Chikezie – The Man That Arrested a Police Officer

A lone policeman came to the old homestead to arrest him. He met Chikezie sitting under the udara tree eating his afternoon meal of pounded yam and soup made with stockfish.

“You! You bloody criminal! You thief! I have caught you today. Get up. You are under arrest” the policeman shouted and brandished a pair of handcuffs at Chikezie.

Chikezie, rolled a large ball of fufu in the soup and pinched a piece of stockfish into it with his thumb. He bent over the plate slightly as he put the mound in his mouth and swallowed. He looked up at the policeman.

“I’m eating. You cannot arrest me while I am eating” he replied chewing and turned back to his food.

“Come on get up! I said you are under arrest” the police man shouted and knocked over the stainless tray, with two stainless plates and a stainless steel mug of water on it. There was a metallic clatter and the pounded yam rolled away in the dirt and stopped in front of a startled billy goat eating his afternoon greens. The soup made a blotch in the dust as the plates rolled away.

Chikezie stared at the remains of his food. He had given his mother NGN1000 earlier in the morning to prepare it especially for him. He looked up at the police man with a spark of fire in his eyes.

“I said you are under arrest. Come on! Get up! You are coming to the station!” the police man shouted again and grabbed Chikezie roughly by the collar.

Chikezie sprang to his full height and stepped back, the police man stumbled against him, tried to hold him to steady himself and dropped the handcuffs. Chikezie brought his knee hard into the police mans groin and as he doubled over he took another knee into the police mans jaw. The man went down like he was pole axed. He came to a few seconds later found himself handcuffed and Chikezie removing his belt and boots.

The police man tried to shout for help. Chikezie shoved a piece of foam he tore out of an old mattress into his mouth.

Chikezie went to the police station with the man’s belt, beret and boots.

“These items belong to one of your men.” he said to the police man at the front desk from the relative safety of the door “He is in my cell in Ahumareze’s homestead. Go and bail him.”

He fled before they could stop him or ask him anymore questions.

An hour later a squad car arrived at his homestead with five police men. They found their colleague hands cuffed behind his back, a piece of dirty foam in his mouth and a rope around his ankles under the udara tree.

Chikezie watched from a distance while the police stomped around and made threatening noises. No body else was in the homestead, there were no witnesses. He smiled when they took the renegade cop away, hands cuffed in front of him.

Njaba River Copyright Lesley Agams 2015
Njaba River
Copyright Lesley Agams 2015

Characterization – Dr. Amataobinnaya



He came back from abroad to much jubilation and celebration, if the villagers noticed that he came back with only his briefcase they chose to ignore it. Maybe he told them that his things were yet to arrive, maybe he told them that they got lost on the high seas. He never told him the problems he had with the American government or that he never finished his doctorate degree due to the disruption. They still affectionately called him ‘Doc’.

They were happy to see him; he had been gone for fourteen years. They remembered the young man that had fought for the rights of the women and the underdogs of the village. They remembered the young man that had resisted colonial rule and the white man’s cultural dominance, who had joined the youth resistance and gone into the big forest for initiation into the cult of warriors. He had been a fearless and audacious young man.

He was no longer the boy that did the domestic work in his elder brother’s household in the city. He was no longer the motherless child that had to look on with envy and hunger as other children ate dinner in their mother’s hut each night while he made do with the leftovers they tossed at him. He was no longer the deprived youth that didn’t get his first brand new school uniform till the age of 15.

He had persisted in school when most of his older brothers and sisters had dropped out; he was smart and quickly learnt the letters of the white man and how to read their books. He wasn’t a conscientious student, he would frequently disagree and fight with his teachers and the headmaster and disappear from school for weeks but he managed to complete his qualifying exams and get a university scholarship abroad.

He came back determined to change the village where he had grown up and he refused to live in the city where he quickly got a job with the civil service, preferring to commute every day. He styled himself as a socialist revolutionary, wore safari suits and drove a Volkswagen Beetle. He remained with the civil service the rest of his working life. He boasted that he never took a kobo from the people’s patrimony managed by the government he worked for.

That did not endear him to his work colleagues or even to the village people he claimed to live his life for. At work he was regularly side lined when juicy appointments and opportunities for graft were available because everyone knew that he would not make ‘returns’ and he would  be scornful of those that did.  At home his kinsmen felt cheated that he did not bring back the national cake to share with them and spurned him at village meetings to which he reacted with rage.

