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    January 2011

    2. In the Air

    By Colin Barrett

    Sunday. Glanbeigh Stephanites boys’ under-sixteen football training. Morning rain, the parish turf soft underfoot, brown water puddling in the rutted goalmouths. It’s May, but a cold Atlantic gale heaves in over the galvanized roof of the north stand, making a noise like continuously ripping fabric. On the touchline, Coach consults his waterproof wristwatch, exhorts the boys to keep the pace up.

    Reserve keeper Danny Tansey sends the ball high and hard into the air. At the apex of its flight, the ball seems to lag for a moment in the grey sky. The boys look up. They watch the ball float and revolve wobblingly in place. Coach blows briny drops of rain from his lips and exhorts the boys to wait for the drop.

    Thirty yards down field, Trevor Devlin frantically waves a gloved hand in the air and shouts “Coach! Coach!”

    Coach looks down the line.

    He’s about to say, What is it?

    But then he sees.

    *

    The ball returns to earth, is lost amid a ruck of bodies. Coach trots down the line. One of the boys, Conor Savage, is face down, spread-eagled in the grass at Devlin’s feet. . . . Read More.

    1. Bar Beach Show

    By E. C. Osondu

    The year I turned thirteen, my father took me and my elder brother, Yemi, to Lagos’s Bar Beach to witness the death by firing squad of the notorious armed robber Lawrence “The Law” Anini and his gang of seven robbers. A few years later my brother Yemi was also to die by firing squad as an armed robber.

    Anini and his gang had held Lagos hostage for over three months, so much so that the head of state had asked the inspector general of police on national television how soon the robber was going to be arrested.

    We did not hate The Law; he did not bother us. He only stole from the very rich and from the banks. On one occasion when the police were after him and his gang, he had torn open a bag of naira currency notes and flung fistful after fistful into the air. There had been a stampede as the people on the street ran into the road to pick up the money. In the ensuing melee, he had escaped with his gang, and the next day the Lagos Daily Times ran the headline “The Law Beats Police Once Again.”

    My mother objected to our going to witness the shooting of the robbers, but my father paid her no heed. He told her that these days some robbers were as young as twelve, and that he wanted us to see with our eyes what happened to those who did not obey the laws of the land.

    “Did you not see the ten-year-old boy nicknamed Smallie who was shown on television the other night? The robbers said he was the one who crawled in through the air conditioner chute into most of the homes they robbed. They said he ran away from the Lagos Remand Home at six and was a hardened marijuana smoker.”

    “But think of all that blood, Baba Yemi. I don’t think it is something that the children should see. There are other means you could use to persuade them. Besides, the beach is usually filled with people smoking and drinking on execution days.”

    My mother said this while looking at me and my brother Yemi for support, but none was forthcoming. . . . Read More.

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