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  • Walt Shakes

    Walt Shakes

    Walter Ude (@Walt_Shakes) is an award-winning Nigerian writer, poet and veteran blogger. He is a lover of the written word. the faint whiff of nature, the flashing vista of movies, the warmth of companionship and the happy sound of laughter. He blogs at mymindsnaps.wordpress.com.

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HEAVEN-SENT

The tenants of Block 490 in Festac Extension, Amuwo-Odofin, were creatures of habit. Every morning, by 6 am, Mr. Onoabhagbe was always up and out to wash his car. It was a brand new Honda CR-V, he bought it six months ago, and every morning since then, he would come out to clean the car with the kind of loving attention he didn’t think his houseboy was capable of.

Every late afternoon on weekdays, Mr. Orjiakor would bring his children back from school, all five of them, noisy brats, who would at once begin screaming and chattering and raising the kind of hell that would make the eccentric and elderly Papa Bola to hobble his way to the ratty and dusty netting of his bedroom window to hurl Yoruba swearwords at the children. He did this every time the children started their ruckus, and the Orjiakors always ignored him.

Every Saturday morning, Mrs. Adewuyi would lean over the rail of her balcony and call out to the hawker who always walked by with her tray-load of Agege bread. The other tenants had started to wonder about the woman. They sniggered and gossiped about the wife who could only serve her family Agege bread on Saturday mornings. For shame.

Actually, it was Mrs. Obasanya and her cronies from the neighbouring blocks who talked about Mrs. Adewuyi. They gossiped about the neighbours in Block 490, from the unmarried Felicia Johnarry, who always had men coming to pick her up for dates every weekend (Ashawo like her…Mscheeww!), to the newlyweds Mr. and Mrs. Ezeafulukwe, whose amorous grunts and ecstatic moans could be heard through the thin walls of the building every night (Ah-ah! Don’t they ever stop?), to the jobless Samuel Ogbonna with his dubious wealth and wild friends and partying ways (Yahoo-yahoo boys! One day, EFCC will catch this one). Mrs. Obasanya and her friends gossiped about everybody, and they did this every evening, huddled against the open doorway of the stairwell of Block 490, cattily disseminating information about their neighbours.

Christina lived in Block 490, and she was no different from her neighbours in the possession of habits. She had a dog – a Golden Retriever named Sheba – who she loved to walk every morning. Christina was young, pert and pretty, and nurtured the fervent hope that one day, a nice, handsome, rich, Christian man would come sweep her off her feet, down the aisle and out of this dismal neighbourhood with its nosy neighbours and waterlogged environment. She had made this a prayer point whenever she went to church on Sundays. In the meantime, while she waited for this man, she contented herself with the sensation she knew she was creating among the men of Block 490.

This morning, as she approached the flat, her gait made a little hurried by Sheba’s impatient pull on his leash, she was aware that some of the men – those who didn’t have any jobs to get to this Friday morning – were peering at her, some more overt than the others. She could see three men from her flat watching her – Mr. Onoabhagbe from his open window, and Mr. Adewuyi and Ogbonna over the railing on their verandahs. Sheba hurtled towards Mr. Onoabhagbe’s Honda and promptly got down on his haunches close to one of the car’s tires, and a jet of urine began to dribble from underneath the dog. This was his second time. Christina waited patiently.

“Good morning, Papa Jibola,” she arched her head and hollered her greeting at Mr. Adewuyi.

“Ehen, good morning, Christy,” the man responded with a wide leering smile.

She stifled a shudder of distaste and turned her head to greet the other man. “Good morning, Mr. Onoabhagbe.”

He did not answer back. The expression on his face was stony.

Probably sulking because Sheba is peeing beside his car, Christina thought, and dismissed him.

“Christy, you no go greet me?” Ogbonna hailed from the floor directly above her. “Good morning, sweetheart.”

“Mmhmm,” she grunted in response, not looking at him. Samuel Ogbonna might be considered an attractive package by some women, what with his dashing looks and gaudy wealth, but not Christina. She had seen his type before. Oh, how well she knew it. Young men who wore yuppy clothes, partied hard and drove flashy cars. She’d been attracted to his type once, but once bitten, twice shy. She wouldn’t be taken in by a man like Ogbonna any longer. Experience had made her wiser and Samuel Ogbonna was nothing but bad news.

“Christy, answer me nah,” he cajoled. There was a smile in his voice. “Since I sent you friend request on BBM, you’ve not accepted me. Why nah?”

“Until you tell me how you got my pin, you can forget me accepting your request,” she snapped.

