He was having a very bad day. He wasn’t sure the day could get worse but if it did, then he might completely lose it and breakdown.
His landlady sent him packing so that the meagre clothings he had were thrown in a worn out, shabby backpack, along with his last money, some measly six hundred and fifty naira. His phone had been stolen a day ago else he could have probably called his rich Aunt to appeal for some funds and Binta had broken up with him because he couldn’t send her the 500 naira recharge card she had demanded for.
She had already had enough of his bullshit according to her and he had tripped his last card.
But that wasn’t the worse thing. The worse thing was that he couldn’t get any pot to smoke. The six fifty could sustain him on garri and some moldy bread sold at a cheaper price for some days but that was it, his weed funds were out.
He would have to resort to the job he had rejected, manual labour. He hated working and the only reason why he wasn’t in a gang of thieves was because his late mother had made him promise her he wouldn’t do anything illegal as a source of income. Sometimes, he hated himself for promising her.
He was tired of walking, he had to trek the length of the city to locate his friends house for temporary asylum. A lone shade offered some solace to his lonely self and he walked towards it already sighing in anticipation of being away from the scorching heat.
The shed wasn’t empty. It was occupied by an old man whose wretched possessions were scattered all over. His face contorted in annoyance as if he had found someone taking up his personal space.
He lowered himself and sighed. He was thirsty. He had no water to drink and there was no shop in sight. In fact, the place was partially deserted as it always was. There were just a few houses scattered around, everyone avoided the area because of the rampancy of rascals.
He glanced at the old man who looked creepier than most haggard homeless old men and hissed. He didn’t know why the old man was consistently staring at him.
He arranged his bag beneath his head and placed his hand on the side where his last money was. Then he dozed off.
He jolted with a start, he had slept off apparently without realizing it. He knew something must have woken him up but he wasn’t sure what it was. He hissed again and readjusted his head on his bag- on the place where his bag was meant to be – because his head lay rudely on bare sand.
He sat up with a start, eyes wide searching for his bag. The old man looked at him keenly as if he was an interesting thing, chuckled, then laughed.
‘Why are you laughing old man?’ he asked still dazed. ‘Where’s my bag? You stole my bag you crook’.
He held the old man by his worn out lapel.
‘It wasn’t I, it was some kids. You were sleeping like a log, didn’t even feel them take it from beneath your head’ he shook his head ‘ lazy children of nowadays’.
He wasn’t even sure what to do to the man. He was super annoyed.
‘ And you let them? You didn’t wake me up?’.
The old man shrugged ‘ Better you than me’.
He was furious now, and since he couldn’t be furious at the culprits, he directed it towards the old man. He balled his palm to fist and knocked the old man right in the middle of the head. Then he snatched the cap the old man stored his begging loot in and rushed away with it leaving the old man to clutch his head in pain.
For some reason, the sight made him laugh. He laughed so hard he doubled over. The old man deserved it for being a silent party to the theft. And what he did wasn’t stealing, he hardly thinks his mother would mind.
‘You know what they say boy’ the old man said between gritted teeth ‘ he who laughs last laughs longest’.
That made him burst into another fit of laughter. Silly fool. He had lost his few belongings but at least he was having a good laugh out of it. If every loss will make his spirit dampen he would have been in the bottom of a river by now.
He walked off still laughing. He didn’t know why but he couldn’t stop laughing. He didn’t start noticing something wrong until when he walked on for three minutes and he was still laughing.
Okay that’s enough laughter for one day you can stop now, he told himself. But he couldn’t. He kept on laughing even as he tried to close his mouth and stop emitting any sound.
He laughed on even as panic rose within him and set like a pregnant cloud full of terror. He laughed on…
The old man had cursed him. The sudden realization gave him an adrenaline pump and he turned and ran back towards the shed.
Ever seen a man running and laughing like his life depended on it? Well he did. It wasn’t funny to him but to anyone who might be watching, it was a funny sight.
He arrived the shed, the old man had left, no traces of his footprints were visible, all the stuff scattered around where gone and in their place, his bag lay. He didn’t want his bag, he though in annoyance. He wanted his sanity back.
‘He who laughs last laughs longest’ the words of the old man rang in his ears as if he was just an inch away from him.