You can always tell when there is going to be a shootout, the trick is not to be the ass that starts it.
The shifty eyes; the fidgety hands; the rapping knuckles; you just need to “see” the signs. Five men in this god-forsaken bar. All trying not to look at me. I have had bounties on my head before, but so far, I have still got my head. Which means one thing – no one has been able to collect on any of it till now.

The worst thing one can do in such a situation when it starts is to try and make it out through the door. That’s the easiest way to get on the highway to heaven. I have seen men stand in surprise just before they hit the dirt floor and looking through them at the noonday sun – actually, through the holes in them. So as usual, in the first couple of minutes after I enter such an establishment as this, I knew without looking where every window and a couple of weaknesses in the walls lay.

So when it started, I was out through the window with sixes in both hands. I laid on my back with my eyes on the window I had just come out through. I am not going to try to run immediately. A bullet in the back is just as bad as one in the chest – I am having neither – not today. I knew one of the degenerates in there is going to come flying through that window sooner rather than later. I didn’t have to wait long. He was in the air when I let him have two. Now there were two of us lying on our backs outside the building: the difference was that one was looking up at the sun while I still had my eye on the window. I knew the smarter ones would have guessed I didn’t run, so I was about to have company round one or both sides of the building. Rolling on my side and getting on my knees in one fluid movement, I had both sides covered. But I had to move. If there was still an idiot in the building, he could start sending hot lead through the walls at my back.

You can’t second guess yourself in a situation such as this. Make your decisions and stick with it. If you are wrong and lucky, you had be dead even before you knew about it. I make my own luck. I tossed a small rock on the ground round one corner and made immediately for the opposite corner. The shithead that gets the rock will start shooting, and hopefully, the idiot round the other bend will rush in thinking he had a fair chance of getting in the fray from behind my back. Well, I was waiting at the corner of the building when he came galloping up like the light Calvary. I stopped him dead with 3 rounds to the belly and one to the chest. Time to reload.

I did a quick tally and came up short. From the racket I had heard after my hurried exit through the window, I assumed there was at least one feller looking up at the rafters inside. And in case you didn’t catch my drift – dead as a dodo. So, not counting the bartender, I supposed there were at least 2 dogs still hoping to chew my bacon this hot afternoon. I needed to get those odds down as fast as possible. Well, I had help from unexpected quarters. A shot rang out from inside the bar, followed by the sound of shuffling feet coming out the front, and what sounded like someone dropping a sack of potatoes on the floor. It couldn’t be the barman. He was behind the bar when the ruckus started, and he looked like he could hold his own if it came right down to it. Well, whoever it was. I was always glad for a helping hand.

I made it quietly round the corner and came face to face with the biggest, hairiest, ugliest looking roughneck I had seen in a long time. I remember he was sitting in the corner of the room and I was thinking who the hell released king kong from his cage. I think he was a little “slow” because he had no guns and was swinging his hands and making fist cuffs as if he wanted us to engage in a fist fight. Well, I have had a few fist fights in my time and I could give as well as I got. But I know when the odds are stacked against me. I moved in for the kill and shot the bastards toe off, then socked him on the jaw with my gun. He dropped on the spot and rolled over. I put one in his ass – you don’t want a man with a grudge riding after you in this part of the country. That bullet in the butt ought to keep him from getting on a horse for quite a while.

Where there was five, now there was one. I was feeling better already. But I knew better than to get cocky. Better men than I have died in less complex situations. You would have expected that with the odds more or less evened out, I would go in guns blazing and close the deal in style – not my style.

Me: “Yo! You at the bar. I know you in there. I know you fixing to collect on my head. So what’s it gonna be? Are you gonna come out or I come in? Or I can walk away without you following for at least a couple of hours. Your choice.”

No response. I assume he was weighing up his chances.

Barman: “Are you as good as they say you are? If yes, let’s do this the old-fashioned way, man to man. I am coming out.”

I couldn’t believe my luck. Where was this this guy from? A duel, really? As soon as I saw his foot come out the front door, I sent him right back inside. Carefully walked up to the door, peeped in and saw he wasn’t about to palm another gun in this lifetime.

Coughing up blood, he tried to speak “Don’t you have any honour?”

Me: “Honour. No, I left it back in the last town I visited with my dead wife and young son.”

Stepping over him and one other dead body, I went to the bar and poured myself one.

Time to move on.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *  THE END  * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

NOTE: I think I have found my muse.

