This is the product of a super bored and over-worked imagination. It is fictitious. I mean come on, if you believe this really happened, any of this, then I think you should stay away from the booze…just for a while. How do they do this again sef? Huh, any resemblance to anybody alive or dead is a miracle…or prophecy (you never can tell), if you bought this without a cover then you should be aware that it was reported as stolen to the author, yada yada blah blah.
I hope you have some fun reading this.
I AM ETHAN (The Series)
Episode 2: Man of Kung-Fu
Has your finger ever been stuck between the hinges of a door? It could be your bedroom’s door, your car or even an elevator (do they have hinges? I’ll look that up). Ever experienced that fire that spreads rapidly from your fingertips to the skull? Then you’d definitely remember that feeling of helplessness, there’s nothing you can do to stop the pain save screaming.
What I just said has absolutely no relevance to the events in this episode. I just felt like rubbing it in your face. I’m sorry.
To more serious topics though, there are some events that change your perception of things. They change your approach to life. They show you what the word ‘inadequate’ really mean.
I’ve had a few of these. Now I’m on a self-prescribed journey to rectify some of my genetic flaws.
One of them is the fact that my self-defense ability that is on a perpetual ‘b****-mode’ should be corrected ASAP.
So I enrolled in a MMA class. That’s Mixed Martial Arts, people.
Wipe that smile off your face or you’ll be choking on your bloody teeth soon. That’s not an empty threat. I can kill three people with a punch. I do it all the time in class.
God, tell us the reason youth is wasted on the young, it’s hunting season …
“Why the f*** are they playing that depressing song?” Barry piped.
“I dunno man. Maroon 5’s getting old and shit” JD replied.
We were in the school’s cafeteria.
At eleven o’clock every school day, we have a lunch break and some of us just do what the name implies…eat brunch.
…searching for meaning. But are we all lost stars, trying to light up the dark.
Others just lounge at the cafeteria and gist. For the next hour, the cafeteria becomes the hub of social activity.
Who are we? Just a speck of dust within the galaxy?
The cliques are obvious and the sitting arrangement, though not clearly defined, is judiciously adhered to. The cool people, the ‘extra-cur’ groups, the nerds (every school has that), the super religious people and the people who are a little bit of everything (us).
The speakers belt out the principal’s playlist of the week.
…don’t you dare let our best memories bring you sorrow. Yesterday I saw a lion kiss a deer.
The cafeteria is located just down the hall from the gym. It is really a restaurant, just without external traffic. It boasts a very wide variety of cuisines. From traditional African dishes to the most exotic Orientals.
My school is modeled after the American high school educational system. The majority of the parents don’t have much faith in the Nigerian curriculum. They also don’t want to go through the stress of enrolling their wards (that word sounds so weird) in schools over the waters so they settle for the next best thing: an American school right here in Nigeria. The fees are ridiculously high but our parents are ‘upper-upper class’. They can afford it.
But the hilarious thing is that the school’s founder doesn’t know shit about the American educational system. He just goes by what he sees in movies and the little information he gets online.
But the school is actually pretty standard though and we have pretty cool facilities and teachers.
“Why do I feel like I’m the only one with functioning ear drums here?” Barry asked, looking quizzically around the cafeteria. “And who the hell plays ‘Lost Stars’ in a school?”
I tuned him out and turned my attention to the food in front of me. We call it ‘our daily grub’. Mine was Himbasha (at least that’s what the tag the chef placed above the buffet table called it), yoghurt and some highly unnecessary cheese,JD was having a plain egg waffle and Barry had gone Thai with some Phatthai kung.
We had a table to ourselves.
“So how’s your SurmaStickfighting class going, Ethan?” Barry asked, scooping noodles and tofu into his mouth.
“It’s MMA. If you don’t face your food, I’ll show you just how well it’s going”. I replied, glaring at him menacingly.
“Dude, you’ve only been doing this stuff for three weeks. What are you now, Chuck Norris?”
