One week after the easing of the lockdown in Lagos, Ogun and Abuja residents began to count the cost, especially in Lagos where as expected, the number of new COVID 19 infections went up. An unprecedented one hundred and seventy-six cases were recorded in one day. Officially, more than one hundred deaths were recorded nationwide total with the total number of cases gone past four thousand.
A massive outbreak and deaths of more than one hundred people in a week were reported in Bauchi. Jigawa and Katsina also suffered outbreaks. Lagos was groaning under the weight of the problem saying they were running out of bed spaces. The Federal Government went on a fact-finding mission to Kogi and Cross River states to know just how it was that there were no cases of the infection in those states. The IMF credited the CBN’s account with a $3.4 bn emergency loan. The World Health Organisation finally agreed to carry out clinical trials of the Madagascan purported cure for the disease.
At 225 Katakata Street, Jide Falomo had slumped on the wall of the house at the backyard and was sliding to the floor when Irikefe went to his aid. Castro also suddenly appeared.
“Wetin do the man?”
“I no know.”
“And you dey touch am? Maybe na corona.”
“He was fine a moment ago. I just told him what Agnonyibo did to Achike and he fainted.”
“Why would you tell him that na?”
Irikefe opened his mouth as if to speak then closed it back.
“Abeg fetch water make we pour am,” he said.
“Better call NCDC,” Castro said.
“I, I think I’m fine” Jide stammered and Irikefe offered him his shoulder to leverage on to get back on his feet.
He still looked dazed.
“Have you been sick?”
“No. What did you say that man’s name was again?”
“And he is dead?”
“Do you know him?”
“No. of course not. If you will excuse me,” Jide said and took unsteady steps into the corridor, rubbing his temple.
“Wetin come be that one now?” Castro said when the new tenant left them.
“I don’t know. I mentioned Agbonyibo and baba just faint.”
“Maybe they know each other. It’s a small world afterall. Remember our experience with that man.”
“I think he was here with Mama Akunna last night,” Irikefe said.
“Guy abeg stop am if na joke.”
“Don’t worry. We will soon know.”
Castro gave his friend a quizzical look and Irikefe looked away.
Castro became worried. He was worried because Irikefe was always right.
“Agbonyibo was a homosexual rapist. He scattered Achike’s nyash in this compound and his spirit came back and did the same thing to the policeman.”
How then did he end up with the bloodied penis?
“Don’t ask me how he did it. I just know he did. You can ask Mr. Cosmas. He knows those things.”
Before he would ask Mr. Cosmas anything, he would speak with Achike. Achike was a witness to the night’s events.
He knocked on Achike’s door and Achike invited him inside. Achike sat looking at a plate of fufu his mother-in-law had just placed in front of him while she went to get the soup. His wife was still in bed in the other room. His brother was going in and out of the room.
“Welcome my neighbour. This one you came to my room. I hope it is well. You meet me well by the way.”
“No no” Jide said. “I should let you finish your breakfast.”
“It is food I want to eat my brother not breakfast.” Achike said and chuckled. “Please sit down.”
“I see that,” Jide said and smiled. He knew igbo people did not joke with their akpu. But at 9 o’clock in the morning!
“Ogbu Agu! The poorest titled man in Arochukwu!” Achike called out to Chisco. “Please tell nne nwunyem to bring food for two people. You will not come to my house for the first time and not take something.”
“No that is not necessary Mr. Achike. I’m fine thank you. Besides, at this time me I prefer breakfast and not food.”
They both laughed and then Jide said: “I should go and come back.”
“No no no. We can talk and I can eat no problem,” Achike said to Jide’s relief. He needed answers quickly.
Lowering his voice he said “What I want to say is a bit sensitive. I hope I can talk freely?”
“Young man, talk. Even if it is money you want to borrow, I will only tell you that I don’t have.” They both laughed again. Jide was now relaxed.
“It is about last night. I happened to have been around when the gun was fired. I saw you standing in front of the man’s door. Please did you see anything, sir?”
Achike’s lifted his head and gazed into the ceiling and squinted his eyes.
