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The Spirit Behind The Mask
by Nelson Ofokar Yagazie   (Author)
Read First Three Chapters

CHAPTER ONE

If you are the type that reads the Bible or even attends a church, perhaps you will be familiar with the story of Nebuchadnezzar and his strange dream. If you cast your mind back on what happened when he woke up and remembered how disillusioned he felt when none of his magicians could tell him this dream; if you can get this picture into your mind, then you are in a vantage point to understand how Brambaifa, an ex-oil worker, was feeling that gloomy morning.
He had woken up grudgingly, the way you would wake up if you had chronic malaria; his head and joints ached badly, face sagged, eyes swollen, his mouth somewhat soar and his breath stinking. He was downcast, weak and full of thoughts; he had a nightmare - one that was troublesome to the mind. In his dream he was puzzled; in life he was agitated - agitated for a dream he couldn’t even remember. It appeared that the more he tried to memorize it, the farther it went from him. His left hand scratching his lower jaw, he stared at the ceiling, his fury growing wild. If he had been a king like Nebuchadnezzar, he could have summoned his wise men to tell him his dream or be put to death, for his frustration superseded that of Nebuchadnezzar. He lay still for some minutes, and then he got up, taking his time not to wake his wife but his wife seemed to have been disturbed. She stretched her legs, stirred as though she had been on the ropes, and opened her eyes. Brambaifa looked at her through the corner of his eyes. She had been a caring woman, but there were times he considered her boring. Now was such a time.
‘Hey darling, why so early?’ his wife asked him.
‘Good morning should have come first’, he retorted in a cracked voice.
She ran a finger through her hair
‘I’m sorry sweetheart, good morning.’
Brambaifa returned the greeting airily, wandered over to the cabinet Then he threw the door open and began to fumble in the upper chamber, shuffling and reshuffling papers in a manner that depicted a confused mind. His wife watched him for a while, and then raising herself, she sat up in bed.
‘What are you searching for?’ She asked. Brambaifa behaved as though he didn’t hear her. She repeated the question, yet, there was no answer. She threw the bed sheet off her and swung her feet on to the floor. She walked up to him and put her hands around him.
‘Are you alright?’ She asked him with concern written all over her face.
‘Yes.’ Brambaifa replied curtly, not looking at her.
‘Sure? You look apprehensive.’
Brambaifa sighed.
‘You’d have to leave me alone, woman.’
She looked sharply at him, greatly baffled. She stared at him for a while, then gathering herself together, she asked yet again, ‘What is it you’re looking for?’ The melody in her voice could disarm the devil.
He threw one glance at her.
‘My diary’, he said, shifting his attention back to the cabinet.
‘But you left it in the living room.’
An eyebrow climbed an inch.
‘Did I? I thought …’
‘Never mind,’ she said, disengaging from him and turning round, she walked away.
Apart from the navy-blue G-string, she was naked. As she walked, she wriggled her hips, hoping they would catch his eyes. She’d been married to him for about eight years now and Jane knew how to turn her husband on. She wasn’t particularly beautiful, but attractive in an odd way. When you consider her height, the size and shape of her breasts, summed up with the contour of her hips, you’ll find yourself in desperate effort trying to suppress an overpowering urge. She was aware of her features and the predicament it brought upon men. She liked dressing in tight outfits that advertised her curves, and when she passed by, you would be filled with ideas - rotten ideas. If Brambaifa hadn’t been rich and Jane herself principled, there would have been a recurring problem of infidelity. Simply put, Jane has what will drive any man crazy.
Countless times in the past, she had used her magic to have her way even on her husband. That morning, her target was to elevate Brambaifa’s depressed mood and she was determined to make that happen. As she walked out of the room, Brambaifa began to pace up and down; hands folded, he was practically suppressed and so confused that he could not bring his mind to focus on anything. In the past, seeing his wife display her magic, sent blood rushing down his groin, but that morning his reaction wasn’t anything more than that of an old scientist looking at mating grasshoppers through a screen. His effort to remember his dream was uncompromising, and for the moment, nothing seemed important to him but the dream.
Jane reappeared carrying the ash-coloured diary. She found him pacing the room restlessly and stared suspiciously at him. Grimacing, she walked up to him and handed the diary over to him.
‘Thanks’ Brambaifa said, taking it from her.
Jane didn’t say anything. She went back to the bed and sprawled in it, but had her gaze fixed on her husband. Brambaifa leafed through the pages until he came to the page bearing the day’s date. He scowled at it, and closed the diary. Sighing deeply, he flung it away, making it drop on top of the cabinet. Then, he left the room and wandered into the bathroom. There, he brushed his teeth and returned to the bedroom.