He was always quarrelling with his kinsmen, they didn’t like him very much because he looked down on them as illiterates and was always trying to tell them what to do and how. He didn’t like them because they wouldn’t listen to him even though he was a very well read, well-travelled man that could confidently debate politics, economics and philosophy with just about anyone even though his doctorate had been interrupted.

He was a man with a lot of rage in him. It was a mystery where all the rage came from. Some said he inherited it from his grandfather who had been famous for his rages and could make lighting and thunder strike any person he was angry with. His grandfather had been a great wizard and magician and very rich and important in their little village in the jungles of west Africa. Doc didn’t need thunder and lightning, he used his fists and his words instead and he never forgot a slight, he could nurse a grudge for years.

After work he would have a late lunch prepared for him by one of his sister in laws (he lived in his late father’s old compound) and then ride off on his white horse bicycle to visit one of his girlfriend’s where he would stay late into the night. He didn’t marry for a long time and he preferred older women, divorcees and widows that doted on him and were grateful for his attention, demanding little from him in return.

When eventually he did get married he terrorized his wife and children. He expected them to agree with everything he said just like he expected it of the villagers and when they didn’t he was cruel and remorseless in his retribution. He died sick sad and alone in a fetid stinking hole, a bitter old man surrounded by shattered dreams but even in death he stubbornly refused to admit any remorse or gratitude.


Narcissus by Caravaggio 1590
Narcissus by Caravaggio 1590

Katie Kaye (I)

She was incongruous. She was born in 1916 to a Ghanaian father and an English mother. Her father died when she was 8 and her mother sent her to grow up with nuns. She was a true believer, salvation lay with the Lord and she needed to be a true believer to retain her cheerful and open spirit living in racist unforgiving early 20th century England

Her mothers family rejected them both, a half negro child was more than they could deal with. So she never knew her grand parents or her aunts and uncles and they never asked about her. The schism was final and irrevocable. When her mother died many years later they wouldn’t come for the funeral but she didn’t care, she brought all her Nigerian husbands relatives to fill the church pews and the grave side seats.

She was an exceptionally bright child and she did really well in school much to everyone’s surprise. Because she was half black it was generally expected that she would be half witted too. As a result she was constantly tested and scrutinized for some mental flaw, intellectual deficiency or nervous predisposition, constantly compared with the white children she went to  school with.

Rather than dampen her spirits the scrutiny made competitive and she studied ahead of her class so she could prove to them that she wasn’t intellectually or mentally deficient. When she prayed for God to use her to shine the light upon her teachers and her fellow students, to help them see through her that black people were not different from white people after all.

When they teased her and called her names in the shower she restrained the urge to swing wildly at them with her fists, that was after all what they expected of her. She fought down the urge to call them stinging awful names that would cut them as deeply as they cut her. Instead she would go to the chapel and kneel down and pray for God’s grace and mercy.

During weekly confession she would pour her heart, telling the priest all the wicked thoughts she had and he would admonish her wickedness and tell her to do penance.  She was told to be extra good and extra nice and extra forgiving and fight the evil that resided in her.  She did wonder at times what sort of evil resided in her school mates and whether they confessed and did penance for their wickedness too.

By the time she finished school she was quite exhausted.  They left her in no doubt she was black and she knew that if she wanted to live in peace she would have to move to Africa. One of the nuns had told her about many schools being built in Africa and encouraged her to apply to one of them as a teacher. There was even one in Ghana, where here father had come from. Maybe there she would be at home and find a family to accept her.

Chief Agamaekpurunaohia

He was the stereotype of the upper class English gentleman living in the tropical jungle. He wore Saville row suits , hand made shoes, and monogrammed shirts and handkerchiefs,  all impeccably maintained by his well trained local butler.

His 50s model vintage Mercedes still had its original upholstery and engine almost 30 years later, maintained by an equally well trained local chauffeur. He never had a driver, he had a chauffeur because they did chauffeur duties even though everyone called them ‘Driver’ anyway.

He wore silk pygama’s and a silk night gown when everyone around him tied a wrapper at bedtime. He ate bacon and eggs for breakfast, corned beef sandwiches for lunch and pounded yam with egusi and chicken soup for dinner. He drank a carton a carton of Star beer each day.

