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Johnny Just Come

Heart pounding loudly, Emeka watched from the pedestrian bridge as people jaywalked across the road. He had seen this done enough times that he knew the trick was to half-walk, half-run across the road. If you ran too fast, you risk looking like a JJC. But if you walked too slow, you risk getting killed.

He had never crossed a major road before, so he had taken the bridge. A gap opened between cars and more people rushed onto the road, causing oncoming cars to slow down. As they reached the other side, his heart also began to slow.

Life in the village was more orderly, but it was boring. Every day was the same. Even the madman that lurked between the plantain trees that bordered Maazi Dike’s farm, had a routine. Every afternoon, he would chase Emeka and his friends on their way home from school. Then he would sweep their footprints with plantain leaves afterwards, as if to erase any evidence that had been there.

That was as interesting as Emeka’s day usually got. So, two weeks ago, when his big aunty from Lagos asked his mother if she could take him to live with her, he prayed his mother would agree.

He recalled his second day in Lagos. Aunty Ufuoma was very kind but her son, Chike, was a rude animal. He was sure of this because of what happened that day. His aunty had shown him around the house. She had said everything was connected to some woman named Alexa. She demonstrated by asking her to play a Rex Lawson song, which began blaring through the speakers almost immediately.

Emeka was both startled and in awe. He desperately wanted to try it out for himself, but he waited till his aunty left the house. Once she was gone, he grabbed a few clothes and shoved them into the washing machine. Maazi Dike owned a laundrette in the village and Emeka worked there as an errand boy. So, he had seen a washing machine before but did not know how to operate one.

“Alexa, wash my clothes!” he yelled.

“I’m sorry, I don’t know that” she replied.

Maybe he didn’t ask properly. “Switch on the washing machine”. Yes, that was how Maazi said it.

Nothing. Annoyed, he removed the clothes. He would wash them the old-fashioned way but with a spin. Literally. He had seen how the washing machines worked so he knew what to do. He shoved the clothes into a bucket with soapy water, pushed a hand in and began spinning.

As Emeka marvelled at his genius, he did not realise Chike had been watching him until Chike began to laugh.

“Johnny just come! JJC!” Chike shouted, as he laughed at Emeka’s naivete.

Emeka’s ears burned with new embarrassment as he remembered. He spotted the woman selling bananas. Walking towards her, he knew wouldn’t use the pedestrian bridge going back. His aunty would be furious if she found out, but who was going to tell her

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