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Junkyard Blues

Al Moye

Publication Year: 2013

In Cameroon life isnít only like living in limbo, it is like living in the very centre of a hellish junkyard where dreams are dumped and wishes shattered at will by forces which can barely be controlled or understood. It is in this junkyard of dreams that Jude Maimo finds himself after years of studies and obtaining a university degree that could not even procure him a decent job. Reluctantly living under his brotherís care after having failed grossly in an attempt to be independent, and doing a job that is more than an insult to him, he still hopes to one day live his simple dream; furthering his education long enough to have a respectable and decent job that could make him truly independent. Entangled in a relationship he can barely understand and weighed down by the daily temptations of natural life, a long lost friend from back in his school days suddenly appears as a light to lead him to the end of the tunnel. But a little too late, he discovers that the promised light of salvation is just another face of darkness, a darkness that wants more than his soul, a darkness that can only lead to tragedyÖ.

Published by: African Books Collective

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-3

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Prologue

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pp. iii-vi

He felt it start from the pit of his stomach; a big ugly wave that was only bound to go up toward his mouth. His crowded stomach gave a name to that wave before his brain could register it; it was nausea and it was so strong that he knew everything inside his stomach was going to come spilling out at any moment. ...

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Chapter One

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pp. 1-6

The moon looks bigger through this tiny hole, he thought looking up at the full moon that occupied all his view. It was as if the moon was just hanging outside the hole, mocking him for his lack of freedom to see it from outside. All this lack of freedom because of a few hot words…Because of a case of simple straight forward and justifiable anger. ...

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Chapter Two

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pp. 7-12

Well, it did not just start immediately. He was a new breed, a new specimen being introduced into a new world, a world that was already occupied by the true occupants. He was a new animal being introduced into a cage that already had other animals and these ones a step toward wild. ...

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Chapter Three

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pp. 13-18

Derrick owns a car. It is an old model Toyota Carina 2, the type that every Toyota manufacturer has already forgotten about. The car needs a lot more parts and a lot more paint to look anything as the manufacturer intended, and it has a funny tendency of leaving the house with Derrick sitting behind the wheel ...

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Chapter Four

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pp. 19-22

The decision was made and he was not given the chance to debate it. The decision was made and there was nothing he could do about it. He was going back under Derrick’s wings again, and going back while his head was bowed to the ground in shame. ...

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Chapter Five

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pp. 23-28

Hell is a place of untold and unending torture. A place of suffering beyond the grasp of the human mind. A place where the soul languishes in eternity, begging for death to come and erase it from existence. It is managed by a big fiery devil who goes by the name of Lucifer, who is assisted by a couple of demons, red demons with tails and tiny horns. ...

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Chapter Six

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pp. 29-30

It was going to be another “your future” talk, Jude could see that. It was not something new and if there was something that he knew it was that nothing worthwhile ever came out from them. Today it was going to be about the recruitment exercise launched by the government to recruit young university graduates. ...

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Chapter Seven

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pp. 31-34

There had been a lot of talks about his future, ever since he left the university over four years ago. What all the “your future” talks were characteristic of was that they were always engineered by Derrick. And they were all centered around the short-cut approach, the easiest andfastest- means possible approach ...

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Chapter Eight

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pp. 35-38

Jude looked up from the notebook in which he was logging the last sale he had made. The face before him had a characteristic warm smile that was mixed with some air of sincere stubbornness. The face belonged to a young man about his age, a young man who was shorter, rounder with fresh fat deposits already making his belly to swell. ...

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Chapter Nine

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pp. 39-44

People call it a lot of things, but most of the times they just call it the sixth sense. It is that other imaginary sense, that other aspect to know things without using the normal five known senses. It is great in detecting something abnormal in the air before that something is evident. ...

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Chapter Ten

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pp. 45-48

Such things happen, he wanted to tell himself. Such things happen to people around the world, they had been happening and they will always be happening. It had happened to people far greater than him, presidents and kings and all the like. It was normal just like breathing was normal. It was nothing big, nothing at all. ...

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Chapter Eleven

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pp. 49-50

They sat for a while in silence, Niba indicating to the barman to serve them again. After the new beers were before them and Niba had taken a long drink he said, “It’s not like we don’t know her. We know her, man, and she’s a…” he took another drink, “She’s not the type to even start thinking about anything silly.” ...

