The Hangman’s Dream 1

 

 

 

I was looking for the best spot to hang myself when Alex called. She wanted to know if I could manage working as a driver with a local government chairman. I almost laughed. I would have grabbed any job: feeding pigs, washing corpses, packing shit, anything. Seven long, hard unemployed years had robbed me of all the pride, choice and hope I ever had. All I wanted was to end it; purge the world of my parasitic self, make myself more useful as fly food and manure. Then Alex called.

The interview was the next day and I didn’t have anything to wear. All my clothes were at least eight years old and most looked eighteen. The interview was meant to be just a formality but I couldn’t go looking like a loser. Alex had worked that out. She brought me a new jacket and a pair of black jeans.

“Hon Sam can be picky, so you want to put your best foot forward. Smile when you talk. Try to maintain eye contact. And for grief’s sake stop grinding your teeth!” She said rolling her eyes. I blinked away tears and tried to swallow the pebble in my throat. I was still looking for the words to thank her when she drove away.

The jacket fit perfectly but the jeans were loose at the waist. A sad smile flitted across my face; she was shopping for the old me. The one that played football, weighed 90kg and dreamt of owning a hotel chain not the underweight shell I had become. I looked into the mirror and a wave of panic hit me. What if Hon. Sam didn’t like me? What if he changed his mind? What if this was just another can of dashed hope? My blood froze at the thought. I couldn’t –wouldn’t imagine what that would be like. Before I left the house, I put the rope in my pocket and switched off my phone. If this was another of Fate’s twisted jokes, I didn’t want to be unprepared.

I left my house three hours to the interview but with unexpected traffic and a sudden rainstorm I found myself racing against time. To make it to Hon Sam’s house, I ran the last hundred meters under a relentless drizzle. His compound was massive, the size of three football fields. Its ten feet high, barb wire capped concrete walls loomed ahead of me. A kennel of dogs barked as I approached and a stone faced policeman looked me over before letting me in. I clenched my teeth to stop myself from shivering and tried to relax. I was cold, wet and scared.
A smiling young man led me to an outdoor bar to wait. We passed rows of cars in black covers. Part of me wondered which one I would drive, a Lexus? A Mercedes? A Porsche? The other part snickered: get the job first. Dreamer.

The young man gave me a seat at the bar and asked me what I wanted to drink. I wanted black tea, in a giant mug, served hot with plenty of sugar and cream but I smiled and said I was fine, while I struggled not to grind my teeth.

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The Dinner

Do you like reading flash fiction? I do. And I try to write it because it is fun to write and a great way to fight off writer’s block and stay in touch with my muse. Today’s offering was borne out of an experience I had two weeks ago. Please read and share and comment. And maybe write some flash fiction of your own in the comments.

The Dinner

We talked and laughed, he promised everything would be okay. We were his guests after all and they existed for us. Our rooms would be cleaned, the Wi-fi would work, the cockroaches killed, the staff would start being polite.

We ate his delicious three course meal with light banter and glasses of red wine.

Then we danced and cheered. And all the while, knowing nothing would change.

And for a week, we endured: late assignments, cockroaches in shoes, rude staff and more.

Then we’d had enough. And this time we didn’t talk. We packed our bags and by midday we were gone.

Guardian Angel

I told her not to marry him but it was like talking to an electric train. Her mind was made up, my words were a waste.

I listened in disbelief as my twenty-one year old sister begged me to remember her “biological clock was ticking.”

I marvelled as she bade me to reconsider, because “all her mates were married.”

I gasped when she declared that I should get used to it, she was marrying Leo with or without my blessing. Kponkwem.

As I listened to her, lava coursed through my veins. I was angry, livid even, but I wasn’t sure who my ire was for.

Part of it was for a society that made Diana think marriage was a trophy; a 50 metre sprint where the fastest women got medals and flowers instead of a gruelling marathon-relay where your partner’s skill and commitment was as important as endurance, focus and having fun.

Another part of my anger was for myself, I should have seen this coming. I should have stopped this from coming.

Maybe if I had worked hard enough on getting that government health centre renovation contract, and had the cash at hand to pay her bit for the partial Masters scholarship she had won at Emory.

