THE PRICE

The owl arrived first. It flapped its wings, turned its head 360 degrees and scanned the entire area. The night was dark and humid. There was no light and small noisy generators rattled across the land. But up on the rooftop of 225 Katakata Street, it did not matter. An owl was coming into its own, and it was loving the life already.

It wanted to attend the meeting at Okitipupa coven. A number of things were unclear to it, and it sensed that it was a bit out of its depth on some things those early days. As it was about to make up its mind, a canary and a kite swooped on her.

The way they appeared and perched, you could tell that they were experienced birds. Recognition then dawned on them all. The owl spoke first:

“You! And you!”

“What did you expect?” The Canary said.

“Welcome to the club” The kite said.

“You do this often?” The owl said.

“We own the area. Well, I did, until the master here came,” the kite said.

“Why do you call him the master?” The owl said.

Then instantly, the canary flamed grew three times its original size. The kite bowed, and the owl found that it bowed as well.

“I now understand, master,” the owl said.

The canary returned to normal size and the three birds together rent the night air with respective sounds.

“Okay, I don’t think we have much time,” the kite said when they had settled. “I expect a visitor or visitors. Three of us must stay together. They are enemies.”

“What visitors? And what enmity? I have to go to my coven. And I don‘t know how I can get along with the two of you. Speaking to the kite it said, “You stole my money”. To the canary, it said “And you wanted to help me and drove me mad. The only good thing is that because of all that I am here now, but I will not forget the bad hand you both played me.”

“You are still naïve and you need us. Your movement last night was so immature that your end could come before you even begin if you do not let us guide you. It might be too late before you get to your coven and back.”

“Which covens do you belong?” The owl asked.

“I have practiced for so long I have no need to attend meetings anymore. If I need to attend a meeting, I can sense a coven with the right characteristics and appear there. I am an emeritus of all the covens in the world!” The canary said.

“I belong to the great forest of Cameroon,” the kite said. “And like the master, I have been in this for so long I can fly into a good gathering if I need to. But I haven’t needed to do that in a long time.”

It was then that their visitor appeared.

The green hawk first flew over them and then swooped in with speed and power like it was about to snatch prey. It was majestic. The owl was cowered. The kite shifted closer to the canary.

The hawk perched in front of the three of them, like a headmaster in front of his pupils.

“I warned you!” The hawk said to the kite.

“But you did not warn me!” the canary said. The hawk and the canary sized each other up, and then the canary said: “I should have known.”

“You don’t know everything. But this you must know. You are not allowed on this rooftop in this form anymore. Not while I am in this compound.”

“You do not have such right or power to stop us,” the canary said.

“I do.”

“Then what happened tonight? Why didn’t you set your trap?”

The hawk could not answer. It was blunted and did not know how that had happened. Joining them on the rooftop was the only option left to it. Now that it had seen who was responsible for its failure, it was going to have to find another way to stop them.

“You will not be lucky the next time,” The hawk said. And then turning to the owl it said “Congratulations. You have succeeded in quickening your death.”

“Do not be intimidated. This is a confused entity who will not last. You either belong on this side or you go back and continue being a normal person. Tonight, the coven you emanated from, and the greatest warlocks in the biggest covens will know of your treachery. And the next time you are out of your body may be your last!”

The little canary was right, the hawk thought. The big canary knew its onions. It understood their world. But the hawk also knew something:

 “You know I would not go down alone. And you also know how I can make my destruction your destruction as well. Whatever happens, this rooftop is no longer open to you. And I am willing to stake my life to make sure of it.”

The canary spread its wings and they watched it triple in size, then it opened its mouth and spat red flames. It seared some of the feathers of the hawk. But the hawk was a powerful bird. It was able to take flight before too much damage was done to it.

“You can go for your meeting if you want to,” the kite said. “I am going back inside.”

The canary knew what the hawk might do now. So it lept and vanished from the rooftop.

Not sure what to do, the owl decided to end the night’s expedition as well. It would visit the kite in the flesh for explanation later.

It was all birds for themselves the moment the canary scalded the angry hawk.

***********************************************************************

Achike watched Evae vomit twice into a bucket the following morning and immediately understood. He grabbed a bottle of water and washed her face into the bucket. Evae looked up at him with a pair of tired eyes. She could see his excitement. He knew.

As much as he enjoyed making love to her, he did not think too much about this outcome even though it was something he always wanted. How else could an icing on the cake be best described? Now that it had happened, it was only proper that they now had their first serious discussion.

“Oh Evae. God has answered our prayers.”