“You wanna find out?”
The Maroon 5 song ended and ‘Pass you by’ took over. Oritshefemi’s voice filled the room. He’s one of the few Nigerian artistes I can still tolerate. F*** Wizkid.
I’d joined a MMA dojo (I dunno why the sensei insists on calling the training facility a dojo)after the Demulcere incident. I’d only been there four weeks but I’m getting pretty good. The Jiujutsu trainer had once said I fightlike a natural. I’d only lost once and that was to the dojo’s friendly neighbourhood badass and welterweight champion, Kunle.
“Heard you guys have a flyweight contest thingy coming up. You fighting?”JD asked.
“Sure. I’m getting that belt”. I snickered.
The table was silent once again. Barry had decimated his lunch, JD’s waffle was gone and I only had some errant slices of cheese in front of me.
Barry cleared his throat. I knew what was coming of his mouth would probably be dumb, related to Ariana Grande or both.
I was right.
“I DMd Ariana on Instagram yesterday”. He blurted.
“Tell us something new” JD said.
“Sure. This one is different. Most times I message her only once but yesterday, I lost count at four hundred”. He grinned dumbly “What am I, stupid? She will definitely reply one of them this time”.
“Jesus Christ”. JD groaned.
“Seriously, Barry we can totally do without knowing about your infatuation with Cat”. I said, kicking his leg under the table.
“Ouch!” He cried, rubbing his leg furiously. “He’s not talking about Ariana, stupid. Look behind you”.
Look behind me? I followed JD’s gaze and open mouth.
They were fixed on a girl that had just entered the cafeteria with a small group of giggling friends. She’s the only girl in recent times to attract that kind of attention from JD.
She’s 5’8 inches of awesomeness. Her face is slightly oval in a Meagan Good sort of way. Thick lashes sheltered her Latino-esque eyes. Her jet black hair rested just a little below her shoulder.The short, white dress with black-white abstract paintings hugged her body snugly and accentuated her curves. The short sleeves selflessly covered a little of her fair skin and left the rest to the soft kiss of the sun. A white headset rested snugly around her neck.
And I have a crush as big as AikiAkintunde’s forehead on her.
“When’ll you go talk to her, man?” Barry asked.
JD just stared at me intently. I got the message. “Tick tock, tick tock. Time’s aflying my n*****”.
I couldn’t reply. I started drumming on the table with my fingers.
Then the bell rang.
Slumber time’s over suckers.
Saved by the bell.Again.
School was cool that day, or so I told mom. I dropped by the dojo after school to pick up the tournament schedule. Slight practice tomorrow, real tournament starts day after, Saturday.
I did a few rounds in the mini-gym at home. I felt suitably prepared. It’s just the welterweight, what’s the worst that could happen.
The rest of the day flew by and it was soon dinnertime. Mom was at home this time so we had to eat at the table. I told her about the martial arts competition. I really emphasized the martial arts part. She just nodded dismissively. It was obvious that she only saw my dream of being a martial arts guruas something I would outgrow pretty soon.
My sister, on the other hand was turning the charm on. Her ‘cutie mode’ was activated.
“Can you pass the sauce, mon cherie?” Mom said to my sister.
Mom is a fashion designer. She’s actually kind of popular. She spends most of her time in France. She says France is the fashion capital of the world, followed by Italy. Her French is impeccable and, more often than not, it interferes with her English.
My sister passed the bowl. Mom received it and poured the sauce lightly on her bowl.
“Merci.C’est un ange”.She said, turning to me.
No she’s not, I wanted to tell her. She’s many things but an angel is not one of them.
“So the fight is on Saturday, huh?” She asked me.
It’s an honourable martial arts competition; I wanted to scream at her.
“You know your sister has a recital in town on Saturday too. I’ll drop her off on my way to the airport in the morning but you’ll have to pick her up when you’re done. Comprends?”
“Sure”. I replied.
Then my sister raised her hand.
“Qu’y a-t-il?What’s theproblem, cherie?”
