Sandra kept cursing all the way to the barrack as we followed the army van behind. All through the journey I was silent. Sandra felt like a dreadful stranger to me. Eventually, we diverted to the same barracks I was brought in earlier. This made me feel slightly emasculated, sitting beside the one who orchestrated it. She parked and came out of the car swiftly without a word to me, stood at the back watching with her hands folded as they dragged the man out. I sat in the car wondering if to come out or not.
“deal with him!” she shouted.
“you beat up women, now fight your fellow man, idiot!”.
They made him frog jump and flogged him with wrapped wire anytime he stopped to rest or paused a little. Sandra followed behind, screaming “move idiot!”
I remained in the car watching the other side of Sandra. It really scared the chill out of me. Suddenly my phone rang. It was mum who has been calling since we drove off, but I silenced the call not knowing whether or not to answer it in Sandra’s presence.
“hello ma!” I said.
“where are you?” mum asked, sounding completely worried.
“I am okay but our neighbour is not,” I answered.
“what do you mean?” mum asked.
“they are making him do frog jump here,” I replied.
“please tell us where the barrack is, his wife has been on my neck crying that we betrayed her. Please beg your girlfriend, let them not kill him o.” mum said.
The man’s wife screamed into the phone. “please o! You people should not kill my husband o.”
mum continued, “please beg her for us.” while the woman cried again in the background, “Mike I’m sorry o, don’t kill my husband.”
“I’ll talk to her, I’ll talk to her,” I said in a hurry.
“please, the name of the barracks,” mum asked again.
“I’ll get back to you.” I said, then I hung up.
I opened the car door, came down and walked to Sandra cautiously. Just then, Ruth’s call came in. I rejected it and went to Sandra who was busy shouting, “move!” beside the soldiers who made the now drained man jump.
“please…let me see you,” I said, pinching her slightly on her arm, surprised at how much momentum I gathered to approach her.
She looked at the spot I pinched, then to me and said sarcastically, “please, later…” then went back to what she was doing. I stood helpless, wondering where the sudden tension was coming from. Then I went to take shade under a tree. I began to imagine that perhaps she might really be the wife of a general. Or a soldier herself, or she’s from a family of military. I couldn’t make out the answer, so I stood holding a branch of the tree and scratching my head like a peasant.
They made the man jump till he couldn’t move anymore. He begged in tears but they flogged him severely with wire, while Sandra kicked and slapped him, commanding that they should make him jump. One of the soldiers whispered something to her, then she looked around and found me under the tree. She started walking towards me, while the soldiers ordered him to stand up. He struggled with much effort to stand on his feeble legs.
As she walked towards me, she looked very attractive in a tight milk trouser that revealed her voluptuous curves and black singlet with a pair of black sneakers. She knotted her hair in a ponytail without any makeup or jewelry, save her white sport wrist watch. She looked as innocent as a child, but seeing her other side made me realize the devil is an angel. I used to think that I had to protect Sandra from Ruth, but right now, I see Ruth is one who needs protecting.
“hello sweetie!” she said, wiping her face with the white handkerchief she brought from her left back pocket.
“hello,” I said wiping nothing from my forehead with my fingers.
She sat on the bare floor with her focus on where the man was. I bent beside her, after hesitating a little.
“please, let him go.” I begged.
Sandra looked at me as if I have lost my mind.
“why should I? So that he can beat up another lady tomorrow? And after what he did to you, you still want to let him walk? I won’t sweetie, after today, anywhere he sees you he’ll run.” she said.
She stood up, dusted her bum and went back to meet the soldiers.
Ruth called again. I waited until Sandra was far away before I answered.
“hello Ruth,” I said.
“hello baby, why were you not picking up?” she enquired.
“please I’m in the middle of something, let’s talk later,” I asked.
“middle of what?” she sounded suspicious.
“hey! I said am busy…later!” I said and hung up in anger.
Ruth’s jealousy was beginning to get to me. Right now, all I wanted was to go somewhere away from all these drama in my life.
A shout from the direction Sandra went startled me. I quickly walked fast towards it. As I was getting close to the place, I heard the man crying and begging, and Sandra telling him, “you’re going to die today.” When I got closer, my memory recalled my balls kicking episode. I flinched a little but threw that thought aside. The man was tied both hands and legs together on a long pole like a meat about to be roasted on a fire. Two soldiers lifted him up on both edges and hung him on a four feet tall hook.
He screamed that his weight is breaking his wrist and ankle. But Sandra seemed to be enjoying the cry of the helpless man in pain. I didn’t know when I said, “it’s okay! Let him go!”
The soldiers around there looked at me ominously and one of them asked, “who the hell are you?” standing up.
Suddenly, it occurred to me that what I did was wrong and to worsen it, I didn’t know what to answer them. Whether to say I am Sandra’s guy, that probably might land me in another soup so I stood looking.
“he’s with me,” Sandra said, saving me from my devourers.
“Mike, go to the car! I’ll join you soon.” she ordered.
I obediently did as she instructed without looking at my back until I was several meters away from there. I went to wait under the tree.
A text message called my attention. I opened it, it was from Amaka asking for my account number. I paused and looked at the text again to be sure I saw it right. When I was convinced, I immediately sent it to her. This development lifted my spirit a great deal.
I sat on the floor under the tree waiting for Sandra who took the drilling personal when a bank alert entered my phone. It was 500,000 Naira. I stood up abruptly and looked at it again. It was true. I jumped, danced and immediately ran home, forgetting that I came with someone.
To be continued…