I wound the car windows all the way down so I could feel the air outside against my skin. The cold moist air that rushed through was instantly transformed into a strong wind by the force of the Nissan Xterra pushing itself along the Lekki/Ekpe expressway at a hundred and twenty kilometers per hour. I relished the sweet ting-tang sensation of it. It sure was going to be a long time before my skin tasted the early morning sea breeze again. I let my foot off the gas pedal as the Jakande roundabout rushed towards me. Gently caressing the brakes, I hugged the inside of the curve more than a little too closely and then shot out towards Ajah. At 4:37am the Lekki peninsula was fast asleep; an hour from now and the highway would be teeming with vehicles.
I turned to smile at the colt sitting on the passenger seat. It had belonged to my father. He always said it had been a gift from an American ex-service man, but I knew better. I turned my eyes back to the road, better to focus on driving at this speed. I could see my turn off point in the distance. It was upon me in what seemed like seconds. Alpha beach road was a bottleneck just after it’s junction with the highway, but the road was all mine so I swung in at a run. The road had recently been graded, but it was still a very bumpy ride at 80km/hr. I owed it to Emmanuel; this early morning visit with which I was blessing him. Both he and God knew that I’d loved him like a brother. As friends I’d cared for him like he was my own flesh; looked out for him when it had hurt; and now this. It felt like I’d been betrayed by my own blood.
Salt tanged air brought me out of me reverie. I was at his street. I dimmed the headlamps and drove slowly down the sandy lane, parked a few meters from his gate and waited. I reclined in the leather seats, my ears pricked like a dog’s. Minutes or maybe hours later, I heard a metal door being slammed into its post. The sound of the waves crashing upon the beach which had kept me company suddenly faded into a backdrop. I listened to the silence. A car door slammed. Yeah, that was definitely my over energetic best friend. At six-foot two inches he was a mass of muscles and sinews, his still nascent beer gut the only physical trait that betrayed his carnality.
My right hand slid the gear stick into drive. The gates to Emmanuel’s compound swung inward. The white Camry crawled out and then paused. He was probably leaving the gateman some instructions. I was sitting up very straight, the palms of my hand suddenly sweaty on the steering wheel. The Camry leaped out unto the road, like a wild beast out of its cave. Emmanuel was swinging the car to his left with his usual admirable deftness, heading towards me like a bullet. My eyes made out the silhouette of his frame behind the wheel. My right hand snaked towards the colt. As my forefinger wrapped itself around the trigger, my left hand and right foot acted in unison. The Xterra flew into the path of the Camry.
My good friend hit the brakes a few seconds after impact. Our vehicles now formed a ‘V’ upon the road. His door opened on the inside of this V and his huge frame emerged from the vehicle. He slammed the door shut with is characteristic violence, his eyes riveted on the damage to his vehicle. I waited for him to look directly at me although I had a clear view of him through the open window; an all too clear view. In that instant when he looked from his car to me, I felt my rage mutate to hate. I was acutely aware of this hate as it bloomed into a blinding emotion in that same instant. And all of it directed at this man whose eyes now came to rest on me with an emotion that mirroring mine.
The colt rose, aimed at him and then fired once. There was no way I could miss; I’d spent every single day of a whole month training to use this gun. The crisp white shirt Emmanuel was wearing now had an asymmetrical red stain which hadn’t been there a moment earlier. The force of the bullet caused him to jerk back real violently, but he was still standing, staring at me with a hatred which now wore the mask of surprise. I squeezed the trigger one more time for good measure. The red patch made an easy target. The force of three bullets in quick succession flung my best friend backwards unto his white Camry. I saw the hate melt away as it gave way to dread. The surprise remained. His lips moved as he slid to the ground; I could only make out my name as the hate released me to grief.