Chisco wore his Combat shorts and Tshirt and a fez cap and slipped his feet into a pair of pam slippers and headed out of the compound. The entrance door was only bolted and would be left unlocked when he exited. He weighed it in his mind what was more likely: the compound being robbed because he did not lock the door or mmuo masquerades paying him a visit in Lagos. He reckoned the latter was more likely, for his new neighbors were so poor that it would give them something to brag about if robbers were to visit them. His heart began to race as he thought about Eyonyam again. As much as he wanted her, his feeling of discomfort was such that his legs became heavier with every step he took in the quiet night. After so many nights out on vigilante duties in his home community, he could divine warnings when the elements were calm and the world was asleep. He knew what his intuition was telling him but he was not going to change his mind.
Only a man who had not seen Eyonyam’s bottom would do that.
He halted and walked back to his place. A dog barked in a distance. The door of a kiosk opened and closed as he passed. A big rat crossed the road and stopped, looked at him and put its head in a heap of refuse and disappeared. He entered his room and went to his small food locker and produced three items. He took one bitter kola, separated three cloves of garlic, and counted seven seeds of alligator pepper and chewed them all at the same time. The combination burnt his throat and brought tears to his eyes but he bore the discomfort and washed it all down with a cup of water from a jerrican. When he stepped out again facing number 225 Katakata street, he pumped out his chest, raised his shoulders and tapped his scrotum and got rewarded with a fearless erection.
As soon as she opened the door for him she became giddy. Her sweat glands dilated and all of her skin became moist. He smelt of a combination of things that sucked oxygen around her kind. All she wanted to do was to scream for help as she could not run away. She had knocked the nascent family out to give herself a chance to swallow Chisco. Now she was at the mercy of the Ogbu Agu of Arochukwu, one who had already settled all scores in the jungle and was only out in the city for recreation.
Her response confirmed his suspicion. Witches could not stand the smell of garlic when mixed with alligator pepper. The sensible thing would have been for him to go back to his place grateful for having followed his gut feeling and fortified himself. But he needed to leave his mark on her, so he pretended not to have understood the reason for her reaction.
He proceeded to set the scene. He pushed the center table and every other piece of furniture to the corners of the room leaving only a stool in the middle. He did not worry about his brother or his wife waking up to him with Eyonyam. He knew the woman had already taken care of that.
He pealed her wrapper off her body and in a show of kindness, turned her around so she did not have to endure the direct blast of his dreadful breath. He needed her to stay conscious for another half hour at least. He made her place her hands on the stool and keep her legs apart.
“Push ya waist inside make I see ya toto!” he commanded and used the flashlight of his phone to have a good view of her well rounded posterior and gaping pudenda. He pulled his shorts, lubricated his stiff penis with saliva and drove into Eyonyam.
Chisco held her small waist, kneaded her soft bottom, reached for her breasts and every part of her body he could reach without breaking his thrust for half an hour. As he reached climax he pulled out of her and shot his semen all over the room. He then pushed her away and collected her wrapper from the floor and wiped himself dry before pulling on his shorts.
Eyonyam curled up in a corner of the room and hoped that he would not turn on the flashlight again.
She looked like a rabbit that was pulled out of its hole in the rain.
“Nne, daalụ. I dey go. I go come see you for morning,”Chisco said. “Me and you get something wey we go discuss. No forget to clean the room.”
The following morning the men gathered in the frontage. It had been an eventful few days in Katakata street and they needed to catch up. First, they welcomed the caretaker back from his journey to Warri.
“Thank you my neighbors. It was very important that I travelled o! Do you know that if I had not gone they would have sold all of Papa Efe’s properties! I don’t know how they knew he was dead. I’m convinced they were the ones that sent an arrow to strike him down when he was without sickness. By the time I got there they were looking for buyers for all his landed properties.”
“I had to go to the palace of the Olu of Warri to lodge a complaint! A woman even came out and claimed that Papa Efe was her husband.”
“She claimed that she had four children by Papa Efe!”
“You don’t mean it Efe!”
“Aswear! That is why even if you don’t have many children, have one responsible one. I made my kinsmen proud!”
“God bless you Irikefe.”
