There was a big bang on Inspector Mustaph’s head as he turned to the back of his apartment, which was surrounded by bushes that had refused to be cleared in ages past by the occupants of the compound. He was suspicious, thinking some thieves were lurking in the bush, as this was customary of the petty unarmed robbers before Inspector Mustaph moved to the compound. His neighbours were happy when they had a police officer as a neighbour.
Inspector Mustaph: “who is there?” he asked to be sure none of his neighbours was in the backyard. However, there was an absolute silence. The place was submerged in total darkness. He pointed his torch towards the narrow path behind the building. A small green snake crawled out from the bush path, as he turned back to look for a stone or wood to hit the snake, he heard a big bang on his head. Before he could struggle to reach for the pistol on his pocket, the attacker pulled his neck, twisted it sideways, and pulled the trigger.
The DPO asked of inspector Mustaph as he arrived office the following morning, but no one was able to give account of his whereabouts.
DPO: “tell Inspector Mustaph to see me in my office right now”. He said to the sergeant at the police counter.
Sergeant: “he is yet to resume work sir”. He replied with his chest out giving a salute. The DPO paused a bit to look at his wristwatch to check time.
DPO: “At this hour?” He said, turning his back hand up to check time.
Sergeant: “yes sir” he replied in a firm tone.
DPO: “Okay, just tell him to see me in my office as soon as he gets to office”. He ordered him, looking a bit worried as he headed on to his office.
Don and his cohorts were at their usual spot cum hideout, singing, dancing, drinking and smoking as well. They were all in a state of ecstasy as their leader, Don addressed them over their feat.
Don: “you see, now I feel relaxed and joyous. The enemies should not sleep because we are not done yet. One is gone, another is going sooner than they can imagine”. He said, as he readjusted the black bandanna tied round about his head. “Dragon, I commend you for a job well done. I did not make a mistake when I made you my second in command. I knew you would always deliver more than I can ever imagine”. He praised Dragon for the nice execution of the job assigned to him.
Dragon: “yes boss. You can always count on me all the time. Also, you did not make a mistake when you paired me with the baby, John. This guy smart die, in fact if not that I performed the initiation rites I could have said he had been in this before. He brought the bastard down”. The other members roared as he said this, gesticulating how the victim was killed.
Don: ‘yes, you know I said it, when I never gave up on John, I knew the guy had got some gut in him. Can’t you see how he looks?” He said, holding John on his shoulder.
Guys: ‘of course Don, we can see. He gallant”. They replied, giggling.
Don: ‘now, every operation to be carried out must involve John, henceforth”. He ordered and they all giggled, stamping their feet on the ground.
The Chief Priest and his members met again for their monthly meeting in the house built for the purpose of their meeting. The building had just been renovated. The parking space outside the compound that had been left as a bare ground in a long time was filled and cemented. The whole structure was renovated and painted white, with a sign of three exclamation marks enclosed in a triangle shape drawn at the entrance of the hall downstairs before the inner rooms where rituals and other important meetings are conducted in the house. The members were all dressed in their usual immaculate white regalia, both men and women, with caps, headgears and shoes to match. Their faces were all beaming with smiles as they marched into the rooms in a slow processional, chanting their fraternity’s songs. As it is customary of such groups, the Chief Priest was last on the procession, with his sceptre in his hand and his shawl on the other shoulder. They all look immaculate and white like flock of seagulls on the ocean banks. In a few minutes, they were all in one of the rooms, standing as their Leader addressed them.
Chief Priest: “I welcome you all back to the brotherhood. May we live to witness more of this in the land of the living”. He prayed, clapping his palms as a sign of seal and snapping his small fingers.
Members: “A-A-A-A-ASEEEEEE”. They all chorused, doing same as the Chief Priest, clapping their palms, and snapping their small fingers.
Chief Priest: “That is by the way. I welcome you all once again. And let me go straight to the point without wasting much of our time. Like I said from the previous meeting, redemption of pledges shall be individually, so, we shall redeem our pledges as requested and in an orderly manner”. He said, looking at the figurine in the corner of the room. All the members looked up, wondering who is next. The room was engulfed in an utterly silence. Even the sound of needle drop could be heard. The Chief Priest, however, broke the silence.
Chief Priest: “from new moon, which of course we all know is the due time for redemption of pledges, the person who is to pay their dues shall pay at the due time. No postponement, otherwise, let me pause there for now”. He said, pulling his right ear to sound a stern warning to the members.
Members: ‘hmmmm”. They all heaved in unison, looking at one another. Then and there, a member summoned up the courage to ask a question.
Member One: ‘and Alapini, can we know who is next, so the fellow can prepare ahead of time, as we all know it is close to festive period?” he inquired, looking curious.
Chief Priest: “okay, from what I have here, Erelu is the next to pay her dues”. He said looking in the direction of one of the four women in their fifties standing close together. Erelu, bent her head downwards, looking at her palms facing up. Shortly afterwards, the meeting was dismissed and they all left for their various destinations.
In Chief Mate’s house, at about 8pm, a call came through to the family from their son who is in the UK. This was a great paradigm shift in the history of the country, as a result of the change in government, also the new millennium was just few weeks ahead. There was serious preparations in different households for the festivals. In Ake town, many indigenes came back to the town to celebrate with their families from far and near. This was the only period of the year the people re-united with families and friends. The town was full to the brim. Chief Mate’s son was to return from the UK for Christmas to celebrate with his parents and friends.
In Chief Mate’s large living room, he was at the phone table, seated by the side of the phone, with his wife, Mama Kunle, sitting beside him as he spoke to their first son, Kunle, who had been in the UK since he left secondary school. He was coming home with his biracial fiancée who was four months pregnant at the time of their introduction.
Chief Mate: “hello, my dear. How is the Queen of England?” He asked with a bit of sarcasm in his voice.
Kunle: “She is fine”. He replied jokingly. “How is mummy now? I missed her a lot” He asked about his mother.
Chief Mate: “she is here, listening to our conversation” he replied, rubbing is belly.
Kunle: “okay, let me speak with her”. He requested.
Chief Mate: “okay. Your son wants to speak with you”. He whispered to her, taking the receiver away from his mouth.
Mrs Mate: “how are you my dear?” she asked, and began to sing his pedigree eulogies.
Kunle: “hmmm, mummy it is okay. My head is already swelling”. He said, chuckling over the receiver.
Mrs Mate: “when are you coming home?” she asked as though she did not know.
Kunle: “I will be in Nigeria on the 23rd of December” he replied.
Mrs Mate: ‘okay, well done my dear. The driver will come to pick you up from the airport” she said amidst smile.
Kunle: “yes, and I will be coming home with the lady I talked to you about the last time we spoke”. He reminded his mother again.
Mrs Mate: ‘okay, no problem. We shall prepare for your homecoming. We anticipate your arrival” she said as she handed the phone back to the husband.
Question: The fraternity demanding their dues, who goes next? And will the Police find out the killer of Inspector Mustaph?
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