River Runs Deep/Take Me

2012-06-21 20.29.22

These were written during my stay at a Super 8 motel in upstate New York:

Where the River Runs Deep

Where the river runs deep

Deep into the heart of the world

If man is the son

And the sun was God

Mother the earth

Her tears the drink that flows

From her eyes in the Nile

Where does all life end?

 Where does it end?

Take Me

Take me to a place where life is free:

The choices are green

The trees never shed their leaves;

Take me to a place where I can hold your face:

Dress you up in lace

The feeling we share will never be replaced;

Take me to a world that knows no hate:

Love is like heaven’s gate

I’ll take sugar for my tea any day;

Keep me in your heart, don’t let me go away:

Say that you want me to stay

I’ve got miles to go, but this place

Is where I wish to lay.

Song To A Lost Love

The year was ’86

We were young and full of sin

Our dreams was a yellow brick road

Oh, how hard life is as it goes.

Do you remember us lying in the backyard

Under the moon and her sparkling stars

We wished on Cassiopeia

That we would remain friends even when no one dared;

Those days they come to me

In the midst of trembling dreams

I try chasing them away while watching T.V. and sipping beer

But your eyes, they haunt me,

Coward that I was, I ran away.

Now September has turn to June

You were here, but now you’re gone too soon

I stopped by your grave to say goodbye

But I can’t stop these tears from falling down my eyes.

No, I can’t stop these tears from falling down my eyes.

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I Gave You Power!

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Too many talk in the U.S., about gun violence and the scars it leaves behind in our lives. I’m not writing this post to join in the conversation. Too bad we fail to see things from the gun’s perspective. What would it seem if a gun were allowed to tell its own story? Such was the theme behind this old story of mine:

STORY FROM A GUN

Oh men … why can’t fellas just let me be? Look at the way they scramble about just to get a-hold of me: pick me up after trading in some cash, then use me however way they want before dumping me just when I’m starting to grow hot, I just can’t understand none of this.

It’s like I’m a gun. That’s all I am, a stupid cold-hearted gun.

 

There I was on that day, lying between some stinking underwear clothes in the depths of a cabinet drawer, trying to catch me some early evening snooze, when suddenly a light came on and I felt my owner pull out the drawer and delve his hands between the clothes and pulled me out. The fool checked my clip underneath, wanting to make sure I was fully loaded and ready, and then said: “Okay homeboy, let’s go do this.”

He tucked me into the waistband of his jeans and together we bounced out of his crib. He had a ride waiting on the alley round the back; he had several other fools from his goon squad waiting for him. After a brief exchange of handshake and cat-names, he jumped into the back and that was when the car came to life and we headed out into town.

There was Rap music floating out of the stereo. Someone lit up a reefer and passed it about as we made it along the city traffic. At least for now, until whenever the action started, I had some brooding time to myself.

It’s at times like this that I absolutely hate myself, hate what I am and everything that comes with my lifestyle. Why can’t I somehow be an instrument of Life, I wonder. So much I wish I could find myself in the hands of working doctors and surgeons, instead of keeping company with ingrate fools such as these ones.

It wasn’t long before we arrived at our destination at some dark looking building somewhere close to the city docks. The boys brought their heads together and quietly whispered among themselves, wanting to know who’s going to be the one to go up there and do what needs to be done. My owner raised his hand, saying: “It’s been a while since I pulled my heat. Let me be the one to cap that fool!”

The others agreed and told him it’s on. He jumped out of the car, pulled me out of his waist, cocked me up and together, as quiet as two mice we made our way into the building while the others waited. Unknown to my owner, I too have long been waiting for a moment such as this, and for a long time now I’ve searched for just the right opportunity to spring my surprise on him.

Soon we got to the door where my man’s enemy was waiting. He tensed for a moment before kicking in the door, aiming me at the guy who was inside the room.

“I’ve got you now, SUCKER!” he yelled, just before pulling my trigger.

And that was when I sprung my surprise at him.

All he heard was a click and nothing more. You ought to have seen the shocked look that was on his face when he squeezed my trigger three more times before it registered in his mind that it was actually jammed.

It was enough time for his enemy to pull out his own weapon and aim it at him; unfortunately for my owner, his didn’t jam.

I heard the shot explode from the other dude’s gun barrel and heard my owner cry out before dropping dead on the floor, bringing me down with him. He was finally dead. I felt I would miss him but I didn’t. All the times I’d saved his life, he’d been one thankless bastard – at least I gave him power while he was alive.

