The Lagos Lagoon.
His hands flapped on the water like a bird trying to lift off the ground with its body refusing to obey the laws of nature, keeping it bound to the earth.
He drank some water as he made a feeble attempt to stay afloat. The water tasted bitter and smelled bad. His hands were getting tired. His feet could no longer kick to defy the downward pull of gravity. The cold bit into his bones like needles, weakening him.
Struggling to stay afloat in the dark waters of the Lagos lagoon, Gbenga came to the realisation that he was about to die. Nothing could save him from being swallowed into the belly of this monster which silently destroyed those unfortunate enough to be caught in its trap, and hid the evidence of their demise at the bottom of the lagoon. Decomposing tissue devoured by hungry sea creatures which managed to survive in the polluted waters of the lagoon.
His head came up from under the water and he shouted, taking in another mouthful of water. His stomach was filling up with the poisonous water of the lagoon. The water rushed into his shoes and they fell off his feet. His shirt and trousers absorbed water, his legs became as heavy as huge pieces of iroko wood tied to his body, pulling him down, making it extremely difficult for him to manoeuvre in the water.
He remembered the first time his father took him on a boat ride. He was eight.
“Put this on. It’s a life jacket. If you accidentally fall into the sea, this would keep you afloat until help comes.” the older Phillips said.
He looked at his father who had on an orange life jacket similar to what he held in his hands. “Dad, but you know how to swim. If you fall into the water you can swim your way to safety,” the young Phillips countered.
His father laughed and helped him put on the contraption. “Do you see this?” He gesticulated with his right hand, drawing an arc. “If you fall into the sea, you better have on a life jacket or that may be the end. Sometimes even the best swimmers may need some help if they accidentally fall into the sea. This body of water has no permanent friends,” he cautioned his son. “Make sure you complete your swimming lessons. It may come in useful one day, ” the elder Philips admonished and smiled at his son.
Gbenga kicked as hard as he could but the wound on his chest and the cold water weakened him and his struggle became more feeble. He caught a last look of the moon before his head sank under the water. Somewhere in his mind, Gbenga accepted his fate. This was the end. He knew this was going to be his grave. He was going to die and nothing would save him.
He tried to make his peace with God but his mind couldn’t focus. He muttered an incoherent prayer, stopped struggling and just waited for gravity to pull him down to the bottom of the lagoon where certain death awaited him.
Yemi pointed at a spot. “That was where he fell into the water. Please help me find him!” Yemi pleaded with the men who followed her from the restaurant.
One man brought out a flash light and lit up a portion of the water before them. He moved the light around for a few seconds. “There is no sign of life here. Your husband may have drowned already,” he said still looking around.
Yemi sat on the wet ground, put her hands on her head and wept. “Oh God, please save Gbenga. Don’t let him die. Don’t let him die,” she cried.
“Over there! I see something in the water!” One man shouted excitedly.
The men rushed over to the spot. One man jumped into the water and swam out to reach the drowning man. Another man jumped in after him. They both pulled in Gbenga and carried him to land.
“Is he alive?” Yemi asked as she rushed to his side.
“Stand aside!” One man instructed and knelt down by Gbenga. He checked for a pulse on his neck. “He is not breathing!”
“Mo gbe!” Yemi cried out.
“Please stand back, let me see what I can do.” The man gave him some rescue breaths and began CPR; thirty chest compressions and two breaths. Gbenga did not respond. He lay lifeless on the ground like dead fish in the makoko lagoon market.
Yemi placed both hands on her head, knelt on the wet sand and wept.
The Philips’ Residence.
Shade’s phone rang. She made no attempt to answer it.
“Answer it!” Ngozi commanded with a wave of the gun she held.
Shade picked up the phone and listened. A smile broke out on her face. “Your Gbenga has gone to join his ancestors,” she laughed.
“You killed him?” Ngozi asked.
Shade was about to reply but Roberto stopped her. “Don’t say anything,” he cautioned her. “It could be used against you.” He looked at Ngozi. “What do you want from us? Please drop that gun. You may do something you will regret.”
“Shade, you murdered Gbenga so that you can get married to him? You made a big mistake. If you didn’t want Gbenga anymore, why didn’t you just let him go? I liked him and I wanted him. You rejected him and made him suffer because of your ambition and greed. Gbenga wasn’t responsible for your problems, you are totally responsible.”
“I don’t have to listen to this,” shouted Shade. “You have absolutely no right to come into my home and point a gun at me. You are Gbenga’s mistress. What gives you the right to interfere in my home?”
“This ceased to be your home a long time ago, even before you found Roberto.”
Roberto took a step forward. “Please put the gun down. You are making me nervous pointing that thing at me.”
“I make you nervous? You and Shade will pay dearly for killing the man I wanted to marry,” she said.
“Shade, you took the man I love. I will repay you in kind by taking the man you love!” Ngozi shouted.
Roberto’s eyes followed the movement of the gun and he started sweating.
Shade regarded her friend with pity. “Ngozi, killing Roberto will not bring Gbenga back. Nothing you do will bring him back. He is dead and out of our lives for good. Now you can move on and find a real man, just as I did, and enjoy your life.”
Ngozi shook her head. “No, no! You took something valuable from me and I am going to take something valuable from you.” She levelled the gun on Roberto.
“Say your last prayers,” Ngozi said.
“Please don’t shoot. I don’t want to die!” Roberto fell to his knees, begging for his life like a slave. “This was all Shade’s plan. You must believe me. It has nothing to do with me,” he said with tears falling from his eyes.
“No Roberto, it has everything to do with you,” Ngozi said. “If it wasn’t for you, my Gbenga would still be alive. You and Shade are responsible for his death. You murdered the man I love, you leave me no choice.” She looked into his eyes and slowly squeezed the trigger.
Raymond parked the police car in front of the Philips’ residence. “This is the address. Do we go in and pick up the suspect?” he asked Supo who seemed to be lost in thought.
“Erm…let me think,” Supo said, looking up into the sky.
“We don’t have time for this. It is almost midnight. I want to return to the station and try to catch some sleep.”
Supo turned to Raymond. “Do you know what? I am tired of this job. I am tired of fighting criminals and putting my life at risk,” he paused to weigh his next words. “First thing tomorrow morning I am resigning from the police force.”
“You don’t have to resign because of what I said. Remember you have a family and five mouths to feed,” Raymond cautioned.
“It is not because of what you said. I have been thinking about this for some months. I am tired of this job and want to do something else with my life,” Supo said.
“What will you do after you resign?” Raymond asked.
“Farming,” Supo answered.
“Farming?” Raymond chuckled. ” You don’t look anything like a farmer. How do you plan to do the work on the farm? Where will you find the money to invest in the business?”
“I never told you this but my dad was a farmer. I will resign, go back to the village and carry on the family tradition. This time I will engage in mechanised farming, with some animal and fish farming on the side,” the overweight police officer said with confidence.
“I never knew you were such a dreamer,” Raymond laughed.
“You watch and see. I will invite you to my farm some day soon,” Supo said.
Raymond opened the door and got out of the car. “Are you coming?”
Supo made no attempt to leave the car.
A gunshot shattered the serinity of the night. Supo jumped out of the car with amazing agility for a man of his size and the two police officers ran into the house, guns drawn, with Raymond leading the way.
To be continued.