The Lion on the Bridge
By Nkiacha Atemnkeng
Tuesday, May 21, 2013.
Hope collapsed on the burgundy sofa in the parlour of her house exhaling heavily. She picked up a newspaper and flipped across the pages but could not see any of the words in it. Exhaustion, she thought, dumped the newspaper aside and squinted at her husband. Fineglass was sitting next to her and intently watching the evening news on television. Their five year old daughter Zizizi was sleeping in her small bed in their bedroom. The Fineglass family lived in Bonaberi, a neighbourhood almost in the outskirts of Douala; the economic capital of Cameroon. Hope stretched her limbs and yawned as tiredness embraced her fully. She was also feeling sleepy but there was something she had to tell her husband before submitting to death’s second self.
“Darling, we need to talk,” she started.
“Hmm, what is it about?” Fineglass asked her.
“I think we need to look for a different house to rent in town and get away from this quarter.”
“Why do you say so?”
“This house is too far from our work places in Bonanjo. Every month we spend a lot of money as taxi fare. Worst of all, I’m always caught up in traffic hold ups. And as if that is not agonizing enough, there is a lot of noise around here at night which makes sleeping very difficult.”
“Remember that I’m also in that bowl of soup. Those are not good enough reasons for us to just change our abode,” Fineglass rejected her proposal.
“That is one of the aspects of your behaviour which I hate. You are blind even to a difficulty which you have the power to change. If only you knew what I went through today, you would start looking for a new house,” Hope growled.
“And what did you go through?”
“After working in the office for twelve hours, I was happy to board a taxi and come home. But I was trapped in an annoying traffic jam for another two hours. Look at when I’m arriving, 9:00 P.M. If such a thing keeps recurring, how will I cater for our daughter and our household?” she pointed out.
“Honey I understand you. It’s not easy to successfully get a house near our work places. That is something which would take months to do and I don’t really have time now to do that. There are many other people out there who are also looking for houses to live in. Besides, Zizizi is in a good school and an intermediate class. It may be detrimental for her education if we pull her out of her school and send her to another one in Bonanjo at this point in time. We shall do so after three years when she completes her primary education,” Fineglass decided.
“I want you to look for a house now oh! I’m suffering too much, three years is too far,” she was mumbling and grumbling. Hope resolved in her heart that she would begin looking for a house and would find one whether her husband approved of it or not. The torment was now unbearable.
“No, I have said three years,” he asserted. What Fineglass had just told his wife was not the real reason why he did not want to change their dwelling place. In fact, he wanted to leave that house, leave Bonaberi altogether and never come back. He wanted it more than Hope but he couldn’t leave.
They lived in an apartment of a building that also housed the depot of a Brewery company. So their nights were relatively as noisy as their days. During the day and especially during the night, lorries entered the depot vociferously to bring in crates of beer and carry away crates of empty bottles. Their exhaust pipes coughed whiffs of smoke and heat that remained in the hot humid air and the Fineglass family sometimes breathed in the hot smoke. Depot workers always shouted orders and directives on how to get the job done. The crates themselves made a lot of noise as they were packed into and out of the lorries. All that contributed to disturbing the peace of the night in Fineglass’ house.
In an effort to cool down the hot temperatures, Hope always switched on the ceiling fan. Its constant whistling all night also contributed to the never ending sounds. And there were also those bothersome little insects called mosquitoes that whined and sang songs around their ears, biting their flesh like they have teeth. The Fineglasses were always battling the insects by slapping and killing them. One day, Fineglass got fed up with the mosquitoes and went and bought mosquito nets to prevent the pests from pestering them. However, the noise from the depot still caused their nights to sometimes turn into sleepless nights.
So the expensive taxi fare, night interruptions and the daily traffic hold ups on their way to work and back were the main reasons why they wanted to leave Bonaberi and transfer to another house. But Fineglass couldn’t do so. What he had told Hope was just a flimsy excuse typical of those excuses some husbands tell their wives. The real reason why he couldn’t transfer from that house to another one was something his wife didn’t know and he wished she would never know. The memory of that reason crept into his mind as he sat watching the news on television like a moving slideshow and spooked him as a horror movie did to a child.
