Life comes at you fast and it does not matter how fast or how strong or how smart you are, one day the penny will drop and it will be you. It would be your turn.
It was not always like this, you know. Someone said, it is always the law abiding ones you need to watch out for. He was right. He was referencing me when he said this, but that doesn’t stop him from being right. I was a law abiding one. Maybe that is what started this; my love for the law, for order and stability and a proper and just way of doing things. I paid my taxes, had all my complete papers, paid my bills on time, and never as much as made a turn without signalling first. It did not stop me from being pulled over regularly by the police though. It is Bushiria, and every marginally successful looking young person is a potential criminal until proven otherwise.
May 15, 2021. I remember the date as vividly as anything else in my life. I and my girlfriend has been returning that evening from a party. It was perhaps 5pm, so you can tell, it was not that kind of party. One of her girls has turned twenty-nine and they were celebrating her last year before the big 3-0. We got pulled over at the checkpoint. A routine check, they said. After five minutes of going through my papers and licenses, several times and asking countless questions, the lead officer; a Corporal, by his stripes, leaned closer to me and went:
“So, anything for us, young man?”
Being a law abiding citizen, bribery is one of the things I detest the most. I play my cards straight and follow all the rules so I do not have to pay bribes to get anything done. Now, here was this idiot, demanding one irrespective. To make matters worse, if there is anything I hate more than bribes, it is being patronized. It was there, the way the officer smiled, “young man”, the ugly stains in his teeth, the way he leaned towards me, I wanted to burst.
He noticed my hesitation, mistaking my countenance for contemplation or something and he continued, still smiling that stupid, ugly, ugly grin.
“You know say e easy to put exhibit for inside your moto. Na wetin people dey do, but me dey ask. Make your woman no come start to dey cry.”
And that was the moment I snapped.
It was not the threat to place an unlicensed gun or bullets or drugs in my car, or how it would make my girlfriend feel that changed everything. No. It was nothing like that. It was the thought of how easy it was. How easy it was for a police officer to just plant false evidence and indict an innocent person, forcing them to commit a crime, to bribe. How terrible the police force was that such a thing could happen under their watch, within their ranks, and there was nothing that could be done for it.
So, I snapped.
When I wrenched the AK-47 from his hands, it was on pure instinct. I whirled, allowing my elbow catch him in the face. His nose split open audibly. That I possessed enough strength to do that, that the nerve endings in my elbow suddenly erupted in agony barely registered above my subconscious, I was still moving. I shoved the rifle into the arms of the other officer standing beside me, causing him to drop his gun on the floor. Then holding the barrel of the rifle in both hands, I clubbed both men until the crumpled unconsciously to the ground.
I was not seeing their faces as I hit them. It was not Corporal Baboon or the other fellow, whose name tag or face, I cannot recall even now. I was not seeing those indolent, underpaid louts. I was seeing the system, the faceless men behind it all. The ones who did not pay enough, did not hire enough, did not equip enough, and so forced these men into these despicable acts of criminality. I was deaf to the cries at that moment, deaf to the screams of my girlfriend in the car or the passers-by who raced away in the rapidly emptying street. I did not hear anything, did not see anything, not until I stopped.
“Get in the car,” I said quietly to my girlfriend who was now standing beside me, staring at the bloody mess of flesh on the tarmac, her hands at her sides, her eyes blank, catatonic.
She did not argue as she normally would have. She simply entered into the car. Still gripping the barrel of the rifle, whose butt was slick with blood and what seemed like bits of skin and hair, I entered after her and started the car. Then I remembered, there had been three officers at the checkpoint when I stopped. I could see the last man running down the road.
I gunned the car.
Burying the gun was out of the question. I simply threw it in a culvert close to the house. Getting the girlfriend to keep quiet about the thing was another matter entirely. By the time she recovered from her catatonia, she kept babbling, begging and threatening me in turns to stop the car and go back to the police.
“I won’t tell anyone baby. I promise. I would never. Not on my life. But you have to tell the police. You have to turn yourself in.”
She, I buried.
I borrowed my neighbour’s car, told him I wanted to drop my girl off at the car park. When I got to Zoobadan Garage, I offered to drive her to Zoobadan myself, ostensibly so we could talk. She believed me. I strangled her and buried her body somewhere in the bushes past the Foresamu overpass. Then I returned to Woodgos.
