Chicken Run

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.

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.”

I did.

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.

Disclaimer

  • 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.

Mrs Adebowale helps a Stranger

I apologise that it’s been a while since we put up anything. Been busy, life and its works. But you know us, always ready to kill you with awesomeness. Right Tele?

 Teleola: *giggles sheepishly while reading text from lover*

Anyway. If you ever read the Mrs Pollifax stories by Dorothy Gilman, about the straw-hatted, grandmotherly, sexagenarian CIA superspy with a penchant for deadly judo, then you’ll know what to expect.

Enjoy abeg.. 😀

Introducing Mata Hari in 'I Spy - the movie'
Introducing Mata Hari in ‘I Spy – the movie’

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Inspired by True events from the life of the greatest woman I know.

****

The figure darted out of the dark bushes to her right and right into the glare of the headlights. Mrs Adebowale slammed her right foot hard on the brakes, the 2004 Chrysler 300C, pistons charging angrily, slid sideways into a crushing stop.

Who the hell was that?

Forty-six year old Christina Adebowale was no stranger to danger. Born in Onitsha, Eastern Region at the onset of the Biafran war, her instincts had been honed from birth. And right now, her instincts urged her to lift her foot off the brake and zoom off.

Christina Adebowale pressed a button that locked the doors. The reassuring click as the locks all snapped shut buoyed her. Then she glanced at her rearview mirror. The road was dark and empty. Where was the person? All the way down for where she was up until perhaps Lagos, the Benin-Lagos expressway looked as empty and dark as the plains of Mor…

A figure slammed against her driver-side window. Mrs Adebowale let out a shriek. Her hands flew to her gear lever, and she almost zoomed off then. She wondered why she didn’t later on. But at that moment, something stilled her hand, and her heart.

The figure outside the window was a woman in her late thirties, (young by Mrs Adebowale’s standards). The woman was dressed in a dark green tracksuit, and she looked about to die. The suit was torn in several places and dark red blood stains coated her face, her clothes, and matted in her hair alongside a bramble of twigs and leaves and sand.

A madwoman?

Please help me! Please!” The woman said. Mouthed more like, because the heavy density glass partition between them, allowed very little sound to filter through.

If one had asked her, before now, if she would stop on the road for a random stranger, Mrs Adebowale would have replied in a vehement negative. But here she was at 8:05pm, parked right in the centre of the Benin-Lagos expressway, at the section that leads through the Ovia forest, considering whether to wind down her glass to talk to a total stranger, who not only seemed mad, but was also probably dangerous.

But then Mrs Adebowale never did anything ordinarily.

Only a few hours ago, she had been rounding up a lecture on ‘Mis-accountancy and the future of Nigeria in the Global market‘ in Akure. The lecture had started later than scheduled, and at the end, she had to choose between sleeping in a hotel in Akure and entering her car for the two hour drive home.

Mrs Adebowale had driven into a hotel and asked the manager if they had a room with a big TV. The surprised manager had replied “Of course!” She had then asked if they received TVTV, to which the even more surprised man had replied “No. But we have DSTV”

Mrs Adebowale had walked out. Bad enough she wouldn’t be able to watch her TV show with her daughter in the comfort of her home, but not to watch Jumong at all?

She had entered her car, and called her daughter. “Hey, I’m on my way. In case I don’t get back on time, record the Jumong oh!”

Then she put her headlights on full beam, and drove into the road.

*****

Mrs Adebowale wound down her window.

“Please, madam! Help me! Kidnappers!” The woman in the tattered tracksuit blurted out, tears and mucus running down her face.

At that moment, a shot rang out in the darkness. The report all the louder in the stillness that was the lonely night. The woman in the tracksuit let out a short squeal and made to dart across the road to the other side. Mrs Adebowale made her decision.

“Get in!” She hollered.

The tracksuit lady needed no further cajoling. Jumping in through the open back door, she lay flat on the seat.

Spinning the car around in first gear, Mrs Adebowale once more pointed the nose for Benin as she stepped hard on the accelerator. The vehicle jumped forward, and not a moment too soon. In her rearview mirror, she could see two men run into the road, long, dangerous looking weapons in their hands.

Mrs Adebowale flashed instantly to the Korean TV series she watched with her daughter. What was that action one? Bridal Mask? Twisting the steering as she saw the muzzle of one of the guns flash, she tossed the nimble car to the left and then back to the right. The gunshots seemed louder and more ominous. From the back seat, the tracksuit lady was sobbing and praying, but it seemed they were unhurt. The kidnappers kept shooting, but the car was out of range.

The speedometer needle climbed up to 100mph, then 110mph. Mrs Adebowale held it there for five minutes. Then as the adrenaline supply began to taper off, she eased to 70mph.

“So talk to me! Who are you? What happened just now?” Her normal calm voice came out as a high-pitched cry.

