Written by Chibuzor Iwobi (@JeSuisChiby)
There was a surge of rage and pleasure that ran through my body; he slipped up and he was definitely going to pay. I dropped the book and tried to place him. This was the hardest test of my life. I remember a guy who came to the house a while after my mother disappeared. My father was not home at those times so I would tell my father about him when he returned from work. I remember my fathers’ strict instructions to us on his way to work.
“Lock all the doors and don’t open the windows completely!” He would sternly say.
I remember the man coming over again, this time with a bag in his hand. I could see him from the window, knocking the door softly while looking around vigorously.
“Who is it?” I shouted from the window.
“Its me. I have a gift for you.” He replied.
Once my sister heard the word “gift”, she shot for the door and slightly opened it. I ran after her to shut the door but he already had one hand in. I remember this clearly because this was one of the most traumatic days in my life. How would I protect my little sister and I from this monstrous-looking man? My heart was pounding; my body shivering.
“I’m here to give you a toy. Here you go kids.” He said with a surprisingly soft tone.
Scared of what he would do if I did not oblige, I took it.
“Thank you Sir.” I replied. “God bless you.”
And with that he was gone. I remember spanking my sister and telling her never to do that again. I went back to the book to read that line again.
“I gave her son a toy gun today, the little bastard wouldn’t understand why.”
I burst out laughing, “I’m going to get you,” I laughed again and continuously clapped my hands. I took an empty book and started drawing a picture of what I remembered about him. My smile slowly left my face as I realized how vague my memory was of him. I remembered a tall, dark, 6ft plus man; that was it. I tried my best to remember something else but I could not come up with anything tangible.
I fought the urge to call Alfred, I knew involving him would make catching the psychotic man way faster and easier but I wouldn’t be able to take out my revenge. Alfred was too good a guy; he wouldn’t let me bend the rules a bit. Thinking of what to do, I got frustrated with myself for bearing fruitless ideas. Then it hit me, get a sketch artist. Although, It had been over 15 years, a lot could have changed; he could have gotten a plastic surgery, nonetheless, I was going ahead with my idea because I couldn’t come up with a better one. Another setback, I didn’t know any sketch artist. After a minute of wishful thinking, I thought of Tina. In her field of business, she knew a couple of artists.
I called Tina.
“Baby,” She answered.
“Hey darling,” I replied.
“I have missed your voice.”
“I missed yours too,” And for once, I was saying the truth. Tina’s voice was a joy to behold. It had this calm soothing tone.
“Then why haven’t you called me since?” She replied.
How do I get myself out of this one?
I laughed. “I’ve been busy, Tee baby.”
“Busy? I thought you had the week off,”
“I do. Just working on a couple of things.” I was quick to cover up. I couldn’t have her know Sam was back in my life. Also, I felt it wasn’t time to break up with her. She’s not ready yet, I thought.
“By the way, I was even thinking of coming to spend a couple of nights with you. I have missed your touch,” She moaned.
“We will discuss that later. I need to see you right now,” I said, “Are you busy?”
“No, not at all,” She replied, “Missed me, baby?”
“Yea baby,” I resumed my lies, “I’m on my way to your office. Will you come out for me?”
“Sure thing, baby. Anything for you.”
My drive to Adeola Odeku was one I dreaded; the traffic was always standstill. I called Tina to inform her I would be there later than I expected. I had the book in hand luckily, so I continued reading.
“April 30th 1998 – I’m somewhat famous now. I’m excited. Everyone is talking about me. Well, not me exactly but my serial killer persona. Thank you, Esther.”
“May 2nd 1998 – Everyone is being wary and more careful these days. They’re more alert than usual.”
“May 3rd 1998 – An innocent man got beat up today. He was a stranger, they mistook him for me. Well not me, my persona. Fools!”
“May 4th 1998 – No, no, no. I haven’t killed Titilope…. yet. It’s only a matter of time. I won’t rush this. It has to be my best work yet.”
“May 6th 1998 – Titilope shall say bye to mother Earth in a couple of days. It pains me.”
“May 8th 1998 – The preparation for her departure is in place. She’s a goddess. She can’t exit this world like an ordinary being. Se will ascend to Omniscience.”
“May 9th 1998 – I told her she’s dying tomorrow. She didn’t cry neither did she beg for mercy. Her death will hurt me more than it will hurt her.”
I stared at the book with so much rage, “I must catch you and when I do, you’ll seriously pay. No, your death won’t be quick; it won’t be merciful. You’ll watch me slice you up piece by piece. Your pleas would be music to my ears, rhythm to the deaf, beautiful to the blind.” I screamed in the car unconsciously banging my steering wheel. I tossed the book aside in anger, plugged the auxiliary cord to my phone and played Miguel’s Coffee.