“Which time me and you pray?”

“Come on. Some prayers are not always voiced out.”

“So all this time you dey pray say make I get belle?”

“Well, not like that. but if you do what we have been doing every day, you are asking for it.”

Evae hissed and turned her back on him. That surprised Achike.

“What is wrong Evae?”

“My Papa.”

“What about him?”

“You must go tell am.”

“That is not a problem. We can go and meet him now.”

“I no go follow you.”

“Why?”

“Na so e be for our place. If you give woman belle when you never marry am, na you go take your leg go tell him papa.”

“Alright. That is easy. I can go now if you want.”

“Go.”

Achike did not understand Evae’s sudden moodiness. But then, she was pregnant. Didn’t they say that pregnancy brought mood swings and those sort of things? Achike smiled to himself. If he had been asked to script his own life in the past year he could not have put it quite so well. His unfortunate encounter with Agonyibo notwithstanding, having Evae has been the best thing that could happen to him. And now that she was carrying his baby, things were about to get even better.

He reached Agbonyibo’s door and knocked.

Agbonyibo invited him in.

It was the first time they would be alone together after the rape. But the two men seemed to have moved on from that. Agbonyibo stood and extended a firm hand which Achike took. Achike decided to go straight to the point.

“I have good news sir.”

“Oh! Abeg talk make I hear. Na so so bad bad thing just dey happen for this world. E good make good thing follow happen.”

Achike did not hesitate.

“Your daughter is pregnant sir,” Achike said, wearing a monster grin.

“Eh hern?”

“Yes sir.”

“Okay. Ya money na 1.2 million naira.”

Achike was not sure he heard right.

“What, how do you mean sir?”

“I say you dey owe me 1.2 million.”

“For what sir?”

“The person wey you give belle na ya wife?”

“No sir, but that is partly what I have come to you to discuss.”

“Okay na. No need for too much talk. Bring 1.2 million. No need for any other thing.”

“Okay, I need to understand what you are saying. That I should pay you for impregnating her? Or that I should pay you in lieu of marriage?”

“Anyhow you like make you take am. Na wetin go happen be dat.”

“And what if I refuse to pay?”

“No problem.”

“What do you mean by no problem?”

“Wetin you want make I talk na? I go force you? I don tell you wetin you go do. You ask me question and I answer you.”

Achike did not like the sound of it at all. He stood up and stormed out of the room.

Evae was waiting with bated breath.

“Can you imagine your father?”

“Wetin him talk?”

“He said I should pay him 1.2 million naira for impregnating you!”

Evae turned her face and began to sob.

“You have to go and talk to him! who does that? If I had 1.2 million does he think I would be in this dump? If I have ever seen 1.2 million in my life does he think I will be selling okrika?”

Evae’s now began to cry. She knew her father. She knew he was not going to back down because he hated Achike, and also hated her now for the choice she made. He was a dangerous man who had found the perfect opportunity to get back at both of them at their most vulnerable.

Evae knew that her father would lock her pregnancy and she would be in that state for as long as it would take Achike to find 1.2 million naira.

***********************************************************************

Irikefe sauntered into Lukman’s shop with Castro in tow. Looking at him, you would have thought that he was the landlord and was there to collect his rent. His legs barely touched the ground as he rolled in. Castro was giggling behind him. Lukman did not like the look of it.

“What do you want?” Lukman said when Irikefe spread himself on the waiting couch.

Irikefe ignored him and went over to the keyboard in the corner. He touched a key but there was no sound as it was not plugged into the source of power.

“Chai poor Tobi. Him just crase leave him keyboard like that! End of music career!”

“Him go dey sing for Akunna and the other crase people for Yaba left by now.”

“Omo! See bad luck!”

“I say what do you guys want?” Lukman said again. He was holding a broom. He was just about to sweep the floor and open for the day.

They both ignored him.

“Iniquity been dey teach am how to play this thing o!” Castro said.

“Tobi been dey play with Iniquity?”

“Iniquity na musican too na.”

“You know who Iniquity be?”

“Tell me bro.”

“Lukman, you know Iniquity?”

“If you boys don’t get out of here now, I will break your heads and nothing will happen.”

“Oya finish making mouth and come and cut my hair.”

“No problem. But you must pay first.”

“Okay I will go straight to the point. I know say you dey fuck Iniquity sister. You know that that boy is not well. You saw what he did to that mai ruwa mallam that made a pass at the same girl. What he was saying in Hausa was that if the man did not see that the girl was nursing a baby. He wanted to know if the mallam wanted to put her in the family way again. Now you have gone and done the same thing.”

