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Jason was sweating profusely inside the air-conditioned room. His mouth was dry and he didn’t know what to say. The tension was heightened because Brian did not say anything beyond that chilling welcome for minutes. He just kept the gun trained on Jason and looked at him through glazed eyes that said nothing of whatever emotions were raging underneath them.
Then without warning he simply dropped the gun and ran up to Jason, and hugged him tightly. He began to cry, the dammed emotions finally breaking free. He only reached Jason’s waist and he looked up through the tear stricken eyes.
“I didn’t know it was going to be so gory and bloody and messy. Did I really kill her? Is she really dead?” the questions tumbled out of the little boy as he tried to say so many things at once.
Jason fell on one knee, visibly relieved that his little brother hadn’t shot him. “But what happened? Why?” he asked, still confused.
“She beat me. She made me touch her. She touched me. She did nasty things to me. Everyday. She threw a knife at me and it cut me here,” he touched his face where the knife had cut him and Jason saw it for the first time.
“What! When did she do this? For how long? That bitch! I will deal with her…”then he remembered that he had just left her corpse in the living room and the reality sank in. There would be no dealing with her.
He was lost in thought so he didn’t realize when Brian suddenly bolted away from him and raced towards the bed. It took some moments for him to recover from the push and a split second after that to realize where his little brother was heading. He tried to catch up with Brian but he had taken too much time to recover and move. Brian reached the gun before him and grabbed it too suddenly. His hands squeezed the trigger and a shot rang out, lodging itself into the opposite wall. Jason jumped back at the sound of the shot and Brian turned around, trembling with the gun in his hand again trained on his elder brother.
“Stay away from me!” he screamed.
Jason was puzzled and convinced that a screw had definitely gone lose in his brother’s head and left him unhinged. “What is the matter Brian? Why do you want me to stay away and point a gun at me, your brother?” Jason asked, trying to appeal to Brian’s sensibilities.
Brian shook his head vigorously “no! You are the reason all this happened to me. It was you that did all the bad things to Aunty Clara that she now came to do to me. It was you, you, you!” he shook in anger as he said this and Jason was truly afraid. He tried to placate his brother “but Brian, I’m your brother. You can’t shoot me now? Think of mummy and daddy; what will you say to them when they find out you shot me?”
“They don’t care too! If they did, they won’t leave me alone with Aunty Clara every time so she can do bad things to me.” Brian shouted
“Brian, this is Nigeria. The police here are not like the American cops, they are very mean to children. If you kill me, they’re gonna torture you and kill you.” Jason said. He had to do some quick thinking. Fear crept into Brian’s eyes.
“What am I gonna do?” Brian said, bursting into tears. “I’ve killed one person, so they’re gonna get me right?”
“I can help you, but you have to put the gun away first,” Jason said.
“No!” Brian said emphatically. “If I do, you’re just gonna beat the hell out of me and then call the Nigerian cops to come and get me. I want you to call mum and dad. They should come back now!”
Jason was perplexed. “But Brian, they’re out of town. We don’t know how long it will take them to get here or if they can come and…”
“I DON’T CARE!” Brian shouted, raising the gun. Jason realized he didn’t really have a choice. He called his dad. It rang out and he told Brian so. “He never picks up anyway. Try mum, she’ll pick up,” Brian said, much calmer than before now that Jason was doing what he wanted.
Jason dialed his mum’s number from memory and she picked up before the caller tune got to the noisy part. “Hello Jason, how are you?” He held his breath.
“Aunty, I want to know how to touch boys so that they like me and only me,” Inya asked.
Aisha was sure now that she had heard correctly. Her mind had deciphered what the little girl was really asking, but the rational part of her refused to believe it.
“Inya, when you say touch, what do you mean,” Aisha asked, still smiling so that she could coax the clarification out of the girl.
“Well, I know if I touch a boy on his peepee and I do this,” she ran her right hand repeatedly over her right middle finger mimicking a movement. Aisha recognized it instantly and she winced unconsciously, dumbfounded.
Inya continued “the boy will shake after a while and if he is big boy, gooey stuff comes out as he shakes, but nothing does if he is small. But I know that’s not the real thing so I want to know what the real thing is and if you will tell me how to do it.”
Aisha’s jaw was nearly on the table. “Who taught you all this and what makes you think I’m the one that can teach you anything? How did you even know this?” she wondered if the little girl had ever seen her and Idris having sex in the house unnoticed.
Inya would have recognized the look in Aisha’s eyes if she was older but she plodded on “I have a boyfriend too, and my uncle taught me how to make him shake the way you make my uncle shake too.”
Aisha’s eyes narrowed. She had been thinking something totally different about how Inya had learnt these things before the last statement. Now it hit her flat in the face like a sledgehammer. “How exactly did Idris teach you?” Aisha asked.
“Teach her what?” Idris asked from behind Aisha. He had come through the back but hadn’t heard what they had been talking about.
Aisha was startled; she hadn’t known when Idris got there. She searched his face to see if he had heard beyond the last statement but there was no indication there. She looked to the living area and saw Hajara and Laraba laughing away, chatting, while Oyiza curled up in between them, reading a book. Had he been teaching Oyiza too?
“None of you is going to answer?” Idris asked, then shrugged and said “anyway, let’s go Aisha”.
Aisha wrestled with the urge to go and break the news of what she had just discovered to the girls’ mum right now. But she knew that would be difficult, she wasn’t even a member of the family. Things like that typically got handled in family ways, and that would be it. She decided against speaking with Hajara right away. “Inya, we’ll talk later,” she said, dismissing the little girl and then turned to Idris and spoke more coldly than she meant to “let’s go.” It was then she realized that he disgusted her.
