Chris steps forward, suffused by a terrible rage, but just then he feels a hand on his shoulder, and he spins, dropping into an attack crouch, and looks into the grinning face of a tall, heavily-build young man wearing red trunks and a red hoodie.
He is MICHAEL CRANKSON, current Grandmaster of GojuFist.
Wow! Super reflexes! Damn! Jeez, Bawa? Chris Bawa? Damn, Legend! The only man to retire at the prime of his career undefeated! Dayummmmm!
Slowly Chris straightens up, and he takes very deep breaths as he fights for control. His jaw works slowly as the people on the floor slowly get up.
The tumbler which Afful gave to one of the men has been broken during the fall, and a shard of glass has opened up a nasty cut on Afful’s right upper arm. They look at Chris, and sensibly none of them make any further remark as they begin to walk away. Two men in MIKE ‘THE THUNDER’ CRANKSON T-shirts are now standing with Crankson. And one is holding Crankson’s Grandmaster title belt. The champion is still looking at Chris, and there is sudden deadly earnest on his face.
Gents, here’s the legend himself! So it’s true he’s out! After the Wailer match I wanna fight Bawa, do you hear me?
He turns to Chris, and his eyes are not nice as he smiles craftily.
What do you say, Chris? I hear you’re in some financial shit. I’ll offer you a shot at the belt. You can’t beat me, but I wanna beat you to be the best. You’ll make some money on the side, you know, get you back on your feet. Think about it, Legend.
They all move away, leaving Chris on the corridor. He leans his head back against the wall, and then he walks away slowly. His heart is beating with what he has heard. Damn it all! So Effe has been sleeping with Steve. For three years! Even when he had not signed the divorce papers!
When he gets near the main exit he sees that everyone is gone, and that the visitors lounge glass door is sliding open, and a beautiful woman has just stepped into the corridor.
It is Effe. She is wearing a stunning black dress with tiny white trimmings. Her hair is held up high, and even from that distance she is absolutely breathtaking.
Steve comes out behind her. He catches her waist, turns her swiftly, and kisses her deeply, aware that Chris is standing at the head of the corridor watching them with tortured eyes.
No, Steve! Not here! Please! I’ve told you I hate those shows of affection in public.
She extricates herself from his arms angrily and walks quickly towards the exit, unaware that Chris’ heart is being torn apart behind her. Steve follows leisurely, holds the door, turns and gives the seething Chris a thumb-up sign. Chris puts both palms up against the wall, and he leans forward and hangs his head. He breathes hard as pain rips through his heart. He realizes, with no surprise whatsoever, that he still loves Effe with a passion as fierce as the heart of the most violent volcano. The sight of Steve’s hands on her, his lips on hers, fills him with such incredible pain that his whole body shakes.
His phone rings just then, and after a moment he takes it out. It is Junior.
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(striving for calmness)
Are you going to watch the fight too, Daddy? I’m home alone with Grandpa. I want to give you something, Daddy.
Alright, Champ. I came to watch the fight, but I don’t think I want to stay here anymore. I’ll come over.
Yappity, yappity, yippeeeee!!
Chris smiles sadly, takes a shuddering breath, and then he sends a text message to Eyram.
SORRY, EYRAM. GOT TO GO. JUNIOR NEEDS ME. WILL SEE YOU AT HOME. ENJOY YOURSELF.
He approaches the main exit and goes out. Down in the ring the referee is introducing Wailer Vroom, the challenger. One of the bouncers is asking for an autograph from Chris for his younger brother whom he says is an ardent GojuFist fan, and a great fan of Chris Bawa.
As Chris is signing the card the man has given him, he is not aware that way up in the VVIP booth Effe is sitting near the glass, and quite by accident her eyes have shifted to the area below her to the Warrior’s Wing.
She sees Chris at the entrance, and her heart flips solidly with sudden apprehension. Had Chris been in there somewhere? Had he seen Steve kissing her? That could be true because she had shown her aversion to public intimacy to Steve many years ago, and made him promise her that until they are married he would never try to kiss her in public, and he had adhered to it. But he had kissed her, quite by surprise, on the corridor! Had it been for the benefit of Chris? She turns her head and looks at Steve scathingly. She sees the satisfied smirk on his face, and her eyes open with horror!
Oh Steve! How could you do that? Chris was in there and saw you kissing me, wasn’t he?
Her face bunches up with sudden anger and crippling depression.
And why not, Effe? Maybe seeing me kissing you would make him sign the damn divorce papers! I’m getting tired of living in his shadow, Effe! It’s pretty lonely and cold in his shadow, and maybe it is time he’s forced to leave you alone.
She looks again, and sees Chris hurrying towards the exit doors, and she raises a trembling hand to her lips.
Oh, Chris …I’m sorry, I’m so sorry! Didn’t mean to hurt you!