‘You look so downcast, honey. What’s biting you?’ Jane asked with a concerned note in her voice.
‘Nothing, Brambaifa replied, his voice flat.
‘Oh, darling, tell me. You are not yourself.
Brambaifa made an impatient move.
‘It’s nothing serious, just a mood swing.
Jane slid her hand into his.
‘You don’t look well this morning. You and I are one. Why don’t you share your problem with me?’
The hostile expression on Brambaifa’s face slowly melted away
‘Well’, he said shrugging, ‘there is this nightmare I had that really gave me a shudder. I got up not remembering it, but it sure got down my spirit; I have a premonition of disaster.’
Jane looked at him closely.
‘It’s written all over you’, she said and began to squeeze his hand. ‘Let not your heart be troubled’, she continued soothingly. ‘Perhaps, we’d have to see a pastor but for now, come out of your awful mood.’ As she said these words, she wrapped her hands around his waist and began to toy with the hair at the lower part of his abdomen.
An hour later, Jane kissed her husband and rose to her feet. She found a dressing gown and slid into it. She then sauntered into the kitchen and began a thorough clean-up. Beginning with the plates, she washed the spoons and the pots. She gathered all the glass cups, washed and rinsed them. She then filled an electric kettle with water, plugged and switched it on. Then, walking briskly, she left the kitchen for the sitting room. She threw one glance at the ornamental clock that hung over the wall and hurried out. Vivian, her maid, was in the porch sweeping.
‘Vivian!’ Jane called out. ‘Hurry up and prepare the kids.’
‘Yes Ma!’ Vivian replied. She finished her sweeping and hurried into the house.
At the inner corridor, Vivian found the two kids. The older of the two was a girl. Her name was Sophia.
‘Hey kids!’ Vivian called out at them as she advanced. ‘It’s time you prepared for school. Come on, let’s get to the bath.’
Physically, Sophia took after her mother, but her character, is neither from her mother nor father. She was leaning against the wall, arms folded, with a rebellious look on her face.
The younger, a bright and lively boy; a kid any parent would desire to have. He was named after his father but was fondly called Junior – such a joy to behold! He was bouncing a hand-ball professionally against the wall.
Junior bounced the ball hard against the wall, allowed it to hit his chest, and as it dropped back on the floor, he swung his right leg over the ball and with his left, kicked it towards Vivian; she bent down and caught the rolling ball. ‘You’ll have more of it in school, Okay? Now off to the bathroom.’
Junior threw a punch at her but she caught hold of his flying fist.
‘Stop fussing around, Junior’, Vivian said, releasing her grip.
Junior beamed a smile at her and began to take off his night clothes.
‘Did you hear me, Sophia?’ Vivian said to Sophia, bending over to pick up Junior’s clothes. But Sophia didn’t make a move.
‘You aren’t deaf, you little thing’, Vivian yelled at her.
Sophia muttered something under her breath. Then, more loudly, she said, ‘I want a coffee.’
Vivian raised an eyebrow.
‘Is that right? I’d have to clap for you!’ She regarded her contemptuously. ‘You haven’t brushed your teeth and you are calling for coffee. Now, to the bath, she said in an exasperated tone. ‘Come on, make the leg walk.’
Sophia began to mumble, but Vivian dragged her off.
Forty-three minutes later, while the kids and their father sat at the dining table enjoying hot coffee, Jane, dressed in a dark sleeveless top over a tight leaf- green nylon skirt, was in the garage examining the tires of the Toyota Camry. She came to the front, threw open the bonnet and checked the hydraulic level. Satisfied, she closed the bonnet and coming around behind the wheel, she moved the car out of the garage onto the terrace.
By now, her two children, dressed in their immaculate school uniforms, were at the porch. Junior was jumping up in a dance, trying to imitate Michael Jackson, his favourite pop dancer. Sophia, as bright as she could be in a gloomy morning, was drumming her knuckles on the wall. Jane beckoned on them and they ran towards the car. Leaning sideways, Jane edged the car door open and they hopped in. Then, the car took off. Vivian, about a quarter of an hour later, left for the market.
