mark, glad for some distraction watched him. The man dropped the phone and made towards Mark. He stopped before Mark and pointed a pistol on his face. ‘We don’t allow weapons here,’  he said in bad Spanish. ‘Drop your firearm on the table. Slowly.’

Mark obeyed.

‘Gracias. Tu telefono.’

Mark dropped his cell phone and handkerchief beside his gun. The man gathered them and put them away somewhere in his coat.

‘Now what may I offer you?’

Mark smiled. ‘Scotch.’

‘Never mind the scotch,’ someone said in excellent English. Mark looked up at a tall, lean fellow with the dashing look of an actor and the intellectual eyes of a kind university professor. ‘Welcome to our modest pub, Mark.’

Mark was surprised. ‘You know me?’

‘Yes, after all you did to Russia tonight, who wouldn’t.’

Mark sat back with relaxed defeat. ‘You Russians never lose, do you?’

‘We don’t give up.’

‘Who are you?’

‘I am Vladimir. The head of Russian Communications in Camus Island.’

‘I thought this is a pub.’

‘It is a Russian pub. Bog Sobstvennogo. Didn’t you read the name?’

Mark nodded at his folly. ‘I believe this is my end.’

‘Not yet. I have to show you the Russian satellites control station you have been after. I think you deserve to see it before you die.’

‘Where is the monitoring base of the satellites?’

‘We are standing on it.’

Vladimir rose to his feet. ‘Follow me.’

Episode Twelve
The ‘barman’ covered Mark with his gun as Mark rose to his feet. The communications head led the way, Mark followed then the ‘barman’. The head opened the door to a spacious tasteless office. They walk in.

Vladimir entered another room which he opened with a key card. It was a smaller room, empty but for the head of a stairway which disappeared into a dark tunnel.

‘If he makes any move shoot him,’ Vladimir said in Spanish.

‘Yes sir.’ The ‘barman’ rammed his pistol barrel on Mark’s back. Vladimir stepped into the staircase and began to descend. Mark and the other followed. It was an exciting walk for Mark despite the certainty of death in the background. He would be seeing the control room of the famous Russian satellites that spy nearly the whole of Africa. He increased his pace.

‘Easy,’ the barman nudged him.

The stairs terminated in a big room the size of a small hall. There were four or five long desks with three giant monitors on each desk. Each desk was manned by an operator. On the wall was a set of three screens the size of projectors.

‘This is the main control room.’

‘This is impressive,’ Mark said.

‘Your sense of euphemism is appreciated,’ Vladimir said. Then he pointed. ‘That door leads to the power room. There we mine data from, control the main room and store data…’ As he spoke the door opened and a thin fellow with cartoon style moustache entered the room. ‘And that’s the operator man.Volshebnik.’

‘That’s the Mark boy?’ Volshebnik asked. Vladimir nodded. ‘They are two of them. Where is the Sade girl?’

‘It’s one of the questions we have for him.’
#                    #
Sade parked the car before Bog Sobstvennogo. She got down. The movement in the left side of her chest was riotous. Even Sade admitted it wasn’t easy, to kill a man you loved, gave your body and heart to. But she was determined, Mark must go. He was the representation of the evil system in her entire life. It was symbolic that she killed him. Earlier Sade had thought of killing him at first sight. Now she decided to talk to him first, confront him with his evil then end it.

Sade didn’t see anyone in the pub. Where the hell was Mark? She drew out her gun and made forward. She spotted a handkerchief on a table. She walked to the table, inspected the handkerchief. She recognised this as Mark’s. But where was he? Sade turned to the direction of the counter. She saw a door besides it. She was going to make sure Mark wasn’t here before she would leave.

Sade thought of going back to the car and get her cell phone and call Mark. Instead she kicked at the door. She thrust in gunfirst, no one was inside. But she saw another door, not fully closed. She walked in, and stopped dead at the sight of the underground staircase, as though she had suddenly hit a wall. She peered into the tunnel, nothing; too dark. She stepped in and began an eery descent.

Sade reached the bottom of the stairs when Volshebnik was saying ‘Where is the Sade girl’. Mark, the barman and Vladimir were backing her. Volshebnik who somewhat faced her was staring too evilly at Mark to see someone else. Sade raised her weapon. ‘Freeze!’ she began to fire.