Seven months earlier, he had been relaxing on a chair in the house of a girl called Sweetie. The house was not far from where he lived in Bonaberi. Sweetie was the girl he was having an affair with. After feasting on a meal of plantain and ndolè, he had drunk a bottle of Castel beer and thanked her for the palatable food. She had smiled and asked,
“Will you spend the night with me?”
“How many times will I tell you that I’m a married man?”
“When you were chasing me with your Cock and Bull love stories, didn’t you know that you were a married man?”
“I don’t want to keep telling my wife lies.”
“Any little request I make, you start mumbling about your wife. Who is she? If she is so important then why are you here? Whether you like it or not, this relationship itself is a lie so you better keep telling her the lies. Call her on the phone and tell her your boss called you up for an unexpected night shift in your workplace. It’s even too good your work consist of night shifts,” Sweetie rejoiced.
“Look, you are getting out of control. I will not make any call. In fact, today is the last day I’m visiting your house. It’s over between us, over.” She stared at Fineglass, smiled and clapped her hands in front of his face. He blinked.
“So you think you can just use me and dump me like toilet paper? No way,” she said, dashing into her room. She returned after a couple of seconds with a paper in her right hand.
“I’m pregnant for you, this is the hospital result. And dare not back away from me because I will do a DNA test to prove you are the father of my child. I am sure your so called wife will be delighted to see such information,” she said, twisting the paper and hurling it at his forehead. It struck the intended target and fell on the floor. Fineglass picked it up instantly, unfolded it and gazed at it transfixed for a whole minute unable to utter a word.
“From now on, I will start giving the orders. If you disobey any one, I will walk straight to your wife and tell her about the baby. Do you understand?” He didn’t answer and was still scrutinising the pregnancy test result. That was sheer disgrace and shame.
“Do you understand?” she shouted. “Yes I…I…I under-stand,” he stuttered.
“Good. The first order is that you are spending the night with me and not going anywhere.”
“But what do I tell my wife?” Sweetie only gave him one cold look and he quickly understood the message -I already told you what to do earlier. He took out his phone, called his wife and told her he would be spending the night at the office.
“The second order is that, you are not leaving your house and not leaving Bonaberi at all. I have heard you complaining many times about the noise in your house and the frequent traffic jams that you have to squeeze through to go to your work place in Bonanjo. If you have any plans of relocating elsewhere then put it to a permanent halt. I need you to live by my side all the time such that when I call, you will be in my house within the twinkle of an eye.”
That was how Fineglass became a prisoner to the house and to Sweetie. He started renting the house when he was still unemployed and doing odd jobs. When he sought employment into the company where he now worked in Bonanjo far away in town, he was already married to Hope who was also working in Bonanjo. So he had begun saving a lot in order to move to a new house in town like his colleagues and friends had done. Then he had met this absolutely gorgeous girl called Sweetie and he started flirting with her. He had decided to stay a little longer in Bonaberi so that he could be close to her. Just when he had decided to end the relationship and move into an apartment near his workplace, Sweetie broke the news of the pregnancy and began threatening him. While his friends were now living in the calm and prominent quarters of Douala like Bonanjo, Bonamoussadi and Bali, he was still stuck to Bonaberi and Sweetie.
“So what about her?” Hope asked her husband. He straightened up and quickly took his eyes off the television screen. His heart missed a beat or two fearing that his wife had discovered about Sweetie and the pregnancy. She was going to kill him now, he was finished.
“Who?” he posed, almost visibly shivering.
“Our new little kitten, isn’t she beautiful?” she wanted to know his opinion as she patted it. He calmed down and sighed as his mood got back to normal again. He didn’t respond. Hope repeated the question.
“I don’t know,” he snapped. Actually, he knew what he felt about the kitten. He definitely hated it together with all the other kittens in the world. He had even forgotten there was a new kitten in the house because of his problem. If not so, he would have kicked it already. He hated any animal that had claws not even to mention lions. He had a deep loathing for lions since he was a little boy living in his village.
