The stranger who stood opposite my window last Friday was clearly from out of town. He wore a bronze, yet blood-stained crown, looking quizzically into nihility as a raven from nowhere sat on his shoulder.
It was one of those lonely Friday nights which I spent on my doll infested bed. I randomly looked out my window and stole a glance when I saw him standing across the street. He was tall and thin, his skin as dark as the late-night, crimson-colored dreadlocks buoyantly hung over his head which dwindled upon his neck like it would fall off soon. He wore a black cape, its hood laid motionless on his back.
His presence made our neighbor’s dog bark repeatedly, although frightened to confront him. Faint barks accompanied by long howls I heard from a distance and it was evident that his presence clearly petrified the dogs. He stood there for a couple seconds gawking into nothingness like a mannequin. With little or no stress, he turned and looked my way like he finally found a missing treasure. He smiled brightly and walked sloshily towards my window, leaving crimson trails that faded off as he drew closer and closer.
The Ajayi’s only child was playing all by himself in their garden with lots of toys at his disposal, laughing joyfully. Their garden was aloof, yet I could see him clearly. Noticing the presence of the stranger, the boy stopped and wore a long-lasting stare just like he had seen a ghost. The stranger turned to him, flashed a lions stare accompanied by a dry dreaded grin. His face, without feature or emotion, just deep emptiness.
His smile grew wild as he walked towards Tade. Oh! Yes, that was the name of Mrs. Ajayi’s son who I despised for his existence. Tade dropped his toys and screamed at the top of his voice, ‘Mum! Dad!’ but they were busy fighting over some irrelevant issues. He called out again and again and yelled out a different name, one that sounded faint. Apparently the figure walking towards him instilled fear in him because he called the name out at the top of his voice. Reality then dawned on me as I gathered my thoughts together and replayed the whole moment again. ‘The Butcher’ was what Tade had yelled out loud the second time.
We had just moved into our new neighborhood from Ondo some three months back; I hated every bit of it. The locals of Surulere were mundane and always warned about the unwanted visitor who comes at night and massacred children, spilling their guts all around the place while he laughed out loud and vanishes before neighbors could come to the child’s aid. Where he comes from, no one knows how he disappears, no one has been able to figure that out. Although, rumor has it that it might be the ghost of the mutilated Gardener who the whole community conspired against and burnt on a stake for practicing dark magic or was it necromancy? I can’t remember. But I’m pretty sure I’ve heard the town’s drunk scare the children about ‘The Butcher’. He was definitely drunk nine out of ten times, so I paid no attention to his poppycock.
Engulfed in the moment, I stared motionless out of my window, realizing the reality that stood a couple of yards away from me. In a split second, the whole street was devoid of Tade’s shrill screams as his head fell off his thick neck, dispersing red yet thick blood all over the garden whilst his lifeless body fell like a log of wood. How did it happen? Where did the blade come from?’ I wondered. Such swift speed!
Overwhelmed, I stood there, bewildered yet fascinated. Instead of fear, sheen found its way to my distorted face. “Oh my God! Tade!” I muttered under my breath as the stranger looked up to me and wore a smile brighter than the morning sun. He pulled out a saw and hacked, not just the head, but everything. As he hacked on the lifeless body, my smile grew brighter and more lucent.
The stranger sang a melody with an arcane voice that I barely understood while he threw the body parts all around the garden, like a farmer spreading his grains on a fertile ground. But instead of grains, they were severed parts of Tade’s intestines and bits of both the boy’s kidney, liver and a lot I couldn’t identify. He looked over his shoulder and saw me smiling, then I laughed non-stop. He did the same, realizing that I acknowledged his ‘Artistry’. Did I just call it that?
My lips parted into a big smile, compelling my throat to let out a more crooked laughter that synchronized with the strangers, forming a symphonic eerie sound like that of an ancient orchestra. He rose and walked vehemently to my window, I then saw him much more clearly. His face was longer than I thought, pale and spotless, yet, attractive. Seated on his face was a pointed nose where a pearl-like stone sat.
His pupils were slightly dilated and carried a distinct color that I had never seen. It glowed in the early evening, presenting itself like a star from a distance. He had splatters of blood all over his black cape that was cut out like a royal robe. He stretched his right hand forward and the claws that rested on his long hands scared and marveled me at the same time. His claws still housed chunks of flesh and for a couple of seconds, I reminisced.
Apparently he wielded no blades, so his claws took off the boy’s head. The remains still trapped in between his claws were surely Tade’s.
‘Wow!’ I thought. He used them to sever the boy’s helpless head off of his neck. I’m aware that he can see that I’m happy, yet, slightly frightened, he’s aware that the smile on my face is genuine, priceless and without remorse. He’s so close to my window and I can hear him growl placidly, his breath slow. I felt a blood rush from within which took over my whole body. I think the universe was telling me something, I think I’m attracted to him. Stretching my hand out the window and placing it inside of his marked a turning point for me. His clawed palm totally housed my petite fingers, calming my nerves like a cold soda one would drink in a ravaging summer. He smiled one more time and said to me in the calmest voice I’ve ever heard, ‘would you like to come with me, Ella?