He had a temper. When goats strayed into his unwalled garden in the village he shot them and left the carcass for vultures. He wouldn’t even allow the owner to retrieve the body to eat or to sell in the market, and he certainly wouldn’t eat it himself either.

It was the height of disregard and cold ruthlessness in a place where poverty was rife but the only way to to enforce compliance. If he ate the goat they would accuse him of shooting it out of greed, if he let them eat it the punishment would not be as sufficient felt, they did not rue the killing as much as the wastage.

His nieghbours kept their goats tethered while less ruthless men squabbled daily over damaged crops or the motive for killing a trespassing goat. He shot his son once too, for disrespectfully challenging his older brother. Told him he had other sons, so there. Luckily the shot didn’t kill him. Yeah, that’s the kind of man he was.

A conversation with him was not possible. Being he was the first one in the village to go over the seas to England back in the day, the first to marry an educated woman and the first to become a minister, he felt very special and lots of people thought he was something special though not every body agreed but that’s life. Can’t please all the people all the time.

He had to be right all the time and he rewarded loyalty generously. Those that agreed with him could join the queue of people waiting outside his village  bungalow for handouts  the day he returned to his city home.  He would hand out brand new notes to everyone near the car as he was about to leave.

He was a real character; frequently drunk, frequently quarrelsome and frequently disagreeable. He stayed home most of the day going out for the occasional meeting with some functionary who was in a position to do him a favor. he survived like that till he died at the grand old age of 87 or there about. No one is really quite sure. No one recorded the day he was born.

Character Development – Catherine Part 2

“What’s going on there! Step away from her if you please!”

The four young men, startled to hear a gruff male voice behind them, turned away from Catherine sprawled out on the grass. They saw a well-built man dressed in grooms livery  and holding a horse whip standing a few yards away. For a minute they were unsure what to do. They figured they could have taken him out and denied whatever report he may make to the lord of the manor but his size and the cold flinty look in his eyes dissuaded them.  Catherine sprang up and ran towards him. She knew him well; he was one of her father’s groomsmen. How he had managed to materialize here at this moment she did not pause to wonder, she was too grateful to see him.

“It’s alright miss” He soothed her as she fell sobbing against him, he didn’t take his eyes off the four young men that stared at him for one minute.

“Galahad!” he shouted over his shoulder. “Galahad!” he shouted even louder.  A horse cantered into view on the wide path and stopped next to him. He helped Catherine up into the saddle before getting up himself  behind her, he never once took his eyes off the four young men, alert and ready for any trouble. He turned the horse in the direction of Middleton Manor and rode off with Catherine who continued sobbing in his arms. The young men stood speechless and thwarted watching him ride off.

When they rode up to her father’s stable’s the grooms man set Catherine down gently. He didn’t ask her what had happened or how come she was alone in the woods with four men. He just let her cry against his shoulder for a long time while he held her with all the gentleness he would have for his own daughter. He had known about her notes and poems to the lad had frequently found them and read them before returning them to their hiding place.

He had also investigated who the young man was and found out that he was the son of the Keymer man that had been killed many years ago during a hazing by Ditchling and Westmeston boys. He had instinctively known that no good would come of the dalliance but had kept his tongue. He had five daughters of his own and knew that once they thought themselves in love, words of caution and wisdom had little effect. But he had kept an eye out for the young mistress.

Once or twice when the young lovers had thought themselves alone in the barn he had stepped on and snapped a twig or rustled around outside to alert them that they were not alone or safe from discovery before anything more than a kiss could happen. He had brought the mistress to the Plumpton place ball with the horse and buggy but when he was instructed to pick her leave her and pick her up later he had gone home and rode back on his horse to keep a discreet eye out for her.

He had seen her walk out into the gardens and from there to the woods and he had seen the young men follow her lover shortly thereafter. He had armed himself with the only thing he could find, a horse whip, said a prayer and gone in on foot after her.  He hadn’t expected to find her so vulnerable and for a moment or two he had doubted that he could take her away safely, still he wasn’t about to leave her there.