Gunshot. He remembered that.
He was there? How?
Then slowly he began to recollect. He was standing there. Then he heard…then he heard…all the blood in his faced drained and he became ashen. Eyonyam stepped in carrying a hot bowl of ogbono soup and water for him to wash his hands in another bowl.
Achike then looked from the lawyer and then to her and jumped on his feet and then on the chair and backed away.
“He is the one!” he shouted and pointed at the lawyer.
“He is the one oooo! Agbonyibo came back in this man! I heard his voice. I know that voice!”
Eyonyam dropped the things in her hands and took the lawyer by the collar and pushed him out of the door.
“That is him. Agbonyibo is alive. That man is him!”
She had little time. It would not take an eternity for Katakata Street to gather. Chisco was only a few paces away. She jumped at Achike and knocked him in the temple and he fell on the floor in a heap and passed out. When Chisco burst into the room he found his brother who had been shouting only a few seconds before in the arms of his mother-in-law like a baby that was about to be suckled.
“Wetin do am?” Chisco yelled. Wetin do my brother again?”
“I no know. Him shout come fall for ground.”
There were a few curious neighbors at the door already.
“Tell them make dem dey go. Nothing do am,” Eyonyam said.
Chisco was not so sure. Something was not right. He marched forward and grabbed Achike by the armpits and lifted him to his feet. He was droopy and out cold but still breathing.
“I wan carry am go hospital.”
“No need. Maybe na that thing wey dey do people wey dem go dey faint then after dem go well again.”
“Akwukwu na-ado, epilepsy!”
“Yes. Na him”
“Tufiakwa! E no dey my family. Make I go call nurse.”
But by the time Chisco returned with the nurse, they found Achike seated and relishing his fufu and ogbono soup, completely oblivious of anything that had happened.
“You say you well?”
“What sort of stupid question is that Agu?”
Chisco looked at the nurse and then at Eyonyam. Eyonyam smiled and said, “I tell you say nothing do am.”
Something was not right, Chisco thought. He was going to go back to his own place that morning. But something was happening to his brother he did not understand.
Chisco decided that he would not go anywhere until he knew what was happening to Achike.
Jide went straight to the corner of his bedroom he had learnt to go to for solace and folded himself in. His wife and sister had stepped out already. His wife went to cook breakfast and his sister to wash clothes after the meeting. He was grateful for the chance to be alone. His hands and legs were shaking and his heart palpitating. What had he gotten himself into?
Chisco burst into the room and shouted “Who dey here? Mr. Lawyer come outside!”
Jide gingerly stepped into the sitting room and faced Chisco who always seemed to be angry. This time he was genuinely angry.
“Wetin you do my brother?” Chisco demanded.
“Nothing. I was only talking with him.”
“Which kind talk? Wetin you tell am?”
“Bia, Mr. Lawyer,” Chisco said and advanced towards the now frightened man. “I no come here to play. You come meet my brother and after that him faint. Now him come dey do like mumu. Na since you enter this compound my brother come dey behave like this. For night when him first faint him call your name say you be Agbonyibo. Now make I tell you something. If you be Agbonyibo, you go remember wetin I do you before. If you near my brother again, I go tear you to pieces. If you don forget, ask compound people. I be Ogbu Agu! Lion killer. No make me handle you.”
At the mention of Agbonyibo Jide became dizzy again. What was happening? He fell at Chisco feet and began to cry.
“Please help me. I am not Agbonyibo. I don’t know who that is. It is why I went to see your brother. Help me and tell me what you know about this Agbonyibo.”
Chisco looked down at the lawyer. Now he was confused. But he did not care. He was only concerned about his brother.
“Bia, Lawyer, I no get time. Go meet that man wey dem dey call Cosmas if you dey find person wey you go ask question.”
If the sissy lawyer did not know anything, then it was time to talk to the one person that had to know, Chisco thought and marched out of Jide’s room.
He met Eyonyam at table with her daughter. For a moment Chisco thought about his sister-in-law and her long pregnancy. He made a mental note to talk to Achike about it later. For the time being, the woman who was always there when Achike fell ill and recovered needed to answer a few questions.