And there I lay for a while, feeling happy about everything. I was now free with my life. But that ended when the cops arrived and I felt someone else pick me and locked me up in an evidence bag.

Damn!

 

 

 

Seventeen

index18We’ve all had that one we often refer to as a ‘lost love‘. The one whom we figured we could have had if and whenever we wanted, except we were young and way too immature to realize what we had. And even worse, we never got to realize what we had until it was finally lost to us. Makes you wish you were back to been seventeen again.

 

She was only seventeen

Her name was Magdalene

Eyes and poise of a beauty queen, she was something

Out of a Playboy magazine.

She took me to places I’d never been

Where angels roamed like creatures under the sea

If this wasn’t love, then tell me

What else could it have been?

She explained to me dreams my heart doubt to feel

Eyes that saw the lilies in the field

One night she gave me a kiss, held my face

Told me to never ever leave.

Now she’s no longer seventeen:

Fast cars, champagne over glass

Thinking only of parties that will be

Oh, how I wish I was still seventeen.

Dreaming About a Girl

 

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I’m dreaming about a girl:

I’m dreaming of a song for a love

I’m dreaming of fire – this fire

It burns with desire

I’m dreaming of picnics under a southern sky

Long walks down Charleston harbor

Boat regalias sailing further from shore,

The sky turns gray

Still your smile makes my day

Shine, shine so bright.

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I’m dreaming of colors

Colors that light up your hair;

I’m dreaming of laughter

Laughter is all I care today and now,

I’m dreaming of walking down your Pinopolis garden

Sunshine and rain

Love and heartbreaks

I’m dreaming of a girl:

Yes, I’m dreaming of you.

The Rabbit’s Man (Excerpt 1)

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My mission to the States was to see about getting this novel into the hands of an agent. Unfortunately that didn’t work out. Seven years the manuscript has laid dormant in my folder. This here is a short excerpt from THE RABBIT’S MAN.

It’s an espionage/thriller, the story of a Nigerian businessman fighting against a past he’s never been freed from when a British spy enters his life with a proposal that’s definite to shatter his world. It’s a combination of Graham Green’s ‘Our Man in Havana‘, and John LeCarre’s ‘The Talior of Panama‘.

And by the way, for anyone reading this excerpt, the content is fiction, but the story is very real. Google ‘Nigerian Militants‘ if you think I’m lying!

* * * * *

It was hours after midnight when the six men set off for their mission. Dressed in jungle fatigues, they moved in two dinghies, three to a boat. Their paddles sliced through the dark, swampy water as they moved farther along the near-pitch darkness of the river. Two men paddled in each boat while the third manned the front with an AK-47 assault rifle resting across a thigh.

Their leader, Bartholomew, a rugged, cold individual, crouched in front of the first boat, peering ahead. They passed several fishing boats and villages along the way, but the inhabitants were all indoors and asleep; no one took notice of them. Bartholomew thanked his luck. This was his mission from the start—one he knew he’d been destined to carry out. He’d personally hand-picked his men for the raid. They were tough, brutal, and merciless. They were all willing to go the distance with him toward shedding of blood, which was the purpose of this mission. Every man in his unit was sworn in blood to protect their land from being ridden into extinction by rapacious foreigners and conniving oil profiteers, the ones under the umbrella of the government responsible for raping their land. All other militant army groups had folded to the government’s laws and pressures, or fallen victim to their own capriciousness, but not them, the United Niger-Delta Brigade. Tonight, their action will justify to the world their unwillingness to cower from taking back what was theirs.

They came to the end of the brackish river, which opened into the expanse of the Bonny Estuary. Federal gunboats do patrol the area, but the decrease in militant activity since the previous year, when the government negotiated an armistice with the last remnants of militant rebels, had slackened their effort to the point of it being almost nonexistent. Budgetary cuts, too, had helped worsened their malaise. Bartholomew and his men took comfort in this; their attack would be a shocking surprise the likes of which no one would expect.

They followed the route of the tide, and three miles ahead entered an upstream river channel. They sighted their target—an oil jetty station, one of several located thirty miles from the city. The station stood on a wide concrete berth close to the river’s edge, a suitable location for small merchant ships coming from offshore oil production fields at Obudu, Ofon, and Amenam to unload their consignments—drilling rod pipes, cargo containers and generator equipments—before proceeding inbound toward Cape City or the shipyards located at Amadi Base. The nearest federal military base was stationed at Bonny—eighteen miles from the jetty—but the militants had the timing of their mission well set. It would take the authorities an hour or more to gather enough soldiers to respond to any threat occurring at this hour.

