Pa. Amos Adegbola Street (Short Story)
This short story contains foreign language, and some inappropriate use of diction. This is for the proper portrayal of the character(s).
On the corner of Pa. Amos Adegbola street, just beyond the silvery fluorescence of the moon, an old pickup truck sat hooded in the shade of a mango tree. In it, four masked men sat in muted anxiety, the white of their eyes stark, as they stared out into the darkness around them. Electric power had been cut off a few minutes ago, and now the houses radiated a quiet quiescence— a somber static, the buildings stood frozen against the silhouettes of leafy trees and electric poles and cables, all scattered in the moonlit visage. A loud silence permeated the pickup, the men heard it thump in their ears, along with the disconcerted throbbing of their pulses.
Lamidi went over the plan for the fifteenth time: at 8 O’clock the doors of the pickup would swing open, shots would be heard. The raid would last an hour, and just before the vigilante's tin gong echoed down the street and before his leathery fingers clamped shut the padlock of the neighborhood gate, the pickup would screech out of Pa. Amos Adegbola street, a street with one exit that fed into the inner streets of Ikeja.
Lamidi went over the plan one last time, his throat parched, his quaking fingers on the door handle. At that moment, the headlamps of a car lit up their faces, they hunkered down in their seats and squinted at the light, as it turned into the dead end street.
“Don’t panic.” Etim whispered. Marie watched the bulge of his neck sink in a quick swallow, his breathing quickened, his right hand rested lightly on the gear stick.
“Babe, what’s going on?” She matched his hushed tone. The headlamps of the car behind bore into their car through the dusty haze. Etim hadn't taken his eyes off the lights since it started following them at the beginning of Pa. Amos Adegbola street.
His grip tightened on the stick, his knuckles taut, gripping the steering wheel.
From the corner of her eye, Marie saw the dark car drive up beside them, it swerved and swayed closer, its engine roared, as it shot past them.
“Etim, Wha—,” The car swerved into their path and screeched to a stop. Etim stomped hard on the brakes. Marie’s head smacked the pad of the headrest.
“Etim, what’s going on?” She kept her eyes on the dark vehicle in front of them, her hands trembled until her phone thudded on the floor mat, the back of her head ached lightly. Four masked men appeared when the doors swung open, two of them held long rifles.
Etim threw the gearstick back and spun a wide one-eighty turn on his hind tires. The front tires screeched as they grated the jagged asphalt. The smell of burning rubber wafted into the car and Marie gripped the door handle as their Honda shot down the road. In the rearview mirror, the men jumped into their vehicle, their bodies hung out of the windows, clanging their weapons on the sides of their car. They closed in on Etim's car and swung out beside it. The masked men yelled from their windows above the roar of their engine, their car screeched and swung itself in Etim's path. Etim slammed his brakes. This time, the two men with guns were out before their car stopped.
“Where is the gold?!”
“Where is the money?”
“Face on the ground!”
“It’s ok, babe. Just lie down,” Etim said, he opened his door. The men dragged him out and threw him to the floor.
Marie was on the ground already. Little stones bit into her skin and the cool tar pressed into her forehead and her open palms.
“Woman, where is the money?”
“I—I don’t have any. Check my bag. I have my ATM and my phone.” Marie choked. The tears were streaming now. A dog barked somewhere close by.
“You think we are playing here? Your husband is dead, if you don’t give us the money.” A muffled voice said.
“I don’t have any money, please.” She begged. “Please.” She felt her jeans go damp and her tears pooled where her nose touched the floor.
The men searched the car and flung the contents of the glove compartment on the street. A floor mat landed next to her head.
"Where is the gold?"
She saw her phone disappear into a backpack, so did Etim’s laptop. The voice yelled above her again.
“I don’t—,” Marie choked on tears and phlegm. She shook her head.
“Do you have any final words for your husband?” the voice snapped .
“Please...he's not...we aren’t married,” Her lips brushed the concrete, as she sobbed on the ground. She shut her eyes tight.
“Take the car—,”She pleaded, her eyes shut, “Don’t shoot him, please!”
“Get up!” The muffled voice vibrated from Etim's side of the car. Marie heard feet shuffle; footsteps crunched on stones and sparse, dry sand. Then they stopped and there was silence, save for the dog barking in the distance.
