“Shey your mouth don dey big pass your head abi? Na me you dey talk to like that?”
“Say who you be? Wetin you fit do? Abeg gettout joor!”
The brawl was a typical scenario on Boderin Street. Pedestrian traffic slowed down to watch halitosis-laden oral missiles fly between Braimoh and Alabi, layabouts who spent their days chasing buses and fighting with bus conductors for small bribes.
What wasn’t typical was the man who watched them from beside a heap of rubbish. His tattered clothes, dirty dreadlocks and moving lips were all that was needed to warn pedestrians to walk carefully around the spot where he was sitting. He was a reverse human magnet: pushing away any other unlike-poled individual that neared him, after which their feet magically curved back to the original path of travel.
The madman watched the quarrelling touts, lips moving as he mumbled to himself. “That one na fight?”
A crowd gathered as the quarrel intensified.
“You be idiot o. E be like say your head no correct again. Ode oshi. Thief!”
“I know your problem. Person don remove your memory card for your brain. Na slap I go take do you hard reset! Just try me this afternoon! Idiot! Omo ashawo! Son of a prostitute!”
Incensed at the mention of his no-doubt-saintly mother, Braimoh darted into a nearby kiosk and emerged with an empty beer bottle. He braced his feet, and then swung it against his head. The crowd hastily shifted backwards to avoid the flying glass, aahing and oohing as green shards glistened in Braimoh’s short hair, mixed with droplets of blood. He pointed the jagged edge of the bottle at Alabi. “If them born you well, stand there!”
Alabi stood there. “Nothing wey you fit do. Noisemaker oshi. If them born you, near here!”
By the dump, unnoticed, the madman shuffled and hissed. “That one na fight?”
Both touts faced each other, veins straining on their foreheads as spit-projected curses were exchanged. Some of the people watching began to move away. It appeared neither tout was willing to cross the invisible line each had drawn.
Alabi upped the ante, pulling off his shirt and displaying old scars that ran across his fufu-like abs. “Ordinary bottle? Not even dagger. If you fit touch this belle, I go even dash you money. Hungry idiot!”
Before anyone could say ‘stay-at-home-president’, the mad man rose up and moved quickly towards the touts, wadded clothing around his feet muffling his approach until it was too late. He snatched the bottle from Braimoh, reached forward casually, and sunk its jagged edge into a stunned Alabi’s stomach. Before either tout could react, he yanked the bottle out and scraped it across Braimoh’s head.
The crowd disappeared, leaving a trail of mismatched flip-flops and one abandoned head scarf.
When the police arrived a few minutes later, they found the mad man seated beside the refuse heap again, watching the two groaning touts as they tried to crawl away, nursing their injuries.
“Why you do this kain thing na?” one of the policemen asked in shock.
The madman stared at him with what looked like genuine confusion. “You no see say I dey mad? Which kain stupid question be that?”
There was a short scuffle and then the madman was securely in handcuffs. The policemen dragged him past the wounded touts and pushed him into the back of their truck. One of them shook his head in amazement. “Nawa o. Wetin come concern you for their fight now?”
The mad man folded his legs carefully as he eyed the policeman, then he glanced at the wounded touts and pursed his lips to issue a long drawn-out hiss. “THAT ONE NA FIGHT?!”
Written by Emem