“My name is Mrs Roberts, and those men kidnapped me.”

Jite Roberts told the story of how she had come back home from the gym after work (Mrs Adebowale nodded appreciatively), and while horning at her gate for the kids to come open, a trio of gunmen had suddenly appeared at her side. Wrenching open the door of her vehicle before she had time to react, they had forced her into theirs and drove off.

They blindfolded me. My neighbours couldn’t help me! Everybody was scared. The kidnappers shot into the air.” Jite Roberts said.

While she talked, Mrs Adebowale listened, and kept a sharp eye on the rearview mirror. While she had no fears that the kidnappers couldn’t run her down, not while she drove this six-cylinder monster at least, she was however concerned that they hadn’t given chase. There were no tell-tale headlights in the rear. It raised questions, and whatever raised questions didn’t go well with Mrs Adebowale.

“Have they demanded a ransom?”

“Fifteen million,” Jite replied succintly. Her voice clearer now as the sobs subsided.

They had extracted her husband’s international number from her and demanded the sum. The man, his voice breaking in panic, had insisted he needed time to wire the money from the UK. So they had roughed her up, while he listened, till he almost cried over the phone. Satisfied he was going to pay up, and that she was comatose, the kidnappers had retreated to a corner to smoke a joint. That was when she crawled away.

Mrs Adebowale admired her courage, but a question nagged at her.

“How many of them where smoking when you ran?”

“The three of them.”

“But only two were shooting at us earlier.”

“Maybe the other went into town to get…” Her voice trailed off into despair.

At that moment, the roar of a powerful engine tore through the quiet night and powerful headlights, beaming at full intensity, cut a swathe in the darkness barely ten metres away on the right shoulder of the road.

There was no time to react, only action. Old age they say blunts one’s reaction time, but intuition is honed by years of experience.

After lifting her foot off the accelerator just a moment, her naked instincts urguing her to stop the vehicle, Mrs Adebowale stepped harder on the throttle. The big car lurched forward, the HEMI engine churning sparks from the exhaust. But it wasn’t fast enough. The front end of the Toyota Hilux slammed into the back of the Chrysler with enough force, it seemed like the clashing of rival Transformers. The Chrysler spun in a screeching circle, the women inside screaming for dear life. The Hilux went on, the engine barely clacking now, to smash into the median. The force of the impact caused the truck to roll back, headlights casting crazy shadows in every corner. Instantly two men jumped out. One of them, the one on the passenger side, was cradling a rifle. He stepped right up to the driverside window and smashed the glass in with the butt of his gun. Mrs Adebowale tried to drive off, but the crash had totaled the rear axle and some function that caused the vehicle to rise on its haunches had been disabled. The Chrysler merely groaned.

“Get out now!” The kidnapper yelled.

In the back seat, her passenger side door mangled from the crash, Jite had powered down the window and scrambled through it, all her thoughts on escape.

“Hey!” The gun man yelled to his accomplice who rather than be dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, was wearing a stylish-looking blazer over plain trousers. “She wan’ run!”

His accomplice darted around the car in pursuit of the rapidly fleeing Jite.

In the moment his attention was split, Mrs Adebowale had another of her Korean flashes. Unlocking and opening the door in one smooth motion, she slammed all of her 98KG weight behind the heavy steel door and into the knee of the kidnapper. She heard a satisfying crunch as he yelped in pain. Quickly, she drew the door back as through to shut it. The kidnapper, his gun harmlessly at his side now, reflexively bent to massage his hurting leg.

“I go kill you to…” He never finished the sentence.

Propelling forward again, all of her fear and anger, at the smashed Chrysler no less, converted into fury. Mrs Adebowale let out a war cry as she swung the door into his head. The sound was like the thud you hear in a gym when the weights are dropped unceremoniously to the floor.

Gboom! That’s the sound that best describes it.

The kidnapper crumpled to the floor. Stepping out of the vehicle, operating on pure instinct and healthy doses of epinephrine now, Mrs Adebowale picked up the fallen rifle. He assumed it was an AK-47, being the only rifle she was familiar with from the movies. On the other side of the car, dragging Jite by her hair was the well-dressed accomplice. His face slightly sweaty from the chase and oddly bewildered by the turn of events.

“What are you doing with that gun?” He asked stupidly.

In the spill of lights from the reflections cast by the powerful headlamps of both vehicles, it was easy to read the shock and confusion on his face.

“Let her go!” Mrs Adebowale stammered. “Please, for God’s sake, let her go! Or I will shoot you!”

Her words, perhaps the faltering nature of them, seemed to have an awakening effect on the kidnapper. Her tightened his hold and dragged his captive closer to himself. Jite yelped in pain.

“Let her go!”

“Hand over that gun.” He said calmly. “You don’t even know how to operate it.”

