Maybe, from love comes evil after all.
The white clouds hid away from the sun this midmorning as did the birds the noise from below. Traders singing short accolades, or ringing bells to attract a customer from among the large crowd of scurried citizens whose destination couldn’t be determined. Maybe it was tradition you walk briskly here. Occasionally, people were pushed and responded with a curse on whichever Adam or Eve offspring it was who had abused them. Others had a pair, or both pair of slippers torn apart, because someone had strode on their heels. Well, it meant business for the cobbler who was sitting around a corner close-by. Drivers weren’t left out from the Abobloshie market in Ghana, whether truck drivers or taxi drivers, and every so often, the commercial ones too, with whom traders and customers battled words with for almost running a person over.
Emmanuel is a stout 5.5 foot man, his complexion exposed him amongst those who never apply sunscreen at the beach. The casual looking red shirt, khaki shorts, and black leather sandals 36 year old was a member of the beard gang. Rarely did Emmanuel visit this human swampy place, but it was imperative he did so today. He was visiting a special beads man. He held out a piece of dirty yellow paper with directions to a place scribbled on it when he thought he had made his location. Paper because only the good hearts were friends with Google Maps. The old two storey building before him had many shop outlets, but beardy eyed one shop in particular on the first floor with a metal sign above with graphic inscriptions; PICKED.
It was a shame this man beneath the gulal coloured water had no friends. But how could he? He was monster turned overnight. Emmanuel came out head first, then with his upper body, slowly, eyes closed like he was possessed.
Now that his shirt was off you could see the tattoo of a woman on his left breast. Whoever that damsel was, she was damn special enough to get marked on his heart. A beautiful bead necklace, like a rosary without the crucifix, neither Mary, hung loosely around his neck. He reached for his watch lying on a part of his bath tub. “Nine-fourteen. This is better.” His voice was hoarse and had this sadness with it.
Emmanuel jumped out of the water butt naked only to stop by the no-door entrance to his bathroom and pass out some heavy gas. He smiled at his art work. He should do that more often. As if being summoned, friendly smoke from somewhere over the rainbow came together incrementally to form this pretty, dark skinned lady sitting on his messy bed about three inches away from where he stood. She was quite the thick, typical Ghanaian woman with her curves and rounds intact covered only in a white small towel.
“Oh Emmanuel!” She exclaimed playfully and pecked her nose. “You are a bush boy!… I’ll pay you back just wait and see.” She laughed.
A titter of delight sat on his countenance, and a tear tumbled down his left cheek and fell to the carpet floor while the lady vanished the way she had come in. Emmanuel shut his eyes tight. Too tight. But the floods that threaten to break these bars were much stronger. There was rain, there was thunder. Emmanuel sat on the carpet, hands on his chest wailing uncontrollably.
Who said men never cry?
If Dennis had known what awaited him 32,096 seconds away, he would have visited a church to receive a prayer. Interestingly, Dennis had phoned the area police three days ago. He swore he had heard a fremd noise coming from beneath his building. And that was totally ridiculous because all that was beneath his house was a cement foundation and plenty earth. The police showed up anyway. Two officers who had come by searched the compound and every nook and cranny in his house.
“It’s a shame we don’t have a drilling machine sir. We would have bored through the four corners of your home, you know, to unearth your disturbance.” That was one of the officers sounding sarcastic. These white people who came to Ghana really thought the Ghana Police Service was up about nothing.
Dennis stood on his neatly titled porch in his home at the Sprintex area of Ghana ready to fire back. “Oh yeah? Why not come with one of your guard dogs next time?” He hesitated, “Come to think of it, do you people have one?”
The other police officer raised a brow and spoke up rather too quickly in a local language. “Shwe ni gyemie bi!” ( Look at his foolishness! ) Both officers broke into boisterous laughter. “Sorry sir…” The officer who was sarcastic before broke the laugh professionally. “We wouldn’t forget to come along with one next time.”
Dennis was too angry to give a response. He was certain what the other officer had said in the local dialect was an insult. Without care about how the white man was feeling, both officers made their leave giggling.
That was three days ago.
A little portrait of Dennis lay down on messy work documents on the little glass center table in his hall, French fries sparingly on top of them. The bald white man must have spilled the Coke flavoured Coca-Cola, canned beverage on the floor unintentional. Maybe while drifting to sleep in the brown leather couch.
22:15. The neighbourhood was asleep – no barking from dogs, only lightning appreciating the thick, dark sky above graced with soft rumbles of thunder at random. With exception to the lights outside Dennis’s home, all other bulbs were off. On two occasions, the lightning bolt striking the heavens brought out the silhouette of a man from the shadows. Dennis was not alone.