Maybe if I had moved to Abuja at the beginning of the year as I had earlier planned…

Maybe, the eternal twin of perpetual regret.

I told Nkoyo that Diana wanted to get married and she was quiet. She was so quiet that the silence formed a cloud around my ears and began to ring like a bell.

We had been dating for three years and four months. She was twenty-seven and I was thirty. I knew we would be having “The Talk” soon and I wasn’t ready.

It wasn’t the money or anything. As a site engineer for a telecom outfit, I could afford a family. What I couldn’t afford was my well ordered life spinning on its heels. I liked the single life. Change was inevitable, I knew but I wasn’t in a hurry.

Hadn’t been in a hurry, until now.

I called a colleague on vacation in the US and asked him to help bring the platinum ring I ordered.

I shouldn’t have bothered, Nkoyo left me four days later.

“I am sorry, Mon. I don’t think this is what I want anymore.”

I thought she was joking.

It took two weeks of failed reunion attempts for me to get it.

I had been dumped.

Diana and Leo’s wedding held three months later, Diana was glowing like a giant fire-fly while Leo was a frowning frog.

Mom was so happy, I thought she would burst.

I hid my frustration and smiled for the cameras. But inside I was drowning in a bog.

The conversation we had at the doors of the church before I walked her up the aisle lingers…

“Monday”

“Yes, Diana”

“Be happy for me, OK? Please?”

“Diana, you know– alright. Don’t look at me like that. Look, everyone is waiting.”

“Let them wait. I need your blessing Mon, please.”

“God be with you little sis.”

“Amen.”

With that, she raised her head and straightened her back and we walked into the church. Behind her veil, tears shone in her eyes, and I began to wonder if it was real.

Could Leo be the love of Diana’s life?

Was I just being a miserable brother-in-law eating ogre?

After the wedding, Diana went back to her job teaching at a private university in Aba while Leo was in Calabar with me. He worked at a bank as a marketer, but we seldom met and never called.

A month later, Diana got a fabulous job in an international oil company in Port Harcourt. No matter how I teased she wouldn’t tell me how much she was earning.

“Mon, it is huge. Gosh! I can’t believe it.” She kept saying again and again.

Soon she called to say she was expecting. Twins. No, she didn’t know what sexes yet. Yes, she was fine. Very fine.

She had boys after ten hours of labour. Twinkle and Delight, Leo called them, like they were puppies or bear cubs. My dislike for him morphed into congealed contempt.

One weekend, I ran into him at a supermarket.

“Hey Mon, how are you doing?” Leo said.

“Good. Aren’t you supposed to be in
Port Harcourt with your family?

“I couldn’t make it man. I was tired, needed a rest.”

There was a pause. My sister was juggling twin boys, a new job, a strange town and this idiot was talking about rest?

Thoughts shifted in my head on cue, then all I saw was red, my fists burying themselves in his light skinned jowls, my knees kneading his balls in sharp succession, a tooth or two rolling on the cream tiles, and an immense sense of relief.

I smiled instead and walked away.

That weekend, I called in a few favours and by Monday, Leo was sacked.

When Diana called I sympathised. It was horrible, Leo being let off like that. Curse those horrid new generation banks.

The next time I saw her she was lying in a hospital bed with wires running out of every part of her.

“He didn’t mean to,” she croaked out of a broken jaw.

“Of course not, love. Shh don’t say a word.” I replied, crouched by her bed. That’s when everything became clear and I knew what had to be done.

The police booked it as a hit and run. Leo survived, making kids orphaned had never been my style. I was content to see him lose a leg. There wouldn’t be anymore beatings, or absenteeism.

Who knows? Maybe Diana would wake up someday and leave him. Yeah, I know, fat chance.

Safe Places

It felt good to be home. The past five years had been a blur of trips, trainings and travel. Morocco, Denmark,Houston, Bangkok, everywhere the services of excellent brand and media strategists were needed, they were there. Sidax Consulting had changed her life. Within months of working there, she had been exposed to a world of opportunities and affluence beyond anything she had ever known. It had been good while it lasted. And it would have lasted longer if her manager hadn’t gotten greedy. In the inquiry that followed, she was found to be innocent but the company felt it was best to fire the entire unit. The severance pay had been generous but the shock of being unemployed was a jolt that singed her soul.