One day, he had gone right into the grasslands with his younger brother to check the snares that they had put. All of a sudden, a huge lion had attacked his kid brother and killed him. The lion did not only end there but had chased Fineglass who ran like the wind and sought refuge up a tree. When the lion left, he cried all the way home. His parents had wept and blamed him for his brother’s death. He swore to himself that he would kill the lion.
On another day when his parents were not at home, he had taken his father’s gunpowder riffle and together with his friend, went silently to where the lion had killed his brother. The beast was still there and fortunately for him it was sleeping. He took aim and shot the lion’s head and the beast died. Out of the blue, the lion’s mate, a lioness sprang forward confused. It attacked them and Fineglass’ friend ran away and climbed up a tree. Fineglass also disappeared and hid himself behind a large rock. When the lioness stood still, he aimed and shot it too. The animal fell wounded and died afterwards. They had seen two cubs which were looking at them innocuously.
“What shall we do with them?” his friend had asked him. Fineglass didn’t respond but loaded his riffle again and shot both cubs killing them.
“They are harmless why did you kill them?” his friend had asked.
“You are saying that because they are still young. When they grow up you will become their target. I did it because their father killed my brother. I am avenging his death by killing him and his family. Henceforth whenever I am hunting in this grassland, I will kill every lion that I meet, big or small.”
His aversion for lions had not only ended there but had extended to any living thing in the cat and dog families that went in claws or looked like lions; leopards, tigers, hyenas, foxes and even domestic animals like cats and dogs. Since cats and dogs were the most common animals in the village, he was always seen kicking them viciously. They always reminded him of that stupid lion and how it had devoured his brother. His addiction of kicking cats and dogs was to the point that, they all kept away from him. Even the cats and dogs that saw him for the first time still ran away. It seemed they all knew how to read his mind -hate at first sight.
When he married Hope, they sometimes had bitter quarrels because she did not only love cats but loved keeping them in the house. He was always kicking them and every time he did so, she would scold him and accuse him of animal cruelty. But he never stopped kicking them and they all ran away from the house. So a fresh idea had come to her mind. She went and bought a beautiful little kitten thinking that since it was still young, Fineglass would have sympathy for the lovely little creature. Maybe she could lure him to liking the kitten and slowly his love for cats would grow as the kitten matured.
She was still cuddling the kitten in the parlour as they were both watching television. His mobile phone began to ring on the table closest to Hope. She intentionally placed the kitten next to him, picked up the phone and looked at the name on the screen.
“It’s your boss, Mr Danger,” she said, handing the phone over to him. As he took hold of the phone, he kicked the kitten cruelly and it flew into the air like a football. She dived and caught the little animal like a goalkeeper. Luckily, it was not injured.
“You are heartless,” she screamed. He held up his hand and said,
“Shh, let me answer my call.” It wasn’t Mr. Danger. It was Sweetie. He had stored her number and name in his phonebook as Mr. Danger so that his wife would not know it was a girl, let alone the girl he was cheating on her with. He had stored his boss’ number and name as Mr. danger with a small “d” and not a capital “D” as in Sweetie’s case. Hope could not make out the difference except she answered Fineglass’ call. And even the few times when she did answer her husband’s phone, Sweetie never uttered a word and always dropped the calls.
“Hello Mr. Danger, how are you?”
“I’m now Mr. Danger right? I know what you are doing. You probably don’t want that your wife to know that I’m the one. I like it anyway because I’m your other boss,” the voice from the other end of the line sounded.
“What is it sir?”
“What I want is simple. I want you to move over to my house now and spend the night with me.”
“But sir, you didn’t inform me of this night shift earlier. I’m spending time with my wife.”
“Okay, I’m on my way right now to your house to see your wife and let the cat out of the bag.”
“No sir, no, you don’t need to do that. I’ll be on my way to the work place right away.”
“Fine, I’m waiting for you. I expect you to be here in five minutes.”
Fineglass ended the call grumbling to himself about his boss and his bad habit of constantly inconveniencing people with his abrupt demands.
“Another night shift without prenotice?” Hope wondered. But this is strange because today is Thursday. You normally don’t do nightshifts on Thursdays.”
