When he was a child there was an old song Dia’s father used to sing to him all the time. And whenever Dia’s father sang that old song to him, little Dia knew that Big Dia had had a very bad day at the factory. His father came home in the thick of night when black cats and night owls had no business scaring anyone. During school holiday, Dia always sat outside patiently waiting in the family verandah. He particularly liked sitting next to the queen of the night, it was a green flower which blossomed only at night, and when it did Dia enjoyed the scent that came from the flower. A loud beep-beep, and he would dash to the blue gate, swinging it wide ajar for his usually drunk papa to drive in his 83’ camo green BMW. Assisted by his car stereo system, Dia’s father always wore a big smile as he recited the song word for word. Dia in high anticipation would hurriedly close the gate rushing to stay by his father’s side. Papa Dia was very tall, with his huge hands he would scoop his now giggling son carefully flinging him up and catching him softly, he would do that several times before putting him down on the ground. Dia remembered the burning hot smell of Suya meat seasoned with haji pepper that his father would give to him but not before reminding him not to forget to share with his younger sister. As soon as Big Dia stepped into their always light dappled living room, little Dia would catch his father’s whole face beaming with the kind of happiness that overpowered any sign of a bad day at the factory.
“Soldier go, soldier come
Soldier go, soldier come”
Dia could not recollect all the words to the song but he clearly remembered how his father would break into a robotic but somewhat rhythmic dance whenever he came to certain part of the song. It went:
“Mister Follow follow, dey follow follow,
Mister follow follow, make you open sense
I put my mouth for song
Those were the best days of Dia’s childhood, seeing his father sing happily out loud to which after they both would sit down at the dinning table for a hot and delicious supper prepared earlier by Mama Dia.
With his belly full and tight, he would tell Dia to bring him a cold Gulder bottle and come sit with him under the moon-lit verandah. Both looked and breathed in the deep blue skies of another African night. During this silent ritual, Dia’s father would cough a long cough. “The dust in the factory are making me stronger,” he would say laughing. After silence had eaten a fair amount of time, his face would straighten with seriousness.
“Dia, my son I must tell you about respect,” he would begin to say commencing the night’s lecture. “A man has only two things in this world, his blocus and his word.”
“The thing between a man’s legs,” he would say boastfully. “The words a man choose to say,” Dia’s eyes and ears stayed wide open, soaking in every seed and groundnut of his father’s lesson.
“My son, these two things are what makes a man strong in life. These two tools that our great Osanouba has given are what a man will use to earn respect. No one will ever give you respect, so you must always fight day and night hard for it.”
Dia’s memory digging was abruptly cut short by the thick stench that had begun to fill up the badly ventilated room. Dia fought hard to find air, he knew he was going to black out if he remained there any longer. His brown pupils focused on the two bodies that lay sprawled on the floor. Mr. Tee’s empty eyes stared back blank, his black suited body: lifeless. The room now dense with silence smelled of fresh blood. Small bits of Mr. Tee’s once active brain was splashed onto the blue Prussian rug. The other body, also lifeless, belonged to the young man Dia had encountered earlier at the entrance to the house of Cho.
Dia took out his white handkerchief from his pocket, with deliberate care, he gently wiped off spots of blood from his face.
“Jesus….I need a drink,” he grimaced while recalling the moments that had led to this mess of a situation.
A FEW MINUTES AGO
“You better wipe than stupid smile off your face before I send you back to the deepest parts of Dewande River,” Mr. Tee said furiously. The young man he was talking to immediately wiped away any trace of grin.
The poor boy looked like a scared cat, Dia thought.
“Now back to you, what did you say your name was?” questioned Mr. Tee.
“My name is Dia,”
“Oh yes! Now I remember you, you were that hot-blooded detective that got massacred a long time ago,” Mr. Tee voiced, though hard to tell, Dia could see that Mr. Tee’s left eyes was clear, in fact too clear, a fake maybe?
“Yes, you poked your big I-too-know nose down into the wrong basket and got all those kids massacred,” laughing Mr. Tee stood up and casually paced his steps towards a large painting that hung beautifully on his newly painted wall.
“You know who this is?” he asked, his fingers pointing to a large chiseled and valiant face on the painting.
Dia kept his silence, although he clearly knew the figure who loomed over the vinyl oil painting was.
“This is General Charles Ewon, the founder of the southern alliance of the buffalo warriors,” Mr. Tee said strongly. With his face now gleaming with nostalgic pride, he turned sideways facing directly at the large painting exposing a wide scar that stayed slapped permanently. The ghastly looking scar stretched all the way from Mr. Tee’s upper left cheek down onto his neck.
Dia’s eyes darted back to the painting. For a moment, he remained puzzled, though momentarily the light in his head came on and the full picture of Mr. Tee’s cryptic past somewhat became clearer. Only few well informed people knew of the shadowy but magnanimous figure that was Mr. Tee, even fewer knew of Mr. Tee’s mysterious beginnings. He appeared in the city from nowhere, backed by the lagoon brothers and within a short period, he had carefully taken over all of city’s brothels, casinos and ashawos. Up to this moment, Dia never knew where Mr. Tee had come from. Now, he knew. And it was all thanks to this particular oil painting of General Ewon that hung on Mr. Tee’s wall.
“Good man who fought hard for his beliefs. One of his strengths in battle was knowing when to fight and when to retreat, that I fear you clearly lack,” Mr. Tee’s eyes glared back directly at Dia.
Yes! Mr. Tee had been one of the five famous commandeers that had directly fought under General Ewon’s push to capture all of the south. Dia looked back at Mr. Tee and pictured him in his full regalia battling the deep southern swamps.
“I will give you a chance to ask one question, so ask quickly,” Mr. Tee bluntly said.
Dia took his chance, with boldness, he asked, “Tell me where big boy Dede is?” The question caught Mr. Tee off guard, he had not expected that question from anyone especially this washed away Detective.
Mr. Tee walked back to his chair, took a deep long breathe and sat down. Immediately, Dia sensed how sour the air in the room had become, he also noticed the young man had cautiously moved closer to the office door.
“Yes yes….You lack the sense of retreat,” Mr. Tee said, his right hand reaching into desk drawer revealing a silver-coated 9mm glock.
“It’s truly sad you missed death once…” Mr. Tee sighed. “But not this time though, this time I will personally make sure you stay dead.”
“We don’t have to retort to this measure,” Dia said unwaveringly. “I came here because I know you are a reasonable man.”
“Reasonable? Look here, you lost any reasonable chance to see your loved ones the moment you asked that question,” said Mr. Tee with brutal sincerity. “Eko grab this useless man, let’s take him down to river.”
“We don’t have to do this,” Dia persisted. “Please!”
“Eko I say grab him,” roared the blood-vexed Mr. Tee.
Dia caught as Eko moved closer towards him on his right while on his left Mr. Tee standing, aimed his gun straight at Dia’s face. With lightning speed before any of his assailant could notice, Dia banished the two men to the after-life with two piercing bullets. He then carefully returned his 9mm military centennial glock back to the holster strapped to his waist.
Quietly, he composed himself and walked out of the office while a large chunk of Mr. Tee’s brains drooped downwards from the oil vinyl painting of General Charles Ewon that hung beautifully on the now blood stained wall.