Chisco stirred awake, sat up and leaned against the wall. What next now? He got up and grabbed a broom and started to sweep the palour where he slept. Flashes of Josephine and the man crossed his mind but he kept on doing his chore. He heard his brother and his wife’s voices from the adjoining room and knew they were awake. He knocked on their door.
“Ogbu! What is it?” Achike said.
“I say make I come carry the plate wey una use chop yesterday go wash and to warm the soup.”
The food locker was in the bedroom. So Achike stood and wore his shorts and grabbed the items and thrust them into Chisco’s hands through the curtain.
Chisco stepped out towards the kitchen. He passed Mr Kingsley on the corridor and did not bother to greet. Mr Kingsley never responded to greetings. As they passed each other Chisco saw a flash of Eyonyam, clear as day, bound with chains and struggling to break free. He stopped and turned to look at Mr Kinsley’s back. That had never happened to him before.
“Keep moving,” the voice that followed him said. It was real. He was no longer the ordinary boy from Arochukwu. Now he had extra eyes and ears. So this was how life would be for him. A dead man constantly in his ears while he saw what others did not see.
“I still hoped when I woke up today I’ll find it was all a dream,” Chisco said within himself to his guide.
“You will get used to it,” His guide said.
“Can I call you Papa Efe like we used to call you?”
“You don’t need to waste your time concerned about me. Live your life and gain your experiences as if I wasn’t even there. You will hear my voice when you need to.”
“So I should not call you Papa Efe.”
“I am not Papa Efe right now. I am conscious of my entire existence even before I came as Papa Efe. Like I said, you cannot waste your time conversing with me.”
“So what I just sensed is Kingsley thinking about Eyonyam.”
“Is she going to be okay?”
“Why don’t you go and find out?” the voice said to him.
Chisco got to the kitchen, set the pot on the stove, and went to the backyard to wash the dishes, his mind working all the time.
Irikefe lumbered to his side carrying weeks old dirty dishes and clothes which he dropped in a heap and heaved a sigh. Chisco could tell looking at the things he had with him that Irikefe had not done any washing since his father died. Chisco wondered what made him decide to wash today.”
“Chisco mehn…good morning.”
“I happy as I see you o! You go help me abi?”
Chisco remained quiet, turned a black pot over, and poured VIM on the bottom.
“Wetin dey do you sef? Since you come back from home you dey do like say dem castrate you.”Irikefe chided.
“Na your papa dem castrate,” Chisco said.
“My papa don die.”
Chisco hissed and applied pressure on the pot with iron sponge, producing a sound that brought a stinging sensation to Irikefe’s spine.
Irikefe covered his ears with two fingers and grimaced. He took two steps away from Chisco and pulled out his phone and found a contact. Moments later, he barked “Castro! Mumu boy! You still dey suck your mama bress?”
He listened and said “That one na story you dey tell me. Na three bedsheet and two jeans you dey wash for here. If you like make dem send you go okokomaiko!”
He hung up and turned to Chisco.
“Come, Chisco. Wetin dey do you sef? Why you come dry like this? By now you for don dey sing your masquerade music. You sure say dem no castrate you true-true?”
Chisco continued to pay attention to his task.
“Ookaaayyy! I know wetin dey do you. You don hear say that janded boy don dey bob-loko your nurse!”
Chisco glared at him but Irikefe was not done. “And I hear say you been dey nack Evae mama before Undertaker snatch am from you. Guy, e reach make you sober. Chai. Sorry ehn!”
Chisco’s heart began to beat faster and he could feel a rush of blood to his head. Then his guide spoke.
“Don’t let him wind you up. You will need his help.”
“How?” Chisco said under his breath.
“I will tell you when the time comes.”
Castro then bumbled into the backyard looking like he had just survived a motorcycle accident.
“God save you say you come.” Irikefe said. “You kuku know say no show for you tomorrow if to say you no come.”
“I know na. Nobody wicked like you. And you no even ask me wetin happen? I been tell you say I dey go Oshodi.”
“I no wan know. You too dey lie. Lazy bones. Oya begin dey wash the bedsheet make I dey wash plate,” Irikefe said.