Bartholomew burned with raw hatred at the government, and everything it represented. All the years of growing up and watching his people being forced and beaten from their indigenous homestead to make way for the foreign companies to come and siphon their oil with them not having a say in the matter, of being chased by the navy gunboats, hiding whenever they sabotaged any oil pipelines with pittance effect had fueled within him the urgent call of taking the war to their enemy’s backyard, wanting them and the public to know what it feels to be afraid. He was confident he and his men would be gone before the military even showed up.

Bartholomew’s attention was focused on the large building situated twenty feet from the berth. From where he stood, he could make out a lone guard patrolling behind the wire-meshed gate of the compound; there were supposed to be two of them. He and his men had studied stolen blueprints of the building and knew where every office and door led, including the number of guards in the compound. Their target were some expatriate engineers residing in the building who had arrived two days prior to inspect some imported fuel pumps.

The militants hunkered in their boats as they approached the quay.

The lead boat came alongside the bushy coastline, away from the jetty’s bright lights. Bartholomew signaled his men to get ready. Each man appraised his weapon and flicked off the safety.

The six militants of the United Niger-Delta Brigade alighted and crept up the soggy ground until their feet touched dry land. They hid from the bright roving lights and scrambled across the concrete front of the quay, toward the east section of the complex. They were on enemy territory now. There was the distant throbbing sound of working generators that powered the complex building; everything else was quiet. Bartholomew led his men around the side of the compound toward the front gate where he had earlier spotted one of the patrolling guards. The gate was electrified; this they knew about already. They hid behind an embankment situated next to the compound and waited.

Bartholomew gave one of his men his assault rifle and took off his fatigue jacket and pants, which hid a blue coverall similar to one of any regular night-shift worker stationed at the jetty. He approached the gate and hissed at the lone patrol guard to catch his attention.

“Hey there, my man,” he lowered his voice as he called out in pidgin. The guard stopped and looked in his direction, his rifle slung behind his shoulder. He bore no alarm at seeing him. Bartholomew produced a hand-rolled cigarette from his coverall’s hip pocket. “How you dey manage? Me, I just dey fall in for night shift. Abeg, you fit assist me with lighter or matches?”

The guard seemed to contemplate for a moment then came forward, muttering under his breath. Bartholomew saw fatigue in the guard’s demeanor, no sign of being suspicious as to his presence, and knew he wouldn’t be a problem. The guard got to the gate and unearthed a set of keys to unlock it. Bartholomew entered the compound, still holding his cigarette in front of him, while his other hand held a pistol with a silencer behind his back. The guard was checking his pockets for a lighter and didn’t see the gun pointed at him. Bartholomew shot him twice. Aside from the dull phut–phut cough of the silencer, the only other sound was that of the guard grunting before falling to the ground dead; his lighter clattered beside his leg. Bartholomew scooped the guard up by his armpits, his eyes darting everywhere as he dumped the body inside the empty security house beside the gate. He glanced around, making sure he was in the clear before waving his men over. He shut the gate after his men hurried inside the compound and took back his assault rifle.

Niger Delta Militants setraco

A cobbled pathway led to the three-floor company building; three white trucks were parked beside the front entrance. Bartholomew and his men huddled behind one of them. He could see through the glass-fronted door of the building into the lobby; there weren’t any guards positioned there. He sent two of his men to scout around the building for the other patrolling guard. They returned two minutes later and reported no sight of him.

Bartholomew decided to chance it. He and his men approached the front door of the building’s lobby, and he held it open for his men to slip inside. Past the lobby was a wide corridor with numerous offices, all of which would be locked and deserted. A center stairwell led to the second and third floor; the nightshift workers were quartered on the second, while the expatriates on the third. Lambs gathered together, waiting to be slaughtered.

“It’s time, my brothers. Time to make our people proud.” Bartholomew whispered to his men.

The six-man team divided. Bartholomew took two of his men and signaled the other three to take care of the nightshift workers. He crept up the stairs leading to the third floor with his men trailing behind, cradling their weapons.

The sound of gun fire coming from the second floor was instantaneous, sounding like exploding firecrackers, and reverberated around the building. Bartholomew and his men had just stepped off the stairs onto the third floor landing when a door down the left corridor opened and one of the expatriate engineers—a middle-aged Briton who’d been finding it hard to fall asleep—stepped out wearing a shirt and a pair of briefs. He was the first to see the armed militants and only had time to mutter “Dear God” in shock, before catching a hail of bullets fired from Bartholomew’s assault rifle.

