The Titans are rising
The month of December crept in slowly, rather slowly; so slow for the children who had been envisaging the last part of it, when they can get good food (especially the all-party-favoured jollof-rice) and drinks, when they can play with bangers and fireworks. So slow for politicians who want the New Year to come on time so that they can weigh their option about the Nigerian party they would remain loyal to, where they would expend their time, resources, and energy to. So that they would know if it would be the Action Congress of Nigeria or People Democracy Party, they would belong to, to see if the upcoming parties like K.O.W.A can even make other parties of Nigeria run for their money. Nigerians as a whole with gravy, dark, and wearied heart believe that the month, December, when removed from the number of months remaining to the Presidential election would draw nearer the expected Change and transformation they have been crying; many want to see to it that the incumbent President, President Ebele Goodluck Jonathan, comes back to the post, to transform the nation; others believe that the coming of a new person, General Mohammed Buhari, to be precise, would surely make the race easy for the country and would procure change.
Jerry looked over his shadow for the umpteenth time that day, scanning the environment for any sign of anyone following him, but all he could see was the old haggard woman crunched at a corner of the street, the brown ragged plate she uses for begging by her side, making Jerry wonder why she did not leave this lonely path and move to an open space, to a place a lot of people would notice her plight, and help her. The street was devoid of anything-called life; instead, the only thing he could smell was the dryness of the earth, and he could also smell the cold of the air. Thunder rumbled in distance. Today was the fifth after his near-death experience, when the cold hand of death was almost on his life, when he thought all was over. After that ordeal, he had begun to watch over his shoulders from time to time to be sure no one was following him- be it for a good or bad reason.
The smell of sweet, beefy, aromatic soup filled the air as he opened the door to his room, mixing with the fragrance of the air freshener in his room, which Ms. Joy had placed there two days ago, when she came to visit him. He had been thinking, of late, of how he would give up every fear, shame and infamy of what people might say, what they might think about him going out with a nerd, who, though a nerd, would soon become someone every lady would be dying to look like because of the way he would ‘tuish’ her up to the standard of any model he had ever come across, and luckily for him she was not even attending a church that enforces no-wearing-of-earring.
‘Arrggh’, he muttered as he rushed to his pot to close it and prevent dust from entering it.
This was the month of December; December comes around with wicked white friend, harmattan. The whole place is filled those brown, crumbly, irritating dust- arid, sterile dusts, they find their way into ones mouth, to one’s taste bud, cramming their way into one’s nose, between toes and whitening people’s hair. Even one’s face is not exempted from the whiteness that the harmattan brings with it. And it is this dust Jerry do not want in his soup.
Then someone knocked the door, jolting Jerry out of his concentration on the closing of the pot.
Jerry opened his mouth, raised his upper face in worry, shifted his right ear towards the door to be sure he heard well, and then he closed his mouth.
The knock came again.
Jerry quickly scanned the room and allowed his eyes to ransack it as he sought for a good, strong, long, harmful object he could get, and was happy to see the stick he had always kept in room for such thing event.
‘Yes?’ He answered with a voice that would have made any chicken-hearted fellow to cow away from his door.
‘Good afternoon’, a cool throaty reply came from outside the room, as if the owner of the voice was not perturbed by such threatening voices, as if the owner was used to such threat.
Jerry looked through a hole to be prepared for any eventualities and stories that touch that the heart. And saw that the face was unfavourably unfamiliar, giving him an opportunity to tighten his grip on the stick he was holding, his muscles protruding through his skin in different contours, his breathe steadied to prevent him from overacting, and he himself poised and ready to attack the person, if he tries anything funny.
Jerry opened the door and quickly surveyed the man before him. The man was short, fair, and slim, and he had shrewd eyes and his nose pointed forward as if it could even smell the thought of men’s heart. He looked up and smiled warily; giving Jerry an opportunity to calculate where he would hit the stick on if the man tries anything foolish, make any unwanted move.
‘Yes?’ Jerry said, scowling at the man.
‘Good afternoon sir…’, the policeman said and stared at him, opened his mouth, and seems to change what he wanted to say, swallowed hard, squinted his eyes, widened his long nose, cocked his head to a side as if he was searching for something from Jerry’s eyes and straightened when he seems not to find what he was looking for in Jerry, ’we saw this phone on a dead man and would like to …’
‘Who are you? Who is the ‘we’ ‘, Jerry cut-in, and his beat increasing as he prepared himself for anything. Can it be that his life was more complicated than he thought? Should he worry about his past more? He opened his mouth halfway in expectation of any bad news.
