Book 2, Chapter 25


The capital.

Smells vaguely of stale piss.

But I like it. Couldn’t say why – it sure ain’t the fragrance - but over the last few days I've felt at ease here.

Maybe it's "Porschia", the girl who sells me my rice and fried chicken lunch and dinner everyday...

Porschia is ridiculous. Her and Fatu from Senegal (remember her?) could have a death-match over who is the biggest bombshell in West Africa. It'd end in a tie... Porschia is another one of these freaks of nature; one of these girls where you just shake your head with a smile and say "well that's just stupid".

Which makes this next bit funny: I know the glad-eye when I see it, and Porschia has been pouring it on; she even took time out of her shift to watch me shove fried chicken into my face. That keen. And I don't know why; I don't get it; it really makes no sense...

I've become the intrepid destitute; I am Marco Polo's arsehole. That's me; the homeless looking guy on the park bench watching the ducks from what feels like lifetimes ago.

Put simply; I look rough as guts.

Yet I feel like at any second she'll vault over the table, slap the chicken out of my mouth and ravage me.

It's almost frightening levels of glad-eye.

I'm suspicious even; what's in it for her?? She can't possibly be in it for the looks. And I doubt it's my sparkling personality...

And so, for reasons that even I don't understand, instead of fanning the flames I hose them down.

I can almost hear the collective groan of all of my mates: "What the fuck are you doing??"

Moving right along...

It turns out that I can do what the plebs at FedEx can’t do; I’m in and out of the Customs building with my parts - and not a cedi spent - within fifteen minutes.

It’s bitter sweet; I’m happy to have the parts and proud that I could get it done myself, but at the same time I want to shove them up Priscilla’s arse.

Useless fuck.

I get a good, healthy dose of perspective on the way out when I hear the news that Boko Haram – a terrorist group in Nigeria – has just bombed the Nigerian capital of Abuja and killed 88 people.


Cue the worried messages from family back home.

Better get the bike into some seriously good nick...

After a day of hard looking I manage to find a proper, legit, modern garage.

Through some sweet talking I convince them to lend me one of their motorbike hoists for a couple of days as well as free reign of the workshop.

It’s filthy, reeking hot outside, and in this metal death-box - without a hint of a whiff of wind - it’s beyond.

It’s so hot in here I can feel the heat in my eyeballs.

I get cracking.

The whole bike slowly comes apart, stuff gets tinkered with, cleaned, looked at, shoulders are shrugged, stuff is put back, stuff is swapped, stuff is replaced.

Anything that’s not covered in oil gets covered in my sweat. Lots of both. It's a greasy, sweaty hot mess. My clothes are all soaked through. The sweat drips off the end of my nose like the beat of a metronome.

There’s an exhausted, grimy grin on my face.

It’s incredibly satisfying stuff; doing an honest day’s work with your hands. I get to stand back at the end of the day and say "There it is... Today, I’ve achieved this."

I reckon that’s what was missing in the old desk job. The realness; clearing an "AC15 assurance milestone" on a multi-billion-dollar project isn’t anywhere near as satisfying as changing a spark plug.

It takes me two full days of sweat and work.

I finish satisfied; I ride out thrilled: the bike has never ridden better. It's never felt more powerful, never sounded better.

I’m grinning like a simpleton as I give it the beans.

Two days work; job well done.

Boko Haram have now kidnapped three hundred school girls from a village called Chibok. It makes worldwide headlines.

If I wasn’t freaked out about Nigeria before, I sure as shit am now.

And the family back home are managing to be even more freaked out than I am; if that’s even possible.

I have one last chicken with Porschia and peel out of Accra.

I head for the hills.

Oblivious | Luke Gelmi