Stephanie had her head buried in the food she was eating. Ball after ball of semo disappeared into oblivion through her throat. I cleared my throat and she looked up, a ball of semo in her hand. The look on her face was priceless.
“Good afternoon Stephanie.”
I said with a straight face.
“Ugh, Justice, yes Justice, good afternoon.”
I smiled, she remembered my name.
I asked pointing to the chair beside her.
“If you wish. I don’t run this restaurant.”
She replied not looking up. I sighed, tough nut to crack eh, I will see how tough you are. I motioned to Anetie the attendant who dashed towards me.
“Abeg give me fufu, two plate, put the two of them for one plate. Afang soup and white soup for corner then give me bottled water.”
From the corner of my eyes, I caught Stephanie staring at me with a shocked expression, made as if to speak, decided against it and continued with her meal. I relaxed on the chair first, stretched my hand and grabbed the container of toothpick, took one from inside and slotted it between my teeth. I made another move, the one you make before a heavy meal, I unbuckled my belt.
“Oga see am. Wait make I go bring the water come.”
I nodded. The water he meant was the one to wash my hands with. I picked up the bottled water, uncorked and took a long sip from it.
“I don arrive.”
Anetie, fair with beards scattered on his face said to me. Stephanie had finished eating and was looking at me. I washed my hands, picked a piece of meat from the White soup, dipped it in my mouth, closed my eyes and relished both the softness and the taste.
“You are seriously not going to finish this food right?”
Her voice chipped in. Without even looking at her I replied.
“Is it your stomach? I love eating my meal in absolute silence.”
“Sorry o. The thing is, you will grow a pot belly if you keep up with this unhealthy eating habit.”
Her words came as expected. I looked at her, my mouth full with a huge ball of fufu and my hand already moulding the next one.
“The stomach does not belong to you and it is my unhealthy eating habit, not yours.”
“Ahn ahn Justice, why are you sounding this way? Is it because of the small play I played with you?”
I wasn’t really looking at her because I was trying my best to put on my best acting.
“Which play? You are already pushing me into disobeying table manners.”
I replied. By then I had eaten more than half of the mountain of fufu that had graced my front earlier. I took a swing from my water and gave a long loud belch not minding Stephanie or the other customers around.
“Oh God, you really finished the food.”
Stephanie said standing up as I washed my hands. After another belch, I pushed a toothpick into my mouth, called Anetie for the bill, settled mine and walked away with my heavy stomach while Stephanie just stood still gawking after me.
The alley was empty even though loud music blared from adjoining compounds. I could see him clearly in the bright moonlit night. He was walking with a swagger and tilted more to the left. He kept coming in contact with the fence which he used to stabilize his movement. He appeared drunk. Just in front of us, at the end of the alley, a car zoomed past. Maybe his car too was parked there. I had to act quick.
I increased my footsteps with my hand buried in my back clutching the wooden handle of my beloved hammer. My heart did not race neither did I break into a sweat, the only thing that kept flashing before my eyes was the girl, not more than sixteen years of age that laid sprawled on the ground in the car park. The bruises on her face, Her shredded blouse and the blood sipping slowly into the ground from her parted legs.
The beast in front of me had raped her. I had gone back to my car to pick up more money for more drinks since Stephanie had followed me clubbing when I happened upon them. He was already done, a dirty smirk on his face as he drew up his flyers.
“No… No… Oh God… Why…? Bolanle, why?”
The girl kept muttering. The beast had the mind to abandon her there. I had followed him immediately but not without opening the booth of my car and pulling out my beloved hammer. Anger and rage welled up inside of me, Rukaiya’s face flashed through my eyes and I lost it completely. With a surge, I ran forward. The blow was aimed right at his cranium, the crack loud and the fall, a silent thud.
Blood gushed out from the wound, designing the sand. The man turned around on the ground to look at he. I was poised with the hammer lifted high. Blood poured out from between his lips, his eyeballs finding it difficult to become steady on my face. He lifted his hand weakly towards me.
“Mercy… Please… I beg of you…”
I heard him whisper before driving the hammer again and again into his skull, his brain shooting out in a jet like stream.
“Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.”
To be continued