.The Hook Up Room

We do not call it that.
We; Khalifa, Todd, BJ, Kola, Ify, Jane, Jed, Mikey, Michael. Of course there are many more included in the We but like road users, there are some who use a route once in a while and there are some who go to work via it, to dates via it, to church via it, to the hospital via it and to the grave most likely via it. That is the We I am naming.
Bothered about snitching you say? Not really. Most of them are seated on this cold concrete with me. The rest are in cells here as well. We are all carrying marks that are impressions made by your men on us to show the seriousness of this. This is why I talk. Also, because we have been lying. For two days. We have been telling poorly fabricated stories.

The incident? It is funny how a whole person is reduced to another ordinary word: i-n-c-i-d-e-n-t. funnier that it is someone who always saw himself as extra.
Of course I will get right to it. Thank you for your unusual patience. I expected one of your men to have cracked another rib with his stick now. You are genuinely nice. A true police-is-your-friend kind of police.
Sorry about …
the cough …
the cold concrete is not exactly healthy if I am to …
say …
so. Alright. About Hustle, who for your benefit I will be calling the incident sometimes.
It all started in the room. Yes, the one you call hook up room. I forget now who owned the room before Jed but I know Jed passed it to BJ immediately he started his extra year in school. Yes, the spill over year. Too much terms you see. Forgive me. Anyone that flies over your head, ask me, I will explain. Okay, you know what an extra year in the university means. Of course. No, I didn’t mean it as an insult. Yes, yes, BJ. BJ rented the room directly from Jed to avoid those extra expenses from the landlord and when he ran out of cash the same month he had moved in, he asked Khalifa to move in with him for one-third of the money. According to him, he knew him from one viewing center around. I don’t know who did the math but the money was twenty-five thousand Naira and he paid it once.
No, I am not just saying all this for the sake of saying it. It is vital information.
Okay. So, I was in my girlfriend’s room. I stay with her when I don’t want to go to the village, which is all the time. My parents had refused to allow me rent a room around school because my Uncle had caught me smoking once. They were afraid that I would become more loose. So, I was at my girlfriend’s when BJ put me on call.
Yes, called my phone.
My girlfriend? This one here with the open back spaghetti top that is torn at the belly; Ify.
So, he told me he had some money he was not using and that I should show up at Uncle Duru’s bar.
Yes, where you picked up Kola.
It was that day I met Khalifa for the first time. He had come along with BJ. We all had two cold bottles of Trophy each, except Ify, she just had an abortion two days earlier, so she drank warm water. Uncle Duru is a very understanding person you see. He even let us smoke two wraps, against his policy, just because we were celebrating.
What were we celebrating? I just told you, BJ had spare cash, it was a mini celebration.
The alcohol didn’t get to where we needed it to reach. Besides, it was expensive. Two hundred and fifty Naira each. We agreed that weed was more sensible, both because of cost and effect.
No, I am not a student of economics. I am studying Chemistry.
When we got back to the room. Yes, the room. BJ put him supplier on call. He tell am make him carry all the bag come. Pay as we smoke kind of parole.
Sorry. I forgot myself there.
He said he should bring the whole bag of … oh! You understand. Okay, for the aunty taking the statement. Okay, sorry.
So, his supplier brought his bag. One green school bag like that that was fading to grey.
No, the supplier is Michael not Kola. He brought his friend along, Mickey. That was the day the room became what it is now.
From then on, we met and smoked all day there. Sometimes we didn’t go home. This person brings this person who brings this person and so and so. We always made sure who was bringing who who was bringing someone was always trustworthy and can vouch for the person.
Todd and Jane had come together. They were course-mates of Mickey. Jed soon realized what we were doing and started frequenting. The incident that brought us here was brought in by Jed.
We met him on a Sunday. Ify and Jane had gone to church that morning, being the only girls that were regulars, they had just gum gum themselves sharply. I mean, they became close in no time. The incident looked like a person of no consequence at all until we heard his name; Hustle. The look we all passed silently among ourselves was louder than words. He must have noticed it and ignored it. We all sat there smoking and talking. Of course we were all careful.
Why? Are you kidding? Sorry. But I mean, you have never heard of Hustle?
Even during my preschool year, while I was doing pre-degree program, he was already a legend. He was the first cultist that everyone would mention if it were a game of name-of-cultist name-of-cultist. You know, that game children play. Yes, let me get back to who he is. He was as notorious as all the o’s in the word. As important as them too. We only heard of him. We had never seen him. For all our weed smoking and stuffs. We didn’t do two things: cocaine and cults. It is no coincidence that they began with c like the word coincidence itself. Hustle was the name you tell other cultist when they want to drive you. That is, when they want to collect money from you or your phone.
Sorry, excuse …