Eventually Catherine stopped crying and the groom snuck her into the manor through the kitchen so her mother and father would not see her tear stained face and her grass stained clothes and ask questions. If the cook and house keeper noticed they didn’t say anything. Catherine went up to her room and stayed there the rest of the day, crying and praying. At dinner time when her mother came to enquire why she hadn’t come down for dinner Catherine pretended to be ill. She certainly looked it, her skin pale and her eyes swollen from all the weeping.

The next day was Sunday and the whole family went to church. Catherine couldn’t excuse herself from church but she refused breakfast and wore a drab dress and bowed her head down low throughout the day. She couldn’t look the groomsman in the face as he walked with them to church and she couldn’t smile or look her parents. She had shamed them with her behaviour she knew.

She knew that well brought up young women did not contrive to be alone with young male suitors. That was enough of a scandal but to have been corned by four men in the woods was beyond excuse, nothing she could possibly say could redeem her honour. If word got out about what happened her reputation would be completely ruined.  Her mother wouldn’t be invited for tea with the fashionable dowagers. Her father would have to bear the disgrace among his peers.

She blamed herself for her attack. She blamed her lust for making her succumb to the attentions of a beautiful but wicked man. She felt evil, tainted, trapped and sinful.  Listening to the vicar’s eloquent sermon that beautiful Sunday morning she realized that the only way to freedom from lustful and carnal desires was through service to Christ and so she resolved to redeem her soul by giving her life to Christ.

If anyone noticed that the young gay thing she had been, had suddenly became a devout Christian going to morning mass and shunning the seasons parties and social events in the county they didn’t say anything to her. She became withdrawn, quite, thoughtful and melancholy. Her mother commented about it to a neighbour who came round for tea once and her father questioned her mother why she did not go out any more. Otherwise they said nothing and watched their daughter anxiously.

They had expected her attract a good suitor and marry well but she had refused to see any of the young men that came calling for her. Her sudden withdrawal from the social scene further reduced the number of suitors that she met but they could not argue with her sudden religious devotion. When she announced at the end of the summer that she wanted to teach at the local school house they expressed some reservations but loved her too much to forbid her or insist that she marry a suitable husband instead.

Her piety was great indeed and she came to have the aspect of a ghost floating around the house in her drab dresses clutching a prayer book or a school book.  At the end of the school year she went to Lewes for a teacher’s course and she met Mr Cutsell, a student at the local theological institute.  He wasn’t exciting to look at but he had a calm soothing manner, kind eyes and called respectfully on her at the boarding house where she stayed. He was a vicar’s son and not of her class but she looked forward to his company.

They talked about faith, discussed the books they read and what they might do in the future after school. Catherine had read The Life of David Brainerd and it had set her mind on the condition of the heathen people’s around the world. George himself was drawn to missionary work after reading Dr. Buchanan’s Star in the East.   They spoke of their common desire to give their lives away to Christ. They married the day before her 21st birthday and set sail for their first missionary assignment in West Africa the very next day.

Character Development – Mrs. Catherine Lois Cutsell nee Warren (1864-1924)


She was the daughter of the Honourable Algernon William Warren of Middleton Manor in Westmeston, near Ditchling in Sussex and his wife Cecil and the wife of the Reverent George Cutsell. She was a special kind of woman. She was the kind of woman that leaves kith and kin and everything familiar to go far away to preach to the heathen of the world. She gave up everything in her desire to redeem her soul for Christ.

Once upon a time she had been a carefree rather superficial young woman that loved garden parties and dancing. The suitors were many for she was a pretty lass, her hair a inky black, her skin a milky white, her eyes a verdant green and her lips a rosy red. Her gay laugh and the twinkle in her eye gave her the animation of a pretty puppet.

Then one day she fell in love. She was from Ditchling and he was from Keymer, the neighbouring village.  We can’t help who we fall in love with, right? They met one day at the East Sussex Annual Cricket Tournament held at Streat Place. He was tall, blond and had the chiselled good looks that come from centuries of pedigree and good breeding.  He looked at her with his penetrating blue gaze across the cricket green and her heart melted.

They met several times after that while riding along the many public bridle ways but she was always accompanied as was appropriate for a young woman of her class. Once or twice they even managed to slip away together and meet  in the abandoned barn behind her home Middleton Manor where he would take her in his arms and bring bright spots of colour to her cheeks with the ardour of his kisses.