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Chapter Twelve

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pp. 51-56

It happened again and it had not been in his plan, but it happened. He had tried to avoid it, but to no avail. It happened even after that effort. It was like there was some mighty hand, some invisible mighty hand that was always standing by to take control of himself; take control and manipulate him like a puppet on strings, ...

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Chapter Thirteen

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pp. 57-60

She turned around on the bed again behind him, another tiny moan escaping from her throat. She was now staring at his naked back, and he could feel her sad eyes on his back. It was something he had never been able to explain, that ability to always feel her eyes on him even if he could not see her staring at him. ...

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Chapter Fourteen

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pp. 61-64

He finally reached Derrick’s house that eventful evening. It was already a few minutes past 10pm. He was anticipating and hating the fact that he was going to knock at the door and stand there waiting for the door to be open for him by an annoyed Derrick and for the obvious questions to start flying. ...

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Chapter Fifteen

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pp. 65-68

The next couple of days were the longest he had ever experienced. Each day was so slow in passing that it felt like a whole week. And he spent them trying hard to wear a mask of normalcy over his face, a mask that was completely porous. His brain was wearing its own mask, a mask of denial. ...

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Chapter Sixteen

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pp. 69-70

It wasn’t like he had made any decision; he told himself, when he walked up to his boss the next day. He was just trying to gather some nuts for the coming dry season and that was all. And the truth was that if somebody had asked him why he had decided to go see his boss, he would have simply blinked fast and stood there looking at that person with an open mouth and a tight tongue. ...

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Chapter Seventeen

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pp. 71-74

That was the word, that word that was going to solve everything. But, he had never thought about it in a way that it would pertain to him, not in the least. He had never seen himself in the crossroad, imploring that word to guide him, to get him out. It had been something for the weak and the cowardly hearted, ...

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Chapter Eighteen

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pp. 75-80

The doctor smiled at him, a smile that said he was used to people like him, anxious young people whom he had to listen to patiently and answer all their questions and try to calm them down. Anxious young people like him who were silly enough to have fallen into the trap of pregnancy and who were always knocking at the door of his clinic, ...

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Chapter Nineteen

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pp. 81-82

She was lying on her back on a bed that was small even for somebody like her. She was staring up at the ceiling, her hands behind her head. But the first thing he noticed was her eyes staring up at the ceiling. They had a new quality of sadness about them, and they did not even turn towards him to acknowledge his presence as he entered the ward. ...

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Chapter Twenty

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pp. 83-86

Forgetting is one of the greatest properties God handed down to mankind. Though in most instances it is a curse that no one wants to be part of, but there are still those rare times when that curse is a cherished gift. It is a gift that promotes healing, healing even from the most heinous acts. ...

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Chapter Twenty-one

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pp. 87-89

One day, Okoro started talking about his mysterious friend with the big shiny car again. It was on a clear and bright morning in the middle of March; the rainy season having made its graceful entrance, making the ugly dust varnish from every tree leaf and every roof top. ...

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Chapter Twenty-two

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pp. 90-92

It was a slow day, the slowest he could ever remember. It was as if the hand of the clock was frozen in one place. But he knew time was something that could not be frozen in one place. It was just the anxiety inside and the aspect of waiting that was giving him that feeling. ...

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Chapter Twenty-three

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pp. 93-98

“How do you mean?” the man said with that smile still on his face. It was a smile he had known, a smile he could still remember even after four whole years. The only problem was that the smile was on the wrong face, on a face that he did not know, a face he had never seen. This was somebody he knew nothing about, this person standing before him. ...

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Chapter Twenty-four

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pp. 99-102

Yes, that was the issue; he had been expecting to hear something out of this world, some story that was going to sound completely bogus. A lottery ticket winning story perhaps, or Eric finding some hidden diamond or gold. Not some simple story about doing business and getting lucky, which was strangely a simply straight forward story. ...

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Chapter Twenty-five

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pp. 103-106

That night Jude lay in bed on his back staring up at the ceiling unable to go to sleep. He still could not believe the events of the day, that he had spent the evening with Eric, the poor humble fellow he had known back then who was now a totally new and altered Eric. ...