GUILTY AS CHARGED: (a play in two acts)


A play in two acts.

(For D…)

Act 1: The city court

Clerk: Order! Order in court! The court is in session. His honorable, Justice Y. Justice presiding.

Justice: Mr. Court clerk. What case do we have before us today? (Under his breath, “I am getting too old for these early morning cases.”)

Clerk: Case number HCT/KY/1828214. The Plaintive versus the defendant. The first defendant is charged before this honorable court with causing willful, grievous, undue, undeserved and avoidable emotional and physical injury to the plaintive  on the 25th day of April. The case further alleges that on the date so noted, the defendant shot an arrow and wounded the plaintive while out hunting on land owned by the plaintive. Both parties being neighbors by reason of nearness of abode. The case further alleges that the defendant attempted to justify his actions. That the defendant showed no remorse for his actions and did not at any time following said incidence, contact the plaintive to offer any apology or assistance.

Judge: (To defendant). How do you plead? Guilty or not guilty?

Defendant: Not guilty by reason of incapacitation?

Judge: That is a new one. Do you care to shed more light? And why are you not ably represented by a lawyer – either in your employ or one chosen by this honorable court?

Defendant: Your honorable, on your second question. I chose to defend myself because I believe as one of the parties involved in this case, I know the surrounding issues, both causal and resultant, very well. And if I say so myself, I have read up on one or two points of law with reasonable precedence to the case with which I am charged. As to your first question, I am incapacitated, because on the day of said incidence, I had unfortunately broken my eye-glasses and was therefore out minus them, and in addition, I am partially deaf in the opposite ear.

Judge: Who let this farce into my court? My good man, how come you went shooting when you could not see? And who gave a deaf man a permit to hunt within distance of habited dwellings?

Judge: I have the greatest inclination to throw the book at you without …

Defendant : (Cuts in). By the way, your honorable, I like your name. “Y. Justice” Indeed! Why Justice!

Judge:  Are you inebriated by any chance?

Defendant: No your honorable. If anything, I am having a sugar deficiency as I haven’t eaten a good meal since I was locked up by the law.

Judge: So do you still plead guilty or not?

Defendant: Not guilty my Lord by reason of incapacitation.

Judge: Let the records so show.

Judge: Would my honorable colleague representing the plaintive please proceed?

Lawyer: My Lord, due to the “personal” nature of the matter, my client wishes to say one or two things at the start with respect to the events on the said day.

The plaintive is duly sworn in under oath.

Judge: Please proceed.

Plaintive: Thank you my Lord. I have been neighbors with the defendant for about a year. In general, I have found him friendly and good company. We agree on many things. In general, I keep to myself as much as possible, but he was friendly enough when he moved in to the next door property, and he seemed personable enough at the time. Indeed I have had him over at my place a few times with no incidence. To the matter at hand, on the said day, I saw him with a bow and arrow in the morning. I was not going to say anything, but after seeing him trip over a couple of times, I was concerned and accosted him. Wanting to know what the matter was. He duly informed me that he was going hunting. From the way and direction in which he looked while talking to me, I was of the opinion that he could not see properly, so I asked what the problem was, if any, with his eye sight. He kept insisting that he could see very well, and as we now know, he was blind as a bat (excuse me) without his glasses. I pressed him and even offered to accompany him, but he brushed me off, and told me to mind my own business, which in itself was quite a shock. An hour or so must have passed, and I was working in my garden when all of a sudden I felt an enormous pain in my leg, and what do I find on looking down? An arrow! I almost fainted. I made it indoors and called the emergency services who fortunately responded quickly enough otherwise I might have been shot a second time, because as he later said, he thought he had missed the stag and it was getting away, so he ran after me with the intention of getting closer to fire another shot. I would have let matters rest had he attempted to offer an apology after the incidence; but instead, he ignored me and went about his business as if nothing had happened. Therefore, I sort recourse in the law in order to prevent the possibility of a similar event in the future.

Judge: Thank you lady, you may step down.

Judge:  (to the defendant) How do you respond?

Defendant: Thank you my Lord. In response, I shall start by telling a tale of my own. After all, there are two sides to every story. On the said day, I had woken up with an unreasonable and unholy craving for venison. And since during my previous forays into the nearby fields, I had caught wind of several prime stags in the past, I thought it would be a good idea to bring out the old trusty bow and arrow and see if I still had what it takes. I used to be a competitive archer.