“I don’t think my coming back home after the recital should be dependent on Ethan’s locomotor activities”.
Okay…where’s she going with this?
“He’s going for a martial arts competition, mom. Ethan…” She pointed contemptuously at me “Ethan is going for a martial arts competition. What makes you think he’s going to be able to walk, not to talk of driving when they are done with him?”
She reached over and patted my sister on the head.
“We just have to hope for the best, dear”.
So much for domestic support.
And besides, it’s just the flyweight. What’s the worst that could happen?
“But he can’t fight. It’s against the rules”.
The bad news had started rolling in in the morning. First, my dudes won’t be able to make it. JD had to go do some stuff for his single mom and then Barry just found out that this Saturday is the day he hangs out with granny. HE SUCKS!
And now the A-bomb. Remember Kunle?
I told you that I’ve only lost in the dojo once right? Well, Kunle is the m*********** that knocked me the f*** out. See what the guy’s doing to me now? I’m cussing. He’s a big dude and he’s supposed to be a welterweight fighter. That’s threefrigging classes over the flyweight. Fighting for this belt should be considered beneath him.
“He said he wants to bash some skulls in”. The ever smiling jujitsu instructor said.
“I’m just playing with you, kid” He said, noticing the look of dismay and fear on my visage. “You have nothing to fear. You’ll probably be knocked out in the first round”.
I was going to fight Lotus’ 2nd representative first. He’s considered to be very good at Sambo. But I was also getting pretty good at Kyokushin Karate and the instructor had taught me a few hybrid Muay Thai-Krav Maga moves. Executing these moves was illegal as hell but then I’d been taught how to mask them well.
The first two fighters faced off. Our dojo’s only ‘Shippalgi’ student and a student from a martial arts school in the Eastern part of the country.
The referee reeled out the rules. But we all know them. That was the first thing that had been hammered into our heads and knuckles, literally.
He went off in an endless drone:
“Victory is determined by knockout, submission, technical submission, corner stoppage, referee stoppage, doctor stoppage, retirement, decision, forfeit, disqualification, no contest and technical decision…”
I shut him out.
There was a huge turnout. The stands were packed and I could see a few faces from school. Had they turn up for me? The arena was squeaky clean and shiny. The muscles of the two were already rippling with excitement and anticipation. They couldn’t wait to get started.
The referee finally stopped speaking.
The competition had officially started.
The first fight lasted two rounds. My dojo’s rep won.
The other fights came and went and finally it was my turn.
I stepped into the cage in my black shorts with green stripes running down the middle. I clamped down on the mouth guard. I crossed my legs and felt the cold groin guard.
My opponent also came in. The crowd went wild.
I knew the strength of Sambowas grappling. I had to defeat him without getting too close. His submission holds are legendary and reportedly unbreakable.
The referee stepped between us. He then jumped out of the way and signaled for us to commence.
My opponent circled me. I knew he was trying to get me into a corner and, with little options of escape, pin me. I evaded skillfully.
We did this cat and mouse game for a few minutes. The crowd became bored and started booing us.
Then he did the unexpected. He launched a Casting Punch at me. He didn’t miss.
This was followed by a Spinning Back Elbow Strike that would have knocked me out cold if it had connected with its target: my solar plexus. Luckily for me, it just grazed my jaw but I could feel blood rush into my mouth. My day wasn’t going as planned.
But then he made his first mistake. He gave me space.
It also proved to be his last.
I utilized one of the many illegal moves I’d been taught.
I closed in on him and then launched what he thought was a Hammer Fist at his face. It wasn’t. He blocked it but then I’d already anticipated this. The distance between us was considerably reduced and in a flash, I kneed him in the stomach. He doubled over and I elbowed him in the back of the head. This move was very dangerous and illegal. The circulation of blood to his head would be disrupted and it could lead to a hemorrhage.
But then all the judges would see was a well-executed Hook and Canary Beak Strike.