“Which kind thing be dat na. Oya make I wash the plate. You wash the bedsheet,” Castro said.
“You dey argue with me?” irikefe said.
“No na,” Castro said and forced a grin.
“Oya begin wash the bedsheet.”
“Guy this na blackmail.”
“Okay no wash anything again. Dey go.”
“Sorry na. Boss of life! Make I go bring big bucket. I dey come.”
Castro left and returned minutes later with a big black basin.
“She go come?” Irikefe said to him.
“No be LAUTECH geh she be? She must come na.”
“Guyyy! You know say we be destiny changers now. We be like them Ben Bruce, Ebuka for Big Brother and all those film directors’ like Yul Edochie. Now all the girls for this Ghetto go dey carry our name go Shiloh so that we go make them the next Naomi Campbell!”
“Yes na. And then we go dey reap the reward for your room. Papa Efe choose good time to check out aswear!”
Both boys dissolved into fits of laughter and then Castro said ‘So how we go do am when she come?”
“We go tell am say job dey. But say we dey wait for the director to come from Ibadan so make she come chill for room.”
“Eh hen? Then what next next?”
“Then when she enter the room we go make am wait for like two hours. Then we go come go meet am say “Babe, we know you are our first model but we found some other girl more suitable for the job at hand. I’m afraid you are no longer required.”
“Then wetin go come happen?’
“She go come begin beg na! She go say. “Oh! Mr Castro please don’t do this to me. It has been my lifelong dream to go to the runway. You have brought me this far you cannot disappoint me now.”
“Me, Mr Castro!” he chuckled and said “ then wetin I go come do?”
“You go say ‘okay, I’ll talk to my boss about it but he is very stubborn. His mind is made. She go come say ‘please help me Mr Castro. I will be eternally grateful to you sir if you make this dream come true for me.”
“Then you go come tell am say ‘ok…I can help you. But if I scratch your back, you will scratch my own.”
“What if she say I don’t know what you mean by that?”
“You go come tell am say ‘you are an adult! You are a big girl. Are you not in LAUTECH? How do you make your lecturers help you?’
“You go come tell am say ‘if you are ready I will go and tell my boss and he will come and meet you here. Then you go come call me.”
“Why I go come call you?”
“See this small boy o! Na you wan first fuck am?” Irikefe said. “I go come first do. When I finish I go call you.”
“Okay what about if we do at the same time?”
“You dey argue with me?”
“Good. Oya wash bed sheet. Ewu Gambia!”
“You hear your son and his friend?” Chisco said to his guide.
“Don’t mind them. They are about to learn the lesson of their lives.”
Chisco walked back to his brother’s room and arranged everything into the food locker. Evae was in the corridor bathing the baby. Achike had gone to buy pap and akara for breakfast. Evae dried the baby with a white towel and carried it inside and met Chisco waiting for her.
“I wan go see your mama for hospital,” He said.
“Dem no go let you unless your brother follow you,” Evae said.
“Den tell am to follow me.”
“Your brother don dey do somehow. I know say the thing ton taya am.”
“If him love you e no go tire am.”
“My mama na problem. See dis kind disgrace!”
“No need to think about that one. You want make hin die?”
“Then we go help am.”
“Nothing we fit do. She no dey talk. She no dey open eye.”
“Chai. I go still go see am.”
Evae balanced the baby on the bed and began to apply powder on it’s buttocks before tying its nappy and then said “you been dey sleep with am abi?”
Chisco did not answer.
“And you don begin fly.”
The spoon he held fell from his hand with a clang.
Evae eased up and looked him deeply in the eyes.
“I know. I am no different.”
“Don’t say anything” his spirit guide said. Tell her her father sends greetings from the beyond. Tell her the mission to save her was not an easy one but it was worth it because her son is beautiful.”
“Your father sends his greetings from the beyond,” Chisco said. “The mission to save you was not an easy one but it was worth it because your son is beautiful.”
Tears welled up in her eyes as Evae understood that Chisco was speaking of Papa Efe.
“Did you meet him?” Evae said.
“He is here now. Say hello.”
“He hears you.”
