‘Open this door!’
‘Open this door now! Or we will be forced to use our weapon!!’
I was standing behind the door, terribly shaking.
Coming back from the back of the house, where I went to shut down the generator, I saw the shadow of two hefty men, running in my direction.
Afraid for my life, I rushed and locked the door. But in my haste, I forgot to lock the entrance gate.
I stood ever so closely behind the iron door leading to our apartment and listened as their steps take giant strides towards me.
I heard the sound of a metal hit the gate, I can’t say whether it belongs to a knife, cutlass, gun, or even belt, but I knew it was a strong metal.
Then they came barging in. The only thing that separated me from them now is the door.
‘You know you are not going anywhere, so just open this door right now!!’.
It’s funny what thoughts come into your mind when in great fear.
I suddenly began to think how Jackie Chan will react to situation like this. I can’t remember, but I think I smiled at the thought. The smile and the misplaced thought both disappeared when I was slightly pushed away from the door.
The two strangers were hitting their shoulders at once against the metal door.
Staggering a little away from the door, I quickly checked the two locks. They were secured but I still went ahead to push the lock more firmly into the holes.
‘Ah! The windows!’, I thought.
I dashed into the sitting room, checked the three windows and satisfied to see them locked, I put on the security light outside the house. Just in case.
As I was moving away from the switch, I heard the two men talking in low voices and then I heard steps moving away from the door.
But the hitting and pushing of the metal door still continued.
‘Dinning room window!’, I remembered; but it was too late. Before I could act, I heard it.
A very loud noise, a shatter of broken glasses and then a grave loud silence as our neighbour also shut down his own generator.
A second passed.
I counted fifteen ticks of the dining room wall clock before I felt my lungs aching.
Never even knew I had been holding my breath, I let it out in short mouthed gasps and listened for any sign of movement from within or outside the house.
And then it hit me.
They should be sleeping already and the noise of the generator should be enough to drown the scuffles and the hitting of the door. But was it enough to keep them from hearing the sound of the shattering glasses?
My reasoning and estimation was cut short by a thick voice just loud enough for me to hear the words.
‘E be like say you wan die abi?’
‘You no go open this door?’
The stranger at the door had given up hitting the metal door and was now with his partner at the dining room window.
‘Shebi na Victor be this’. A less frightening voice peeped in.
‘Yes we know who you are’. He continued.
‘Christ!’ was all I could whisper as dozens of thoughts flied through my mind.
How did they know my name?
Wait, who are these men?
‘You better make up your mind before I begin dey spray this house with this gun’. The thick voice continued and then,
‘Buhahahahaha’ he added for effect.
‘Count to 60, Make we give am time think’. He said to the other stranger who called by name.
Seemed to me they were more interested in making me afraid than gettng into the house.
‘ONE’, he whispered, counting.
So, think I did.
I began considering my options.
Should I wake my uncles and maybe we can come up with a plan?
Or should I leave everybody else and handle this on my own?
But how am I sure they have guns? Since I’ve not really seen or heard them use it.
I should be safe. The windows are burglary proof, aren’t they?
Out of the myriad of thoughts that played on my mind, one stood out.
‘THIRTY TWO’, continued the stranger who called my name.
I remembered that for the past two weeks, two things often happens between 10:30pm when I put off the generator and 11pm, when I start reading.
One is that NEPA restores light and the second is the mobile policemen who drive through the front of our house about twice a week.
I made my decision, prayed for luck and hoped none of my sisters comes out for their nocturnal cooking or frying.
I know I am not a strong guy but I have to admit what I did next surprised even me.
I went into the dining room just as the second stranger counted ‘fifty two’ and I confronted them.
I could not see any of their faces as they were hidden by both the darkness and the curtain hanging lazily in front of the burglary proof. But I could easily discern the physique of both men from their shadows. One was roughly as tall as me but much more broad at the chest while the other had to raise his neck just to look into the window.
‘Samson and Zaccheus’, my funny mind tried to say.
As soon as I came into view, Samson raised a long object that looked like a gun, or maybe it is just wood. Or is it cutlass?
He then pushed the curtain forward with the object and held it with two hands.
‘Don’t come any closer or I will shoot’. Samson threatened.
‘Please don’t shoot. What do you want?’ I replied.
All these exchange of words were done in whispers because for some reasons, even they do not seem to want anybody else waking up and getting involved.
‘Don’t ask questions, just open the door’. Zaccheus answered me.
And then the unexpected happened.
A siren wailed from distance.
They looked at each other.
I dived behind the refrigerator and went on my knees, still watching them.
Samson withdrew the long object.
He shook his head, pointed the object towards where I was kneeling behind the fridge and swore.
And then, there was light.
A struggle between the two of them.
A great shout from my vocal cords.
A shattering of plastic as one of the strangers stepped on the dustbin.
‘THIEEEEEF!!!!’ I shouted again, this time louder.
A screeching of wheels just outside the fence.
‘STOP THERE!!!!’ A voice commanded.
And then I heard the patrol car kick back into life as it chased them.
Another noise came from within the house now.
I was now standing behind the other dining room window that faces the front of the house, watching as the formerly white, now brown vehicle of the policemen pursued Samson and Zaccheus.
My family members sqeeuzed themselves into the dining room and started talking at the same time. Asking questions.
‘Oga talk now, what happened’, the voice of my sister was the only one I heard clearly.
‘Goooong! Goooong!!…’ The 11 o’clock nightguard hit the gong as I turned away from the window and faced my family.
I just stood there with empty expression, gazing as I slowly raised my hand, pointing at the window.
They all turned and followed my pointing finger until they saw the glassless window, the broken glasses and a long object as I whispered,
‘So it was just a pipe afterall’.