She heard a chuckle, and looked around. Felicia Johnarry had just stepped out from her apartment on the ground floor. Her hair was pulled back in an untidy bun, and she was clad in a tank top and thigh-length shorts. She had that just-got-out-of-bed look.

“Ah-ah, are you not going to work today?” Christina asked.

Felicia shook her head. “No. I’m starting my leave today.”

“You need it jaré. Now, it’s time for you to just rest and relax.”

“Honestly. In fact, all I’m going to do for the next two weeks is sleep, sleep, sleep.” The two women shared a brief laugh. “What about you? How far for your job runs?”

“My sister, see me nah. Ever since I finished NYSC last year, I’m still here. No leave, no transfer.” Sheba just then growled at nothing in particular and jerked forward on his leash. She jerked the leash back.

“Nawa oh. But the other day, you said that company called you back for a second interview. What happened?”

“They did oh, they called me back. After the interview, they said they’ll get back to me. My sister, that was two weeks ago. I’m still waiting for them to get back to me.”

“Hmm, it’s not easy.”

“In fact eh, I’ve decided to apply for Masters in LASU. This whole jobless situation is frustrating me.”

“Don’t worry, it will get better,” Felicia said, commiseration heavy in her voice.

“That is why I’m just praying to God for a good husband.”

“What?” Felicia gave an incredulous chuckle.

“Yes nah. My dear, every woman needs a good man to take care of her. And me, I am asking God to give me that fine, caring, rich and Christian man to come swoop me out of here and take good care of me.”

“Like me?” Ogbonna interjected from above. Both women looked up. He had a crooked grin hanging on his lips, unabashed with their discovery of his eavesdropping. “I’m fine, caring and rich – baby, and I can take goooood care of you.” He cocked his brow in a suggestive expression.

“You forgot to add ‘Christian’. I said I want a Christian man too.”

“Ehen, I’m a Christian nah –”

“Tah! Keep shut!” Christina scoffed. “Even the devil is a better Christian than you are.”

“Oh!” He clutched playfully at his chest. “You just broke my heart, sweetheart.”

Christina dismissed him with a roll of her eyes and turned back to Felicia, picking up the thread of their conversation from where they left off. “So, my sister, as I was saying, I’m really on the lookout for the best in a man. I can’t settle for any less. Rich. Good-looking. God-fearing. And” – she gave a coy smile here – “ready to rock my world in bed. These are not too much to ask.”

“Shebi you said you’re asking God for that kind of man, right?”

“Yes.”

“Then you may have to wait for him to do exactly that. To send you that special kind of man straight from heaven.”

***

Police Inspector Badmus Moshood wrinkled his nose and flinched inwardly as he re-entered the apartment. The bloodcurdling stench that attacked his nasal senses was wafting from the direction of the living room, heavy like pressurized gas. Badmus felt his stomach clench and swoop. He gagged a little and fished out his handkerchief from his pocket to block his nose with as he made his way to where his partner stood questioning a woman.

The woman was slight, dark-skinned and teary-eyed. Her obvious misery made her seem shrunken, especially as she was standing before the hulking figure of Badmus’ partner, Inspector Kingsley Ekwonna.

Kingsley saw him approaching and started toward him. He was a big man, without the paunch and shambling gait, and he appeared unperturbed by the rancid smell seeping throughout the apartment. “Did you get anything?” His voice was a deep baritone. It suited his frame.

Badmus replied, “Not much. I knocked on a few doors, got to talk to some of the neighbours. Like you said, I didn’t mention anything about the case. No one seemed to have seen anything or anyone out of the ordinary though in the past week. One or two people mentioned that they might have seen a strange man coming down the stairs from this house a couple of days ago. But you know how these things go. People may not know much, but in trying to be helpful, they may subconsciously colour events with their own details – things they thought they saw.”

“Still, it’s too early to dismiss these accounts. We’ll canvas the houses later to get their official statements.”

“Yea, that’ll just be our luck,” Badmus groaned, knowing how unhelpful Nigerians tended to be in police investigations. There was a general belief that the more assistance you offered to the police, the more implicated you got yourself. That assertion both annoyed and amused Badmus, and it was the reason why Kingsley asked him not to reveal that he was a policeman investigating a case when he instructed him to go question the neighbours.

“Well, they won’t have any choice later on,” Kingsley said. “They’ve talked now. Any later resistance will only incur the threat of an arrest on the charge that they are impeding a police investigation.”

