Dead Men Tell No Tales

adepeju adenuga
4 min readApr 13, 2018

“Bad things happen in my house all the time. Shh… I am not supposed to tell you, promise me you won’t tell any one”.

It all started on that day.. You know the name.

I had wet the bed, Mama ought not to know. My buttocks still hurt from the whips that landed, now I sit with one half of my buttocks raised to the side as I tell you. I know that the best way to avoid Mama’s wrath, was to put out all the wet cloths before she sees it.

I had to make sure I did not step on Gozie as I tiptoed from the mat she laid in our little shack. Mama slept in with baby on the bed, while I and Gozie shared our prized possession we had recovered when our neighbors were moving out.

You see, it would have been very easy to shift the blame on Gozie that would have required drowning a huge bowl of water on his side of the mat, but the water the government supplied to our corner had finished days ago.

As I moved to the door, it kept making strange noise, a thud, then a crack, and a bamb, well that how it surrounded, I almost gave in to the urge to wake Mama up, but Mama said big boys are not scared of anything. Plus, the task at hand was too important to think about the noise, if you lived in our house, you will know that noise don’t mean a thing, the lizards and rats have fun when the house is quiet, I wonder how they survive from all those drugs Mama buys from the “Aboki” down our house.

Just as I got to the door, a green slimy thing landed on my arm, I know this because, I had to wipe it off with my wet clothes, and I had no lamp with me to see anything. Only the full moon was my companion, I could not resist the urge to go in and wake Gozie, plus they say bad things don’t happen to good boys only naughty boys like me. Mama says it often that I am naughty.

The thoughts vanished as two shadows creep under the moon, the shadows lurked over my head, I read slowly and quietly the hymns we sang from our Song of Praise, on the assembly ground. The seniors sang it so well, we only mimicked their voices that the teachers do not suspect the inaccuracies in our recital. Of all, the songs, “Jesus Loves The Little Children”was all I could remember, maybe because it was sang just yesterday, the first line I repeated over and over, shifting and switching the words it hurts so much.

From my side of the wall, I could draw out the shape of Baba Ibeji and someone I do not know crying for help. Baba Ibeji was a gruesome looking man with one eye wrapped under a black scarve, a long mark like the small letter “J”, the older ones whisper when they believe children are out of earshot that he gained it during a fight at the park, not that I eavesdropped on the conversations of adults, but I had been called to serve Mama and her gossip friends, a glass of water.

As I moved one leg over the other, the words “who is that?” made me stop. I had assumed a posture same as I do every PE day, when we play a game called Change your style in school, a game I win medals for, since Mama had taught me to be respectful, my voice crocked to reply, but the glint of a knife that chose that moment to appear stopped me. This time, Baba Ibeji, after a very close scrutiny, coming close to my hide out which is behind the door that opens our yard to the road, continued with his task, taking time to admire whatever he was carving, or drawing on the floor, his shadow hands moving with skills of someone who knows how to slice onions.

You see..Mama had always cautioned I and my brother, Gozie not to play with knives, somehow, I realized Baba Ibeji is playing a very bad game. I am not surprised perhaps, his Mama did not train him.

I closed my mouth mimicking the agama lizard beside me, the weight of the wet clothes is taking a toll on me, but I can’t move.

Just then, a flood of red water came flooding at me with a thud to the ground.

Soon the shadows disappeared, and I ran in for my dear lives, I hurried back to the mat with my wet clothes this time with an additional trail just between my two legs, I am not worried about Mama’s flogging.

Now, as I sleep, Mama and her gossip friend, are narrating the death of a young girl, the meat seller’s second daughter, I can not tell Mama anything, because “dead men tell no tale”



adepeju adenuga

I love the power of stories, playing with words and my imagination to the rescue.