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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 40 page 02


tropical colors


by Wayne Johnston

Every Thursday evening Damilola Akpata would go to La Whisky for a nightcap, to unwind near the end of the work week and begin the transition to the weekend. He would nurse a single Legend Extra Stout while watching the other patrons and listening to the radio behind the bar. He was generally left in peace and he cherished this scheduled hour of self indulgence.

On this night he was somewhat disappointed to see a familiar face in the bar. He felt obliged to make conversation. “Ajibola, how are you, my friend?”

While Damilola may have been discomfited by the obligation to be social, Ajibola on his part was clearly flustered. “Ah, Damilola! Please, have a seat. What a surprise. I’ve never been here before and didn’t expect to see anyone I know.”

“But are you sure I’m not disturbing you?”

“It’s okay. I have something I need to do and I just came in here for a shot of scotch to steel my nerves.” Ajibola looked nervously down at his backpack on the floor and nudged it a bit closer to his chair.

Just then the radio announced the opening of the twentieth Oil and Gas Conference. The broadcaster asserted that it was an event to be celebrated as there would be many international delegates forming strategic partnerships and boosting the economy. Having said that, there were concerns about violent protests focused on the inequitable distribution of wealth from the booming industry.

It was clear to Damilola that the report on the radio had captured all of Ajibola's attention. All he had to do was raise his eyebrows at Ajibola to get him to open up. “Our concerns must be heard,” Ajibola said, “and sometimes that requires extreme measures. The opening reception is taking place now at the Eko Hotel. I need to get there now.”

“Ajibola, what are you intending to do?”

“You can read about it in the papers tomorrow, my friend.”

“Don’t be foolhardy!”

“I must go.”

Ajibola grabbed his backpack and left abruptly. Damilola sat in confusion for a moment then raced after him, grabbing a diner’s knife from a nearby table. He caught up with Ajibola before he reached the Eko. He threw Ajibola up against a wall and pressed the knife along his cheek.

“I don’t want anyone to get hurt but I will kill you if that’s what it takes to keep innocent people safe at the hotel. This is a foolish plan.”

Ajibola dropped the backpack. “I know you are right. I’m not even sure I was going to follow through with it. I’ve just been so angry and frustrated.”

“What we’re going to do is throw your backpack into the Kuramo Waters. Then we’re going back to La Whisky for another drink. We need to talk.”

After disposing of the backpack they started for the bar but only got as far as Olosa Street when they saw a major protest taking place on Adetokunbo Ademola. Protesters had blocked the intersection and counter protesters were confronting them. Ajibola turned to Damilola and said, “I’m sorry, my friend. We’ll have to have that drink another time. I need to lend my support. Thank you. You saved my life today.”