“Are you Alphonso?” I asked,” the Alphonso Devereux- the muscle- The School Body Building Champion for three consecutive years?”
I sounded like a star-struck teenager. It was an awkward encounter. Al must have wanted to meet me too since he never frequented that part of the compass.
“Yes,” he said, “the one himself.”
“I heard a lot about you.”
“My friends call me Al,” he said, “you decide whether you want to be my pal or my foe.”
“I ‘m Maximillian,” I said, “please call me Max.”
“I know all about you, ladies’ man, “he said.
He patted me hard on the back and laughed like I had cuckolded him.
“As long as it’s good things, I ‘m cool, “I said.
“So you’re after Athena too,” he said, “you better back off dude, she’s mine.”
Al had an athletic body, a well-built figure of a man, with muscles where it mattered. His father was a restaurateur from France married to an Italian tailor. He was not bad looking with a deep coarse voice and almost a quarter of a ruler taller than I was. He had a personal trainer at his home. I was about 1.75 meters, with an average physique that was not athletic. I did hit the gym from time to time, just to keep fit. He could have easily beaten me to a pulp had I ruffed him up the wrong way. I had to choose my words carefully. I never did any muscling by myself, given the capable muscle men that surrounded me around the clock; I did not need to. As fate would have it, I was interested in the same girl as him.
“That’s not what I heard,” I said.
I was intrepid now that I knew my loyal muscle could take on anyone. On numerous occasions, they had wrestled bullies in the mud in broad daylight.
“I hear you,” he said, “but you’ve to earn your stripes.”
“I ‘m not following?”
“Let’s bet on who can take her out this coming weekend,” he said.
He was daring about the bet he was about to make.
“You’ve got a deal,” I said.
I assured him that I was up for any challenge.
What is the worst that could happen given our position?
I did not have her neither did he. Al was a competitive person. We made a bet that whoever succeeded to take her out would win. It should be at a public place where everyone could see. The price was that our groups would merge. If I won, I would lead the new group, he would be the right-hand man, and the same applied if he won. I was keen on it since it would eliminate competition and possibly reduce the number of groups in the school. Athena Moffat was colored, which alleviated my fears of being in the company of white ladies. Athena was a tall girl who was reclusive. She was smart, charming and had a great smile. She was poised and walked straight up like someone who took millions of ballet classes. She could have easily won Miss St. Martenoir High, had she enrolled in those sorts of competitions. I was the charmer, whereas Al was the muscle man. He stood no chance of defeating me in that department.
“Hello,” I said on the phone, “is it Always Flourishing?”
“Yes Sir,” a soft voice at the other end said, “How can I be of service to you?”
“Would you please forward a dozen roses to this address,” I said.
I read out the address. Meanwhile, Al instructed his muscle to command her to meet him at some pot-smoking joint. To my amazement, he did not bother to dig pertinent information about her. He forced his life onto her. I delivered theater tickets to her on Thursday using information I sourced from her friends. The tickets were for a ballet show she always missed due to sold out tickets. I pulled strings to get the front row seats. My driver collected her on Saturday evening. That was our first date and the beginning of the most envied romance in the history of St. Martenoir.
“How did you convince her to go out with you,” Al asked.
It was the Monday following our date, though it did not excite me as much as expected.
“A Venus flower knows by instinct how to tr*p flies,” I said,” just like bees, by their DNA formation, know how to make honey.”
“So you enticed her with expensive gifts,” he said, “like men instinctively do?”
“Let’s just say I know how to mobilize my peers,” I said, “more than that I excel on how to court women.”
“You win Mr. Venus,” he said,” Mr. Bee.”
“I ‘m the Buddha of Boudoirs.”
“Ma leader,” he said.
“Sure,” I said.
We did not advise the rest of the members of the bet. Even though I won, I did not feel the excitement.
“What’s it now, you just won relax,” he said, “You look like you ate rubber sweets all of a sudden.”
“This is chaos.”
I was bending over Al’s bakkie.
“What chaos,” he asked.
“The entourage,” I said, “they’re too many.”
“It’s your issues to resolve,” He said, “You’re the leader.”
