Fiction by Owolusi Lucky
I was born during harmattan, when sky in stinginess withheld its blessing, before first rain of the second year kissed earths dust, I was crawling about. They said the rain scared me. A lot scares me back then, like the man that wear shadows, and stayed in the dark, waiting for someone to swallow, I paid taxes of fear to the shadow man. My friend also said if you buried a lizard in the ground, when you dig it up in two weeks, the head will become a coin. His brother did it, he saw it, according to him. So we hunted the street lizards, each one we buried we never buried deep enough, or at the right angle, my friend insisted his brother did it right, and he saw the coin.
I later thought Gulliver was the coolest guy, and the Lilliputians are the smartest. So we gathered round on the school field, to pity Robinson Crusoe, it wasn’t all his fault, he should have obeyed his father everyone knows; fathers are always right. We’ll never have everything but we had enough. We all wanted to be a soldier, so I carved a gun from a stick. Twenty years later, after the Nigeria N.Y.S.C (National Youth Service Corps) khaki began to fade, I joined the army and the gun carved me into a killing machine, on the battle field in Borno State, Nigeria.
Now I sometimes pick bullet shell on the floor to remind me of those days we dug up the lizards; maybe part of us wanted good from bad, after-all, Paul Coelho was right, change too is alchemy. I stopped giving names to faces, I just call them brothers. It’s easier that way, when they pass on, you get to mourn them collectively. This afternoon after a patrol car drove over a bomb, they salvaged his body, and brought him back, he was a Christian.
Someone pointed to me and said, “Paul, you are a Christian, come and say a Prayer for the dead.”
To the shallow grave I looked without judging, the only prayer I believed in is the one my mother prays, but it wasn’t a prayer for the dead it was for the living. So I twisted it, and it felt bitter on my tongue. I learnt a lot from the alchemist everyone is searching for something. I once saw a dying terrorist shot in the bowel, he was afraid. I wanted to ask him why he was afraid, but I remembered even a mad-man is searching for something, if we stop searching then we are dead.
Yesterday, a brother, told me about a place, where the ladies are clean, and gives a good time, two phrases that meant expensive. We went there that night, the ladies are much welcoming, their legs open quickly. One said she loves men in uniform, and begged for my mobile number, I held her breast gently like a grenade, and she recoiled like Ak47 during orgasm. I’ve come to understand the body I’ve seen it dead too many times, so I cherish the flicking of eyelashes, rising of breath, warmth between thighs, and hardness of nipples. We all are traders, with different prices, some are so blind they don’t know what they are trading for coins. She talked a lot after the orgasm, about her only child in the village, about men, music, and her face sparkled under the light. She touched my scars gently, perhaps in another world, I think she’ll be the woman behind the counter in banks, but another life is too expensive for the unlucky, and luck is a horny bitch that fucks with whomever that pleases her.
We left in the morning, my friends face was full of life, a smile spread across his scarred face. Immediately we arrived at the camp he was called for emergency patrol. He is now in this shallow grave, where I just said my Amen.
Amen is a kind of goodbye, an assurance to an end. All things here end with an Amen. “The enemy will never get you Paul, Amen.” My mother will pray whenever she called.
The pastors do not come here to preach, or the Imams to call prayers. We all know God understand men in uniform. Some men drank that night, singing gyrations, till they entered the trenches to rest. I wonder why someone snores on battlefield before receiving a slap. Maybe they are dreaming of their wives.
Two weeks later, with boot soaked in the August rain we rallied to defend our barracks when the terrorist attacked, I fired all my ammo, for hours non-stop, we pushed them back. A shell landed not far away from me, exploding violently with vengeance, a shrapnel impaled me. My Femur shattered. I couldn’t cry it was no use, the august sky cried on my behalf, till I fainted.
They collected me like the other bodies, someone must be practicing the prayer he’ll say on my grave. I coughed, a smile showed in my sight, who it was doesn’t matter.
He said “welcome back tough bastard, we beat them back”.
I managed a painful groan, as I was lifted towards the hospital, wind brought chorus
Which I understood was the end of men.
Till this day, although two years after my discharge due to injury, I hardly say amen during prayers.
Owolusi Lucky like other Nigerians does lot of things: Teaching, Painting, programming, and writing. He has published poetry, short fictions and essays in anthologies, magazines, and journals. He believes in meditation, and explores humanity in his writing. He has published or has work forthcoming at Whitewall Review, Zoetic Press, America Diversity Report, Deracine Magazine and others.
He tweets @Mighty_scribe