Effe looks up and sees the strange white-haired man who had been with Chris at the restaurant, and who had carried Junior to her car and come to the hospital with them. He has been leaning against the wall watching them with sad eyes. Effe walks up to him, and she looks very traumatized indeed.
I never caught your name, Sir.
He smiles kindly at her and put gentle hands on her shoulders.
That’s because in the heat of the moment I didn’t introduce myself. My name is Darlett Thompson. I was in Grand Castle Prison for twenty years before Chris came in there. I served twenty-five years. Chris is my friend. We became very good friends. I was released a week ago, and I came to see him.
If you’re his friend, please, go after him, and promise me you’ll keep him out of trouble. His son needs him alive and around, not locked up in a coffin or prison.
Darlett gives her a brief hug.
And I can see you need him more. His Effe. He never stopped talking about you. You didn’t visit him in prison. It killed his soul.
Effe bursts into tears then, holding unto Darlett tightly as she cries.
I did him wrong. I behaved childishly. Oh, how I regret that act more than anything now! Oh, Chris, Chris, Chris!
That’s okay now. I’m happy you two have found each other again. Go on, take care of my grandson for me. I’ll bring Chris back to you, I promise. And I never break a promise.
When Chris steps out of the main entrance of the hospital he is not surprised to see the great number of journalists who have assembled.
From radio, newspaper and television, they flash their cameras and thrust microphones in his face.
Rapid machine-gun questions are fired at him. He does not hear them, and barely sees them. He pauses and speaks softly.
I’m going to fight Mike Crankson. In a week. Tell him.
He pushes his way through, refusing to answer the barrage of questions fired at him. He is sweating. He can’t think straight. He just wants to be alone… with Mike Crankson. He is trembling as he walks, and still they follow him with cameras and microphones and questions and noise, noise, NOISE…He is losing it. He wants to hit somebody! Just then a car screeches to a stop beside him. It is a Nissan Pathfinder. The driver’s door opens, and a well-built man in dark shades gets out. He is Wailer Vroom, Director of THE IRON GOJU CLAN.
He has trained Mike Crankson, and Mike had left him for Afful’s FINE GOJU DOJO, a company originally founded by Chris.
Wailer Vroom, who had lost most of his fighters as a result of Crankson’s defection, had challenged Crankson, and lost. Wailer Vroom and Chris Bawa had been rivals in the past because they belonged to opposing companies. They had both been fighters, and Chris had defeated Wailer Vroom in a Grandmaster tournament that had gone the full ten-round distance.
The cameras go into overdrive as Wailer rounds the car and stands facing Chris.
You going to take him out?
He doesn’t deserve to be there.
Wailer nods once, and then he slowly removes his shades.
We were enemies.
Opponents. Never enemies.
Again, Wailer nods.
You’ll need a registered Goju Company to promote you. Without a Goju Company’s backing-
I know the rules, Wailer. I drafted the first set. Will you let me fight on the IRON GOJU ticket?
Wailer turns away from him.
Get in the car, Chris. You need to train.
Questions are asked, but neither of the men speaks as Chris gets in Wailer’s car, and it speeds off.
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EDEN HOSPITAL – WARD 7
When Effe enters the ward, everybody steps aside. Junior is sitting up on the bed, a bandage around his head, and on his face is the saddest expression Effe has ever seen on his face. She walks to him and takes him in her arms and hugs him gently. Junior hugs her back, and then she feels moisture on her shoulders and quickly pulls back from him, and sees that he is weeping silently.
Hey, hey, my love, what is it?
Junior wipes his tears unsuccessfully.
Effe sighs, and pulls him into her arms again.
He’ll be with you soon, my dear.
I don’t really really really want him to fight that awful man, Mommy.Daddy will die! I saw it in my dream! Daddy mustn’t fight!!
Effe tries to smile and keep her tears away.
Then you tell him, my Prince. Come, let’s get out of here. Let’s find him, and you tell him.
