He’s Got You

When the world is falling on your head,

your belly is empty and your account red,

when nothing makes sense,

when friend is foe,
and come means go,

when every hour brings another horror,

when white is right and black is a bullet,

when kids are chained and thieves are free,

when vanity is lauded and truth defrauded
Filth applauded,

When your strength is gone,
your body torn,

your hopes and dreams
in slow burn,

When what you want
doesn’t want you,
and
who you love won’t love you,

when you have no money
and places to go,

When life is all this and more,
Close your eyes,
take a deep breath
and know,

He is with you,

He has gone ahead of you,

He will keep and protect you,

today
tomorrow
and evermore

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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.

Who Are We?

What are we?
Black or brown?
African or American,
African-American,
or American-African?

Are we our skin or our brains,
our hearts or our legs,
our pain or our faith,
our past or our future?

Are we the mistakes that we made,
or the amends we desperately work towards?

Are we what they say we are?

Or what they say we are?

Who are we?

The Help?
The Magician, The Wretched?
The Negro, The Nigger, The Afro?
The problem or the solutions,
Our passions or our addictions?

Who are we?

We need to know.

***

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The Unravelling

They sat in silence. They’d dreaded this moment. She more than he.

“Do you really have to do this? Isn’t there anything I can say to stop you?”

“Honey, please, let’s not go over that again. The arrangements have been made. The bus will be here in an hour.”

“But why Dan? Have I been such a bad wife to you? Is there anything I haven’t given you? How can you just throw your life away like this? Like rotten fish?”

Her words slapped him, and something in him shifted.

“Like rotten fish ehn? Thank you for the compliment. I better walk up the road. Take care of Ade and Wana. Bye Shade.”

He left with the sound of her sobs drumming on his ears. Wana and Ade were asleep. He hated to imagine how it would have looked if they weren’t.

He loved Shade. She was the only other woman he had ever cared about enough to change. To sacrifice. For her he had stopped smoking. He had learnt cooking. He had even started going to church twice a month. No other woman had been able to keep his attention for this long. Six years and she still stirred him as much as she had on their first date.

Except at moments like this…

The sky was aglow with the colours of the setting sun. A gentle breeze played with the dry leaves, scattering them on the street like confetti. The evening was so beautiful, he was so miserable.

He remembered something he heard the pastor say last month.

“Anger lies in the bosom of fools.”

It was true. He wasn’t being reasonable right now. Any woman would be worried under the circumstances. Shade was just worried. Worried and scared. Why wouldn’t she be? People were giving their souls to run away from Liberia and here he was leaving for the same place as a volunteer. She probably thought he was mad.

The worse thing was that he hadn’t found words to tell her everything. He couldn’t express how excited he felt when he was offered the opportunity. He couldn’t tell her how the moment he read the email, life suddenly seemed ten times nicer, livelier.

The past two weeks had been like reliving his childhood. He was the toughest police chief on the playground, eliminating the thieves. He was him.

Now he had a chance to do it again. In real life, with a real thief called Ebola. He had a chance to do work that really mattered. Not the dead brain routines of Malaria, Typhoid and Diabetes. A real time Emerging Disease Epidemic Response, a real war. He couldn’t stay away for the world.

But.

He could go gently. He could hold Shade and rock her till the bus came. He could remind her of how much he loved her and the kids. He could go over the instructions for his memorial( there would be no burial, just ash in an urn). He could kiss her brows one more time.

So he went home and did so.

It would be 8 months before he returned, not in a stainless steel urn, but in the flesh.

Shade wouldn’t be at the airport to welcome him, neither would the kids.

He would spend the next two years looking for them and failing to find them.

He would discover that she had sold the house and the cars and the land he bought at Lekki.

He would fall into a bottomless depression. And pick up smoking again. And try weed, and like it. And over do it.

He would want to die and pray to do so before morning.

One day, he would get a call from Wana. She was fine, her mother had placed her in a Catholic boarding school in Kenya, she even spent holidays there. Ade was with mother somewhere in Europe. She missed him. She had tried to reach him but mom said she shouldn’t dare. Was he OK?

“Yes, I am fine.” Dan said. And for the first time in three years, he almost believed it.

He travelled to Kenya to see her. As he stood beneath the pine trees waiting, he remembered another place, another evening. Then she was running into his arms, quick as a bullet, and he felt the broken things inside him melding.

It would be a long fight. A long wait. But six years later Wana would be back home in Makurdi with him. He would not marry again. Stop smoking again. Start jogging again.

He would travel the world lecturing on Emerging Disease Response. He would receive more honours than the four walls of his study could hold.

He would forgive Shade (but they would never be friends again).

He would live to eighty-nine. And from time to time he would think over things. He would imagine how things would have been if he stayed. Then he would laugh and mutter to himself.

“There’s no way I was going to let that Bastard get away.”

* * * * *

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Paradise Dreamt

I held her in my arms today,

Pressed her wet warmth to my cold dryness,

Her innocent heart beat against my burning skin,

Felt her bounteous curves imprint my frame,

Inhaled the rose, mint, myrrh of her skin,

Closed my eyes with her head on my chest,

My dreams came true,

She loved me as madly as I have always loved her,

We married and eloped to Zanzibar,

She had twins and I was a stay-at-home dad,

We watched stars from our rooftop,

Sipped nectar from green coconuts,

I held her today,

Felt her fragile fear, saw her naked need,

Had her in my arms, possessed her in my world,

It might have been a dream,

Her, ever being with me,

But I held her in my arms today,

Until he came to take her away.

***

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Paradise Dreamt

I held her in my arms today,
Pressed her wet warmth to my cold dry skin,
Felt her bounteous curves imprint my frame,
Inhaled the rose, mint, myrrh of her skin,
Closed my eyes with her head on my chest and,
My dreams came true,
She loved me as madly as I have always loved her,
We married and eloped to Zanzibar,
She had twins and I was a stay-at-home dad,
We watched stars from our rooftop,
Sipped nectar from green coconut cups
I held her today,
Felt her fragile fear, saw her naked need,
Had her in my arms, possessed her in my world,
It might have been a dream,
Her, ever being with me,
But I held her in my arms today,
Until he came and took her away.

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.