“I don’t know what I have done to my boss for him to keep treating me like this. It’s not only me, he does it to all my other colleagues at the office. They also complain about this everyday too.” After the grueling day of work and the long traffic jam, Hope was tired and did not want to start questioning him. She was still irritated that Fineglass had rejected her request of looking for a new house and that he had kicked her kitten. So at that point, they were still in that, “I’m-not-going-to-talk-to-you” mood. He dressed up quickly and stepped out of the house into the night without saying a word to Hope. She also didn’t say anything.
When he arrived at Sweetie’s house, she had set on the table a very delicious plate of yams and pepper soup that she had prepared.
“Why do you torment me like this? What is your problem?” he questioned. “It’s because I love you, can’t you see?” she responded caressing her bulging stomach.
“Soon I will give birth to your little prince. You better tell that woman that she has to get kicked out.”
“Never, she is my wife.”
“Hey spare me that lecture, wife my foot. If she is Mrs. First Lady, the Fine lady, what happened that Mr. Fineglass made sure that little Mr. Fineboy got in here?” she enquired, pointing to her stomach and smiling.
“Our second baby will be named Hourglass. Wow! Such beautiful names; Fineglass, Fineboy, Hourglass. Sweetheart eat your food, don’t mind if Sweetie sometimes tastes bitter in your mouth, that’s just me,” she said kissing his cheek. He sighed and shook his head. When he had finished eating, she ogled him and said,
“come here,” opening her arms. He embraced her very reluctantly as she caressed him. Sweetie pulled him to the bed and Fineglass tenderly made love to her.
The next morning, Fineglass woke with a start and jumped down from Sweetie’s bed looking at his watch. It was 7:40 AM. Work started in his workplace at 7:30 AM.
“What?” she tried to find out.
“I’m late for work again all because of you.”
“Oh, don’t worry. Mr. Danger will just give you a query as usual. Fineglass is such a fine worker for that fine company,” she mocked. He took a quick bath shivering out of fright than out of cold. When he was done, he shot out of the girl’s house like a bullet. Next, he boarded a taxi heading for Bonanjo. The place was almost a thirty minute drive from where he lived in Bonaberi. His heart was pounding fast as the car sped along the road. What was Mr Danger going to do with him today? He had given Fineglass about five queries and here he was, still going late all because of that foolish Sweetie. If not that he was a hard worker for his company, his boss would have sacked him err long. Had Mr. Danger not given him five queries before? He would pardon him as usual because he was far more hardworking and ingenious than all his fellow colleagues. His boss always praised him for his efficiency and work rate. He would be scolded at, given a sixth query and that would be all. There was nothing to fear.
Fineglass almost fainted when they arrived at the Bonaberi bridge. He sighed about three times when he caught sight of what was ahead of the taxi; embouteillage! It was an all too familiar scene of a long queue of stationary cars. They had been caught up in a traffic hold up on the bridge. The Bonaberi bridge which is the sole one kilometer bridge built across Cameroon’s widest river, the River Wouri, is the only link between Bonaberi and the other parts of Douala. Douala is a city where thousands of people own cars. As such, in the mornings almost all the cars ply the roads as people hurry to different venues. Just as Fineglass, some people lived in Bonaberi but drove across the bridge everyday to work in other parts of Douala. For others, it was vice versa. They lived in other parts of Douala and drove across the bridge to work in their companies or schools in Bonaberi.
There were also a surfeit of taxi cars and taxi buses called Socatur and Cargo that transported people to their work places in different quarters and the Marché central every day. Besides workers and traders, students and ordinary people also boarded the transport vehicles to school and other places. There were many parents who first transported their children to school in their cars before heading to work. As such, they even had to drive across the bridge twice. Transport vehicles like Seventy seater buses, coasters and the smaller Hiace buses also crossed the bridge heading towards different towns nationwide. The big lorries went across the bridge too. And not to forget the ever present commercial motor bikes popularly nicknamed motor in French which dribbled their way through all those vehicles and scurried off in less than no time. So with all the plethora of moving machines which bullied their way through a sole two lane bridge early in the mornings and at dusk, there were bound to be long traffic jams at least twice daily.