But it was not enough.
I could not help the boiling anger that still coursed through me every time I saw a police checkpoint that week. Every time I saw another group of young people being mistreated by the police on social media, I wanted to burst. How were they not learning? How did the death of three of their officers not strike some fear into them? How come they were still acting with all impunity?
In the evening of the next Saturday, I drove out. It had been a week and as typical, there was no investigation. Not one single image of the incident had been caught on camera. There was no suspect, no real ones anyway. A bunch of people had been grabbed off the street the day after and paraded in front of cameras, beaten, humiliated, and then coerced to pay bribes to get free. In all, it only served to fuel my ire.
So when I drove up to the checkpoint on that lonely road, wearing a snapback cap, shorts, a tank top and gold bracelet son my wrist, I must have looked like the usual soft target. I was the only one at the checkpoint, surrounded by armed police officers. Another one, ripe for the plucking. Another innocent in whose car they would plant marijuana and extort 15,000 Shakira.
I did not give them the chance.
“Young man, please turn off your car and step out of the vehicle.”
One officer pretended to engage me in a conversation about my papers, while the other one poked his head into the back seat. The third officer was on the other side of the car.
“Ehen! What do we have here?” the one with his head in my car started. “This looks like igb…”
I shoved the door hard as he was bringing out his head from the car. The door jamb cracked against his skull, causing him to yell. At the same moment, I grabbed for the gun of the one in front of me. He was a smaller man than Corporal Baboon, but I did not have quite the element of surprise as I had had before. He did not let go of his gun.
So, while I grappled with him, his colleague writhing on the floor in pain, I heard a crack as the third officer cocked his gun.
Many education psychologists have theorized the veracity of passive learning. Is it possible for someone, like Neo in The Matrix to simply learn a physical skill like fighting, from countless hours of being exposed to it visually? Maybe it isn’t, but there is no better explanation for what happened next.
No explanation for how, I with no formal military or otherwise offensive training, suddenly twisted to put the officer I was grappling with between myself and the third officer with the gun. The sound of the gun shot was loud and jarring. The bullet thudded into the first officer’s back with an audible thwack.
“Yaaai! Fuck!” the last officer screamed.
I kicked off the dying body, sliding back the hammer to cock the rifle in my hands in the same motion, and fired a short burst into the stomach of the last officer before the first officer’s body hit the floor. To finish up, I returned the rifle’s safety and moving deliberately around the car, clubbed each officer in the head till I was certain they were not breathing. I left the back of weed they had been planning on planting in my car on the body of one of the officers and drove home.
This time around, I was famous.
I was not alone on the street that day. Twitter user @Ogbosky_JUJU had been walking home, intent on passing the checkpoint while the officers were busy with me when I had exploded into action. Dropping his backpack of school books, with recessed portions where he hid the pills and marijuana he peddled, he hid behind an empty kiosk and made a video.
I woke at 5am the next morning as a celebrity. Social media was agog with the arguments, left wing and right wing arguing about the extremism of the violence, the tie in with the previous incident and the abundant theories as to the legality of it all. Above everything was the question of who I was. It did not take long for me to be identified from the video. It actually took less than 12 hours and it was not done by the police. Certain individuals, skilled at ferreting information for countless twitter wars, had linked all my social media accounts and found my address less than 2 hours after I woke. Then someone mentioned the police handle on the information.
By the time I was walking out of my house at about 8:30am that Sunday morning, I was more than famous. I was infamous. Getting to my car and driving to an ATM sufficiently far, but close enough, took about 20 mins. I had only the basic essentials in the car, two changes of clothes and a toothbrush. I withdrew 300,000 Shakira using two bank cards, then I started driving. I did not know where I was going, but I was determined to go. I would have disappeared. I think I would have but, the police had some help again. My banks divulged my withdrawal information, then my internet service provider my whereabouts. I heard all this on the radio while I drove but by then, it was too late, they were on my heels.
It had taken a week for my life to unravel, to spill everywhere like a bucket made of sieves. I knew I was doomed, doomed as surely as the devil himself. Not only was my story going to be a mess in the telling and retelling, but if I lived long enough for trial, I would be in the worst pains possible. No, damn it.
- Violence is never the answer
- This is clearly a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead, as well as places or systems existing is purely coincidental.
- Learn, please.