One sad day, I stopped at a printing press to pick some copies of my books. Then I decided to take Lawanson and connect Oshodi expressway through Itire road. I was alone in the car. After covering a good distance away from the Oba's palace at Itire, I ran into some policemen. About four or more were in a van and one was standing in the middle of the road. He was a monument in a vast land. I think it was his turn to contribute to the fraud of the Nigerian state that is a tragedy of a 21st century. He waved me to stop. So I slammed my leg on the brake and slowed down. My car rolled to the corner and parked few poles away from their van.
Then the creature whose eyes were crimson red and his head shaven like an egg walked up to me. "Good evening,” he said. He smelled like a bar and let go a yawn that took some time to mix with the air. "What do you have in your boot?" he asked and kept a straight face.
"My books!" I said and flashed an exaggerated smile at him.
My innocent smile could not win him over. He stared coldly at me and flung a glance at the back seat to see if he could find what could implicate me. There was nothing. And then he returned his gaze to me and cleared his throat. “OFF YOUR ENGINE!” he bellowed. “COME AND OPEN YOUR BOOT!”
I complied and placed the car keys in my back pocket. As he walked to the back of the car, I made for my wallet. These men worship mammon. A few naira notes could get a condemned thief out of jail. So I decided to take advantage of his weakness. Flash a few naira notes and be left off the hook. I got some naira notes so that I can be out of Surulere before nightfall. My plan was to beat the traffic along Apapa-Oshodi expressway. But I never knew that I was in for a long night.
He watched me opened the boot as his colleagues who sat in the van fixed their gaze on us. He was sweating and smelling. I could not tell if the weight of the rifle was killing him. Or the bewilderment that rules the heart of men who drown themselves in liquor was standing taller than the pair of legs that carried him. He could be a victim of both worlds. The rifle was old and it is a tragedy for a drunken man to be left with a firearm. Here, the law was out of my hands. I was not in the position to fix the problem. I was the victim. He was supposed to be my friend and protector. The man who the law has entrusted my life to his miserable hands was failing. He had betrayed the state and the people he had sworn to serve. I threw the boot open, turned to him and crossed my arm over my body.
He nodded, simpering and staggered to my side. He almost knocked me over as he tried to steady his already disorganized soul. He swallowed hard, licked his lips as he inspected the over 500 copies of my books in the boot. I proudly showed him my picture at the back of the book, my name on the front cover and my ID CARD. At least, I was proud to let him know I was a writer. But I received a rude shock. He had barely glanced at the ID card, when he yelled at me, "SO NA YOU DEY PIRATE PEOPLE BOOK ABI? I DON CATCH YOU TODAY!" He turned to the van and signaled the other men to come. About three policemen jumped out of the van and approached us as if they had caught a big thief.
Before I could blink, he told them that I was a thief. They glanced at me and our eyes met. They smiled after he spews out the rubbish. Knowing that their colleague was drunk, one of them threw out a question, "Identify yourself, my brother."
I handed him my ID CARD. He checked it and looked at the books. And then he looked at my face. He nodded his head. I think he realized that I was clean. He returned my ID and ordered me to return to the car.
But his colleague who was under the spell of liquor became furious. "WHY WILL YOU LET HIM GO?" he barked at the policeman. "HE IS A PIRATE. HE MUST BE ARRESTED."Then he turned to me, "IF YOU GO ANYWHERE, I WILL SHOOT YOU!"
Afraid that I could be robbed of life in the belly of the night, I stopped. Now, there was a struggle between them. Two of the policemen held the one that was drunk and tried to take the rifle from him. As they battled with him, he yelled at the top of his voice, "WHO GAVE HIM AUTHORITY TO WRITE? HE SHOULD PROVIDE DOCUMENTS TO SHOW HE IS A WRITER!"
I was a still water in my corner. Not long after, they disarmed him. One of the men walked up to me. He apologized for the embarrassment that the man had caused me. As he we walked to the car, He whispered, "Oga, find us something. Make you go."
I smiled. I gave him the naira notes. Entered my car and drove off.
As I descended the bridge at airport road, my mind began to work. What would have happened to me if the policemen had not intervened? Likely the drunken policeman would have shot me. He could have harmed me or kill me!
I was lucky today.
Kill the drunken policeman.
Omoruyi Uwuigiaren studied Mass Communications. He is a writer, cartoonist, and a blogger. He has published several books which include The City Heroes and other stories from the heart of Africa, Giant in a Hut, Little Okon, Tom the Little Man. His short stories and articles have appeared on Moronic Ox Literary and Cultural Journal, Vanguard Newspapers and other literary journals. You can reach Ruyi @ firstname.lastname@example.org