The bullets tore through the Briton’s torso and limbs like a razor. The force of the bullets threw him against the far wall before falling to the ground.

Another door opened just as Bartholomew and his men rushed forward, their hearts beating with adrenaline and excitement as one by one, they emptied their magazine rounds at the engineers.

An alarm sounded as Bartholomew took one last look at the other dead corpses his men had killed, lying sprawled on their beds. He and his men returned to the second floor, leaving behind a scene of death. The second floor bore similar deathly scene as the one upstairs. They met with their other colleagues and trooped down the stairs together.

The second guard whom the militants had failed to spot, having sounded off the building’s alarm, entered the building doorway with his rifle drawn, afraid. One of Bartholomew’s men racing down the stairs saw him in time and opened fire. The guard screamed aloud as bullets tore into his flesh, some of it shattering the glass doorway. The guard crumpled to the ground and Bartholomew and his men raced past him out of the building. They ran down the quay toward the direction they had come. They jumped into their boats and started paddling back the way they had come. The sound of the alarm grew fainter, so too the sight of the jetty.

An hour later after they’d gotten lost in one of the tributary rivers and were safe on dry land, Bartholomew slapped his men’s shoulders, congratulating them on a job well done. They laughed and joked about their kill. They had accomplished what no militant group had dare attempt before—murder a group of foreigners. He could just picture the headlines once news of their action become known to the world in the morning.

 

An Unpublished Memoir – Pt. 1

Amenam

This is the marking of a memoir I’m yet to begin work on. It details my one year travel experience in the States starting from the summer of 2012 to the summer of 2013. My reason behind the travel was simple: I had written a full-length novel several years ago that I wanted to see it become published. Of course, such is never an easy to do feat, and besides, the manuscript had being sitting neglected in a folder in my laptop. If it were a desk drawer, it probably would have gathered as much dust than it ought to. Needless to say, I wasn’t successful in my quest, not as a result of not trying, but rather actions that were far beyond my control. But another thing I’d like to point out is this: One doesn’t attain success in a day. I make no excuses for what happened, even though a lot of what happened to me were on the wrong side, I still am grateful I made the journey, and somehow I know the journey is far from over.

The novel in question is titled THE RABBIT’S MAN. It’s an espionage thriller that is more in the style of Graham Green and John LeCarre, two of my favorite English authors, and it is based on the militant terrorism that still plagues the southern part of my country, Nigeria, and has deep undertones that reach into its political and socio-economic background.

I will be posting excerpts of the work here on my blog, but before I get to that part, allow me to first narrate my early life of how the novel came into being, and of my former work here in my country.

I was born in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Pretty much a city I’ve learned to hate and love as I got older. Two years after graduating from the university, I was met a German writer who’s now based in the U.S., called Peter Brendt.

Peter Brendt

He’d read one of my online manuscripts and he persuaded me to write something bigger, something that speaks more on the goe-political background of my country. In other words, he wanted me to write a novel. I’ve prior to that time attempted once at writing something bigger, but my computer crashed on me and I lost everything I had. I tried talking him out of it, but he kept on with a thorough persuasion until I was forced to do it.

Such was how I began work on ‘The Rabbit’s Man’. However months later, I got a job working as a security operator in the security division of a multinational French company that specializes in oil and gas production called TOTAL/ELF. This was in late 2007. I did a training program and began working with ex-Nigerian Navy personnel. At the time, the southern part of the country was rift with militant rebels and pirates who’d morphed into vigilante gangs who kidnapped and pillaged oil structures within and around the south-south region. Years ago, such gangs had taken up this task as a means of fighting the Nigerian government against  mis-leading the multinational oil companies into destroying the riverine homestead of the indigenous tribes, stealing their oil-infested lands and polluting their waters. But over the years, the gangs had turned their maleficent glare upon the civilian population.  Even till this day, the communities are yet to recover from this tragedy.

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Our mission was to secure traffic of the vessels from their land base to their offshore locations and back without any auspicious threats from the militants, most of whom roamed the creeks and various waterways from sight of the Nigerian Navy patrol vessels. It wasn’t always easy. The militants had far superior fire-power, and the work got too dangerous, myself along with my colleagues were transferred to desk offices.

In the mean time, I had plenty of hours fermenting ideas that would lead to the fictional heart of the novel I was working on.