The cars sped past on the highway that passed through the small town. The tarred road glistened in the sun. Their were many shops and small businesses on either side of the highway. Restaurants, retail shops, suya joints, barbing saloons, vehicle spare parts dealers, beer parlours, two cheap motels and girls hawking different edibles on trays on the ground, sitting under the cool shades of leafy neelm trees. There was also a police station and you were either on the right side or on the left side of the law, depending on your direction on the highway. The small town was sorrounded by the bush and wild hills encircled with growing shrubs.
Yeshua sat on a plastic chair on the small verandah in front of his friends beer parlour. It was afternoon and no one was drinking inside. Customers would not begin to come until the cool of the sunset descends. The news of the death of his fellow church member Musa had shocked the small town. That was what everybody was talking about. Petty rumours of adulteries and incests had died down for now. His body had been transported to the morgue in the big city just fifty kilometres away. Yeshua sighed. ‘ His poor mother and brothers. What a pity.’ He gazed at the vehicles driving by on the highway at top speed, as he did everyday including Sundays. Christianity was a walk with the Lord.
Since the Lord, the Holy Ghost, dwelt in his body and he always kept the passover in his friends beer parlour with bread and sardines ( sardine to represent the fish in the miracle of the multiplication and bread the body of the Lord ) and brandy ( to represent the wine and the blood of the Lord ) and then drink the brandy to exorcise evil spirits, then he need not go to church, for the church had come to him, and his body was the church. He was very dutifull in drinking his passover brandy, knowing the so-called “evil spirit” was but a parasite and certainly doesn’t like it. He liked telling this to people if they asked him wether he went to church on Sunday. They didn’t like the answer so they stopped asking the question. Which was his point anyway. “Good afternoon.”
Yeshua looked up from his non-seeing highway gazing hypnotic reverie and gazed at a woman holding a baby in her arms standing right next to him.
“Ah, good afternoon.” said Yeshua, startled. It was late Musa’s widow. “Salma? Sorry about your loss.”
She nodded sadly.
“How may I help you?” he asked.
“I am sorry to… to bother you, but I… I need your help. I don’t believe my husband hanged himself in his own shop.”
“What? Are you serious?”
She nodded. “I think… I think he was murdered.”
Yeshuas eyes became wide in suprise.
“I didn’t see his face. It was last night. Musa bought a doll for our daughter Sadi when he was alive, she recently dipped it into some dye kept in a bucket by the washermen. The colour runs, leaving a mark on your clothes. The man must have come in contact with the doll for it was all over his clothes as if someone had been hitting him with the wooden doll.”
“What was the dolls colour?”
“Originally it was black, modelled on the features of an african girl, but Sadi said she wanted it to look like the other white dolls so she dipped it into a yellowish white dye.”
“Interesting.” Yeshua noded his head. “And where did you see this man?”
“I saw him late at night, around nine thirty P.M. I was wondering what my husband was still doing in the shop at that unholy hour, so I headed in that direction. Everybody had closed his shop, both sides of the road were deserted. The man was bathed by the headlights of passing cars before he got into his car. He kept his head down and got into a white peugeot car. But I got his license number. DT 34 V426. He was tall and fair skinned like your igbo fellow business men.”
“Salma, that is wonderful. I believe you told the police?”
She fell silent.
“Why not?” he asked. “Because Misau, the district police officer in charge, had wanted my hand in marriage first and had been driven out of the spare parts business by my husband before he joined the police. He won’t really do anything about it. He might even have a hand in my husbands murder because he was holding a grudge. He says it wasn’t a murder but an ordinary suicide.”
“Don’t worry.” said Yeshua, shaking his head sadly, “I have friends who are in the police force in the big city. They will help us find his killer or killers, if any.”
Salma knelt down. “Thank you Yeshua. Thank you.”
“Don’t thank me yet. Let’s wait and see what happens.”
She thanked him some more and went back home. Yeshua shook his head, lost in thought.
He spent a week doing a little poking here, a little poking there and discreet investigations not in the city first but right there in the town based on the Judas principle of “he who eats bread with me will betray me.” After all his great efforts, he found Nothing. He spent his days trying to figure out the jigsaw puzzle. He had already called his friends in the police in the big city on the very day Salma had come and gave them the suspects description and vehicle license plate number.They were yet to call him back with any news. He was growing agitated. But no one ever found out anything.
After three weeks, Yeshua needed to buy more spare parts for his shop so he locked up and went to the motorpark. He boarded a commercial bus which drove him to the big city. He finished his shopping, had the bags full of brand new spare parts loaded into a chartered pick up truck that was also transporting other goods, got into the pick up trucks passenger seat and enjoyed the evenings breeze as they drove away. When they reached the outskirts of the city, Yeshua asked the driver to stop near a lonely motel in the lightly populated outskirts of the city. The white peugeot car with the license number DT 34 V426 was parked outside the motel.Quickly, Yeshua pulled out his mobile phone from his pocket and called his friends in the police. “Yes, the car is parked outside the Aqua Vitae River motel by saint Damascus road in the outskirts of the city.” They replied that they would be right there. Then Yeshua caught his breath. The fair skinned man had just walked out of the motel and was about to open the cars door.
“Driver help me. This is a criminal,” shouted Yeshua as he ran to the man grabbing him by the waist. Together with the driver, they subdued the man and tied him up. People from within the motel had gathered, including the motel security and some members of staff. There was a babel of voices. When the people heard that the man was a suspected murderer, they screamed; “Lets hang him on a tree, burn him and then, to rid us of his evil, pour his ashes into the river.” But no one laid a hand on him.
The police soon arrived. They walked up to Yeshua.
“Yeshua, i’m sorry, but your under arrest.”
Yeshua stared at him, speechless. He looked at the sergeant.
“But peter, your’e… your’e my friend.”
“I am not. Men, take him away. You’ll be charged with the murder of Musa.”
Yeshua was never tried. Word on the street was that he died while he was been tortured under interrogation. But the hills knew a secret and they did not tell the winds for the winds would not keep it strictly to themselves.
It was now years later. Yeshau woke up in another town, far, far away, like the beginning of a fairy tale. It was passover and he kept it this time with bread and pork and wine. It was another sunday. He now owned a beer parlour. He could hear from the noisy loudspeakers every word that the pastor uttered in the nearby church. The pastor was saying;
“One of our readings today will be taken from the Song of Solomon chapter one, verses one and two, five and six;
“The song of songs, which is Solomons. Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth; for your love is better than wine. I am black but beautiful, dark as the desert tents of kedar, but beautiful as the curtains in Solomons palace. Don’t look down on me because of my colour, because the sun has tanned me. My mothers children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept.”
Yeshua wondered when the noisy loudspeaker would become silent. The only person who knew he was still alive was his mother. She was there to visit him in his rented beer parlour which had two bedrooms attached.
“How are the people back in the town? And Salma, late Musas’ widow?”
His mother sighed.
“They are fine my good child. You remmember the fair skinned man? He has been arrested for Musas’ murder. The poor man. He was Salmas’, late Musas’ widows lover.”
Yeshuas mouth hung open, while he stared at his mother.
“Yes. It’s true. And late Musa was said to be having an affair with the mans sister, Suzy. Your sister told me that Salma, Musas’ widow, knew about her husbands affair. She had seen them sleeping together behind curtains in the shop that night before he died. The poor woman. She is planning to remarry, a very rich man from the city. I’m only glad that you’re still alright, my child.”