“I wish I could paint our love, these moments in vibrant hue,” I sang along.
The traffic eased up a bit, I managed to maneuver my way out of it and got to Tina’s office.
“I’m sorry for being late; the traffic was hectic.”
“It’s alright,” she replied, “yes I’m done, let’s go to the mall”
She packed her things and we left for the mall.
“Do you know any sketch artist?” I asked.
“Funny enough, I do.” She replied, “why?”
“No special reason. I just want a portrait of my sister painted.”
She handed me a card, “His name is Festus,” She said, “I’ll text him now.”
“Thanks, baby,” I kissed her, “You hungry?”
“Uhun,” She replied rubbing her belly.
The queue at KFC® was encouraging, so we walked towards it to get lunch, until I saw Temi. She wore shorts and a tank top with a pair of white converses. She could wear rags and still look magnificent. What have I done? I asked myself. It was pleasuring and torturous just looking at her. Her long yellow legs were so appealing I unconsciously licked my lips, but, before I could innocently look away and stop the fantasies of her that were playing in my head, her eyes locked with mine. Shit!
“James!” She hurried towards me, “Long time no see,” She winked.
Tina saw that and it unsettled her.
“Hey Temi,” I replied, “Tina, this is Temi. Temi, Tina.” I introduced them.
“His girlfriend,” Tina smiled extending her hand. I could sense she was feeling intimidated.
“Oh!” she blared her perfect white teeth. She kept her eyes fixated on mine, “Cute.”
“Did you get the package?” She continued, “Good for business, yes?”
She was killing me. It was going to be another Q & A session with Tina when we got back to the car.
“Um, yeah. Very good. Thank you,” I paused. I was unsettled. “If you don’t mind, we are going to get lunch.”
“Same here,” Temi said excitedly. You can join me, can’t you?” Then she faced Tina. She always kept a smile on her face which I began to fear.
“Actually, we are not eating it here,” I replied.
Tina gave me a confused look.
“Where then?” She didn’t give up, “I’ll tag along.”
She was getting on my nerves. Before I could say a word, she continued,
“Alright. Catch you later,” She walked away.
I was relieved. As we headed for the counter, my phone beeped; I got a text from Temi.
“You can do better than that… with me:);):*”
I deleted it and pocketed my phone.
“What the hell was that James?” Tina asked angrily, “Are you fucking her? ”
Oh good Lord. Can’t she wait till we get to the goddamn car.
“Of course not.” Even though I would love to. “She’s like that with everybody. She can be a nuisance.”
“Do you think I’m stupid?” She was fuming.
“Don’t you trust me baby?” I asked with caution, “Please do calm down.” I begged, “You’re going to cause a scene.”
“Don’t tell me to calm down, James. You’re fucking her, aren’t you? I can’t believe this, James.” She kept on ranting.
“Tina!” I called for her angrily but with a low tone. “Calm down, please.”
“Don’t fucking tell me to calm down.”
At that moment, I was scared. She was doing it again; her foot was tapping the floor. I held her in an attempt to calm her, she shrugged off my hands and pushed me away. There were tons of people watching us, I was very uneasy. Is the sex really that worth it? I had gotten mad, really mad but I couldn’t afford our scene to turn in a movie.
“Tina, I swear to you, Baby, I promise you, I have nothing to do with her, never will,” I paused for a moment, “Do you think I’ll throw everything away? Everything we’ve had? Everything we’ve been through? You’re the one I’m in love with. You and only you,” I pulled her close.
She said nothing but looked calmer than before, still fuming.
“Don’t you trust me?” I asked again placing my hands on her face.
“I don’t know. But-”
“But what?” I interrupted.
“She’s so beautiful,” She remarked, “Which guy in his right state of mind wouldn’t want that?”
“Your boyfriend baby,” I said assertively, “I’m different, you know that.”
She kept quiet. I pulled her into my embrace and she relaxed on my chest like a baby on its mother’s. My mind reminded me of the pictures Temi sent last night. I’ve got to hit that, I thought.
“I’m sorry, James,” She said, “I overreacted.”
“It’s alright,” I lied, “Let’s get lunch and I’ll drop you back in the office.”
I dropped Tina back at work and called Festus. We agreed on time and place to meet within the hour but all the way in Ikeja. Just my luck, I thought. I was off to Allen Avenue. Festus, not surprisingly was an Igbo man. He had an Onitsha accent and a beer influenced pot belly. I was marveled at his appearance which made me doubt he was the right person. He didn’t look like a person that could do anything apart from being a spare parts dealer and his lisps ensured I wiped my face every five seconds. He invited me into his house, I was stunned. My eyes were adorned by the most beautiful art work they had ever seen. He even had his own replica of the famous Mona Lisa painting which could easily pass for the real one.
