BEFORE THE SHOT
There was a shivering in his heart that afternoon. The marine brought, with its wave, a lone music and riding upon it a callous breeze of heat but the lagoon and his hut had only become a mirror of hurt and strand, mirroring his fear and anger to his very eye. He walked out of his stead and stormed into his barn. He knew his matchet would be lying on some marked yam seeds by the corner, so he went straight for it. He stormed back out and closed the dwarf-door behind him.
Outside his farm, a shotgun had burrowed into shallow earth. He picked it too and dug it by the rim of his sagging trousers.
A petty farmer of petty contentment, he could have simply relished strength in the little he could own as he always ever did but today was a different mark, a different loss and the shivering had to calm. He had jumped the Corpers’ fence and successfully eluded the Hausa mayguard that dealt his whiplash on the tall walls now and again. Somnambulist, he held the matchet with precise fury; he walked a few yards round the short buildings.
One or two Youth Corpers would inspect him walking, eyes to the grass and pass flattening suspicion but nobody stopped to study this man, they only ruminated on their own uncertainties and passed it to friends in reticent voices.
He had walked round a bush of brown wildflowers and reached an open field where few friends still loved to lie under the sun before an evening drill; but in the cold gaze of the farmer, the next few hours was to pass away into a pulling feast of tears.
He pulled his matchet now and narrowed his eye from the dark eaves of his hat. He must have picked his prey from the little crowd and, mechanically, the blade swung away from his fingers…like floating jelly, and crept closer to a group of three in mid-air until it ate into one. The matchet pierced through his left chest.
A blood-bath. A woken scream. Chaos.
The confusion was a brief shock. The screaming still swelled but he had quickly walked off to another edge of the next building and waited for another face. A scattered crowd surged towards the open field. Another rifle-shot pulled off from nowhere but it fell upon the shouting pack. Now, there was a different wail from within, spellbinding and sore. Some people had flown into nearest buildings and hedges; the little remainder shook up in the trembling and searched for the wail. Another scream encircled the path but this one was better hoarse and miserable. A young man was in the dust, his head split by a bullet and flowing blood scattered the mob like chickens.
He had done it so quick, like an assassin. The youths were still scuttling like kites. Yet, no one stopped to look to his way and so again, he walked away, leaving behind a stench of horror. He broke out too easily. His shivering was fading; it soon took him to the town church.
The church was a bamboo house with small windows, a white flag fluttered in the frontage. The street was silent but the priest’s prayer was the only sound piercing the ear. He moved nearer to one window and, for a minute, inspected the kneeling priest. ‘Fowl!’ he thought
Still fuming, he caught glimpse of a matchet nudged halfway into a cassava in the mud. His eyes drew on the kneeling priest again but now, with large intention.
He went for the matchet and stormed into the church. Before the priest could turn back and pick a word, the matchet fell on his left shoulder and spurted warm blood. His bible slipped off his already-shaking hand; he squirmed gently in drifting horror as he fixed ghostly gaze on his slayer. But he could not sustain a breath any longer; he simply dropped dead upon the altar, without a word, one side of his face buried in blood and cassava sap.
‘Die, you hypocrite––fowl’, he spat on the lying corpse and wiped the edge of his blade with its white robe.
He walked out with reframed ease and enjoyed the new feeling spreading through his body like soapy water, a shivering sinking and it was subtler than a moment ago. He held the matchet like a child of his and stared to the yellow sun but his heart knew no ease, a sudden thirst defeated his mind.
That evening, he was slow; his matchet swung lazily in his taut right hand. In the market, the roaring horde of angry women, he was just in his own sleeping world, minutes falling apart in the flap-flap-flap of wearied mud-spattered feet.
BY: Samuel Oludipe