EFFE’S RESIDENCE – NIGHT.
Chris gets out of the taxi and pays off the driver. He takes a deep shuddering breath for the umpteenth time as he stands and surveys Effe’s residence. The image of Steve hand all over Effe, his lips on hers, comes back to haunt him. He grits his teeth and his hands ball up into massive fists. He is so jealous and in so much pain that he feels a deep ache in his head like a migraine. The security men recognize him this time, and they radio the house. A moment later the bolts are drawn back and the small gate opens. Chris enters the compound, and soon the main doors are opened by Ken Kedem.
Hello, Chris. We haven’t met since you came back. You are welcome.
He pumps Chris’ hand effusively.
Thank you, Sir.
They exchange a few pleasantries as Chris follows him to the living-room.
Ken Kedem had been watching the GojuFist fight live on television, and when they enter Chris looks on the screen and sees the cameras zooming in on an elated Mike Crankson.
Crankson knocked Wailer Vroom out. Third round… aha, they’re showing the slow-up again. Watch!
On the screen Chris is now watching a slow motion of the knockout. Wailer Vroom, shorter but powerfully built, is advancing on Mike Crankson, who is bobbing around with a contemptuous grin on his face, making no attempt to cover up. Vroom Wailer suddenly throws a straight right, but Crankson is leaping into the air, turning in mid-air as his right foot comes round in a vicious turning kick. The kick catches Wailer Vroom flush on the temple. The older man wobbles and he begins to go down, already out of the fight. Chris watches, sick to his stomach, as Crankson steps in and delivers a cruel blow into Vroom’s kidneys. The older man’s mouth opens in a cry of pain, his eyes almost popping out of his head as he crashes helplessly to the canvas.
(shaking his head)
I was backing Wailer. That Crankson is a cruel man. Someone needs to put him down!
He’s younger, stronger, faster, more skilled. Wailer is old. I wonder why he took the fight in the first place.
Wailer owns the IRON FIST GOJU CLAN. He introduced Crankson and trained him. Crankson used to fight for the IRON FIST, until Afful lured him away.
I see. So Wailer wanted to prove a point, and got badly beaten.
On the screen Afful and Steve and some other men are standing behind a jubilant Crankson. The camera zooms in on Crankson as a fight interviewer thrusts a microphone into his face.
Wow! Wonderful! Amazing! Incredible! That turning kick was quite a beauty, Mike!
Vroom is old and as slow as a pregnant tortoise. He should stick to being a trainer. It was an insult for him to come out against me!
You’re now undefeated in ten title defence fights, Mike. You have equalled the record held by Chris Bawa. Any takes on that?
Yeah, yeah, I’ve got takes on that alright. I’ve heard people saying that Chris is the best, you know. That’s crap. In his time the fighters were old and inexperienced. I’m tired of hearing that all the time. Know what, I saw him in the corridor before entering the ring. I told him he has the option to meet me in a fight!
There is a sudden uproar from the audience. Ken Kedem looks at Chris suddenly.
Heeeey!! You don’t mean it!
Jonathan Afful steps forward with a plastic smile on his face.
No, no, no! The champion does not mean it!
What do you mean I don’t mean it? You think I’m scared of that dude? I want Chris Bawa! He got ten undefeated title defence, and I’ve got ten. Now is the time to find out who’s the all-time greatest. He’s out of prison. Make that fight happen!
Come on, Mike. That fight will never happen.
Mike Crankson snatches the microphone from the interviewer and approaches the ring. He shouts loudly into the microphone.
DO YOU WANT TO SEE ME FIGHT CHRIS BAWA???
(in a massive voice)
YESSSSS! YESSSS! YESSSS!!!
Crankson smiles and turns. He looks straight into the television cameras, and his face is zoomed in, and now it seems he is speaking directly to Chris through the television.
Chris Bawa! Are you watching and listening? Are you man enough to face me in the ring? Come and let me show you how real men do it! If you stay away then we’ll all know you’re just a coward!
Chris turns away from the television.
Chris? Are you going to take him on?
Chris shakes his head.
No, sir. I’m retired.
That’s guy is saucy, arrogant and a downright imbecile. He has no respect for anybody. You can take him down a peg or two, you know.
No. It’s over for me, Sir. Please where is Junior?
Oh, yes. Come with me. He went to his room, giving me orders to call him as soon as you get here.
They both laugh as they ascend the stairs. They enter Junior’s room. He is lying on his bed, in his pyjamas, asleep. Chris leans against the door jamb and looks at his son, and a deep love spreads over his pained face.
He fell asleep. It is late. Best not to wake him up. I’ll see him tomorrow.
No, no, Chris. That boy wanted to see you. He said even if he’s asleep I should wake him up. I came to baby-sit. I’ll wait a little while for Effe, and then I’ll leave. You stay and baby-sit for a while too. I’m too old to be baby-sitting anyway.
Junior suddenly opens his eyes and turns on his stomach. He yawns sleepily and rubs his eyes.
Chris moves forward.
I’m here, Champ.
With an effort, Junior sits up on the bed. He reaches under his pillow and brings out a little box wrapped in gift paper.
He holds it out towards his father.
I called your phone early in the morning. I even told Mommy to send me over to you, but you were not around.
Sorry, Champ. I went out for a while. My phone was off. But what is that? Is it a gift?
I wanted to give it to you in the morning. That was why I was calling. Happy birthday, Daddy.
Chris stops suddenly, stunned.
What’s today’s date?
Third of May, Daddy. Your birthday.
Indeed it is!
Five years in prison and he has never celebrated his birthday. No one had come to him, and no one has ever reminded him. He has almost totally forgotten about his own birthday.
It seems everybody has forgotten about his birthday too..But not Junior. Not his son. He has never forgotten.
Ken Kedem shakes his head numbly as he sees the tears in Chris’ eyes.
He sees the big man sitting down on the bed and taking the gift from the little boy. He unwraps it, and sees a black box inside. He opens the box. Inside it is a beautiful silver watch.
I was the first in my class, Daddy. I got hundred percent in all subjects except Twi. Mr. Abbiw, the headmaster, said he would give me a prize, but I told him my Daddy’s birthday is coming up, and I needed a gift. He took me out and I selected that watch. Hope you like it Daddy.
Ken Kedem watches as the man silently slips the watch across his wrist. He watches as Chris takes his son in his arms and kisses him on his forehead, and then he buries his face in his son’s shoulder.
Thank you, Champ. I adore it!
I love you, Daddy.
Chris tries to speak, but his emotions are choking him, and so he just holds his son tighter. Ken Kedem, overcome by the blast of pity and passion assailing him, goes out quietly and shuts the door.