Apeh Ikechukwu
5 min read
The good that men do - A short story

Epe! Epe mabo! the bus conductor kept shouting as he beckons on people passing by. It was exactly 4:27 AM and mama Sikirat, as usual, is at the bus stop to board a bus to Epe. She has done this for more than 20 years and she goes to Epe to buy some kind of palm wine for everyday business. She runs a minibar and has a huge market for palm wine.

Unlike other days, the conductor said her transport fare was 300 Nigerian Naira when she asked him "Elo ni? (how much?)" To avoid the conductor changing his mind, she brought out the money and said "Egba" and entered the bus. They were already 5 passengers seated (two young girls and 2 old men). She greeted the old men (Eka ro o) and they exchanged pleasantries. The seats got filled except the one close to the door. It was early and the conductor could not stand on the door. He sat and closed the door and off they went. This is the usual way to beat Lagos traffic, waking up early and getting to your destination before 7 AM especially if you are plying Lekki-Epe expressway from anywhere on the Mainland that warranted your passing through Obalende.

The road was free and so, within an hour, they had already passed Ajah, en route Epe. Suddenly the driver who has been mute since they set out diverted into an unknown route. It was characteristic of Lagos drivers especially when they know the roads to where they are going are bad. Everyone in the bus thought he was trying to dodge the numerous water-filled potholes on the way. Little did they know that they were headed to a human slaughter-house. None of the passengers knew this particular path and it was taking longer than the normal time it would have taken if they plied the route with so many potholes.

The road was lonely and soon, the conductor received a call and ended it with "mo mbo". This time, the driver was on top speed and it now dawned on them that they had entered one-chance. After an extra hour drive, the bus stopped in front of an uncompleted building and before anyone could shout, the conductor brought out a gun from his under pant and ordered all of them to be quiet. Surprisingly, two of the seated passengers were members of the gang. They were all taken into one of the rooms in the uncompleted building where they met some other people that were already tied with ropes.

They were also tied and made to sit on the floor. Mama Sikirat was panicking already. She left her kids at home and was just hustling to make ends meet. She is a widow whose husband left with 5 kids 6 years after they married. She has been training her kids in school with the minibar. Immediately she remembered her kids, she broke down in tears. What will be their fate? She asked. Sikirat just entered jss1 and the rest are still in primary school. Her husband's people have forsaken them and claimed all the property that her husband left for them. Being a Muslim, she started praying and begging Allah to come to save her from this mess.

It was morning already and so many people have been taken from the room to where no one knows what has happened to them. Yes, they later found out from one of the gang members. This particular gang ran a human slaughterhouse where they killed people and sold their body parts to people for different reasons. Some of their customers are Suya men, some are politicians, while others were fetish men who made use of these body parts for their charms. They were taken out in the order in which they came. At some point, these customers were let to enter the room and make their choice of the human they want to be killed and parted for them.

Outside the building, a long queue of customers could be seen from the room. They entered the building in twos and bought parts of humans depending on the amount they had. They could be seen leaving the building with black nylons containing different human body parts - the majority of them were Hausas and Fulanis who unarguably are Suya sellers. One of the buyers entered the building and to everyone's amazement, the gang members started singing his praise. He is a meat seller and a regular customer. He comes and buys a complete human body and it is prepared for him. When he was going through the merchandise, he saw a familiar face - that of Mummy Sikirat. He happened to be one of her customers who came every evening to drink at her minibar. Mummy Sikirat knew him as Baba Dollar and immediately he recognized her, he ordered for her to be untied.

He, however, did not let the gang members know that they knew each other. He paid for her and told them that he would like to kill her by himself inside the bush which was unusual. They let him go with her because he is their biggest customer. When they had worked beyond the sight of anyone around the building, he sat her under a mango tree and assured her that he is not going to harm her. He remembered the good days he spent at her shop, the numerous bonuses he enjoyed at her shop and the several times she let him drink to his fill without paying a dime, the many times he came to her house and ate freely when he had a problem with his business. The good things she had done for him kept resonating within him and saved her life when she needed it most...

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