Badmus grimaced inwardly. And we wonder why people don’t trust us. He jerked his head in the direction of the woman. “Are you convinced that she didn’t do it?”

“Absolutely.” Kingsley hesitated and then added, “Although I probably shouldn’t conclude now. But she did call us after discovering the body this morning–”

“According to her–”

“She wouldn’t have called if she had done it.”

“Unless she was counting on that exact reasoning from us to throw the suspicion away from her.”

Kingsley nodded. “We’ll just keep her in our list of suspects. But…” He paused again and said, “You said those neighbours said they say a strange man–”

“Might have seen a strange man –” Badmus corrected.

“Still. It could be our guy.”

“It does fit his MO – the noose, the naked body, the note – everything he did in the last three murders. One difference though, those other victims were women. This one is a guy.”

“What are you saying?”

“That it could be a copycat. Someone conveniently using the Suicide Killer’s signature to cover up his – or her – own crime.” He shot a pointed look at the woman who now stood by herself, lonely and miserable, and sniffling into a handkerchief.

“There’s just one problem with that. Two actually. One, what’s her motive? She was his girlfriend. It’s not like they were married and she stood the chance of inheriting something upon his death.”

“That remains to be seen.”

“And secondly, the details of the death of the Suicide Killer’s victims were never released to the press. All the public knows is that there’s a maniac on the loose, who’s killing people by stringing them up with a noose. No one knows the other details.”

“Someone could, if he had the right connections,” Badmus countered. The police department was not famed for its discretion and safeguarding of classified information. Corruption was an encumbrance that had made malleable various arms of the force.

Kingsley nodded slowly in concession to Badmus’ remarks. Then he said briskly, “Let’s go take another look at the man before the pathologist gets here.” He started for the living room.

“Do we have to go back in there?” The reluctance was heavy in Badmus’ voice.

His partner stopped and looked back at him, his eyes narrowing on the handkerchief he held against his nose, as though he was noticing it for the first time. “So na dead body dey make you dey do like woman so,” he taunted with a slight smile. “Come on, man up, and let’s go and do our job.” And he turned and vanished inside the living room.

Grumbling something about inconsiderate partners, Badmus tightened the hanky around his nostrils and followed after him. The air in the living room was so dense with putrefaction, that the smell felt like a solid presence, parting open its arms to welcome him in its odious embrace. He gagged again and swore silently, for the umpteenth time, that it was time for him to quit the force.

Kingsley was already beside the body hanging from the noose leashed around the rod of the ceiling fan. The body was positioned in a slant, with the upper part sticking almost entirely out the window, and the legs holding the position steady where they were jammed against the sofa. That was exactly how the elusive murderer, who both the police and the press had dubbed the ‘Suicide Killer’, had left his three previous victims. The police didn’t understand the significance of him leaving his victims so inclined. Then again, they didn’t understand anything about the murders, not why he hung the bodies in their naked form, or why he left a suicide note beside them.

others 12Badmus approached and flicked a nauseated look over the latest victim. The man was fair-complected, and his skin had turned an unmistakable waxen colour that gave his complexion a sickening grayish cast. His fingers and legs, however, had a mottled colour, and the area of his neck that was caught in the noose was bruised with a reddish-brown stain. His body was slightly bloated, and his face was frozen in a contortion of surprise and horror, as though, even in death, he was still trying to come to terms with what had happened to him.

“The girlfriend said she saw him last on Wednesday morning,” Kingsley said. “She spent Tuesday night here with him. And last weekend, he sent his househelp home to visit his parents in the village.”

“So he gets killed, probably on Wednesday, and remains all alone all this time. That’s just sad.”

“Really sad. Just as sad as the other three women.” Kingsley paused. There was a slight creaking sound. They looked at the body. It had swayed, a barely perceptible movement. Kingsley continued, “We have to find this sick bastard before he strikes again.”

“I agree. And judging by the acceleration of his time table, we should be worried. His first murder was in July, second in August, and third in September. That was a week ago. He’s becoming more frequent.”

“Getting hungrier.”

“Which means he could kill again this month.”

“The press will be all over us on this. The governor is already leaning on us to produce results.” Kingsley expelled a forceful breath that betrayed his frustration. And then he stopped.

There was that creaking sound again. It was louder this time. The dead body swayed again. And kept on swaying. It was also tilting forward. Both men swept startled looks over it and upward to the ceiling fan. The knot around the rod was loosening.

“Oh my God!” Kingsley burst out. “He’s going to fall! He’s going to fall! Grab him!”

“Are you crazy!” Badmus was horrified. “How you wan make I touch dead body!”