That day, the police officers who controlled traffic had become useless. Fineglass sat by the left door of the taxi peeping ahead impatiently and he saw them folding their arms. This traffic thing was going to waste him far more time than he had imagined. He looked at his left wrist but saw no watch there. That was when he remembered that, he had forgotten it in Sweetie’s house. Something was passing by his car door and he peered out again. It was a stray dog. The scruffy animal stopped and stared at him. He immediately opened the car door and was about to give it a solid kick when it took off. He went back into the taxi swearing, “bitch, come back here and I will kill you.” The other passengers gawked at him trying to imagine what wrong the dog had done that deserved such hostility from Fineglass. But when he looked out again, the filthy dog was still staring at him from a distance. It ran away when the rain started drizzling and slowly increased.
Fineglass’ fury reached a peak as he began thinking of lions. This wasn’t a traffic jam, it was a traffic lion. The gigantic lorries and Seventy seater buses right ahead of him looked like the lion’s head. The whiffs of thick smoke from their exhaust pipes slowly rising ahead made up its mane. The endless car hooting, angry shouting and howling of the drivers, in their hoarse voices as they accused each other of stealing their driving space ahead unified to form an uproar which was the lion’s roar. The abdomen is the line of Hiace buses and big Jeeps after the Lorries while the smaller cars like his taxi add up to the lion’s tail. All the vehicle tyres were it’s legs and the rain that came trickling down in long knitting needles were the lion’s claws. It fell onto the windscreens, scratching and scraping and scuffing and scooping. After trickling down to the tyres and spilling onto the bridge, it flowed in tiny tributaries and poured into the River Wouri below. The river just had to move a few couple of metres to merge with the Atlantic ocean. The only missing part of the lion puzzle was the lion’s deadliest killing tool; its canine teeth and Fineglass couldn’t figure out where they were.
He thought of using a motor to wade his way through all those vehicles and get to his work place instantly. But he shook his forehead in disappointment when he remembered that, the Governor of the Littoral Region which has Douala as its capital, had placed an embargo that forbade motors from plying the road that day. This was because of repair work and construction that was to be done on the bridge and other spots around the city. He also couldn’t get out because it was now raining cats and dogs. He wondered who had woven such a useless statement using the two domestic animals he detested most in the world. After a long time in the taxi, the traffic lion was still sleeping and there were still no signs of the traffic lion waking and the rain ceasing. Another popular saying came to his mind, the swiftest traveler is he that goes on foot. Even though it would be difficult walking to his work place in the rain, that was the only reasonable option he had left. Thank God too that the saying had nothing to do with useless “cats and dogs” or the other dreaded one, “letting the cat out of the bag.”
Opening the taxi door, he got out and started jogging through the spaces among the dozens of cars on the bridge, as the rain soaked him. His phone started ringing and he felt the urge of ignoring the call. At last, he decided to answer it. It was Hope.
“Allo,” he said.
“Are you already at work?” he inquired.
“I should be the one asking you the questions, where were you last night?” Fineglass’ heart pulsated.
“I was at work for the night shift,” he claimed.
“You are a dog,” she insulted him. Ouch! That really hurt. What hurt him most was not just the insult but the fact that, as much as he tried to scare away or keep away from cats and dogs, they always kept coming back into his life. By the way, what did she mean by that? Did she suspect anything?
“I said I was at work, why are you insulting me and calling me a…” he couldn’t finish the word. He hated it so much.
“It’s because you are a liar. You lied to me yesterday that you were going to work. You have been lying to me constantly.”
“Hope, I haven’t lied to you, what’s wrong?”
“By the time I finish with you, you will know what is wrong, idiot. Who is Sweetie?” Fineglass felt a wild jolt in his stomach and also felt like dropping into the River Wouri below.
“I don’t know any sweet or whatever word you just called.”
“Okay, you don’t know her. I guess you don’t also know that she is eight months pregnant for you and that you have been cheating on me with her for the past year or so. I guess you also don’t know that you always do your nightshifts on her rather than at your job. I have been suspecting you, so I followed you yesterday to her house. I overheard your every conversation from her window.”
