Like Bright Omoh Sado rightly declared, Lawrence Amaeshi’s Sweet Crude Odyssey is the new biggest novel about the Niger Delta. Published by Kachifo’s Prestige Imprint, Sweet Crude Odyssey is one unputdownable novel. And I’ve been feeling bad that I hadn’t heard of this novel until now. Anyway, better late than never, right?
If like me, you’ve been dying to read an adeptly-spun tale, here’s an excerpt of Lawrence Amaeshi’s Sweet Crude Odyssey.
I felt uneasy. I couldn’t shake the thought that someone was watching me. Someone was.
The man staring at me was European, probably British from his stiffness. He wore a long sleeve shirt rolled up at the cuffs with corduroy pants. The smile on his face said he knew something he wasn’t willing to share.
He wasn’t alone. There were two women with him, clad in tight-fitting clothes – miniskirts and transparent blouses. Their table was heavy with drinks and food, but he was more interested in me.
The bar’s clientele was split between indigenous and expatriate oil workers, all in search of a good time. It was a melting pot for lovers of local music, drinks, aquatic delicacies, and assorted meat sourced from the thick mangrove swamp. Women of the night hung in the shadows along the drive-in.
It was way past midnight and guests had begun to leave alone or with company.
The clock hit 2:00 a.m. Daisy, my companion, had already retired to the hotel room, and I reluctantly rounded up for the night as well. Nocturnal insects hovered round the incandescent light bulbs and mosquitoes converged in the darkness under my table. They would have to find another victim tonight. I was done.
Then the white gentleman sat down at my table, opposite me. His cologne was a heavy, flowery fragrance with a touch of cider.
“Hi’ya, mate?” His cockney accent was thick.
I was not in the mood for small talk; I was plastered from downing two bottles of Hennessy. I looked on at the deep orange glow of my cigarette as I inhaled, aware that the bar almost empty, and brushed off a beetle that had fallen on my shirt.
“The name’s Steve,” said the Brit. “I couldn’t help but notice you. Can I bum one off you? I’m out.” He helped himself to a cigarette from my packet, lit up, and took a deep drag. “Been watching you.” He let the smoke out of his mouth as he spoke. “Judging from the way you guzzled those bottles, I can tell you need a life coach.”
He glanced around the bar, his distaste visible. “Continue down this path, my friend, and you’ll burn out fast. This is the land of not enough – near misses, misery, and strange bed fellows, ain’t it?” He jerked his head at the prowlers in the shadows. “Only so much your body can take. Would be a waste of the wonderful life you’ve never had the chance to enjoy. The one I know you’ve dreamt off everyday, Bruce.”
My head jerked up in reflex. How did he know my name?
“I can make you rich. Richer than you’ve ever imagined.”
I was dead sure I had never met this stalker before – drunk or sober. Was my situation so dismal everybody could see it? “Mister, did I ask for your help? Mind your business.”
Steve didn’t flinch. “You are my business.”
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