I’ve been told my father was a dangerous man, wanted in forty-nine countries. He left us when I was five. I have only two memories of him and this is one: he is outside throwing knives at the side of the house, which is premium cypress. They spin through the air so fast I can barely see them once they leave his hand. One after another after another. It is rhythmic. He does not pause. Each knife hits the wood straight on, sinks in and stays there, quivering. When he is done there is a straight lineup of them that you could balance a level on and the bubble would stay exactly in the middle.
My family lives in tornado country. Once, driving on the highway, I saw a truck blow right off the road. Sometimes the sky between the wheat fields and the clouds turns a bright clear turquoise and the tornadoes are pale purple, and it’s almost beautiful.
Recently my father resurfaced in Abuja, the size of a hot air balloon and the color of champagne grapes. Of course, he made the news. “Can you give us a statement,” shouted a newscaster. “I’m coming home,” he cried, drifting up and away.
For weeks my grandfather and I crouched in the shadows of our family home, waiting. I had a machete, my grandfather a butter knife. When my father arrived we leaped out and sliced him open, right down the middle. Everything poured out: ceilings, kumquats, syrup, loose change, a sofa-bed, table salt, and then three mammals, one of them my mother cooking squash. That smells delicious, I told her, and we fed ourselves while my father sank into the ground, blood pouring out of our mouths.