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Today, we continue with the captivating story of a young man’s search for the best of himself. Happy reading!
Police is your friend.
A statement I have never believed based on the stories of others, stories that in the recesses of my mind were cock and bull, too ridiculous to have happened. The police could not be so bad, I thought. But the stench of urine and shit threw a stone at the glass house of my belief that the police force was overly criticized. The shit was wrapped in a black nylon at a corner. Big Bros, the rock-chest thug was the first to ‘deposit’ in the nylon. Our cell’s toilet was in bad condition so it was out of bounds. Urine was passed indiscriminately on the floor and shit was held in as much as possible until it was unbearable.
Big Bros had been in and out of jail and acted as such. He did not have the bewilderment that gripped me and my two strangers. When Yinka couldn’t hold it in any longer, he went to the corner and lodged a considerable heap on top of Big Bros’. His came along with urine and when he was finished the black nylon was bloated with the deadly mixture. We had drunk a considerable lot the night of our arrest and the resultant urine was ample on the concrete floor of the jail. My nostrils ached till the stench became familiar.
We had no bullies in the cell. Big Bros told us stories of himself as a heroic criminal. He was the first person I’d met who considered crime a worthy cause. Guilt to him was innocence and he spoke of honest people like they were guilty of a heinous crime. The only stories we could share with Big Bros in return were our drunken night outs, adventures with ladies and hard drugs, baseless fights. He would listen with rapt attention, laugh loudly and interject with stories of his own. He did not speak in hushed tones like we did. Even when he narrated criminal escapades, he did so in the loud, defiant voice of street thugs. He was not mindful that the police officers could hear him. We grew fond of ourselves by the second day. I began to consider the number of strangers I was friends with in messy situations.
My father’s attempt to secure my bail hit the rocks and broke. Word spreading around our cell was that the police officers needed to hand us to their superiors as substitutes for a notorious armed robbery gang. This was more important than the bribe my father tried to offer. Since Big Bros was so certain we would be out of this, I stopped crying and worrying. He seemed so sure and substantiated his claims with examples of his escapes out of the dens of more dangerous wolves. He was never upset when I cried; the way people like him should be that a man my age cries. I took this for acceptance.
My mind was quiet.
It was unfortunate the extent my search had brought me because I knew it was still on. Perhaps the best version of me was in prison or was an unrepentant criminal continuously on the run. They say we don’t know where our paths might lead us.
In the afternoon of my second day in jail, a police officer stopped by our cell and banged the bars with a crude piece of wood. We all looked up at him as he announced that they were ready to document our confessions, so we should harmoniously cook up a straight story.
‘I did nothing wrong. I have nothing to confess’ I blurted.
“When we are done with you, you will have plenty to confess, you armed robber’ the officer replied and walked away.
Big Bros prevailed on me to be calm. When I relaxed, he began to narrate nerve-twitching tales of police torture. Electric shocks to the private part, hot pressing iron pressed on the back so that it left a triangular mess of cooked flesh, lashings on the cooked flesh. He went on and on while I pieced together a confession in my quiet mind.
This is it?
‘Not now, just work on the confession’
You will admit to being a robber?
‘Considering the extent of torture, yes’
What a shame. How the mighty has crashed.
‘You know what? Be quiet, forget the confession!’
Run away all you like but there is no running from yourself. I’m everywhere you go.
Justice Makunjuola Adefarati intervened in the nick of time. He saw the footage of my arraignment but doubted I was the person he saw. He was sure it was a mere semblance. This was what he told father. He said but for pressing matters, he would have contacted father immediately. He was enraged when father called him. He promised to replace the blue sky above the police station with red fire. He would lock up the Inspector-General if he had to. The boy he knew was not an armed robber, not even a petty thief, let alone a robber.
‘The question is motive. There is a motive gap.’ He kept saying this to me over the phone and in person weeks later when I finally got to pay him a thank-you-visit.
‘You father is a wealthy man, a man of means indeed. What reason would you have to bear arms for material gains? There was an obvious motive gap in that outrageous case. All these years on the bench and I know a criminal when I see one.’ He said, as he sipped from his can of maltina.
The involvement of the Judge got the police officers peeing in their black pants. They hurried us out of the station the moment the Judge got off the phone with the lead officer. Our clothes were brought and they offered to have us driven home. Out of distrust, we refused and simply walked away from the police station. We did not get the chance to say a proper good bye to Big Bros and I hoped never to see him again. Certainly, the best version of me was not in jail.
…the story continues…
As told by Yemi
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