Fortune and the Straggler
There are those who believe in the Language of the Universe, in the existence of the soul, the ones who pursue alchemists (of sorts) and the ones who believe that not all teaching ought to be done with text and pictures, but that there is a place for the spoken word, for although the best form of communication is in the unspoken – the Language of the Universe – there is fascinating beauty in the spoken word.
It was the concept which Paulo Coelho once coalesced into written form (which is quite ironic once you think about it) when he wrote of the coming of age of a young boy, the heroic realization that once you want something ‘badly enough’, the whole universe conspires to see it done so.
Another young boy, or young man if we are to settle into the nuances of age demarcation, was coming of age in a dark alley, and he would have laughed anyone to derision if they had ventured quoting words from Paulo Coelho’s bestseller. Solomon Grundy was a grimy-faced, malnourished young man with a face so sallow, it made people wince just looking at it. Solomon Grundy was at once beggar, thief and resourceful lock-picker, and in a few minutes, he would also be very dead. But this tale is unbridled, and we must now re-introduce Solomon.
Solomon had no proper surname as a baby, for he was found in a dumpster close to a brothel. The story surrounding his adoption is incoherent at best, but one fact emerges: his adopted mother was a whore who had lost her womb in her umpteenth abortion and had realized that it was perhaps wise to claim the baby that she may have an heir when she was gone from this world.
Chidinma was quite the charmer, and even without a womb, she was still worth a few winks, and she quickly snagged a man with whom she started a life. However, bedfellows are oft alike, and hers was a drunk who stuck his penis in anything sufficiently moist and with the right amount of surrounding hair.
A wombless ex-woman-of-the-night and a womanizing drunk can make quite the tectonic combination, as Solomon’s early neighbors would nod in fervent agreement, for each night rung with the battle cries of the couple, as they fought, smashing resolutely uninvolved plates and cups.
Solomon grew cognitive quickly, and he saw it all. He saw the discord and anarchy that was in his home, and though no one spared a thought for him, his sympathies lay with his mother, Chidinma.
Solomon was ten, a noteworthy age in itself, when something equally noteworthy happened. Although it was not he who set the ball in motion, it was he who took the shot. Drunk as usual, his father had stumbled into the shack, bellowing as he was wont to do. He had unzipped his trousers, revealing a flaccid penis with an accompanying rank odor, as he pawed at Chidinma’s breasts. Chidinma had clawed at the man, but he was stronger, and he had ripped her skirt, exposing her naked butt and a bushy vagina to be seen by both father and son.
The smelly penis had stiffened promptly.
“Not in front of our son,” Chidinma had placated, but the man was past caring, as his penis had taken up responsibility for thought, and the man spread her thighs and forcibly introduced his member into her all too familiar orifice.
Solomon’s mother cried at the humiliation and bade her son to avert his eyes. She cursed in all languages she knew (and she knew quite a lot, having had a potpourri of clients in her heydays), and she gnashed her teeth. But her anguish was to be short-lived, for the man toppled across her, as quickly as he had impaled her.
Then she saw Solomon, staring at her wide-eyed, tears streaming down his gaunt face, with a bloody knife in his hands.
Solomon would not recall much from those times, but he remembered his mother’s shaky voice, asking him over and over again: what did you do? What, Solomon? What have you done?
His mother had hurriedly bundled up their clothes and had walked with him, hurriedly, down the streets, staring over her shoulder in apprehension as they ran. Solomon had experienced perplexity, but not much, for he had been indeed proud of what he had done.
Then they came to an unknown street, and his mother had said, “Wait here, Solomon. I have to call someone. They will take care of us.”
That was thirteen years ago. Little Solomon had become big Solomon, and his mother was yet to return.
The young man had lived a life worthy of several bestselling novels, but no one ever stopped by long enough to hear his tale. Solomon had learnt to beg as a child, and as his childish charm and cute appeal wore off, he learned to pick pockets. His vices were many, but each had been essential to his survival.
It so happened that on this night, a woman with stilettos on had drunk-driven, which was bad in itself. Worse still, she was wearing mascara, one of those quirky kinds which peppered the eyes when they began to run. As the great satirist, fate, would have it, she was also crying, for she had only a few minutes ago caught her husband in bed with her sister (who had more by way of breast flesh and less by way of general poundage, qualities which make it easier for the reader to rationalize why the man did what he did).
She was understandably weepy and upset, and her usually bad driving swiveled from atrocious to downright murderous. These parameters were what led to her slamming into the feeble Solomon as he made to cross the road at an inopportune time. He had been flung off the pavement and onto a wall, with an ironic poster which read, “safety and health for the poor: vote for Fashola.”
The woman had engaged the reverse gear, sparing not a glance for the man in rags (they were a dime a dozen anyway; public service, really, killing one of them) and disappeared in a cloud of exhaust smoke and burnt rubber.
And Solomon died.
It was Friday.
But our tale does not end there, unfortunately. As blood seeped from several gashes and as stray dogs lapped their liquid meal from the pavement (with a few gnawing at his feet), red mist broke all around, and the moon winked out of sight.
