The Valley of the Shadow of Death (Part Two)


His assailant charged at him like a wounded bull, his club raised, and Jide’s lithe body performed a series of Samurai-like moves in quick succession, while he screamed and stuttered unintelligibly, in the hopes that he could somehow anticipate and block the heavy blows that were sure to crush his bones, or better still placate this raging monster if it was even possible. He would later wonder how his body managed such agile, jerky motions without his joints snapping out of place permanently.

“Oga I no know! Abeg! No vex oga! I swear I no know o! Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!”

He screamed, covering his head with his hands, then his chest, then his legs, anticipating the first blow.

His assailant kept spitting and swearing bitterly in what sounded like Hausa interpolated with Arabic. Jide did not understand a word he spoke but there was no mistaking the look of murder in the man’s eyes.

The man pointed at Jide with his club and spoke a few words in Hausa, his chest heaving with each breath he took.

Instinctively, Jide knew what the man had instructed.

Pack your shit!

“With my hand?” Jide asked, incredulous.

When he saw the club raised ominously over his head, he answered his own question and promptly dug in with his fingers, mixing his warm, watery faeces with the moist earth. His heart was racing insanely; his thoughts had gone into overdrive. What sort of morning was this? What had he ever done to deserve this sort of humiliation? What would his sister say if she saw him like this? Was God just watching? Would He not swoop down and deliver?

The attacker spat a few swear words at him, and Jide, overcome with fright and humiliation, began to fling his earth-faeces mixture out through the window. It landed in a puddle of stagnant water just outside where the shrubs sprang up from the earth.

Faster and faster he worked, despite the coppery taste in his mouth and the shortness of his breath, until he was satisfied he had done a good job. He hoped his swiftness and efficiency had appeased Lucifer.

His attacker was still breathing hard but he had stopped swearing, thank God. He pointed at Jide with his club and gestured toward the doorway. Jide began to say that he needed to find a place to wash his hands, and the swearing and spitting resumed full throttle.

He swallowed his pride and exited the building, his nemesis looming over him and swinging the club over Jide’s head. He hoped he wouldn’t meet a crowd of eager observers straining their necks to behold the infidel who went into the place of prayer to poop.
Thankfully, things were sane and quiet outside.

Jide found another pool of water and started to wash his hands, intermittently turning back to see if his attacker had suddenly changed his mind and lifted his club to crack his head open like a palm kernel. The man just kept hissing and spitting and cursing but he had put the club away for good.

When Jide finished washing his hands (there was no time to check under his fingernails), he took off abruptly, running as fast as his limbs would allow.

Jide, who usually had an excruciatingly difficult time remembering directions, this time, remembered every twist, every turn, and every landmark. When he was a few yards away from the vehicle, he slowed down and began to take deep, slow breaths. What in the world just happened? He had walked into Satan’s lair, and miraculously, he had come out unscathed.

As he approached the car, he hoped he looked convincingly smug. He still had enemies who awaited him in the car, you see. God forbid he give them something to gloat about.

When he reached the car, the Bella Naija woman was not in it, and he was thankful he didn’t have to hear her grunt again. At least not yet. But the wasp with hair as wild as the head of an exotic pineapple was still there, ensconced in her seat, her ears still plugged, her big eyes roaming about in search of prey.

Jide could swear nothing was playing from the headphones, but that was entirely another matter. He smoothed the creases in his shirt and entered the vehicle, making sure to leave some space between him and the serpent. As he planted himself beside her, he noticed that nearly all the seats in the car had been taken. Passengers had suddenly appeared while he was at the battle of Armageddon. He shook his head and pitied himself. It was obvious the devil had been all out for him. Had God not intervened he would be minced meat by now.

“Oga where you go since?”

Jide looked up to see the yellow teeth of the passenger who had taken the front seat. The man, who would never see forty again, looked like he could use a bar of soap and a new toothbrush. Jide smiled at him briefly. He wasn’t in the mood to be friendly to strangers. It was a wicked world, after all, and one could never be too careful. This early morning diarrhoea was not ordinary, he was sure.

“No weapon fashioned against me shall prosper,” Jide muttered under his breath.

“You said?” the smiling man asked.

“Nothing. I just remembered something,” Jide said, and started tapping the screen of his phone. The man, still smiling, turned back in his seat and examined his wide forehead in the side mirror.

Jide had just realized that he never found the opportunity to clean his soiled bottom. The passengers would just have to manage for the next four hours, at least. It was their turn to be sorely troubled. Jide wondered what the she-goat looked like when she wrinkled her crooked nose and he stifled a chuckle. It was no use wondering; time would soon tell.

Outside, the sun had come out to play.

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