In Lagos, the greatest danger to your impeccable skin, your thousand dollar wig or your incalculably precious life is loneliness. I don’t mean loneliness in the way so many of us are afflicted. The nights we spend throwing pity parties for ourselves contemplating suicide and sipping 70 year old bottles whisky like they were Hennessy. While both are expensive one is quite clearly the other’s chairman. I mean loneliness in its truest sense; the affliction of those so committed to orphandom that they do not posses a cousin to call on, and those who have found themselves marooned on the island that is profound isolation. It you’re one of the former then you’re merely unfortunate, and if you’re one of the latter you’re in immediate need of correction. If a nasty little piece of work like me can have friends, then anyone can. You must spend time doing the tricky work that is building a not completely offensive personality.
I cannot tell you how it is that I have the friends I have. It is one of the greatest signs that I am not in fact cursed to be unfortunate and poor all the days of my life. It is even better that mine are so good than I can never hope to be their match. It is they who keep this loose cannon sealed at all times. I wanted it that way. When you’re a character that’s prone to all excesses available to the living it does you well to be encumbered by voices of reason.
The other day a dreadful thing happened to Avenger 2. That in itself is a tragedy, because I have never met anyone as undeniably good as he. A paragon of morality and politeness, he judges a man’s character with such dedication that one would think there were no other qualities worthy of note. It is he who calls me on the Sunday after the Saturday and says, “your conduct last night was deplorable.” Anyone who can say that to me and not nurse a verbal bite laced with acid and furnished with poison is truly exceptional. His car did him the grand dishonour of stopping on the run up to third mainland bridge at midnight without so much as a warning. I do not know what number I was on the list of available persons to call, but I’d be stunned if I wasn’t very close to the top. Some of you who know nothing of life in Lagos will read that and think, “But what’s the big deal. He should have called AA or a tow truck.” In Lagos, things are never that simple. It always pays to have someone who cares about whether or not you’re alive come get you. That way if you aren’t there when they arrive they can kick up a fuss. It’s the least they’ll do if you’re murdered and dumped in the lagoon.
I was in bed, dreaming about cheques above the $1.8 million mark when I got the phone call. I didn’t hesitate. I ran out of the house half naked and drove like a criminal, while mentally preparing his obituary, and his eulogy. At the inconvenient traffic stops, I pulled on a shirt and grabbed a pair of slippers. This is one of the good things about living in your car. There’ll never be a situation that you aren’t prepared for. In my backseat you’ll find a pair of loafers, an ironed white shirt, a distressed grey long sleeve t shirt and a pair of boxers. Am I not the best boy scout who ever lived? Still living out their good motto at the grand old age of 26. When I got to him, I was relieved that my eulogy writing services were entirely unnecessary. Avenger 2 was alive and in great shape. A tow truck had stopped, performed some vehicular voodoo to get his engine running again and chased the gang of area boys who had been swarming about Avenger 2 like hyenas away with hotter Yoruba than I have ever heard. The words were delivered so furiously that they managed to penetrate the haze of Arizona (cheap weed) lingering about them and set them to rights.
I was grateful that night. If I am the worst of my friends and I went through all of that effort to see that one of them was safe, then what wouldn’t they do for me?