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Chapter Twenty-six

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pp. 107-110

“Did you ask him for some network?” Niba asked. It was already two days since his epiphany, and they were sitting over a few bottles of beer in their favorite bar (beer that was being paid for this time by Jude). The bar was still almost empty, with just a few early customers. ...

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Chapter Twenty-seven

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pp. 111-112

It became the only thing alive in his head (even if it filled him with shame and guilt), the idea of the new and altered Eric as an opportunity, that access to the higher rungs of the ladder of life. It was an idea he was starting to hate even as it was already instituted in his brain and continuing to colonize every section of his brain. ...

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Chapter Twenty-eight

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pp. 113-116

It was that clear to him. So, despite the enormous advice and coaching from Niba at every second they had together now, or the fact that even part of his brain wanted to see the logic in that, or the fact that the Scriptures had a simplified version of it all in its “ask and you shall receive,” ...

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Chapter Twenty-nine

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pp. 117-120

Everybody has a plan for the future, and there is certainty in that. Even those poor people close to the grave and knowing their fate still draw plans for the future. Some plans can be really outrageous and hairy, while some can be serious and realistic, but they are all plans for the future. ...

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Chapter Thirty

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pp. 121-124

“Then he told me I wasn’t thinking big,” he said the words without hating himself for saying them. The anger and that feeling of being insulted were now completely gone. In fact he felt excited, felt like he was someone new, someone new who was heading for something big and worthwhile. ...

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Chapter Thirty-one

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pp. 125-128

It didn’t take longer that he had thought it would take. In less than a month, one surprisingly bright April morning, the world all covered now in green, he found himself at the post office collecting his admission letter. It was inside an important looking envelop along with the school’s brochure. ...

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Chapter Thirty-two

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pp. 129-130

He was still thinking about that line two days ago, when he talked with Eric, thinking about it and finding no answer. He could not see how he could repay Eric and even why Eric was willing to stretch out his neck just to help him. ...

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Chapter Thirty-three

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pp. 131-134

Yes, he could understand that; understand the fact that in Cameroon to get something like a passport was going to be something that called for a godfather. Not that it was not possible to get one, but the problem was the time it took (and that time was forever), and when the passport was needed in the right time, ...

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Chapter Thirty-four

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pp. 135-136

He called the man that evening, when Eric sent him the man’s number. The voice that answered was a gentle and soft voice, the type that caused you to start drawing images in your mind, images of a person who was filled with nothing but goodness, someone who was humble and honest. ...

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Chapter Thirty-five

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pp. 137-140

The taxi was hot inside, even though it was cold outside and Jude could see low clouds hanging over every visible hill. There was no rain yet, but the level of cloud cover showed that it was going to rain, even if not soon. The low cloud was going to lift and show the face of a darker cloud which was going to bring the rain. ...

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Chapter Thirty-six

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pp. 141-146

There’s always something about waking up in some form of peace and tranquility, something that can not actually be described unless if it involves talking about all that overwhelming feeling (which can at times be very false), that feeling which says everything is okay. ...

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Chapter Thirty-seven

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pp. 147-152

Jude wanted to shake his head, no he did not really know if that was possible or if he could believe something like that. Love was not in play here, he did not think so. He was clear-headed and he could see this arrangement for what it was; a cheap means to get what he wanted, just a matter of simple convenience. ...

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Chapter Thirty-eight

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pp. 153-158

Jude turned his face to the door of the room as it opened suddenly and Mabel walked into the room holding a small black plastic shopping bag in her hand. He could make out a piece of bread inside the shopping bag, just the shape of it, but it was unmistakable. Suddenly he felt hungry. ...

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Chapter Thirty-nine

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pp. 159-162

He had made that resolution and he intended to keep it. Just the thought of walking back into Derrick’s house was enough to tear through his heart and divide it into two and sprinkle those seeds of guilt again in the torn heart. It was not the thought of the screaming child nor the dragon lady and her sharp tongue, ...

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Chapter Forty

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pp. 163-168

“What friend?” Jude asked knowing full well who Niba was talking about. It was one of the points these days that seemed to interest his diabolic mind, and hate it as much as Jude did, he knew there was no way of stopping Niba. To Niba it was just another way of breaking the day to day monotony of pounding at computer keyboards, ...