She shot Vladimir first, then the ‘barman’ as he drew out his gun. Mark grabbed his gun as he fell. Sade fired at the power operator as he ran back into the power room. The other operators had now drawn out there guns. Sade fell on her belly as a volume of bullets above her. Mark shot down two of the operators, Sade shot the third and as the fourth fired at Mark, Mark killed him.

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It was over, less than fifteen seconds.

‘Are you hurt?’ Mark inquired. For answer Sade moaned and rose to her knees. Mark stood up and his mouth fell open. Sade was pointing her gun at him.

‘What’s the idea?’

‘Drop your weapon.’

Mark let his gun fall. ‘You want to kill me?’

‘You are evil Mark. I want to retire you.’

‘Ok, but first I have to go to the power room and corrupt the memory of the satellites, then start a fire to destroy the whole system.’

‘No need, you should think about dying.’

Mark took a step forward. ‘Sade…’

‘Mark stay were you are… Stay where you are!’

‘I am not afraid of dying but I must do what I have to do. Nigeria needs me alive for the next two minutes. If you are a patriot you must let me finish putting this satellites out of order.’

‘Why should I be a patriotic Nigerian? What has the country done for me? For eighteen years now the country has been putting me in arm’s way. For two years now the country has ordered me killed! Why should I serve her?’

Mark sighed. ‘It’s a shame the country doesn’t know how to reward her servants but we can’t stop serving her.’

‘Serving Nigeria has brought me only grief.’

‘That is how it works, some people have to grief, to die for the rest rest of the country to be safer.’

‘But there are some people in Abuja who know nothing about sacrifices, who mercilessly loot the commonwealth.’

‘Yes Sade, I know such people exist but I am not going to become corrupted because some people are. That will amount to double tragedy for 160 million Nigerians. I will play my part to the best of my ability.’

‘And your part happens to be killing people.’

‘It’s my luck and I accept it. I do it my grand kids.’

‘Grand kids you’ll never have.’

‘Yes, every child born in 2060 is beneficial to what we did today. These are the grand kids I refer to.’

‘Oh shut up!’

‘Sade listen, we don’t have time. I have to get to work.’

‘Turn and I am going to shoot you in the back.’

‘No, Sade, if you want to shoot me you must shoot me while looking me in the eye. And do it now.’

Sade shut her eyes, the weapon shaking in her fist. When she opened her eyes, Mark was gone. She lowered her gun, sat down and waited. She would kill him when he came out.

Mark came out after nearly five minutes. ‘The whole place will be on fire in few minutes time.’  He sounded excited but looked pain, with his hand on his side.

‘What is it?’ Sade asked.

‘I think I was hit.’ He showed her his bloody palm.

Sade gasped. ‘You are really hurt. We need first aid fast.’

‘No, I need your bullet, remember?’

‘You are such a fool, come on.’ Sade held him and they began to climb. Mark’s legs were rubbery and walking was an ordeal. At the head of the stairs he could move no more. Sade had to carry him on her back. He weighed a ton and she nursed internal wounds but her love for him, which she lost but found with additional vigor, gave her the strength, she carried on. They passed the office into the bar.

‘Where should I take you to?’

‘Our embassy. I will like to die on Nigerian soil.’

‘If you mention dying again I am going to drop you here and you will crawl to the embassy.’

‘You dare not.’

‘Why not?’

‘Because you love me.’

‘Shut up.’

He laughed.

When Sade reached the car and lowered him, he was unconscious. She took one look at him and knew he wouldn’t make it to the embassy. A wave of sorrow that shook her rushed to her head.

She remembered a thousand episodes between her and Mark and most were pleasant. She remembered how he held his nerve and defused a time bomb few seconds to explosion… How he urged her back to the jungle to rescue the girls… How he jumped into a lorry from a helicopter and killed the terrorist driver–when Sade asked if he was hurt he had replied, ‘I broke his neck.’… The look on his face when Sade shot Shaka and told him only a terrorist might kill a terrorist… He called her Sade Haram… He hid her in Cameroon, disobeying a standing order to kill her. She couldn’t tell when she fell in love with him but she knew the taste of his kiss, she knew his warmth beside her, on top of her, inside her…

Unable to recount this further she lifted his head, buried it on her breasts and wept.