“Baby, I’m sorry,” he apologised.
“All of a sudden you know her now, eh? All of a sudden you want to apologise. Listen you Mr. Badglass, I have already paid for an apartment somewhere else in town. I will go there and live alone with my daughter. I am going to the court right now to start divorce proceedings. I don’t need you in my life anymore, you dog,” she hung up the call.
“No, no, please don’t do that, I’m sorry please,” he screamed. Realising that the phone was dead he flung it into the River Wouri below and ran away towards his workplace as fast as he could.
The traffic lion had awoken and the cars were beginning to move slowly such that, he felt the huge lion was chasing him. He was sweating copiously but the rain drenched his body and he felt extreme cold instead. The rain or rather, the lion’s claws fell on him in long knitting needles, scratching and scraping and scuffing and scooping him. He was wiping his face as fear took control of him. He scampered and scurried and scuttled to his work place like a reindeer. When he arrived at the gate, the gate man quickly told him,
“The boss wants to see you.” He ran again and entered his boss’ office, panting and shivering. Water seeped onto the luxurious wool rug on the floor. His eyes met Mr. Danger’s and he felt a pang of shame. The man was a burly man with large eyes and a very commanding look. He was sitting in a chair and there was an office table in front of him with lots of files, papers, pens and a laptop. The ornate office wall had lots of picturesque paintings which were hung on nails.
Mr Danger looked at his Jacob’s watch and pointed at his wall clock. Fineglass took a glance at it and was not so shocked to see that it was 10:30 AM. He was still wetting the office rug with the water that dripped from his soaked clothes. His boss started talking in a gruffly voice.
“Ca c’est ne pas possible! Fineglass! You are late once again. This time not by thirty minutes but by three hours!”
“I’m sorry sir, there was a serious traffic hold up on…” but Mr. Danger raised his right hand and cut him short,
“You’re sorry! I cannot count the number of times you now come late. It’s too frequent. And today you are three hours late! Do we fly before reaching here early? There are traffic jams all over Douala, not only on that bridge. Well, that is not even the issue here. The question I want to ask you is, where were you last night?” Fineglass tried not to show the anxiety on his face.
“I overslept sir,” “Where?” his boss pressed on. Fineglass’ heart almost shot up to his mouth. Did the man suspect anything? No, his boss was just being bossy as usual. He just had to stay calm and answer the questions.
“Your house!” the burly man bellowed. He easily understood why Fineglass told that lie as an answer. After all, every man slept in his house. But what he could not now understand, was why Fineglass had all of a sudden developed a lie telling and late coming attitude. He had been really late on five occasions recently and he was not a late comer by nature.
So Mr. Danger had decided to do a little probing into Fineglass’ time anomaly. He did not have to dig very deep to notice that it was because of a woman. He did not intend taking any harsh actions because of that anyway. That was his employee’s private life. All he wanted Fineglass to do was to come to work early. Good advice or a serious warning would probably make him sit up at the work place. But what made Mr. Danger mad was the woman in question.
“You were not in your house, lying tramp. You were with another woman.” The employee froze. How did Mr. Danger know that? Had Hope told him too?
“I don’t give a damn if you date many women but you just crossed the line by flirting with my woman,” Mr. Danger said pulling a drawer open.
“Sir, I don’t understand. I don’t even know your wife. Which woman are you talking about?” Fineglass asked.
“Sweetie who you impregnated is my wife, fool,” his boss finally declared pulling out a black pistol from his drawer. Fineglass’ mouth was agape and after a few seconds, he jumped into a lengthy apology swearing that he didn’t know Sweatie was his wife.
Truly, Fineglass did not know Sweatie was Mr Danger’s wife. Even Sweetie too had not known he was her husband’s employee when they had started flirting. The big man’s whole marriage replayed in his mind’s eye like a tape recorder. Sweetie had married Mr. Danger eight years back. They had been a happy couple then with ambitions of starting a great business. Mr. Danger had realised his dream and opened a company with the head office in Bonanjo. But the couple had not been blessed with a child. So many problems began to develop. Mr. Danger’s family kept mounting pressure on him to get another wife who would bear him a son to inherit his lucrative business and asserts.
