Ajo picked up the mop-stick from the floor with a languid look on his face. He rubbed his eyes and yawned. It was another one of those mornings: same routine but on a different calendar date. His twenty-six-year-old face bore the forlorn look of a man in his sixties –wrinkled, pale and with floss length bearded strands of hair extending from his chin.
He sighed as he stared absentmindedly at the dirty kitchen floor. The madam of the house, Mrs. Woyewo was brash and had an impetuous disregard for homely hygiene. Her husband, the Mister, wasn’t exactly her opposite, but his character trait was bordered on his taciturn personality and indifference.
The wooden mop-stick in Ajo’s hands was the same length as the kitchen cabinets besides him. He placed it against one of the cabinets and glanced around the kitchen, taking his eyes off the floor. The entire place was dirty and untidy –dirty dishes, a messy floor and cobwebs at the high-end corners of the walls. Nevertheless, he was able to let go off a smirk, realizing the dishes in the sink weren’t really his problem.
Felicia go see work run, he quipped in his thoughts.
Felicia, the name echoed in his thoughts. He smiled and frowned almost immediately, as he noticed the state of the blue and black, Masonic tiled floor of the kitchen. It was littered with food crumbs and sand, which made it necessary that he swept before mopping.
“Ha…Na wah o”, he grumbled as he headed for the store room to get a broom. An inch or two away from the brown-polished, wooden door of the storeroom, he thought he heard a noise.
“Tscheew, all these rats sef”
He grabbed a hold of the doorknob and turned it down and pushing it backwards to an open, but it didn’t bulge. It seemed locked.
“Ha…but key dey the door mouth nah?”
He turned the key in the clockwise direction; locking the door up, before turning it back again in the other direction certain this time that it was indeed open. He proceeded to push once again, but still nothing.
A quizzical look fell on his face as he pondered for a moment before hissing with indignation.
“I can’t come and kee myself jare, make the rat sef flex”.
He had just turned away from the door when he heard the noise once again and chose to ignore it. But then he heard what sounded like a muffled cough and his mischievous interest was piqued like the ears of a Hare.
Ajo cracked his knuckles, inching closer to the door and trying to incline his ears to catch any sound.
“Which kind early morning winch be dis one nah”, he lamented in pidgin, hissing as he inched closer to the door. His Sherlock Holmes investigative instinct seem to have kicked in. He knew that not something, but someone was behind the closed door, and possibly barricading it.
“It’s about to go down, ta-da-daa”, he sung mimicking the tune from D’banj’s and Naeto C’s popular single ‘Tony Montana’. A mischievous smile curved across his lips as he made a solemn resolve to make certain he found out who it was.
He had his suspicions already. The first person he suspected was Tunde.
“God don catch am today”, he quipped in a hush tone, turning his neck from right to left, to the cracking-relief sound of his neck bones aligning.
Deep in his thoughts, he was certain that it was indeed Tunde. The fellow was considered a klepto with an insatiable desire to possess what wasn’t his. He had a knack for being very sneaky; the timing fell right into his M.O.
Ajo stepped back some feet and stopped in his tracks without making any sound. He planned to stay still for a while in the hopes that the pretentious silence may force whoever was there to let their guard down.
The seconds ticked by as he waited. Seven…eight…nine…ten…he kept on counting in his head, waiting patiently to hear any slight sound from inside the storeroom. Twenty-six…twenty-seven…twenty-eight…twenty-nine…there seem to be nothing. He wiped the sweat that had formed on his forehead as he stood still as a breathing mannequin. Thirty-five…thirty-six…thirty-seven…thirty–
Suddenly he heard it, and without missing a beat to even breathe, he dashed at the door, colliding into it with the full weight of his body. The collision forced out a painful groan and a muffled but frightful scream.
Ajo couldn’t believe his eyes. The pain in his arms from having deliberately crashed into the door was completely lost to the slightly amusing shock that overcame his senses.
“Goo-goo-good morning Sir”, he managed to greet with a stutter.
On the floor inside the dimly lit storeroom with his back against the wall, in a boxer short and his flabby stomach exposed, was the Mister Himself, Mr. Woyewo. The weight of his buttocks had divided a tuber of yam and sent three others crashing into the wall behind him. Standing directly opposite him, with a cloth wrapper tied across her chest and one strap of her black bra, loosely fallen to the side of her left arm; sweating and shaking in the spot where she stood, was Felicia –the Missus’ younger sister.
Ajo swallowed hard. It has already gone down, ta-da-daa, he sung in his thoughts.
…to be continued…