RUSTY by Nzube Harry


He cast an angry pair of dark, sinister eyes on the creature. 'You will not leave this room in
one piece!' The helpless rodent darted its eyes from one point of the room to another. It was indeed
nothing short of helpless. Had there even been any exit from the room, it could not move one paw
away from the strange board that had it in its firm grip. The rat had heard on several occasions by
its fellow rodents of human's novel capture tricks. In its helpless condition the rat could only admit,
regrettably, how effective this trick was. An adhesive board! In the past, their methods had been,
for a lack of a more fitting word, crude - and ruthless too. A large number of its siblings had in the
past been unfortunate enough to eat from stray food items as they played about the house. At least
it had once thought these food items were actually 'stray'. It knew better some months later after
the Rodent Research Institute had conducted an examination on these stray foods. The results had
been startling - too obvious even, to the effect that the intellectuals in their midst cast aspersions
on their own ratty intellect. For one, the specimen food item was invariably a sort of tiny, shelled
fish that usually reeked of an odious smell. That in itself, they reasoned, should have sent the
lights blaring in a thousand shades of an ominous red. How belated this was. It was also much too
coincidental to have this dish always forgotten, carefully gathered and served on a special fragile
plate which the humans invariably doubled as a sort of writing material. How foolish the rats had
Rusty sat condescendingly on the board. It knew it was going to get killed and thrown away
into the vast, smelly pool into which the humans threw their wastes, and where some of their
comrades were discovered, dead. Rusty was one of the few intellectuals of the sparsely populated
rodent world that lived in the one room apartment of Alhaji Moshood Popoola, a failed and
prematurely retired medical doctor known well for his too high sense of hygiene, promiscuity and
hatred for rodents. In the small world of the rats therefore, Popoola was made akin to the ilk of the
Hitlers, Husseins and Bin Ladens of the human world.
'You think you can just enter my house, you and the others whose fate would soon be like
yours, and eat up my furniture and food, eh?' he asked Rusty, stooping low to the level of his
captive. Rusty blinked twice. In the mundane world of the rats, this eye gesture was an
acknowledgement of the most notorious level of the stupidity of one's speaker by its listener, much
synonymous with the expression 'Are you not just silly to have said that!' when employed as a
reply to a request of an adventurous youngster desiring to smack his father or jump down a
fifty-storey building with no landing aid. Normally, the derogatory eye movement was followed
immediately with a well-aimed punch in the fool's eyes, but in his condition - and of course going
by the vast physiological antonymy between itself and Popoola, it could do nothing more than
await the inevitable.
Popoola looked at the little ravenous beast below him and thought how comely a rat it was. It
had twinkling eyes and a smooth pitch black fur. However, Popoola concluded that it was a foolish
rat, too. He was then interrupted by a loud knock on the door. It must be the girl, Popoola thought.
He rushed to the door, his white dansiki billowing behind him as he raced. He opened the door and
let the girl in. She was his mistress and an orange seller who Popoola had wooed and acquired.
The girl was now a frequent visitor to the house. Her visits were always diurnal as the Alhaja was
known by all to inflict the worst possible physiognomical damage on anything beskirted around or
in compromising positions with the Alhaji. Her expertise in facial change which many swore she
learnt from Popoola earned her such grim reputation. Throughout the day, Alhaja conducted her jewelry business in her store and was not expected home until nightfall. The couple had no
children. God in His show of His eternal wisdom had sewed up the woman's womb from her birth.
Hence, she never was once known to have conceived. Rumours had gone around sometime ago
that she used to have a son but clawed him to his death in a fit of rage. This was however a lie, and
she drove the truth home good and proper into the souls of some of the rumour carriers when she
eavesdropped on them lisping the treason. This example had been effective as no one else dared
spoke the lie anymore - at least not when she was but more than five miles of from eavesdropping
The girl entered the room held by the hand by Popoola. As she sat on a chair, Rusty winced,
fully aware of the damage her buttocks could inflict on the rats that lounged beneath the chair
unknowing of their imminent demise. She had one of those rears that human males seemed
intensely intrigued by, and which had put paid to the lives, and in other cases, the normal existence
of some rats who were unfortunate enough to be within crushing point. Rusty hated her the
moment it saw her first when it was but a baby months back. The order of events whenever she
visited seldom changed. She would come in supported by Popoola, the sadistic dog. Then he
would offer her a drink which she never declined from drinking, after which they both went into
the bed to mate.
Rusty was not as angry at her visits and the dead rats she left in her wake as it was appalled at
the unearthly noise they produced when mating. It knew the session would begin soon; only that
as it often did when they started, it could not run somplace else. Popoola handed a glass to the girl
