When our driver excused himself to the side of the road, skipped the ‘pocket-dip-fist-squeeze’ ritual, and parked beside the curb, smiling at the monkey-faced policeman, it explained why he’d been driving like a six-year-old; clinging on to the steering like a virgin to his new bride. It was definitely his first time on the road.
The policeman, who had come body to body to the car, stepped inches away and readjusted his cap and stance, to bark,
“Step out of the vehicle! Come and open your boot!”
“I’m in soup.” I heard the driver mutter. I was in the place of the veggies sandwiched between bread; squeezed in between him and the bald man who kept dozing off and dumping the trouble of his shiny head on my shoulder.
I watched the driver’s face turn pink, and could tell he was considering shedding tears.
“Oga, I said come down!” The policeman yelled again, deepening his gigantic wrinkles.
“Sir, please I can’t come down. My papers are complete. Here, I have them. Take a look.” He preached, arms extended, submitting the documents to the uninterested police officer, who at that point was rocking on the balls of his feet, excited about his new victim, and what seemed like a tough decision to keep his cap on.
“Please sir, I can’t”. The baby driver of not more than 20, kept on chorusing.
“Oga driver, you sort this make we de go nau. Answer him let’s be on our way, abeg. ” An angry woman vomited from the back.
“Madam, I can’t. I have a situation. The driver replied, starting to lose his temper.
Left for me, had I the 100 Naira standard sorting fee, I would have given it to the policeman, so we’d continue the journey that’d already been tagged ‘my second worst highway nightmare.’ Just one hour on the road and we were greeted by the most dreadful smell my nose ever saluted, and I could have sworn I perceived it the most. It smelt like the insides of a 5-day old rotten rat that died eating fish.
Questions were asked, fat and unkempt people were suspected, but everyone left it at that.
I was already feeling light-headed and nauseous, plus we still had about three more hours to go.
The policeman placed his cap back on and helped the driver open the door.
“You criminal! My friend, match down now! Take those fake papers away from my face. I’m not looking at anything. Show me what you are hiding in this vehicle.”
Our driver broke into tears and began to plead. He kept shifting his knees like he wanted to bend them while sitting down.
My nervousness gave way to fear. Why wouldn’t he leave his seat? Could he be a suicide killer? Did he have a bomb under his pants? Scary thoughts began to birth even scarier ones.
I was dragged back to reality by a familiar unfamiliar sound- the uncorking of a gun.
The police man’s vexation was done twerking. Looking at him, I could tell he’d lost his mind. His dark lips obviously from smoking, turned pit black and his eyes looked eviler.
“Hey! Sunny! Sunny wait. What’s going on there!?
Our policeman didn’t answer his fellow police men’s call. The thrill of a prospective kill had turned him deaf.
It happened all too quickly. Too fast for my sight. The driver jumped out of the vehicle, aimed for the bush, a trail of disgusting yellow muss after him.
I saw the bullet leave it’s home, making its way to the middle of his back. Our baby driver fell on his face.
The outburst of Soprano and Mezzo-soprano unharmonic rhythms in the moments that followed, tarnished any possibility of me passing it all off as a dream.
I didn’t scream. I didn’t blink…I still haven’t.