The Brand of Cain

By Larry Sun
Episode 12
Abigail noticed the uncomfortable feeling Richard was having in the presence of the two older men.

“Richie, you can go to the gatekeeper to show you your quarter.” She said.
“Yes, madam.” He picked up his bag and went out with a piqued expression.
“Can someone please tell me what is going on here?” she demanded harshly when Richard had left.

“Going on? What is going on?” asked Cain.

“Stop pretending, Cain. Both of you just treated Richie like a criminal.”
Cain spread his hands, “He does look like one, doesn’t he?”
“I don’t just know what he did wrong to deserve that kind of treatment from you two.”
“Don’t burst up in flames, Abigail,” said Michael, “I have no qualm with the boy. I only told him to do his work well. That’s all, no string attached.” He held up his hands in mock surrender.
“He deserves a little respect from you both.”
“Respect my foot!” Cain ejaculated.
Abigail ignored her husband and continued, “Richie is really a good man, I lost my purse about two months ago, Richie found it and returned it. How many Lagosians can do that? Richie is the kindest and most gentle man the Good Lord ever gave life to.”
“You’re breaking my heart, where’s your violin?” Cain joked.
“He’ll appreciate your apologies.”
“Who’s apologizing?”
“Both of you.” Abigail said sternly, with arms akimbo.
Cain laughed out loud and Michael only smiled.
“I saw him staring at your breasts.” Cain said, chuckling.
“Cain!” Abigail screamed.
Eze Chima was sitting in front of his small room by the gate and his bowed head was held in both palms. He was deeply thinking about what would become of him if he was sacked now—the mission would be foiled. Mr. Chima had been a security man for thirty years; he had literally spent half of his life watching one gate or the other. Working under Cain Martins was his sixth experience and he enjoyed working here compared to other places he had worked. Here, he hadn’t had a moment when he had to violently face armed robbers or killers, and the pay here was the best. He had endured series of scolds and curses from Cain since the last five years he had been working under him, but he never felt offended from the insults as long as his salary was not being delayed, and most importantly, he needed the assistance of that child to finish the business at hand first, and if that was done, Eze Chima would not have any reason to work here anymore. Because, by that time, everything would have changed immensely—and he would be okay with that. He had a shotgun which he had been using since 1969; he loved the gun dearly and had always felt safe anytime he held it. He hadn’t shot the gun at anyone since he had been working under Cain. But he strongly believed that it would one day come in handy.
Eze Chima’s responsibility was to protect Cain Martins and his wife, he didn’t like Cain a bit but he had come to respect the wife who had always treated him just like a father. Eze Chima might dislike Cain Martins but Cain Martins paid Eze Chima handsomely. A corpse may not like embalming fluid but it does well to the body. Right now, he was on the verge of losing his job—his dear job. He knew Cain was just being a pain in the neck who found pleasure out of making other people sad—someone who delighted in watching the life slip away from anything. Three weeks previously, he had caught him cutting the limbs of a live cat. He saw that his boss was enjoying the pain the animal was feeling. Eze knew Cain was wicked, very wicked, and probably not more than a dozen people were as wicked as Cain in this part of the world. Yet, he was far from being tough. And Eze Chima knew himself to be the exactly opposite of Cain. He considered himself a very tough man, and he had little respect for death; he was simply a daredevil. Maybe that was the only reason he lived as old as he was. He had always believed that people who held death in high esteem had always been the ones falling victim to the cold hand of the life-claimer. Yes, Eze Chima was tough, very tough—but never wicked. He had killed many people, but he was not wicked—he was only tough. It was better to be tough in the extreme than to be a bit wicked. Those he had killed really deserved to die. He did not kill them for the fun of it, he actually hated killing but he had to kill them, because they were bad people; because they were wicked. Eze Chima hated wicked people, wicked people deserved to die.
