The Devil Wears Okirika by Kingsley Olanrewaju Efughi
Deacon Oforbuike chose the seat next to Samuel, the church bus driver wearing a worn three piece suit. He saw himself as the leader of the group and as far as he was concerned he was in charge of the crusade.
Osi didn’t mind the deacon sitting in the front one bit, he actually had a lot of things to discuss and go over with his team. He was dressed casually in a blue jean and a black sweatshirt.
“I’m still going to remind you all that we should pray and commit the journey and the crusade into God’s hands, abi?” The deacon asked from the front.
Osi stopped going through the fliers Bukky had printed, “You’re right, please lead us in prayer, deacon.”
The deacon mumbled something that was definitely
unflattering under his breath. “Everybody close your eyes”
“Driver not you o,” Ovie spoke up drawing a chuckle from Bukky.
The deacon shook his head. “These are the so called leaders of the youth church? Where was the church heading to for God’s sake?”
The park was a walkable distance from the house and so Amara and Oluchi set out late in the morning to welcome Paul who was coming from Lagos. Oluchi had pounded the yam while Amara had made the bitter leaf soup.
“Are you sure his bus would have arrived?” Amara asked as they approached the park “we can’t afford to miss the meeting.”
Early that morning the town crier had gone round announcing that there was to be a general meeting at the market square and every family was meant to be represented. Her father had also reminded her when Oluchi arrived and they prepared to leave.
“Don’t forget to be at the market square before 1 O’clock, the meeting is very important.”
“And don’t forget to move in twos or in a group, never walk alone,” he emphasized as they left the compound.
They arrived at the bus park few minutes before 12. As usual the park was rowdy, a lot of people were arriving at Amaife in preparation for the age grade ceremony which was to hold in a fortnight, bags could be seen in every direction. Some carried by young men in carts as they transferred the bags either to or from buses for a little amount of cash.
“I can’t see the bus yet,” Amarachi said shielding her eyes from the sun with her hand as she scanned the park.
“This park is too big, let me try and call him but network is not really strong sef,” Oluchi said checking her phone.
Amara moved in between buses leaving her friend behind to look for network. She could remember what her friend’s brother looked like and knew she would recognise him if she did spot him.
A luxurious bus caught her attention. The bus was different from the other transport vehicles. It was clean, looked brand new and didn’t have any sticker or inscription bearing the name of any transport company. She moved towards the bus out of curiosity and as she got closer, the front door opened. An angry looking man dressed smartly in a suit stepped out and stretched. He wore a big frown and seemed displeased about something.
He’s probably frying inside his coat under this hot sun Amara thought to herself as she watched a lady come out to stretch also.
As she wondered who these strangers were, the tallest man she had ever seen alighted from the bus next. He shook his long legs, kicking the air and was rewarded with a cracking sound.
Amara stared at him, at first marveling at his height but then she looked at his face…. She couldn’t look away. She stood transfixed looking at the tall slim handsome stranger.
Osi suggested they stopped at the bus park first before heading to the church to see pastor Batholomew. Bukky was pressed and so was Ovie. Plus his own legs had been killing him after staying in a sitting position for so long and he could tell the deacon needed to stretch too because he offered no resistance when Osi suggested it. So Samuel pulled over and they all filed out one after the other to stretch their stiff joints.
As he stretched his legs and felt blood begin to circulate, he looked up and saw a young lady looking at him.
For a second Osi’s heart skipped a beat as he looked at the most beautiful girl he had ever seen and he just couldn’t take his eyes off her.
“Pastor, are you okay?” Ovie put a hand on his shoulder when he came out of the bus. The rest had gone to locate the toilet leaving just Osi, Ovie and the driver.
Ovie placed emphasis on the pastor dragging Osi’s eyes briefly to him. He smiled mischievously.
When Osi looked back, the girl was gone.
Amara found Oluchi talking to Paul excitedly outside a shop were he had gone to buy water.
“There she is,” Oluchi said as Amara approached them.
“My God, it’s been so long, you’ve really grown into a beautiful angel just like I predicted,” Paul said with a deep voice.
Amara held out her hand a bit absent minded. Paul took her hand then drew her and enveloped her in a bear hug.
She thought he looked good.
Finally he released her and smiled.
“We have a lot of catching up to do. I know you’ll like the gift I got for you.”
“Ehen, so you didn’t get me anything abi? It’s only your wife you bought something for.” Oluchi chipped in.
Paul was pleased Amara didn’t object when Oluchi called her his wife. God bless his sister.
“You know your big brother now, I got something for everybody.”
Amara hardly heard a word that was said. Her mind kept on drifting to the bus and to the tall man who had gotten down from it.
“I’ve missed you so much dear,” Paul was saying as he took her hand.