“Wey my brother dey?”
“He go outside. E say e dey go find vendor.”
“Mama Evae. I want make we talk.”
Evae gave her mother a short meaningful look, covered her food and said “Make I leave una go backyard.”
Chisco did not care that her beans and rice was largely uneaten. As soon as Evae stepped out he said to her mother “Mama Evae. Something dey do my brother and you know wetin e be. If to say you be man I for don blow you for mouth and you for don begin talk. So na beg I dey beg you, tell me wetin dey do Achike. Tell me why e be say as when him sick, if you just touch am him go well. Today I hear him voice when I dey corridor and by the time I reach here him don faint. And by the time I go bring nurse come back him don well. Which kind thing be dat?”
Eyonyam knew that Chisco was made of more steel than Achike. This was one person she needed to be careful with. She knew that Chisco was not bluffing. But you cannot be a desirable woman and a witch of long-standing who had pleasured countless men to further her cause and not know what to do with a hot-headed man with a raging libido.
“My pikin husband. Wetin dey make you vex?” She said and before Chisco could blink she was standing in front of him with already erect nipples touching his chest from a see-through blouse.
Before Chisco could open his mouth again she put her hand inside his shorts and began to knead his penis.
“Nothing do your brother. Why your head dey hot?”
Her palm was warm. Her fingers dexterous. He was swooning in seconds. Sensing the kill, Eyonyam dropped on her knees and pulled Chisco’s shorts forcefully and without even touching it, took all of his erect penis in her mouth and gagged on it before employing her hands and sloppy tongue to suck and lick the remaining sense out of Chisco. She could taste the sex there. He had been with the nurse, but she had a job to do.
She sucked until he stood on tiptoes. It was a whole new kind of hypnotism Chisco had not known before. He thought the nurse was good, but Eyonyam was gold. She stood and pushed her breast into his body again and placed a hand on his shoulder and lifted a knee as high as his waist. Chisco held the knee up with one hand and with the other rolled up her wrapper and slid a finger into her sloppy wetness. Then he put a second. Eyonyam then pushed back and stood on both legs again.
“This night” she whispered.
“No. Now,” he coughed and moved closer to her.
“Dem go soon come.”
“And no ask me all those stupid question again.”
Ndifreke had forgotten about Maya until she knocked and entered the room right after the compound meeting. He stood up without even thinking. Mkpoikanna fizzled out of the room.
“I know. You forgot I was even here,” She said.
“No not that. It has been an eventful night. The pounding, the gunshot, I even went to Mr. Cosmas’.”
“And you didn’t even think about me.”
“It’s not that. Like I said, it’s been a long night.”
“Why do you hate me so much?”
“How can you be under one roof with the woman that is carrying your child and a witch was on parade, an intruder was shot at and you did not even think to find out if I was safe.”
“Maya you are safe, ok?”
“What have I even done to deserve this? First, you treated me like a stray dog. You didn’t deem me fit to even sleep on your floor. What if the nurse was not kind? You would have thrown me out to the streets!”
“Maya I did not invite you. I don’t know what you want.”
“What do you mean? How can you be so heartless? I told you I am alone suffering with a pregnancy you gave me and you are saying you don’t know what I want?”
“For goodness sake Maya!”
“You hate me!”
“After everything! You have impregnated me twice! The first time I almost lost my life! My mother died shamefuly in this compound. My father is in prison. There is no one in the world for me. You used to be all I had and now you despise me.”
“Maya you choose to go away!”
“I did not choose anything! You drove me away. You hated my mother and refused to help her when she was sick. I had no choice but to run to that bastard.”
“And started sleeping with him.”
“Did you not sleep with someone too? Are you innocent?”
“I did what I did because of you Maya!”
“And I also did what I did because of you! If you were good to me I would not have wanted another!”
Maya’s eyes were now misty and her voice began to crack.