My opponent grunted and slumped to the floor. I was onto him in a flash and pinned him down.
He tapped out
The crowd roared.
I’d won by submission.
I was through to the next round.
* * *
My next fight wouldn’t be in the next hour so I got a drink at the vending machine in the hallway.
The crowd was going wild inside. The girls lounging in the hallway were throwing me ‘groupie’ looks and the guys were looking at me with jealousy and something akin to reverence.
I looked at the wall clock. Twenty minutes to two.
Time to go.
I ducked back inside and headed straight for the competitors’ corner.
I was greeted with bitter-sweet news.
Kunle, my dojo’s badass has been eliminated. It was the quickest fight they’d ever seen.
Who beat him?
My name was called for the next fight and I stepped into the cage.
My opponent was called but the name rang no bell.
When the opponent stepped into the ring, however and faced me, thousands of bells went off.
It was a girl.
Her hair was done up in a fierce ponytail and her body barely glistened with sweat.
It was the girl from school.
She’d knocked out Kunle.
A thousand questions were racing through my head but she just fixed those beautiful eyes on me.
The referee motioned for us to start.
I was hesitant.
I would go easy on her. I couldn’t possibly hurt the girl of my dreams.
I never had the chance though. My thought froze as she propelled a rocket powered round house at my face.
Then the building’s lights went out and the cage was plunged into darkness.
* * *
The world was blurry. It was like my eyes had been replaced with antique Leica lenses. A round shape flitted elusively out and back into my field of vision. I rolled to my side and a sharp pain lanced into my brain. I sprang up. I placed my hand gingerly to my face and it felt like I was hiding two oversized eggs there. I felt my ribs and my hand sent the reply to the brain.
My vision cleared and I could see Amaka standing near a chair at the end of the room.
She was looking concerned.
“Are you alright?” She asked delicately.
“If I was ever run over by two trains, I don’t think the feeling would be much different from this”.
“Where am i?” I asked.
“The dojo’s ad-hoc clinic”.
I looked around and I could see another bed stuck behind a half-stretched curtain. Kunle’s head peeked from under the blanket. He had a swollen eye. He was sleeping peacefully.
“What happened to him?” I asked her.
“Same thing that happened to you”. She grinned wickedly “Me”.
“What are you talking about?” I sighted a mirror beside Kunle’s bed and moved towards it.
Then I screamed at my own reflection.
My lips had nearly doubled and most of my forehead was covered in stitches.
I touched my swollen cheeks and winced in pain.
“I can’t believe this”. I muttered in disbelief “What’d you do?”
She removed the band holding her ponytail in place and her hair spilled over her shoulder. She smoothed it.
“Tai Chi”. She said “Minimal effort, maximum damage”.
“Wow” I said, incredulously.
I’d almost screamed but my swollen cheeks held me in place.
I made towards the door and she rushed to my side. She grabbed my hand.
“I’m really sorry about this” She waved at my face. She kissed me lightly on the right cheek “Are you hungry?”
Is she asking me out on a date?
I wasn’t really hungry but I said:
I held out my arm.She clutched it.
We went out of the room, the hallway and into the street. It was evening and the sun was almost down.
“Don’t you have to go pick up your ride or something?” She inquired.
“I’ll come back for it.” I said. “There’s a really good restaurant down the street”.
Then my phone rang.
It was my sister.
She was probably done with her recital and was waiting for me to come pick her up. I silenced the call.
I was finally on a date with the girl. That hellion is not spoiling things for me this time.
The phone rang again.
I cut it.
“Who’s that?” Amaka asked.
“Nobody. It’s a wrong number”. I guided her round a big crack in the sidewalk. She smiled cutely.
“Has anybody ever told you that you look like Meagan Good?” I said, slipping my hand to her waist. I drew her closer and her perfume wafted to my nose. I couldn’t place the scent.
The phone rang again.
I cut it off and subtly dropped the phone in a refuse bin.
…Ethan and co will be back.
God bless Nigeria.