The devil got ready for the meeting… he stood in front of the mirror for some seconds whistling as he buttoned his shirt. A part of him was thrilled that he was the cause of the emergency meeting but another part was getting frustrated. Lately he was getting hungrier for more violence and it was alarming. His father had once told him, control and moderation was the key to power and he knew he had a reputation to protect. Just less than 72 hours he had Chisom struggling underneath him as he pounded her roughly and disvirgined her in the process before the sight of blood drove him to an excited frenzy and he lost control and pummeled her to death with blows.
The devil is crazy.
The devil is a sociopath.
The devil is a crazy sociopath.
And he wants Amara.
He shut his eyes as he pictured her face again, stroking himself to an erection. Amara… Sweet Amara…
The Good foundation church Amaife had recorded an increase in members over the past few years and a significant increase within the last few weeks. The recent terrible murders had sent more villagers in search of the God they didn’t believe in and previously ignored. The Devil had driven them to church. And as a matter of fact, plans were being made to move to a bigger location. Pastor Bartholomew started the church few years ago in a small shop. The pastor who had been relatively young at the time had converted his shop and started a six man church service every Sunday. Six was the maximum amount of people who could sit in the small shop and still breathe easily.
With time, there were more chairs outside the door and window every Sundays. Before long, the wall of the next door shop had come down and the church had extended. With careful arrangement the extended church could contain 15 people. The chairs increased once more, and the third wall came down. The church expanded to a 30 man church. Before long the church had bought off the remaining shops in the complex, renovations had taken place and the church had grown and was still growing.
When the bus parked in front of the church building, Osi was beginning to feel the first signs of hunger. He got down, chasing thoughts of food and the young lady out of his mind.
Deacon Oforbuike remained in the bus studying the church.
“So he’s going to remain in the bus now?” Gregory said under his breath.
Osi ignored him as he observed the building. He was quite impressed but at the moment he was searching for any sign of life.
The place looked deserted.
“That might be a good idea, I’d rather go in and check for the pastor alone, you all wait in the bus.”
“I prefer the open breeze, inside the bus is too stuffy,” Ovie said.
“Look, during the course of this crusade it is very important we keep our mind and thoughts right, and our attitude too,” he looked towards the bus where the deacon sat, “don’t let anybody push you, because when that happens, you could be easily pushed to sin.” With that he strode towards the church.
He hadn’t taken more than two steps when the door opened and the deacon got down. He hurried to cover the ground Osi’s long legs had eaten. He followed Osi silently and Osi smiled because the Deacon had such a petty thinking that he needed to be in the front always -as the leader- however his short legs were no match for Osi’s and save for breaking out in a run, his fastest walk could only draw him level with the young pastor.
A young man came out before they got to the entrance. “Good afternoon. You must be pastor Osi,” he said to the Deacon.
“No, I’m the pastor,” Osi spoke as the deacon remained quiet.
“Oh, sorry about that, I’m Sofiri. Pastor Bartholomew told me you would be coming in today. I’m to set you up in his house…” “Where is he? Is he not around?” The Deacon interrupted.
“Actually, he had to go to the village square for a meeting but he’d be back soon.”
The three wise men as they were called kicked of the meeting at exactly 10 minutes past one.
Pa Kenneth who was the oldest man in the village invited Pastor Bartholomew to start with the opening prayer.
After the prayer, Dé Nwachukwu addressed the crowd; “My people, people of Amaife over the past four weeks there have been unrest among us, among our daughters. We all know that three of our families have been thrown into grief.” He paused, looking at the crowd. Dé Nwachukwu was an orator and he knew how to use his words to good effect. “We are gathered here because we can not afford to lose any more of our daughters…”
In the crowd the villagers all listened to their leaders. All was silent and the only voice to be heard was De Nwachukwu’s powerful voice.
Okudili sat at the back where he could keep an eye on Amara. He had been on the lookout and had even come to the meeting early with the hope of seeing her. But they had arrived late, just minutes before the opening prayer. Okudili paid zero attention to the words coming from De’ Nwachukwu. He was more interested in his daughter. He frowned as he saw the young man in the leather jacket lean in to whisper something in her ear.
De’ Nwachukwu continued, “I need to appeal to every one of us, we can not allow one demon to come and ruin our happiness and our peace as a community…”
“This is the time to stand together, be on the lookout, our youths and young men especially, we boast of some of the strongest men one can find around. We need to task ourselves with protecting our women, we need to flush out this person and we need to be united to do so, the worst thing is he is one of us, he
might even be sitting here listening to me….”
He let that hang in the air as he took his seat.
Pa Kenneth who was still agile for a man in his seventies stood up to address the villagers. “Visitors from another state arrived in our community few hours ago. They would be hosted by our very own Bartholomew and I understand you will come in contact with most of them over the course of the week. I want to implore you to receive them peacefully, people of Amaife have always been known for their hospitality, let us not let that change.”
“Our daughters are landing in the mortuary without passing through the hospital and you want us to be hospitable?” Someone shouted from the crowd and immediately there was a little chaos as the villagers broke into murmuring and side talks.
