The Man In Black twisted his foot and squeezed at a sheet. He was getting frustrated. No task had ever taken this long to accomplish. He was not going to have any more of it. She must be put away today. He took a look at the sheet of paper in his hand. The rough sketch of a girl was on it, with a red circle around her chest region. Today she must meet with her destiny – the one he had planned for her.
It was a wet Friday evening. Usually, life at the Ibom Tropicana where the Silverbird Cinema was, was always busy on Fridays: the popular theme “thank God it is Friday” always played out. Both those who had been productive during the course of the week and those who were more of a liability to the society bought into the theme. But today was different. The numbers at the Tropicana were less. One could actually count the number of people that were around if one chose to.
The Man In Black noticed this, but he could not have been happier at the way things were. Less people meant less eyes, and less eyes meant higher probability of carrying out the job unnoticed. It was not like he was scared of carrying out a job in public – he had done that on several occasions, but just like every other person in a similar line of business as his, a clearer coast meant a perfect job. And he – The Man In Black, had a thing for perfection.
He stole a glance at his watch. It was almost 5.30 pm, time for the movie he had paid for. He wished he could make the time run faster. He looked at his ticket. The movie, Ice Age 4 was boldly imprinted on it. He couldn’t believe he actually paid for the movie – that movie. Ice Age 4? Seriously? Ice Age 4?
“Gag me,” he muttered. “Moron,” he cursed at the girl on the sheet. She actually informed his decision. He paid for the ticket because that was the movie she was going to see. He went over his plan again. It appeared simple: buy whatever movie ticket she was buying, follow her to the room, sit behind her, and do it without anyone noticing. Simple. The Man in Black tapped his box of tools beside him. All he needed to make the job smooth rested in there.
At that moment, he noticed the girl walking into Room 5.
He pulled out another sheet from his gabardine coat. There was a list of people on it. They all had their names crossed, except the last name – that of the girl. The Man In Black could not believe how much he had achieved in the last month. He had thirteen names on the sheet. He had done twelve in just three weeks, but had been following the thirteenth – the girl – for a week now. She always had a way of escaping his plot. He had followed her almost everywhere – the eateries: Oliver Tweest, Food Affairs, Crunches … He had also followed her to her school, the University of Uyo and even her church, the Redeemed Christian Church of God at Edet Akpan Avenue. But the problem was that everywhere he followed her, she was always with company; always, even when she went to the ladies.
The time was now 5.45 pm. The Man In Black took the last quarter of an hour waiting to see who else would be watching Ice Age 4 but in all that time, no other person joined the girl, much to the surprise of The Man In Black. He spotted a janitor dusting the carpet at the doorway after the girl walked in. The janitor, with his broom and parker later followed the girl in, but was out in no time.
“Perfect,” The Man In Black droned. “I guess it’s just going to be you and me, baby.”
He picked up his tool kit, touched the brim of his hat and sauntered into Room 5. The room was dark and ice-chill. The flickering ray from the projector guided the path of The Man In Black. He picked a spot at the last row. His eyes roved in search of the girl but he could not spot her just yet. In no time, he opened his tool kit and started caressing each tool, one after the other.
In the tool box, he had every edition of Play Boy magazine of the last year, Vaseline, fifteen packs of Gold Circle condom, one sex toy, a Karma Sutra DVD collection, some other X-rated movies, Barbie versions of Nicky Minaj, Kim Kardashian and Mercy Johnson, a knife which he never used, a hammer, twine, and sketches of several girls. He picked up the sketch of the girl he had followed in. He was a good artist, and he had perfectly captured the excessively heavy bust and waistline of the girl. Ever since he crossed paths with her at Central Supermarket, she had remained in his thoughts – just like every other girl he had fantasized about.
He remembered his eighteenth birthday. He had unknowingly walked into his naked mother in her room. What he saw aroused the man in him. He had rushed back into his room, put down a sketch of his naked mom, and used the drawing to satisfy his libido whenever he had an urge to masturbate. With time, he got fed up with his mother’s sketch and craved for somebody else. He picked on some girls in his class, put down their sketches and used them to satisfy his libido. Over time, he got fed up with fantasizing over these girls in his room. He had new ideas. He would put down the sketch of a girl that caught his fancy, follow her to wherever and arouse himself to satisfaction, with both the sketch and the girl still in view. It did not matter whether he had full view of the girl so long she was around, no matter the distance. Her presence alone made him feel he was actually making love to her. He would slide his hand into his trouser and get going. And depending on how wild his fantasy took him that day, he would dress accordingly. In the past, he had dressed as a policeman, doctor, engineer, reporter and even, pastor. Today, he was a mobster. He had followed girls to the supermarket, park, class room, club and even, the church. Today would be the first time he would be doing it in a cinema room and he was more than pleased his plot was playing out, hitch-free after a week of wrecked plans.
The ray of the projector fell on his shoulders and leg. He reached for the sketch and positioned it neatly against the dim ray on his leg. He could not still spot the girl. It did not matter. He would get going, arouse himself with her sketch and just before he climaxed, he knew he would see her. Perfect!
Just as he slid his hands into his trouser, the knife fell from the tool box.
“Shit,” he cursed.
He reached under the seat for the knife but got his hand into something sticky. His fingers moved over the floor and he felt more wetness. He reached for his Blackberry and turned on the torchlight. He was taken aback at what he saw. He saw the knife quite alright, but in a pool of red. He picked up the knife, dollops of red trickling off it, and traced the pool of red which stretched to the centre of the row. There, he saw the body of the girl, resting in a queer position. Her body sank deep into the seat with her head bent awkwardly to the side. His heart started racing and his forehead broke a sweat. He did not want to think what he was thinking.
He dragged his shaky feet over to her seat. A tiny hole with jagged edges rested on her chest, fresh red liquid trickling down. The Man In Black felt sick instantly and vomited. His puke spread over the still body of the girl. Without thinking, and frightened to the bones, he made for the puke trying to wipe it off the girl, his hands shaking uncontrollably. Then he spotted a note on her leg. He picked it up and lifted it against the ray. A roughly scribbled message read: +234 87 41229415.
The Man In Black dropped the note, wiped off sweat from his forehead and dashed to his seat. He threw his blood-covered knife and the girl’s sketch into his tool kit, slammed it shut and made for the exit door. Just as he opened the door, a girl walked past him into the room. The Man In Black was sure the girl noticed the uneasiness on his face. He moved on, hastening his steps as he spotted the exit door of the cinema complex. It was still some hundred steps away. He had not taken ten steps when he heard a loud scream coming from Room 5. He started hopping, but before he could make eighty steps, he heard a shout he was sure was directed at him.
“Murder! Murder! Stop that man!” It was a masculine voice.
All eyes in the lounge turned to him. He started running.
Five more steps and I’ll be there. Oh God, oh God…
As he reached for the door handle, he felt a heavy strike at the back of his neck and that was the last thing he remembered.
***Published by author on www.haroldwrites.wordpress.com