While no one can predict the Lagos weather in July, Tuesdays have worked magic for me. It would either rain quite early or stop at 8A.M. when I would usually order a taxi for my morning routines. If it rained until noon and I were hungry at 12:15P.M and I spoke about it, the rain stopped abruptly and I would go out to get food. What I mean is, whenever there was a pressing issue, the weather cleared for me on a Tuesday. It worked like magic.
On a Friday, Monday, Wednesday or Thursday, nothing happened. If it rained and I were hungry, and I spoke to the weather, noting changed. If I needed to catch an appointment, like a client that was willing to place an advert on my blog, nothing happened. I think my guardian angel gets special wings on Tuesdays and she never sleeps on duty. And I am grateful for that, to be favoured. And on Tuesday, all the bodies that I kill are usually never found, such awesomeness!
One time, I had invited a cleaner to my house on a Friday and when she was done cleaning, I walked behind her and passed a bag over her head and knocked her down. A couple of hours after I left the body there to finish washing the dishes, I had an august visitor. No one ever checked on me on a Tuesday, even if there were a feast on my street. Even if I placed an advert on a billboard at the Tafawa Belewa Square on a day of event, no one would knock on my door. But on other days, I stay chaste because my angel took longer time to respond to anything.
I could love taxi men. I love the ones that do not strike up conversations. When you order a ride, they greet you and tell you that the ride starts now and proceed. They do not tell you about their failed certificates that refused to produce more than dust. They do not speak of rent and the terrible issues that everyone seems to have; a sick relative that needs money to heal. The first taxi man whose throat I slit drove me to the Lekki Conservative Centre and looked admiring at my butt. I could sense it. You know how a pair of eyes stays on you and when you turn to look its way, the owner turns attention on something else? Well, not this man. He was such man who even curls head and drop eyes like he was a perpetual retard. While I was checking for the duration and charge, he was lost in the more important job of licking his lips at me. Oh, how the Lagos sun makes men horny.
On that day, I asked him if he would like a brief stay and maybe a canopy walk with me and he dropped his burden, signed out of his app and his mouth closed faster than anything I had ever seen. He asked to re-park and did that quickly. As he stepped down and locked his car, I could see that he was taller than I had expected and his aura was of an ex bank worker who had probably left due to whatever reason a company could give for a retrench. His shirt fit his body and his steps fit his demons. I asked if I could hold his hand, to feel it, to know if he would make my 24th victim and I swear he could have thought about all the heavenly things Lagos can afford a dreamer even in the face of troubles.
At the tiny ticket office, he held my bag while I paid. His eyes travelled from the name on my card to the woman whose desk we should back but for his flexible body that afforded him a 360 movement. He was unrepentant. I paid for two tickets and two green armbands locked us into a pair. It was a workday and I had come to meditate, to call forth the spirits that be, to let me go the week without planning for the 24th soul. I was approaching 25 already and I could take my time with the last number but some people walk into their own deaths.
This man, this one who looked at the world as his oyster, was destined to die. It showed in his face from the moment I joined his vehicle. His eyes darted and landed on the wrong places. My thighs itched because his eyes occasionally left the road for it. In his observation of his environment, I wished he could see his end. And in the ticket office, every woman who passed by him called for his head to turn. And that is how you know the man whom the gods have handed damnation.
At the narrow walkway over a swampy ground, I imagined I had super powers, like a movie character, to call forth an alligator, and push this one to its opened mouth but it would be too easy. Humans who deserve to die deserve something more sinister. But no one had ever reported seeing alligators at LCC. And since we had a tour guide, maybe it was not a great idea to imagine him with the gators. And for every moment we walked over the faded woods that made the pathway, I wished he could trip and break his neck, at least I would feign care, cry and walk home to a bowl of ice cream but no such power resided within me. All that I could afford was a knife that had been with me since I turned 16, a companion that had seen the bodies of the 23 men who have passed through my hands since a group of men surrounded me at the university gate in Akoka and took turn tossing my legs in the direction of their choice.