Judge: When did you last hunt before that day?

Defendant: To tell the truth, I can’t truly recall. But that should not detract from a good story. As I was saying, the only thing on my mind on that day was venison. Unfortunately, in getting out of bed in a hurry, I knocked my glasses off the bed-side table unto the floor and subsequently stepped on it. After raining curses on all the animal gods trying to prevent me from a good meal, I set out that day in an unfriendly frame of mind. I met my gracious neighbor seated over there (pointing at the court’s bailiff who was standing well away from where the plaintive was seated). The conversation went much as she has narrated, but I did not mean to be rude to her. After all, I have spent many a cold winter’s evening by her fireplace since I moved in next door, with a warm blanket on my knees and a mug of fresh hot coffee in my hand. I admit I should have owned up to the fact that I could not see clearly – note my Lord, clearly, not – not at all. But it was a thing of pride and obviously embarrassing so instead I was gruff and rude – eh – bordering on obnoxious.

I thought I set out away from the immediate area. And I felt I must have gone a fair distance into the fields. I  did not know I had returned to the general area of the houses when I spotted what I thought was a stag in some low bushes in front of a rock (actually it turned out to be her house). I immediately took aim and let one loose. As I have said before, I am deaf in one ear, and the noise I heard afterwards sounded to me like a wounded animal trying to get away, so I gave chase. The only thought was of ensuring I had venison for breakfast that day. It was after I collided with the little fountain statue in front of her house that I realized I was not in the forest any longer. I was in this bewildered state when the paramedics came and it wasn’t long before the law enforcement officers came and I was arrested.

Judge: I am amazed at your behavior. Your excuse is your cravings for meat? Do you know that despite your unjustifiable action, you could still have avoided being here today before this court, if you had taken steps as any reasonable person would do to appease the plaintive afterwards? Do you have anything to say for yourself?

Defendant: No your honor. Since the matter was an accident. I did not believe the plaintive will bring me to court. In fact, I attempted to establish contact a month or so later, but unfortunately, I had the bow and arrow with me again (as I was going hunting again but this time with my new glasses) and she would not let me in, talk less of listening to me. In fact, she threatened to call the police.

Judge: You mean you went hunting again? After the damage you caused the previous time? Hope you didn’t shoot any other human being? Or should I be looking forward to seeing you again as the defendant in another endangerment civil suit?

Defendant: No, your honor.

Judge: From what you have said, I do not see any merit in prolonging this case longer than is necessary. What does the plaintive seek by way of compensation or damages?

Lawyer: My Lord, my client seeks the following. A. An injunction against the defendant that he shall not purposefully come within 200 feet or arrow-travelling distance of my client. B. That as he is a danger to the public, he shall be compelled to move house forthwith with his new residence wherever that may be, not less than 100miles from the current above of my client. C. That he shall not attempt to contact my client at any time. D. My client of course reserves the right to be civil to him upon any chance meeting in public.

Judge: Thank you. Is that all? No monetary damages sought? No prison terms? I find the requests pretty lenient and I find myself seriously considering a stiffer sentence given how much worse this matter may have turned out, and the unnecessary danger the defendant constituted to himself and the general public on said occasion. In addition, I find his attempts to offer a plausible explanation in defense of his actions irresponsible to say the least. Before I pass my judgment, does the defendant have anything to say for himself?

Defendant: My Lord, having sat here listening to my neighbor, apologies, the plaintive. I have come to terms with the distress I caused her due to my un-thoughtful actions. Not to talk of the physical pain of having an arrow sticking out of her leg and requiring a hospital admission to extricate the said arrow. Indeed I have to agree that my attempts at justifying my actions were obnoxious, calculated at getting off with no sentence or liability, and a cause of further pain and distress to my gracious and very beautiful neighbor. Excuse me your honor – very beautiful plaintive. In truth, I am a man very much inexperienced in the ways of the world, and had high hopes of “something” developing in between myself and said plaintive in future. All of which I realize now I have put in great jeopardy. For all her friendship and accommodation, all I have offered in return is pain and distress. I therefore place myself at the mercy of this honorable court, ready and willing to bear whatever sentence my Lord deems fit for my crimes, but at the same time requesting that my Lord temper justice with mercy.

Judge: Having noted your change of attitude, would you like to amend your initial plea?

Defendant: Yes my Lord

Judge: Yes?

Defendant: Guilty as charged on all counts.

Judge: Much better. We shall now proceed ….

Defendant : (cuts in). One more thing my Lord.

Judge: Yes?

Defendant: As I said earlier, I shall accept whatever punishment this esteemed court sees fit to administer, but might I request through the services of my honorable colleague representing the plaintive, that her justified demands be adjusted a little to exclude  the request that I forsake all contacts with his client, and the request that I move abode be excluded as well? And further, that his client would forgive, and if not forget, allow my despondent self a second chance to prove that the said occurrence is but an unfortunate inexcusable chance behavior on my part? That having said the above, I shall be willing to do anything his client deems fit to redeem my esteem and estimation in her eyes, and if possible return to the times  before said unfortunate event, when we shared several happy meals in companionship, and the distant possibility of something … eh … more intimate?

Judge: That is a lot to ask for. You have practically asked that the plaintive throw away her whole case against you. Not only that, the offence you are being charged with includes an element of danger against the public of which I have no doubt the public prosecutor is going to take up once this civil case is over. Having said that, I shall give the plaintive a chance to respond before delivering my judgment.

Lawyer confers with client. Plaintive glances over several times at the defendant during the cause of the discussion in low tones. Several shakes of the head. The defendant looks even more despondent.

Lawyer: (clears throat). Your honorable, my Lord. Plaintive requests an adjournment (if the defendant has no objections) so as to further consider the matter due to the change in circumstances.

My Lord, let it be duly noted in the records that A. The decision to bring this case before this honorable court was not taken lightly by my client. It was a result of the unfeeling, callous, rude and unreasonable behavior of the defendant after the said incidence. That B. My client reserves the right to request that the court consider her previous demands with a view to enforcing them should she at a later date, length of validity to be decided by this court, after due deliberation, decide to enforce her public rights to a safe dwelling environment, unencumbered by weapon-totting neighbors; her inalienable right to live a life of comfort and peace as guaranteed by the laws of the land, with no fear of emotional or physical injury being visited upon her person.

Judge: Thank you my esteemed colleague. Let the records so show. This court session is hereby adjourned.

Judge bangs gavel on desk.

Clerk: All rise, while his honorable Justice Y. Justice exits the court.

Fade to black while Lawyer confers with plaintive and bailiff moves towards defendant.

*********************** END ***********************

Maybe it’s appropriate that I wrote it during a period I could not “think”, since the issue on which the play is loosely based also happened at a period I wasn’t thinking clearly.
Having said that, I hope the reader will get a chuckle or two from it. Though it’s no laughing matter for me personally.

I should have sent it to Lawyer Deji (my cousin) to take a gander at it before putting it up, so corrections on  points of law as it applies to such a scenario as depicted above are still welcome.

I suspect a few people will ask “where is the second act?”
I don’t expect it would ever be written unless of course I get hit with one of those “unthinking” periods (hopefully not!) or something happens to make me want to write it.

The man on the Third

The man on the Third

I have to ask you to read the following with an open mind.

The first time I saw him, I must admit I was drunk. Being drunk for me was not a crate of Star lager beer; it was more a couple of cups of Amarula.

Six months ago, there was a small get-together to send off a colleague who was moving on to greater things. The “party” started at one of the posh clubs on the Island and I was about to call it quits when the clock was bent on pointing at midnight. But contrary to my better judgment, I went with the rest of the team to a popular club at the big mall just off the Island heading towards the Lekki area.
I usually don’t drink, but my undoing is usually the sweet liquor called Amarula or the much more well-known Irish Cream. I can’t resist the haphazard watering nor the natural climate control (according to the advert) that gives birth to the bottled taste of heaven called Amarula. A half glass on the rocks and I am “flowing” with the best of them. I suddenly looked at my wrist watch and noticed two was looking right back at me. Bidding my colleagues goodnight amidst lots of attempts to make me stay on, I headed out to the parking lot and got into my car.

The only thought in my mind was that I had to get home in one piece. Thus, gripping the steering wheel like I was holding it in place by sheer physical force, I squinted out into the glare of the head lights and kept my speed just short of a hundred.

In order not to drift off and find myself hugging the side railings or worse down in the murky depths of the Atlantic, I turned the radio to a station playing loud fast-tempo tracks. I remember thinking I was lucky not to be in a developed country with the likelihood that some officer of the law would be administering a breathalyzer test to me or asking me to tell him the number of fingers he was holding up on his right hand. Suddenly, the music degraded into some static gibberish and I thought it may be due to signal quality on the bridge. Following immediately, the AC became so chilly, my teeth were practically chattering. I turned the knob off, but the AC did not switch off, it was still going full blast and it was colder than my deep freezer at home. Looking quickly into the rearview mirror and my side mirror, with no car obvious in the vicinity, I took my eye off the road partially and tried to see what the matter was with the AC.

That was when I first heard the sound. At first I wondered how a car could have caught up with me so quickly out of nowhere. Looking into my rearview mirror again, there was indeed the one headlight shining in the dark. I couldn’t make out the car, and for a second I thought it might have been a motorcycle. I strained harder and though the light was obviously gaining on me, I still couldn’t make out the car. The sound continued. It was weird.

Soon, the car pulled out from behind me and drew level with me on the passenger side. I glanced briefly at it and went back to looking straight ahead. Then I did a double take. Sitting behind the wheel was obviously a man with a pair of glasses on. The strange thing was that despite the brief glance, I knew I could see through him because at that very moment, one of the lights on the bridge had illuminated the inside of the car. I looked again and there he was sitting looking straight ahead. With my heart racing wildly, I had forgotten I was driving and almost lost control of the car. That was when the figure turned in my direction, and gave me the thumbs up sign. He stayed level with me for what seems like a millennia but which in reality was about a minute. Then he pulled ahead and I could better see the car. It was floating on air as there were no tires in the wheel wells!  I didn’t realize it at the time nor did I associate the two, but once the car was out of my sight, the AC went off (and something I realized much later, the digital time on the dash had stopped at 2:59AM)

I had unconsciously reduced my speed to about fifty and though shaken, I was able to make it all the way across the bridge and to my house. I laid on my bed, unable to sleep and convinced I wasn’t drunk enough to have been hallucinating. Tossing and turning for several hours, I finally fell into a fitful sleep early in the morning dreaming of racing against several cars being driven by talking animals. I woke up with a slight hangover and feeling as if I hadn’t had any sleep at all. For some reason I still can’t explain, I did not leave the house throughout that weekend. Fortunately, there was food in the house. I still can’t explain what I did either. I didn’t sleep especially long, and I didn’t read nor watch the TV. The main thing I could remember was trying not to remember and ironing my shirt on Sunday night in preparation for going to work the following day.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

That was the first time I saw the man. It wasn’t knowledge I could share with friends or colleagues. Even though I knew I wasn’t “that drunk”, I still found myself doubting what I knew I saw on the bridge. It was the sort of story that may cause people to doubt your mental stability and I didn’t need that sort of attention with corporate annual job reviews just around the corner.

I was told later that I became even more withdrawn than usual. I guess my mind was pretty occupied despite all my attempts to the contrary.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

As my workload increased due to a change of roles, I was able to forget the matter for most of the day, but it was a constant partner during my free time and when once ever so frequently, I lie awake in the dark unable to sleep due to a combination of the heat and lack of power supply from the grid.

I tried not to think of it as an obsession. After all, I haven’t actively done anything else and I couldn’t very well stop the thoughts from popping into my head. Are ghosts real? Dusting off the thin layer of dust on my Christian Bible, I tried to hunt down all the stories involving contacts with dead people. Most seems to point to the fact that ghosts are manifestations conjured up by practitioners of black magic and not necessarily representation of people who have actually passed on to the great beyond.

As time passed, I started to doubt my recollection of the event. Maybe I was drunker than I had thought.  And after a while, I was more or less able to convince myself of this issue and was able to largely forget the whole matter.

Fast forward to four months after my initial encounter. A client had an issue and I had to assist in resolving it. This took the whole day and the very early part of the next day. I found myself driving home when all reasonable folks where safely ensconced behind locked doors. As usual, I had my radio on and blaring loud music from a CD I recently bought in the holdup going to the Island. The artiste was “up and coming”, and his lyrics were catchy, so I found myself singing along to some of the tracks on the CD.

Suddenly, the sound from the player became practically inaudible. I was berating myself for buying a substandard product from a hawker on the road, when the AC started working overtime. I turned the knob almost all the way down, but that didn’t appear to have any effect on the temperature. I was fiddling with the knob and wondering how I would make it to the mechanic’s shop to have it looked at, when the eerie sound started up. That was when I remembered and I knew as I looked into the rearview mirror what I would see. There in the dark, starting to get brighter was the single headlight.

With my teeth chattering, I followed the light in the rearview mirror and then switched my attention to the right-side window, and surely, the car was alongside me. I looked forward and backwards, and no other vehicle was in site. I kept my eye on the road but could not help glancing right every couple of seconds. The car must have been going at the same speed I was. I could see the man at the steering wheel, or I should say I could see through the man at the steering wheel. All I had had all day was a bottle of Coca Cola. I wasn’t drunk – I was hungry! A couple of minutes later, he gave the thumbs up sign and pulled ahead. There were no wheels on the car. I wasn’t sure how it happened, but I was going quite slowly. The AC was now almost off and the music from the CD had resumed. I made it home and went straight to bed despite the fact that I was hungry. I locked the door to the room, blocked it with the big dresser and got into bed fully clothed except for taking off my shoes. Thankfully, there was power from the mains, so I put on the air-conditioning full blast, left the lights on, and got under the duvet. Yet, I couldn’t sleep. My mind was occupied by what I had seen on the bridge. I must have drifted off at some point because the next moment, I was waking up to the sound of my mobile phone ringing insistently. I glanced blearily at the clock on the wall and it said 9:00am. I answered the phone with my boss on the other end asking for a status report on the issue with the client. I was able to tell him briefly that it had been resolved and I would be in the office the following day since I didn’t get away from the client’s office till early in the morning. Thankfully, I was able to drift back to sleep.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I do not understand how something so frightening can cause one to be so inquisitive. I haven’t been able to get the apparition out of my mind since that night, yet the very thought of it makes me break out in sweat and shiver.

I have heard tales about the kitted up riders on the Third. Dressed like Robocop: I have heard they have license to kill. I don’t doubt it much as each one has a pistol and a submachine gun and I suspect is sporting a bulletproof vest under the heavy duty rider protection gear. I wonder how they do it in this tropical weather with the temperature easily in the 30s during the day?

After much hesitation, I approached one of them on a day when the weather was relatively cool and the traffic was light by all accounts. I guessed they should be in a more relaxed mood and be more tolerant of having their secure space invaded.

After pulling over, I sat in my car for several minutes and watched him with some apprehension. Then the thought hit me, that staying put for too long in itself might be misconstrued. I had packed a couple of car lengths away. I put on my hazard light, moving slowly intentionally, I alighted from the vehicle, closed the door and raised my right hand in what I hoped looked like a friendly gesture and with a strained broad smile on my face, greeted him and asked if I could come over.

He looked at me for a few seconds, then gestured for me to come over. I walked slowly towards him, ensuring my hands were at all times visible. I greeted him again, thanked him for keeping Lagos safe and expressed appreciation for the effort it took to do so. I then jumped in head-long into my question. I told him something happened to me on the bridge some days ago and wondered if he had heard or seen anything. He asked what it was and sounded a little irritated and gruff.

I narrated my contact with the car on the bridge to which he listened attentively. I was expecting him to dismiss me forthwith as a lunatic and ask me to step back and into my car and drive away. Instead, he looked contemplatively for a minute or so, and told me that if I repeated what he was about to tell me to anyone and it comes back to him, he would completely deny it. I agreed immediately to which he told me the following.

Several months back, while he was on night duty, he had got a radio call asking him to proceed to the bridge on the double. As he approached the popular juncture at which a side road forked off the bridge, he could immediately see signs of trouble ahead. Bits and pieces of a car and some smoke. He approached carefully to find a wrecked car which had obviously collided with the side of the bridge. Around about the same time, the ambulance stationed on the bridge arrived and the paramedics attempted to attend to the single occupant of the vehicle. As they pulled him out, it was obvious he was in a bad way. A quick look and he could see the man’s chances of making it were slim. As the medics laid him on the stretcher, he kept repeating the same thing. At the time, he had assumed he was delirious possibly from blood loss or concussion. He kept making reference to some man he saw who had given him a thumbs up and then a thumbs down. How the man wasn’t there. But it was obvious by talking to the paramedics later that they had met no vehicle coming their way, so there was obviously no other car involved in the accident.

