Jame’s lips veered against his cheeks as he saw the small crowd gathered at the entrance of the court to congratulate him. His face shown to reveal his gratification.

What followed was a boisterous, ecstatic cheer that made his eyes moist. They loved him more than he thought.

After six months of weekly court hearings, he had won the case against his rival, Samson.

His exuberance scorned the empathy he felt as he watched Samson descend the court steps with head cast down. He glanced at his slumped shoulders as he lowered himself into his car and drove off- forever beaten.

“We are happy for you, Sir!”

“Congratulations Sir, “

“Thank you all! Thank you all! I couldn’t have made it without your backup.  I can never thank you enough.” His smiled amidst another defeaning cheer.

“Please, do not go home. I want all of you to proceed to my house for a heavy refreshment. There are lots of food and drinks. Join me! Let’s celebrate this divine victory!”

They cheered non-stop as James got into his car and flapped his fingers continuously at them. They kept their moral high until his car disappeared from sight.

As they hit the road, James recounted to his driver how he used up his major savings to develop the street.

But when he heard the public announcement made by the local government council on their street naming, it dawned on him that Samson had done his homework well.

James said he had to write a letter of protest, objecting to the street name under process.

If things should be done the right way, he was the first to move to the area in question and was the one to develop the street with good roads and working drainage. If the street should be named after a living person, it should be him.

“It only came as a surprise to me when I was summoned by court. ” They continued in silence.

At last!” James sighed after a while.

“It’s over Sir, ” his driver affirmed.

“Samson was only a wealthy  square box forcing himself into a round hole he inferred as gullible. The street will be named after me after all.”

“That’s right, Sir!” They giggled like two old friends. His driver enjoyed the rare privilege. 

“What will be on the street street signpost, again?”

”  OKON’S STREET and not  IKEM’S STREET, Sir.”

They both giggled again until James began to cough non-stop.

~~~

Back at James Okon’s residence, people were huddled together talking in low voices. Men flipped their fingers out of panic, women wore depressed looks.

James began to cough as they drove home from court same day. Before his driver could make it to the regency unit, he had collapsed in his car.

When the doctor declared his boss dead, he panicked. How could it be? How could it be? He was there with him, talking and laughing….

“No! This can’t be true! Please doctor check again. Please.”

“He’s gone, ” the doctor patted his shoulders. The life you see is nothing but a passing shadow.” The doctor left him staring at his back in shock with his hands folded across his chest and his shoulders slightly snuggled to his jawline.

It’s a pity his boss didn’t get to see his name on the street when the signpost was finally put in place.

The bad news shook the town. People talked. Some scolded him.

“But why did he allow a fight over a trifle to rip off his head?

Others saw his rival as his murderer.

“Samson has deleted James, he has forgotten that every knife must pass through a blacksmith.”

But a drunk at his funeral knew for sure what killed James.

“You all know what killed James Okon! Why don’t you go ahead and say it!”

“What killed him?” A mischievous teenager asked him.

“Death! Death is what killed James.”

A question lingered in the hearts of the bereaved long after James was gone! Could he be alive if he didn’t get involved in the street case?

© Florence Ezekafor


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