The Wednesday Man held my bag. I asked that I should carry it. He said he was my man for the day and he could help me with it as long as we were together. I smiled and said he was doing so much already. He led the way further into our date. At the point between using the canopy walk and going to the Savannah Park, I could sense his fear and I heard when he leaned to ask the guide official how often the supporting rails were serviced. Poor one.
“Are you scared?”
“Are you? I asked.”
“I am not. I am just careful. This is Nigeria. People can be careless, especially with public properties.” He said.
“So you are afraid.”
“I am careful.” He said.
“What’s the difference?” I asked.
“Being careful is a routine check. It is expected of anyone who values a life. He said. But being afraid is just expressing fear. Most times, it is uncalled for.” He concluded.
“Do you think your routine check is called for?” I asked.
“Well, it is my life.” He said.
“Do you think you can avert death?” I asked.
“I can be careful enough. I don’t think anyone can avert death.” He said.
“Would you submit to death at any point in your life?” I asked.
“Why would I?” He exclaimed and I chuckled.
“You love yourself that much?” I asked.
“Who doesn’t?” He said.
“Well, it seems you do a lot.” I brushed my hair.
“I love to live. I love life. I think I have a purpose. I should see to the end of it.” He said.
“What purpose?” I asked.
“Making beautiful women happy.” He said. He did not disappoint.
“How?” I asked.
“Look at you! If I did not show up today, imagine how your day could have been.” He laughed out loud, a throaty, fulfilling, savior kind of laughter that irked.
“You brightened my day?” I asked.
“I think I did.”
“But I ordered your taxi.” I retorted, half amuse and half irritated at the bloated ego of a total stranger whose car I had patronize, one who has seen himself in more capes than Super Man.
“Yes. But the universe made it possible.” Silly damned man, I cussed, clinching teeth.
“You believe in cosmic powers?” I asked.
“Not really but when it comes to meeting beautiful women, I do.” Lost soul, I cussed again.
“If you were to die, what day would you rather die?”
“That’s a weird question. Why do you ask?” He smiled yet expectant of a satisfying answer.
“I mean, choose a weekday. It is like a game. Our little game. Between us, you know. Choose.”
“Why would I?”
“I mean, we are having a conversation, right? Don’t make it any more boring. If you could choose a day, what day would it be?”
“Why that day?”
“It is weekend. People would be around to attend my funeral.”
“You like a crowd at your funeral?”
“Why are you asking these weird questions? What kind of movies do you watch? What kind of books do you read? I mean, I could easily reject these thoughts with the name of Jesus but you are a sexy woman.”
“I don’t know if that is a compliment but well, we are adults talking and sometimes adults are curious. I think we should not be apprehensive of ourselves, right?
“I would choose a Saturday because God would be home.”
“God leaves home? I asked, checking his face for some sign of fear but none showed up, just foolhardiness in personification.
“If we leave home. He should. We were created in his image, right?”
“Hmm. What did you study in the university?”
“University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus.”
“I did not attend university.”
“Oh, why? A beautiful woman like you? Why didn’t you attend?”
“I could not afford it.”
“That has to be a lie. I mean, look at you, gorgeous and all. You look fabulous. You would pass every course even without attending. You could have afforded at least a Federal University with all the slashes and all.”
“I lost my parents and there was no relation to help with the processes.”
“I am sorry.”
“That’s okay. So you love Saturday because god would be home?”
“I was joking.”
“How do you mean?”
“I do not want to die. Never. God forbid. Let’s talk about other things.”
“Who wants to die? Ah. Please, let us talk about something else. Words are powerful. I do not want to start what I cannot finish.”
“But we all would die.” I reassured his fears.
“Yes. Someday. Many years from now, maybe and all but no one wants to die, really. No body. I have not met anyone who wants to die. Even the people who are critically sick in the hospital wish to live. The man who is takes a bottle of poison sometimes wishes to live at some point.”
“That is a lie. There are people who genuinely wish to die and they do not have regrets.”
“You mean the people who commit suicide?”