When she was alone she constantly thought of him, she counted off the days till she would see him again, she wrote him silly little love notes and poems that she left for him in a hollow tree  along Wapple Way in the Sedlow Wood and there she would anxiously search for his replies. She wrote breathlessly of her desire and passion, he replied extolling her beauty.

He could not call on her at Middleton Manor. Her father was the lord of Westmeston  but Ditchling and Keymer had a feud that had been going on for decades maybe even centuries and  the lord of Middleton Manor had supported his closest neighbour.  No one could remember what the feud was about any more but that didn’t stop them from remembering the feud.

Boys and girls from Ditchling did not fall in love and if they did the boy was sure to get a hazing from the other village and a dunking in the local pond. It was even rumoured that a boy had died of a heart attack once while being held under the frigid waters during a particularly cold February. So Catherine dared not let her love for him be known but prayed with all the fervour and innocence of youth that they would find a way to be together.

In the late summer Catherine attended an afternoon ball at Plumpton Place. He was there with the young men from Keymer and other surrounding villages. The boys stood on one side of the ball room of the old manor and the girls on the other. He huddled with three other young men. By their dress she could tell that they were not from the villages but probably from Brighton or maybe even London.

Her love and his friends huddled together, whispering among themselves and occasionally looking in her direction. She smiled demurely behind her fan and dropped her gaze every time her eyes met his. Her dance card was full but she could not be seen to dance with him. The young men from her village would be watching.  While they attended the same social events in neutral villages the segregation was total.

After a while Catherine slipped into the garden pretending she needed some fresh air, she hoped  he would notice and follow her. She walked out the French windows, through the formal gardens and through the orchard looking back discreetly to see if he was coming. She saw him at the French doors looking for her and when he waved to someone inside before following her.

He caught up with her at the little wooden bridge that crossed the lake just beyond the orchard into the wood beyond. Her heart beat swiftly as she took his arm and they walked along the path that ran through the little wood. She looked up into his eyes with a wide smile and joy in her face. He kissed her softly on the lips.

They hadn’t gone very far when she heard a twig snap not far behind them, startled she looked back. The three young men he had been with in the ballroom were walking toward them.  Modestly she tried to retrieve her arm from his but he held her firm. She looked up into his face and was puzzled to see it hard, the smile gone, and the eyes suddenly cold.

She looked back at the approaching company, they wore broad leering smiles.

‘So this is the country lass. How are you lass? Come give us a kiss then’ one of them said to her as he reached them and grabbed her by the elbow. She made to resist and protest to him but he pushed her towards his friends

‘Won’t you give my friends a kiss? Aren’t they good enough for you to kiss? Go on now, be a good girl.’

She stumbled backward with the shock of his words.


‘Give them a kiss like the ones you’ve been so generous to give me now’ he said cruelly.

‘She writes the nauseating little poems ‘ he said to his friends scornfully.

She stared at him aghast. Her hand did not seem to be her own as it connected with his cheek in a resounding slap that seemed to echo in the wood. She picked up her skirts to flee but one of the other young men grabbed her around the waist and pulled her back, she fell to the grass.

Thoughts raced through her mind, what was happening? How had her gentle blue eyed lover become this cold monster that stared down his nose at her and lifted not a finger to help her or protect her honor from his three foppish friends?  Was this the same man she had written sweet words of love for? Was this the man that she had imagined spending the rest of her life with?

Death (The Epilogue)


OPC Leader Dies of Gun Shot Wounds as Bullet-Proof Charm Fails

It was a sad end for Yisa Anifowose, the leader of the Odua People’s Congress, OPC, at Shasha, Akowonjo, Lagos State, Southwest Nigeria, when his friend, John Taju, shot him dead while testing the efficacy of his newly acquired bullet-proof charm.

The charm could not prevent bullets from penetrating into his body as he reportedly boasted before he was shot.

He slumped and died as a result of the injury he sustained during the shooting.

His corpse has been deposited at Igando General Hospital, P.M.NEWS for autopsy.

The late Anifowose was married and had six children.

Anifowose, 54, popularly called Baba Kazeem, was shot in the chest by his friend and member of OPC, Taju, a one-eyed man. The suspect has been arrested.

The incident happened at the OPC tarmac, Zone 5, Orisumbare, Shasha, Lagos, the family home of the deceased.

