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CAPTAIN DRAKE IV
Drake opened his eyes to see a long tongue lick a really wide nose, a wave of terrible mouth odour poured out of the open mouth into his nose and equally open mouth.
“Ugggh!” The horrid stench shocked him into wakefulness. He pushed the calf away from his face; he hurriedly took deep breaths, hungry for some fresh air to cleanse his stained lungs.
The air was not fresh; the foul odour of manure of livestock greeted his every breath.
“Cough!!!” He could almost taste the manure in his throat!
“WHY?!” Drake moaned bitterly, wondering what he did to deserve such treatment.
“SHHHHH!” A soft yet firm hand covered his mouth, from the smell and taste of the hand; it had been in the manure as well.
‘OH GOD WHY!!!’ Drake cried in his heart as spit mixed with flecks of manure dribbled down his throat. ‘WHY ME?’
– – –
It was dark out and Drake could not tell if it was early morn or late night. Lifting one hand to his face, he could feel the slim and almost dainty hands that covered his mouth and stopped him from speaking.
‘A woman?’ He wondered. Her soft palms told him she was neither a farmer nor a soldier and her shaking arm told him she was afraid. Afraid of what though? Drake could tell, at least not yet.
“So you say you have not seen any soldier man and a woman run past here? They should be injured”, a harsh voice spoke in rapid fire Hausa.
“Huh?!” Drake was shocked by the fact that he was being hunted by some hausa speaking folks who seemed to be up to no good. Try as he might, he could not remember what chain of events led to him lying on his back hidden in the midst of cows and sheep in an open cattle shed.
“No Sir”, an elderly voice replied the question, “It’s only me and my animals here”
It sounded like a really old man and from what Drake could somehow picture a frail old fellow in his 80’s leaning heavily on a walking stick.
“You are not lying to me, right?”
“Never! I wouldn’t dare!” Drake could almost picture the old man shaking his head vehemently as he tried to assure the harsh sounding thug of his honesty.
“Look around the house!” The harsh voice barked an order and a series of heavy footfalls spread into the distance, beams of light from of flash light waved in the dark, some of them coming dangerously close to Drake and the panicking lady who lay next to him.
‘Calm down Drake’, spoke to himself, slowly reaching for his sidearm only to find it missing. ‘What the…?!’ his 9mm Wesson, Nigerian Army standard issue, was missing; Hell! Even the holster was gone!
‘Calm down boy! No need to panic’. He tried to move his right leg closer to his hand so he could retrieve the .380 Ruger pocket pistol from the ankle holster he had crafted when he picked up the small weapon during his first tour to Sierra Leone in his rookie days. The operating word here would be ‘TRIED!’
Drake cursed vehemently under his breath as a world of pain exploded in his head, origin point being his right ankle. He vibrated and shivered in place as he tried to hold in the need to express his pain in loud cries and agonized bellows.
“Drake!” the lady next to him said in a whisper, “Please be still, they’ll find us and kill us if you keep this up!”
Drake was more or less insensate till the pain subsided. It was another half hour of soaking in manure before the old man returned for them. In that time, Drake did a damage assessment; his right ankle was out of place, he felt his metatarsals (bones between your ankle and your toes) were at the very least fractured, his head was covered in bandage which he was sure was now soaked in cow shit and his left shoulder was sore which could only mean that it was, until recently, dislocated.
“What’s going on?” he asked as soon as he got out of the cow shed with the help of the lady who had lain in the muck with him. She looked very familiar even though he could not quite remember how he knew her. She put his right arm around her shoulder and together, they made their way to a wooden hut not 200m away from the shed.
“Those insurgent bastards have been looking for us over two days now, Pa Rufai took us in and fixed your leg”, she stated, straining under his weight.
“How long have I been unconscious?”
“I don’t know, maybe 3 days. I woke up in Pa Rufai’s place 2 days ago. He doesn’t speak much English, but he understands some of what I say. My hausa, however, sucks!!!” she laughed nervously, trying to ease the tension that seemed to be suffocating her.
“How badly hurt are you?” he asked, curious as she seemed pretty fine to him.
“I’m mostly ok, just badly bruised up”.
“Pa…”, he paused, trying to remember their benefactor’s name.
“Rufai”, she completed.
“Pa Rufai”, He continued, “I’m guessing he has my guns?”
