Remember the dude who wrote the first series on this blog, the true story about the miracle – And She Started To Run? Yes, Hymar David is back with another fantastic tale and I dare say he writes fiction just as well as he writes non-fiction – and poetry too. My only grouse with him is his seemingly  stubborn fixation with writing mainly on Facebook and I wish I could knock him for this – problem is he looks like the Hulk and I’m as slim as they come. Anyway, here’s something I know you’ll enjoy…read on before I bore you. Cheers…

I did not move.

I watched him approach me, the trademark millipede-shaped scar on the side of his face, the scarred hands in his pockets. Flanking him were his sidekick, Raymond Razor and another goon I recognized as Chika the Zulu.

They are the deadliest hitmen for the Birds. He is, anyway.

But I did not move.

It was windy. The chill of the evening breeze could however not hold a candle to the chill those men carried about them like an aura. I walked on, each step bringing me closer to my once best friend now bitterest enemy. My childhood friend now rival hitman. And my next opponent. My next target.

Joseph Okeka then. Cobra Joe now.

When we were little boys, our favourite game was ‘Police and Thief’. I always played police. He was always the one that loved to be on the other side. He loved the chase, the thrill of the hunt. He loved being the underdog, being the one who could creep up behind you, put two fingers to the back of your head and go ‘ pow!’.

Sixteen years later, nothing had changed. Except this time, you were not getting up after a ‘pow!’. The next sound you hear would be the chorus of cherubs up there in Hallelujah land. Or the unearthly piercing screams of horned and tailed demons with tridents welcoming you to Hell, the actual version.

” Make we…” Ogadje started to say from behind me.

I shook my head furiously, shusshing my sidekick up. He moved from behind me to walk side by side. I didn’t even glance at him. My whole attention was on the scarred man approaching me. The man who once was a boy I used to know. Before we both went bad. Me, because they killed Jenny, he, because he wanted to. Chose to.

Sometimes, badness has nothing to do with the idiot president, the pathetic government or your fucked up life. It is there because you choose it to be there.

Simple as that.

I felt my pistol digging uncomfortably into my groin. I was wearing an unbuttoned jacket to conceal the bulge. Ogadje had a dagger. He could throw it like a ninja, the same way he could break a bottle on your head in one fluid motion then slice you with the broken shards in the next heartbeat. Not someone you want to get in a bar fight with.

Nor was Cobra Joe.

Fifteen paces remaining. And I did not move.

The men flanking him spread slightly. Sound move. No matter how fast you are, you can’t pull off three shoots at once. Even if you are one of those gunslingers like Mad Max Conga(may his soul rot in hell) who carried two guns, you would still need a certain element of luck to hit two men at once. And even then, you would be in the frigging Guinness book of world records if the third man doesn’t send an earthquake erupting in your brain.

Ogadje was moving apart too. I whispered a sharp ” stay put.” He shot me a grim look and stopped drifting. I could smell his unease. Pungent and rank.

” Cobra Joe.” I said.

He was in my face now. His eyes dead. And when he spoke, his voice was toneless.

” Samuel Mamba.”

I smiled a bit when he called my name. A smile I knew did not touch my eyes.

Raymond Razor and Chika the Zulu came to stand beside him. Fixing threatening stares at Ogadje and I. I glanced momentarily at them. Razor was eyeballing Ogadje, they were in the same department in school. Same level. Chika looked like he was sucking his stomach in. I reserved my contemptuous stare for him. Cultist. Rapist. Thief. Murderer.

Joe and I didn’t shake hands. Not only was there no need to, we don’t actually shake hands. Joe stopped because he saw nobody as a friend. I stopped after I saw a schoolmate walking ahead of me blow his nose into his palm, fling the snot into the bushes, wiped his hand on a clump of nearby flower beds and when I passed him, offered the hand to me for a shake. Blood of God!

” Wetin you dey find for my side?” Cobra Joe asked, his voice clear and unphelgmed by weed.

” I came for you.” I told him.

He smiled. The smile-that-doesn’t-touch-the-face. ” See me.”

I didn’t say anything. I stared into his eyes and felt the chill of the wind and his icy gaze. Anyone who looks Cobra Joe in the eyes and says he doesn’t feel his legs trembling can lie for Africa. Cobra Joe has the coldest pair of eyes I have ever seen. I noticed it the first time he came to BDPA outside Uniben, looking for the girl whose boyfriend shot Peter over a Blackberry Peter sold her which she claimed was fake. Cobra Joe had broke into her room and strangled her, shoving the Blackberry into her v-jay-jay . Then he had gone to her boyfriend’s house, slipped in with the spare key he got from the girl and waited for him to show up. The guy came in at around 11.PM. There was no light. He was fumbling in the dark for his electric lamp when he heard a voice say, ” why you dey find light when I dey here dey wait to off you?”

”Go home,” Cobra Joe’s voice brought me back to reality, I cursed myself for allowing my mind to slip. ” Don’t let me see you in my area again, Sammie.”

He used the name he called me when we were growing up, so I knew he was serious.