Home was the only place to go. Her parents recent move to the village made the Abuja house an easy choice. There she would have time and space to think and plan. Or so she had thought.

Incidentally, things had changed. Abuja had changed.

The city wasn’t the way she remembered it. The carefree, secure, moneyed, air the city once wore was now a stifling cloak of fear. Everywhere you looked there were reminders of the terror that gripped people’s hearts and minds. It was in the metal detectors at hotel lobbies, the frisking one got at the church entrance, the long queues into places like the Shoprite Mall as boots were opened and mirrors passed beneath car hoods.

Yet, the bombings continued. Forty killed at a blast in a motor park, fifty slain while another exploded at a crowded shopping centre, two dozen dead and many more injured at a viewing centre last weekend, numbers where once were lives.

She shivered in the mild evening breeze and opened her tablet to read the day’s news.

Two airplanes were missing, 230 people aboard.

A man suspected to be carrying the Ebola virus had died in Lagos.

A pro-Gaza riot in Zaria had escalated into a clash and at least ten were feared dead.

She switched the device off and took several deep breaths. The walls of the room seemed to close in on her do she dressed quickly and left the house. A chilled pack of juice would help, she thought, and the fresh air too.

She got back feeling better but her mood was soon changed. On her bed, lying at the exact spot she had been reading, mangled in her mattress, was the carcass of the overhead fan. Flecks of foam and cloth were strewn everywhere.

Her legs wobbled and she collapsed at the door in a pile of quiet gratitude. Then the tears of anger and frustration she had not cried since she got home came and she let them flow.

Unbridled Delight: A Pre-Review Of ‘The Miraculous Deliverance Of Oga Jona’ by Chimamanda Adichie

When was the last time you stumbled on a piece of writing that made you laugh, then made you cry? Then made you laugh through your tears?

When was the last time you read a piece that said all you have always wanted to say yet couldn’t quite find the words or the time or the skill to say it? And did so in a few hundred words?

When was the last time you read something that touched you, gripped you, wouldn’t let you go?

For me the answer is simple: tonight.

It had been a long day, a tiring week and I was just scrolling through the ‘Please Read’ links littered on my phone without missing a beat. Experience had taught me that most weren’t going to be my idea of a pleasurable read. Even the writer’s ‘big name’ wasn’t enough to get me reading:

‘The Miraculous Deliverance of Oga Jona’

It is probably just another drawn out opinion piece harping on the things we know already. I thought. What else was there to say? That hadn’t been said already?

But I was wrong. Ah, I was so wrong.

The story begins with an awakening. Oga Jona, the main character, wakes up miraculously delivered. Upon rising, he discovers all he had been doing and saying wrong and has logical, tangible ideas on how to get things done right.

And wonder of wonders, he starts to do them.

I won’t give anything away here, but let me say the responses of his erstwhile praise singing minions alone are worth your eye time. Plus, there are enough generous spoonfuls of allusion, sub-text,irony and sharp jabs stirred in throughout the tale to make you wish for more.

Midway through the piece I found myself laughing, but as it drew to a close, tears were dripping down my cheeks. They were tears of hope and hopelessness, a rivulet of unspoken dreams and wishes for my dear country Nigeria.

Ms Adichie has done something special here. She has expertly woven the searing pain of the patriotic Nigerian, the possibilities of our desperate situation and the potency of literary magic into an adorable piece that will certainly outlive our time.

One can’t help but wish that this story and @zebbook’s stirring piece “The Gospel According To Farouk”, the best of @elnathan’s “How To Be A Nigerian…” series and a some other great works of contemporary Nigerian satire were made into a book/e-book.

Moreso, one can’t help wishing some Nollywood director would be bold enough to buy the rights to this and make it into a film. I would buy one.

Why, I would buy a hundred.

Because, the message here needs to be shared, needs to be talked about, needs to shown in every Nigerian salon, bustop, market,home and phone.

Today, we still marvel at Fela Kuti’s music and it’s timeless classic message. Fela used his gift to speak about the ills in the society of his day. I can’t sing Afro juju. And well neither can most of us but we can read and we can write. We can ping, and we can tweet. So let’s read and write and act and share.