Pa Kenneth tried to calm the crowd, “My brothers and sisters, we need to play our part, if you can expose this monster through diabolical means please, please and please do that but let us not refuse our brothers who serve pastor Bartholomew’s God the chance to do so.” His attempt at silencing the crowd backfired as their voice increased.
De’ John stood up in a desperate attempt to calm the villagers. Raising both hands as he called for decorum, but alas the uniform voice of protest grew louder.
A figure emerged from the crowd. He walked briskly to the front and conferred with the leaders. Pa Kenneth nodded and gestured to the crowd with his hand as if to say, “They’re all yours.”
Then a funny thing happened, the moment the man opened his mouth to speak, the crowd fell quiet. It was Stevenson.
“People of Amaife, you all accepted me in your midst and I’m grateful for that. I’ve learnt so much from you all, I’ve been able to get priceless material for my book, but not only that, you’ve taught me values that were alien to me in my country.” He began to pace, “It’s so unfortunate what has been happening the past couple of weeks, but I assure you all whoever he is, he would be caught, your leaders are doing their possible best and its up to us to do ours, our girls and women please never walk alone. If you’re going to the farm, go with your brother, if you’re going to the stream don’t go alone, take someone with you. With time whoever is doing this would slip up out of frustration and we’d catch him,” he paused, stopped pacing and looked at the crowd till his eyes met hers, “As you people would say, 99 days for the thief, but one day for the owner.”
“So we should allow 99 of our daughters to be killed first abi?” the voice from the crowd fired again.
“Don’t mind the idiat,” Okudili added.
The crowd started shouting again.
“Did you see the way Steve looked at me?” Oluchi asked Amara after the meeting as they walked home.
“Yes, Oluchi, I saw it,” Amara replied. Although for a minute she had thought the European had looked at her.
Paul who had stayed behind to greet and catch up with his old friends caught up with them.
“Amara, I’d like to come over and say hello to your father,” he said as he tried to hold her hand.
Amara didn’t need a soothsayer to know what was coming next. She had to talk with Oluchi, she couldn’t afford to lose their friendship and at the same time she couldn’t be dragged into any relationship. All of a sudden she needed to be alone. She needed to think. “You know what? I need to check on my sister and need to prepare food for my father. I know he would be very tired.”
“That reminds me, I heard about your mother passing away, I’m so sorry,” Paul gave himself a mental kick for not remembering earlier.
“It’s alright, Oluchi we’ll see later,” but her eyes had gone blank.
“You shouln’t go alone.”
“I’d be fine, I’m sure I’d see Joy on the way.”
“What’s wrong with her?” Paul asked his sister as they watched her walk away.
“About what?” Oluchi shrugged.
The team had been set up in a three bedroom bungalow that belonged to Pastor Bartholomew and offered to the team for the duration of the crusade. Osi wondered where the pastor himself would be staying. He made up his mind to ask him.
“What kind of meeting is this? For how many hours? This is quarter to three.” The deacon asked loudly from the bedroom. He had taken one room, Bukky had a room to herself, which left Osi, the driver, Gregory and Ovie with the last room. Ovie being direct and straight forward had wanted to join the deacon, saying the rooms ought to be shared two to one. Osi had restrained him saying the three-seater in the parlour looked tempting.
“I’d like to stroll round a bit, farmiliarize myself with the village,” Osi said, “I’d be back soon.”
“Please don’t get lost o,” Ovie said.
He chuckled, opening the door, “I promise I won’t.”
The mention of her late mother had brought too many painful memories, memories she kept repressed most of the time. Now it kept flooding her mind, wave after wave and she walked the lonely path with her mind faraway. Her mother died two years ago after battling diabetes for more than a decade. Beautiful and kind, she had been her daughters’ best friend and their confidant. Amara vividly remembered the talks they used to have while her mother plaited her hair in her favourite cornrows or while they prepared dinner. Suddenly she missed her mother so much her heart ached; she yearned to speak to her. Without knowing it, she headed towards the path away from home, taking the bushy path that led to where her mother was buried.
The devil watched her as she approached the grave. After the meeting, he had watched her walk alone and on impulse followed her at a distance. He couldn’t believe his luck when she had chosen the path that was lonely and surrounded with grass and trees. He could feel himself growing immediately hard as she squatted to run her hands along the marble surface of the grave yard.
The devil imagined the different ways he would have Amara and he couldn’t wait anymore. He imagined laying her lifeless body on the grave when he was through with her. He couldn’t wait anymore, no….he had to have her now!
Speaking to her mother always brought her comfort and made her feel better. She talked about anything she could think of from what she had prepared for breakfast to her younger sister, to Oluchi and Paul and the stranger she had seen that morning.
“He was very tall, I was surprised to see them but Pa Kenneth explained that they’re pastors here for a crusade…”
She suddenly felt a presence behind her and heard the breaking of dry leaves. She whirled around and gasped “You.”
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