‘Oh! I’m sorry’, the short man said as brought out an ID card out of his front pocket, and pointed it at Jerry who drew near to be sure he was seeing right,’ I’m officer Yemi…’
‘Good…’ He said as he began to release the stick he was holding gently on the wall, making sure it was resting on the wall, that it did not fall and make the police officer think otherwise. Then he remembered that the police would be investigating the death of the dead man, Jerry quickly opened the door, and came out of the room.
‘As I was saying the other time, we saw this phone on a dead man, and we were surprised to see your picture in it’.
‘My picture?’ Jerry said as he edge forward to see the picture, which the policeman pointed at him, and his heartbeat almost, stopped as he saw the picture the policeman was pointing at him. It was the picture of the cloth he was putting on the day of the death of his assailant. The picture was taken when Jerry was coming out of the room. He had to ward off this police, he had to make sure this policeman did not see him as the killer but he had heard enough of Nigeria police to trust them. They would not do thorough investigation before concluding that he is the killer, that he was the one fired the bullet on the head of the man he did not know. Jerry quickly changed his look of fear to a quizzical look.
‘ That’s me now’, he proclaimed.
‘We know… Have you ever seen this man?’ the police said, raising his own phone to show Jerry the picture of the dead man.
When Jerry saw the picture of the dead man, he almost shouted that that was the man that wanted to kill him some days before, that wanted to make him stop breathing, the man whom death saved him from. He wanted to tell the policeman that he saw this man at Agric bus stop station and later in his street but he decided against saying such.
‘No. I’ve never seen him…But what was he doing with my picture. That was me five days ago when I was going to meet one of the teachers of the school I work in.’
‘Does this teacher live around here? Can I talk to her?’
‘Yes… Yes…’ Jerry replied, happy to have an alibi who would readily, happily and surely vindicate him, making sure that she does not say anything that would spoil what she had said before, ‘excuse me’.
Jerry rushed to the room to pick his phone and called Miss Jacobs in the presence of the police and she came to testify that she saw him, even when the police ask her if she can remember the time he got to her, she told him he got to her around 5.00pm which would have been true because the picture was taken 4.51pm of that same day.
When the police left, he smiled with relief and would really love to hug Ms. Jacobs, to kiss her but he restrained himself with the hope that that day would surely come. He turned to face Miss Jacobs to see her eyes running on him intently. Her expression poised.
‘Where were you from 4:51- 5:50?’
Unluckily for him, Miss Jacobs was a time freak, who believes we cannot tie the day down with a rope. She keeps track of every of her movement, and keeps track time of all the things she was does. Therefore, when she says its 5.50pm, it is truly 5.50pm.
Officer Yemi was surprised at what he saw. He still could not believe his eyes. Bidemi was supposed to know him; in fact, he knew him very well. Their path had crossed many times especially when someone dies, and this time on the occasion of another person’s death. Although, he knew that Bidemi was not a member of any bad group or cult, even when he was in the University because he had followed him and had made sure he confirmed that Bidemi was not a member of any cult, Yemi did know that evil things tend to lurk around Bidemi, and that people like to pass blame on Bidemi, making the world believe he did what he did not do. Yemi knew and have heard enough about Bidemi to know that ladies talked about him when he was in the University as if he was their god; their eyes sparkled whenever they see him; they giggled behind him, always avoiding his eyes whenever he mistakenly feels their eyes on himself. They scribble his name whenever they are daydreaming.
Bidemi just did as if he did not know him; in fact, he talked to him like a total stranger, as if their path had never crossed before. Maybe he is just a look alike, he needed to find out from someone; someone who would know every bit of information about Bidemi and he knew he must do it. He felt the urge to do it, that urge that comes whenever he is moving towards the right way in his investigation, no matter how wrong it might want to look like. He must look for this person though it would cause him trouble financially and might bring a little quarrel between him and his wife.
Once had expected Jasper back for days now. Even though, he knew Jasper was always rude to him and sort of dislike some of his actions, but he still sees Jasper as his protégé and cares about him like a little brother. He has not seen him for some days, which was unlike Jasper, who likes being around, letting everyone know he is around, hale, hearty, and ready for any job. Once called his phone number it was not ringing- switched off and that is not a good sign. He needed to find him, and needed to do that now.