Al’s entourage had about eighteen members, and we were about eleven in my clan. As a result, most of the proper group dynamics would not work in our favor after the merger. We needed synergy; the large group would not even fit in a taxi.
“We need to have a meeting of minds sooner than later,” I said.
“Spoken like a real leader,” he said, “meeting of minds.”
We burst out laughing. In a moment Athena passed by. I naughtily pointed at her; she looked my direction and smiled. She blew me a kiss; I blew one back.
“Ouch- Et tu Brute,” he said.
Al was a little jealous. He gestured as if stabbing himself with a knife in his heart.
“You had to rub it in,” he said
“It’ll get better with time,” I said, “just man up.”
“You’re the King.”
“Now back to business,” I said, “we’ve to trim the fat.”
“I agree,” he said,” the fat asses must dissipate.”
“We should aim for fifteen or ten.”
“I ‘m game,” he said, “what methods are you thinking?”
“Stealing is out of the equation,” I said, “we need tests that are simple yet difficult to attain.”
“Cash is king.”
“You’re the man,” I said, “what if we instruct each and every one to contribute ten thousand to a fund within the next two weeks.”
“Two weeks,” he asked, “why not tomorrow?”
Al was ruthless. He never made anything easy for anyone even his siblings.
“Let’s make it twenty thousand in a month then?” I said, “What do you think?”
“Let’s stick to ten grand in a week,” he said, “Twenty’s too stiff.”
“Whoever pays first get the spot,” I said.
We shook on it. Al contributed less than eight thousand. I added only five thousand; it was a fraud known only by close allies. The proceeds were for emergency loans among the members.
After weeks of hustling, there were only nine members left in the clan. The close-knit group was manageable. There were gnashing of teeth and several complaints.
There was Nicholas “Nicky Iron hands” Mohorosi. He had hands so rough he scared off fellow students by saying “I‘ll touch you, and you’ll die. By the way, I won’t go to jail since it’s not illegal to touch someone.” He developed the iron hands from years of touching hot welding rods and putting out marijuana by squeezing it with his bare hands. He started out wielding in his father’s yard while he was ten years old. He was the heaviest smoker among the rest of the clan. The guy was as dark as the darkest night in winter though he had the brightest and whitest teeth I had ever seen.
There was Angelo “The Mastermind” Moses, of Italian–Greek descent, womanizer of note. He looked a lot like me when bald. He was perceptive in planning hits but reluctant to perform some duties. He was a good planner but poor executor. He was absent at most of our executions nevertheless was loyal to the clan.
There was Jake “Mlungu Rasta” Davidson, an unruly white fellow who never listened to his parents. He had multi-colored hair that he twisted into dreadlocks, hence the name Mlungu Rasta. He adored the underworld and the attention that came with it more than life itself. He was the perfect model of a rogue kid, the ideal black sheep of the family. Most of his older siblings were doctors and lawyers, but he preferred to buy, refurbish and sell used cars. He was an entrepreneur at heart.
There was Bernice “My Boy” Molapo. She was a caramel beauty and handled herself more like a man. Nobody could prove whether she was a lesbian or just a tomboy. One time she beat the school bully so bad that he went to ICU for three days with a dislocated jaw. The principal expelled her for a week and sent her for an anger management course. Apparently, the guy called her a “moffie,” township slang for lesbian. Everybody, even some teachers, welcomed the beating except the principal. We never saw her with a woman or a man, which left the whole tomboy thing to stick. She was always immaculate and well dressed in boys clothing. She had sagging jeans, t-shirts, and boot most of the time.
Then there was Trinity “Mr. T” Alexander, the body builder, who almost went professional. Unfortunately, he picked up a serious injury along the way. He was the muscle man without being the muscle. He did not always do the dirty muscling, but when push came to shove, we sent him.
Lastly, there was Michael “Silent Mike” Mohapi and his twin brother Andrew “Druza the Stutterman” Mohapi. Silent Mike never spoke that much only when answering questions with single words. It was ironic since he spoke well compared to his stammering brother who always had something to say. This two were always ready to muscle someone. They were tall and ripped. They took to the gym every day no matter what. They were always anxious and waited for my instruction. They would not hesitate to beat their cousin for a fee of course. Then there was me, Al and to a little involvement some of Al’s relatives.