Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Gulder and Guilt

u wit ur goldn bubblz and fabulous froth
i luv u dear Gulder, i luv u a lot!


It’s the beginning of the second half. Arsenal are two goals up and yet piling relentless pressure on their opponents. I feel good. This one is in the bag surely. I take another sip of Gulder. Bentico, my Arsenal-hating Chelsea-loving friend is a lot more sober than he was in the first half. Between puffs of his cancer stick, he tries to explain away his pre-game prophesy. He puts it down to ‘luck’, the opponents aren’t playing at their best, their main striker is having domestic problems, the planets didn’t align properly, blah blah blah! As he reaches for the suya, I ask him if he’d like some crow with that. The girls giggle. He calls me a smug bastard. I accept.

Someone, Tari I think, is playing footsies with me under the table. I look at her across the table. She sips her baileys with feigned naiveté, and then throws me the briefest of glances over her glass. Tari is my ex-girlfriend and we ran into her and her cousin Ama at this spot. I wonder what this is about. But I’m not complaining.

Van Persie takes a fabulous Fabregas pass and almost puts it past the keeper. We all cheer and applaud the effort. Someone starts running across the bar with a huge Arsenal flag. The Gunners in the house cheer.

My leg starts to vibrate. Right leg, close to my hip. I look across at Tari again. Surely her legs cannot be that long. Or can they? And how can anyone’s toes vibrate like that? Then I remember it is 21st century Nigeria, and I have a cell phone. I reach into my pocket and fish out my phone. Unfamiliar number. I think twice about taking the call. There’s too much noise inside, I don’t want to step out and miss the inevitable third goal. I let it ring out.

About a minute later it starts again. I excuse myself from the table and make a joke about having to take an urgent call from my uncle Arsene. I go outside and answer.

-Hello.


-Hello, this is a policeman, hold on for your caller.


-What?


There’s a brief crackle at the other end, and then a familiar voice.


-Hello,Porter…


-Who’s this, David?


-Ol’ boy no be small thing. We are in a police station.


-Serious? You and who? Wetin happen?


-We been dey come watch the match, they stopped our car and brought us all here.


-You and who?


-Me, Tonye, Peter, Timi, and im younger brother you need come bail us abeg! The guys inside the cell don already dey nack us. We can’t spend the night here.


Police cells. Feaces in the back, urine on the floor, sweating walls, cramped space, hostile detainees, extortion, the stench and potential for infection. Flashback unbearable.


-Wait, which station?


He tells me.


-Na inside cell, or behind counter?


-My guy u no hear wetin I dey talk? We dey cell, dem wan kill us inside here.


-How much the police people talk say dem want?


He tells me.

For some reason, I laugh. Maybe it’s the alcohol; maybe it’s the amount of money involved and the fact that I’ve got no chance of raising enough money to bail 5 people and a car at this time of the night. Maybe I’m just a stupid, wicked boy.

-It’s not funny, I told them I would call my lawyer


-Who?


-You of course.


I laugh again. Me, lawyer. Struggling student like me. I try to picture going down to the station with Bentico, breathing beer, and pretending to be lawyers. I laugh yet again.


-Abeg just come, dem seize our phones so na their payphone I dey use. 100 naira per minute, my money don finish.


-So na me be your lawyer eh?


-Just come abeg


And he’s gone.

I review the situation as I walk back into the spot. Here I was with friends having a great time with my team doing well, giving me a reason to taunt Bentico. Even the girls seemed to be on my side. Now I had 5 of my friends locked up in some dingy cell and they were counting on me to come and get them out. I was their lawyer. I never even go the school finish sef. Dem sabi how many carryover I get? And they couldn’t honestly expect me to come up with that kind of money for bail. Or could they?