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Chapter Forty-one

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pp. 169-174

Jude was in the room, sitting on the only couch in the hotel room, his beating heart finally calming down and the paranoia drifting away. The man before him was one of those honest looking people, a perfect face, a perfect smile and that look that make you chastise yourself for having had any flickers of paranoia. ...

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Chapter Forty-two

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pp. 175-178

“Stupid old woman,” Niba was saying, “I’ll show her that she’s just a junk like all the others,” Niba was pounding the computer keyboard as if it was the woman herself, as if he could see her right there before him, “She thinks she’s smart, but she doesn’t know I’m a genius.” ...

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Chapter Forty-three

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pp. 179-186

“Perfecto,” Niba cried looking at the computer screen, a smile eating up all his face, “A junk is a junk,” he turned to Jude and said, “This is how you handle them, don’t ever say I didn’t teach you everything.” ...

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Chapter Forty-four

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pp. 187-192

The insinuations had almost gotten to him in the beginning. He had found himself asking himself the question “what if”, his mind opening up and listening more and more to what Niba had to say about trusting a woman and a prostitute for that matter. But somehow he had been able to put those insinuations and the questions to rest. ...

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Chapter Forty-five

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pp. 193-194

The room, which was actually the reception, was spotless. It was a sizeable room with polished walls and white polished tiles on the floor that were polished enough to reflect the light from the fluorescent lamps hanging from the ceiling almost like it was the sun. The reflected light was almost strong enough to hurt the eyes. ...

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Chapter Forty-six

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pp. 195-200

The office or more precisely the building (well it looked like the whole building belonged to the organization from all he could see) was a two-storey house in Cow Street. It was one of those buildings that were now appearing overnight, taking the places of some old dilapidated buildings that had stood at the position for years. ...

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Chapter Forty-seven

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pp. 201-204

The man had a PhD from Leeds University in Britain; he made that clear to Jude. Jude felt himself being drawn to the man like a moth to a light bulb. This was a man who knew what it took to get there, a man who had been there and was back. It was impressive just listening to the man talk; ...

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Chapter Forty-eight

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pp. 205-210

Later, after the man had taken him into another office, this one at the second floor of the building and watch as he gave his information to a young man who created a file for him in his computer, the man handed him a brochure containing everything about the organization. ...

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Chapter Forty-nine

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pp. 211-214

The next day, Jude found himself in the two-storey building again. He was the first person to walk into the building that morning who was not working with the organization or a member of the organization. He felt all nervous and all shaky in his feet but somehow he knew he had to do it, ...

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Chapter Fifty

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pp. 215-218

“How much do you have already?” Niba asked him two days later after he had explained his adventures of the past days to him. They were in a bar, on Niba’s insistence, “Come on, man, I need a beer.” ...

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Chapter Fifty-one

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pp. 219-222

That night he found himself actually praying to God for luck in getting as many junks as possible. It was the first time he had ever asked God for any help with his scamming business consciously and he caught himself before he could go through with the prayers. ...

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Chapter Fifty-two

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pp. 223-226

The first person who opened his mouth and said the words was Niba. Not that Jude could not have said them himself or that he could not see the writing on the wall. He could’ve said it for he too could see the writing on the wall, but it was Niba who said the words quietly one day in the fourth week, “I think we’ve a little problem,” he said. ...

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Chapter Fifty-three

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pp. 227-230

“Why didn’t I think about this early?” Niba asked no one in particular the next day still excited. Last night he had told Jude only that he had found the solution to Jude’s problem then had hung up, “Why didn’t I think about this early? Something so stupid and easy?” ...

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Chapter Fifty-four

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pp. 231-232

It was easy, more than he would’ve thought it would be. He had thought about the idea of taking a loan and the procedure that it entailed as something that was going to take forever. But it was an easy task and it was evident even in the eyes of the young loan officer who looked like he was his age (though a lot swollen), ...

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Chapter Fifty-five

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pp. 233-238

Jude ran a hand over his jacket pocket again where the money was located, he still felt naked even as he sat in the sofa inside the reception area of the building. He stole a glance at the young woman busily punching away on her computer keyboard and sent his hand into the pocket to feel the money again. ...

