The sun rose from behind the fence, it's golden light striking puddles and mud in hues of bronze and sparkly rust. The earth was bright, as bright as a painting with too many colours, and it hurt my eyes. The air still carried some of the night's coolness on its breath but the sun was sucking it all as fast as it could. I squatted under the shade of the fence, beneath the artificial coolness, watching the old road come and go.
The traffic was light; an old man on a bike, trundling gently down the slope, a boy forcing a reluctant donkey carrying firewood with a fat stick to its back side and two girls hawking groundnuts and gossip under the baobab tree that presided over the view. I stuck my thumb into my mouth and sucked on it. It was a habit that I have not been able to get rid off despite my 12 years. The roar of car engines reached me and I stretched my neck further.
The cars appeared around the bend where the old winery used to be. It is now a kerosene depot. The two cars appear, screeching on their rubber like huge cars. It was a race and I was supposed to note the drivers behind the wheel. The two cars roared past and Georges grin flashed white through the windscreen. Then Helen was upon me like a daemon, her eyes angry and black, her full lips spread thin over her white teeth. She always hated losing to her twin. The dust roared into life, machine rolled, spewing wind into my mouth. I coughed and rolled away. I was done there. As I rose to my feet, I heard the crash, then the scream, silence and the familiar sound of explosion.
I ran to the road and saw the small bonfire down the slope. It was Georges car wrapped around the new electric light, the new ward councilor had installed at the tail of the slope. Helen was out of her car, and it was her voice that was tearing the afternoon sun into bits. I walked into the slowly gathering crowd and we moved like pins attracted by a magnet to the cackling flame. Georges was definitely cooking inside his car. Someone, a lot of someones will pay for this. Chief loved his twin children despite their wild ways and he loved Georges the best. I turned and fled back up the slope, pass by hiding place, towards safety, behind my mama's apron.
The mansion was quiet in the afternoon sun. Birds and butterflies strolled lazily through the shrubbery and bees hunted in the garden. The big brutes, bulldogs with huge heads, and giant teeth jumped all over me in excitement, happy to see me. I pushed passed their mass of muscles, through the back screen door into the warm, sweet aroma of mama. She was making soup for lunch, her hands holding knife as she chopped vegetables for the pot. Uncaring about my dirty shorts and sweaty shirt, I dove into her warmth and held her close. She chuckled and rubbed my head then she stopped and gently eased me from her when she felt my body tremble around her body.
I told her everything and her eyes grew wide with fear and sadness. She gave me a cup of orange juice to drink and told me to go and have my bath and change my clothes. After cleaning up, I sat on the bed, waiting for the summons from the library. I woke up in the early hours of morning. I had a dream. I was running down the slope and a car, a new car was behind me, gaining on me with intent, and behind the wheel was the man I have been forbidden to call father. I had woken before the car could touch me.
I wandered into the kitchen, wrapped in the slumber, fitful and disturbed, of the mansion. I opened the fridge and in the light from within its cold space, I saw my father at the table, his eyes staring at me in surprise, a glass of some liquid on the table before him. He grunted and turned away on seeing that I had seen him. I closed the fridge and turned to escape.
"where you there when it happened?" he asked.
I nodded and inched back some more.
"are you dumb, boy?" he asked.
"no sir, I was not there sir, " I replied.
"you are not dumb, this is good. What is your name?" he asked.
"mama called me sonny, sir," I replied.
"that is a terrible name. No heir of mine will bear such a terrible name," he said.
I said nothing, unsure of what he meant. He rubbed his hand over his eyes and I saw a shadow shift from the kitchen door, dressed in a nightgown, drift away into the corridor. I was sure that it was Helen. She was the only woman of that size in the house and she had heard her father name me his heir. My father said something and returned to him to see his hand wave me away.
I left the kitchen and as soon as I crossed the corridor that led to the stairs, a hard hand grabbed my wrist and squeezed.
"you little thief. You want to claim what is rightfully mine. I will kill you," she said.
Her eyes were like holes of light through a wall. She looked like she had not slept well. I tried to drag myself away her but she was strong.
"I saw you while we were racing. What were you doing there?" she asked.
"Alako asked me to watch. He was worried that you guys might cheat on that bend and he wanted eyes to make sure that you kept to the rules," I replied.
"Alako and his fucking rules. We have driven that route too many times. It makes no sense. Listen you bastard, you are getting nothing from my father. He is my father not yours. If you know what is good for. You, you and your whore mother would leave this house and never return," she said, her voice harsh.
I began to cry. I was bawling and I saw through my tears, the disgust on her face. She released me and walked away. I immediately turned and ran right into my mama's weight. She stared at me then she grabbed my hand and dragged me off. In her room, she pushed me on the bed and closed the door. She placed her ear on the door for a minute then she turned to me and smiled
"did he say it?" she asked.
I nodded and she smiled. She walked to the window and stared out
"Soon this will be mine," she said, "all mine," she said.
She turned to look at me and frowned. She climbed into the bed and removed her clothing.
"come my dear genie, come tell me everything that you will give me for my second wish," she said.
I twisted from the little boy to a man and clambered between the folds of her flesh and I told her all the lies she needed to hear.