Fiction: The Pain In My Neck

April 6, 2018 Fiction , POETRY / FICTION

Connor Limbocker photo

 

By

Bernard Ollo

 

 

 

My neck is full of pain for not telling the truth. The truth is telling my best friend that masturbating is wrong.

 

The rain spreading from the west is thinning. Something has come over my friend. He’s not himself lately. He confuses me with so many strange behaviours. In the Word of God fellowship we are excos. Something is wrong with him. He is the king of sleep now, he is antisocial, his eyes are always red and he’s capable of a violent anger these days that I have not known him with until now. In our days of fellowship and every other days he is in a deep sleep and doesn’t want anybody to worry him. His hostility is like the bite of a sharp arrow in me. And he always complains that he feels like sleeping all day.

 

I raise my complaints in his musty room that is softly lit by an old paraffin oil lamp.

 

“Brother, I am weak,” he says. Sleep is drawing his eyes to itself again. He looks drained and dizzy and weak. And I wonder what kind of horse work he has done.

 

“Each time I come for us to go to fellowship it’s always the same thing,” I exclaim, trying to conceal my anger as much as possible, but not masking my disappointment in him.

 

He gives me a sheepish and frosty look. There’s something clandestine about him. I know he’s hiding something away from me even though I am his best friend. There’s something he’s not telling me.

 

“Brother, I feel like sleeping all day,” he grumbles. There’s a bucket of lies in what he has just said, I know. For Christ’s sake, we have grown. We are not the little children we are squirting water pistols at ourselves and sniggering in the banana garden of Reverend Jegede fenced with wire facing our old house.

 

Eli and I have been best friends since from childhood. Our playground is housed in the Reverend Jegede’s wire-fenced banana garden. One day, we had gone to look for butterflies in the trunk of those clump of mature banana trees and the feel of the air was too heavy. I kept telling Eli that we could go and catch crickets and salt and roast them, the rain had just stopped the air was humid and there was so much crickets in the air. The crickets could serve as the butterflies we so much longed to catch, I told Eli. He said no. It was when one of the stem of those banana trees produced a silver snake, like a belt the size of his waist, that he knew that he was not different from regret. It slithered up to the top of the banana stem flicking its tongue, hissing. My bulbous black nose was breathing more than it should. That day was the last we ransacked Reverend Jegede’s wire-fenced banana garden in search of butterflies.

 

I couldn’t stand my best friend Eli again. “I am leading prayers in the fellowship, Brother Eli. I have to go,” I say hastily. The devil giving him all that sense is determined. He could not stop me from giving myself to prayers today.

 

“Pray for me,” Eli lazily drawls, stretching himself to a long wooden plank on the Vitafoam bed with tangled floral pattern sheets.

 

 

I say there is pain in my neck for not telling the truth. Telling my best friend that masturbation is wrong is the truth.

 

There is a faint pink tinge to the sky now. I just pull out of a session of speaking in tongues with other brethren. The prayer room is filled with a glow of fire and tongues of flames settling on our heads, I see it. Prophetess Miriam says she sees Brother Eli struggling to stand up out of a wheelchair but he couldn’t and she prophesies that there shall be no loss. Our prayers we fling, like shelters, on Brother Eli. He’s standing outside beside a tan column decorated in high relief. From the look of his face all is not well, and yet he won’t tell anyone. He’s suffering in silence. We are together now.

 

“Brother, are you alright?” I ask, feeling concerned.

 

He makes a helpless face. Still, he’s not willing to tell anybody. “All is well,” he says drily, indifferent. There’s a soft rustling of leaves in the breeze.

 

“Look here, brother, give your problems to God, you can’t handle it alone, on your own. He says ‘without me you can do nothing’,” I remind him, wanting his mind to swim in the Scriptures. “Why are you not coming to fellowship?”

 

“I said I am well. Leave me alone,” he shouts, his temper begins to fray. He’s mad at me. Truth is bitter. “What’s your business if I don’t come to fellowship?” That is when I know that brother, my best friend, has gone astray, backslidden like a young heifer.

 

“I said I am fine,” he persists. But I know he’s falling apart at the seams spending most of his time in tears.

 

I leave him since he’s not ready to tell me what it is. Not now. Maybe some other time.

 

That nagging pain is building up again in my neck for not telling the truth. The truth is telling my best friend that masturbating is wrong. I caught him once. In his room. The door was opened, I guessed he didn’t know. I pushed it open. He quickly removed his hands from his trousers. Beads of sweats shone in his bemused face. And he’d got a big round eyes. I knew it was masturbation.

 

There’s no moonlight tonight. In the distance is a black dog with a white patch on its back, yapping. My knocks hit hard Brother Eli’s door. He’s not around. Mimi, the daughter of Mama Twins, his neighbour, comes to tell me that he’s not around. I want to get myself into the bathroom to pee. I tug the door open. He is in a mauve T-shirt with “My Money Grows Like Grass” stencilled from shoulder to shoulder in yellow letters and a nut-brown chinos and dull brown moccasin with a tinge of black. I grab shock. I give him a penetrating look, asking him to explain what in the world he thinks he’s doing. Our eyes hold. He gives me mirthless smile, tears starting in his eyes.

 

“I am sorry,” he apologizes. For what? That he’s enjoying himself, fucking himself, falling into climax?

 

I hesitate a millisecond too long. “You said what?…” My tongue feels rubbery.

 

He does not say anything. A flood of tears is washing his face, making it sleek in a way I hate. He looks like an idiot, standing there his thing hanging limply down from his hands. Shame makes him looks worser than I have ever seen him.

 

 

 

 

 

Bernard Ollo - Tuck Magazine

Bernard Ollo

Bernard Ollo is a short story writer and poet living in Nigeria. His short fiction and poems have been published on Dwartsonline, Allpoetry and forthcoming in The Nigerian Writer (TNW). He studies English at the Benue State University.

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