The mob remained outside the gate, not that it would have been
difficult for them to force their way through our paltry four-man
security guards, but probably because they were still hesitant to
committing themselves to attack a firm owned by a foreigner.
The security guards, on sighting the oncoming mob, had chained
the gate shut and were now receiving barrages of insults and
threats from the crowd. They tried to be as professional as
possible, refusing to answer back, and making sure no one
breached the thin wire fence that surrounded the compound.
The rest of the staff were inside the building with us, some of
them upstairs, but most of us remaining on the ground floor. I
stood in the reception area, looking out the window. Mr. Kelvin
and Mr. Obi peeked through the opening of the front door until a
guard shouted at them to shut it, which they promptly did.
“But, Kai, of all the days to come to work in my private car!” Mr.
Daniel swore under his breath. His greed demon fluttered about
anxiously on his head, making him grimace and rub his temple
in an effort to soothe the headache that was beginning to
develop. I hid a smile, but knew his fears were warranted. If
things got bad, this mob would definitely go for the cars in the
park and destroy them, among other things.
“How can you be thinking of your car at a time like this?” Obi
retorted angrily.”That crowd is out for blood! Look at what they
have done to our co-workers! We should be lucky to get out of
this without any bodily harm…”
“Did you not hear me say ‘personal car?!’ Mr. Daniel replied,
eyeing Obi viciously. “Do you think I bought tokunbo? And who
are you calling co-workers, those hired laborers on the field?
They can’t rough-handle me like that, they cannot try it! Worse
come to worse I’ll tell them where to find Mr. Bells and his
precious pet. They are the cause of all of this anyway. How can
a normal person keep such a wild animal as a pet?”
“Do you know where they are?” I asked, and he turned his glare
from Obi towards me. “In the storeroom upstairs. I know he said
he was going to his office but one of the staff I sent to him just
reported that he is not there and I have seen him frequent that
store on many occasions when he wants to have some alone
time. It’s the one place nobody will look if things get out of
hand. The door is inconspicuously hidden behind a file cabinet.
He would have locked himself in there with the leopard.”
He went back to looking outside at his precious car.
“I hope they catch and kill that thing jo.”
Jenny was standing at the window beside me. She tapped me
gently on the shoulder.
“I’ll need to go out and talk to them. I’m the P.R.O, after all.”
“Hell no.” I said.
“The situation is too dangerous. Wait for the police to arrive.”
“They would have gone out of control before then, Chuks.” She
“Besides, it might calm them down a bit if they felt we were
showing some concern, listening to their story. Also I do have
some ‘negotiating skills’.
“This is not four or five drunken men in the middle of the night
Jenny.” I said under hushed tones. “This is a mob! There must
be up to a hundred out there!”
“Well I’ve never tried it on a crowd before- but there is a first
time for everything, yes?”
I still shook my head vehemently. I didn’t like the idea one bit.
Jenny smiled at me and took my chin in her right hand.
“You see? You do care. Don’t worry, I’m a big girl. I can take
care of myself.” And so saying, she walked briskly to the
entrance and was out the door.
“Where is she going?” Kelvin gasped, suddenly aware that
Jenny was approaching the crowd. Mr. Daniel hissed but said
nothing. Obi was sitting on the sofa and took another sip from
his wine. He was muttering something to himself but I couldn’t
figure out what it was.
The crowd became quiet as Jenny approached them. She
walked down the tarred pavement leading to the main gate like
she was in a fashion show and the crowd were her audience. By
the time she had reached the gate itself, most of the men in the
crowd were smiling and there were no raised weapons in sight.
However, the few women in the crowd were not impressed.
Jenny started to talk to them, we couldn’t hear what she was
saying but apparently she was asking what the problem was.
After a while I saw the young girl step forward and begin to
recount her ordeal. As she spoke, gasps of shock and horror
escaped from the crowd, even though they had probably already
heard the story. She gestured with her hands how the old man
had shot the beast and then she pointed don to her left leg. She
still wore the outfit she was wearing during the attack and
everybody, including the security guards exclaimed in sympathy
as they saw where the creature had bitten her and ripped off a
piece of her jeans.
The mob started to chant again and one of the security men got
hold of a gramophone and handed it to Jenny so she could
make herself heard above the uproar. She said she sympathized
with her and it was horrible the way the old man had died but
the way they were going about seeking justice was not proper.
Would they kindly pick a few out of their number who would
represent them, the girl being inclusive and then come inside to
discuss with the MD while the rest of the crowd dispersed? She
promised that the matter would be looked into urgently. There
was murmuring in the crowd as they discussed among
themselves. Most of the men were in agreement that the P.R.O
had given a sensible option, but others were of the opinion that
the MD wouldn’t give up the beast especially when the police
came to support him.
“The Leopard must die!” some shouted.
One middle aged woman spoke up, “We cannot allow it to live
and continue to endanger our children!” she said. “Today it is
one old man, tomorrow a child will go missing, and all for what?
For one oyinbo pet? It would have eaten this girl if she hadn’t
been saved by baba!”
“Sidney didn’t do this madam,” Jenny said politely. “He is well
trained and wouldn’t hurt-“
“Who be Sidney?” the woman responded. The crowd started to
grow angry again.

“They don give the animal name sef!”
“Na human being?”
“Maybe na ritual nah in dem dey do sef o!”
And suddenly the crowd went violent. Jenny tried to calm them
down but the women pelted her with stones.
“Go back to your Oga, Ashaw0 !” they shouted and some of the
men started hitting the fragile gate with heavy logs of wood and
in a flash the gate gave way.
I said, “shit!” and was out the door followed by Kelvin and Obi.