“Well, I mean people who constantly pry on the sanity of others like a hobby. The people who do not mind their businesses, the people who are evil, inherently, the people who poke the universe in the eyes, all of them wish to die. Those who constantly do not wish to stare clear off the path of death are also death candidates.”
“I shall explain later.”
We walked on and the bridge wobbled.
“You should have told me it is this scary.”
“I should have told you?”
“You were interested in me. You followed me with your eyes and legs and heart. Why do you blame me now for a gesture I offered, one that complemented your lust?”
“I do not blame you. I wish you had told me about this. That’s all”
“But it is just a bridge – a canopy walk. You saw it when we climbed. Everyone comes here.”
“But I am not everyone.”
“Look at me. Look at this butt and this body. It should motivate you. It brought you this far. It should not mislead you now. I mean, it should not fail you now, right?”
And it worked. It motivated him. He spread his hands, holding the rails and muttering things beneath his breath. And we finished the third tier and we made to walk higher. But as we rested, he approached me, a bit more closely.
“I think we should make memory here.”
“What kind?” I asked.
“Let’s kiss here.” He said it with a finality of someone who was not scared anymore.
“Are you not scared?” I asked.
“Kisses do not kill, right?”
“The talk about your kiss is funny.”
“Why do you think it’s funny?”
“I have never seen where a kiss killed anyone oh. Well, maybe in the movies, inside Nollywood or so. Maybe.”
“What if this was a movie?”
“Hahaha. Where is the director?”
“What if the director were invisible?”
“Where are the rest of the cast and crew?”
“We are all there is.”
“I see. But we should make memories. Look over there; can you see the oceans lines? What if we lock lips while watching the waves toss itself up and down?”
“What would that sight do to you?”
“That means the kiss would be wasted?”
“No. No. No. I mean, I have created this in my head many times. It is like a fantasy. The kiss will birth my fantasy.”
“You have been here before?”
“No. I haven’t.”
“How have you created this before, this fantasy of yours?”
“While we have been here, I have created this picture in my head many times. And seeing the ocean, it is a good feeling.”
“How often do you create images in your head, of random women kissing you while looking at ocean waters?”
“It’s just you.”
“You are a flirt.”
“Am I, how?”
“You are, obviously.”
“That’s presumptuous of you, you know.”
“Are you married?”
“Do you have a wife?”
“Why do you ask these questions?”
“What’s her name? Tell me.”
“Her. Your wife!”
“But I am not married.”
“But you are. Tell the truth and maybe we could kiss.”
“This is tough.”
“What is tough?”
“This situation, the condition, this kiss.”
“Oh, so you are married?”
And as he reached for my lips with his and a closed eyes, I pushed him across the rails without a care for the world and the screaming guard who came rushing towards me, falling and rising at what he had just witness did not make me bat an eyelid. And as I inhaled air of a new count – 24, though regretful that he missed my knife, I heard his body breaking through tree branches to whatever awaited him below. And while I would tell the guard he had tried to molest me, I pray he do not become my 25th.
I had planned for meditation but Wednesday gave me a story for my blog. I shall call the fallen one ‘The Wednesday Man.’ And readers, as usual, would call it fiction and applaud my imaginations.
Bura-Bari Nwilo is a postgraduate student of African Literature at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka where he had studied for a first degree in English Literature. He was born in the oil city of Port Harcourt but he lives in the university town of Nsukka where he writes and works remotely. His books of short stories, A Tiny Place Called Happiness, and The Colour of a Thing Believed, were honorably mentioned, and shortlisted, respectively, at contests by the Association of Nigerian Authors’ events in Nigeria.
Bura-Bari’s story was longlisted at Writivism’s festival in Uganda and he has participated at festivals in Accra, Lagos, Port Harcourt and elsewhere. He has been published online by Kalahari Review, the Ake Review, ANA Review, Cultural Weekly, the Question Marker and others. He has also participated in writing workshop by the Wole Soyinka Foundation and he is an alumnus of the Purple Hibiscus Creative Writing Workshop by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie