Papa Atta had his double barrel gun in his right hand and a flash light in the other hand. He had no shirt on and was barefooted, yet he looked all ready and set for a treasure hunt. He threw the beam of his light across the compound slowly. Satisfied that there was nobody on the compound, he made for his coop.
He made a thorough search there, searching each inch and overturning every stone at that corner, to make sure there was nothing there.
Satisfied after a long search, and convinced there was nothing; he started walking towards his room. We continued to lay flat and still, waiting patiently for him to enter his room so we could make a getaway. Just as he reached his door step and was about to enter, Gabby whistled, to call us to come out. Papa Atta being alerted by the whistle turned his attention to where the whistle was coming from. He then headed to his gate to check who was out there whistling.
Though we had made a pact that if we got caught, we should not mention the names of our fellow accomplices, we all knew that Gabby was the least to be trusted with that.
Forgetting that we were lying right in the lion’s den, we rather prayed that Gabby would be alerted by our lack of response and flee, but contrarily, he continued to whistle.
We heard Gabby take to his heels when Papa Atta’s metal gate gave a loud creak, sending echoes far past Gabby’s ears. Papa Atta gave a warning shot. The loud blast of his gun confirmed his readiness to use the lethal weapon, and it turned where we laid, no better a place to be than hell.
We saw Papa Atta rush back to his room, probably to put on a shirt and slippers to go after the supposed thief. In our neighbourhood the sound of gunfire usually brought people out of their rooms and onto the street, all in search of a thief, however, the sound of Papa Atta’s gun sends them running for cover with the fear that he could shoot at them as soon as they step out.
As soon as he entered his house, we saw our chance to get away from Papa Atta’s grip. We made a run for the opened gate, forgetting that we came in by jumping over the wall. K.B and I still clutched on tightly to our roosters, but B-Duke had let go of his.
Our running and everyone’s struggle to get through the gate first brought Papa Atta out of his room again
“Keep still everywhere! No extra movement! You move, I move you!” Papa Atta shouted in a commanding military way, probably thinking that we were on the Congo war field.
Before Papa Atta could crack his gun and put it to effective use, we were out of sight and the sound of his gun fire boomed behind us.
We knew where to meet in instances where we didn’t get away together. It was an uncompleted church building that had been abandoned for a long time. The weeds around it had grown tall, and since there were no streets lights there, the structure looked very creepy and petrifying. But it was the place we enjoyed the most.
With the aid of our daggers, flash lights and the old utensils we had hidden there, we were all set and ready to dress the four roosters we made away with.
In no time, smoke was puffing out of the building and our faces beamed with smiles as we watched the fresh, seasoned chicken, cooking in the old pot; a ridiculous contrast of container and content.
The meat was all cooked and ready, but the main jollof was scheduled to be cooked during the day. It was our usual drill. We each took a piece of the chicken, “for the road” as we say, and hid the remaining at a place a stranger would need sniffer dogs to locate.
We all knew what time to meet, so we bid each other farewell and congratulated each other.
K.B, Gabby and I were standing over the blown cover of where our treasure had been hidden, with eyes flaming red, filled with rage and tears. We had the gallon of palm wine in hand, yet our intentions had been prematurely killed.
“This scene only explains why B-Duke is not with us.” I said.
“That fool has do am it again! He has made a fool of us again! How could we have trusted him? That… that cunning idiot!” K.B said with a voice trembling with rage.
B-Duke had played us all for fools for the second time. He had stolen the chicken we hid, and kept it all to himself. We knew very well that we will not see him again until some weeks after when all the rage and intentions of doing him any harm would have died down. What hurts us all the most was allowing ourselves to be fooled by him yet again.
We had retired from the uncompleted building to a tree which stood in front of my house, where we usual sit all day, playing cards and arguing at the top of our voices.
We sat there until midday, talking about nothing but B-Duke’s deceit and how we will handle him if he should appear from nowhere.