“Thank you for the sacrifice. I never thought I’ll have the chance to say this to you.”
“He said you should remember your side of the deal.”
“I understand. No more night activities. I have a family now. I have a son.”
“Good. He says you should encourage your husband to take me to see your mother.”
“Okay I will. She did this to you right? She turned you into a wizard.”
“I am told it was meant to be.”
“If papa is with you then I’m sure you do not do night activities.”
“He won’t let me.”
As they spoke Achike opened the door and entered. Immediately the aroma of hot akara filled the rooms.
The both returned to earth.
“You buy the akara?”
“As e dey hot!” Achike said. “Bia! Ogbu! Which one you are standing in my bedroom and whispering with my wife?”
“Darling. Bro Chisco wan go see my mama for hospital.”
Achike frowned and set the things he was carrying on top of the food locker.
“Make hin just go see am dear.”
Achike glared at Chisco. He knew they were sleeping together.
“You miss your girlfriend.”
“There is nothing to explain. You know that is an insult. My mother in law is my mother.”
“Darling. No be the time for that kind talk be dis. Make bro Chisco go see am. Na you dem know for hospital. Abeg carry am go.”
Achike would never refuse his wife anything. Evae was his world. He looked at her clad in only a wrapper over her now bigger breasts. He thought about all those years he could only dream about a woman like her. What will he not do to keep her happy?
“Let me have this akamu first then we will go.”
Chisco nodded and turned and left the room.
“Wait outside” His Spirit guide told him. “There is something I want you to take along with you as you go to the hospital. My son will give it to you.”
“He will go to sleep after doing his washing. After that go to him and ask him for the piece of cloth ontop of the curtain board.”
“What is in the piece of cloth?”
“We come from a family of medicine men. I saved some things. This is the only one he does not know about. He will know in his sleep this afternoon.”
“How are you sure he will sleep this afternoon?”
“What do lazy people do after they manage to wash one plate?”
Chisco chuckled and went outside. He milled around while Mr Zubi addressed Josiah about something they saw in the papers.
“Jonathan is finally going to be adopted by APC. They said he was screened via zoom. How the jagaban is going to let that happen is what I’m waiting to see.
“His aides have been denying that he has not joined the APC.”
“We shall see na. Isn’t it only a matter of days before their primaries is done?
“All these people jostling to be president, the fundamental issues is that how will this economy survive? See here…Fuel subsidy to hit 6 trillion naira in 2022 – IMF. Last year Nigeria’s total revenue was 5.something trillion. It means that all the money we earn is not even enough to subsidize petrol. They will pay salaries. They will also carry out capital expenditures – build roads schools etc. How is that possible?
“We are finished. This government will just continue until it is time to pack and go then the burden falls on the next government.”
Chisco noticed Irikefe returning to his room.
Irikefe stretched out on the linoleum and dosed of instantly.
Ten minutes later Chisco knocked on the door and Irikefe sprang from the floor and rushed to see who it was. When he saw Chisco he rubbed his eyes and glared at his visitor.
“Give me the cloth on top of that una curtain board.”
Irikefe took two steps back, eyes still locked with Chisco’s.
“Wait o! I see you for dream now now. My papa say make I give you the cloth.”
Chisco wore no facial expression.
“No cloth dey there. I don dey live here for twenty years now and I no see any cloth for there.”
“Okay climb up go check. If you see any cloth just give. If you no see cloth, I no go worry you.
Irikefe nodded and found a stool and climbed and ran his hand over the top of the curtain board. Surely, there was a piece of cloth there.
He handed it to Chisco and ran out of the room.
Chisco and Achike prepared to head to LASUTH just as a taxi pulled up and Mr Kingsley and Sister Esther alighted. Mr Kingsley looked like he had just lost his book of quotations. Sister Esther kept shrugging her shoulders and shaking her head. Someone asked “where are they coming from?”
“I think they went to see the Togo woman.”
No one expected Mr Kingsley to give an answer when asked where they were coming from. It was Sister’s Esther’s bearing and hurry to get to the corridor and their room that worried everyone.
“It appears we are about to receive bad news,” someone said.
TO BE CONTINUED.