I thought he was done because he hesitated for a while – checking out the traffic streaming over the bridge into the Island. Then he said, “I have seen him too you know. I was riding home after one of my shifts early in the morning when I saw him. He followed me for a while and I was becoming irritated and was about to pull to the side and ask him what his problem was. Then he pulled level with me, and for a minute I thought it was my visor that was playing tricks on me or maybe I was too tired and wasn’t seeing properly. Then he slowly gave the thumbs up sign and almost immediately he was gone into the distance. After that, I reduced my speed and when I got the other end of the bridge, I found one of my colleagues who was not in a hurry to go anywhere was still there. I tried as much as possible to appear nonchalant as I asked him if he had seen a car go by in the last 20 minutes or so. Of course, it was such an odd question but he guessed I was the first person he had come in contact with or seen in about 45 minutes. I couldn’t press him too much without arousing suspicion and in my line of work, any issue that may cause your mental state to be in doubt is grounds for dismissal. After all, you can see we all spot enough ammo to cause some major damage to the public.

Since then I have tried to avoid the early morning shift as much as possible, or alternatively, I just stay at my post until daylight and then make for my house. I have only seen him that one time and I hope never to do so again. But I can’t put what the man in the accident said out of my mind – what did he do to get a thumbs up and thumbs down signal? Some would probably call it some evil he had done in the past. But I think it unwise to risk meeting the man again.

There was an uneasy silence between us after that. Fortunately, the traffic picked up and I thanked him for his time and made my way back to my car. He gave no response, and neither did he look away from the bridge.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

For some reason, knowing I wasn’t mad, drunk or losing my mind gave me a reprieve. The issue took a backseat in my daily affairs and I had practically forgotten about it – or I should say I had come to terms with it. All that changed again several months later when I gave a colleague a lift home. We had worked late on a proposal for a client that was due the next day. Finally, at about 2:30AM, we mailed the completed document to our unit boss and headed home. I do not need to repeat what happened on the bridge at 2:59AM.

He has been avoiding me since that day and we have never discussed it.

Obsession is a bad thing. I can’t remember exactly when it was I became obsessed with the man on the bridge – I had resolved not to think of him as a ghost. I was losing sleep; I started checking the FRSC site for any accidents on the bridge daily; listening to several radio stations for news about accidents; maintaining an Excel sheet on accidents and causalities; carrying out various searches on the Internet and surreptitiously asking colleagues at work about anything they saw on the bridge.

I did find out one thing. That there was an accident on the bridge shortly after it was declared open by the then Military head of state. No one was sure what happened. By the very few eye witness account at the time, a car with a sole occupant who was thought to have been a man went over the side and into the waters below. The section of the railings affected was quickly repaired and due to the political situation of the country at the time, the matter was hushed up and no attempts were made to recover the vehicle. There was some hint of foul play. The only semi-official reference I found was on the back page of a faded soft-sell magazine of the time which has long since gone out of print.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I tried as much as possible to appear normal, but it was hard for me to pay attention at work. My boss called me in one day and said I should take a week leave off. I protested profusely, but he put his foot down and said it’s either that or I start looking for a new job. He said my work has been shoddy for a while, and he has had to ask a junior colleague to redo several of the assignments I had turned in in the previous couple of months. That the only reason I hadn’t been given a query was because of my stellar track record in the office until then. He asked if there was anything I needed to talk about and apologized for not having asked long ago. I was tempted briefly to tell him all about the man, but then I had second thoughts. If he didn’t believe me, I was definitely out of a job, as who wants to work with a crazy subordinate. I needed the money – I had rents to pay and several other responsibilities.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Things are much better now. That one week off did wonders. I got out of Lagos and drove inlands. Stopped at a random hotel that looked OK and did nothing for the whole week except eat, sleep and watch the satellite stations. The amount of calamities befalling people around the world somehow made me put my “problem” in the proper perspective. I returned to Lagos rejuvenated. The only decision I had made was that nothing on this side of eternity would make me cross that bridge again once it was after midnight. Nowadays, I do not stay out after midnight. And if my official engagement holds me till after 12, I stay there till morning or sleep in my car. I haven’t seen the man on the Third for about a year now, except in my dreams and in the dark on depressing nights.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


I am neither the writer nor owner of this journal. The owner is no more. It seems that like Job in the Bible, what he dreaded most happened to him.

I was the first on the scene. How he had survived till early in the morning still stumps me because after reading his journal I was sure I knew when the accident had happened.

I guess the human will is indeed powerful enough to preserve life (mind over matter) even if only for a short while when to the observer, it shouldn’t have been possible.

With his dying breath, he made me promise to look in his bag for his journal and make sure the public learns of what happened to him. That he had to cross the bridge. That the matter was urgent. I was still calling 911 when he died.