Let’s get the ‘Miraculous Deliverance Of Oga Jona’ All the attention it deserves and some.

Let’s share it on BBM, Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, Whatsapp and Beyond.

Also,
Please let’s read ‘The Miraculous Deliverance Of Oga Jona’ here and comeback back here for some healthy discourse.

And possibly a proper review.

Stay tuned.

http://www.thescoopng.com/exclusive-chimamanda-adichie-miraculous-deliverance-oga-jona/

The Way She Winds

He knew the guilt would last for weeks but he drove to her place anyway. Excitement flooded his veins and he smiled to himself. At last ,he was going to let it go, let the dragon out. Eight years ago he would never have imagined doing something so risque, so sinful. Eight years. Time had hurtled by, yet sometimes it felt like a fortnight. Even now he could remember every detail of the first time they met.

*

He was jogging down the road one Saturday morning. Diabetes ran in his family and he was doing his best to beat the odds. His entry level job at private firm kept him submerged in work all week but on weekends he could take a few deep breaths before going under again.

He rounded a bend and heard a woman scream. A young lady was being hassled by some boys. He ran up to them and they fled. The lady was lying prone on the side walk sobbing. Her ankle length jean skirt and long sleeved blouse quivered with each groan.

“Hey, it is okay. They are gone. You are safe now.”

She was new in the area, visiting her aunt during a brief break. Before the incident she was making her way home from prayers. Oscar liked that in a woman, a spiritual side, something more beyond just looks.

He liked other things too: her full lips, the gold flecks in her eyes, her ample curves and her laugh that warmed his insides faster than a cigar. They courted for a few weeks, got married, had a baby,then everything changed.

The doctors said it was a mild case of the blues–post natal depression– nothing to worry about. He watched as she shrunk into herself, refusing food and refusing him. With medication her appetite for food returned but her desire for him disappeared.

At first he thought nothing of the days of coaxing, begging and bribing it took to get her to sleep with him, but soon it became silly, then tiresome, then repulsive.

The worst part was that even when she agreed, the act was as warm as an iceberg. She would lie on her back as still as a corpse, staring at some unseen sight, miles away from him. Not involved. Uninterested.

He had hoped things would get better with time. Age was said to improve a woman’s libido. He hoped in vain. Last month, while he was making love to her, she slipped on her earphones and began hum. When he slipped out of her and stormed out of the bedroom, she didn’t call him back.

By making discrete enquiries he had found Oasis, a place where men like him could get succour. The first time he went there he was overcome with shame. He was a father for goodness sake. A respectable man. But even as he battled with himself, he knew he would be there again.

His phone rang and he frowned as he picked.

“Hello, Katrina”

“Hello Daddy”

“How are you?”

“Fine. Daddy where are you?”

” I am at work.”

“But Mum just called your office number and she was told you left an hour ago.”

“I had to get something to eat and drop somethings off at the bank. Why is your mom looking for me?”

“I don’t know. Daddy when are you coming home?”

“I don’t know honey. I still have a lot to do: reports to write, letters to reply…. I’ll try to be home as soon as I can. ”

“Promise?”

“Promise”

“Okay Daddy, see you soon. Bye”

“Bye dear”

Oscar groaned inside and dropped the call. What was with kids of these days anyway? Imagine his 7 year old daughter playing police with him. So, Maria was calling him at the office?! He took a deep breath and decided to put the phone call behind him when his phone rang again.

This time it was Yolanda.

“Hello Oscar, Oscar? Can you hear me?”

“Yolanda, what is it?”

“Where are you? I have been calling all your numbers and I even called your office. When are you coming home? The pipe in the bathroom came loose and the generator isn’t starting and Rambo is retching at the backyard.”

” So why are you calling me? I am an accountant, woman. Not an electrically endowed plumber-vet! Call Silas to come see the pipes, ask Ade to have a look at the generator and call Dr. Idris, his number is on the kennel. Give me a break for heaven’s sake.”

“Oh! So that’s all you have to say? After leaving home all day I call you in an emergency and that’s all you have to say? Oscar! –”

He dropped the call and switched his phone off bristling with the peculiar irritation of the sex-starved, work-stressed, guilt-rankled male and drove to Bimbo’s house.