“What did I do? Did I kill somebody? Okay I went to live in a house a man rented for me. Would I have stayed here when my mother died and they threw us all out? You are heartless Ndifreke! You are!”
She plumped down on the floor and started to weep. Ndifreke knew that she could be heard from the corridor. He was also sorry for her.
“Don’t cry Maya!”
“I will cry! I will cry! No one loves me. Everyone hates me! Let me die!”
He held her hands and lifted her to her feet and pulled her into an embrace. Her tears smeared his neck and cheek. He found that he was aware of her fresh perfume.
“Leave me alone!” she whimpered. “Just let me go and suffer!” She pressed her body into his as she said that.
He was holding Maya. His Maya. His arm went around her waist by rote.
“No I won’t leave you to go and suffer.”
“I want to go! You hate me.”
“No I don’t.”
Then he gathered her face in his palms and started to kiss her tears.
Maya did triple backflips in her mind. But it was not yet time to celebrate. She wanted him to take the initiative and kiss her. But he only kissed all of her tears and then gathered her in a warm embrace.
“You are welcome to my place Maya. I don’t know if you will still like it here though.”
“I will. I grew up in one room. You have two.”
“You will sleep in the bed in the room. Mkpoikikanna and I will sleep on the floor here like we used to.”
“No let me sleep here.”
“Don’t be ridiculous.”
“Are you sure you want me to stay?”
“Yes. Where is your bag?”
“It is still at the nurse’s.”
“I’ll go and get it.”
“No. let me go.”
“I came for my bag,” A beaming Maya told Josephine.
“Good. I told you he will take you back.”
“I still have work to do though. I never thought it would happen that he would hold me that close and not kiss me.”
“One step at a time girl. A lot has happened.”
“He wants me to sleep in the bed and he would sleep on the floor in the palour.”
“Don’t worry. When you feel something strange moving in the room in the middle of the night, call his name,” Josephine said and winked.
“He is a good man, Maya.”
“When you get him, keep him this time.”
“I will. Thanks for everything nurse.”
“Don’t mention it. Sister code.”
“And…I thought I should tell you that I was watching. You and Chisco.”
“You two look good together.”
Josephine scoffed and said, “We just like to fuck each other.”
“I want that with Ndi asap. I have missed being made love to.”
“It’s all up to you girl. Go for it!”
Jide asked the children he found playing outside where he could find Mr. Cosmas and they directed him to the self-contain. He found two small detached buildings at the back of the main building. One had shoes, plastic buckets, dirty pots, and pans strewn all over the frontage while the other had flower pots, a clean wall, and an unoccupied cane chair with only a pair of slippers in front. He could guess which of the self-contains belonged to Mr. Cosmas.
Mr. Cosmas ushered him into the room. Again, Jide was impressed by the cleanliness of it. Cosmas had made sure that he still had white walls after the renovation.
Jide took the chair he was given.
“Welcome Mr. Falomo.”
“Please just call me Jide sir.”
“Alright Jide. I’m Cosmas.”
“I know sir. All I have heard since I came here has been ‘speak to Mr. Cosmas’. The people here hold you in high esteem.”
“Thank you. So how can I help?”
Jide shifted in his chair. This was uncomfortable, he thought. But there was kindness in Mr. Cosmas’ eyes. He knew he could trust the man.
“It’s about last night sir. I know more than anyone does.”
“I was in the room with the Inspector. We were having sex.”
Jide Falomo could have announced that Buhari was Nigeria’s president and Cosmas’ expression would have been the same.
“Did you hear me sir?”
“I did Jide. Please go on.”
“We met after we were introduced to the compound. We were instantly attracted to each other. I went to bed thinking about him and when I could not get over it I went to his room. He was even expecting me, even though it was not prearranged. We knew what we both wanted so we got on with it. Then at some point, I felt a presence in the room. I have no doubt in my mind that another person joined us. Then after a while I began to feel queasy and then I must have lost consciousness because by the time I recovered I found myself with a bloodied penis and my partner the way you found him.”
“So you were the one he shot at.”
“Yes. I survived it by pure instinct. Or he was a poor marksman.”