As he had made me promise, I looked inside his bag which I found in the car’s wreckage and found the journal. I had to squirrel it away immediately because it would have been difficult to explain his request to the police. I was a little bothered about leaving him there, but it was obvious there was nothing more I could do for him. I thought it better to honour his request than watch over his lifeless body. Besides, the early morning traffic would start to build up and the proper agencies would soon be around to attend to him.

I am making this last entry so that people know what really happened according to the man. I have anonymously sent this journal to a widely read newspaper house. If you are reading this, and feel the need to verify the details above, the newspaper can supply you with the man’s details. I have asked that it not be included in the article out of deference to the man’s memory and the privacy of his family.


I do not believe in ghosts and you would not in general find me out and about late at night unless it is absolutely necessary. But these days, I make it a point not to be on that bridge any time after midnight.

I am not taking any chances of meeting the man on the Third.

One more thing . . .

I have, unlike most people come to terms with my mortality: the fact that one day, I am going to wake up for the last time.

Having said that, I have at several times tried to be prepared for the inevitable. Probably the only aspect of my existence without procrastination – sad. So I tally up the dos and don’ts; who do I owe; who have I wronged; who have I stolen from; who do I have a grudge against; who might justifiably have a grudge against me; which of my affairs may constitute a burden to those I leave behind rather than a blessing; try not to repeat stuff I am told as people sometimes seem very comfy telling me stuff they would probably not tell other people; and so on. I can’t say I am satisfied with the outcome of the review but in general, I find that with most of my shortcomings, I am accountable to only the big Kahuna upstairs. Well, that’s not strictly true, because by not achieving my full potentials, there are ripple effects on all those around me – who might I have given a hand or leg up;  more holiday trips for the folks; better schooling opportunities for some relations or even better donations to some other charitable causes, etc.

I have always known there was something wrong, something missing,  but didn’t know how bad it was. Well, not until recently. Now I know what it is, and I am surprised that I didn’t guess all along. Yes, people are going to say things about you, some of which will be true and others false. Some you should rightly ignore, but some you should look into. To be filed under “ignore”, is if you hear that you are dead (usually happens to celebrities). Well, if you are dead, you certainly won’t be “hearing” about it. To be seriously investigated are those things that sounds as if they may have some element of truth in them no matter how unpalatable. Which brings us to the crux of this post. I recently found out that I have a bad character. So here I am going through my memories for the past 9 months or so (hopefully that is the date range for whatever I have done or failed to do whatever it is I did do or shouldn’t have done).  I am ticking a lot of stuff off, but nothing stands out as the obvious flaw (of which there are plenty) that I can think of as part of my character that makes it bad. I would assume shortcomings that are if anything detrimental to my own wellbeing and progress with no direct negative impact on others don’t count. The most obvious thing that I can think of, I wouldn’t equate to a bad character. I have tried not to write anything negative unless it’s obvious about people or at least anonymize them if unavoidable. I try as much as possible not to step on people’s toes or rub people the wrong way. I know you can’t satisfy everybody, but at least I try not to annoy anybody. But yet, there is that act or omission that equates to a bad character . I have thought hard, but it still eludes me. Maybe someone reading this can set me straight so I can go about fixing it or if impossible, well, I can give up knowing I tried my best – maybe I can justify this post with that reason?

Bad is of course better than evil. So maybe, I should take some consolation in the fact that I have a bad character. Evil would have sent me running to the cathedral crying “Help me, Lord help me” and hopefully I would get the answer “When you cry, I cry, I cry along with you. When you smile, I smile, I smile along with you,  . . .” just like the song goes. On the other hand, bad may just be as bad as evil. After all, who wants a bad man for a bedfellow? Or a man of bad character for a close friend? Or as a baby-papa? Or as a father? This may actually explain why I am typing this by my lonesome self in a dark room while some of my friends and colleagues are having a jaw-jaw with families of 5 (God forbid anything larger in this day and age) or less, which explains why I am taking this seriously (I hope).

One more thing, that stuff about coming to terms with my mortality? It’s simply not true. One can only say that, mean it, and have it be absolutely true, when one is faced with a situation where that mortality is truly being tested with the outcome almost certainly death, and only very few lucky people actually live to tell about it, and much fewer tell the whole and absolute truth – undiluted with Adrenalin and the need to be some sort of hero.