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THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING STUPID

K’s quiet life was shattered by a wrong number. It was a drizzling shy Sunday morning, K had just returned from the early morning mass and had just kicked off his shoes when his phone vibrated in his hip pocket. He brought out the phone, sank deeper into the crude softness of the armchair and connected the call.

‘Who’s on the line?’

‘You are to report to the police headquarters by four pm,’ came the voice, firm with authority.

‘I beg your pardon,’ K began saying but the caller had already disconnected. K hissed as he placed the phone on the table, it must be be a wrong number. He was a little agitated. K decided he was hungry. He rose to his feet and made for the kitchenette.

K returned a long moment after with a steaming cup of tea and a mighty bread in each hand. He took a sip and his seat. He sighted his phone and discovered he was no longer hungry, was not really hungry. He was occupied with the wrong number. He picked up the phone. He called the number.

‘Yes,’ came the curt voice.

‘There must be a mistake somewhere,’ K said calmer than he felt. ‘I am not the person you need in police headquarters…’

‘You are to report by four.’ The words filled K’s ears like hot lead. He suppressed the angry bile on his throat. ‘Why should I report to the police headquarters?’ K’s voice was now a pitch higher than he intended it.

‘You will find out when you come.’ And the call ended, just like that. Now K was thoroughly agitated. He loosed the necktie that was strangling him. What kind of trouble is this? He, needed by the police? But he hadn’t done anything wrong. He had paid all his bills, he owed no one; he wasn’t in charge of finance in the office or elsewhere; he hadn’t carried out any contract or assignment involving the trust of finance. He hadn’t fought with anybody; he couldn’t even remember a quarrel with anyone. How then could he be needed at the police command? No, it couldn’t be him. It was a wrong wrong number. It had to be.

He decided to call the number and calmly explain the error of identity to him. The man would understand and apologise. They may even share a laugh over it. K made the call.

‘Do you know me?’ K hastily asked when the call was collected.

‘What sort of question is this?’ the reply came with police harshness.

‘I mean–I didn’t do anything wrong, I can’t be wanted by the police, check the number again, it’s not me!’

‘Are you trying to say, I am not in my right senses?’

‘I am not trying to say–I am saying that you have got your number wrong!’

‘You are rude. Do you realise you are talking to an officer of the law?’

‘Do you realise you are talking to an innocent citizen of the country?’

‘Who told you you are innocent?’

K’s lips parted.

‘Report to the police by four pm!’

‘No, I will not report anywhere. My name is K. I am a law-abiding staff of the post office. I live in Hospital Road. Everybody can attest to my being an upright citizen.’

‘Then why won’t you report to the police Mr Upright Citizen?’

‘Because I haven’t committed any offence!’

‘It is for us to prove. See you by four.’ Click. The call ended.

What nonsense! K realised he was sweating and began to unbutton his shirt. A knock landed on the door, K quickly buttoned back his shirt, made for the wall and switched on the fan. The knock became louder. K opened the door. A tall graceful-looking middle aged woman with a hair carefully plaited and set like a bridge stood at the door. She was a childless widow next door, a good neighbour whom K suspected wanted more than just being good neighbours. K held himself from frowning, with both hands.

‘Good morning Peace.’ She had insisted he called her by her first name. So he called her Peace with the self-consciousness of someone who would rather say Aunty Peace.

‘You don’t look happy, K!’ she moved forward and he made way for her. She made straight to the table and placed the tray on it. ‘Tell me what the matter is.’ She then added quickly, as though she was about to lose the power of speech, ‘Remember you promised to tell me everything that bugs you.’

K was too weak to argue, too agitated for any pretense to normalcy, so he told her that he was wanted by the police, but it was a wrong number.

‘Oh my God!’

‘It’s a wrong number,’ K said again.

Peace shook the head and the bridge she was carrying. ‘It isn’t, the police are dangerous.’

‘But I didn’t do anything wrong.’

‘K! You don’t understand these things, do you? I have an uncle who got three years jail term for–‘

‘Getting called by a wrong number.’

‘No, for resisting arrest.’

K’s temper climbed a dangerous cliff. ‘For crying out loud, I am not being arrested. It is just an invitation.’

‘You are not being arrested you are wanted by the police.’

K regretted having told her about the police call. To give himself time to calm his nerves, tame his tongue, K walked slowly to the armchair and sat down. When he finally opened his mouth, the calmness in his voice surprised him. ‘So your uncle is in jail because he answered a phone call.’