I get back to the table. Arsenal is under some pressure now and the score line is 2-1. How did this happen? Where did my great night go? I shouldn’t have taken that call. Maybe I’d had a Joshua moment going- the team needed me to be watching for it to succeed. I took my eye off the ball and our fortunes changed. Bentico, the redeemed prophet is having fun, grinning from ear to bloody ear with all his ‘I told you so’s. Tari orders yet another Gulder for me. She’s done that quite a few times already and I wonder what her game plan is. Maybe she wants to get me drunk so that she can…

I take Bentico away from the table and we huddle together. The maybe-false prophet, and the maybe-Joshua. Me and my co-counsel. I tell him about the call and our caged comrades. He smiles.

-So we are supposed to be their lawyers? They should see our criminal law grades.


-And our lean wallets.


We both laugh. Wicked us.

On these oily streets of Port Harcourt, young men seem to be an endangered species. Long before this once-garden city became kidnap central, bands of armed men dressed in black were engaged in the abduction of young men at gunpoint. The name of this gang was and still is the Nigeria Police Force. When the men in black searched you, a nail-cutter in your pocket would be entered in your charge-sheet as a dagger. A lighter would mean you were an arsonist. A cyber café ticket would make you a cyber fraudster.


Their offences would be cooked up, totally fabricated. The ransom would be bail.

The whole restive situation and the militant problem have only made it worse. The police seem to avoid tangling with the real militants and criminals, preferring instead to harass the innocents. It is a ridiculous situation, they sometimes accost you, subject you to a body search, and when nothing incriminating is found on you, they take your cell phone and ask you for the receipt.


We decide against going to the police station and attempting any kind of rescue. We can’t afford it, and there’s no guarantee we won’t be thrown into the cell ourselves. We make a few calls and get some friends to commit to contributing to the ‘save our pals’ fund. We’ll go down to the station in the morning. Not tonight.

As we return to our drinks and the girls, I can’t help but feel a bit guilty. A police cell is a really messed up place to spend the night. David and the others will probably get beaten but they’ll come out with a few interesting war stories to tell over some drinks. Arsenal let another goal in. Damn you Jens Lehmann!


Bentico is rubbing it in. Ama is trying hard not to laugh at me. Tari comes to sit beside me to calm me down. She has her hand on my thigh now. I wonder how the night will end. I’ll get to sleep on a bed, and maybe even play catch up with my ex. Somewhere not too far away, my friends will get no sleep and for them the night will be a long and dreadful one. I feel something, maybe guilt. I drain my glass. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Tari as she discreetly signals a waiter to bring me yet another Gulder.

26 comments:

UnNaked Soul said...

lol.
i hear PH hot now.
i sorry for ur guys oh... wetin u come arrange?

Jaja said...

Porter! Porter!
too funny man...

God go punish police people for this Nigeria. simple and short.

while searching my friends boot, they dropped some stuff and said it was his.. "Exhibit"...

Anyway, my broda, make e be later.

femme said...

eya!poor guys- nigerian police(insert long hiss)
maybe u should have gone, the one word Nigerian police fear is lawyer, i who read literature have been able to bluff my way out or a tricky stolen property situation, but then again who knows.
ps
only yesterday i was saying id doing anything to get a bottle of guilder and here you taunt me with a picture.(another hiss)

Baroque said...

so you were busy doing 'The Ultimate' brooding over an unsure 'pot', Tari, while your home boys were being taunted at Olu Obasanjo... wich kind life? ol boy you no try

Vera Ezimora said...

Porter, I love this post. Not just the story, but the way it's written. It flows.

OK enough of literature.

But nawa 4 naija police mehn o. That picture of Gulder reminds me of my father. He lovesssss Gulder. So did you get enuff money 2 bail ur friends out the next day? And did Tari make ur nite?

Atutupoyoyo said...

Ol boy this tory no get part 2? I was on the edge of my seat.

Chai you wicked o! They for don beat sege sege on those your guys body. But as you said it will form the basis of much gist to come. NPF are something else. They have always been the criminals themselves.

Porter deHarqourt said...

@ unnaked soul...
...they got out the next day. we 'comply' with the bail price sharp-sharp

@jaja perineum...
...ehen, how the midweek parole go be?

@femme...
...where u dey? i'll mail u a whole crate pronto!