“Beautiful, absolutely beautiful,” I applauded him.
“Thank you,” He let out an ugly smile.
“You must be making a shit load of money,” I said.
“Sorry?” He stared at me.
“Your work,” I replied, “They must be pretty expensive.”
“I don’t sell them.” He shook his head.
“Why?” I asked curiously.
“No reason,” He said.
I looked at him in disbelief. You’ve got to be kidding me. Is he really an Igbo man? I continued my self-imposed tour of his home, which was more of a gallery. There was a picture of mud houses with grumpy looking people – the men with farm tools in their hands and a depressing look on their faces, the women bare chested holding empty baskets and the kids running around all smiles. There’s beauty in the struggle I guess. I fell in love with another piece I saw, absolutely beautiful – it was abstract. He beautifully combined colours from the spectrum on a black canvas.
There was something about it that caught my eyes; I could feel it reaching for my soul. It reminded me of how my mother and I would play fully work on my coloring books. Uncontrollably, drops of tears ran down my cheeks. I was quick to wipe them off not knowing if he had noticed.
“So, then what do you do with all these paintings?” I asked curiously.
“Beautification of my home. The ladies love it,” He replied
Ladies? Are you kidding me? I stared at his heavy pot belly, I couldn’t see his belt buckle because his pot belly sat perfectly on top of it. It was hard trying fight back an outburst of laughter, so in the end, I giggled. He waved me off and led me into a room without paintings. Everything was white, which still felt like art to me.
“So, how may I help you?” He continued.
“I need you to do a sketch for me,” I replied.
“Obviously,” He responded with a straight face. I felt stupid.
I gave him the vague description of the psychotic man, It wasn’t easy and when he was done, I was surprised and pleased. He did a great job with the little information I gave him of the image I could barely remember. His perfection felt like he knew the man himself. He didn’t even bill me.
“A friend of Tina, is a friend of mine.” He said
Friend? I laughed.
I thanked him, took the portrait and left for Surulere. My grand plan – to ask everyone in the neighborhood if they had seen him before. Not so grand if you actually think about it, but it was better than nothing.
My efforts seemed wasted, there wasn’t anybody who recognized him. I was distraught. My body was sore from all the driving but I wasn’t willing to give up yet. My next plan was to visit every recreational spot that had swimming pools back in the 90’s, but again, I hit another dead end. Could he have possibly killed everybody that would recognize him? This is bullshit, I thought.
Alfred became my last option. I checked the time; 5pm. I need to get this over to Alfred. I called him and finally we met up.
“What’s up bro?” He asked
“A lot bro. I have a lot on my mind and I have not been able to tell you. I thought I could handle it myself, but I need you now.”
I filled him in on all the gory details. The look on his face was priceless.
I handed over the sketch to him and filled him in. I told him the reasons why I didn’t involve him earlier and promised to hand the book over to him later. He was disappointed but he understood and gave me his word that I had his unrelented support. We shook hands, I got into my car and drive off. I was confident he could find this killer.
It had a long day, I was stressed out. I needed to relax, so I called just the person I believed could help.
“You home?” I asked.
“Of course,” She replied, “Coming over?”
“Yeah. About that package…” I said.
“It’s all yours.”
I drove to Temi’s house in a hurry and I got more than I bargained for. She was wearing a transparent night gown with no lingerie. She welcomed me with a kiss then unzipped my pants, grabbed me and put me in her mouth. My eyes rolled back and forth like a roller coaster. For a moment, I looked into her eyes and saw all her crazy thoughts, I knew I was in for a long ride. Unfortunately, I didn’t hear my phone ring over Temi’s soft moans.
“I told you not to fuck him,” a voice interrupted.
I was startled. That voice. I jumped to my feet and froze on the spot as my body trembled with horror. My eyebrows shot up.
I gasped, “No! No!”
My heart was racing, I could hear it, I could feel it. My right hand clutched my chest, I could barely breathe. My eyes widened with fear, and my mouth agape. Fear gripped my soul as I took the three slowest steps of my life. Stretching my hands forward, I cried out,
“No….it can’t….. it… it can’t be you!”
“Hello son,” She said.
It was my mother, in flesh and bone.
Written by Chibuzor Iwobi (@JeSuisChiby)
Edited by; Gbadebo (@Oaa148) and Oladoyin (@Miss_Ola_D)
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