On returning to Lagos, he was invited by his friends who are members of the OPC, to their base to celebrate his newly acquired power and the purchase of a new car by one of his members.

It was while they were celebrating that Baba Kazeem asked Taju who had a locally-made gun on him to shoot him to test the efficacy of the new charm.

Taju reportedly shot Baba Kazeem and the bullet tore his chest. He died on the spot.

His death threw the residents into confusion and his friends fled the scene.

Some residents of the area quickly locked up their houses and shops and relocated from the area to avoid being arrested by the police.

The matter was reported at the Idimu Police Station. But before the police arrived the scene, Taju had escaped.

Policemen at the station confirmed the story, adding that the suspect was later arrested, interrogated and transferred to the homicide section of the State Criminal Investigation Department, SCID, Panti, Yaba, Lagos.

“Investigation is ongoing in the matter,” a source at the station told P.M.NEWS.

When P.M.NEWS visited the residence of the late Baba Kazeem at 12, Ejigbo Road Orisumbare, Shasha, Lagos, his wife, Hafsat Anifowose and her relations gathered in front of the house to mourn the OPC leader.

She lamented the death of her husband and appealed to the police to investigate the incident and bring the culprit to justice. “I cannot just stay and watch my husband killed like a chicken. The government should intervene and arrest those involved in his death,” she cried.

A brother of the deceased, Adedeji Ajanaku, described the deceased as a courageous man. He called on the government to release his corpse to the family for burial in accordance with Islamic rites.

Following the death of the OPC leader in this circumstance, P.M.NEWS talked to some traditionalists on the efficacy of the so-called bullet-proof charm and whether such exist or it is just in the realm of the imagination of the believers.

Dr. Bunmi Omosehindemi, Chairman, Lagos State Traditional Medicine Board said he has been hearing of the existence of such a charm but quickly added that he has not seen it.

“Some people say it exists but I have not seen it. I am a scientist,” he said.

A traditionalist, Chief Samuel Oluwasola Dedeigbo, however, confirmed that a bullet-proof charm indeed exists, adding that it is not easy to come by.

“Bullet-proof charm exists but it is not easy to come by. On the OPC leader that was killed as a result of using the charm, the one they did for him was fake. He should have tested it first on an animal before asking someone to shoot him,” he stated.

PM News

Death III

Everyone in his Mushin neighbourhood called him ‘Chairman’ even his wife.  He was charismatic, knew how to get his way with people and had the bold generous nature of a natural leader. He hadn’t finished high school but neither had most of the people in his neighbourhood  School had never been their priority growing up. Real life was urgently demanding their attention. There were mouths to feed.

The ‘boys’ in the neighbourhood knew he would buy them a beer or a meal when they needed it and that he would lend them money for an abortion or a wedding or a funeral. The ‘men’ or ‘big boys’ in Mushin trusted him to fix  broken contracts, collect overdue loans or avenge a slight to their ego and they paid him well for his services. When they needed a local militia he naturally emerged its local leader.

He took his role very seriously and worked hard to be a role model to his boys and keep morale high. When they went on operations they knew that he would take care of their families if they were killed or arrested.  In the field he was always in the front line, he wasn’t one of those leaders that hid behind his boys in fear of death. He led by example. He had taken more than one bullet with his boys, they admired his fearless courage. Soon he was a national leader.

But he wasn’t really fearless, he was just damned if he was going to let anyone see his fear and vulnerability and he was more than a little reckless. After he married his wife and had children he realized that he needed to be more careful with is life. Things weren’t like they were before he had these responsibilities. He knew if anything happened to him his family would suffer. It was what happened in the jungle, like it had happened to him when his father died.

The bullet proof vest became an obsession for him. He had heard all the myths and folklore about the warriors of the ancient kingdoms and the bullet proof vests that had protected them during the numerous tribal wars they fought. Warriors were greatly admired and respected. He had heard of the white man’s amour. He laughed; white people always thought they knew it all. He trusted the African man’s armor.

When he returned from the forest if people noticed the strange gleam in his eye they said nothing. He drove straight to his gangs den in one of the back alleys of Mushin where his boys gathered daily to drink, eat and to wait for his instructions. They were there when he arrived. They were happy to see him. No one knew where he had gone; secrecy was a way of life. Men didn’t discuss their intentions, they acted.

