‘Are you crazy?’ Screamed the driver in a thick Yoruba language. As he poked his head out through the window Saka could not help noticing the brutal tribal marks on the man’s cheeks. Whoever had carved this tally on his face had not intention of bestowing pulchritude. The lines were not even symmetrical; the driver’s ugliness was classic.
‘No, I am not crazy, just desperate. There’s a difference between insanity and desperation.’ answered Saka in like language.
‘What do you want?’ The facially-challenged man asked impatiently.
‘My name is Saka and I urgently need to get to the town of Ogbomosho.’
‘How does that concern me?’
‘You are going to drive me there.’
‘And a dozen beauty queens would fight over me.’ Spat the driver, whose name was Dawodu; an ugly name among ugly names.
‘Listen carefully to me, Prince Charming, I’m not leaving here unless you agree to transport me.’
Dawodu scoffed amusedly, ‘And you think your rigid presence here is a threat to my tipper? I can just run you over.’
Maybe Saka’s sanity had reached such a boiling point that a regular prefix had been added to his ‘sanity’, or the spirit of the deceased client was influencing him negatively, because the coffin-maker’s reply was sensationally inane. ‘I’ve memorized your plate number.’
The truck-driver stared at Saka for a long moment; what was running through his mind could be explained by only him, because he quietly but firmly replied, ‘My fee is ten naira.’ Of course, the amount charged during this prehistoric time was a direct equivalent five hundred times its value fifty years aft.
‘What!’ screamed the wide-eyed Saka. ‘That’s a fortune! I can only afford five naira.’
‘Come and let’s hoist that to the back of the lorry.’ Saka pointed at the coffin he’d left at the site of the road prior his maniacal bound before a moving engine. It was at this moment that Dawodu noticed the wooden object.
‘What’s that?’ he asked incredulously.
‘It’s a spaceship.’ Saka replied absent-mindedly.
‘It looks like a coffin.’
‘Wow, that’s very brilliant of you. You’re right, it’s a coffin,’ Saka said impatiently, ‘Now come and assist in lifting it.’
‘You are not planning to put that in my lorry, are you?’
The coffin-maker looked at the driver as if he had just said something incredibly silly.
‘No,’ he answered in anger, ‘I’m planning to string it on my waist like a bead.’
‘I’m not putting a corpse in my car!’
‘The coffin is empty, genius!’
‘Prove me wrong.’
It was only after Saka had opened the coffin to show that it was truly empty that Dawodu assisted in lifting.