Urgh, and here it comes again. I've heard it more times than I can count – so much that I shift autopilot five metre away from the crowd of virgin ears and eyes puckered and peeled. He is telling the bit where he and his now incarcerated friends are seeking revenge for a fatal stabbing. Telling them of how the back and forth got so intense that he and a friend went looking - with a hand gun and a semi automatic - for the enemy on foreign turf. Once found - in a slow and echoey bit between two blocks of flats – they both blindly opened fire until their guns jammed. The ambushed scattered, all of them magically intact.
Then came the bit where after the shooting incident, he, ever the astute criminal, dismantled his gun and via public transport and miles on foot, hid the different parts in several industrial waste bins. “You know, the galvanised steel ones,” he would detail, before the bit about how his partner in the shooting hesitated to dispose of his weapon and was quickly apprehended with the gun, “in a shoe box under his bed. And I warned him.” He said this bit with palms open and hands raised to shoulder level, as if he had long absolved himself of any blame.
And this virgin crowd, filled with the story soon to make them the crown jewel at their middle class dinner parties, salivated for more. But as always, as agonisingly predictable, he skipped the bit where he dragged me - three years younger at fifteen - out of bed and into a balaclava. How we then ran sideways towards an Audi TT under the assumption the driver was one of the 'enemy'. Baseball bat each in hand, we came down heavy on the driver's body.
Also, he never tells the bit where he sloped into the car and rammed the top of his bat through the mouth of a young woman who had been screaming and clambering to the back of the car in primal panic. I saw her teeth, some on the bat, some on her chest and I saw straight down her mouth as the bat was pulled back and sent to bridge of her nose.
As a rule - even though I'm proud he has changed - I have become distant when he is on form around a crowd of listeners. And he, as a rule, always skips the bit. Partly because of it's incriminating possibilities, but mostly because he knew how it left me, his little brother, back then man shaped for my age, running soiled all the way back home and crippled by anxiety for years after.
By Chima Nsoedo