His mind travelled back in time to 1989, twenty years earlier; he was only forty years old that year, when he was still a security man of a famous bank in Warri. One night during the mid-March of that year, he was walking around the compound of the bank when he heard thuds coming from the fences of the building; he instinctively knew that they were robber even before seeing them. Eze Chima became exhilarated; the night was going to be fun. He quickly ducked behind one of the company’s vans. When he saw them, he was more excited; each robber was carrying a gun. They were carrying machine guns with extended magazines. Eze didn’t know much about such guns, just that they were point-and-spray weapons, deadly even in the hands of a lousy shooter, deadlier still when wielded by men who knew what they were doing. He saw the men separated; two of them turned towards the corner of the left side of the building and the remaining two took the right turn, they were apparently looking for an entrance. Eze guessed the bandits thought he was sleeping in his cottage as most lazy night watchmen do. Nonetheless, the robbers were watchful and very careful not to make any unnecessary noise. Then Eze stood from his hiding and followed the two who took the right turn—holding his rifle firmly in the left hand.
As he turned the corner the two criminal went he was immediately confronted by one of them aiming a gun at his face. Where’s the second idiot? Probably at the back looking for an entrance, Eze thought. He looked at the face of the man pointing the nozzle of the gun at his head. The man, Eze noticed, was not a man at all—he was a boy. A handsome looking boy of about nineteen. The boy was looking at him with a confused expression. He was debating whether to shoot Eze or call his partners. He was an amateur. Eze, who never allowed opportunities to slip him by, quickly made use of this to his own advantage—a split second between life and death. Eze Chima reached into a deep place within and began to tremble visibly. “Please don’t kill me, I’ll do anything.”
A gratified sadistic smile came to the face of the boy. He was also a killer; Eze saw it in the boy’s eyes. He had killed many people—such a young boy. Pity!
Suddenly, Eze’s knees buckled, and he dropped down two feet, remaining perfectly erect as he bent his knees. At the same time, his right hand shot straight up, grabbing the wrist of the boy’s outstretched hand.
The boy’s smile faded as Eze pulled his arm down in a powerful wrist lock, the gun fell from the boy’s hand, Eze wrenched the robber’s wrist towards his elbow and twisted it at an acute angle. Now the boy bellowed in pain as the ligaments of his arm were strained and turned, but Eze was relentless, taking a long step back with his left foot and pulling the attacker to the ground. He yanked on the arm with all his strength and heard a pop as the ball joint was dislocated from the socket. The boy roared again, agony mingling with disbelief. Eze fell on him, bringing all his weight down on his right knee, driving it into the boy’s rib cage. He could hear at least two ribs break. The boy gasped, and tears rushed to his eyes. The broken ribs would make breathing exquisitely painful. The boy tried to free his other arm, despite his dislocated joint, but Eze had it pinned between his chest and left knee. Eze turned his right hand into a claw and clamped it around the boy’s throat, lifting and slamming his head against the ground until the boy’s body was limp. Moments later, when Eze reared up, he had the boy’s gun in his right hand. His own rifle was lying on the ground; he didn’t have to use it.
Then he heard footsteps approaching, the others had been alerted by the cries of the groaning robber. It was one person coming; he had seen the shadow, it was the boy’s other partner. The other robber was a skinny, black young man with long legs in fitted jeans that ended in a pair of white high topped trainers. All these took Eze just a second before he fired. The bullet struck the robber’s forehead. The sight was horrific; a fragment of his forehead flew off amid a ghastly spray of blood.
Just some minutes later, the remaining robbers came rushing to the scene. What they saw scared the gut out of them; the boy was groaning, alreadyat the point of death, and the other was lyingdown lifeless with eyes wide open. They were afraid the more because they could not find the person who did it.
Eze Chima was watching the two robbers from under the van which concealed him; he was patiently waiting for the moment to strike again. He himself could see that the men were scared; he could see fear in their eyes. He could smell it in them. It was a myth that it’s only dogs that could smell fear in human beings. On these two men, Eze could perceive the sour, sweaty odour of terror.

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