“Then why did he say he did not see his assailant?”
“Is that what he said?”
“Maybe he too knew that someone else was there.”
“But he shot at you.”
Both men were quiet for a while.
“Who is Agbonyibo?” Jide said.
It was then that Mr. Cosmas started.
“He lived here. He passed on.”
“Irikefe said that ghosts have been coming here.”
“It is not quite like that Jide.”
“He told me Agbonyibo did something to Mr. Achike.”
“Yes. Agbonyibo violated Achike. Pretty much like you did to the Inspector.”
“That is what I am trying to say, Mr. Cosmas. That was not me sir. But it was my body.”
It was then that Mr. Cosmas understood.
He stood up and paced the room.
“What happened sir? Tell me. Everyone believes you would know.”
“I think I do. But first, why would you say it wasn’t you? You were having sex with the man.”
“I mainly receive and he doesn’t. We both knew that. Sometimes we switch roles as gay men but if you do not regularly receive, even if you do, you just don’t do so without preparation. I wouldn’t just penetrate the man. I know not to do that.”
“You say you felt a presence in the room?”
Mr. Cosmas sat back down.
“Do you want to hear this?”
“That’s why I am here sir.”
“Okay. This is it. A departed soul lurking around temporarily took possession of your body.”
“He found you weak and exposed.”
“I am not weak sir.’
“Spiritually weak I mean my friend. You can be as agile as a panther, as smart as Einstein, but if you are spiritually weak, under the right circumstances your soul can be temporarily displaced by a villainous one in the beyond who will take possession of your body for their purpose.”
“You shall not take the name of your Lord your God in vain!”
“Sorry sir but how come? Why me? Why then?’
“It’s the law of attraction of homogenous species. Agbonyibo was a man who slept with other men as you do. If he is earthbound, he will always be attracted to places where the activities he enjoyed take place. He sensed two men having sex and went to be a part of it. He could have enjoyed it without taking possession of anybody’s cloak. He must have seen how weak you were and took advantage.”
“But is it that easy?”
“No it isn’t. Every living soul has sufficient defenses to stave it off. But people have vulnerable moments. He met you in yours.”
“And did what he did and left.”
“Yes. But there is a danger. He has identified you as a possible host. He will be back.”
“God forbid!” Jide said and began to sob. God why?”
“Please say that name with fear and trembling, if you must.”
“Okay sir. But what do I do now?”
“I will say it as they say these days so that you will understand. Stay woke. Better yet, watch and pray.”
“I can’t pray. I feel too guilty because I’m gay.”
Mr Cosmas did not say anything.
“Why are you so calm? Why are you not appalled? Why are you not asking me about my wife?”
“It is none of my business.”
“I was born like this.”
“So they say.”
“I was disowned by my family because of this. I am from a prominent family.”
“Oh, you are of that Falomo?”
“Yes sir. My father caught me having sex with one of his male staffers and disowned me. Family intervened and he took me back for a while, but you can’t change what you are. I was caught again and he threw me out finally with nothing.”
“Well, that is not bad. You get the chance to run your race independently. You will mature faster now than you do not have to depend on family.”
“You are the first person that is not gay that has been kind to me. Those who manage to sit and listen to me are always in a hurry to dismiss me like I carry a plague.”
“No one is good. I do not judge.”
“But why am I like this? Surely it is not my fault that I am gay.”
“That is not a question for today.”
“Please tell me if you know.”
“I will. Another time. You have to remember that you have a big problem now. You will not be able to convince a magistrate or judge that you did not comit the assault.”
“I don’t think he will report me. You said he already said he did not know the person he shot at.”
“Will you go and see him?”
“We don’t know where he went. Papa Efe will have his phone number so we will first call to check.”
“So I have to repent now so that I will not be possessed again by Agbonyibo?”
“The choice is yours, my friend.”
“What do we do about Agbonyibo and the other ghost I heard about?”
“Nothing. So long as you do not leave yourself open, they cannot harm you.”
“They already did sir.”
“It was all your fault.”
TO BE CONTINUED.