Death (II)

He sat in the front seat of the Jeep with an excited look on his face. It was over! He had his bullet proof vest! He had spent eight days in the forest with the dirty old man and till he felt like a dirty old man himself. He hadn’t come with an overnight kit so he wore the same clothes he had gone into the forest in and he hadn’t shaved while there.

His friend the catcher had left with the Jeep soon after making the introductions to the old man, they both assured him that it was important part of the process that he did not return to the city or leave the forest till the rituals were completed and his bullet proof vest was ready. He had reluctantly agreed. Even his wife did not know where he had gone and he thought for a minute that she would be worried but the thought quickly vanished.

He was a man after all, head of his household; he was not answerable to any one much less to a mere woman and his wife. The old man of the forest smiled as if he could read his thoughts.  It took a certain type of person to perform the rituals and the sacrifices.  It was not for the thoughtful or the sentimental. The catcher knew this of course; he only brought the desperate, the avaricious and the strong minded.

The old man made him exchange his city clothes for a loin cloth of questionable hygiene. He slept on a raised mud ledge in the wall of the hut that served as a bed. There was no pillow or blanket. At night he shivered on his primitive bed while the old man stoked the fire in a round hearth in the centre of the hut. Most nights they went walking in the forest while the old man collected herbs and objects for his rituals.

He could have sworn that he heard wild animals in the forest but he didn’t say anything. He had to be brave and bold. One morning he woke up to find a python curled in the small of his back where it had gone to seek the heat of his body. He jumped out of his mud bed in a cold sweat ready to slay the monster but could find no weapon. The old man laughed derisively at his fear but said nothing.

He felt as if he had somehow failed a test and squared his shoulders in determination. He too was covered from head to toe in red cam wood now. It kept the biting insects at bay.  That morning they walked further into the forest than ever before. The old man carried a machete in addition to his staff but the small bell was silent. They came to the edge of community farmlands. The old man signalled him to be quiet.

He had watched surprised as the old man stalked a lone farmer foolish enough to work so far out on the edge of the community farmlands by himself.  The old man’s eyes gleamed as brought the farmer down with one swift cut from his super sharp machete to the back of the neck.  Together they hauled the heavy body slung over a big stick back to their forest camp.

Death (I)

He was happy. He had finally found the real McCoy,  the man that could do it for him, the man that could give him his bullet proof vest. He had spent years searching for a reliable manufacturer. He finally got a clad iron recommendation from his very good friend that lived down the road from him in his Mushin neighbourhood.

They travelled together early one morning to see him deep in the Olumo forest They travelled the first 5 hours over tarred highways but soon turned off the main roads into the deepening bush, there were no other signs of life or habitation along the way. It was as if the forest had swallowed them up. The sun was lost far above the lianas and the tree tops.  It was easy to believe in magic in the dark towering forest.

It was good that they were travelling in a  Jeep, there would have been a great deal of hardship in a regular car negotiating the dirt roads with the deep gullies and there was even a shallow river or two they had to cross. He could have sworn that he saw a crocodile slither into the river once as they drove through the water sending wings of water up into the air on either side of the car.

After 2 hours driving through the forest they stopped and left the Jeep and driver and took a small foot path through the forest going east. The forest floor was cool and dark, the sun filtered through the leaves and branches of the old growth trees. They walked for what seemed to be hours and finally came upon a small clearing in the forest with a thatched mud hut squatting towards the back of it.  A fire smoldered in a lean too beside the hut.

Adjacent to the hut was an enclosure made of grass and sticks with an opening in one of its four sides.  Just inside the opening was a pile of skulls and in the center of the enclosure was a stunted tree that seemed to be growing out of a pile of more skulls and other objects.  Tied to the tree with tender green palm fronds was a dead chicken. Red soldier ants made a line across the enclosure from the woods, up over the pile and up the trunk of the tree to where the freshly killed cock hung.

A  thin sinewy bent old man emerged from the doorway of the hut. He was covered from head to toe in red cam wood and wore a dirty loin cloth. His eyes were painted round with chalk, his washed out nappy hair was matted in long locks, his beard was wild and unkempt, his bare feet were thickly calloused and dirty, his finger nails were long and encrusted with dirt, in his right hand he held a six foot staff with a small bell and a monkey paw tied to the top end.