“I then asked the woman where are the children that my father had with you? Hmmm, my people. This women went and brought four creatures that looked like giant rodents from a horror movie. All of them get gorimapa and their heads round like Dunlop tyre.”
“My father cannot bear such ugly children. Una no see as I fine? I made the point to the community and everybody agreed with me and they chased the madwoman away with her burden!”
“Ah…you did well Irikefe. Thank you for not letting Papa Efe see shame in death.”
“Trust me na. That cannot happen.”
“You did well. So what of the burial?”
“We are on it. I will make sure Papa Efe gets a befitting burial. They have lifted the interstate travel ban now so we will take him home and put him in a mortuary in Ughelli. Then we will cool down and plan. I will show them that we are good ambassadors of Ughelli South in Lagos!”
“Alright. Having said that, what have you people been up to? Mr. Zubi, Oga Josiah, what did you people do about the ghosts?”
“My wife got some incense and special dry leaves we will be burning in this compound every night for seven days. We were waiting for you to return so we let you and everybody know. After that, no ghost will enter this compound again I have been assured,” Mr Zubi said.
“Very good. You see, this is the kind of action I expect from old men. You people cannot be here and strange things will be happening. Mr Cosmas, I hope the ghosts will not come back?”
“I don’t know. They were not going to hang around forever anyway.”
“Good. We don’t want them at all. The living does not have anything to do with the dead. We don’t want ghosts here again!”
“Meanwhile, they say covid19 is still killing people. Ondo health commissioner died of the disease. Can you imagine the irony,” Josiah began.
“Abi! If health commissioner fit die!”
“Now Governor Akeredolu and wife, Governor Umahi and Governor Ortom’s wife have tested positive.”
“I will not say I am sorry for them. But in the case of Governor Ortom, how will his wife test positive and he tests negative?”
“It is because they don’t sleep together na! Do you think these big politicians still know what the nakedness of their wives look like? They may not even be living in the same house!”
“Or it may be that there’s a coverup just like Davido and Chioma. Kemi Olunloyo said that Davido himself contracted the disease in a show in London. He announced it on Twitter or Instagram and then deleted immediately knowing the stigma would be bad for business and announced his fiance’s instead.”
“But Mr P came out na. Once you become negative there should no longer be stigma.”
“Story for the gods. Did you not watch interviews with some survivors on Channels? I have already told you, go and drink Mama Cowbell’s agbo and don’t let them put that tag beside your name. Let our oppressors continue to share it among themselves and all die and leave us alone!”
“Meanwhile hospital visits have drastically reduced in recent times we hear.”
“Before nko? Even if you have boil in your eye that everybody can see they will test you for coro and you will be positive. They need the statistics.”
“That was what they did to one man in Delta last week. As soon as his wife heard the news she just fell down and died.”
“God forbid. May the Lord not allow us to see bad thing.”
“Meanwhile Kanye West has declared for President in the US. Kim Kardashian will become first lady. The world is not yet ready!”
“O boy! If Trump could be president, something that was portrayed as a joke years back in the Simpsons, then Kanye’s dream can come true. Never say never!”
“Lai lai! He is friends with Trump. They want to split Joe Biden’s votes.”
“I thought it was only Jimmy Agbaje that did that type of thing.”
“Politics is the same everywhere. Only in some places, they don’t snatch ballot boxes openly.”
“My people, I have been enjoying the return of the Premier League. See my Manchester United. See Bruno Fernandez and Paul Pogba. Bobo mi Greenwood! Now we just want Jadon Sancho to join and next season we will take the crown from Liverpool. Our top four this season is already a forgone conclusion.”
“I agree. Of Leicester, Chelsea and Man U, Leicester look the most vulnerable. They don’t have an easy run-in while Man U on current form will win all the remaining matches.”
“Arsenal is coming up too. Three wins in a row. Anything can happen.”
“Anything cannot happen where Arsenal are concerned. They left it late. And it is not out of character for them to be beaten by Enyimba in their next match.”
“Enyimba does not play in the EPL.”
“You know what I’m trying to say.”
“They said Hushpuppy was going to steal $100 million from an EPL team. And they have confirmed that he stole $2 million from Lazio for the transfer of Stefan de Vrij from Feyenoord. I remember the katakata in 2018 when they said two million was intercepted by internet fraudsters. It was our own Huspuppi that pulled that off!”