Just as we were about to part ways and go to bed until the sun goes down before we will meet again, B-Duke’s mother zoomed pass us and went straight into my house, like a flash of lightening.
B-Duke’s mother was the most famous gossip in the nieghbourhood. Because of her accuracy in the news she conveyed, people branded her with all sorts of witchery. To have her visit your parents at this very odd hour was the greatest misfortune that could ever come upon young men of our caliber.
We had been shielded from her snitching up until now simply because of her son’s involvement in all of our operations. In fact, that was the only reason why we kept B-Duke in our midst.
Some few minutes later, we saw the person we had longed to see ever since we discovered our treasure was missing coming towards us; B-Duke. We all rushed onto him. K.B was the first to reach him, and without words he landed a blow right on his face. B-Duke went crashing hard to the ground and gave a wail that softened my heart.
Just as K.B was about to jump on him to finish what he had started, I stood in his way, preventing him.
“What is wrong with you?! Leave me alone make I deal with this cunning fool,” K.B blurted out with an outrageous anger. I could feel the heat his heart was fuming and I was tempted to believe that he could commit murder if I did not stop him.
“No, K,” I said to him with a tone as cool as chilled water, solely intended to tame his flaming anger. “You know B-Duke is no fool to have come here if there was nothing serious going on. He is smarter than to accompany his mother on one of her gossip voyage. Let us find out what is going on before my father summons us.”
“Yeah K.B,” added Gabby, “I think it is best that way. Let us find out what is going to happen and start building our defense shield before we are confronted. You know this issue is not with just anybody but Papa Atta.”
The mention of Papa Atta, though a hot and menacing name, was good enough to make K.B cool down and listen. We rough handled B-Duke to the shade of the tree where we sat, and then the interrogations started.
“Where the hell is the chicken?” K.B shouted as soon as we pushed B-Duke to sit down.
“Relax, man. There are more serious things to think of now than a piece of chicken,” B-Duke said, still in pains.
“You don’t tell us what you think we should know. We ask and you answer. You don’t say otherwise until you are asked to say,” K.B started reading to B-Duke his rights.
“Cut that childishness okay? I said this is serious and you should know that it is. If it weren’t, you and I know very well that none of you would have ever seen me until after some weeks. You should know you can’t do without me. My mother would have blown your cover if not because of me. I am the only reason why we have the most effective group.” B-Duke said this with some objectiveness that I had never seen him exhibit. K.B was infuriated at B-Duke’s firmness, but except for the words he threw at him, he decided it was wise to listen.
“Okay, we will listen to whatever you have to say, but mind you we will never give you the chance to pull those silly pranks of yours on us again. If you do not say anything wise in some few seconds–”
“We will all die by the making of the shrine,” B-Duke started, “but you who with your hands grabbed Papa Atta’s biggest rooster will be delivered to him by the gods and you shall die in his hands. Did I say anything wise in some few seconds?” B-Duke asked cynically.
“What happened B-Duke, what are you talking about?” I asked quickly.
“Nothing! Forget it. Let us all die. I won’t tell you guys anything,” B-Duke said.
“You know the only thing that is saving you from our beatings be that information you get. So fine, make you no tell us anything, we go beat you to death. We all go die, but it will please my soul say you died in my hands. You better start talking before I let loose of myself upon you.” K.B said to him menacingly.
Gabby was the quiet type, but I could see that he was searching hard through his mind. His face painted clouded emotions. K.B was also pretending firmness, but he looked like a real caricature blending with fear, hatred and anger. B-Duke had also kept his cool, though he was in pains from the blow he took earlier on. It was quiet clear that he was carefully maneuvering his way out, so that he won’t be given another blow. I was lost in oblivion, with so much to think of that I could not think at all; B-Duke’s mother with my parents, the mention of death, we being discovered, keeping cool and making sure things didn’t get out of hands, amongst other things….