From his calm, measured tones, Mrs Adebowale surmised he was the leader of the operation. She panicked then, and very nearly dropped the gun. Tears rolled down her cheeks.

“Why are you doing this? Why? I don’t want to die,” she sobbed. “I didn’t want to have anything to do with this.”

In instant solidarity, Jite burst out in fresh tones of brand-new tears.

The man inched closer, oblivious to their cries, his eyes on the gun. He was around the boot of the Chrysler now, still holding Jite, barely five feet away.

“Just give me the gun, and then you can go your own way. This is not your problem.”

Jite started wailing. “No! Nooo! He will kill us!”

Mrs Adebowale gripped the gun by the barrel, her knees shook, fear in every fibre of her being. She extended it slowly, her hands unsteady, ready to hand it over to the kidnapper. At that moment two things happened, without which this story would have ended quite differently.

The first one. The kidnapper, in a definite state of amplified hubris, said; “No. Nothing would happen to you. Too much wahala this night sef. I just want to take my man and go. Both of you can leave too.”

Now, Mrs Adebowale held a position in Management at her company, and she had heard just about all the usual lies. And that statement was right up the charts with, “My car broke down” and “I think I came down with something last night“.

The second thing that happened was; the partner on the floor, the one with a broken knee and a crack in his skull wide enough to fit a Tecno Phantom®, suddenly stirred and muttered something. His well-dressed colleague glanced down and Mrs Adebowale’s hand swung up and sideways.

Now, the kidnapper had solid reflexes and a well-built physique, and his gaze was in the direction of the gun. So he saw it coming well in time. Time enough to raise his left forearm and absorb most of the (painful) shock on his bicep. He pushed Jite to the ground with his other arm and took a step towards Mrs Adebowale before the woman had time to take another swing, after all, she was probably in her fifties and a rifle is quite a heavy toy. It was impossible for him to know Mrs Adebowale plays squash every weekend at The Benin Club.

The rifle flew backwards and swung back in a two-handed swing that had all the ferociousness of a Nadal serve. 120 pounds of pure motive force swung into Kidnapper no 1, shattering his left radius and gouging a deep crease into the side of his skull. The man slammed against the side of the Chrysler and slid to the floor unconcious. Whirling around, before she had time to reconsider her options, Mrs Adebowale knocked the butt of the rifle into the groggy, unbelieving head of Kidnapper no 2 in a very familiar pounding motion and shut his lights out for the last time that night.

It was over. Eight minutes and forty-three seconds from crash to rifle-butt-in-head-of-woman-kidnapper.

Adrenaline still surging through her veins in quick bursts, she almost slapped Jite when the woman grabbed her from behind, and in between prayers of thanksgiving, began to cry and weep profusely.

“It’s alright. It’s alright, Jite. It’s alright.”

***************

In GRA Benin City, Candy Adebowale tapped a button on the remote control and the PVR TVTV decoder started to record the lates episode of Jumong. She wondered how long it will take her mother to get home.

Mrs Adebowale notified a friend at the Department of State Security (DSS) over the phone, about the events of the night, and a team was immediately dispatched in assault gear, and armed with FN F2000s, to the scene at the Benin-Lagos expressway, where a nervous and drawstring taut Mrs Adebowale stood sentry over two slightly comatose bodies of well-built men and a weak-at-the-knees, completely relieved ex-hostage.

After some cajoling, Jite Roberts directed the men of the DSS to the spot where she had been held captive, where after a very brief gun-battle, the kidnappers surrendered, bullets haven been exhausted anyway. The rifle found in Mrs Adebowale’s possession was found to contain only two shells in its clip and was identified as an AKM.

Mrs Adebowale got home safe the next morning at about 3:00am, haven been escorted home in an unmarked white police Hilux, her statement received and sent to Abuja. The Chrysler was taken to Lagos (causing a two hour traffic jam the next morning at it was lifted by crane) where repairs are currently ongoing. Jite Roberts began preparations to move with her family to the UK from where she would maintain a steady correspondence with her saviour. Both Saviours.

Mrs Adebowale looks forward to her next adventure!

THE END..for now.

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Disclaimer

  • Based on actual events
  • I do not aim to make light of the situations depicted in this story. Kidnapping in Nigeria is a very real and present danger, and my heart goes to any and all who have experienced or known someone who experienced a kidnapping. We’ll get past this scourge I tell you.
  • The Chrysler 300C has been renamed the Lancia Thema but still remains the car I drive in my wettest fantasies
  • The constant repetition of the name ‘Mrs Adebowale’ is deliberate, a throwback from the old Mrs Pollifax stories and my amusement with Lee Child’s Reacher novels.
  • Mrs Adebowale drives a Toyota Rav 4 while her Chrysler is being repaired.

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Peace to Nigeria.

PS: Abi you see now, nobody died in this story! Before you people would be commenting on my psychopathic tendencies.

Peace.