We were all doing our things calmly. Talking but not talking freely like we normally did. Mickey and Jed were playing cards. Khalifa was lying on the floor pressing his phone. I was on Twitter. Hustle was asking me what Rihanna’s handle is when he saw me on her TL. Time line. Her Twitter space. Michael was counting the weed sachets in his formerly-green-now-turning-grey bag. BJ was only smoking and maybe conversing with the emerging smoke. Todd was in the balcony where we cooked on special occasions; mostly birthdays. I don’t remember what Kola was doing then. Ify and Jane entered with their Bibles in one hand and the bottle of water they had taken to church for the pastor to bless in the other. See, this kind of thing only happens in slow motion.
I looked up and smile at my babe. Yes, Ify. She was responding when I felt Jane’s freeze from where I was. We all saw it too. I remember swearing for time as e just dey waka small small. Sorry. I forget myself again. Jane was looking at Hustle. Hustle was looking back at her too. Then she hurled her bottle of holy water at him. The fury with which she threw it was like she had met the devil in all his flaming glory and she wan quench am with her holy water. Really sorry, it keeps slipping up on me. She sent the Bible next at him before he could respond from the shock of the holy water. She was not done yet. She tried to fly at him but Ify held her.
Hustle tried to charge at her after he had recovered but Mickey and Jed were there to hold him back. For someone so famous for his brutality, they didn’t need much force to hold him back. Ify and I, I had joined her automatically, were finding it harder to hold Jane. Michael had by then moved his bag of weed away to a corner. Now I remember that Kola was not even around at that time. Khalifa was asking what was going on, he was just recovering from malaria and didn’t want to hurt himself by holding anyone back. BJ had run to lock the burglary proof and then the door because the hostel people were nosier than Pinocchio. Hustle by then had entered his full cultist mode. Flinging slangs that were words that I couldn’t understand how they related with the situation at hand.
Yes, sorry I got carried away. This was the day of the incident. This was the incidence happening already. You too can see. Just two hours from meeting him and he was already going to become an incident.
You can ask the others. They will all verify what I am telling you. I swear down, I no dey bobo you. I am not deceiving you.
What next? What next? Jane screamed only one word that we all understood out of all her angry ramblings: rapist!
You know why people all seem to get a consensus on burning a thief in a particular area? Like, a thief is just caught and everyone is agreeing to burning him already? It is mostly because prior to that event they had in small groups unconsciously agreed that thieves are irredeemably evil and deserve quick deaths without allowance for pleading.
This cough. I can’t get water, can I?
Okay, when I finish.
It is something of that sort that happened next.
Before that day. Jane had opened up to us about how she was raped all through a night she went for night class by a cultist and how they had thrown her out the top floor of the ETF building in school. We had all heard that news about a girl found half dead one early morning. The weed must have helped because though she had been crying that day, the next day she could still look us in the face. It was why we had all become endeared to her. It was why Todd despite their closeness had not formed any sexual bond with her. In our small ways, unconsciously, we had all agreed that the one person she said that raped her repeatedly while his gang held her down was the definition of evil. Such a person, if we ever caught him …
So, yes, we let her go and we all descended on Hustle. We recreated him into an incidence with our violence. Only Jed stood back. He alone knew his reputation in depth you see but he could not hold us in our rage. Smoke induced rages along with righteous ones. Burning side by side like suya meat wey catch fire. When we stopped. My hands felt like I had been punching a wall. Numb with pain and bloody. The incident lay there, barely breathing. Bleeding mostly from the face. Blood full everywhere like water. I never see that kain blood … sorry, slipped again.
That was when your men started knocking. It was all bad timing. We were inside hearing them shout police! police! We were hearing other occupants of the hostel screaming. Jed took one look at Hustle and I swear to God, I hear wetin him talk for him mind. I mean, I could almost hear his line of thought: if the police caught us all and Hustle manage to go free because bail is five thousand Naira. We were doomed. He would run us out of school for what we did, if he didn’t kill us first. So, while una dey there dey shout police! We rushed to the balcony that was occasionally kitchen and before the others that were frozen realized what we wanted to do, we were stabbing Hustle, putting finishing touches to the incident.
Yes, Jed and I did it. I stabbed his stomach and he probably stabbed his neck.
No, the story that he had come to rob us and we had fought back was a lie.
I swear, this is the truth of what happened in the room. At first we tried that lie but many things wouldn’t add up.
Yes, ask them. They will confirm it.
I suspected the noise was what made the hostel president call you people. It wasn’t?
Please, no matter what will happen to us, don’t let the news that we killed the incident get out.
This cough. Just look at it that we helped remove a problem from the school environment.
Just …
ask people about him, you go happy say we …
do am.

About the Author

Author’s Bio: Obinna Jones is Nigerian, sadly adult and a graduate of Physics. He writes, reads and stalks Facebook celebrities. Obinna has a dream of winning a Nobel prize in Physics or literature or both and was shortlisted for Writivism 2018. His works of fiction is on elsieisy’s blog, Ngiga Review, Kalahari Review and sidomexentertainment’s blog.

We're legion

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