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Chapter Fifty-six

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pp. 239-240

I’m going to solve a problem, he kept telling himself. It was a song in his mind. And his mind needed that song. It was only when he had solved the problem that he was going to get out of the dark cloud which he was wrapped up in. ...

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Chapter Fifty-seven

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pp. 241-244

Of all the thoughts that ran through his head, the one that said he might have been duped did not surface after he had handed the money to James. It didn’t even register in his head after the first week had passed nor did it even register after the second week was halfway through. ...

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Chapter Fifty-eight

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pp. 245-248

As usual, the first person who opened his mouth and hinted him on what the gray was really all about was Niba. He would’ve wanted to say that it had been hidden, that deep in his heart he had not been feeling it too, but that would’ve been a lie. For somewhere in his working mind he saw what that gray was, ...

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Chapter Fifty-nine

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pp. 249-250

He slowly got up to his feet, but another wave of nausea sent him back on his knee. He opened his mouth this time waiting for the retching to start but nothing came, just that foul smell of whisky spilling out in thick vapors from his parted lips. ...

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Chapter Sixty

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pp. 251-254

That statement ran through his brain as he had sat in the cyber café that afternoon staring at the unblinking message on the screen before him. It was a strange statement, a statement whose meaning he did not think he knew or wanted to know. ...

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Chapter Sixty-one

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pp. 255-256

He slipped and fell, striking his knee on the ground as he fell. He felt a hot intense pain shoot through his whole body, a pain that temporally cleared his brain. The rain was still falling lightly but soaking him and everything under the dark heavens. ...

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Chapter Sixty-two

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pp. 257-260

“It even delayed, man,” Niba’s eyes told him after he had made a big scene of being surprised and understanding with him, “You too slept together and it was just normal that something like that could’ve happened again,” Niba’s eyes continued to tell him, “What did you expect?” ...

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Chapter Sixty-three

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pp. 261-264

“Hello?” the voice said in his ears, a voice he recognized immediately, and suddenly he found himself trembling, his heart beating a little faster. He had forgotten how it would be and that idea that maybe he was just wasting his time, that the man at the other end was not even going to talk to him once he knew who was calling. ...

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Chapter Sixty-four

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pp. 265-266

It was past midnight when he arrived. But it was the same hotel and strangely the same hotel room and the same door that he knocked. The rain outside was now a downpour, the heavens finally growing tired of pretending with the drizzling rain and finally showing its true face. ...

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Chapter Sixty-five

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pp. 267-272

“I’ve been talking,” Niba said and shook his head. He knew Niba had been telling him a story; a story which Niba thought was very funny. The only problem was that he had not heard one word of the story as he had sat there. And it was clear that Niba could see it too. ...

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Chapter Sixty-six

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pp. 273-276

He thought about the envelope again that night. The envelope was still lying under the mattress where he had kept it that blessed morning, lying there and catching some dust. The envelop that was his payment! ...

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Chapter Sixty-seven

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pp. 277-278

Get used to what? The constant multicolored movie that was playing in his head? The fact that that was his real payment for sacrificing his soul to something he could not even start to comprehend? ...

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Chapter Sixty-eight

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pp. 279-280

Such a day was not supposed to be bright. It was supposed to be a day with heavy ceilings of dark clouds and huge sketches of lightening tearing through the sky like a picture of the apocalypse. But it was a bright day, a rare occasion in Bamenda at that time of the year. ...

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Chapter Sixty-nine

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pp. 281-282

The first taxi he flagged had its door opened for him before he could even give his destination. It was all perfect, he told himself feeling that cold steel inside his jacket pocket. ...

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Epilogue

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pp. 283-284

It was all over TV the next day, both local and national; a horrible scene that was beyond anybody’s idea of horror. In every TV screen, the journalist reporting the incident warned the viewers about the nature of the pictures. Yet thousands were glued to their TV screens, watching and rewatching and wondering how something like that had happened. ...

Back cover

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p. 294-294


E-ISBN-13: 9789956790685
Print-ISBN-13: 9789956790517

Page Count: 292
Publication Year: 2013

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