® 18+ SNVL
© Aaron Ansah-Agyeman
It is rush hour.
There is no empty seat in the restaurant.
Orders keep flooding in from the take-away desks. The Drive-Through is choked.
Chris moves through the kitchen, increasingly getting frustrated, unable to catch any breath.
But he looks at the over-worked Victor and the other staff, and he marvels.
Victor is smiling constantly, enjoying the moment, the pressure, and the demand.
(putting seasoning on noodles)
You think this is fun?
Victor grins from ear to ear as he takes a basket of crispy-fried chicken and upends it into a drainer.
This is the happiest day of my life, sir! Thank you, oh thank you!
Chris cannot believe his ears. He shakes his head and laughs.
Three hours later, the pressure begins to reduce a bit, and the kitchen intercom rings.
Victor picks up, listens, and then looks over at Chris who has just finished packing up a giant order of banku and okra soup.
Yes, sir. They say a Mr. Darlett Thompson is at the reception looking for you.
He watches as a look of sheer delight crosses Chris’ face, and then he turns and dashes out of the kitchen.
Victor replaces the receiver and, out of curiosity, he walks out and down the corridor and peers into the reception.
He sees that a medium-built man wearing black jeans and a batakari has gotten to his feet.
The man has grey hair cropped very close to his skull, and he seems to be middle-aged.
The man and Chris approach each other, and then they embrace tightly.
Intrigued, Victor watches as Chris leads the man out of the back door of the reception into the private little garden behind the reception which Chris loves so much.
Meanwhile, Effe drives into the staff parking lot of JUNIOR’S and parks.
She sees Chris’ bike under one of the sheds and she smiles tenderly, imagining his surprise when he sees them.
She gets down, and finds that Junior has already unbuckled his seat-belt, opened his door, and is running towards the entrance of the restaurant.
Junior! Wait up, Junior!
She races after him, and when she turns the corner she suddenly stops.
A black Hummer is parked across the street, and she recognizes it immediately.
Across its side are words:
Oh, no! Oh, no! Chris!
It belongs to Mike Crankson, and a moment later she sees the GojuFist Grandmaster Champion approaching the entrance of the restaurant in the company of his trainer and bodyguard.
Behind him are some journalists’ and television crew.
Effe recognizes the HEARTBEAT TELEVISION news van parked at the Customer Parking Lot.
The television cameras are rolling.
Mike Crankson is dressed in all white, as usual, and he is walking arrogantly with a swagger and a rude look on his face.
Effe sees, much to her horror, that Junior is suddenly standing in front of the entrance defiantly, barring the way.
Oh, dear Lord, no!
She knows why Crankson has come.
He just wants to bait Chris into taking a fight with him.
Crankson suddenly sees Junior barring the door, and his lips open into a great grin of victory.
He remembers what Steve had said.
Here is his answer for a fight at long last.
See what I see, Bobo? That’s Chris’ boy over there. Heaven must be real!
BOBO BLACK, who is Crankson’s bodyguard, is a huge man, muscle-bound and as solid as a tree.
He is very strong, and sometimes the level of his strength awed even Mike Crankson.
Easy, Master. I don’t think you should mess with the kid.
Crankson’s trainer, Nana Bosomtwum, is a vicious man who never smiles. He has a skeletal frame, and is also as tough as nails.
Relax, Bobo. Nothing hard. Just a little push is all it’ll take to make Chris angry enough to take the fight.
As Effe begins to run towards her son, Crankson reaches Junior.
Junior stares defiantly at them.
Go away! My Daddy doesn’t want to fight!
Your Dada is a coward! A puny, stinking little coward, boy! Let me in. Just want to have a talk with him.
No! He doesn’t want to talk to you! Go away!
The television cameras are rolling!
The journalists are taking pictures.
Effe is still running forward.
JUNIOR! STEP ASIDE, JUNIOR!!
Crankson tries to step around Junior, but the boy bars his way.
(pushing Crankson back)
I said go away! Daddy won’t fight!
Sudden anger crosses Crankson’s face when Junior pushes him.
Why, you little shitty weasel!
He sweeps his arm, catching Junior on the shoulder.
Junior is thrown sideways.
Bobo tries to catch him before he falls, but he misses, and then the boy falls on the hard concrete hard, hitting the back of his head on the floor.
Junior goes limp!
There is a shocked silence.
Everybody freezes for a second, and a faint trickle of blood seeps from under Junior’s head, Effe begins to scream.
Bobo looks fiercely at Bosomtwum.
This is bad. Get Mike out of here! Fast!
There is confusion everywhere!
The cameras are rolling, people are screaming, Bosomtwum has taken Crankson’s arm and is propelling him towards the Hummer.
Effe sits on the ground and reaches for her son.
In the private garden Chris hears the screams, and he recognizes Effe’s scream. It cuts through him, searing his heart.
He stands up with fear on his face, causing Darlett to get to his feet too.
What’s wrong, son?
(in a whisper)
My son. Junior! Something must be wrong with him. That scream was Effe.
Chris is a whirlwind that runs through the reception, down the spaces of the restaurant and blasts through the entrance.
He sees Effe on the ground, cradling a very still Junior. The boy’s eyes are closed, and there is blood on Effe’s hands.
There are a lot of people, photographers, cameras, noise, and for a moment Chris is confused, thinking that maybe the boy fell down, or worse a car has knocked him down.
That is when he sees the huge Bobo Black, recognizes him as one of the men he has seen in the corridor at the GIGA when he tried to speak to Afful.
Chris’ eyes dashes across the street, and he sees Nana Bosomtwum urging a grinning Mike Crankson towards the Hummer.
Effe looks up and sees Chris, and her heart beats with fear at the expression on his face.
She knows that if he is not stopped he would enter that murderous rage that had always been his Nemesis.
Chris, Chris, CHRIS! Look at me Chris, please, LOOK AT ME! Junior needs you! I need you! Chris, let it go! CHRIS!
(with cold fury)
Crankson did this?
A reporter from URBAN GOSSIP, a newspaper dedicated to the sensational, speaks up quickly.
Yes, Mr. Bawa. He struck your son!
In all his years of physical contact, Bobo Black has never seen any human moving from calm docility to total destruct mode as he sees in Chris Bawa that day.
He sees the veins of fury standing out all over Chris’ face and arms.
He sees the veins on his neck, and the murderous fury in his eyes.
He knows that if he does not stop Chris, something awful will happen.
Mike Crankson has seen that Chris has come out, and has seen that he has noticed them.
Crankson stops in the middle of the road and turns to walk back to face Chris.
No, no, no! Mike, not here! Get into the car! He will take the fight now! Get into the car!!
But Crankson, never one to walk away from a fight, pushes his trainer aside and begins to walk towards Chris.
Chris rushes forward, and Bobo moves from the side to stop him.
Chris pivots without breaking stride and hammers a fist with such force into Bobo’s ribs that the huge man gasps as a terrible pain racks through his body, and blood spills from his lips, and he knows that some of his ribs are broken.
Chris spins away from the falling body, and crashes a fist into Bobo’s face, breaking his nose, and Bobo sprawls to the floor like a broken doll.
Chris looks across at Crankson who has come to a complete stop, stunned.
Nana Bosomtwum stops dead, and he speaks slowly under his breath.
Mike, that man is mad. If you don’t get into the car he’s going to kill you!
JAILBIRD continues tomorrow