‘No, he is in jail because he resisted arrest.’

K swallowed a stupid lump on his throat. ‘So, what’s his offense?’

‘We don’t know yet. He will be tried after his three years jail term.’

K studied his good neighbour’s anxious face with something in the cusp of pity and resentment. ‘Can’t you see that your story is crazy?’

‘K, don’t be rude. We can’t understand these things.’

‘So what will you have me do?’

‘Call your lawyer.’

‘I don’t have a lawyer.’

Peace brought out her phone from her skirt pocket and began to punch. K studied her. Even at her age, she possessed a pair of fresh breasts, and what her blouse did to them dried K’s mouth, almost.

‘My cousin is a lawyer, he will help you.’

‘I–I don’t have–I can’t afford his fees… for now.’

Peace eyed him with admonition. ‘We are friends, K!’

So they called Lawyer Ossai. But he sounded crazier than Peace. ‘You are in big trouble Mr K. Proceed immediately to the police headquarters, proceed!’

‘They told me to come by four!’

‘Don’t argue,’ Peace said.

‘Mr K,’ Ossai’s voice came out quiet but firm. ‘You don’t seem to understand the gravity of the situation. I am on my way to church but I will interrupt that to go to the police headquarters. I will be there in under thirty minutes.’ And the call ended.

K handed over the phone without seeing Peace who was saying, ‘You should be grateful to Ossai for his understanding and kindness….’

K dropped his head on the seat and shut his eyes. Please Dear God, wake me up from this comic nightmare. Please God, please please… He opened his eyes. He didn’t wake up.
#                  #
Ossai was a small, fair, thirtyish man and balding. He led K to an office door marked Inspector Bako. He knocked. ‘Shoot in.’ They shot in.

Inspector Bako was a tall, thin man with a disagreeable jaw and suspicious eyes. He shook hands with Ossai. ‘Your client is almost late.’

K looked at the wall clock. 11.57. ‘I was asked to come by four.’

The inspector looked at K with cold distaste, as though K was covered with faeces. ‘When did you get the call?’

‘Around ten…’

‘Which is two hours ago!’

‘I received a call two hours ago telling me to come here after six hours!’ His attorney tried to hush him but K shouted his fill. The inspector shook his head.

‘Your client is most unreasonable.’

‘Unreasonable?’

‘I am sorry,’ K’s lawyer apologised.

‘He’s your responsibility.’

‘I am sorry,’ the lawyer repeated.

The police officer fumed for a full minute in which his nose boiled. ‘Well, well,’ he finally said, ‘you are to bring your client to court tomorrow. The case has been delayed too much already. The prosecuting counsel is not entertaining further delays.’

What the hell was he talking about? K wondered. What stupid case had been delayed too much?

‘…I will bring him to court tomorrow,’ K’s advocate was saying.

‘I am entrusting him to you,’ the officer said, ‘if not that I regard you highly I would have kept your client in the cell till tomorrow.’

‘Thank you. I will bring him to court tomorrow.’ The men shook hands again.

‘What stupid offence did I commit? Can’t someone please tell me what my damn crime is!…’

Ossai, in spite of his minute frame, carried K out of the office.
#                    #

K was drinking alcohol for the first time in six years. It was well past midnight. He lifted a glass with shaky hand, but instead of his mouth, he emptied the brewed on his head, stupid. It was a stupid, crazy world upside down, inside out, clearly captured by his alcoholic binocular, plastic clear, but he never stopped paring, probing. A wrong number… Now an appearance in court tomorrow… hic… Prison lurking in the corner of the madness. He reached for his bottle, knocked it down and watched as frothy liquid drenched his rug.

He was suddenly back six years, same room. ‘I am leaving for the UK next week to continue my studies,’ Jumoke said in his face.

‘It’s a lie,’ K knew she was joking. She laughed, reached for her hand bag and asked him to see her to the gate. ‘What was that joke about the UK?’ he asked at the gate.

‘Next week.’

K’s heart stopped beating. ‘Who’s next week?’ He didn’t recognise his voice.

Jumoke smiled revealing the beautiful gap between her teeth that he so adored. But her eyes didn’t smile, they were shifty, absent. ‘I am leaving next week.’

