The two constables watched, at war with their conscience, as the mad woman tried, in vain to cross over to the other side of the road. She was not known to be friendly on a good day, preferring to have full blown conversations with herself, or harassing nearby kiosk owners with her monologues. Ever since her pregnancy became visible, she had gotten even more aggressive in defending herself. Her home lay there, an abandoned shack. Its exterior environment was further deteriorating, a refuse dumping ground for roadside traders, emitting a stench that repulsed passers-by before they realised the source. Of this, as was the case with all else, her mind seemed unaware.
She put a dirty, bare foot out again, gearing up to run across the tarred highway, but a speeding car approached, zoomed past, sending her steps back.
“Leave her.” Constable Ụzọ looked at Imoh’s firm grip on his wrist, preventing him from what he was about to do as he half stood.
Continue reading “Beast with Two Backs”
“She could get hit.” He’d attempted to mask a part of his worry with the flatness in his tone and the blankness on his face, but his colleague heard and saw it anyway. Besides, was he not right now being stopped from his impulsive action?
“She won’t. She’s been caring for herself all this while. It’s best you leave her be.”
It wouldn’t do to be associated with her at this point in time, especially with the visible belly. The community was already upset that anyone would think to copulate with her. And if at all she had sexual cravings despite her insanity and got her fix, the idiot could’ve protected himself to prevent the pregnancy. Reputations were at risk now, fragile intangibles requiring protection at all cost. Any man found with her, perceived to have some previously established familiarity, would raise suspicions about the child’s paternity and Constable Imoh wanted none of it. As if the true story wasn’t bizarre enough.
Sighing, Ụzọ sat back down. They waited – a deep silence between them despite the noisy atmosphere of the very busy beer parlour – for their usual bowl of catfish peppersoup accompanied by a few bottles of beer from Nwanyị Umuahia herself. She served them with gusto every time they came in, a smile pasted on her face, a short laugh she passed off as a giggle when they teased her or flattered her cooking. It didn’t matter which officer it was – Sergeant Justin, Sergeant Dikko, Constable Ụzọ or Constable Imoh – no one paid a dime. She didn’t ask, and they didn’t offer either. To her, in their defence, their presence in the vicinity provided an indirect protection against robbers, so her business boomed and her earnings were secure.
Several minutes later, both men, now focused on the steaming bowls before them, failed to notice the mad woman, alongside a few other pedestrians, successfully cross over to the other side.
Not a single soul could be found on the overhead bridge above them.