“The African man is polygamous by nature whether officially or unofficially,” they had said. And along with wealth and success in a man’s life naturally came seducing women. So even though he still loved his wife, he had succumbed to family pressure and began flirting a lot with other women and had a few children with them. He also began to maltreat his wife at home.
Sweetie had endured the torment to the extent that she could not take it anymore. So she got fed up and left her marital home to live in Bonaberi and away from her husband’s distress. She did not intend ending the marriage then but just needed some time to cool off and think of what to do. Her husband did not try to find her. He too felt he needed to be alone for some time or rather with other women for some time. It was at that moment that Sweetie had met a handsome guy called Fineglass that she started flirting with. But she did not know that he was married and working in her husband’s company. When she had found out, she had been overjoyed because it was the perfect revenge against her husband, paying him back in his own coins. She didn’t tell Fineglass she was her boss’ wife. She didn’t even tell him she was married. The pregnancy later changed everything. She was so pleased that she now wanted to stay with the man who had impregnated her. That was why she kept spending nights with Fineglass and teasing him. But she enjoyed his company anyway. And he had become her prisoner. He now went late to work to the extent that his boss had decided to investigate his late coming.
Mr. Danger was not surprised to find out that Fineglass was cheating. After all, he too was a cheater. But he had been absolutely shocked to find out that, the woman Fineglass was cheating on her with was his own wife! He also finally discovered that his wife was now living in Bonaberi not far from Fineglass’ house. Mr. Danger could not bear such disgrace.
“So, I employ you and your own payback is to impregnate my wife? Eh?” he barked, cocking his pistol. Fineglass knelt in front of him begging him not to pull the trigger. But it was useless because the man was now like a furious beast, an angry lion. He aimed at Fineglass’ forehead and pulled the trigger. There was a loud bang as the employee dived and fell onto the rug. He started bleeding seriously and rolled on the floor screaming at the top of his voice. The man pulled the trigger again but nothing happened. He was disappointed to notice that the shot had caught Fineglass’ chest instead of his forehead. He just wanted to kill him no matter the odds.
Then in that split second moment, Fineglass looked at the left side of the wall and saw a lion leaping from the wall towards him. That was probably the killing shot. He wailed covering his face with his hands to prevent it from tearing him up into pieces but he only felt the pain of the shot in his chest. His eyes were still on the wall. What was that? It was one of Mr Danger’s wall portraits of a roaring lion with very lethal canines. Then he found the answer to the missing part of the lion puzzle on the bridge. He had not figured out what part of the cars were the canine teeth. Now he knew them. The first canine tooth was Sweetie and the second was the baby in her womb. The third and last canine tooth which was the most painful of them all was the bullet from his boss’ gun. It had gnawed deep into his chest. His bullet canine tooth was the completion of the lion jigsaw puzzle.
The employees were screaming and running out of the building when they heard the shot. Some other courageous men instead ran into Mr. Danger’s office to find out what was happening to their boss. When they saw him making a futile attempt to fire the gun, they rushed towards him, struck him down and took the arm out of his hands. About forty five minutes later, a handcuffed Mr. Danger was being led to a police vehicle with sirens wailing loudly. On another road, a bleeding Fineglass was being driven quickly to the l’hôpital Général de Douala. The ferocious lion had almost killed him. Blood trickled from his chest staining the white bandage which was wound around his thorax. The ambulance suddenly slowed down and then stopped. Fineglass managed to peer out through the back window. The car had been caught up in another traffic jam, rather, another traffic lion. Groaning in pain, his mind went back to another ferocious lion that had killed his kid brother. Was he going to die just like his brother?
Nkiacha Atemnkeng is a young Cameroonian writer who writes prose and poetry, and has recently completed a novel manuscript. He’s also a blogger at http://nkiachaatemnkeng.blogspot.com .
A holder of a Curriculum Studies and Biology Degree, Nkiacha works as a Customer Service and Aviation Security agent at the Douala International Airport.