Flash fiction

A TASTE OF HAVEN

Didi abruptly woke up from sleep sweating profusely. Anyone standing an inch close to him would hear how loud his heart was beating. He was panting like he had just completed a marathon. He did a quick scout of the room and took a deep breath. It was another nightmare. He stood from his bed and walked to and fro the room, doing everything in his power to avert another round of sleep. As usual, he was afraid to fall asleep.

The other guys he shared the room with were all sound asleep, oblivious of what he was passing through. After a few minutes, he laid back down on the bed and fell asleep almost immediately.

The noise from outside the room woke him up the next morning. It was another day to hurstle. He sighed as he took his shirt and made his way out. He was literarily the only one left in the room. He wasn’t surprised no one woke him up. In their line of work, time indeed was money.

As he stood behind his colleagues infront of their little compound, the thought of his parents took a strong hold on him. The screams, the agony, the sorrows as they fought for their lives before finally giving in to the piercing bullet already buried deep in their chests. The assassin had stood beside them, making sure they took their last breath before scurrying off.

The tears found their way down Didi’s cheeks. It was one thing for ones parents to be assassinated but another to witness the assassination! He had been there but there was nothing he could do to help. He couldn’t even show himself infront of the assassin. The trauma was too much for a sixteen year old boy.

Even now that he was twenty, he still didn’t think he could handle it. The murderer wasn’t far fetched as he had taken over his father’s business almost immediately. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect! He was Didi’s father’s business partner. Convincing Didi’s dad to get a huge lone from the bank, using his entire property as collateral to save their business from closing up, only to assassinate him the very day he withdrew the money. The bank had of course come the next day to collect what was now theirs, leaving Didi a destitute!

The excalation of the noise in the background jilted him back to the present. A woman, a beautiful woman who also seemed opulent was addressing them. As expected, everyone wanted to work with her – perfect explanation of the uproar. This was their lives now: wake up every morning, sit infront of the compound with minds set for any type of work and hope a customer shows up. Even though they had become quite popular in the neighborhood, there were still days they went without any patronage.

The woman was different from their usual customers. She obviously ranked high in the social ladder, making Didi wonder what type of service she required from the likes of him.

“I will work with him”, came the woman, pointing at a particular young man behind. All eyes followed the direction of her finger. Didi was still lost in thoughts that he didn’t realize everyone was starring at him. The young man standing right next to him gave him a quick kick on the foot drawing his attention right back to the matter at hand.

Didi looked from one person to the other, confused. He couldn’t understand why everyone was starring at him at the same time. He was beginning to think that he might have voiced his thoughts to their hearing.

“You wouldn’t be needing your instruments. Just get your bag let’s go”, came the woman. She immediately turned and headed for her car, giving Didi no chance for the loads of questions going through his head.

It was a short drive to Mrs. Onyeama’s house. She alighted the moment her driver opened her door and without saying a word to Didi, went straight into the house. Didi’s mouth was wide open as he stepped out of the car. His family house had been beautiful but nothing to compare to the mansion infront of him!

As he sat on the seat offered to him by his boss, he kept asking himself what his job in this edifice was. He couldn’t think of a single skill he could apply in an environment as perfect as this.

“I know you must be wondering what your job here is” Mrs Onyeama started. I know you saw my gatekeeper at his post and had equally seen my driver. My house help had equally showed up to offer you the drink you have right now. I will save you the trouble of further bothering that brain of yours by going straight to the point.

My daughter, Melisa is the only child I have got. Her dad is barely around and I also have some stuff I will be busy with this evening hence your job: pretend to be a relative to someone she does not know and had come into town to live with that relative of yours to prepare for your upcoming jamb examinations. I ran into you today and couldn’t help but notice that you looked like an old friend I used to have in the University and had probed to find out. You turned out to be my friend’s son, hence your visit to my house. You tell the story exactly like that, have I made myself clear?

Didi’s jaw dropped. He wasn’t sure he heard correctly. “But ma, I am not your friend’s son” he tried to complain but was immediately cut short.

“Listen and listen carefully. The only reason I hired you is because you did not only look younger but also more responsible than the rest of your colleagues. I assumed you were smart but maybe I was wrong. If you don’t have the boldness to take up this job, just let me know and I will find a replacement immediately. Before I forget, if you rapport well with Melisa, you might just have another opportunity to work here. The choice is yours” she readjusted to take a sip of her fresh juice.

Didi, as expected jumped at the offer. It was a day he would never forget in a hury. He had assorted food, meat and drinks to his full. Melisa equally turned out to be really nice and friendly. Most of all, she didn’t suspect any loophole in his story. For the first time in years, Didi didn’t think about his parents.

Knowing how he had struggled to complete his secondary education after his parents death and how he had fed from hand to mouth ever since, he kept praying and hoping for another chance to visit the Onyeamas again.