“He is not our own. We must denounce him for all it’s worth! Let him rot in jail for his crimes!”
“Alright my people, since we have a semblance of peace in this compound for the first time in a long time, we should go and continue our businesses and hope that it lasts,” Irikefe said in adjournment.
Just as he said that, a keke pulled up and two familiar men alighted from the backseat. They both wore tattered jeans and linen jumpers and slippers. They had not shaves in ages. They smelled like he-goats.
“You two?” Mr Zubi gasped.
“Yes. It is us,” Wasiu said. Iniquity was gazing into the distance like the conversation did not concern him.
“What are you doing here?”
“They are decongesting the prisons due to COVID 19 so they let us go.”
“Why would they let you go?”
“We kill person? No be ordinary igbo we carry?”
“Okay, be that as it may, you don’t live here anymore. The compound was renovated and restructured.”
“I did not take my things,” Wasiu said.”
“We kept your things with the councillor, go there and get them.”
“My family lives here,” Iniquity said.
“Not quite. You have rooms but for some reason, your father has not returned yet. We will give out the rooms and refund his money by the end of this month,” Irikefe said.
“Who be this one?” Iniquity said with a sneer.
“I am the new caretaker.”
Iniquity scoffed and began to walk into the compound.
“Stop there!” Irikefe charged but Iniquity kept moving.
“Show me our room,” he said.
Confident that he would see the fruitlessness of his move Irikefe led him to the rooms opposite the ones vacated by Inspector Akpan which was secured with a shiny padlock.
“As you can see, it is unoccupied. So please leave. Both of you.”
With a sleight of hand that left everyone with open mouths, Iniquity palmed the padlock and sent it flying in the air and threw the door to the bare room open.
“Come inside,” he said to Wasiu who obliged before he slammed the door shut and bolted it from inside.
“Which kind wahala come be this one again?” Josiah said. “Just when we thought trouble had taken leave of us.”
“Well, this is number 225 Katakata Street. Peace is a luxury here.”
“Why did I even come back here tori olorun?”
Irikefe was already on the phone with Alhaji Sirika.
“Alhaji they cannot stay here!”
“My boy, I was just about to call you. Alfa came to see me and explained the reason for not moving in since and told me he was coming in this week.”
“What? The man and his family are a nuisance Alhaji!”
“You said so but we cannot throw them on the streets when they have room in the compound. He told me his story and he has my sympathy.”
“But Alhaji. His children cannot stop shitting and his eldest son is a criminal!”
“Call the police if you notice funny behavior. Let them wash the toilets more days in a month than any other occupant.”
“What of Wasiu?”
“I did not give him a place in my house.”
“But he is here!”
“I only know about the Alfa. Oya bye-bye,” He said and hung up.
While they stood scratching their heads and wondering what to do next, Sister Esther knocked on Achike’s door and Eyonyam opened and met with her infant grandchild in her arms.
“Togo witch leave my man alone! Leave him alone and go back to your country! You think I don’t know? Retired ashawo! God will punish you if you enter my room again!” She said and turned and went back to her room.
Neighbors moved from the front of the Alfa’s room and gathered in front of Achike’s.
Eyonyam smiled at them and said “e be like say she get bad dream for night. Make I go give my pikin food,” she said and closed her door.
Compound members continued to stare at each other in wonder. Somebody said “Even Sister Esther dey fight for prick! Apostle must hear of this!”
“What is going on Mr. Kingsley?” Mr Zubi said.
Mr Kingsley who had kept pace with the rest of the compound all morning with his mouth shut shrugged, stroked his beard and said: “On this cliff, I can almost touch the night sky; it hovers so close and puts a distance between me and the things threatening my conscience. I lay on a blanket in the damp grass and enfold myself in the drama of other worlds. The Big and Little Dipper tilt toward me, as if ready to spill their contents, and Scorpius curls its tail, ready to strike. The problems of my little life shrink under the majesty of such an expanse ― Jenny Knipfer.”
“Wetin come be this one again Jehovah?” somebody lamented in the crowd. “Wetin this man dey talk inside this compound pandemic?”
“And you what is compound pandemic?” Castro said. “All of una don craze finish!”
TO BE CONTINUED.