It was a cool Wednesday evening. The street was different, not in its usual bustling state. Deep down the road, all the boys of my street crowded a small wood structure, their eyes fixed ahead, on the small TV on a high makeshift shelf. A match was showing.
Barcelona was playing with one other team. I know this, think it, because my brother had mentioned Barca [or something that sounded like that] when stepping out. He too, like most boys in my street, were football freaks.
But there was one boy in my street who cared less about the matches. He never goes to see the matches. Not sure he even had a team he supports.
This particular boy was different. I remember the time we were young and his mother would keep shouting at him to go to school. ‘Ekene, your madness has started again o!’ she would yell at him. ‘It has started again o!’
Most times the boy only whistled in unconcern. But one day the tall woman went and pushed her son. ‘I say go to school! Go to school now!’
‘Mama leave me o!’ The boy kept saying this, warning his mother to stop pushing him, but Mama Ekene did not stop. She kept pushing at him. ‘Go to school! You must go to school! I have paid for it so you must go!’
The young boy swung back to his mother and pushed her so hard she fell into a nearby drainage hole.
That was when we started to think that just maybe Ekene was truly not very sane.
Till the day he nearly killed a bread seller and we confirmed our fears.
The petite woman before the incident, according to what was narrated, had insisted she would no longer sell her bread to Ekene because he’d insulted her while she was selling to another customer.
Neighbours had rushed in and saved the girl from Ekene. He was on top of her on the ground, his two hands around her neck, working to cut the last of her air off.
Because we were aware of this stories, we knew how to deal with Ekene. We say ‘No’ when he wanted us to say ‘No’ and ‘Yes’ when he wanted ‘Yes’.
We did not argue with him. He was not well.
But on that calm Wednesday evening when all the boys had gone out to watch the match, something terrible happened.
A clean car stopped in front of a suya spot along my street. A clean-dressed man got down from the car and made his way to the suya table.
Mallam was only just opening. In fact, it was his first batch of the grilled meat the man would have bought from.
Ekene liked suya too. He had bought suya in my front once. He would dip one hand into his pocket and extend whatever note that came out with it to the suya seller. Sometimes, N50, other times N20.
But Mallam always cut him some meat. He, too, knew about Ekene.
I was not there when it all started. But when I ran out, the tall man in a white-and-black checked shirt and well-ironed black pants was arguing with Ekene in Yoruba.
This man did not know Ekene. Did he think him his colleague at work or something?
I ran to Mallam’s table and told the man to keep quiet. ‘Oga, leave him alone and buy what you came to buy and leave,’ I said.
The tall man gestured at Ekene. ‘Imagine the mad rascal, spitting all over and spewing trash!’ he was telling me.
But now I was scared. He had mentioned something he shouldn’t have, and to Ekene’s face too. Before I could process a thought, I heard the terrifying sound of skin tearing. That kind of sound you hear in foreign movies when swords go deep into skin.
I saw the arguing man drop to the ground, one of Mallam’s suya knife standing firm on his chest. Ekene had stabbed him. Very quickly his expensive-looking shirt soiled with his blood.
Mallam, in his panic state, left his suya stand and took to his heels. I screamed, calling out to anybody that was near.
Finally, the man was rushed to a nearby clinic. But he did not make it. It was such a bad stab. He died in the middle of the night.
The boys came for Ekene the next morning. News of the stranger’s death had gotten to them. They came with machete and stones.
That early Thursday morning, they ended Ekene’s life and left his bloodied body by the side of the road.
According to them, better to kill the mad man now before he kills another!
This is a life story based on what happened at the Fola-Agoro Area of Lagos State on the 15th day of April, 2015.
Story narrated by Tosin, penned by Daniel.