They call him The Hammer. He is an artist of a murderer. After suffocating his victims until dead, he makes a point of hammering a large nail into their throats. Then he leaves them in places where they would sit like they could be enjoying a cup of coffee or looking  into the off  view. Only upon closer inspection would you notice that the round thing in their necks encircled by clotting blood isn’t really decorative neck wear.

Luam was a school principal. She lived with her parents and she always took the train to her work place in the middle of the city. She liked pasta and Coca Cola. She absolutely hated feet and teenage girls. She thought of herself as a business woman rather than an educator. She aspired to become the reverse.

Yonas was in love with a girl called Christian. She sat in front of him in his economics class at the college where he studied to become a geologist. At first he really wanted to become a geologist then he just wanted to be with Christian. He’d heard her tell a friend about how she hated short guys so he joined a basketball team to make himself taller. It turned out he enjoyed basketball and he was very good at it.

Asnake wasn’t always a homeless man. In his teens he learned to play the accordion. In his twenties he married his neighbor and had two sons with her. In his thirties, he divorced her and married another woman with whom he made two more children. He joined the army  in his forties with two of his older sons and then lost his wife and all his kids to a massacre. In his fifties he played the accordion at weddings. In his sixties he lost his house and his accordion wore out. He was turned out to the streets and he found himself sleeping outside St. Gabriel church begging and getting upto 17 birr a day.

The civilian who found the victims was sneaking under the bridge to relieve his bladder completely unaware he wouldn’t be able to do so until the following morning.

Luam was found in a pretty floral dress and sparking red heels. She’d on pink lipstick, still neat on her mouth and a briefcase full of teacher files. Also, of course, the large iron nail in her throat. Yonas was in a basketball jersey. A laptop, a notebook, a bad sketch of a girl, a box of condoms, a water bottle and some weed were found on him in addition to a nail sticking out of his neck. Asnake too had a nail in his throat, as well as a large gabi draped around his shoulder. Two birr coins sparkled on the floor next to where he could just be asleep.

The officer called to check them bodies vomited twice while his colleagues tried to guard the place from onlookers. Everyone longed to understand The Hammer.

January 2017