03:42 is the time reflecting on the white Nissan rogue digital clock. Two Ghanaian women, one in the front passenger seat, and the other behind sing along the loud afro pop hit song emitting from the car’s speakers. Shelele by EL. Dennis is driving and only nods to the mad tune. At least he liked Ghanaian music – and Ghanaian women. He appears drunk. They all do.
Charged up by the music’s chorus, the woman in the front passenger seat releases her body from the seatbelt and hops on her seat to do a tweak, both arms on the dashboard for support. Her friend behind is motivated to do same. Dennis makes a howl at what both women are doing. Smacking the lady in front randomly on the buttocks, he throws freshly pressed fifty ghana cedi notes on the woman behind. Another song plays on, and as if this was rehearsed, both women find new tweaking positions. The white man is excited about this all the more and blows the car horn in a certain rhythm amid laughter.
Crash! A VIP coach from a sharp curve moving at top speed hits the Nissan rogue by the left second door of the vehicle. Music is lost as the impact was strong enough to send the rogue rotating anticlockwise several times, veering off the road in a silent dance. Grass… , trees… , the vehicle was off the main road now still in a merry-go-round. Maybe the interruption of the grass was what was beginning to slow down the car, and not Dennis’s blind efforts. Nonetheless, the dance only finished by them going through an ant hill.
“Ama…” That was Dennis reaching out to touch the woman beside him. He was okay, only suffered a dizzy spell and a headache. He turned to look at the other woman in the back but she was gone. Her side of the window was broken and Dennis assumed she had crawled out to get some help. He breathed out heavily – he felt tired. Ants had begun climbing into the car, ready to battle the aliens and take over the spaceship which had trespassed on their home. Dennis saw the advancing ant army and interpreted that as trouble. Breaking up his side of the mirror, he climbed out and staggered over to Ama.
She was too close to the window. Breaking it to pull her out of the car would only mean getting broken glass in her eyes and skin. Instead he staggered as quickly as he could to the main road to get some help too. What met his eyes was dreadful. There, on the cold road lay the other woman in a pool of blood. It was clear that she flew out of the window when they were hit by the other vehicle – and he had thought she had gone to get help.
By now Dennis could hear his brain throbbing, he could hear murmurs from people too. Must be those who had hit them. What had he done? Holding his head and collapsing himself on the floor, he let out a loud help.
Loud thunder meant heavy rain. Dennis was rocked from his couch.
“Fuck!” He cursed under his breath and melted in the leather. He brushed his face. “Why do I dream about that day?” He kissed his tooth and stared blankly at the darkness in his room. Why were the bulbs turned off? He couldn’t recall turning them off. The papers rattled softly at Dennis’s effort to finding his iPhone 6S. Instead he found two pieces of French fries and picked them up. He traced his steps towards the light switch in the hall room and put his food which almost escaped in his mouth.
“Ouch!..” The Coke can tripped him. Dennis found his way quickly to the switch. Clack. Clack, clack. Nothing. But his lights outside were on, or it was the bulbs? He entered his kitchen. Clack. Clack, clack, clack, clack. Still nothing. Confused Dennis moved to his bedroom. Clack. He heaved a sigh and searched for his phone.
For three minutes, Dennis Barke stood in front of his fuse box wondering who had tipped one of his wires. He always locked himself in his house, that is whenever he was home. He was of the view Ghana wasn’t safe despite the views of the majority and this was evidence. Those two unethical police officers should have opened his fuse box! The rain started low, and then a heavy downpour. Dennis looked at the ceiling and shut his eyes.
“There’s no solution to fixing that wire now,” a hoarse male voice came through his ear. “You’d have to wait until morning. And your morning is not guaranteed You have been picked.” He finished by hitting the cudgel he carried twice against the face of the tiled floor. Dennis swallowed hard and opened his eyes to face the stranger. The phone’s flashlight didn’t seem to have any effect on the man standing 2 meters away from him. He said picked. Was this a kidnap?
“Picked for what?” He tried to be brave.
The stranger only hit his weapon on the floor again and dragged it along, advancing forward while Dennis did the reverse.
“Okay please listen, I have money” he said in a calm and shaky voice. “Lots of it. I could write you a check or give you some cold cash and precious valuables – please don’t kill me”
The stranger chuckled softly. “Was that what she wanted?” Emmanuel interrogated and halted. “Was is the reason you left her to die painfully in that car?”
Dennis opened his eyes widely at that as it dawned on him on how much trouble he was in.
“Look, let me explain how things happened”
“Sure.” Emmanuel shrugged. “ Let’s sit down and talk man to man, NO!” Dennis almost lost his balance at the way he screamed. His phone fell. The rains poured harder and thunder sounds wouldn’t just leave the sky.
