(This story is based on actual events, but names have been changed to protect the identities of the participants)
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Steve emerges from the patch at that moment, and lets out a breath he is unaware his is holding. The luminous dials of his wristwatch inform him, on inquiry (executed in the time-honoured sign language of raising his wrist to vision level), that the hour of eleven has been struck. He by this time is advancing parallel to the enclosing fence on the east side of his yard. He forgets momentarily the warm reception he should expect from his mum. He gives no further thought to the vigilante; nothing they can do to him now anyhow. If he were a biologist, intent on taxonomy, he would by this time be thinking of the outlines of the paper, papers even, he will milk out of this discovery. As things go, however, Steve is a very practical young man, and in the best utilitarian tradition of his society, the snail is already gracing, in portions generously carved, a dainty stew in his thoughts! What he hasn’t quite yet resolved is if the stew should have only leafy vegetables or have in addition a dash of ground egusi.
It is a problem he tackles as he slips his key into the gate’s lock and tumbles it open. His personal gastronomic aesthetic dictates that on the one hand he should need fresh crayfish and other fresh choice seafood for the egusi stew, while on the other the plain-leaf stew will require tripe, simmered cow hide (what is known to his countrymen as ponmo or kanda) and smoked ice-fish (along of course with all the usual spices, as well as kitchen traditions to observe). He is possessed of none in his kitchen at the present but the requirements for the plain-leaf are far easier to procure the following morning in his neighbourhood. But then, he hadn’t had the egusi in a long while. Visions of steamed white pudding, and its ensuing soft moulded foo-foo, tempt him to decide in egusi’s favour while the plain-leaf, not to be outdone, piles on her ubiquitous appeal.
Steve is still undecided as he passes through the portals of his yard and shuts the gate behind him, shoots home the bolt and tumbles the lock to. A sudden lassitude descending upon Steve’s frame, decides the snail’s fate, and stays its immediate conversion to a gastronomic epitaph. He drags himself wearily to the house, noting that there is no light burning in the lounge. Could I have been locked out, he wonders.
Steve soon attains to the entrance, and strangely finds that the metal door is neither locked nor latched. He pushes the door open and inserts himself into the gloom of the shaded interior. He flicks on the flashlight feature of his mobile phone and wends his way to the kitchen to secure his catch till he would have the time and tools to execute the deserved honours. He plops the mollusc down on the kitchen cabinet and upends over it the heaviest deeply hollow porcelain bowl he can find. He thinks to secure the bowl with a heavy weight, and then dismisses the thought as overkill.
He seeks his bed shortly after, having shorn himself of apparel and accoutrements (leaving them mostly where they fell). He sinks into slumber soon as he settles between the sheets; his customary shower missed didn’t impede Morpheus’s accession.
So great was his fatigue.
His last conscious thought is that it is most uncharacteristic for his mum to be asleep before his arrival, yet leave the front door open.