The rope whipped off from around the rod, and the body began to topple forward. Kingsley lunged for the rope, intending to pull the body up short. He almost had it. Almost. But his fingers didn’t find purchase. And the body fell out through the open window.

***

“Shebi you said you’re asking God for that kind of man, right?” Felicia said.

“Yes,” Christina replied.

“Then you may have to wait for him to do exactly that. To send you that special kind of man straight from heaven.”

And Mr. Onoabhagbe’s body hurtled through the air and smashed down on the roof of his beloved Honda, right before the two women, with a force that caused the roof to cave in, the glass of the windscreen and windows to blow out in smithereens, and the two startled women to let out piercing screams of horror that commingled with Sheba’s furious barks to jolt the early Friday morning.

THE END

I am @Walt_Shakes on Twitter

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30 Comments

  1. This one is a thriller!!
    Well done Walter

    Reply
  2. toyinalabi

     /  October 5, 2013

    Interesting…weldone

    Reply
  3. Izuchukwu

     /  October 5, 2013

    A thriller that got me thrilled. Exceptional

    Reply
  4. LMAO did anyone else get the irony in the story? The only good guy is a dead one, is the summary of the matter. Poor Christina. It’ll be a real shock, of course.

    Awesomeness as always, Mr. Walter Uche.

    For lack of a hat, I doff my bald head.

    Reply
  5. Eewoooo.. see as my heart dey pound. the irony is vivid… Ladies, the only perfect guy is d dead one.

    Reply
  6. something is not right…. The same Mr Onos she just greeted was the one that fell from d window? Same person that died since wed? Shii just got real

    Reply
  7. okechukwu elosiuba

     /  October 5, 2013

    Walteran Shakespear shey be na u tell me say u neva day tru wit sad stories abi???
    U finally made good or shud i say “makin good” ur promise abi???

    Reply
  8. okechukwu elosiuba

     /  October 5, 2013

    Vunderkind… Shit!!! aw did u snatch those words from my thoughts???

    Reply
  9. okechukwu elosiuba

     /  October 5, 2013

    sreetsage u didnot read between the lines
    the dead man’s head was slanted outside the window..
    the same man that Christy saw his face and greeted “if u read very well He did not reply her greeting
    that’s because He was long dead and his face was grown stony…

    Reply
  10. Edeeth

     /  October 5, 2013

    Yeah Shakey, how come? Mr Onos was already dead and smelling for 3 days yet she didn’t notice him dangling and no one perceived d odour? Please explain.

    Reply
  11. Edeeth

     /  October 5, 2013

    ok, scratch the ‘3 days’, but his body was bloated, he was smelling, complexion changed and with a kinda look on his face. surely someone would have noticed in that nosy compound!!

    Reply
    • As for the smell, that bit I got wrong. I obviously didn’t think the plot of the story through. 🙂

      Reply
      • mana

         /  October 6, 2013

        I respect U̶̲̥̅̊ rite now fr dis 2 confessions of urs… way 2 go man & also great plot indeed.

  12. chukarudy

     /  October 5, 2013

    Nyccc as alwys uncle wali aka uncle Dan brown

    Reply
  13. Innocent

     /  October 6, 2013

    Brilliant. Just simply brilliant. Walter, you’re sha slowly turning over to the dark side. Two stories of death and darkness… Hmmm. I love!

    Reply
  14. kachi

     /  October 6, 2013

    Wally i stand with Edeeth on this. Oya start talking. *nice one again tho*, buh u got an explanation to do

    Reply
  15. kachi

     /  October 6, 2013

    Oh u haff explain finish alredy, *late coment*

    Reply
  16. manny

     /  October 6, 2013

    Brilliant!!!

    Reply
  17. Adeline Kasper

     /  October 6, 2013

    Ha! Walt! Ur stories dis days dey scare me eh..
    Beautiful write up tho 😀

    Reply
  18. Can’t believe i missed this!! Bravo, Walt! To me, one of your best ever 🙂

    Reply
  19. Argh!!! Just the best way to start a new week eh? Thank you sir!

    Reply
  20. this is really good!

    Reply
  21. I can see criminal minds all over this story 😀 but do Nigerian police know the meaning if MO and Copy cat serial killer? Nice one though. ‘Twas fun 😃

    Reply
  22. Ifureuwem Udofa

     /  October 16, 2013

    Great writing. The central theme is brilliant. But, there’s too many details trying to fit in a compact space. The story feels tight and unable to breathe. Ai almost couldn’t wait to finish. Well done.

    Reply

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