The Okwurahs were on their way to Ibadan when Jason’s call came in. They had flown into Abuja from Egypt the previous day to attend a function and then into Lagos this morning to connect Ibadan to attend another function. Conrad had been asleep when his phone rang out. When her own phone rang right after that, Adaku knew it had to be one of her sons. She took the call, ready to scold him for using a phone in school when the rules said he couldn’t but he cut her short and relayed an unbelievable story. Adaku Okwurah shook her husband awake and put her son on speaker.
“Adaku, what is it now, can’t a man sleep again?” Conrad said with irritation
“Your house is on fire and you are sleeping?” Adaku asked, annoyed.
“Fire? Where?” Conrad asked, not yet fully awake.
“Daddy, it’s me, Jason.” Jason’s voice came over the phone’s speaker.
“Jason, you set the house on fire? What are you people saying?” Conrad was annoyed that his sleep had been disturbed. He was so tired but breaking into Nigeria’s political circles after being away for so long was a lot of hard, tiring work and these functions were part of it.
“Daddy, Brian is about to shoot me if you don’t come home now,” Jason said in response.
“What? What pranks are you people playing?” Conrad asked gruffly. “If this is a joke, you will know that we are not in America where I cannot deal with you again,”
“Daddy, he isn’t joking. He has shot the maid dead and I don’t think he won’t do the same to me if you don’t come back. Please where are you?”
“Very close, very close,” Conrad responded, now fully awake.
On the other end, it was news to Jason that his parents were close by. He thought they were out of the country. Those two just did as they liked these days.
“Okay, daddy, how long do you think it will take for you to get home?” he asked.
“I’ll be with you within the hour,” Conrad said. He hung up and shouted “turn around and head straight to the house, you!” The driver did not need to be told a second time. He quickly looked for a spot where they could make a u-turn and they were speeding towards Lagos within minutes.
Back in the room, Brian was getting tired. As time passed, the gun was getting heavier. “How long?” he asked simply. “One hour,” Jason responded. They were both tired but couldn’t back out of the drama any longer, at least not until their parents came. So they waited.
When they were in the car and near the taxi park, Aisha suddenly asked Idris to park the car.
“What’s this drama now, why should I park the car?” Idris asked. Aisha had been acting funny. Yes, they had quarreled and were trying to make up, but this was a different kind of funny.
“I want to talk to you.” She said.
“Aisha, what is this now? What’s so urgent that you didn’t talk about it in the house and cannot wait for us to get to where we are going that it has to be here on the road?”
“Park the damned car you fucking pedophile!” Aisha burst out.
Idris slammed the brakes and swerved so suddenly he nearly hit a bike. “What the hell are you talking about Aisha? Are you mad?”
“You call me mad? You really have the mouth to call me mad? You are so pathetic Idris. I was going to ask, but I’m sure now. I don’t need to ask anything, you are really doing it. You are sick! Lord!”
“Is that what you were discussing with Inya?” She saw the fear creep into his eyes.
“Yes! She was asking if I could give her further lessons from where you stopped. You are a disgor! Now I regret not confronting you there so that Aunty Hajara can find out how you have been repaying her for all she has done for you.”
“Get out of my car, you idiot. You call someone disgor, yet you think I don’t know about your ‘uncles’ that you routinely service abi?” Idris tried to shoot back.
“You are comparing shagging old men for money to molesting little girls? I didn’t hide that I do runs from you so shut the bloody hell up. I’m going to tell Aunty Hajara.”
“You will do no such thing, Aisha.” Idris said assuredly.
“And what will you do to stop me? Rape and molest me? I’m not eight and even if I can’t come to the house, I know Aunty Hajara’s makeup place. I will meet her there. Arrghh! How did I end up dating a sicko like you?” Aisha responded angrily.
“Of course I know you can. But you will not. You have forgotten the videos we made at home yeah? I still have them on my laptop and you better be a good girl and go home, otherwise those videos and all your nudies will make their way to the web and of course it’s all my plenty twitter followers that will see it first. I’ll be nice enough to make sure someone shares the link with your brothers until your parents see them. That is if you squeal. Actually, I was going to break up with you, so I don’t want to ever see you again.”
Aisha seethed in anger. Before Idris, she had been wise enough to avoid nudies or making sextapes. But he had convinced her and she had been carried away. “Idris, I will leave you and your wretched family. If they don’t find out through me, they will still find out. But if any of those videos get out, I will have nothing to lose. And if that ever happens, you do recall that the police commissioner is one of those my ‘uncles’? Borrow yourself brain.”
With that, she gathered her things, got out of the car and picked one of the cabs in the park. Idris turned the car around. If Inya talked to Laraba… he thought. He would be exposed. He needed to put some fear into that girl.
When he got home, the living room was empty. He had heard Laraba and Hajara talk about meeting with Laraba’s planner so he guessed they had left the house not long after him. He heard some music coming from a corner. Looking into the corner, he found Oyiza practicing her piano. She must be working on her piece for Laraba’s wedding, he thought.
“Where is Inya,” he asked, interrupting Oyiza who answered without looking away from the piano “in the room, sleeping.”
“She must still be exhausted from the asthma attack,” he said with meaning and Oyiza’s head shot up, stopping the music.
He laughed “I am not telling on you Oyiza, okay?”
She looked at him with eyes that looked older than her eight years and he could see the derision in them. Then she went back to playing her music. He left her in the direction of his room, so she would think that was where he was going and then made his way to the girls’ room. He opened the door of the room quietly and let himself in. There in the bed, lay Inya. He sat down beside her and shook her. She stirred a little and then her eyes opened. “Hello Inya,” he said.
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