“Marie?” Etim’s voice cracked through the noiselessness. His voice was closer now. She opened her eyes and lifted her head off the ground.
Etim was on his knees, two feet from where she laid, his hands behind his back, one of the masked men stood behind him with a gun pointed at the back of his head.
“Any last words for the woman?” The man asked.
Marie stared into Etim's face, he closed his eyes and his chin fell forward to his chest. When he looked up again, his hands appeared in front of him, a tiny brown box lay open, cradled in his palm. The diamond sparkled in the car light.
“Any last words for the woman?” The masked man yelled again. Now the men stood behind Etim, all four of them.
“Marie, this is it for me,” Etim sighed, “I have never met anyone like you and my life would fall apart if I tried to love anyone else. You have made me a better man and we have grown so much in the last three years. This is it for me—what we have here. I know in many ways you are way out of my league and I hope you can squeeze in one more way by you becoming my wife.” He moved a pace closer on his knees. “Marie Olusola Obanor, will you marry me?” Marie was on her feet now. Her palm, at the base of her throat and her lips parted slightly. She looked at Etim—and the ring—and the men. One after the other, the men tore off their masks and burst out laughing. Their deep, rambunctious laughs rippled in the silence.
The masks revealed Michael— her brother, Dotun, Ayo and Obi, Etim's friends.
Marie stood there unable to move, forgetting to breathe.
“You should have seen your face!” Michael had his mask around his head like a cap now, one hand clutched his belly and his other hand held the long toy rifle.
Etim remained on his knees. Marie felt her face burn up, her cheeks were moist with tears and her sobs burst out in short gasps like chuckles. She lurched at him, her palms throwing playful slaps anywhere they landed on his lanky frame.
“Not funny!” Etim couldn’t stop laughing, her little hands stinging sweetly.
“You guys are crazy!” She chased Michael and Dotun now. They ran up the street, past an old pickup truck under the mango tree. Just then, the compound lights and street lamps lit up. The neighborhood came alive with familiar buzz of electric power.
Marie chased them in the light of the street lamps, until she caught them. They wouldn’t stop laughing, their screams of mirth resounded.
“Will you marry me though?!” Etim's voice echoed down the street. Lights in the houses began to come on. Disgruntled neighbors shouted down the street joining the uproar.
“Yes! I will!” Marie yelled, she was flung over Dotun’s shoulder now, laughing, with her head dangling down his back, “Yes! I will!”
A young female chased three men past the dark pickup parked on the corner of Pa. Amos Adegbola street. Four men sat sweating in their masks, as they shrunk down further into their seats. The shiny, fake guns in their hands got heavier. Power had been restored and the residents had switched on their lights. Now, the street buzzed with life, dogs barked, neighbours yelled from their windows and people gathered on the balconies.
“You be fool,"Lamidi said to the man at the wheel. “Na this street you see come park motor.”
“How we go take commot now?!" The female was over the shoulder of one of the men, laughing and yelling under the warm amber streetlights.
The masked men looked around frantically.
“If not for this foolish children wey wake everybody now—”
“And this nonsense NEPA wey bring light…”
“We fit still go now! We attack now, now— we strike the knockout banger as we plan—” The robber held the box of cheap fireworks in his palm.
“Shut up!” Lamidi snapped, he held tight to the brown grip of this useless gun— which would squirt water—at the most. His lips parted in prayer.
They sat still, slouched in their seats. Without words, the unanimous decision was to wait until it was all silent again—maybe the neighbors would go back to bed; maybe the power would be cut off again. Maybe the darkness would once again imbue its gloom and insecurity.
Their hearts beat faster, and soon in the distance they heard the rhythmic percussion of the vigilante’s stick hitting metal. Ta—Ta-tata—tatata—tata. Their hearts followed the cadence. Their lips moved quickly in prayer. Some shut their eyes, some left them open.
Ta-Ta-tata—a gong stick tapped on their window—Tatata-tata.
Copyright ©2016 by IkeOluwapo Adegboye
This fictional story was inspired by my friend, who planned to propose to his girlfriend during a staged robbery. We are glad to say he didn't, he decided to settle for something less dramatic and I am grateful to him for inspiring this story. He did propose two weeks ago. She said Yes!
There were no guns involved!