The Brand of Cain


By Larry Sun
Episode 9
“You have to be extremely careful next time,” he told her, “You shouldn’t stand alone in a quiet street as this. It’s dangerous, you might get hurt.”

“Oh, you’re so caring.”
Caring my bum! It exploded in his mind.
“But there’s one greater thing I will like you to do for me. That’s if you don’t mind.”
What does this of a girl take me for? The Samaritan man?
“What?” he whispered. He knew that if he’d spoken loud, the lady would have immediately jumped into her car and sped away.
“I’ll greatly like you to drive me home.”
Cain looked perplexed, someone tell me I’m not just being made a cheap private driver. Resisting the urge to punch the lady’s pretty face, he asked:
“Why?”
She licked her lips as she smiled, “Because—um—because I think I need a great company right now. You said it yourself, this area is greatly dangerous, and I’m no more very anxious to drive alone down this dangerous road. Some guys could just leap out of the bush and jerk the steering wheel out of my hands before they make me replace their position in the bush. They could even do worse. And besides, I don’t know what I’m going to do if the car develops any fault again on the way.
Cain tried to smile, but he couldn’t, he knew his smile was ugly, just like an old man crying.
“I assure you it won’t develop any more fault.”
“Okay, if not for the second reason, at least help me for the first. My parents are expecting me home for dinner; you can have dinner with us and have a chance to meet my family.”
Cain’s stomach rumbled again, the pie had not curbed his hunger one bit.
“That’d be a good idea,” he said.
“Great!” Cain presumed that must be her favourite adjective. The constant use of that word was what annoyed Cain most about the lady.
Cain opened the car door and sat in the driver’s seat, the lady sat beside him.
“By the way, I’m Rita Benson.”
“I’m Cain Martins, nice meeting you.”They drove down the quiet road.
                                                            FOUR
“Here comes the bad boy.” Cain greeted as his friend stepped into the room. Cain was sitting with a wine-glass and a bottle of rum. Cain Martins had the habit of taking to alcohol, especially daiquiri, whenever he was in a happy or furious mood. But today, he seemed to be in the happiest of moods; a very rare moment. And he always prided himself on his oenophile characteristics. Cain’s knowledge of wine was the most polite moral accomplishment he possessed.
“If you’re looking for a bad boy, why don’t you check in a mirror?”
“Give your larynx a break; you think I’ll ever forget our high school days when you beat the holy crap out of me?”
“Does beating you up decades ago make me bad?”
“I know you’re bad, pigeon-brained.”
He raised one eyebrow, “You know, sometimes, honestly, I do feel like cutting out your tongue. People who lack the manner of speech should be dumb.” Michael Kish said. Barrister Michael Kish was two years older than Cain Martins but looked five years younger than him. He was a tall handsomelooking man with jet black hair and a carefully trimmed moustache which adorned his upper lip. He appeared to be almost the opposite image of Cain. Michael Kish appeared to be tall, young and handsome, while Cain Martins was old and ugly. Michael was dressed more like a mortician; a black suit, black tie, black socks and a pair of black shoes. No colour off-mark except that of his eyes, which was not all that blackish. Nobody would see him approaching if he were walking a street in the night. And on his face was a spectacle; contact lenses. This pair of glasses had changed the colour of his eyes from its initial hazel to a colour closer to the African black—it was the least it could do to someone without any eye defect but wore contact lenses. He was a lawyer by profession. When he was twenty-six years old, he had graduated from the University of Benin with a degree in Law.
Afterwards, he travelled to England where he spent twenty years. When he returned to Nigeria in 2001 he was already quite a rich man. He decided to put his profession into practice. It was after about eight years of working as a lawyer and had successfully sent hundreds of criminals to jail, few to the hangmen, tied some to the firing vessels, set hundreds of convicts free, and solved countless divorce or marital problems, that he came in contact with Cain—his high school friend. It was Cain’s name that had brought them together again. Michael Kish had been one of the shareholders of Kane International, one of the country’s most famous rice companies. On the day he bought his shares, he saw Cain’s name and surname on the shareholder’s slip given to him. He could have been knocked down with a palm frond when he realized that the name was really his friend’s. Life’s funny, he’d never thought that Cain could own a company; he decided that Cain’s success was achieved by the fortuitous dint of sheer good luck. Cain, a bad-tempered, never-serious-with-study, bellicose boy managing a company now? Far back in their time in high school, Michael could not remember a day when Cain had seriously picked up his book to study, Cain belonged among the class thugs who invariably gravitated to the back seats of the class. What actually always caught Cain’s interest were girls and getting into physical combats with people. Though Cain was foul-mouthed and troublesome, he was generous with money and was blessed with a great brain. He could assimilate a whole text without any difficulty, and this had been helping him so much in his examinations—although God gave him an extremely special brain, Cain had never really utilized it as he should have done. He was one of those people that would have become geniuses; he could have invented his own model of a motorcycle, light-bulb, gun or even bomb. He could easily quote Aristotle, Horace, Soyinka and some other great literary giants—either dead or alive, and without knowing that he was. Before Cain and Michael could become bosom friends they had fought each other once. Cain with his usual arrogance had beaten up almost everybody in class—including some girls. He had always insulted and challenged Michael into fighting with him because Michael never seemed to be afraid of him as other students in the class were. Anytime Cain confronted Michael, the gentle boy would only smile and call Cain a small boy. Cain would always swell with anger anytime Michael referred to him as a small boy.
One afternoon, Cain tried to bully Michael again and he got too far. After trying to annoy Michael several times without success, he punched him hard on his chest and all hell broke loose in the class. For a split second, Cain thought Michael was actually going to kill him on the spot, because the new boy’s face was instantly clouded with a mask of fury. He rushed Cain and slammed a hard punch in his belly, then brought his knee up in a single, crushing assault against the groin. Cain screamed in agony. He gave Cain two back-handed slaps on the larynx. He hammered him twice more in the groins until the pain was so excruciating that no more scream could emerge, only moans of anguish. Cain slumped down, grabbed his crotch with both hands and whimpered painfully.
Thereafter, Cain Martins had always secretly feared Michael for his gentle but deadly features. They had become good friends after the brawl. Michael, on the other hand,had always liked Cain for his bravery, foulmouthedness and profligate spending habits.
When Michael saw the name on the shareholder’s slip, he decided to see the Cain Martins, not much people in the country borethe name Cain, and Cain Martins was too much a coincidence to Michael not to be the one he knew. Finding him didn’t take much effort because Michael went straight to the head office where he knew he would find the managing director. When he met Cain he was very sure he was not mistaken; the mannerless Cain had not changed much, especially in his well-known vile dispositions. When he introduced himself to Cain and reminded him of their ordeals in high school, Cain could not believe his own eyes. He quickly got up from his seat and embraced Michael in a bear’s hug. A happy reunion it was, they natted about life, job and the miserable economy.
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