“Do you know how long I have waited for this day? How long I paid close attention to the weather forecast? Testing the predictions. How I painstakingly studied cables, wiring. Which one to cut and which one to keep to suit my desired effect? The places of magic I visited just to pick a day I could kill you and get away with it like you got away with her death?!”
“Hey man, believe me I was beginning to feel something special for Ama too, and it’s true she didn’t deserve to die the way she did” Dennis was beginning to cry “But darn it man, shit only happens to good people!” He gulped down saliva. “I only went to get help but it was already late. Believe me man, believe me please.”
The predator approached his prey and swung his weapon beside his left ear. The prey moved backwards. Did he just hear Captain America say he liked his Ama? It was dark but anyone could see the evil glittering in his eyes. It was too late for Dennis’s story.
“Do you know how long I have lived with you? All of these preparations wouldn’t end up in forgiveness. You don’t deserve it.” Emmanuel raised his voice by 5 decibels. “They say the white man is smart, but look at you! You could pee in your pants!”
Well, Dennis already had.
“Please, please man forgive me… please… we can forget this. I… I… wouldn’t call the police… I wouldn’t tell a fly I swear, please…”
“In your next life, pass my woman by!”
The chase was on. Dennis was almost at his door with enough air in his lungs to scream for help, but before the words left his mouth, Emmanuel thrust the cudgel hard at his occiput. His aim was good. One powerful thrust and Dennis was out.
Emmanuel however looked dissatisfied at his work. The plan was to make Dennis beg for death. With his socked foot, Emmanuel turned him over and shot him a disdainful look. He clubbed his face till he had lost count.
01:55. Mummia on Dennis’s corpse was quite different. Besides the usual items, cement and white spay were incorporated as well as a big dry out. Archaeologists at first glance couldn’t make out the difference between human made statue and the other sculptured little ones behind the Tundra truck. Emmanuel had taken off Dennis’s clothes and made him into a naked statue of a man. He had also done a good job wrapping up each artifact with a white rubber – including Dennis with each having a tag with details of the product. Emmanuel was trained well.
“Where are you taking all these at this time sir?”
“They are new arrivals for the museum,” Emmanuel answered an officer by a night routine barrier they had put up. He twitched his eyes at the flashlight the officer held on his face. Also, he had faked an American accent.
“But why at this time?” the officer was curious enough. “Park at the side please.”
Emmanuel fearlessly pulled over, got down and approached the officer.
“I’m just meeting the people for the goods” he told the officer who was also walking towards him. “It’s for the arts festival at 3pm today” The officer was convinced by that, he had heard something about it on the news, however, he had to do his job.
Emmanuel run to his car and brought some papers clipped to a little hard cardboard. The officer seemed to be looking for some important signatures and stamps judging from the way he kept flipping the pages. He heaved a sigh. “Okay. You can leave,” he smiled at Emmanuel who returned his. “Thank you sir.”
The engine sparked with power and Emmanuel drove away a free man. He took his bead out of his shirt and kissed it.
The deal was to bring the remains of Dennis to PICKED. It was what the spiritualist asked as payment. Two macho men clad in print shirt and a pair of jeans together with Emmanuel hid Dennis in a large room behind a secret passage in the beads shop. Candles arranged in a P fashion on the floor brought out the beauty of this shrine with a hundred other statues like Dennis. Big and small. Male and female. PICKED wasn’t what it seemed. Place was more of an assassin collection of mummified humans than a one stop beads shop. No one dared to ask the spiritualist what he used the illegal statues for. It was forbidden to. But Emmanuel was certain he had secret buyers. Emmanuel trashed the little sculptures and tore off the registered stickers and plate numbers off the vehicle. Those, he gave to some boys burning car tyres by the market and paid them handsomely for it. They celebrated. He had made their day. He took a taxi home.
TWO MONTHS. 03:15. Emmanuel was back to his solitude. Ama’s death had been avenged but his heart was still frozen. With clean water in his tub this time, Emmanuel sat in a trance, swollen eyes from crying. Another scene was created in his room courtesy that smoke from before. Quarrel day. He didn’t understand why she was refusing to bare with him. Their bed wasn’t rosy anymore but he was going to make things work. But the Ama he knew wouldn’t understand. Although she loved him deeply, money meant something more.
The woman from the smoke scene in flowering jam suit took her purse and walked out of the door returning into smoke. Emmanuel who jumped on his bed when she had turned to leave was fading away slowly also.
On a part of his bathroom, Emmanuel inscribed the words I picked myself on the wall. Ripping his beads of his neck so vigorously they scattered into the water, he turned over his left side to look at the iron he had plugged by the wall. He was waiting for Ama to come around one day, but now that she was gone forever, he had nothing or no-one to wait for.
With a single push of the iron, the rest of the story is history.
Maybe, from love comes evil after all…
Author challenge. I don’t know how well I did with this one, but I was hoping you could tell me.