The Equalizer

 

Ibrahim leveled the gun at Konji, and then squeezed the trigger. Click. Konji woke up from its early afternoon snooze and nodded involuntarily at the visitor.

Ibrahim imagined reprising the act with Sergeant Udoji, wondering how the idiot would react to a real bullet hitting him in the head. What a cherished sight that would be. Watch the fool twitch like a sliced chicken, his blood and life slowly oozing out of him.

Konji raised its red head, rotated it about twenty degrees, and then crawled up closer to Ibrahim. Ibrahim released the grasshopper from his grip and sat back to watch.

“This one is not for you, Konji. Step back,” Ibrahim warned. The insect hopped about an inch away from Ibrahim in a bid to escape, but just before Konji could pounce, Ibrahim slammed his heel on the insect, crushing it. “I told you to leave it alone. This one is for the victims of your bullying. I am the equalizer, and I’m on their side today.” Ibrahim loaded the gun with bullets.

Two female lizards crawled out into view and cautiously approached the dead hopper. Konji gave chase, causing the female lizards to scurry away like frightened rats.

Ibrahim pointed the gun at a spot near Konji and pulled the trigger. Bang! The force of the shot made him jerk backwards. He released his grip on the black Baretta pistol, making it drop with a thud unto the grey sandy floor of the unfinished building.

Infused with a new-found sense of power, Ibrahim picked up the gun and gave chase. He ran after Konji, who darted between walls and rooms as if chased by the devil. “Come back here. You want to challenge me today?”

Moments later, Ibrahim found his way back into the front room, and quickly realized that if he were going to face Udoji, he’d need steadier nerves and a stronger adrenalin surge.  He sat down on the floor, took out a cigarette, lighted it, took a drag, and inhaled deeply. He leaned against the moldy, black wall of the room and planned his next moves.

#

Ibrahim swerved the 1995 Honda Civic sedan unto the far right lane, cutting off the Molue bus, and inciting its conductor’s ire, who rained down curses on Ibrahim. Ibrahim deliberately drove out of lane, aiming at the pile of tires that served as check point for Sergeant Udoji and three other soldiers.

Ibrahim jammed his fist against the wheel of the 1995 Honda Civic, honking so loudly and incessantly that soon all eyes were aimed at him.

A Kalishnikov hanging on his shoulder, Sergeant Udoji waved off the car in front of Ibrahim, and then marched menacingly towards Ibrahim, his face knotted up in anger. Udoji slashed the air in front of him with his finger, directing Ibrahim to pull over.

Ibrahim did as told, took out his gun and sat it on his lap. Through the Honda’s rear-view mirror, he watched Udoji approach his car. Ibrahim covered the gun with the newspaper.

Udoji’s demeanor softened when he doubled over and saw who the Honda’s driver was. “Na you.”

“Yes, na me.”

“Ibrahim, what are you doing here?”

“I want all my money back. All!”

“All your money? What are you talking about?”

In one swift move, Ibrahim got out of his car, yanked Udoji’s gun off his shoulder, and held him in a head lock. Pandemonium broke out. Yelps and cries of fright broke out amongst the street hawkers, prompting Udoji’s colleagues to rush up towards him, their guns drawn.

“Ibrahim, what are you doing? Are you crazy?” Udoji muttered, paralyzed with surprise.

Ibrahim leaned into Udoji’s ear and said, “Shey you say I be Boko Haram? I will Boko Haram your yash today.”

“Ibrahim I was joking. Are you crazy?”

“You see me laugh. I told you before that that joke no funny. Because of that joke, I’ve lost my job. Everybody thinks I’m Boko Haram. Wey all my money you extort from me? Telling me you will report me if I don’t pay you. Enough!”

“Put down your weapon!” A soldier barked at Ibrahim.

“Don’t shoot!” Udoji pleaded, waving his hands at the soldiers. “Don’t shoot. I have it under control.”

The soldiers looked at each other funny and then cocked their weapons, prompting on-lookers to rent the air with more screams and clashes of merchants’ items as they scrambled for cover.

Boom!

At first, Ibrahim wasn’t sure what had just happened. He noticed that the onlookers, as if in slow motion, had turned away from pointing at him, but were now pointing at something in the sky.

Ibrahim’s grip on Udoji loosened, and that’s when Udoji turned around and wrestled him to the ground.

 

Ye paripa! Plane don fall for ground!”

Ewo

What was that?

Chei!

Na plane o!

He fall for ground!

Everybody ran.

Helter Skelter.

Cars smashed into cars.

People ran into people.

People ran into cars.

Black smoke in the air.

Screams that could shatter ear drums.

Everybody running away.

From their stalls.

From their wares.

From their cars.

From their families.

From Nigeria.

FOR THEIR LIVES!

(Why was Ibrahim still fighting with Udoji? Look at them. Didn’t they know that something calamitous had happened? Hey!)

FREEZE!

Ibrahim and Udoji stopped fighting. They picked up their weapons, pointed them at each other, then looked away. They saw the Armageddon that was unfolding before their eyes. They took a few steps backwards, turned around, and ran.

IBRAHIM FROZE IN PLACE.

Wait. He could hear blood-curdling screams. He could see people running away from the area. When he gazed up, he could see a red flame, clothed in a black dress, licking hungrily at the air above the plane.

IBRAHIM TURNED AROUND.

He started running.

Away from his retreat.

Away from the fight with Udoji.

Away from their differences.

Away from revenge.

Away from hatred.