Jonathan Brambaifa, somewhat sanguine, was a man you could guess the state of his mind in an instant. His success and failure reflected in his expressions. Being a heavy smoker, his lips were heavily tanned and his fingers seemed to have been specially designed to hold cigarettes. Tall, lean and light skinned, Brambaifa was handsome by all standards. He had an almond face, a Caribbean nose, and a replica of Wyclef Jean’s eyes. If he had worn dreadlocks and beards, he could have been mistaken for Wyclef, though a light skinned replica. He hailed from Brass and held a degree in petroleum engineering from the University of Port-Harcourt with which he had worked with the NNPC for about ten years before he was laid off a couple of years ago. He seemed to have been prepared for this, as he picked a masters’ degree form immediately and when he completed the study, he was employed as an assistant lecturer in the University of Port-Harcourt by the help of Prof. Ekong. He met his wife in his early days as a staff of NNPC, and had taken her to the altar in less than a year of courtship. They had two kids and seemed to be contented with that.
At the moment, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) was on industrial action. Well, this morning, after his wife had driven their children to school, and the maid gone to the market, Brambaifa sat in his favourite cushion chair, toying with the remote control as he watched the “AM Express” programme on NTA. Towards the concluding part of the programme, his wife returned and joined him in the sitting room and they chatted for a while, then Jane excused herself, got to her feet and was heading towards the inner corridor when the front door bell began to buzz. She whirled around and made for the front door. Brambaifa made to get up, but seeing his wife already moving towards the door, relaxed.
Jane reached the door, slotted back the bolt and jerked the door open. Standing in the doorway was a man who looked hungry from head to toe, the type you’d give food without his asking for it. He was embarrassingly tall and bony in a manner that could ignite your sympathy. He wore a yellow shirt with frayed collar and sleeves, over black trousers that could be the envy of a Hausa gardener. On closer observation, Jane saw that his trousers had been stitched three times and was full of fluff, his shoes wore the looks of the ones worn by the Arabs in post desert war, his tie, if you can call that a tie, gave an instant thought of a village headmaster in early colonial era. ‘Just another bun’, Jane thought as she regarded him with pity. Then, her probing eyes caught sight of the Bible under his armpit; it was big enough to scare aware any evil spirit.
‘Good morning, madam,’ the thin man greeted, giving a low bow. His voice was pastoral.
‘And you too’, Jane replied.
‘Sorry to disturb you, madam. I am Evangelist Greg, from Deeper Life Bible Church’, the man introduced himself. ‘I hope I am not wasting your precious time.’
‘Not at all’, Jane replied, taking a step back.
‘I’ve came to share the word of God with you,’ Greg said beaming a smile. ‘The word of God is life. It has been given unto us, who are called by the cross, to preach this word of life to both the Jews and the Gentiles. This word which I’ve brought to you…’
‘Come in’, Jane said, giving way for him to enter.
Greg went in and Jane closed the door.
‘Peace onto you’, Greg said to Brambaifa, taking a low bow.
Brambaifa gestured at the sofa opposite him.
‘Please have a seat,’ Brambaifa said, happy that the thin man had come. The influence of his nightmare had not left him and he’d been waiting for his wife to round off the domestic work for them to go and see a pastor but now they had an evangelist; his problem was half-way solved.

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Product Details
Author: Nelson Ofokar Yagazie
Publication date: 2/17/2015
Pages: 162
Product dimensions: 396 x 601
More About This eBook
Overview
Sixty million naira is the incentive. Murder and counter murder soon result from a crafty kidnapping of a Lebanese oil worker in Port-Harcourt. But sixty million is enough justification for murder; or so thinks the mastermind. Tension builds up as the government, wary of their diplomatic tie with Lebanon, mounts pressure on the police. The police set after the kidnappers, throwing in an impeccable security network, with wonderful strategies and commendable schemes, closing in on the culprits. But the kidnappers seem to have inside information about the police investigation team. The setup is intriguing, and detective Leo Briggs, an ex-FBI chap, is set to crack the case, but just when he thinks he is on top of the situation, he becomes the predator's prey. Trailing the militants is a pretty tough task, but with the help of his fast-thinking assistant, Sergeant Kelly Longman, Briggs traps the miscreants. THE SPIRIT BEHIND THE MASK unveils himself as invincible in a game of wits that leaves Leo Briggs running hunting and hunted.
Editorial Reviews
About Author
Nelson Ofokar Yagazie, a typified Gemini with extreme mood swings, is an alumnus of University of Port-Harcourt currently domiciled in Asia. A born sceptic, a realist, and an extremist, Yagazie is an eccentric, with strange
philosophies and beliefs. Though a Christian, he thinks of religion as a "tool of modern slavery". He is also a gifted poet who dares to thread where no other did.
His extreme mood swings could best be seen in his poetry now being gathered into a single book "SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT". Yagazie is also the author of the thriller, "THE SECRET OF THE DEAL". He is a staunch follower of Machiavellian principles.
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