The Secret Lives Of Butchers


July 13, 2019

“This is an interview for a column on the blog I write for where I interview seniors about their careers. So I’m going to ask you a couple of questions and you can just answer however you want. Is that okay, Mr Yellow?”

Neither of the kids had the foggiest idea why their Father had bought a pig.

It’s not that they weren’t allowed to eat pork, it just wasn’t a thing they had ever eaten at home. So Zara and sister, Shola, were shocked when their father got back from the market followed by Mr Yellow struggling to get a giant ass pig in formation.

Mr Yellow was the family butcher. Whenever the family needed anything killed, Mr Yellow was their go-to guy. Zara and Shola had known him their entire lives. No one knew his real name, which could be construed as weird seeing as he was practically family at that point.

No one could concentrate in the house that day because the pig would not stop squealing at the top of its lungs. As the family stood around, watching Mr Yellow get his tools ready, Shola commented on how it seemed like the pig’s screaming was triggered by its knowledge of its eventual fate. Everyone laughed until Mr Yellow chimed it with this:

Na so human being dey scream when dem dey kill am.”

That killed the laughter. Shocked, Zara turned to look at the rest of her family. Shola mouthed the word “Okay then” and ran upstairs. Their mother was visibly uncomfortable. Their Father, however, didn’t even flinch. Even though she was 10 years old at the time, the implication of what Mr Yellow said was obvious. The family never spoke of it again.

Zara never forgot.

“I can’t thank you enough, Zara. He doesn’t get a lot of visitors and is always down but seeing you again and talking to you has lifted his spirits. Thank you!”

You’re welcome, ma,” Zara answered with a smile.

Mr Yellow had to retire early because dementia set in, and his wife (everyone called her Mrs Yellow) was always by his side. This annoyed Zara because this meant that she couldn’t ask Mr Yellow the one thing she really wanted to know. She was getting ready to leave when Mrs Yellow asked if she was in a hurry.

No, I’m not. Do you need help with something?”

Yes. The doctors say it’s not safe to leave Yellow by himself. But I really need to buy foodstuff. Do you mind staying with him for a few minutes while I go to the market?

Zara saw an opportunity.

No, I don’t mind,” She answered quickly. “Take as much time as you want. No worries.

You’re an angel. I promise I’ll be quick.” And with that, Mrs Yellow rushed out. Zara walked over to Mr Yellow, who was lying in bed, looking at the ceiling with a smile on his face. She sat beside him. This surprised him and made him sit up.

“Zara. I thought you left already. Aren’t we done with the interview?”

We are, sir. But Mrs Yellow had to run an errand so she asked me to stay with you. She’ll be back soon.

Oh. OK,” Mr Yellow said as he relaxed.

Zara knew she didn’t have much time. She also knew she couldn’t rush things for fear of freaking him out. She took his hand in hers and spoke softly.

Mr Yellow?

“Zara? Zara. I thought you left already. Aren’t we done with the interview?” He asked with an innocent smile on his face.

Yes, sir. We are. I just have one more thing to ask. That one time you helped us kill a pig at our house and my little sister, Shola, joked about the pig’s screams. There was something you said after that…”

That what? What did I say, Zara?

…that implied that you’ve worked with humans…the same way that you’ve worked with animals.”

Oh,” he said, as he sat up again. The smile disappeared from his face. “I had to. All the others were doing it. That’s where the real money comes from, and I needed the money.” He began to hyperventilate.

Zara pressed on as gently as she could.

Can you explain what you me…”

She didn’t even need to. Clearly, Mr Yellow had stuff he wanted to get off his chest.

Missing people.” He was frantic now. Tears had begun streaming down his face. “Rituals need well cut out parts and people who do what I do are pretty much the only ones qualified and willing to do it for them.”

Zara let go of his hand in shock. Mr Yellow went on.

Politicians! Pastors! So many babies over the years. Oh God. Then there was Clifford.

Clifford. Clifford Orji? The guy that ate people??

Yes. He brought me so much work. Him and the others like him. There were so many. The others were never caught. Still out there. Such good business. And your father…”

Mr Yellow suddenly went quiet and lay back down. Zara felt a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. She heard the front door open. She was torn between knowing more and keeping her perfect life. Mrs Yellow’s footsteps got louder as she walked up to the room. Zara made her decision.

Thank you so much, Zara,” Mrs Yellow said as she walked in. “The market was a mad House. I hope I didn’t take too long.

No. Mr Yellow and I were just…chatting. About old times. I’ll be out of your hair now.

Zara stood up and proceeded to leave. She stopped by the door and turned around.

“Mr Yellow, is there any question I didn’t ask during the interview that you wish I had?”

After being in deep thought for a few seconds, Mr Yellow looked up with a smile on his face and answered.

“I really wish you’d asked me about the suya industry. I have stories for days!”

Click here to read other stories in the NIGERIAN HORROR STORY series.

Find Zikoko
wherever you are

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.