The squeaking of the unforeseen creatures that has colonized the nearby bushes had successfully announced the arrival of the night. The hefty shrubs have submitted to the violent roars of the faceless wind. Even the riverbanks remained silent without the right of an attorney; the river, who had showed brilliance in the day. It was a night not to forget for it was lit by the fifteenth day moon. Bright and glowing from the cloth endowed on it by the gracious sun. Eddie had thought to himself…. ‘’so, even the moon do depend on the sun to shine.’’ ‘’why!’’, he muttered ‘’…..can’t human beings be merciful to each other. God in his wisdom had created us unequal. Yet, in our foolishness, we refuse to be merciful to our fellow being?’’.
A large part of Eddie’s two decade and something on earth had been spent with different masters of different disciplines. The memory he cherishes most was with Dr Okonta; a Geographer and Astronomist. He is in his late forties with a stature tall enough to dwarf a lab stool. Pompous and proud, he carries himself like a don that he is for his library’s book capacity can’t be rivaled by any in the neighbourhood, not even the Government in the district. With a well marked protruding belly arising not from alcoholic habits (although he rinses his mouth with three bottles when he has no appetite) but from excessive feeding on meat. Although his Doctor had warned of the consequence, yet, he murmurs the words to himself- que cera cera (whatever will be shall be). What became of him, happened to be Eddie’s saddest regret.
He had taught Eddie the names of planets in the solar system and how they rotate around the sun. He yelled loudly one day when Eddie answered his rhetoric of how many planets make up our solar system to which he answered- ‘’ Nine sir’’. Kabam sounded the slap on the table for he detests slapping his boy. ‘’ I have told you times without number Pluto isn’t a planet’’ he said in a voice shrill enough to wake a sleeping baby. This is a point of view he alone held on to among his numerous colleagues. In one of their classes was when he told Eddie how the Sun, Moon and the Earth were related. They were so close a ‘’pal’’ that people refer to them as father and son, hence the epithet given to Eddie being- ‘’Eddie Okonta’’.
Eddie dipped his soiled hand into his pocket once again to feel the crispiness of the new naira notes in his pocket when he thought to himself; ‘’ So if this stupid driver hadn’t driven into this sand bags, I wouldn’t have had this much on me. Wow! He is indeed the sun to my Moon and I am surely going to illuminate this radiance to my home’’.
With few more paces to the town church; the front of which he would take the right turning and walk a hundred and thirty two paces before he can see the roof of his house, he could sense that the cackles of the toads and chirping of the crickets had stopped. The moon had gone dimmer and even he can no longer recognize his shadows. ‘’This’’ he whispered, ‘’….is a sign of danger’’. As if they heard him from his mind, they moved swiftly on him and surrounded him before he could locate any escape route. Yes! He has been outnumbered, and weaponless. The only weapon he has was his legs- to run. But that is now utterly useless.
Few weeks to that very moment, a similar occurrence had happened along that same pathway. Mr Amusa, the towns’ most popular and trusted thrift collector had been waylaid by a notorious set of armed robbers. All his thrift of the day were collected and only God saved his life after the incidence. On surviving the merciless beatings he received that very day, he recovered into the hands of the owners of the money he had been holding that fateful day. Rumours had it that he had connived with the said thieves to steal the money and that he had acted out the beating too. But, all in all, that was history and what is about happening to Eddie is reality; acted or drafted.
With the faint determination to survive the encounter, Eddie decided not to release the hard earned money he had on him no matter what these evil people would do to him. Jaguar, the leader of the gang addressed Eddie thus: ‘’ Mr Eddie abi wetin be your name. you know say we no get time at all at all. So , in order to save your life, ….submit whatever de your pocket’’ ‘’Oga’’ , Eddie replied shivering; ’’ I be farm labour and Mr Nobody. I no get shingbain for pocket sir. In fact na the last kobo we de my pocket I use chop garri for afternoon. Abeg no kill me sir. A be the only pikin my mama born’’.
Before long, Jaguar ordered a member of the five-man gang armed with machete, knives, daggers and a local Riffle still hung at the back of the leader to search Eddie. He knew he was finished already as he had lied to the leader and probably his punishment would be tripled if he wasn’t killed eventually. He stood there bemoaning his desolate mother who people called his wife. He lamented how Officer Mufu had warned him to go home on time and how he blatantly refused. All that was on his mind was to finish an already paid contract. All he wanted to do was make a change in the world by doing his little bit. In this terrible agitation of mind, he reflected what mortification it would be for members of his other ‘’family’’ not to see the new Awilo Logomba Shirt he plans to buy with a certain portion of the money. All these were unveiling themselves in his mind even before the tiny, malnourished thief responsible for the search exercise could take his second step towards him.
As if propelled from a terrorist grenade, the little stint of determination remaining in his mind lighted up is muscles and instantly, his brain swung into action. He had overheard his soldier friends discuss how each escaped an enemy territory, single handedly! Sergeant Okoros’ was the most remarkable- He had wrestled with the guard placed in his charge and snatched the key to the prison from him. That, then was the only weapon that could save him for he opened other guard rooms housing more notorious personalities waiting patiently for their day of vengeance and their population served as cover for his escape.
With the speed of light he had watched the driver of the hummer bus displayed, he landed the strongest punch he could muster the courage and energy to garner on the poor criminal who fell face down within split second. As if they didn’t know what hit them, the bandits rank was disrupted and the night that had gone darker provided cover for some of them to scamper for safety. They had met their match.
Eddie took the dagger hanging around the fallen thief’s neck and went after the running thieves. He followed the sound of their paces and eventually cut up with one. It was a fierce fight as Eddie who had gained encouragement from the devastating blow he administered wrestled with all his might. Kraaaakkk! A bone broke and a loud yell followed. This was immediately silenced by another yell louder than the first. It was such a gory sight. Within five minutes of the contest, the community vigilante’s whistles could be heard and alas, he came across two able bodied men lying helplessly in the pool of their blood.