FICTION: The Boyfriend from Hell, Part One

By Drum Digital
01 March 2017

By the time I had ambled to my usual hangout at the corner of Main and Verona that Wednesday morning, one of the street urchins flashed me a huge grin as he worked the mid-morning traffic

By Thomas Szendrei 

By the time I had ambled to my usual hangout at the corner of Main and Verona that Wednesday morning, one of the street urchins flashed me a huge grin as he worked the mid-morning traffic.

I knew him and tolerated him on my turf, but he was no buddy of mine. His grin was a cloak for something, I thought. I was right. He jabbered at me over the tops of the cars drawing to a halt by the robots.

“Hey, Julius. You should check out Jose’s spaza. There’s a new guy in there. A real lover boy!”

His head ducked out of sight as he bent to shake a black rubbish bag at the windows of hapless drivers.

I stood dumbfounded. It was no secret on the streets that I carried Jose Madeira’s daughter in my heart. But still, that junior with no fluff on his chin had no right to take such perverse delight in my business. Like a puppet on a string, the junior’s head bobbed into view again, still wearing that exaggerated grin.

He said: “We all saw the boyfriend – a real smooth guy in the shop all day long with your sis.”

I sidled away, ignoring him and trying to look unconcerned. When I was out of sight around the corner, I fairly galloped all the way to the spaza. I only stopped outside just long enough to wipe my face and pull my clothes straight, such as they were. Still, when I walked into the shop, I didn’t think I cut a good figure. The first thing I saw was this neat and trim-looking guy in a natty black leather jacket and purple shirt, standing behind the counter next to my girl.

When he saw me, he placed a light hand on her arm and whispered loud enough for me to hear, “Don’t you worry, dear. I know how to deal with his sort.”

And then we locked eyes. I didn’t like him one bit. Not his slicked-down short hair and that carefully-trimmed fuzz on his upper lip that joined up with a manicured thin line of beard reaching down past his ears to his jaw. And least of all did I like the way he was touching my girl, all relaxed and intimate, thank you very much.

“Can we help you?” he said in the resonating, rolling tone of foreign speakers.

“Sorry . . . Who are you? Do you work here?”

Our eyes were still locked. Having surveyed him in more detail, I still didn’t like him.

“Are you going to take something or not?” he said snottily. “We don’t like loiterers in the shop.”

By now my blood was fairly boiling. There were some choice words choking my throat, but before I could haul out a suitable phrase to cut that puffed-up little man down to size, the father appeared from the storeroom, lugging a heavy carton. For once, he spoke to me in other than tones of disapproval.

“Ah, Julius, I see you’ve met Manuel. He’s going to be a great help to me in the shop.”

And to twist the knife deeper, he added: “He’s from one of the best families in Maputo.”

Right on cue, Emanuel danced out from behind the counter to relieve her father of the box and place it on the counter.

With a smirk on his face, he stood real close to my girl in a way that looked disgustingly intimate, whispering words in her ear. Why, just a nose tip closer, and he’d be nuzzling her ear!

He looked at me and smirked again. “Was there something you wanted?”

“I made a mistake,” I said and walked out, all stiff and unwilling, but pushing one foot ahead of the other and not looking back. Nobody asked me to stay.

I made it in one piece to my favourite retreat – a rocky hillside overlooking an empty valley that opened up and ran into a line of distant hills. In that place, even the call of a bird sounded like a scratch ripping the peace of the world. I slumped on a rock and tried to still the thoughts that swirled in my head and filled my heart with pain. Would she be swayed by the boyfriend’s whispers? Did she react to his hot breath in her ear and the delicate touch on her arm? Did she say no, did she pull away; was her face dark with silent denial?

Hard as I tried, I could not remember. I squeezed my temples. Did she reject his touch? God Almighty, please help me here  . . .

To be continued . . .

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