Lukman immediately thawed. Iniquity’s treatment of the said love interest of his sisters was reminiscent of Chisco’s treatment of Agbonyibo following the rape. There was no doubting the fact that he would do the same thing to Lukman. No one knew a brother who treated his sister the way Iniquity treated his and her baby. Iniquity had on that day openly warned the watching young men to all steer clear of his sister:

“I have heard that you boys in this street don’t know how to keep your pricks in the correct place. If una wan die, make una near this one.”

Still, Lukman has not been able to resist. The girl was not pretty. But she had the most dazzling smile, and she had come to him with her two little brothers for hair cuts and their connection was instant.

“Who told you?” Lukman said shakily.

“I am Irikefe. Born, bred and buttered in Katakata Street. I know everything.”

Lukman then said “okay, come back in thirty minutes. I need to sweep.”

As Irikrfe contemplated this, they saw Iniquity pushing Ndifreke’s keke out to the street. A man was waiting for him. The man met up with him and they both nodded to each other and the man entered the trycicle, started it and drove away.

The three in Lukman’s shop looked away as Iniquity looked around to see who may be looking at him. Satisfied that the few around seemed to be minding their business, he felt his pocket for his dope, smiled to himself and headed for the uncompleted building. 

Irikefe whipped out his phone and found Ndifreke’s contact.

***********************************************************************

Ndifreke turned Maya over and kissed her. She parted her lips and kissed him back. She had slept with a smile on her face and awoke with the smile still firmly in place. As she kissed him she felt herself moistening between her legs. She kept her eyes closed. She did not want to interrupt the dream. She wanted to make love to him awake, asleep, in her dream, in every possible mode of existence! She felt his knees part her legs. She spread them and let him in, and then circled her legs over him and locked her ankles on his waist. She kept her eyes closed and moaned softly. This was all what she wanted. This was how it was supposed to be. He thrust at a steady rate until her legs began to shake, and her body began to quake. She also felt him getting even bigger and his thrusting more purposeful. He wanted to pull out but she locked him in.

“Come in me baby. Come inside of me.”

With nowhere to go Ndifreke did as Maya commanded. She only opened her eyes when his fits had stopped and he had become still.

“I missed you baby.”

“I missed you too Maya.”

“You made me come inside. You know…”

“Shhhhhhh don’t complain,” she said.

Ndifreke nodded and kissed her again.

“We should stay one more night here,” Ndifreke said.

“We should go somewhere no one will ever find us,” Maya said.

When his phone rang, Ndifreke wanted to ignore it but Maya urged him to take it.

“Bros Freke!” came Irikefe’s  unmistakeable voice.

“Irikefe.”

“Bros don’t sound like that na. I know say I don interrupt. No kill Aunty Maya for this second honey moon o!”

“Why did you call me?”

“Okay sorry. I say make I ask you, you lend your keke to anybody?”

“No. why do you ask?”

“You did not give it to Iniquity?”

“What Iniquity?”

“Alfa first son?”

“No.”

“Did you tell him to give it to someone on your behalf?”

“I am going to go off this line if you don’t go straight to the point!”

“We saw him give your keke to some guy this morning.”

“How come?”

“That’s why I called.”

“Do you have the Iniquity’s number?”

“What do you want to do?”

“I want to call him.”

“How will you tell him you got to know?”

“I did not tell him to touch my property. If he has done so I need to know why.”

“Bros, when you come home, go to where you kept your keke and if you don’t find it you can then ask questions. I don’t want any trouble.”

“Okay, thanks,” Ndifreke said and hung up.

“What is it?” Maya said.

“Someone took my keke away.”

Just then, they both received text messages. Maya opened hers and it read “You are under contract. Return to work.” Jonjo.

Ndifreke opened his message and it read: “Your contract is terminated. My lawyer will contact you over the N1m sign-on fees paid to you. Accept my warm regards.”

Maya handed Ndifreke her phone and he gave her his and they both read.

“What are we going to do now?” Maya said. She was shaking all of a sudden. She reached for the duvet and covered her body.

Ndifreke did not say anything. He asked Maya to get ready so that they checked out of the hotel immediately.

“I guess you have to go and honour your contract.”

“Please don’t talk like that Ndi. We are in this together. Tell me what you are thinking.”

He was going to go and see Elizabeth, the beautiful enemy of Jonjo’s he had previously run away from. That was not something Maya wanted to know about.

TO BE CONTINUED.

PAYBACK

June 2, 2019

STATUS QUO

June 2, 2019