and in one quick gulp she emptied the glass. She then stood up. Popoola showing a lecherous
comprehension of the gesture mirrored her movement almost immediately and they walked,
passing Rusty, toward the bed area. Soon after, as predicted, the noise started. Its forelegs leached
to the trap, it was denied a chance to cork its ears to the noisome sounds. Rage built inside Rusty.
In its graphic powerlessness, it could only make a final wish: Alhaja's return and consequently the
girl's extermination from the house and from life itself. As the couple mated on, there came a rap
on the door. From the corner of its eyes, Rusty watched the nimble movements of Popoola away
from the girl and then heard the clinking of his belt buckle. It heard Popoola's advice, 'Go under
the bed now!' The mattress creaked, signalling her prompt obedience to the suggestion. Rusty
watched as Popoola strode to the door, muttering silent prayers. Alas! Its wish had been granted
and the duo would face Alhaja's wrath. It only wished now that Alhaja would be suspicious and
insightful enough to inspect underneath the mattress. Even if I die now, I do so a happy rat, Rusty
reasoned sagely. Popoola opened the door and in came a man. The two men whispered together,
the other laughed conspiratorially, hands shook in unspoken solidarity, the door reopened and
Popoola was once more alone in the room. This time, he locked the door and dumped the bunch of
keys in his trouser pocket, making his way to the bed to continue his business. Rusty sighed,
gravely displeased. 'It's not her. You can get back on the bed now,' he said. The bed creaked again
and the noise resumed. Rusty cursed all humanity that moment.
Hardly had it been twenty minutes from the knock that another one rocked the door. The
menacing force of each rap betold of instant damnation on the occupants in the room. Rusty could
not be less certain it was Alhaja this time. For the first time, Rusty was grateful to be a rat, fairly
undetectable and less likely to be counted among the unfortunates when Alhaja entered. Alhaja
had definitely been told of the girl's presence in the house, for she spared no time for further
knocking on the door. In a crash of dust, bolts, hinges, pieces of splintered wood and all door paraphernalia, Alhaja stood, a giant of a woman, by the demolished door, arms akimbo, breathing
in air and out hailstones. Although Rusty's saviour from Popoola, it could not help but shiver at the
sight of the enraged bull. The girl had no time to hide this time around. She lay there stunned by
shock and fear of her chances of continued existence on earth from then on. A red handkerchief on
a matador shown to the bull in a bullfight became twin with the sight of the girl lying on Alhaja's
matrimonial bed with Alhaji balanced atop her. With a speed too quick for even Rusty to execute.
Alhaja stormed into the bed area.
Hail and brimstone.
The successive events went too loudly and quickly. All Rusty could decide certainly was that there
seemed to be a quake in the earth's annals resulting in a limping Popoola fleeing from the danger
zone to the door and disappearing from view. There were shouts of 'Egba mi! Egba mi o!' Some
sort of SOS call, Rusty thought. Only God could redeem her now, it chortled sadistically. In an
instant, the battle moved outside the bed area to where Rusty lay stuck. The lethal blows and
screams now became more audible. Some neighbours were already assembled outside the door,
passively looking on the spectacle. Some shook their heads pitifully while some others begged
Alhaja to stop as they stood a good distance away from the onslaught. The blows and kicks did not
slow down in frequency and velocity. They fell steadfastly on the poor girl. Suddenly, the board
was flying in the air, shot up by a volcanic kick. The board hit the wall on its side and Rusty's
forelegs propelled itself off the trap in one swift move. Rusty could not believe its luck. It was
soon edging towards freedom. It could however not take its hindlegs off the board without getting
its forelegs trapped again. As the war raged, Rusty struck on an idea but it could only work if any
of the women stepped on the free part of the board. Then it would propel itself to the free ground
and with the thick gum left off on its legs, it could gain a firm hold of the ground and pull out. It
waited amidst the unending blows for that moment if it came - and it did. The girl made a move
and stepped on the board. Rusty had not thought of the repercussion of this. In a second, it was
airborne, and this time in danger of being trampled upon. The girl was too taken up with the
beating to notice the board she had picked on the round of her foot. Then the idea came. Neither
would she notice it was on her skirt! Without further thinking, Rusty grabbed a piece of her skirt
as it reached it and pulled with all of its might. The pull was sufficient. Rusty came off the board
fully but still held on to the fabric. It then jumped down a safe distance away from the warring feet
and ran, although hindered by the gum on its legs, to the door. Rusty looked at the crowd out of
which a man commented, 'Even a rat is wise to take cover from Alhaja!'
Rusty scrambled out and ran off to its unexpected freedom.

This story is in entirety fictitious. Nevertheless, it was inspired by a true life sadistic session of
torture and the subsequent killing of a trapped rat by - although needless in my admission of guilt,
yours sincerely. A subtle move. Perhaps to obtain mercy from the deceased rodent.

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