I steeled myself and swallowed. So what if he is the most dangerous hitman in Uniben? I’m Samuel Mamba. And I killed Jenny’s murderer, Mad Max Conga with a bullet between the eyes when he was facing me with his guns drawn. He should be afraid of me too. I am Samuel Mamba!

” Josephine, look at me.”

The insult worked.

His eyes suddenly flashed and I saw his hands twitch. I didn’t move. He was close enough for me to grab him if he reached for his gun. Grab him and slip the Hausa knife strapped behind my right hip into his intestines.

” My name is Cobra Joe.”

” And I am Samuel Mamba, and nobody tells me where I go. Or when.” I told him.

The smile was back on his face now. Except it wasn’t a smile. I had seen it too many times. It was the scrapping sound a rattlesnake gives before it strikes. It was the cackling of a crow just before it swoops on a crawling prey.

” I hate to repeat myself,” he took a step closer, his forehead almost touching mine, we were approximately the same height. ” Go home.”

” Or else?”

He did not respond, oh, he responded, but not verbally. His arm shot out and he shoved me sideways, I stumbled against Ogadje who didn’t see it coming either. We both whirled round, Ogadje putting his hand to draw. But Joe was already moving away, the goons walking backwards, keeping an eye on us with their hands under their shirts.

I seethed. Ogadje was looking at me, his eyes asking for the go ahead. I shook my head. He rolled his eyes, but took his hand off his belt.

Cobra Joe stopped suddenly. He whirled sharply and shot the response to my earlier dare. Or else?

” All hell will break loose.”

I was close enough to Ogadje to feel him shudder.

I watched him turn and walk briskly away, noticing for the first time how deserted the street had suddenly become. Nothing like the threat of a gunfight to get doors and shops under lock, key, bolts and the blood of the Lamb.

” He isn’t kidding,” Ogadje said.

I was still watching them depart. ” Neither am I.”

” You know he…they are going to be at the Blue Ocean Bar tonight. He knows you are going to be there so he will come. They will come. What will you do then?”

” Kill him.”

Keep Going!

I haven’t written jack in a while and it’s getting to a point where the words in my head keep tormenting me so much that I’m tempted to pick a pistol and fire, just so I could have some peace. But no, that wouldn’t be peaceful and my aversion to pain made me reconsider. It’s more painful when the major things keeping you away are work and school (now I know postgraduate studies can be a bitch). I get to write so much, just not stuff I care strongly about. So I decided to do anything, anything to get some words here. Hope you enjoy it and learn as much as I did too. I apologise for being away for so long…

I have come to accept the fact that there is no shortage of things to draw inspiration from in life. People, places, books and personal experiences are just a few among these things. But I now have a new category that is of inspirational worth also – animals. I was preparing a set of short inspirational quotes sometime last year when I came across a quote by Charles Spurgeon that never left me since then. I didn’t have to memorise it; it just stuck. It’s short, witty (and I love witty), and a whole lot more that I can go on and on playing with adjectives that catch my fancy.  Plus there was a biblical base. The quote simply read: “By perseverance, the snail reached the ark.”

Does this sound familiar? If it does, have you ever taken the time to really ponder beyond the witty wisdom of the author? I’m going to share a few insights from the above quote in the hope that it will resonate within you somehow.

Our limitations shouldn’t put us off from our goal
Consider the fact that the snails had to achieve their goal of reaching the ark just like the other animals. There’s just one problem, they were slow; so slow that even the tortoise would have had a laugh at their struggles. But they didn’t allow this limitation to derail them, they kept their eyes fixed on the ark and ended up on it just like the others. That’s the way it is with us too; we all have certain challenges on the way to achieving our goals but we shouldn’t let it deter us from what God has in store for us.

You are not alone in your struggles
There were two snails – they’re hermaphrodites by the way, but I’m not trying to play the numbers game or desperately looking for ways to make you see them as couples. What is instructive here is the fact that we’re never alone in our struggles. We all have that one (or more) person we can look to for encouragement: a spouse, best friend, pastor, mentor, family, etc. These people all have limitations and challenges of their own but they’re with us for a reason. By sharing experiences, we serve as a source of encouragement to one another in our daily struggles towards our goals.

The ark waited
As slow as the snails were, the ark didn’t leave till they got in. Now I don’t know whether Noah went out to scoop them or whether they got to the ark themselves. I would like to believe the snails got there on their own (hey, that’s much more epic). Sometimes it’s never too late for anything you really dream of achieving. Some people have, because of a perceived limitation, lived a life of regret; wishing that they ‘could have’ or ‘should have’. In as much as the ark was still in sight, the snails knew they had a shot, and they took it. You also have that measure of grace God has made possible despite any limitations on the way to achieving your goals; you always have a shot!

This is what I learnt when I decided to look a little closer at that quote. We all need to persevere and also be persistent in facing life challenges. While we must acknowledge our limitations, we shouldn’t allow them to rule our thoughts and prevent us from achieving greatness.

One last bit of trivia about snails: if their eyes happen to be cut off, they can always grow new ones. That’s how special they are.

As usual, I’d love to know what you think too… Do share.