A kiosk opened in the middle of the road, and Solomon’s eyes reopened. He was naked and whole. He looked about him, and the dogs were absent, and not a spot of blood on the pavement. This is the afterlife, he agreed with himself.
The shop opened, and a remarkably tall man stepped out of it. It was only a guess, calling him a man, because Solomon couldn’t see his face. His head was high up in the clouds. Yes, he was that tall. Solomon wondered fleetingly how the man had fitted in the kiosk a few seconds ago, but only fleetingly. There was another cloaked man standing beside him, and this man was regular-sized.
The man spoke, verifying his gender. It sounded like the sound of several thunders, and Solomon’s tympanum suggested to Solomon that perhaps earmuffs weren’t a bad idea.
“You are dead,” said the voice.
Solomon nodded slowly. “I know,” he said blandly.
“Are you happy? Sad? Relieved?”
Solomon pondered on this for a while. “Yes.”
“Understandable reply. I am Fortune, one of the Lesser Gods. It is my duty to meet every man at one point in his life before he dies. What he does with the opportunity I give him is up to him. When I meet with a man, I alter the universe, for a time, to favor that person. Quite a few have taken advantage of their lucky streak,” and Fortune laughed thunderously, as though the word ‘luck’ was the perfect irony, “and have become great. Others have passed by it, blindly ignorant of their fortune.”
Solomon was silent, pondering on the depth of words spoken. Then he blinked. “You are Fortune?”
“That is correct.”
“And you meet a man once before he dies?”
“You are late.”
Perhaps Fortune blushed. It is impossible to tell. “I realize this. And that is why I have persuaded my friend Grim to give me some more time.”
The cloaked man gave a raspy cough, exposing a skeletal hand gripping a scythe. “You interfere in my work, Fortune,” he said.
“It wouldn’t happen again, but even Solomon here deserves a change of wind before he dies.”
Fortune spoke again to Solomon, this time in a soothing voice. “A rich family will find you lying in a pool of your blood on the pavement where you died. They will take you to a hospital. You will be treated, and you will get well. They will take you in as a son – well, you’ll be their chauffeur, but it’s as good as any. What you amount to from that point is entirely up to you.”
Solomon blinked. “Okay,” he replied. He wondered if the rich family would have a safe, and how difficult it would be to crack the combination.
Then Fortune called in a loud voice, “Rain, Wind and Fire. Mystical Powers of the Universe. The firmaments of the kingdom and the Seven Pillars of Creation! I call on you – “
“Is that really necessary?” demanded Grim irritably.
“Er. Well, no,” said the flustered Fortune. “It’s just nice to say, and it does have a thespianic effect and thrill. Er. Well. Goodbye, then, Solomon,” upon which the scene dissolved, and Solomon was once more bleeding upon the pavement, a bountiful meal to the stray dogs.
The rich family arrived and cleared the dogs’ plates as they carted the road kill that was Solomon to the hospital.
The next occurrences happened exactly as Fortune had said. Two months later, Solomon became quite the lad to look at, with his well-trimmed beard and impressive suits. He drove a Lamborghini, for the rich man had quite the taste in cars, and Solomon had become popular at all the remarkable clubs in the area.
The rich family also had a maid. Aynuf was her name, and everyone in the street had seen enough of Aynuf. As a drunken gateman had once commented to his friend when the latter had complained of feeling decidedly horny, ‘Aynuf is enough.’
It so happened that one drowsy Monday morning, Solomon climbed into Aynuf’s bed and had enough with her. Although he had no idea, Aynuf was also something of a habitat for curiously microscopic and dangerously lethal bacteria, virus and fungi. So overpopulated was she that Solomon began to itch in his groin on the selfsame evening.
Solomon was a proud man, so he tended to himself using dodgily acquired antibiotics. The more he tried to help himself, the more he oozed from previously undiscovered pores on his penis. He was quite alarmed one Thursday evening when, while attempting to brush his teeth, he discovered his beard had fallen off of its own accord. He noticed that his eyebrows had taken flight, and his face had broken into sores.
Days flew by, and he could no longer drive the rich man to his important meetings, because it was quickly realized that Solomon’s presence in cars coincided with the pervasion of a rotten egg smell.
To cut this astonishingly long story short, Solomon died one Saturday evening, and was hurriedly buried the following day because of the monumental stench he left behind.
Grim arrived to take Solomon to his maker, and he turned to Fortune.
“Interesting,” he observed to Fortune.
“Burned on Monday.”
“Died on Saturday,” continued Grim, and he and Fortune said together, “buried on Sunday.”
“That is the end of Solomon, Grundy,” finished Grim.
“You know,” nodded Fortune. “That is quite ironic.”
– THE END –
I apologize for the length. I wrote this about two months ago, and it wasn’t really intended for my blog, but seeing as I haven’t been faithful to my girlfriend (the blog! The blog is the girlfriend I mean! Ladies, don’t close your browsers! Don’t leave meee!), I decided to post this.
I’m working on several things right now, one of which is a series. Soon, my blog will be up and running again. Thanks for your patience with me so far ____O_