These Are Difficult Times (Gecko Episode 3)
‘catch am, catch am’
I looked back and saw the angry mob coming after me with woods and whips in their hands, I knew I had done nothing, but my first impulse was to run as it was obvious the ‘catch am, catch am’ phrase was referring to me.
I took to my heels and the mob broke into a race too as they began to chase me with loud shouts of ‘catch am, catch am’
I was a very fast runner, I always led my house to glory back then in secondary school during inter house sports competition, so I outran the mob quite easily, soon they were a few meters behind me but unexpectedly, two huge boys suddenly appeared in front of me and as they understood that I was being chased by a crowd, I guess they assumed I was a thief and as I made to run past them, one of them caught my arms, as I tried to free my arms from his hold, the other grabbed a stick and hit my head with it and that was how I went down.
As I lay there on the floor holding my head in pain, I could see a small crowd building around me, the mob had caught up with me and a few passersby had joined the scene, then it was as if, a whistle was blown because they all started beating me suddenly, with whips, sticks and everything they could lay their hands on, I kept on crying for help, I didn’t even know my offence, my shouts of ‘what did I do?’ attracted no response.
They stopped beating me as suddenly as they had begun beating me, I could feel my body ache very badly, I guess I might have had some broken bones, I looked up at the crowd curious to know why they had stopped beating me, I saw them make space for someone to walk to the forefront of the crowd, it seemed he was the leader of the mob, he was wearing a face mask too, he stood in front of me holding a very sharp machete, the crowd began to shout ‘kill him, kill him’ I was perplexed as I thought to myself ‘kill me?’ for what? What was my offence?
The Masked Man suddenly raised his hands as a sign for them to keep quiet, then he took off the mask, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw his face, as he lifted up the machete to strike me, I shouted out in deep fear ‘Sparrow, No!!!’
I woke up from the bed panting heavily, I looked at the bed and found that my two roommates were still deep in sleep, I heaved a sigh of relief as I muttered to myself ‘thank God, it was a dream’ But again, as I remembered I had seen Sparrow’s face in the dream, fear struck me again, this time very strongly.
I didn’t even know how I had managed to fall asleep, the last I remembered was that after I had discovered that note, I managed to take my bath and lay on the bed, deep in thoughts, didn’t even know when I had fallen asleep.
I observed that my room-mates hadn’t turned off the television and the lights as usual, I got up from the bed turned off the television and turned off the light, then I picked my phone from the table and checked the time, it was 3.05am, I scrolled to my contact list, then scrolled to a certain name, I had pushed off this call for later before but the great fear I felt at the moment, didn’t allow me push it any farther, I went into the toilet and dialed the number.
It rang the first time and the call ended, there was no response, I contemplated dialing again for some seconds, then I dialed the number again, as the phone rang, I placed it very close to my ears, I had not called this number in a very long while, whenever I had to call this number especially at that time of the night, it meant there was a problem.
‘Hello, Nocturnal, are we safe?’ I recognized the voice immediately, it was a voice we had to recognize like it was the voice of God back in the days, it even constituted a form of test for us in those days. Nocturnal was the name they called me then too, I swallowed hard before I could reply, hearing that name ‘Nocturnal’ again was a blast from a past I wished I could tear off the pages of my life.
‘We are all safe altogether for now and eternity’ I was surprised that I still vividly remembered the lines, that was the chosen and acceptable response to that question of ‘are we safe’ back in the days.
‘What troubles you my friend?’ his voice sounded calm and reassuring, I knew at that point that I had made the right move by deciding to call him that night, I cleared my throat and replied ‘It’s about Sparrow’
There was silence for close to five seconds before he replied ‘what about Sparrow?’
‘I think someone might be trying to dig up the past’ though I tried hard to sound firm, I could sense fear all over my voice.
There was a long silence on the other end of the phone, I waited for almost thirty seconds as he wasn’t the kind of person you rush on the phone, after I was sure the silence would have lasted for close to thirty seconds, I spoke ‘ I think I am being haunted and I think it has got something to do with Sparrow’
I could feel it from my end of the phone, he was in deep thoughts too, No one would have expected this to come up now, not after all these years.
Somehow, he had predicted that this would happen, I guess that’s why I had thought about calling him in the first place.
‘These are difficult times my friend, I guess we would have to see tomorrow, don’t inform anyone else yet, I want to know exactly what we are dealing with here, then we would know what to do, I would tell you where to meet me tomorrow evening’
His voice remained calm as usual, he never hurried his words and he had never shown fear at least for all the times that I had been with him. ‘Okay, I would be expecting your call’ I replied.
‘Goodnight my friend’ he didn’t wait for me to respond to that before he ended the call, that was his way, he always liked to have the last say in any conversation.
‘A problem shared is a problem half solved’ I guess the people that coined that were very right, Somehow, I felt better, I didn’t feel so scared anymore, I just couldn’t wait for dawn, I had to see him and I knew once we reasoned the situation together, We would find a solution, we were a team at a point in our lives and that team was indomitable at that time too.
At exactly 5.00pm, he called me, we were to meet at one of the bars in G.R.A, he lived around the area though.
When I got to the bar about 45minutes later, I could see his silver colored Toyota Camry parked outside the bar, I went inside and saw him at a secluded end, smoking and there were two bottles of Goldberg on his table, one was empty, the other was half full, there were no cups, He didn’t like to use a cup when he drank beer, I really didn’t know his reasons for that though.
I walked towards him, and sat beside him, there were two chairs there, I ordered for a bottle of Origin and a cup, we didn’t say anything to each other until the barman brought the drink and cup and left.
He seemed deep in thoughts as he stared into empty space, smoking his cigarette and puffing the smoke into the air.
After long minutes of silence, he finally spoke ‘Tell me everything my friend’
I began the story from the mail boy, then down to the pickpocket and the note and finally to the dream I had.
He listened attentively as I spoke, when I was done speaking, he looked up at me, patted my arms and smiled ‘These are difficult times my friend, if I say I didn’t see this coming then I lie, but truth is we must survive, we are natural survivors, aren’t we Nocturnal?’
I looked into his eyes and nodded, ‘yes we are, Heavy Dee’
He signaled the bar man, when the barman came, he paid for the drinks and gave him some extra money in case I wanted to have some more drinks, he patted me on the shoulder and spoke in low tones, ‘I promise, I will make this go away, we would have to see someone else tomorrow, I would call you tomorrow to give you the details’
He patted me again on the back and started to leave, as he made to leave, I suddenly remembered that I had a date with Ifeoma the next day but I quickly dismissed the idea of bringing that up, I guess this was more important, I could always reschedule with Ifeoma.
Heavy Dee got to the door, stopped and turned around to have another look at me, then he smiled and said ‘Goodbye my friend’ with that he opened the door and left.
I didn’t know why Heavy Dee had stopped to say ‘goodbye my friend’ but that was the last time Heavy Dee ever said goodbye to me, I guess if he had known that would be his final goodbye to me, he would have said something else, probably ‘goodnight my friend’
As Heavy Dee drove away from the bar that night at about 7.45pm, another car pulled out from the car park and followed slowly behind him.
(To Be Continued)