Mr. Daniel promptly locked the door behind us. The security
men tried to protect Jenny by forming a circle around her but
some of the women were able to get a hold of her hair and
clothes. I and the other two men jumped into the melee and
covered Jenny while the crowd pushed forward; screaming at us
and one of the men started hitting us with his fist, and trying to
tear off Jenny’s jewelry. Suddenly a larger man came forward
and punched the man that had used his hands on Jenny and he
fell to the floor, unconscious. Another guy raised his machete
threateningly at the women and they fell back in their bid to
avoid being cut. I looked at the machete wielder and recognized
Emeka, one of the vigilantes from the night before who gave me
a quick wink before turning a vicious face toward the crowd
BACK!” the larger man shouted. His voice thundered even louder
than the gramophone Jenny had been using and the crowd
retreated. He turned blood shot eyes towards us and saw me.
“Come carry your babe go inside, but tell your oga say anybody
wey try come talk anyhow again we go deal with am!”
“Thanks Big Paddy.” I said under my breath. He grunted and
turned back to the crowd.
“Oya shift back, shift back, make them bring the lion outside!”
“Actually, na leopard dem talk-“Emeka began but Big Paddy
gave him a resounding slap on the back of his head and he shut
up. We helped Jenny back into the reception and sat her down
on the sofa. Apart from a few scratches and a torn neckline she
was fine. Her body trembled a little and Obi poured a glass of
wine for her to calm her nerves. She drank and smiled up at us.
“Well, that was silly of me.” She said.
“You did your best.” Obi said, sitting beside her. Kelvin frowned
but said nothing. “Leave her, she thinks it is everybody she can
charm with that her beauty,” Mr. Daniel said. He was leaning
against the window, still looking out at his car and the crowd
that were now sitting and standing around it. He looked as if he
wanted to cry.
I stood up straight. “Come Daniel, she was almost manhandled
out there. If you don’t have anything useful to say I suggest you
shut up.”
Mr. Daniel looked at me with scorn. “So says the hired help!” he
took another sip from his glass. “Do you know why you are here
sef? Is there anything you are doing that we wouldn’t have done
by ourselves?
Oga just wanted to spite me, if not this contract was already
mine! I made a bid for it; I talked to the company first!”
“And they refused your offer when they found out what a greedy
bastard you were!” Obi said, suddenly coming to life for the first
time today. “You almost cost us the contract and it was only
Chukwudi’s negotiations that got things back in our plate. You
should be ashamed of yourself!”
Mr. Daniel laughed and took a long drink, emptying his glass.
“Yeah, I should be ashamed. The hired help comes in, sits at
meetings, makes suggestions that are immediately carried while
nobody thinks to ask me my opinion! The moment he steps on
the firm grounds Jenny goes after him like a hawk. Opportunist!
Kelvin is there, abandoning his family to pursue money, I don’t
know why he can’t send some back to them, after all he makes
enough here. And you Obi, don’t let me enter your matter here!
You think I don’t know? All of you are hypocrites! You are just
as bad as you paint me just that you try to hide it!”
There was silence in the room for a while and the only noise that
could be heard was that of the crowd outside.
Jenny was looking at Mr. Daniel intently. “Wait, since when did
who I go out with become your problem?” she said.
“Was I dating any of you guys before?”
“I know, I know, I’m not good enough for you, abi?” He giggled
and went on, “Or you think this small boy here will remain
permanently? He can’t give you what you need babe. I’ve been
toasting you since, you no gree…”
“You’re drunk Mr. Daniel,” Kelvin said. “Sit down and shut up.”
“It’s you that should shut up, Kelvin. I’ve been watching you. I
know what you and Obi have been up to when you think nobody
is look-“
Kelvin took two strides and was upon Mr. Daniel. In a flash he
had knocked him out. Jenny gasped and looked at me. I was
“Was that really necessary, Kelvin?” Obi said.
“Yes it was,” Mr. Kelvin said, rubbing his knuckles. “He is
talking rubbish. And besides, how can somebody be drunk with
all that is happening around us? Oga should really fire him.”
then he caught the look on my face and nodded. “I’ll apologize
to him when he wakes up.”
“He’ll apologize to us first,” Jenny said.
“But now that we are ‘alone’, what have you two been up to?”
Kelvin looked at us and then at Obi who shrugged.
“What do you know?” Kelvin asked Jenny in a matter- of- fact
“Everything.” Jenny said, partially lying.
Kelvin looked at me and I nodded in agreement. “And how can
you know everything?”Kelvin said smiling.
“We followed you guys last night.” I said.
“You came to pick up Obi and you guys drove back to your
Kelvin looked shocked for a while then regained his composure.
Obi suddenly gave a gentle laugh.
“Its okay, Kelvin. We might as well tell the truth. I don’t know
how you guys found out it was us but…”
“I had to help him,” Kelvin said.
“He seemed so lost and out of control. It’s not really his fault.”
“How can you say it like that?” Jenny asked incredulously. “How
can you make an issue like this sound so trivial?”
“She’s right, Kelvin,” Obi said and stood up.
The yellow flame on his head had died down and I could now
see the pain its ember lights had been hiding.
“I’m to blame. I’m guilty. It’s all my fault. If I had more self
control none of this would have happened. I’m disgusted in
Kelvin rushed over to him and grabbed him by the shoulders.
“Snap out of it, man! You’ve been like this since yesterday, what
happened to you?”
“What we are doing is wrong, Kelvin. I no longer have the heart
for it. We need to stop, I need to stop.”
Obi said, his voice shaky as if he were about to cry. The pain
was intense, so intense it engulfed his entire body. I felt a little of
it and physically took a step back.
“Don’t worry, I’ll be there for you,” Kelvin said, his voice shaky
as well. “You are more than a brother to me and we’ll see this
through together! I love you, man!” And then he kissed him full
on the lips.


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