Mosquitoes have not returned from vacation, Kam, I said to myself. Let’s open the front door and sit in the doorway; this house is hot tonight. I agreed with myself. Wished we stayed upstairs, on the first floor at least. Would have sat on the balcony’s railing with my back to the house. Would be far from the generator fumes, too. Sat in the doorway anyway.
I heard the scream from upstairs. A long one. Not particularly loud. Another long one. Several short ones, punctuated by attempts at speech. The ongoing cacophony of generators made me doubt my ears. Was it serious? Should I run there or run inside?
I heard a door open. A scream again. Clearer now. Coming from the penthouse on the third floor. A short stream of words flowed behind the scream. Sounded like the soft spoken man upstairs. The one who had a nice smile, who never looked you in the eye and never stayed to chat. The one whose girlfriend came home after midnight nearly every night. The sound of her car’s engine would wake you up. Unless you were the kind of person who slept as if you were rehearsing for death. It was loud. Louder than Osuofia the first time he went to America.
A bottle landed downstairs first. About ten steps away from where I sat. I didn’t see it coming. Was trying to discuss with myself. It shattered. I jumped up. The smell of alcohol jabbed at my nostrils strongly. Made my eyes sprout beads of saltwater. Go inside or go and see? What of stand in the doorway? Okay, Kam, stand in the doorway.
The person landed on the scattered pieces of the bottle. Chineke nna. I ran inside first. Closed the door. Opened it again slowly. Peeped out. He was lying on his back. Peered at the face. Yes, it was the man upstairs. There was the silver ring on his left index finger, the one with wings on it. I had admired it the last time I saw him. This morning as I returned from a sleepover with Jenifer.
Blood. Ewo! Blood o. From his head. His back. Nnam n’elu Igwe. What is this? What do I do? See blood o. Did anyone else hear him hit the ground? I doubted it.
‘If you’re not off that floor and up here with my bottle in five minutes, just find yourself a new house, you bastard son of a thousand woe-begotten fathers and a whoring donkey mother’!
The girlfriend! She’s around? I flew inside the moment she started talking. I heard the rest through the crack in the door. What! She wasn’t even going to come check? She thought he would still be fine and fresh after falling from that height? Jesus onye Nazaret.
Falling? What if… What if she had thrown him? Hey, Kam, keep quiet! People do not throw people from balconies in Nigeria. He fell. He fell. He fell. He fell she threw him. He she threw him. She. Threw. Him.
Like the bottle?
That was what she told the judge three weeks later during her trial for murder.
‘He grabbed my bottle of vodka and threw it downstairs’. Surprise and outrage twined around the words like weeds around the pillars of an abandoned house.
‘Just to be clear, the deceased grabbed your bottle of vodka during an argument and threw it downstairs. Is that correct’? the prosecuting counsel asked.
‘Alright. Please continue. What happened afterwards’?
‘I threw him down to go get it’.