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The Howl

That deep bark always welcomed Mette, the moment he turned that corner in the woods.

The Wallis was the only house located in the corner of the woods. Mette had never seen any person from that house except the howl from the dogs. The house was fenced round with thick brushes. It had very dense foliage that you could hardly see through. It was sophisticated in architecture and the roof of the house was made out of raffia leaves. The mud architecture was rare. The only part that could be seen was the top bit that resembled a chimney. Smoke was always curling from it, that time of the morning.

Mette walked like a precision Swiss instrument, he always turned that bend at 4.50am and it was always pitch black – no torch, no light from the phone.

His hands were always tucked in his pocket and his steps always calculated. His walk seemed like a military parade of left right, left right, forward march!

He walked straight and deep. He didn’t have time for casualness. He would normally stop at the pine tree to ease himself before he continued. That exact spot was witnessing some discolouration due to the persistent wear and tear from his urine. When the rains came, it never resuscitated the colours. That yellow patch signaled Mette’s spot of ease.

Mette had carved out a route for himself that measured 5km. He usually covered this over a 43minutes time lapse. If it was a wet day, he got slowed down by two minutes.

4am. Mettu’s alarm awoke him and he would spring out of bed like a samurai warrior. He would get dressed in his Puma shorts, Nike dry top jersey, Reebok socks and Asic gel trainers. He would dash down the stairs to his living room and do twenty quick push ups. He would do the big cat crouch and crawl for 10 minutes. This was the most important of his work out. It made him feel like a predator waiting for his prey, it set him mentally for the day’s hunt. The last 10 seconds of the crouch and crawl saw him leap into the air to catch his prey and constrict the windpipe of his prey, he would lay still as he held on to the windpipe suffocating his prey in the process. He would then drag his prey to a quiet corner where he would devour his breakfast. He would then step out into the fresh morning cold air that welcomed him. He would start his morning walk briskly, whistling his old tune of ‘I remember when I was a soldier’ a song he learnt in the boot camp many years ago. The brisk walk would metamorphose into his ‘left right left right, forward march’, pattern and after about a kilometer trek, he would follow the path that led into the woods and after a further 1km trek he would negotiate that bend. That howl and sharp bark would welcome him and linger on till he disappeared from sight.

Very few people made it out that early for walks except the occasional one or two odd people with their hounds and their flashlights strapped to the forehead. At this time of the morning, every sound could be heard a mile away. A step on a dry leaf could be heard being crushed and flattened. A squeak from a tree branch pounced upon by a squirrel would reverberate in the entire woods, a fox would dash across the pathway without a care in the world and the lizards would walk close up to you, without a fear, all these life were witnessed in the deep woods of Gomba.

Mette had a stressful day at work. Celina the new lady who was recently deployed from the headquarters to the regional office thought because she came from GHQ, she had the answers to everything. As a matter of fact, she felt that everybody should listen and take her opinion. Mette was struggling here. This made him to do start taking evening walks. The evening walk was so different to the morning walk. The air was not so fresh like in the morning and the dog never barked when others walked past but as soon as  he made that bend, that howling would go off. In the night he struggled to sleep as that noise kept reverberating in his mind, intruding his peace and making itself an uninvited guest to the privacy of his mind. He tried to ignore it, it would not go away, he tried to silence the howl it would not go away, finally he drifted to sleep and in his dream he saw that dog chase him. He ran and ran until he stumbled at a ditch and woke up.

As soon as he got up, he pulled his drawer and took out his Webly Senior .22 ran down the stairs and slung his jacket over his body. He walked straight towards that clay house. He made that bend and waited for the howl. It did not come. He walked close to the wall. It did not come. He lounged around the area, that bark did not come. He listened close. He heard a digging sound. He pulled the brushes apart. He saw a man wearing a Stetson hat digging the earth. He lifted a heavy set shepherd and dumped it in the earth. He began to cover the earth with the soil. The first shovel load hit the body with a thud and a shrill cry was let out. The man with the Stetson hat, was in shock. The German shepherd sprang up and leapt out of the grave. It ran straight to the brushes where Mette was watching. Mette pulled out his Webly Senior and aimed at the Shepherd boy. The dog fell at his feet.

 

Uwem Mbot Umana©2019

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