CAPSULE CLINIC – MALE WARD
Bobo Black is lying on the bed, heavily bandaged through his ribs and upper abdomen. His face is badly swollen. He is lying perfectly still because the slightest movement sends shafts of pain through him from the fractured ribs even though he has been heavily medicated to dull the pain.
In the Ward are Afful, Steve, Nana Bosomtwum and a surly-looking Mike Crankson, who has pulled his hoodie over his head. Afful is speaking on the phone. On the television screen are images of Chris Bawa and Wailer Vroom entering a car, and the huge caption underneath screams:
GOJUFIST: CLASH OF THE TITANS, EPIC WAR LOOMS: BAWA VS CRANKBOSS
Afful cuts the call and glances at the television with distaste. He looks at Crankson angrily.
You had to go and do it, don’t you? You hurt the little boy? Are you crazy, Micky? Now Chris has the whole gaddemn country on his side, urging him on to destroy you! Is that what you want?
Bug off, man! Just gave the boy a tiny shove. Didn’t know he was gonna crack his skull! I ain’t afraid of Bawa. I’m gonna break him up!
Stop the nonsense talk, kid. That guy will eat you for spaghetti. See what he did to me?
(holding up his hands)
Look, cut out the blame crap. We’re all in real shit right now. We need to make a statement. Chris now has a promoter. He has come out. Everybody knows we’ve been making a lot of noise, so we’re supposed to be the first to issue a statement. So, what’s it going to be?
We accept the Chris fight.
What? Are you crazy, Jon? That Chris boy is having orgasms over Mike’s blood, man. You know he’s going to kill the boy if he steps into the ring with him. Shit, I didn’t see him move, and the power of that punch! Jesus, if he catches Mike in the head with that kind of blow Mike will die!
He’s right, Jon. We all know Chris. I think we’ve forgot how good he really is. It seems prison life has even made him better. We can’t accept this fight. We have to make a statement, you know. We apologize publicly for what happened to Chris’ son. We offer to pay compensation and not press charges against Chris for the assault on Bobo. We go on to say, under the circumstances, Chris’ acceptance of the fight is based on a personal vendetta of vengeance, and according to the rules of GojuFist any fighter will be banned for having any other motive except pride, sportsmanship and mutual legal aggression. That’s all.
Afful holds his arms across his chest.
Hold your guns, guys. I told you I’ve got this under wraps. You all know that anything else apart from accepting the fight, on Chris’ terms, will forever stick to our champion as being a coward. Here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to accept the fight and fix it next weekend just like Chris wants.
They all begin to speak at once, disagreeing, and Bobo even winces with pain, but Afful calmly holds up his hands again, and eventually silences them.
You assholes didn’t let me finish. Yes, we’ll accept the match and hype it up. Now Darlett is out of prison, and he’s with Chris. He’s the grey-haired guy we saw at the hospital, Steve, remember?
Steve nods, suddenly interested, his eyes greedy.
Yes, I remember.
Good. Here’s the catch. We’ll accept the fight, hype it up, sell tickets and television rights. Then on the Thursday before the fight Darlett will launch the operation on Chris, and Chris will be disgraced, back in prison or, hopefully, dead. Then there will be no fight, we refund monies back and, bingo, Mike will become a hero because people will once again see Chris as a rotten criminal!
They’re all grinning now.
I think I love the sound of that. Whew! Yes, bring it on.
I hope your plan works, Jon. Because if it fails, your world will come crushing down around your feet.
Afful puts a hand across Steve’s shoulders.
Believe me, old boy, I want that bastard gone more than you. This plan is fool proof, the only flaw being that Chris might end up in jail instead of being killed.
Who gives a dog’s fart whether he dies or goes to prison? We just want him out of society!
They all begin to laugh, and Crankson laughs the loudest.
Yeah, who gives a dog’s fart? Who gives a nun’s dry stinking cunt? Who gives the Pope’s useless dick? Gone is gone!
The men laugh uproariously.
They are obviously very relieved.