Selasie didn’t have many moves left. George must have known it too. The way he cracked his knuckles with his thumb, then rolled from one buttock to the other. Selasie was beginning to accept that he would lose again. The third time that afternoon. He never lost to George so it was a bitter pill to swallow. But one he was not ready to take. Selasie reevaluated the checker board.
He and George were under the mango tree that shaded the taxi drivers from the scorching afternoon sun. It was virtually empty but for the two men sitting opposite each other on the bench. Selasie had his checker piece in his hand and was about to play when Dado, the credit-seller turned windscreen wiper, limbed in on crutches.
“Dado, what happen?”
“Chale, some car knock me, oh.”
“Flower-pot junction side.”
“So your leg break dat?”
“Oh, nah, dem say some few weeks I go fi walk again.”
The three men were silent.
“So dis one is from where?” George asked, pointing to the crutches. His attention diverted from the checker board.
“Chale, the guy who knock me dey drive Benz. Wey some lawyer see am, wey he arrange claim money for me…”
Selasie was conspicuously attempting to move his checker piece to a better position, but stopped.
“Ah-ah! Car hit you. You- Dado. Then you collect money?”
“As in, cash lef de guy who knock you, e hand, come your hand?”
“You no go court?
“Eh, I hear of dat thing,” George added, scratching his flabby arm.
Selasie put his checker piece down then stared off into the distance. A whole new world was opening up before his eyes. A glorious vision.
In this vision, Selasie was driving a sleek black Uber car. Fresh rims. Good speaker system. In the vision, he donned fresh clothes, had ‘bomba’ shades, and a black power afro-pick poking out of his hair. Smartphone on the dashboard. And all the foreign and fair girls imaginable sitting in the backseat.
“Dado,” Selasie finally said. “ Come sit make we chat small…”
Selasie set himself on the shoulder of the road. The sun was beaten him. Sweat ran down his etched face. The heart in his chest beating like a Kumerica beat. His body balanced on the tips of his toes.
Dado had told him everything he needed to know, even handed him the lawyer’s card. Now, he just needed to do his part.
Cars flew by. The vibrations of tires speeding over the tarred road, produced sonic sensations that quickened the rate of sweat sprinting off Selasie’s face.
It quickly became apparent that he had underestimated finding the right car. Not only did it need to have a new license plate, preferably after 2015, but it needed to be going at a ‘good’ speed. Neither too fast, so as not to kill him, nor too slow, so as to do little damage.
Selasie wiped then wiped again the sweat off his face.
“God of God in the sky,” he prayed. “Give me the courage I need to do this deed.”
Selasie couldn’t help but think of all that his life had come to. The room he had been kicked out of because his partner found out about his infidelity. The taxi car he had lost since his owner insulted Selasie as a ‘good for nothing fish.’ The chop money he had betted away on a game of checkers with George.
A red Toyota Camry was approaching. The driver’s eyes were drawn downward. A smile on her face. She could be texting her lover for all Selasie knew. He could almost see the type of phone she was using. Apple or Samsung?
Selasie crowed and cooed on his hospital bed.
“Nurse, nurse! Please I am in pain!” He yelled pressing on the bell for the nurse to come in.
The nurse didn’t come in till about fifteen minutes later. Her face was screwed and her movements were impatient with Selasie. Selasie toggled over so that the nurse could see to his wounds festering on his leg. She looked and then kissed her teeth at Selasie.
“Everything is fine. It is just paining you.” Then she was gone.
Selasie continued to writhe in his bed like some pathetic animal. He found himself clenching his teeth and eyes, praying to God for …. For what? He didn’t know. Forgiveness? For relief? He couldn’t say. But he prayed long and hard to Him, regardless. All he wanted was to realise his vision. Was it so wrong to pursue a better life. He could still see the cracked casing of the iPhone the woman who knocked him was holding. He could still hear her mutterings when she rushed out the car to see if Selasie was okay. Then everything blurred. A pain shot and became Selasie’s life and it was like he had lived 20 years in the last three days.
The lawyer had come to his aid after Selasie asked the hospital to call his line. He wore a neatly fitted navy blue suit and a thick pair of glasses. Selasie did not know if this was the same lawyer that helped Dado. He seemed too young. But the young lawyer had assured that the driver was looking to settle out of court. Selasie would be rightly compensated.
“Ahh — nurse, nurse!” He yelled again, pressing on the bell.
The nurse came in after thirty minutes. The same annoyed expression cutting the beauty out of her face. She stood by his bedside and lifted the cover to look at his wounded leg. She kissed her teeth and then told Selasie she would be right back.
She came back with the doctor, who had only been to see Selasie once.
The doctor took a look at his leg, hummed to himself, hummed some more, then noted something in his notebook.
“Young man, I am sorry to say but we have to amputate.”
“Amp-u-who?” Selasie squealed, writhing some more.
“Your leg. We have to cut it off!”
“Ewurade nyacopom! Lord in Heaven! What have I done to deserve this…”
And though he knew very well that his actions were dubious at best, Selasie would not believe that what he did was in any way wrong. That any chance at money came with risk. You just needed to make the right moves. Later on, he would accept that it was a risk he was not ready to take. Sitting on the bench playing George in a game of checkers, seeing Dado walk about freely, Selasie accepted his fate. His afro-pick in his hair, standing proud.