‘And you are just telling me! What about our wedding plans? The cards are ready. What are we going to tell our parents–my parents?’ There were many questions, thousands. Jumoke just shrugged. ‘The admission just came out.’ K was a diploma holder whose friends had always congratulated him for hooking a graduate. Now the fish was leaving his hook.

But K had his doubts. How could she have pursued admission abroad, and visa plus carried the financial load involved without his knowledge? She must be joking, an expensive joke. She wasn’t. Six days later she flew away. Not to the UK, to Malaysia. Not to study, to her new husband. K hit the bottle.

Tonight, like that night six years back, K was trying to transfer from this life, this insanity, to a saner clime, any clime, transported on the rail of liquor. But he couldn’t drown his vision of the weird afternoon. They ceaselessly tortured him. Do you realise you are talking to an officer of the law?… Why won’t you report to the police, Mr Upright Citizen?… The police are dangerous,… I have an uncle who got three years jail term… You don’t seem to understand the gravity of the situation… Your client is most unreasonable… The case has been delayed too long… I will bring him to court tomorrow….

Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid. He stretched out on the rug, was soon transported to and consumed in stupidland.
#            .    #
K and his lawyer entered a parked full court. Half of the court was a gang of hungry-looking lawyers dressed in suits straight from the bottle, the other half were tired, sorrowful people who had the pained expression of terminal patients waiting to see Doctor. The magistrate sat on the bench like a tyrant in a primitive civilization. He reminded K of Herod.

‘You are late to my court,’ Herod bellowed.

‘I am sorry my lord.’ Ossai led K to the accused box.

‘I hate being kept waiting in my court.’

K, his head boiling with evaporating vengeance of beer, cleared his throat. ‘How can I be late to a court that didn’t stipulate time for me.’

The court laughed loudly and almost cheerful as though K had cracked a terrible joke. K was stunned. Were they really here, really here, in body and mind? He doubted.

‘Are you stupid?’ the magistrate asked him.

‘What kind of question is that?’ K shot back. And the urchins packed in the court dissolved into an orgy of guffaw, falling on one another, one or two hitting their head on the floor. It appeared to K they were laughing for the first time since God created them, or since God picked them up from the rubbish heap.

‘We cannot continue with this case,’ Herod said. ‘The accused is hereby reprimanded in prison till such a time as this court deems it fit to re-hear the case.’

And the audience jumped to their feet, clapping. K couldn’t believe his eyes, his ears, his mind. What was he doing in this hut-house? His tongue failed to move. A sheriff came and handcuffed K.

‘Hey wait,’ K found his voice. ‘Excuse me, excuse me…’ K tried to stand his ground, the officer pushed him, he crashed on his buttocks. This time around, the laughter in the courtroom fell the roof. Then the officer stooped and lifted K up. As he carried K out, K thought he heard his lawyer laughing.
#               #
Three days after, K came out of his cell to see his lawyer in the visiting room. K was sickly, skinny and sorry for himself and the abused singlet over boxers he wore. Three days in prison had added thirty years to his age. He sat down and spread weedy hands on the desk. ‘I need to get out of here.’

‘You made a mistake in court,’ his lawyer said. K grunted. ‘Why did you challenge his lordship?’

‘Get me out of here,’ K managed.

‘It’s hard but not impossible. It will cost you a little.’

‘How much?’

‘I had a meeting with the court clerk this morning and he told me that for 100 thousand he would get you a stupidity hearing in court next week.’

‘What is stupidity hearing?’

‘We’ll go to court and you will plead guilty of being stupid. The magistrate will release you on bail in accordance with the Stupid Act of 1999 as amended in 2013.’

K’s entire life savings was 112 thousand naira. Now he was asked to empty it, more or less, and impersonate stupidity. But what was the use of laying claim to sanity and languishing in jail? It was a crazy world, he could as well play along. Not that he would survive a couple of days of prison life.

‘If one 100 thousand naira will end the case, why not?’ he said.

Lawyer Ossai grimaced. ‘It won’t end the case; will get you out of here and you will attend your trial from home.’

K was silent. Even being stupid wasn’t enough. But it would go a long way, it was important; stupid, important.

‘Peace has my key. Get my cheque book from her.’

His lawyer slapped him on the back and left. A prison warden appeared, K rose to his feet. As the warden led him away, K wept.

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