“Yea! He buried them somewhere out back”
“He did what?!” Drake was stunned and somewhat angry.
“I don’t know”, she answered flustered and almost as confused as Drake at the old man’s decision to bury the only things that could save their lives, “All I got was ‘Ba-naso’ and ‘Ba kyau’”.
Pa Rufai led them to a gigantic wooden water trough that Drake assumed was for livestock. Neither of them cared at this point, if the manure in the cow shed was good enough to hide them from the men who would take their lives, this equally unclean water was good enough to get them half-way decent.
With one arm and one leg out of commission, the simplest things like taking off his manure soaked shirt became more difficult and problematic than defusing a bomb.
“Here”, the lady offered, “Let me help you”. He was going to reject her help, let his pride get the better of him but he knew they were in this together and he needed all the help he could get.
“Hey, it’s the least I can do, you saved my life after all”.
“Too bad Ogbu and Ben didn’t make it”, she concluded, her voice breaking as sadness and remorse choked her throat.
These names, seconds ago, meant nothing to him, he did not even know what he was doing here with this woman. Hell, he was even about to ask her who she was and how he had saved her life when he heard a sharp cracking sound in his head. The memories that his head wound had hidden from him came rushing back; Drake felt like someone dropped a brick on his head. They came swift and angry and too vivid to be a figment of his imagination. It all came rushing back, the fall, the chase, his insane partner and the albino driver who was a former smuggler, the suicide mission and finally Abigail.
“Fuck!!!” Drake lost his footing as a wave of nausea and dizziness robbed him of his balance.
“Hey!” the lady, Maria Benson – that was her name – rushed to hold him up, “You ok?”
“Not really”, he said as he looked at the girl whose gut he hated so much and yet he felt infinitely grateful for all the care she must have given him all this time he was out of it.
“Hold on, lemme see if I can get a stool for you to sit”.
“No need”, he declined, “Let’s finish this quickly and get out of this cold and out of sight”.
30 minutes of fighting the arousal that was birthed by her hygienic ministrations on his body and another 10 minutes of ingesting an unidentifiable vegetable and meat gruel the old man prepared for them, Drake turned his attention to the old man.
“Thank you a lot for all the assistance you’ve given us since you found us”, Drake began in fluent hausa.
“Ah! Yaro (boy), you speak hausa?”
“A little bit”
“Your wife said you went to save her from bad men so I hid you when they came looking”
“My wife…?” Drake muttered under his breath, he turned his head to look at the lady who was cleaning up the wooden plates they ate with.
“You’ve been sleeping for many days now”, the old man continued, “I’m happy you are ok now”.
“Thank you very much”
“I didn’t know you spoke hausa so well”, Maria said as she joined them at the low table where they had shared a meal.
“I barely understand the language… that’s by the point”, Drake paused looking at Pa Rufai before he switched to Yoruba, a language he was sure Maria would understand, “You told him we were married?”
“He believes we are a couple”
“Why would he think that?”
Drake dropped the topic for another time, no need to sweat such unnecessary things now.
“When you found us”, Drake turned his attention back to the old man who had been more than the average good Samaritan, “Did you find my guns as well?”
“Yes”, Pa Rufai responded, shaking his head as if in disappointment, “I buried them in the field. Those things are no good, I don’t want them in my house! I told your Amaria the same.”
“I… A…Amaria?” Drake didn’t know if he should laugh or cry.
“Yes”, Pa Rufai pointed to Maria saying, “I don’t remember her name, only that she said she was your Amaria”. Drake found himself chuckling softly at the man’s explanation.
“You can find your guns in the morning, for now take your Amaria into the other room and rest. Allah will bless you with many sons”.
Pa Rufai rose and walked slowly into a joining room, he only paused to fill a small wooden gourd with Nunu (fresh cow milk) from an earthen gourd that was half submerged in the ground keeping it cooler than room temperature.
“Amaria”, Drake called to Maria with a smile on his face, “Let us retire shall we?”
“Hey!” She pouted as she helped him to his feet, “Don’t call me like Pa Rufai does. You’re just murdering my name”.
“You have no idea what that means, do you?” he asked as she lowered him into the wooden bed that took up most of the small room that was littered with local gauze and bandages, obviously it was where he and Maria had shared for some days now.
“What does it mean?” She was intrigued.
“It means new wife”
To be continued…