The gate-man let him in and he drove past halo-shaped street lamps to a cottage styled BQ behind the large house. Bimbo was waiting for him at the door with a glass of chapman and ice.

“Hey sailor, what took you so long.”

“Lots of stuff. I am glad I made it.”

Bimbo smiled and led him to her boudoir. The lights were a dim lilac but he could make out the couch.

“Use the towel on the dresser. Press the button beside it when you are ready.”

Oscar did as he was told and lay face down on the padded couch. Soft instrumental music played from a central system and a pout pourri of soothing scents filled his lungs. He closed his eyes and imagined himself faraway, on a beach in Hawaii, surrounded by coconuts, palms and a bevy of bikini clad beauties.

Then he felt her fingers on his back. She was rubbing something cool and evanescent on his back followed by an aromatic oil that had traces of menthol.

She worked deftly, running her fingers up both sides of his spine. When she stroked, kneaded and stretched his muscles, he felt the week’s frustrations leaving him, rocks rolling down a cliff. When she began to tap and chop down his spine, he groaned in relief.

She was everywhere. Kneading , bending, tapping and chopping without a word.

” I want to use something new on you,” she said. “It is called The Dolphin. It will loosen your deep muscles and give you a longer lasting sense of relaxation. Would you like to try it?”

“Yes. Yes please.”

The Dolphin was a hand held deep massage device shaped like a leaping dolphin. The snout was replaced by a revolving ball that vibrated when placed on skin. Bimbo guided the snout over his arms and back avoiding the joints.

Then she let her lips continue from where The Dolphin stopped. She lay on him, her body warmth enveloping him. Then she flipped him over and straddled him. As he watched her wind on him with so much passion something erupted in him and he wasn’t in control anymore. He was like a starving man at a buffet. Taking more and more still trying to have everything. When it was over, he couldn’t stand.

“Thank you,” he whispered.

“You are welcome. You look like you could use some rest. Take your time. If you doze off, I’ll wake you in thirty.”

“You are an angel.”

“I know,” Bimbo said as she sashayed away.

My Fair Lady 2

As the Day of Hearts drew near, Ugo grew thin with fear. He couldn’t eat or drink. He couldn’t sing or think. His modest mansion was awash in a dim grey glow.

What could he do to win Hildebrand? What could he give? He wasn’t as wealthy as Henry who had ordered an entire Island designed for Hildebrand. Once she said yes, it would be named the Isle of Hilda.

He didn’t have Blondie’s quick wits. Sometimes it took him days to find the perfect rejionder for Blondie’s jabs; by then, they were stale and bland.

He wasn’t an ugly man, but by Macle, his modest good looks might as well be Shrek’s. The more Ugo thought about his chances, the more he wanted to give up.

But Love doesn’t fail, and it never gives up. So Ugo sent for Panku and LaPap, his closest friends and allies. If he was to have any chance at all, he had to do something amazing, magnificent and wondrous. And that with modest means, looks and wit.

Panku and LaPap came by evening. The trio sat in Ugo’s parlour drinking grape juice and hibiscus nectar as they pondered Ugo’s plight.

“Give up my friend.” LaPap said, downing the contents of his glass before refilling. “You have no chance against these men. Were it one or the other, you would probably have a hair’s breath, as it is, you are finished.”

LaPap’s words rang in Ugo’s soul like a Death Knell.

“Nonsense!” Panku exclaimed. “Does Love move with the wind? Is it scared of charlatans and contenders? Or is it steadfast and sure? Have no fear, Ugo. You will win Hildebrand. All we need is a plan.” And with a swish of her long green skirt, she fetched a drawing board and a pen.

Hours later, a plan had been formed. It wasn’t the best of plans but it was better than any Ugo had thought of (if he had been able to think at all). And for this, Ugo was grateful.

He would have been less pleased if he knew that LaPap had sold his plans to Henry for a 40 percent share in his oil and gas company. His ignorance was bliss that would soon turn to an intense and shocking agony.

*

* *

The lots were drawn and Ugo would be the last to see Hildebrand. A terrible turn of events, akin to being asked to sing after Whitney Huston or to speak after Barack Obama or Nelson Mandela.

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