@Baroque...
...i gree say i no try, but the pot yielded it's contents i assure you. by the way, e be like say na u wey i see dem dey whip in front of Olu Obasanjo police station the other day...wonders (and naija films) must to get part2!

@vera...
...hey thank u. glad u like the writing. interestingly, my dad also loved his gulder, and i think i poured out more glasses for him than i've poured for myself.
as for Tari, let's just say we didn't get to sleep till early the next morning ;)

@atutupoyoyo...
...gist been plenty, but soon enough we started arguing about whether the bail money was a loan, or a 'charitable gesture'. abi we go call police to settle the matter?

Nyemoni said...

Hmm... Porter... You and Gulder...lol

princesa said...

Hey Porter! I just discovered your blog and i read all the posts on this page.
I must say am very impressed.
Will add a link to ur page on mine pronto! You can be sure i will be back.

Pity about ur friends, i ope they are out now. U sef no try o!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful well written post!!! i like the way your words flow.. very .."fluid" (lol) will certainly be back.
Candy

Jaja said...

Ok.. e don do.. UPDATE..

i dont want to repeat it, else i ll seek u out with a gun..
u know how we do..

Nyemoni said...

UPDATE Porter...

Naija Vixen said...

Lol! How did the night end now? Enquiring minds want to know!!

Porter deHarqourt said...

@nyemoni...
...yes, me and my gulder...inseparable

@princesa...
...u r too kind. as for the other thing, i'm guilty as charged.

@candy...
...hmmm, all that fuid talk, i wonder what state u r in...liquid abi...?

@jaja...
...u know how it is these days, between my room and the cybercafe, there are bullets to dodge.

@naija vixen...
...i be proper port harcout boy o! how else would the night end? (bedroom scene, then fade out to dawn)

femme said...

guy wats up? its been 2 weeks

Manda said...

hilarious! abeg do u really have a friend dat bears ama cos dat's my "house name".lol.... Una ph boys like groove o! imma come back for more juicy story. I miss ph sooo much!

Atutupoyoyo said...

Ol boy we dey wait u o

Overwhelmed Naija Babe said...

You know i love the way you write... although you do realize you're a terrible person right? lol... i no blame you jare... na alcohol, sports and ex's aren't always a good combination...

Baroque said...

see your mouth like Gulder counter...meanwhile, read my First Times a certain experience was at your fav station, Olu Ob...no be small thing oh

bighead said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bighead said...

Guy you dey try; just read all your posts. Couldn't help laughing now because of you everybody for work go no say I no dey work.

U lucky say u no go the station that night o! 2 possiblities: U get shot and appear on crime fighters the next day with a gun by your side and some pot-bellied policeman yapping about how "we caught these boys yesterday as they were about to lay ambush to our station and thanks to the bravery and alertness of our men, they were stopped".
2nd possibility: like you guessed, you get arrested. Bail x 2.

Dressing in lag is intimidating. I don't go out again. At least in my office, everyone dresses crappy enough. gat to visit "yaba mall" or "tej" one of these days.

catwalq said...

u left them in there overnight?
minus fifty catwalq points

Porter deHarqourt said...

@femme...
...i know.ha!

@manda...
...yeah that's her real name,and i'm sure Ph misses u too. try show na.

@atutu...
...don't mind me, always running late.

@overwhelmed...
...yes o! bad mix that. those urlegs ehn, hmmm one of these days.

@baroque...
...na bad boy u be.CONFIRMED!

@bighead...
...guy u dey make sense. one has to be wise in these situations. as we say in PH, i use my kaffa!

@catwalq...
...i'd rather lose those points now, so i can gain them another day. dead men don't earn catwalq points,or do they?

Afrobabe said...

Lol...I swear you be bad boy but cant stop laughing....really really the risk of being arrested yourself was too much....hope they eventually made it out...Love the way you flow

fluffycutething said...

Your blog really rocks....

Can't believe i didn't stumble on it till today!!!

Will be back sweetie

I like u ;) (sorry i like ur blog LOL)

Anonymous said...

that was weired