“Mobile Vulgus” by Andrew Teye.

He was dragged like an insolent goat. He felt a hard blow against the back of his head, and then another. There was a slap from behind, and then another. The voices around him were mixed and rising. All the while, the old man he heard them call ‘Old Souja’, tightened the grip he had on him. Old Souja had locked him in the classic Ghana-police ajoss grip: the waistline of his trousers had been yanked far above his abdomen and he could feel his testicles strangling towards castration. The old man’s strength was evident in his grip. There was no slipping out of his stranglehold.

A loud raspy feminine voice suggested he be burnt with a bunch of car tyres. She claimed to have a gallon of kerosene kept somewhere in her house and could send her child to fetch it as soon as it was needed. The crowd roared in agreement.

He shrieked at the mention of this, quickly pleading and breaking into sobs. He was struck immediately by Old Souja this time. The old man who had remained calm up until this point was now joining in the violence. With that fierce look on his steel face, Old Souja looked like he would have no difficulty breaking every single bone in his body. The old man was the self-appointed leader here and he yelled at the mob to calm down. “He won’t come here again, don’t worry,” Old Souja announced.

He was being dragged with the reins clinging to his genitals, by an ‘Old Souja’, the mob following closely behind stealing chances to strike him on the head. His big head- the big coconut that thought it had schemed well enough to complete a successful burglary.

So it was, up until they reached the big sandy square at center of the neighbourhood. The parade had turned into a march for justice now and from the vibes he was getting, this would not end well for him. This was the procession to his death.

****************

“I said who did this?” the police officer asked for the third time, “are you people deaf?”

Nobody answered. They simply shook their heads and shrugged. He gave up, turned to the body again and pulled out his phone. After taking some more shots, he dialed a number.

Yeh Akwasi, tell Joe to come with the Pick-up. And, with one body bag too,” he paused, and added almost as an afterthought, “and call that your nurse- girlfriend, another borla is coming so she should make space.” He chuckled silently and turned to the crowd behind him.

“So you people have decided to take the law into your own hands eh? How many of you have not stolen before?”

There were blank stares all over. The policeman felt like an idiot.

“Did you ask him his name?” he asked with little hope.

A dozen heads shook from side to side on each neck. These people were well-rehearsed. He spotted a fearsome-looking old man somewhere in the back of the crowd. He stared at the frowning wrinkled face and chuckled. He scanned their faces passively for a moment.

“Next time ask for the name and write it down,” he informed “Now everybody go home! Come on, clear off from here!” He barked and stamped his boots. They dispersed slowly in silence.

* “Mobile Vulgus” is a Latin phrase meaning “the fickle crowd”. The English term “mob” was originally derived from this phrase.

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