If he could just get there in time he could, may be, save a life. He might lose his in the process; that he’d already factored into the day’s equation. And so he ran…

Towards the crash site.

Towards the trapped passengers.

Towards the crying babies.

Towards the doomed passengers.

Towards those on the ground.

Towards the heat.

Towards the fire.

TOWARDS NIGERIA!

Sergeant  Udoji saw Ibrahim going against the grain, running towards the accident site, and surmised that his neighbor from the North had totally lost it.

But Udoji stopped running away, turned around, and ran…

Away from his retreat.

Away from the fight with Ibrahim.

Away from their differences.

Away from revenge.

Away from hatred.

Away from deceit.

Maybe his neighbor was not that crazy after all. May be he had a just cause, willing to give up his life to save his life, a cause that had now been recast by the plane crash. Maybe now he was willing to give up his life to save another.

So Udoji ran…

Towards the crash site.

Towards the trapped passengers.

Towards the crying babies.

Towards the doomed passengers.

Towards those on the ground.

Towards the heat.

Towards the fire.

Towards their similarity.

TOWARDS NIGERIA!

#

Shirtless, and covered with soot and sweat, Ibrahim waved frantically at a slow-moving woman carrying a bucket of water. He didn’t know of what ethnic group she was; he didn’t care. She was a Nigerian. He grabbed the bucket of water from her and ran for the hundredth time that afternoon. Tears poured down his face as he ran, because he knew he had embarked on a losing battle.

The mother who lay there as her torso burned, unable or unwilling to utter a last word. The child who had been playing with his tire car outside the house. Barbecued. Both images seared into his memory. Forever. God.

And so he ran, cursing at something, at someone, towards the fire. If only he had a fire truck, like the ones he’d seen in DVD’s. And if a strong pair of hands had not held him back, he would’ve run into the flame.

Those strong arms were those of Udoji’s. Ibrahim collapsed in his embrace and cried like a baby.



27 thoughts on “The Equalizer” by howyoudey (@howyoudey)

  1. I like the story – but it’s a bit confusing at the beginning. I feel like the story started slow…but I get the picture.

    Nice.

    1. The first part with the lizard, Konji, was an attempt to reveal character, reveal something about Ibrahim. This was his “upon the roof” place, so to speak a place he usually came to reclaim his youth, or a youth he never had. Means that he was not too far along from being a teenager. This is where he came to ruminate or find peace from the chaos and oppression of the world. Well, on this day when he was about to do something crazy, it became his last calling station, as well as charge station. @Seun-Odukoya, thanks for reading.

  2. That beginning was off the hook. I thought it was another tale entirely until I got to the middle of it.

    This is suspenseful and well written…

    Welldone. How you dey @howyoudey. I like the way this was written. Original and creative. Need I say more?

    1. @lancaster, ‘Nuff respect, my man. I appreciate your kind words.

  3. Na true fiction….I admire how mixed urn story up with those poetic lines (that’s what they are, right? ).
    Gud job, but what was all that abt Konji?

    1. @shaifamily, thanks for reading. Please check out my reply to @Seun-Odukoya.

  4. I enjoyed this.
    I think the part with konji and that question in italics asking why Ibrahim and Udoji were fighting can be removed.

    1. @osakwe, thanks for reading. I explained the Konji part upstairs. The italic thing is the author’s voice reacting to the text. In addition to “prosetry” I sometimes inject author’s voice in the story, but until now, never shared that aspect of reading with my readers. This was just a hint at it.

  5. Very very interesting perspective to the crash, and the break to poetic arrangement at the beginning was awesome–very creative indeed. I also like the way you factored in the unity we witness in this kinds of national disasters that affects people of almost all creeds and backgrounds.

    But then, I wish you restricted that poetic arrangement to the first one. The others watered down its impact heavily, more so for the fact that they also followed the same pattern (especially as regards the same word starting almost every line). And yes, I also struggled with the first part (Kongi and Ibrahim) and had to read some parts a number of times to understand what was going on.

    But on the whole, this is a very nice and philosophical piece. That Dana crash was a microcosm of Nigeria.

    Well done. Keep improving your art.

    1. @chemokopi, thanks for reading. I should pay heed to a poet of your calibre. I agree, by the way.

  6. I didn’t know what to make of it at the onset but towards the end I got all the sense. Very interesting and lovely message.

    1. @chimzorom, thanks for reading. I agree with you, the start might stump you for a sec, but hopefully it makes sense as you go.

  7. Well, I have a picture of a dreadlocked writer. Are you? Your work simply numbs me. The way your mind works… This is profound. Like @chemokopi said, chill on the latter verses of the poetic work. Probably, condense it into the first stanza. You have a beauty here.

    1. @omojola, you got me. Locks go on and off depending on season, vocation, and state of mind. Your words are kind. I give thanks to God and then to NaijaStories for letting it rip. I’m simply having a ball with this.

      On your suggestion, I agree.

  8. New breed, creative indeed.

    1. @oster, thanks for reading.

  9. The part of them running towards the crash actually had me laugh out loud. Just felt funny to me…

    It is funny how in Disaster, we find Unity…

    1. It was the equalizer, my broda. Glad you got it.

  10. though the begining was a bit slow, the story builds up eventually and then climaxes – well done, good story.

    1. @mikeefa, thanks for reading.

  11. Now I’m thinking again about this disaster. A plane actually fell down from the sky and hit people on the ground! Stuff of the craziest imagination!!

    1. @obiaguomba, thanks for reading.

  12. Hmmmm…Interesting.Kudos!

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