Chapter 2 {contd}

The rabble, at once, cast their scathing eyes up at the man as if he was a monster, their indignation found expression in a long murmur which rippled through the atmosphere and subsided rather slowly. Then, out of the blue, a barrage of missiles suddenly began to erupt from the crowd: cans, bottles, water sachets, stones and sticks, and they viciously sailed in the direction of the man atop the ladder, making him to become startled and wiping off the grin on his face, leaving trepidation.         The barrage of attacks forced him to duck and dodge on the ladder almost losing his balance in the process as he tried to evade the missiles many of which savagely hit his shiny head.                                                                                                             ‘’Ladies and gentlemen . . .’’he spluttered with an effort, but the crowd had grown wild. They already had an earful of the invective. They hurtled more missiles at him and a wild noise broke out.                                                                                                                                  Some of the belligerent youths charged forward and began to shriek aloud: ‘’We’ve got to bring down this fat pig, if we allow him to remain on that ladder, he would spew more rubbish!’’                                                    ‘’Yes, that’s just what we need to do!’’                                        The entire congregation said in unison as they surged forward in large numbers towards the legs of the ladder.  The two men who were holding the ladder in position saw the intimidating surge approaching and swiftly gave up their posts.                                                       In a jiffy, hundreds of angry people had besieged the ladder like an army of ants on a crystal of sugar and as the man atop the ladder saw the wild upwelling down below and became petrified. As the youths assailed the ladder, it began to perilously resonate under the forces mauling it and man atop it froze from fear. His dark round face was quickly awash by sweat beads, and his eyes frighteningly dilated from the impending horror and he began to plead in earnest: ‘’Please don’t upturn the ladder, pardon my silly utterances. . . Forgive me . . . Please! All of you will write the test, just leave the ladder alone. Please!  Arrangements have been made! All of you will write the test! In fact, all of you will be employed! Automatic employment . . . All of you!  Only if you’ll leave the ladder alone!. . . . Please!. . .  I beg you! . . . ’’                                                                                                                            But the rampaging youths did not listen to his pleas, they eyed him menacingly and called him foul names.                                                                                                  ‘’Aw, too late!’’ the youths roared: ‘’get set for your downfall! We’re bringing you down!!’’ they chorused.                                                                                                                     In a twinkle of an eye, the forces tugging the ladder had grown exponentially and the man atop began to gyrate with it. Soon, the frenzied oscillation made him dizzy as the microphone he was holding slipped out of his unsteady hand. In a split-second, the ladder had been precariously tilted to an oblique and the awe became imponderable, forcing him to shut his eyes, and scream as the ladder finally whammed onto the ground.                                           The crash of the ladder and the man it carried elicited wild jubilation and loud cheers filled the air as the applicants capered happily about the field, chanting victory songs; they  were hugely excited by the realization that the very man, who only a short while ago, was calling shots from a great height now lay vulnerably in pain on the bare ground with bruises on his forehead. They quickly encircled him and began to hurl abuses at him, kicking him with the soles of their shoes and spitting on him.                                                                 Marcus quickly came to the fore to skipper the exercise. He stood formidably like a charged warrior in the middle of the circle raining abuses at the man lying in anguish at their feet, Mathias stepped forward to restrain Marcus, but he pushed him away. Raising one fist up triumphantly, Marcus slammed the heel of his huge boot on the flabby belly of the battered man on the ground and the effect made him let out a long groan and to gibber which caused another bout of deafening widespread jeering amongst his assailants.                         Everyone was enjoying the frenzy; no one cared about the tests or the jobs at stake anymore. Kenneth maintained a safe distance from the rabble by safely standing under the acacia tree shade with a string of other spectators, eyeing Marcus and the rest of the mob deplorably.                                                                                                                                              Then, at one fell swoop, canisters of teargas were fired and thick, irritant, gaseous fumes were unleashed into the atmosphere, leading to anarchy and frenetic dispersals as the rabble was given a hot chase by the police.                                                                                  There were heavy poundings of feet on the ground, and the poundings sounded like stomps of wrestling elephants, credentials were flying lithely in the air, and the field quickly became littered with a plethora of stationery that mantled it: résumés, pens, pencils, erasers, rulers and passports.                                                                                                               Marcus and Mathias disappeared from the scene like a ghost; the route they took foxed the eye. Kenneth was awkwardly groping for a way out of the bedlam, when a powerful kick brought him flat down at once; he dropped flat on the ground, and rolled about the ground before gazing up at the skies which momentarily appeared fuzzy. And as he made to pull himself together, two long shadows loomed over him, he swiftly looked around him and saw two stern-looking men in police uniforms glowering down at him. Their horrific glare made his blood run cold. One of the officers aimed the butt of his gun at his knee and used same to thump his joint viciously, the effect sent a reeling pain down his spine, and he began to growl on the ground, crying and yelling as he clung onto the throbbing knee and rubbed it spiritedly.                                                                                                                                  ‘’You came here to ferment trouble, now trouble has come for you!’’ the officer bawled at him. Kenneth began to plead hysterically as he began to mumble rather incoherently. A malicious grin appeared on the face of the officer who had just smacked the knee while the second officer pulled an ireful mask and savagely lifted up his massive boot with the intent of hitting the second knee when a stout man in a black corduroy suit strode onto the scene. ‘’He’s not one of the trouble makers,’’ he said to the policemen in a deep, husky voice. ‘’I saw him stand quietly under that tree over there with a couple of girls, ’’he said nosing to the acacia tree, ‘’He didn’t join in the fracas.’’                                                                                               The two police officers briefly exchanged glances and then regarded the man in corduroy suit deferentially before walking away from the spot. Kenneth kept groveling round the spot on one knee still smarting from the inflicted pain and clasping his hands over the other knee which the butt had hit-if he had been bitten by an army of bees the pain could not have been more intense. The stout man in suit, who had small dark eyes and shaggy brows, was affected by the untold torments, he inched closer to him and then couched just a few centimeters away from where he was yelping, ‘’You aren’t so lucky are you?’’ he said, ‘’ you missed out on the job and also got the stick.’’                                                                 Kenneth merely stared back at him through glassy eyes which were streaming tears.         The man saw the tears and drew a long breath, ‘’My name is Kunle Adeife and the only thing I can say is, if you need any assistance in this city contact me,’’ he said, dropping a small white glossy complementary card beside him. He then straightened up and left.                                         Kenneth’s tearful eyes followed him inquiringly till he went out of view.                                 —————————–

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